A Muslim in Bristol: Confident women are viewed with suspicion

A woman with burqa on walking with a child by ...
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Tuesday, January 26, 2010, 07:00

Local BBC radio recently invited me to comment on the UKIP proposal to ban the burkah; deemed to encompass all that is alien about Islam.

So what is the traditional dress for women in this country; the mini-skirt? Hardly. Ironically, the closest to the traditional dress (for women) in this country, if indeed there is such a thing, is the hijab (the headscarf). Oh, I can so hear the tsunami of disbelieving gasps. But it is true. Whether you go back to the Victorian days, or to long before that, the headscarf has been part of the traditional outdoor dress for women of this nation. But I do digress; let’s us return to the debate at hand.

So, is the burkah part of Islamic teachings or not? Frankly, it’s irrelevant. In the context of banning the burkah in this country, it really does not matter what Islam says on the subject.

When any government decides what we can or can not wear in this country it will, sadly, be the beginning of the end of our freedoms. As long as no woman is being forced to wear anything she doesn’t want to, there really should be no issue for anyone

But, having touched on the rights of Muslim women in western society, I am compelled to touch on the rights of Muslim women in Muslim society, because that’s where the problem is.

The Prophet Muhammad said “men and women are as equal as the teeth of comb. The only difference God sees is in your piety (in your righteousness)”.

It’s a far cry from the male chauvinist world that Muslim cultural society has today become.

Examples of the apparent maltreatment of Muslim women are the real reason for the burkah debate; non-Muslim society sees it as a part of a wider oppression of Muslim women.

Up until recently, naively, I would have denied such things; blaming the media for misunderstandings and misrepresentation – and often it is. But the reality is that I have now seen one-too-many examples of where the plight of Muslim women is little more than that of second-class citizens.

There are many noble exceptions; strong, independent Muslim women, enthused with true Islamic knowledge, have struggled, despite the cultural baggage, to excel beyond a life that would otherwise be less than ordinary.

Such confident women though are viewed with suspicion and derision; to achieve success, especially within social and scholarly circles, they have to not only out-perform their male counterparts, they have to overcome the snide remarks, jibes, hypocrisy and all the other hallmarks of a male-dominated society.

Non-Muslim societies support the rights of Muslim women. It’s high time Muslim society did the same.

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