Archive | December, 2011

Because It May Have Good In It

31 Dec

Beautiful by Boona Mohammed

31 Dec

Ayyub Asif Qur’an Recitation as Child

31 Dec

MA.SHA.ALLAH. the most touching Qur’an recitation I’ve heard as of yet. Mashallah!

Father & Son in Salaah

31 Dec

Hadith: Woman is like a rib…

31 Dec


What is the meaning of the following hadith?

Sahih Bukhari Volume 4 Book 55 #548

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “Treat women nicely, for a woman is created from a rib, and the most curved portion of the rib is its upper portion, so, if you should try to straighten it, it will break, but if you leave it as it is, it will remain crooked.  So treat women nicely”

The Bible says that Eve was created from Adam’s rib, but the Quran does not say this.  Was the Prophet (sAas) saying that the Torah is correct, so that it is just that the Qur’an did not mention this part of the story?  Or is this a saying that has been incorrectly attributed to the Prophet (sAas)?

And what does it mean that women will ‘remain crooked’ if left alone?  Surely women are not crooked by nature!

Jazakallah khayrun for any light you can shed on this subject.

May Allah SWT bless you for your work on this website

Question from United Kingdom


The referred saying has been ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) in slightly varying words. It seems that the implication of the phrase “woman is created from rib” is similar to what the Qur’an has implied by the phrase: “Man is created from haste”, which is quite accurately translated by Yusuf Ali as “Man is a creature of haste”, implying that ‘man is hasty, in nature’. Similarly, it seems that the referred phrase ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) is not meant to imply the origin of a woman’s creation, but to point out one of her attributes. Thus, the particular phrase, in my opinion, implies that a woman is like a rib, in her nature. A related narrative has also been reported in Bukhari and Muslim in the words “A woman is like a rib”, rather than ‘a woman is created from rib’. It is also possible that the particular narrative may have been (unintentionally) altered in its transmission – due (maybe) to a mistake on the part of any one or more of its narrators – in such a way that the words “A woman is like a rib” may have transformed into “A woman is created from the rib”.

Keeping the foregoing explanation in perspective, in the referred narrative, the Prophet (pbuh), in my opinion, is reported to have advised that a person should not enforce his will upon his woman (wife). On the contrary, if the person wants to enjoy a pleasant life with his wife, he should ignore her faults and benefit from her positive qualities and should try to alter her (undesired) qualities with love and affection, rather than through force. Using force at such instances may break a woman rather than straighten her (as it would a rib).

The referred narrative should not be construed to imply that all women are, generally, unbending and uncompromising, in response to force. The statement ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) should be construed as a general statement, based upon general exposure and experience. It should not be construed as a universal law for all women.

November 24, 2000

Right of Women in Islam

31 Dec


As what kind of entity does Islam envisage Woman? Does it consider her the equal of man  in terms of dignity and the respect accorded to her, or is she thought of as belonging to an inferior species? This is the question which we now wish to answer.

The particular philosophy of Islam concerning family rights:

Islam has a particular philosophy concerning the family rights of men and women which is contrary to what has been going on in the last fourteen centuries and with what is actually happening now. Islam does not believe in one kind of right, one kind of duty and one kind of punishment for both men and women in every instance. It considers one set of rights and duties and punishments more appropriate for men, and one set more appropriate for women. As a result on some occasions Islam has taken a similar position as regards both women and men, and on other occasions different positions.

Why is that so and what is its basis? Is. that why Islam, also, like many other religions, has derogatory views concerning women and has considered woman to be of an inferior species, or does it have some other reasons and another philosophy?

You may have heard repeatedly in the speeches, lectures and writings of the followers of western ideas that they consider Islamic laws concerning dowry, maintenance, divorce and polygyny, and other laws like them, as being contemptuous of, and insulting to, the female sex. In this way they try to create the impression that those provisions only prove that man alone has been favoured.

They say that all the rules and laws in the world before the twentieth century were based upon the notion that man, due to his sex, is a nobler being than woman, and that woman was created simply for the benefit and use of man. Islamic rights also revolve in this same orbit of man’s interest and benefit.

They say that Islam is a religion for men, that it has not a acknowledged woman to be a  complete human being and that it has not ordained laws for her which are necessary for a human being. Had Islam gauged woman to be a complete human being, it would not have provided for polygyny, it would not have given the right of divorce to man, it would not have made the witnessing of two women equivalent to that of one man, it would not have given leadership of the family to the husband, it would not have made a woman’s inheritance one half of the inheritance of a man, it would not have countenanced that a  woman be ‘priced’ in the name of a dowry, it would not have provided for her economic and social independence, and it would not have made her a ‘pensioner’ of man who is obliged to ‘keep’ her. From the aforesaid thing, they say, it is inferred that Islam has humiliating views about woman, and has taken her to be just a means to procreating more people, and a necessary prerequisite for that. They add that although Islam is a religion of equality and has maintained real equality in other situations, in the case of woman and man it did not observe it.

They say that Islam has provided discriminative and preferential rights for men. If it did not have in view discriminative and preferential rights for men, it would not have ordained the above laws.

If we resolve the argument of these gentlemen into an Aristotelean logical pattern, it would have the following form:

If Islam had considered woman a complete human being it would have ordained equal and similar rights for her, but it has not ordained equal and similar rights for her. Therefore it does not consider a woman a complete human being.

Equality or identicalness:


The basis point which is used in these arguments is that the necessary result of men and women’s sharing in human dignity and honour is that their rights should be the same and the identical. Now, the thing on which, philosophically speaking, we should put our finger is to determine exactly what is the necessary result of man and woman’s sharing in human dignity. Is the necessary conclusion that each of them should have rights equivalent to the other, so that there should be no privilege or preference in favour of either of them, or  is it necessary that the rights of man and woman, besides having equivalence and parity, should also be exactly the same, and that there should be no division what so ever of work and duty. No doubt the sharing of man and woman in human dignity and their equality as human beings demands their having equal human rights, but how can there be identicalness of rights?

If we can begin to put aside the imitation and blind following of western philosophy, and allow ourselves to think and ponder over the philosophical ideas and opinions which have come to us from them, we must see firstly whether identicalness of rights is or is not necessary for equality of rights. Equality is different from identicalness. Equality means parity and equitableness, and identicalness means that they are exactly the same. It is possible that a father distribute his wealth equally and equitably among his sons but he may not distribute it identically. For example, it is possible that a father has different kinds of wealth: he may own a commercial firm, some agricultural land and also some real estate but, due to his having examined his sons and found different talents among them, for example, he may have found that one of them had a gift for commercial affairs, and that the second had ability in agriculture, and the third, had the capability to manage real estate. When he comes to distribute his wealth amongst his sons in his life-time, bearing in mind that he must give equally to his sons in terms of the value of the property and that there should be no preference nor discrimination, he bequeaths his wealth according to the talents which he has found in them.

Quantity is different from quality. Equality is different from being exactly the same. What is certain is that Islam has not considered there to be identicalness or exact similarity of rights between men and women, but it has never believed in preference and discrimination in favour of men as opposed to women. Islam has also observed the principle of equality between men and women. Islam is not against the equality of men and women, but it does not agree with the identicalness of their rights.

The words “equality” and “egality” have earned a kind of sanctity because they embrace the meaning of equivalence and absence of discrimination. These words are attractive and draw respect from listeners, specially when these words are joined to the word “rights”.

“Equality of rights” — how beautiful and sacred is this combination of words! Can there be anyone with a conscience and an innate moral sense, who does not reverse these two words?

But why is it that we who were once the standard bearers of knowledge, philosophy and logic, have come to such a position that others want to impose their opinions on us concerning the identicalness of the rights of men and women in the sacred name of equality of rights.

It is exactly like someone who wants to sell boiled beet roots and calls them pears.

What is certain is that Islam has not granted the same rights to men and women in everything, in the same way as it has not imposed the same duties and punishment on both of them on all occasions. However, is the sum total of all the rights that have been established for women less in value than the rights that have been granted to men? Certainly not, as we shall prove.

Here a second question arises. Why has Islam granted dissimilar rights to men and women in certain instances? Why did it not allow the same rights for both of them? Would it not have been better for the rights of men and women to have been both equal and identical, or is it preferable that the rights should be only equal but not the same? To study this point thoroughly, it is necessary that we should discuss it in three parts:

1. The view of Islam concerning the human status of woman from the point of view of creation.

2. What is the reason for the differences which exist in the creation of man and woman. Are these differences the cause of there being dissimilarities in their natural rights, or not?

3. The basic philosophy behind the differences that exist in Islamic law for men and women, which, in certain respects, place them in different positions. Are these philosophical reasons still justifiable and do they still hold good or not?

The status of woman in the world-view of Islam:

As for the first part, the holy Qur’an is not only a collection of laws. It does not contain merely a series of dry commands and laws without comment. It contains both laws and history, both exhortation and the interpretation of creation, and countless other subjects. Just as the Qur’an lays down rules of action in the form of law on some occasions, so it also comments upon existence and being. It explains the secrets of the creation of the earth and the sky, plants, animals and mankind, and the secret of life and death greatness and suffering, growth and decline, wealth and poverty.

The Qur’an is not a treatise on philosophy, but it has explicitly expressed its views concerning the three basic topics of philosophy: the universe, mankind and society. Not only does the Quran teach its believers laws, and not only does it give exhortation and advice, but it also endows its followers with a special way of thinking, a particular world-view, by its interpretation of creation. The foundation of all Islamic commandments concerning social matters, for example, ownership, government, family rights, and so forth, is this same explanation which the Qur’an gives of creation and the things of the world.

One of the matters that have been commented on in the holy Qur’an is the subject of the creation of women and men. The Qur’an was not silent on this matter, and did not provide an opportunity for those who talk nonsense to put forth their own philosophies for laws concerning men and women, and then to accuse Islam of having a derogatory attitude towards women on the strength of their own theories. Islam has already laid down its views regarding women.

If we want to see what the view of the Qur’an is regarding the creation of woman and man, it is necessary to have a look at the question of their creation as it is treated in the Books of other religions. The Qur’an also did not remain silent on this subject. We should see whether the Qur’an considers woman and man to be of one essence or two.

In other words, whether woman and man have one nature and essence or two.

The Qur’an most explicitly lays down in several ayat (verses) that: We created women from the nature of man and from an essence the same as the essence of man. Concerning the first Adam, the Qur’an says: Who created you from one single soul, and created from it its mate (Qur’an, 4:1). With regard to all men, the Qur’an says in several places: Allah created your mate from your own kind.

There is no trace in the Qur’an of what is found in some sacred books: that woman was created out of an inferior stock to that of man, that they gave woman the status of a parasite and of an inferior, or that the mate of the first Adam was created from one of the left-side parts of his body. Besides that, in Islam there is no derogatory view about woman as regards her nature and innate constitution.

Another of the contemptuous views that existed in the past and which have left their undesirable effects in world literature is that woman is the origin of sin, and that her existence is the source of sin and temptation. Woman is a small devil. They say in every sin or crime committed by man, woman had her hand. According to them man in himself is innocent of any sin: it is woman who drags him towards sin. They say Satan cannot find his way to man’s being directly: It is only through woman that he can deceive man. Satan tempts woman, and woman tempts man. They say the first Adam, who was deceived by Satan and turned out of the Paradise of happiness, was deceived through woman. Satan tempted Eve, and Eve tempted Adam.

The Qur’an relates the story of the Paradise of Adam, but never says that Satan or a snake tempted Eve and she tempted Adam. Neither does the Quran describe Eve as the main person responsible, nor does it exonerate her from the sin. The Qur’an says: O Adam, inherent, thou and thy wife, the Garden, and eat of where you will (7:19). Wherever the Qur’an describes the matter of Satan’s tempting, it uses the pronouns in the form of the

dual (i.e., referring to two persons). It says:

Satan tempted both of them, (7:20)                                                                                       So he led them both on by delusion, (7:22)                                     


And he swore to both of them, “Truly, I am for you both a sincere adviser.”(7:21)                                                                                         

In this way the Qur’an strongly refutes the misconception which was prevalent at that time and which is still found in certain quarters and among certain people of this world, and exonerates the female sex from the accusation that woman is the source of temptation and sin, and is half a devil.

Another contemptuous view which exists concerning woman is in the field of her spiritual ability. They say: “A woman cannot go to Heaven. A woman cannot traverse the spiritual and divine stages of enlightenment. A woman cannot attain proximity to God as can a man.” The Qur’an, on the other hand, has made it explicitly clear in a  large number of verses that reward in the life after death and nearness to God to not depend upon sex, but upon faith and deeds, whether they be of a woman or a man. For every great and pious man, the Qur’an mentions a great and pious woman alongside him. The wives of Adam and Ibrahim (Abraham) and the mothers of Musa (Moses) and Isa (Jesus) are mentioned with great esteem. Although the Qur’an refers to the wives of Nuh (Noah) and Lut (Lot) as being unworthy of their husbands, it does not ignore the wife of Fir’awn (Pharaoh) as a woman of distinction under the control of a detestable man. It can be said that the Qur’an purposely seeks to keep a balance in its histories and the leading role in them is not confirmed to men.

About the mother of Musa the Qur’an says: So we revealed to Moses’ mother, “Suckle him, then, when thou fearest for him, cast him into the water, and do not fear, neither sorrow, for We shall return him to thee.” (28:7)

About Maryam (Mary) the mother of Isa, the Qur’an says that she had attained such an elevated spiritual degree that the angels used to visit her in her prayer-niche and converse with her. Sustenance was supplied to her from an invisible source. She had attained so high a position of Divine favour that it completely astounded the prophet of that time, and exceeded his own degree. Zakariyya (the prophet) was dumb-founded when he looked upon her.

In the history of Islam itself there are many pious and distinguished women. There can be few men who are able to reach the high status of Khadijah, [1] and no men can except the Holy Prophet himself and ‘Ali could attain the status of az-Zahra.[2] az-Zahra excelled her sons, the Imams, and all the prophets as well, excepting the Seal of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.). Islam does not make any difference between man and woman in the journey from this world towards al-Haqq (the Truth, i.e., towards God). The only difference that Islam makes is in the journey from al-Haqq to this world, in returning to mankind and bearing the prophetic message, and here it recognizes man as being more suitable.

Another derogatory view that was held was in connection with sexual abstention and the sacredness of being single and celibate. As we know, in some religions, sexual intercourse is in its essence unclean. According to the followers of these religions only those who live all their life in celibacy can attain the stations of the spirit. One of the world’s well-known religious leaders said:

“Root out the tree of marriage with the spade of virginity”.

The same religious leaders allow marriage only as one evil to ward off a greater evil. In other words they maintain that, as majority of people are unable to endure the hardship of remaining celibate and may loose Self-control and thus become victims of perversion, indulging in sexual contact with numerous women, it is better that they should marry and not have sexual relations with more than one woman. The root cause of sexual abstention and celibacy is a feeling of aversion against the female sex. These people consider love of women to be one of the great moral depravities.

Islam has combated fiercely against this superstition. It considers marriage to be sacred and celibacy to be impure. Islam considers love of women to be a part of prophetic morality, and says:

“Love of women is of the morality of the prophets.” The last Prophet used to say: “Three things are dear to me: perfume, women and prayer.”

Bertrand Russell says: [3] “In all codes of moral conduct there appears a kind of aversion to sexual relations except in Islam. Islam has ordained regulations and limitations with regard to this relationship for social reasons, but it has never considered it an abominable and unclean matter.”

Another derogatory opinion held regarding women was that she is only a means for bringing man into existence, and that she was created for man.

These ideas can never be found in Islam. Islam most explicitly explains the basis of the final cause, it says quite clearly that the earth and the sky, the clouds and the winds, plants and animals have all been created for man. But it never says that woman was created for man. Islam says that man and women were each created for the other:


They are a vestment for you (man) and you are a vestment for them, (Qur’an, 2:187). If the Qur’an considered woman to be a means of making men and something created for then, it would certainly have kept this fact in view in its laws. As Islam, in its explanation of creation, does not have this opinion and does not consider woman to be a parasite on man’s existence, there is no trace or reflection of this idea in its special precepts regarding man and woman.

Another of the derogatory views held in the past was that women were considered an unavoidable and necessary evil. Many men, in spite of all the gains and advantages they had derived from women, regarded them contemptuously and considered them to be a source of misfortune and misery. The holy Qur’an makes a special mention of the fact that woman is a blessing for man and is a source of solace and comfort for his heart.

Yet another derogatory view was that woman played a very insignificant part in bringing offspring into the world, Arabs of the pre-Islamic age, and certain other peoples, considered women to be only a repository for the sperm of the man which, according to them, was the real seed of the child, and they said that her part was to keep that seed safe and to nourish it. The Qur’an says in several verses that: “You were created from man and woman.” In other verses, which are analyzed in the commentaries, the final answer has been given in a similar way.

From what has been said above, it is clear that both from a philosophical point of view, as well as from its explanation of the nature of creation, Islam does not hold any derogatory ideas concerning women; rather, it has seen to it that all the above mentioned derogatory views are discarded. Now it is appropriate to examine why there is an absence of identicalness in the rights of men and women.

[1] Khadijah was the Holy Prophet’s first and most dearly beloved wife. She was the first person to believe in his prophethood, and she proved a firm support for him in the first difficult years of his mission. (Tr.)

[2] Fatimatu’ z-Zahra’ was the Holy Prophet’s daughter, the wife of ‘Ali, and the mother of the second and third Imams, Hasan and Husayn. She is included by the Shi’ah, together with the Holy Prophet and the twelve Imams, among the fourteen immaculate ones, free from sin. (Tr.)

[3] Translated from the Persian, reference untraced (Tr.)

**Now as per my views: I believe this article was written by a Shi’ah as earlier the author mentioned woman was not made from Adam’s left side HOWEVER there is a hadith (Which obviously Shi’ahs don’t follow) saying:

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “Treat women nicely, for a woman is created from a rib, and the most curved portion of the rib is its upper portion, so, if you should try to straighten it, it will break, but if you leave it as it is, it will remain crooked.  So treat women nicely

Furthermore, Fatimah (ra) was NOT sinless. ONLY Prophets (pbut) are sinless. AND EVEN THEN, they’ve made mistakes…**


30 Dec

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Winnipeg Article on Niqaab

30 Dec

But some women choose covering

Family handout / Postmedia News Minna Ella (centre), with her family in Montreal, was born and raised in Ontario but has been told by strangers �You�re in Canada, now,� and to �go home.�

When Minna Ella walks through the department store, she’s one of the few women who don’t get pestered by clerks trying to dole out free makeup and perfume samples.

“They just look right through me,” says the 35-year-old.

The reason seems clear.

Whenever the mother of four leaves her house in Waterloo, Ont., she covers herself with a niqab, a Muslim veil that covers her from head to toe, leaving a slit for her eyes.

She is one of an estimated 300 women across Canada living their public lives under the cover of this veil.

Ella, who was born and raised in Ontario, says in the past few years, she has noticed a sense of growing anger and fear from Canadians.

This week, Jason Kenney, the minister of immigration, citizenship and multiculturalism, announced that women will now be required to remove their face coverings during citizenship swearing-in ceremonies.

Survey results from Forum Research showed widespread support for the move, with 81 per cent of respondents saying they agreed with it.

In fact, a majority of the survey’s 1,160 respondents in every major category — sex, age, region and political persuasion — agreed.

Still, some have been angered and point to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects religious freedoms and freedom of expression, saying this rule will set Canada back, and flies in the face of our multicultural society.

“We have never locked into a notion of what it means to be Canadian,” says Bev Baines, professor of public and constitutional law at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.

“So, if we want to have a debate about our identity, we should have it being conscious of the fact that almost a third of Canadians now are not the old-line francophone or anglophone folks that we used to be.”

The veil has become a highly political garment, both here and abroad, with Canadians, both Muslim and non-Muslim, on both sides of the debate.

France and Belgium were the first to ban the face covering in all public spaces, and the issue often makes headlines in the Netherlands and Denmark, with supporters calling the niqab a “medieval relic” that oppresses women and promotes sex discrimination.

Naima Bouteldja, a French researcher who interviewed 32 niqabi women in that country for an April 2011 report and is in the process of doing the same in the United Kingdom, says there is a disproportionate response from politicians to what they see as the “problem of the niqab.”

Bouteldja wears the hijab, a Muslim garment that covers her hair but leaves her face revealed.

“It’s a clear political manipulation, which they use to divert attention from economic problems,” says Bouteldja, who says she personally has not met any women forced to wear the niqab.

In fact, she says some have been thrown into family conflict because they choose to cover against the wishes of their parents.

“But none of this is addressed by an outright ban,” she says.

Ella says under her niqab she wears makeup and follows the latest fashion trends.

“If you were to visit me at home, I would be wearing whatever I want to wear — I have skinny jeans and nice tops, I have everything that everyone else wears, but I only show them inside my home, with my family and friends, or outside with only women.

“In our book, the Qur’an, there are verses that God has sent to us that explain how we’re supposed to dress,” says Ella, when asked why she decided, at age 17, to cover herself for the sake of modesty.

Still, in countries such as Canada and France, where women have fought for equality, where an increasingly secular society has seen religious belief steadily decline, and where many young women take every excuse to flaunt what Mother Nature gave them, the idea that any woman would choose to keep her body out of sight can seem alien.

“It’s hard for many Canadians to understand,” says University of Montreal researcher Patrice Brodeur.

When confronted with a woman in a niqab, there’s a certain level of discomfort because we don’t know how to behave, he says.

Without being able to see her body language, how can we know her intentions?

But banning certain types of dress has never been the answer, he says.

The government’s move has earned praise from some quarters.

Tarek Fatah of the Muslim Canadian Congress applauded Kenney’s announcement.

“He has done in one stroke what any other Canadian politician has not had the courage to do. It sends a clear message that this attire is not welcome in Canada.”

Fatah, whose organization has been called right-wing by members of other Muslim organizations in this country, called the niqab “monstrous” and accused women who wear it of being agents of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood who hate Canada.

He says the veil allows them to avoid pledging allegiance to the Queen which, he says, is against their “extremist views.”

Brodeur counters that it’s foolish to assume all women who wear one piece of traditional clothing think or believe the same thing.

Critics of the Tory government’s recent policy change have pointed out it was done with little public consultation with the community.

Furthermore, Brodeur says, the niqab simply isn’t that prevalent in Canadian society.

There are not more than 50 women in the Greater Montreal Area who wear the niqab, he says.

There are perhaps 100 around Toronto, and fewer in Vancouver, and a total of maybe 300, at most, across the country, Brodeur estimated.

Those numbers could grow.

The population of Muslims in Canada is expected to nearly triple in the next 20 years, from about 940,000 in 2010 to nearly 2.7 million in 2030, according to a Pew Forum survey on The Future of the Global Muslim Population.

Muslims are expected to make up 6.6 per cent of Canada’s total population in 2030, up from 2.8 per cent today.

“It’s frustrating because we are not a threat,” Ella says.

“They are making us seem like a threat, they are making up stories and making people scared of us.”

When asked if she will guide her daughter to cover herself, Ella says no, it’s a personal matter between a believer and her creator.

“No one else can make that decision for her.”

But she is worried.

“I was shopping once and a lady came up very close to me. She stared into my eyes and said ‘You’re in Canada, now.’ “

Most people tell her to “go home” or give her dirty looks, Ella says, but she just keeps silent when this happens.

“It makes me feel sad, because I would like to reach out and say, ‘I’m just like you, and I dress like this because it’s a religious thing, but it doesn’t make me less human than you.’ “

— Postmedia News

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 17, 2011 A29

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Muslim View on Niqab and Citizenship Oath

30 Dec

Targeting Niqabis: The Canadian Citizenship Niqab Ban

By Waleed Ahmed
MMNewsTeam- Canada

Well, they’ve done it yet again. Niqabi’s have somehow managed to make headlines all across Canada. It’s amazing how much influence this small group of women have on the national psyche. A few weeks ago I mentioned the niqab rage incident in Mississauga. Then there is the on going case of the woman who was sexually assaulted and wants to testify in court with a niqab. This week, the niqab issue was brought up once again.

This time it was Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenny who sparked the controversy. Effective immediately, he announced on Monday, all niqabs are banned from the oath taking citizenship ceremony. Any Muslim woman wishing to become a Canadian citizen must remove the veil during the ceremony he stated. Kenny said that the niqab ‘reflects a certain view about women that we don’t accept in Canada’.

Minister Kenny also clarified that this isn’t just about the judge being able to see and validate the recital of the oath, “This is not simply a practical measure. It is a matter of deep principle that goes to the heart of our identity and our values of openness and equality”. The niqab obviously violates all that we hold sacred in Canada according to Kenny.

So, what was the last time you heard of a woman refusing to take off the niqab before swearing the citizenship oath? Never. How many women even take the oath wearing a niqab? Probably an insignificant number. Neither Mr. Kenny nor his office could provide any statistics to back up the ban they so forcefully implemented. No one knew about this complaint up till this week. Clearly, this wasn’t a problem to begin with.

It is obvious that this ban is yet another sleazy bigoted move by the Conservatives to score political points and gain some short term popularity. And it’s worked quite well. At a time when their government is under heavy criticism due to the mess they created in Attawapiskat, playing the Muslim card is the best way out. Prime Minister Stephen Harper used similar tactics in September when he warned us all that the greatest threat to Canada was‘Islamicism’ – whatever that is.

Regardless of the motivations behind it, the ban carries many implications. Disallowing the veil at a symbolic event like the citizenship ceremony sends a strong message that the niqab is not welcome in Canada; it certainly flies flat in the face of the tolerant and welcoming society we aim to foster. As the Toronto Star aptly put it, the ban coerces Muslim women to fit into the mainstream – ‘behave and look just like us, or pay the price’. So much for the individualism we value so much.

Jason Kenny, like most, believes that he is liberating the niqabi’s from the oppression imposed on them by their husbands and fathers. Reality is thathe is restricting their freedom and engagement with society by disallowing them to become citizens. Perhaps – this is just a wild idea – by allowing them to become citizens, we might have a greater chance of integrating these new comers into our social fabric?

This unnecessary ban impacts a few and is largely political and symbolic; much like the Hérouxville ban on the public stoning of women. In and of itself, I don’t think many niqabi’s would have refused a polite request by the judge to reveal their face in the first place. If validating the oath recital was so important, this requirement could have been easily communicated through a simple memo to the parties concerned.

Making a national spectacle over a non-issue has sparked endless debates on multiculturalism, religious accommodation and Canadian Muslims. It has further helped ‘otherize’ Muslims and has created an ‘us verses them’ dichotomy. You can either be a niqabi or a Canadian – that’s what the ban represents. It’s left some women with the awkward choice between citizenship and religion.

My fear is that measures like these are the stepping stones to full public bans. They help immunize the public to the singling out and marginalization of Muslims. The core arguments used for the niqab could very well be applied to the hijab too – what is to prevent that from being banned next?

Given the unpopularity of niqab within our own community, many Muslims may not feel the need to speak out against this act. But know that these are just the building blocks to greater cuts in our religious freedoms; if we stay silent now, then we’re setting ourselves up for disaster. If you don’t speak up for the niqabi’s, no one will speak up for you.

Toronto Star Article on Niqab and Citizenship Oath

30 Dec

Is the Canadian citizenship ceremony a place where Muslim women should show up with their faces covered to take the oath? Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government thinks not. And it’s a fair bet that a lot of Canadians would agree.

Even in the Muslim community, the niqab and burqa are controversial. Only a tiny fraction of Muslim women go about veiled. The few who do deliberately hold themselves aloof from the wider community and display beliefs that run counter to ideals about equality between men and women. These are jarring signals to be sending at the very moment when one is joining the Canadian family.

As Immigration Minister Jason Kenney sees it, the veil “reflects a certain view about women that we don’t accept in Canada. We want women to be full and equal members of Canadian society and certainly when they’re taking the citizenship oath, that’s the right place to start.” Again, most people would probably agree.

All that said, should Canada be coercing women to fit into the “mainstream,” whatever that may be in our pluralistic society, by withholding citizenship, along with the right to vote, run for public office and hold some jobs? Is the citizenship ceremony the place to demand that newcomers give up deeply held religious or cultural practices that are perfectly legal and don’t hurt anyone else? Is it the place to be telling newcomers to behave and look just like us, or pay the price?

What “matter of deep principle” is Kenney trying to affirm here? And how does it square with Canada’s vaunted image as an open, tolerant, welcoming society?

Indeed, where does the Conservative government get off by denying otherwise qualified people citizenship without benefit of a debate in Parliament and the appropriate legislation? It’s one thing to expect newcomers to speak English or French, to grasp something of our history and to respect our laws. It’s quite another to demand that they pay obeisance to mainstream cultural preferences. Where could this leave any minority?

Ironically, this comes as the Supreme Court is weighing the case of a Muslim woman who wants to wear a niqab in court as she testifies against relatives whom she says sexually assaulted her. The issues are quite different: in a courtroom, a woman’s right to cover her face must be weighed against the accused’s right to a fair trial. But the high court is rightly giving due consideration to cultural accommodation even as the immigration ministry brushes the notion aside in a situation where no one else’s rights are at stake. There’s a gaping disconnect here.  **VERY much agree with this.

Unfortunately, the Harper government has never seen a Muslim veil that it didn’t want to ban. Kenney has also said he thinks it “reasonable” that Muslim women be forced to show their faces when they vote, even though hundreds of thousands of people have voted in past elections by mail-in ballot, sight unseen. He’d like to fix a “problem” that exists only in his mind.

The remedy, in the case of citizenship oaths, should not be hard to find. Why not have the few veiled women who want to swear the oath unveil themselves before women judges, in private, or before a male judge if they are willing? (This would also address Kenney’s unpersuasive concern that some judges find it hard to tell whether veiled women are reciting the oath.) We know of no cases in Canada where women have refused to show their faces to obtain passports, driver’s licences and other documents, or to clear security and immigration at ports of entry. Why should administering a citizenship oath be so problematic? **VERY MUCH agree with this as well.

Unless, of course, the government is simply singling out a tiny number of women to curry favour with the majority. But that would be bigotry. Kenney believes in “full and equal” membership in society. A good place to begin would be to resist the impulse to punish those who are different – however much we disagree with their beliefs.