Reader Nadeem from Drexel Hill, PA, in response to my article Muslim Cruises and Islamic Travel, where I displayed a poor, oppressed Muslim woman all covered in a black tent at a beach, brought up this interesting question:
Would you use the same term "oppressed" for a Nun? They cover their selves head to toe and do not wear BIKINIs on the beach like a muslim woman following her religion. why is covering up is not cruel and inhumane for a Nun but It is for a muslim woman.
Let me enlighten you, Nadeem:
If you visit the website of Catholic Nuns Today you will see nuns who have opted not to wear the traditional habits we are all used to seeing.
There are roughly 59,000 nuns in the US with thousands who choose not to wear the veil. So how many do you think are flogged or killed for this outrageous behavior? Let me save you, dear Nadeem, the time to guess: the answer is zero.
And how many nuns who wear the veil do so out of fear of being arrested, harassed, whipped or killed if they do not? Again let me save you, my dear misguided Nadeem, the time to guess: the answer is zero.
No One Forces Nuns to Wear the Habit
The Difference Between Nuns and Muhajaba (women who wear the hijab) is that every single nun in the world who wears a habit does so voluntarily, she chose to be a nun. So if there is no oppression or force involved with nuns, why would I object to seeing them wearing habits?
As for Muslim women: they must wear the hijab in public in countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia by law.
In most of Afghanistan and Pakistan, Muslim women even if they do not want to wear a burqa or chadri, must do so as a matter of personal safety. Hundreds of women are killed, have acid thrown in their faces, or are otherwise maimed by male fanatics. Tell those women that the veil is choice.
In many public high schools (mostly in Muslim areas) in Indonesia the jilbab is a compulsory school uniform, even for infidels. See the word 'compulsory' Nadeem? That means "no choice." Of course, students at private Islamic schools in Indonesia have always required girls to wear the jilbab. Although Indonesia started life in 1945 with most women not wearing a veil, as is the habit with Islamic countries, we now see many more Indonesian women wearing the jilbab after the fall in 1998 of President Suharto, who kept Islamic groups in check. Without his strong restraint, many municipalities in the Indonesian archipelago have been encouraged to pass ordinances requiring women to wear the jilbab as an act of submission. 'Submission,' my sweet deluded Nadeem, does not mean choice.
And forget about just covering up the face, women in Somalia, Muslim or not, get whipped if they do not cover their ankles (1).
Sudan's criminal code allows the flogging or fining of anyone found wearing western, indecent clothing.
Even in non-Muslim countries those who wear the hijab do so by compulsion. According to a survey conducted in France: "77% of girls wearing the hijab said they did so because of physical threats from Islamist groups." (2)
So whether Muhajaba wear burqas, chadris, hijabs, niqabs, or jilbabs, we find that if they choose not to cover up, they are harassed, flogged, stoned, beaten, raped or killed. This is not the case with nuns, although nuns wearing habits in Islamic countries are in fact harassed, flogged, stoned, beaten, raped or killed.
So it is indeed sad that you, clueless Nadeem, living in America and free to read newspapers and surf the web, are so uninformed of the difference between nuns (who really want to wear a habit) and Muhajaba (who either wear it out of fear or are unaware that it symbolizes the oppression of women). May Allah swt forgive your ignorance.
To be fair to Muslim women, there are a few styles of Islamic veil that I would not object to, the hojabi (with emphasis on the 'HO') seen above and this.
Jihad Watch, Somali women flogged for not wearing socks
[Islamic] Militants who control parts of Somalia's capital city are beating women in broad daylight for violating their radical brand of Islamic law, according to local officials and witnesses in Mogadishu.
"Just today, Al-Shabaab dispatched men with whips to the streets around Bakara market and they are flogging any woman who is found not wearing socks," according to a female maize trader at the Mogadishu market, who spoke Thursday.
Weekly Standard, The Veil Controversy
But what Islamists use most is intimidation. A survey conducted in France in May 2003 found that 77 percent of girls wearing the hijab said they did so because of physical threats from Islamist groups. A series in the newspaper Libération in 2003 documented how Muslim women and girls in France who refuse to wear the hijab are insulted, rejected, and often physically threatened by Muslim males. One of the teenage girls interviewed said, "Every day, bearded men come to me and advise me strongly on wearing the veil. It is a war. For now, there are no dead, but there are looks and words that do kill."
Muslim women who try to rebel are considered "whores" and treated as outcasts. Some of them want to move to areas "with no Muslims" to escape. However, that might not be a solution, as Islamists are at work all over France. The Communist newspaper L'Humanité in 2003 interviewed two Catholic-born French women who said they had converted to Islam and started wearing the niqab after systematic indoctrination by the Muslim Brotherhood.