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Why niqab?

Some weeks ago I saw two women wearing all black, like in this picture, even black gloves, and it made me wonder why they do. I felt sorry for them, as I saw their dress as a prison. I can’t understand why it is necessary for a woman to cover herself this much, as though she’s trying to be invisible! I can’t see how that’s liberating to the woman.

I’ve done some internet searching and found an answer to the niqab question. I suppose that muslimahs around the world disagree upon the need to use niqab or simply the hijab, as they disagree about a lot of other hijab issues. (Hijab both in the sense of the veil and in the sense of modest clothing.)

In general muslim women should wear modest clothes, not drawing attention to their appearance or body. It seems as though most think that a veil covering the hair and neck, is needed in order to complete the modest attire. See explanation below.

Syed maintains that when a woman is covered, men cannot judge her by her appearance but are forced to evaluate her by her personality, character, and morals. “I tell them that the hijab is not a responsibility, it’s a right given to me by my Creator who knows us best. It’s a benefit to me, so why not? It’s something every woman should strive to get and should want.”

The young woman admits to being surprised that many people wonder if she wears the hijab everywhere (at home, when sleeping, in the shower). The truth is that Muslim women only cover themselves in front of men who are not direct relatives (brothers, fathers, and uncles) to prevent indecent acts or thoughts. (From “Why do Muslim women wear the hijab?” Eighteen year old Canadian Muslimah Sumayyah Syed explains.)

I’ve also read that the Prophet Muhammad explains the covering of women as a mean of protecting what is beatiful. I can’t recall the exact words, but it had something to do with hiding ones gems/pearls. It was in fact a beatiful sentence/excerpt.

According to Al-Muhajabah (meaning she who wears Islamic dress) niqab (see picture with woman in black) is an even better way of seeking to obtain the love of Allah. It is a prolonging of the hijab, covering even more, and harder to wear etc All this resulting in niqab being even better than hijab in means of keeping private what is meant to be private. She states that there’s not an explicit reference to niqab in the Quran, but makes reference to some other text and the fact that the Prophet’s wifes surely wore niqab. (For a full understanding and explanation, visit the www.muhajabah.com pages)

To me a niqab still looks as a prison for women, but now I know why someone choose this.

Miss Headscarf 2008 in Denmark!

Denmark’s National Broadcaster, Danmarks Radio, has had a Miss Headscarf competition, where any women wearing a headscarf could enter by sending a photo of themselves wearing a headscarf. And here is the winner and the runner ups. Unfortunately, the text is only in Danish, so if you’re having trouble understanding the words, send me a comment and I’ll translate for you. The text showing is the name of the winner and the runner ups and their ages. År=years. And the other text is some fashion experts’ comments about the headscarf. Positive comments about the colours and patterns on the headscarf, and that wearing a headscarf the way these women does, doesn’t make them unstylish.

I wonder when we’ll see a worldwide competition of this?! Or, perhaps, in the muslim dominated countries, there’s such a thing already?

Travelling stress

Later this week we’re going to Spain. And I’ve got this internal continuous stress… I like experiencing other places, but it’s the travelling bit that stresses me the most. Packing all the things one needs for a week away, and before that making sure that all the potential travelling clothes are clean. And then there’s the time issue. The plane leaves at a given time, and we need to be there with all our luggage and everything sorted out before that given time, otherwise we won’t get in the plane… this is a major stress factor, causing me to have nightmares about me running in airports trying to find the gate where my plane is boarding, and with too little time. The latest nightmare was me shopping in the tax free shop suddenly disvocering that the plan was to board in five minutes, and I didn’t have the slightest clue about where the gate was, and I hadn’t decided what to buy… Although I’ve been travelling by car (several times a year), or airplane, for as long as I can remember, and am used to pack my own bag, I still stress about this! I don’t understand it! I’ve never been late, or missed any flights/trains, and I’ve never forgot to pack anything important, so there’s nothing in my experiences explaining this fear I have.

I hope to visit a lot of Catholic churches, and especially the Monasterio de la Santa Faz, where a relic said to be the veil of St. Veronica is kept. St. Veronica gave her veil to Jesus for him to dry his sweat whilst he was carrying the cross, and He handed it back to her and it had a print of his face upon it. The picture of St. Veronica giving her veil to Jesus is one of the Stations of the Cross, found in every Catholic church.

I’ve seen references made to this “history” by some Catholic head coverers as a proof of Jesus approving female veiling.

I think this is the “container” for the veil. As the webpage was only in Spanish, and my understanding of Spanish is rather minimal (I compare the words to French or English to understand), I’m not sure what the proper name for this “container” could be. But I did understand that there’s a monastery where this is kept. I think St. Veronica is called St. Clarisa in Spain.

From Wikipedia: This relic was acquired by Pope Nicholas V from relatives of the Byzantium Emperor in 1453. This veil was given by a Vatican cardinal to a Spanish priest, Mosen Pedro Mena, who took it to Alicante in southern Spain, where it arrived in 1489, at the same time as a severe drought. Carried in a procession on 17 March by an Alicante priest, Father Villafranca, a tear sprang from the eye of the face of Christ on the veil and rain began to fall. The relic is now housed in the Monastery of the Holy Face (Monasterio de la Santa Faz), on the outskirts of Alicante, in a chapel built in 1611 and decorated between 1677 and 1680 by the sculptor José Vilanova, the gilder Pere Joan Valero and the painter Juan Conchillos. The chapel is decorated with paintings depicting the miraculous termination of the drought, local personalities associated with the founding of the chapel and religious themes of judgment and salvation. The Monastery was extensively restored between 2003-6, together with the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas and the Basilica of St Mary in the city centre, and the three buildings housed an exhibition in 2006 about the relic under the name of The Face of Eternity. [12]

As a method of coping with the travelling stress, I tend to over focus on certain things, such as jewellry and handbags. 😐 I need to remind myself that buying new items of these just because I’m stressed doesn’t make anything better. It’s a struggle trying to get rid of these comfort buying tactics. And also not buying, just choosing among the items I already have, is difficult. One day I think a small handbag is the perfect one, the next day it’s a larger bag, then I must choose between colours, shapes, materials, length of straps – can it go across my body or not? As all these thoughts and deciscions draws me away from spending time with God, it’s not a good thing for me to do. Yesterday night I spent several hours in front of my computer surfing the Internet for handbags and jewellry to buy in Spain… 😦 If I only could be liberated from all this, and use my time on things that are really good to me!

 

Taking control

The hijab-wearing women are often viewed as a person one should feel sorry for. In the “modern” societies of Western Europe and the US, the main thoughts (and the publically correct) are that “She’s probably under control by her husband and/or sons. She’s not free to wear whatever she wants… she’s not allowed to do whatever she wants… she’s forced to wear the hijab and the modest and covering clothes, poor thing…” and so on. And the female fashion in these societies are all about being sexy and using one’s sex appeal. The ideals admired are the supermodels, Hollywood-celebs and the likes. Forcing everyone, except the natural born supermodels, to be on an everlasting diet, excercise regime and even consider plastic surgery in order to keep up with the latest trends.

But what if it is quite the opposite?* What if the modest women, of all faiths and convictions, are actually the liberated ones? Because they (and to some extent me) are not under society’s increasing press and unhealthy focus on beauty and body, choosing to wear covering and modest clothes, not following the fashion trends. Modest women are not controlled by fashion designers who’s obviously allergic to female bodies and at the same time asking for women to show cleavage and legs.

The modest women are in control over their bodies, controlling what parts could be shown public, and what parts should be kept covered. A modest women doesn’t use sex appeal to gain success in her life, but rely on her brain, appearance, inner beauty, personality, and other values. Her body isn’t “put on display or up for sale”, she doesn’t advertise for herself by showing off her “goods”. I know what group I’m in and my feeling of liberation is increasing! 

As shown in these pictures (left and right) being modest isn’t necessarily different from following the fashion trends in color and materials. Being modest can also mean looking good.

I like this picture (left) very much.  It’s from South-East Asia somewhere. It makes me think about which of these women are in control over their body? The muslim or the blond?

In the summer I, personally, wouldn’t have covered to the muslim extent, but I’m more covered than the blonde! I don’t see the blonde as being liberated because she can wear whatever she wants, it’s more like she says that she’s not anxious about her body being on public display… she doesn’t demand respect, she sort of wants to be liked because of her body. What kind of mistaken feminism is that?!

 

 

*I don’t doubt that some muslim women, as well as other women, are under too much control by their husbands.

Hairs everywhere!

Our little princess is currently in the midst of an shedding period, and it’s white dog hairs everywhere! And I mean, everywhere. I vacuumed the entire flat earlier today, and it’s already starting to pile up in the corners. Normally I don’t care about the hairs, but nowadays it’s too much! I’m hoping for her shedding to stop soon!

 

On to something completely different. I feel somewhat sad, is that the feeling…, I think it’s such a distance between my principles and ideals, and my actual everyday life. Will I ever live by my principles? Is there any point in having principles if I’ll never ever get to live by them? Or at least come near? Should I perhaps adjust my principles? I don’t know. There is so many different “truths” and “right ways/guidelines”. Even within the Catholic Church. There’s the official teachings, and there’s peoples’ practice. Who am I to listen to? There’s a number of different ways to read the Bible. Some Christians take all the Biblical guidelines and teachings literally, some say the Bible itself is enough, some interpret the Bible in context of a tradition (like the Catholics), some choose the Biblical teachings and guidelines they feel apply to them, some take all, and some take just a few. And everybody claims to have the “truth” and “the right way”. Everybody claims to know what the Lord wants from us, and expects from us.

How can I interpret some of the Biblical teachings literally as applying to me, and ignore others? Isn’t it correct to take all or none? And does the New Testament overrule the Old? The Catholic church teaches that the Bible is a book written and compiled by humans under the guidance of the Lord. It’s not an historically correct account, and it’s written and compiled within a tradition and context. The early Christians adopted some of the customs from their time and made them Christian. The bread and wine for example. When Jesus ate his last supper with the disciples, he probably didn’t have the small oblates we eat, to hand out, but took a normal bread for his time, and shared it. Does this mean that we have to do exactly the same as Him? Is the oblate bread “wrong”? And what about all the things we meet in our time, not mentioned in the Bible.

For example, people living otherwise plain and simple lives, have a nice looking website. Is this correct or is it wrong? The Bible says nothing about it, because the Internet wasn’t exactly invented at that time. But nowadays the Internet is common, and having a webpage promoting plain and simple life may be somewhat of a missionary thing, telling others about ones life and faith, and encouraging people around the world to stand up for their beliefs.

Just some of my thoughts.

About halfway in lent, and still keeping my sacrifices…

I know one’s not supposed to brag about fasting, but as this is meant to be a personal blog, I regard it not as bragging, but simply stating the fact that I still manage to keep my sacrifices. I’ve even ended to magazine subscriptions today, as I saw that I don’t have the time to read them. This lenten sacrificing business is making me more satisfied with myself as I put my principles into action. I’ve had all these good principles in my head for some time, but have been rather dissatisfied with my failing to live by them. Lent is therefore a good time to put into action what I’ve been thinking about for some time.

Doing my daily round collecting and sending the mail for my office, I covered my head with a scarf – much like a muslim with some hair showing at my forehead. I did this because of the rain. And did not get any strange looks. It feels so right to cover, so I use every opportunity I’ve got, to do it. But, using a beret when it’s snowing or a scarf in rainy weather doesn’t make me stand out from the rest, and thus no one is able to see that I’m covering for religious reasons. I dream about going to a different town and cover my head just to see how it would be… Maybe on a holiday some time?

I can’t remember if I’ve posted some sort of explanation for my covering conviction? Well, it is according to the Bible. I can’t remember the exact place, but somewhere in the letters, St Paul writes about how a woman is to behave. She should among other things keep her hair long (it is stated that cutting one’s hair is wrong – it is the same as shaving the whole thing off) and to cover her head for the sake of the angels. In order to show that the woman has accepted being subordinated under her husband. Some say that the hair is the cover, but others says that that’s a translation mistake, and the covering should be in addition to the hair. That’s why I want to cover my head. To show that I’m subordinate under God. (The chain or rank of order is God-church-man-woman) Especially when praying I feel a need to bow my head and cover it, I’m talking to/with God! I know for certain that if I was to meet him, I would kneel down and bow my head in His presence. He is the Almighty, the Highest! I’m also trying to oppose to the mainstream thought in the society, that money and glamour and status makes one happy. And that people should be juged by their appearance and not inner qualities. Vain. And finally, in support to the muslim women who wear their hijab according to their religious or cultural beliefs. I can’t believe the Western countries banning hijabs in schools, workplaces and so on. I mean, to the hijabis, going out without that piece of clothing, is as if a non-coverer should stop wearing her trousers or blouse… They feel naked.

I took a pregnancy test today, but it was negative… I know it was too early, but I thought I could feel some of the symptoms known from the last time I was pregnant. That’s some sort of stretching ache very low on both sides of the stomach. But it could also be me wanting them to be the first signs of pregnancy… It could just be some bowel or congestion pains… :-S I must try to be more patient, and wait another week or so before I do more testing…

God, please give me the courage…

Snood with Head BandI ask God to give me the courage I need to put my conviction about covering my head as a sign for submission, into practice. St. Paul states clearly in the Bible that women need to let their hair grow and cover it as a sign for submission and to honour God. St. Paul talks specifically about how women is to behave in churches, but many women, including me, are convinced that a head-cover is needed whenever one “talks” to God.

Although I’ve been convinced about the covering need for some time, the courage hasn’t come. I live in a society where the hijab most of the time is viewed as an humiliating instrument used by dominant fathers and husbands to control their daughters/wifes. Muslim women wanting to use the hijab may face difficulties in getting a job, as employers ban hijab use on their workplace, and attracts negative public attention from others. Of course som muslim women are dominated by their fathers/husbands, as are some women from all religions, the hijab it self isn’t the problem. (more about that later) I admire the hijabis as they have the courage to display to everyone their faith and in doing so, distinguish themselves from the main feminine styles of the western world. To me they portray modest femininity beautifully.  

 When choosing among the various head-covering styles, this (picture on left) is my favourite. It’s called the Dutch Crown and is shown at www.tznius.com (a jewish headcover webshop). The picture at the top is from the same site and is called a snood. It would be my number 2 favourite. Probably more practical as it is a headband with a “bag” to put ones hair in. The Dutch Crown is made of a large scarf and is probably more likely to fall off during the day.

I have a lot of scarfs at home, in different styles, sizes and colors. I can easily picture myself using them everyday. But, I really need the courage… I get discouraged when thinking about all the attention I would get… people asking me or simply assuming I’ve become a muslim. All the explanation I would have to do. I’m afraid I can’t see it happening in the near future… 😦