Essay About the Veil in Western Countries

Topics: Hijab, Veil, Islam Pages: 5 (1823 words) Published: April 1, 2013
The veil in western countries

The veil is a piece of clothing that is known to be worn almost exclusively by women. It main purpose is to hide some parts of the female body, mostly the hair or the face. The veil is known to be a religious object in many cults and symbolize a will of women to abstain themselves from earthly actions and dedicate themselves to their religious obligations. The veil exists in many religions such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The veil is known to be an object that maintains social distances between men and women. It also communicates a social status as well as a cultural identity. In Islam, the forms of the veil have been adopted through the different Arab cultures from which Islam rose. The concept of covering one’s head is mainly associated with modesty. The veil in Islamic cultures is called hijab. Its main purpose is to hide the attributes of women that can be sexually attractive for men. According to abu-Rabia, “Hijab literally means ‘veil, barrier, curtain, amulet, protection or cover’. The word hijab is used to describe any veil placed in front of a person in order to conceal themselves from view or to isolate themselves” (90). Many of the forms of the Islamic veil cover body parts that include the hair, the throat and the ears, but don’t cover the face. Other types like the niqab, burqa or khimar cover almost all the face leaving only a small opening for the eyes. Islam uses the hijab as a way to keep women from inducing sexual desire and keeping their purity intact by doing so and also to stop men from being tempted by those physical attributes that women possess. Some people think that the hijab is a symbol of the subordination of women to a male driven society; however, many women freely chose to wear hijab to preserve themselves from non ethical approaches that might be tempted against them. Hijab is a symbol of women choosing to not show their body, it can also be a sign of political as well as religious appurtenance, and a cultural pride exerted by those women. The Hijab has been viewed in western countries as a tool of discrimination and non equity between men and women. It has even been banned in France from school because of this notion. According to Abu-Rabia, “The prohibition of wearing the hijab is arguably based on the theory that ‘ostentations religious symbols’ represent a denial of the principle of the equality of men and women” (94). This idea is based on the fact that the veil is perceived by non Muslims as a symbol of inferiority and subordination toward women. Moreover, many European countries especially France had started a crusade against religion to impose the idea of secularism. “From the Enlightenment and especially from the French Revolution, French history was paved with abundant examples of struggle between religion and secularism, rationalist movements upholding the principle of separation between spiritual and secular matters” (Abu-Rabia 93). This fight to separate religion from state matters has lead to countless efforts to annihilate the presence of religious symbols in the public landscape. It was only natural that such efforts were directed toward schools, as it is in schools that the future citizens are formed. By influencing this very young audience, and making them give up their religious attribute, those states try to influence them into accepting secularism as a better and more acceptable option than their religion. The problem here is that by doing so, those states are going against the freedom of people to have and practice a religion. The veil is for countless people not an option, but a life decision that is to be present in every moment. It is however not understood by the people that made those laws that making little girls lose their veil is going against their freedom to practice their religion. By doing so, they are depriving them from their freedom of choice and choosing for them, which is a huge paradox concerning how fierce...
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