Since Bill 62, I came to the realisation that many Quebecers/Canadians have misunderstanding about the niqab. While some are misconceptions arises from genuine concern, others have been propagated by the media. Regardless, below I have tried to address most of the misconceptions held by many.
- “Women are forced to wear niqab; it’s a symbol of oppression.”
There are 50 Muslim countries, and there is not a single Muslim country where it is mandatory to wear the niqab. In some Muslim culture, there is more pressure for women to wear niqab but in the vast majority of situation, Muslim women choose to wear the niqab. Just like the hijab, women choose to wear the niqab.
Muslims are strongly opposed to forcing women to wear hijab, so forcing women to wear niqab is strong denounced. While it is true that Islam commands women to wear hijab, it is common knowledge among Muslims that they have NO right to force women how to dress. There is no doubt that the niqab has been forced upon many women, and it’s a problem that the Muslim community needs to deal with. However, only a tiny minority are forced to wear the niqab.
Those who willingly wear niqab, will themselves tell you that’s its not oppressive but liberating. If we now start banning niqab because a minority of women are forced to wear it, then we are as guilty of oppressing the women who choose to wear niqab.
In the Canadian context, the number of women who are forced to wear niqab would be very rare, if at all existent. The problem is that those men/women who are oppressing women to wear niqab will only further limit women from going outside with a niqab ban. Thus, both those who choose to wear niqab and the minority who are forced to will be badly affected with Bill 62.
« Telling me to uncover is my definition of oppression ».
2) “The niqab poses security risks”
Millions of Muslim women around the world wear niqab, and I have never heard that it has caused any security risks. There is not a single news story in Canada that exists to show that anyone’s life was in danger because of the niqab. If we are going to implement a law based on security, we need evidence and sources to back our views. In this case, it simply does not exist.
We should rather fear a white man in his suit than a niqabi woman, because statistically speaking, a white man in his suit is more likely to harm you.
Those who are screaming security reason, have unjustified fears. It is most likely due to the media, that many Canadians/Westerners today link niqab with extremism and therefore “fear” the niqab. However, in reality, such fears are unjustified.
Last time I checked there was no relationship with what you wear and crime rates. Society won’t be « safer » by banning niqab. It is a very foolish way to think.
3) “The niqab is a barrier to communication”
While, facial expressions are important in our lives, in no way does that mean that we need to look at everyone we meet to have proper communication. Today, we use social media, email, phone etc. to reach to people, and nobody complains about communication problems. I have created some of the greatest relationship in social media, and in many instances I have no clue as to how my friends look like. A blind person does not need to see your face in order to create a relationship with you, in fact, I believe they create the most genuine and strongest relationship.
4) “It is essential for everyone to identify for driver’s license, passport etc.”
Of course, it is essential to identity oneself, for example when verifying one’s ID. It is common knowledge that in many occasions taking ID pictures is necessary and niqabi women will gladly do so when requested. However, many Muslim women will ask for women to verify their identification, which in most case is a non-issue. The end point is, we already identify ourselves when asked.
5) “If I go to a Muslim county, I wouldn’t be able to wear what I want”.
It is true that in many Muslim countries, there are rules regarding clothing’s for both men and women. However, there is no country on earth that enforces niqab. In fact, only two countries (Saudi Arabia, and Iran) who requires women to cover their hair. So most Muslim countries do not regulate clothing, in fact, more Muslim countries ban niqab/hijab in public places. I find it very surprising that some people even compare Saudi Arabia and Canada, I thought that Canada had very different view when it came to religious freedom. If you suddenly start comparing Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia to Canada, then what’s the difference between them?
6) “Stop imposing the niqab in Canadian society”.
I am not sure how a niqabi women is imposing herself when she chooses to wear the niqab. She is not wearing it to “impose” on anyone but she is doing so for her personal conviction. The Charter of the Rights and Freedom of Canada already guarantees Muslim women to wear niqab. Therefore, we are not “imposing” anyone, we are only practicing our rights. If anyone is imposing anyone, it is the gov’t of Quebec who is imposing us.
7) “Niqab is not part of Islam.
No scholars in Islam, have arguments over whether the niqab is part of Islam. It is unanimously agreed that it is part of Islam. In fact, there are disagreements about is whether niqab is a requirement for Muslim women or not.
In an authentic narration it was reported that Safiyyah bint Shaybah that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) used to say: When these words were revealed – “and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms)” – they took their izaars (a kind of garment) and tore them from the edges and covered their faces with them. Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4481.
Whether you believe niqab is religious or cultural, at the end of the day, women can choose for themselves what they want to wear. Just remember, most women wear because of religion conviction, at the bare minimum, we can respect their decision.
8) “You think you are better than women who do not wear niqab”.
NEVER! I am only a weak servant of Allah, who is constantly struggling to be a good Muslim. It is against the teaching of Islam, to think that we are better than someone else. It is a sin to look down upon another person. We never think we are better than a hijabi or non-hijabi because we wear the niqab. In fact, they can be so much better than us! May Allah protect us from pride and arrogance.
9) “You are extremists fundamentalist Muslims; you support ISIS.”
To some I am a liberal Muslim, to others I am conservative and yet to others I am extreme. At the end, people can perceive me as they want to. I am not here to please or harm anyone, just trying to please my Creator.
There is nothing extreme about niqab, it’s a piece of cloth that holds much meaning to a Muslim women. The media has been successful in linking niqab with extremism. What’s extreme about it?
To me it’s just extreme-ly beautiful. We live in a world where women are told, the more skin they show, the freer they are. But the more covered they are, the more oppressed/extreme they are? Judge me by my character, not my looks.
Niqabis support ISIS??? When an ideology kills anyone who think differently than them irrespective of religion, then how can anyone support them? As a Muslim, I cannot insult/harm anyone with my tongue, then how can I support any kind of violence against another human being? Please, next time differentiate with Islamic teachings and ISIS principles.
If you knew me you would know that I am not “extreme”. You would know how fun-loving, happy, active person I am. I love sports, love people and love my religion.
10) “I feel uncomfortable to see covered women”.
I hope we do not create laws according to what we consider comfortable or not. It is normal reaction to feel uncomfortable at first, because seeing a niqabi is not a common sight. We live in a country where people come from all countries, culture and religion. It is time we are inclusive of everyone irrespective of how we perceive others. We do not need to accept others peoples life choices and decisions to be able to respect each other. We can live in a peaceful and harmonious society even if we hold different worldviews and opinions.
11) “You are an immigrant, and do not know the languages and customs of this country”.
In fact, I was born and raised in Montreal. I am perfectly aware of my entourage. However, as far as I am concerned, the charter of rights and freedom applies to both Canadian citizens and immigrants. So whether someone is from Canada or not, should not limit their freedom. You might have the misconception that people who wear face veiled are all immigrants but a huge proportion have known Canada for their whole lives. So of course I speak English and French. And no I don’t speak Arabic, I wish though.
12) « You are boring, lazy and close minded »
It’s true, I am lazy when it comes to school work. But it has nothing to do with my niqab.
But other than that, I am not lazy. I will probably beat you in a race. I love sports, I am an amazing soccer player (Don’t let my niqab deceive you).
I attend university, work part-time, attend masjid, go out with friends/family, go to the stores, bank, restaurant etc. What makes you think I am lazy?
Just because my face is covered, it does not mean I am closed minded. The niqab covers my appearance, not my intellect, skills, interests, character etc. Only those who refuse to see who I am as a human being are the close minded folks.