Monday, 26 February 2007

Niqab Encounter

Saturday evening after the kids returned from their Arabic school, we went to the cinema as I have promised them to go and see Charlotte's Web , the film is based on the famous book written by E B White. Its a story about a friendship between a spider and a pig! Amir as usual wanted to sit at the front which is terrible as I usually cant see much if I sit there, he sat on his own, I sat with the rest of the family in the second row just behind him. I thought the film was well made with a good message for children about the values of friendship even if its between a spider and a pig!
Because of their Arabic school taking most of the day, I booked the evening show, what I did not like was the large number of teenagers running and shouting and being very rude all over the cinema, the kids felt a bit intimidated and stayed close, the people working there kept their eyes on the teenagers, most of these kids came to watch Charlotte's Web, there are 5 other screens showing other films, many of them were using their mobile phones and generally making a lot of noise but after a warning from staff they became very quiet and we all got on with watching the movie.
Yesterday I went to Tesco as I always do on Sundays to do the weekly food shopping, I only took my son with me, after we finished shopping I went to the shortest til but as always whichever til you chose, it seems to last the longest. In front of me there was a Muslim couple with their young child, they had a trolley packed with children's food, all sort of jars filled with baby food, 100s of jars, my first reaction was how come they have so many food jars that contain meat! I myself do not have a hung up about Halal or non Halal meat, I believe that there is no harm in eating food as long as its prepared by the people of the book, for my home I only buy Halal meat & chicken but if I go out and eat at a restaurant or fast food bar then I have no problem in ordering a cheese burger saying Bismellah and eating it. the couple in front of me looked very strict, the man with a long beard, the woman in full Niqab, I just assumed that they would never touch what they would consider non Halal meat, as the man was packing his shopping in plastic bags, his wife just stood there watching, she did not attempt to move a finger, it was taking a long time and Amir started to get bored and noisy, eventually the female cashier started to help him pack his shopping which I thought was good of her but if I was in her place then I am not sure if I would do that seeing the wife is not helping, after what took ages I got there paid for my shopping and started walking towards the car, the lady in Niqab was standing in front of me in the car park, she was staring at me, I looked at her I just saw her eyes and immediately realised that she was a white English convert, I continued walking when suddenly she started shouting at me what are you looking at? she repeated it few times but I chose to ignore her, actually I chose to do what she wants the whole world to do that is to ignore her and treat her as a non entity, obviously she has problems and hang ups about her Niqab or she would not have shouted at me and what for? for daring to look her in the eyes! Few minutes later as I was loading the shopping in the car, her husband came over to me, looked at me I looked back at him then he went back to his precious wife and probably told her that he sorted me out, Yeah Sure!
This is a free country and luckily for them they can wear what ever they want but to expect that people react normally to something so unnecessary in European countries as wearing a niqab then they should think again.


Safia speaks said...

I loved Charlotte´s Web as a book when I was a kiddie. Haven´t seen the film yet, but my kids are too big for it so we´re probably gonna go and see Idi Amin with Forest Whitacker.

Your story was quite funny; you almost ended up getting a punch in the nose haha - I have no big opinion about nigab or not; let people dress like they want. My friend wears nigab here in Denmark, and once I only recognized her in a shopping mall by her son. I said assalamu aleikum and shook her hand, silently hoping it was my girlfriend and not anyone else. I always think about the children in Saudia in the shopping centre; it must be a nightmare for them to get lost and then searching the eyes of hundreds of black nigab-clad women in order to find their mother. Maybe one day some kids will get home with the wrong Mum.
At least in Libya you can recognize your Mum by her feet and shibshib because the Libyan white dress is above the ankles.

Regarding the halal meat; I do take great care in securing any meat is halal. But then all chicken meat in Denmark is halal because it comes from one chicken factory that hass a mass production of chicken to the Middle East. So normally I just order chicken, seafood or veggie meals.

Anonymous said...

"as its prepared by the people of the book"

Actually that religious opinion is followed by the Hanbalien (saudi's) more than anyone else . For the rest they usually check the slaughter houses first because not everyone in the restaurant or slaughter house is of the people of the book, then you have the issue of chicken being grilled with pork and not halal meat and in north America they use pork larder, which makes it more complicated.

Anonymous said...

Sorry forget to add that is why the strict ones will probably buy that type of meat without any problem. I even remember a Saudi friend saying that .

mani said...

hahaha Anglo so you were shouted at for peeking hahaha.. what a shame..

why oh why the Niqab?.. I mean, my mother, who is my Muslim role model only ever wears the letham when we go to Msellata in Libya and even then its only because those guys there can literally undress a person with their eyes and stares.. but there is no reason whatsoever for the Niqab to be a symbol of piety let alone a Muslim dress. it is certainly not. Any Saudi women can tell you that niqab is a great cover for lewdness and indecent acts... but coming from Saudi, its a perplexing idiom.. just take a look at rotana or the Saudi owned music channels promoting zena and fo7sh and see how much the niqab is taken seriously (especially when its part of the video clip.. subhana Allah) Its the ultimate patriarchal oppression and could damage the woman in so many ways.. while Allah swt says that (wala yobdeena zeenatahonan ella ma thahara menha) these guys are covering what naturally is seen of a woman's zeena and showing what is prohibited.. namely the make up, the glitter, the belts, the jewellery, the strut ..... ya sater ya rab..

Suliman said...

Women in Niqab are the Fourier transform of skinheads, and both attract onlookers in the same way. Basically, people are intrigued by cultist attire of all sorts.

You should've told her, you were looking at the show. Any deliberate visual signal that contrasts with background level is exactly that--a show. That does not deny her the right, but her case is no different from a man or woman walking the average bazar in a bathing suit or a Halloween costume.

AngloLibyan said...

Yes Safia, the film is more suitable for younger kids I think, still very nice film :o)
I used to think the same when my kids went to Muslim schools,many niqab wearing women would come and pick up their kids, I used to wonder if it is who they say it is! I mean what if a criminal decides to come to the school, the security guard would never check!!

anonymous, thanks for your comment, I had asked the equivellent of Mufti of London about this subject and he assured me that it is ok to say Bismellah and eat. the guy in the supermarket may well be Saudi!

Thanks mani for the visit :o)
your point is very valid especially here in Europe where a woman in Niqab will get more attention.

Suliman, Niqab does attract a lot of attention and for this reason any self respecting woman would not wear it otherwise she should put up wth show and shut up. thank you.

Ema said...

Well the only time my mom wears Niqab is when she goes to a wedding.
but this poor woman, hmmm let me say first she didn't help her husband pic up the grocery, maybe he had banned her from moving in public incase of showing her figure while doing that,OK that might mean that her husband is a wa3er man, so she is that kind of women that might been tought the hard way how to be a muslim (if she was as u said an english convert).
so i may asume that she had this idea that men are looking at her when they are only cought by the niqab overall shape.
she might be frightend that her husband might think it's ok with her...or whatever

lucky her man gave you "The Look" lol or else... lol

Beacon said...

Hi AL.
Thanks for the entertaining post, and I applaud you for the patience, respect and reserve you showed to deal with the unfortunate situation you faced.
Personally speaking, I believe that any one can wear what they want just as long as it is respectable and does not cause any offence or a danger to others!
That aside, I regard my self as a fairly good Muslim albeit never perfect, but the niqab does scare me and it does what many of its wearers set out to avoid, it attracts attention and the wrong kind at that. I still can't figure out why its needed.
I believe in hijab, but I don't believe in enforcing it and in reality I have known/seen many women who don't wear it but they are a role model for respect and dignity and I have seen many women who wear the hijab, even the niqab, but their actions and morals don't show it.
I guess what really matters is not what a person wears on the outside, but what matters is what lies within that person, alas if people could only realize this.
May Allah forgive us for any unintentional oversights...

God bless..


Lebeeya said...

hehe, you should have ran when she shouted at you ;) ... I didnt like the lady the minute I read how she just stood there without helping her husband. I knew she was bad news lol.. Anyway, its great you handled the situtation so well and with an attitude like hers, I wouldnt have been surprised if she started chasing after you when u ignored her question!

i cant imagine myself wearing a niqab.. too weird. i quit.

when I go to Saudi Arabia, random men come up to me and tell me to put on a niqab. is it cuz they cant stand my face??? or because the nur which eminates from it is blinding??

white african said...

lol anglo what a situation? i applaud you for not answering back at her, i doubt i would have been able to contain myself.

in saudi i was given so many leaflets on 'proper hijab' which contained wearing niqab, i think they where trying to tell me something.

cofman said...

Al7amdolillah 3ala salamtak lol

her husband is a proud man, and very protective too, lol, can you blame him? Pity it was you, the most gentle, not me.
Anglo, the other day I was doing some work in this far away city, I parked the car and started walking and, out from nowhere, this guy in front of me was dressed like what I can only describe from watching TV a pure and original Afghani, you know, those from Kabul, wearing the full gear, obviously without Klashenkof, the trousers, the long shirt, thick leather belt, a beard that reached his waist with enough hair to make 60 wigs, and a hat or scarf, or both actually, it was so quick I couldn’t see enough of him since he was walking in the opposite direction.
After we passed one another I quickly stopped pretending my shoe strings needed fixing, lol, hoping for another good look at this unusual sight but I couldn’t help it, I wanted to see more. The shock came when I noticed he was wearing Nike trainers, dressed in Afghani in high street lol

Trabilsia said...

A lovely post as usual Anglo, you top them all MashaAllah.
Ahh.... you reminded me of my childhood, I too read the story but haven't seen the film yet.

The niquab is an ususal sight and makes people very curious .

Islam in itself is a very simple religion which teaches us to lead
an uncomplicated way of life.
Yet our fellow mulims come up with a new craze,every now and again and insisit it was written in the Holy Koran.
I'm not a racist nor do I ever hope to be one, but the other day a black women wearing a niquab passed me by and I thought to myself......... jealous hubby,a true beauty ,and out of curiosity ,approached her and had a look to find the ugliest face ever (got a glimpse due to her holding her baby son battling with her to be breastfed )!!!
What in the world ????!!!
As Lebeeya said I hate people who FANAS (stare) but this niqaub crab really makes me feel very uncomfortable. What if it were a man wearing the niquab sitting between ladies , I mean who is to say ???
I believe in wearing hijab, but have many friends from different religions who obviously don't and it doesn't bother me one bit. It's what's inside our hearts that counts and not what is revealed in pretence.
For me the niquab is an indecent way of hiding something and being fully irresponsible for one's doings whatever they may be..........

AngloLibyan said...

Ema that man was not wa3er (hard), he only gave me a tiny look that would not scare a mouse :o)
anyway if he was wa3er then his wife wouldnot be allowed to talk let alone shou at men!

Beacon, I agree with you that people can wear what ever they want although I do believe that niqab can be risky as it can be used by the wrong people. Thank you for your comment.

Lebeeya, I can see it in the local news paper: Muslim man chased by a deranged burka wearing person shouting WHY DID YOU LOOK AT ME!
it cant be because they cant stand your face, it has to be NUR :o)

thanks whiteafrican, you got those leaflets for the same reason as lebeeya :o)

Cofman, that is a weird story :o)
then again if you dress differently then you have to put up with people's curiousity.

Thank you Trabiliba, this is kind of you.
niqab does attract a lot of attention here, its a security risk especially as I mentioned schools, any sick person can dress in niqab and be a danger to children in fact some time ago here in London some thieves (men) tried to rob a bank dressed in niqabs. as you mentioned, the strange thing is that many of the women that wear niqab I was told that they are quite ugly so again what is the point??

Brave Heart said...

i believe wearing Niqab or not is personal matter,as u know in Libya we don't prevent western women to go to the beach with 2 pieces, if there are some body use niqab in bad way that doesn't mean niqab is a problem, i think the problem is the sick mantel, and i think this woman has this sick mantel that is why she acted in this way.

Trabilsia said...

Anglo ,
Me and my tongue !I hate it when I say a person is ugly. Cause a person can look ugly but be of fantastic character and wonderful human nature.
It's the sneakiness/hiding, that I truly detest and can't stand.

AngloLibyan said...

thanks brave heart, yes I think she had problems.

Trabilsia, I know what you meant and agree with you.

MaySoon said...

I miss going to the movies :o(..

About the niqabi, obviously she was being anxious, and having a problem accepting the way she was dressed herself :o)

AngloLibyan said...

thanks Maysoon, yes that is what I believe too.

Anonymous said...

Anglolibyan........Sister if your a muslim you should know it is wrong to back bite and one should make seventy excuses for their muslim brother or sister.

i am a muslim woman who also wears a niqab but we are all different. we are not perfect. It is possible that sister was upset or angry already before you looked at her. Some people dont take staring to well eather.And knowing what is like wearing a niqab, life is not a bed of roses. I wouldn't say the niqab is a hinderance because i remember when the hijab caused the same effect. But inshallah people wil become use to it.

When you wear niqab in a european country people treat you disgustingly, like your not a person; this shows they depend on looks rather than personality . It means the friends you have or the friends you get could are all based on what you look rather than what you are! we have become superficial people without doubt.

when i wore the niqab at first i was on tenterhooks as anything could happen beacuse i wasn't use to it but now alhamdulilah that is not a problem anymore. Maybe that sister was new to it rather than not feeling comfortable. It is the most greatest feeling when you are covered and having the conviction no man can view your ornaments and that you have the upperhand and he could never violate you. lol and that statement to undress someone with the eyes is impossible!.

The niqab is an issue which is discussed by many scholars about whether it is an obligation or not but without doubt it is good thing and brings no harm.It is the way of the prophet's wives and as muslims we should emulate the prophet's teachings and his companions in order to be sucessful bi'thinillah.

And last of all we should give that sister credit for accepting the truth and trying best to be a practising muslimah, it is often hard;escpecially from pressures of her family, friends and so on...she's changed everything to hear and understand the call of al-islam. Mashallah

AngloLibyan said...

thank you anonymous and im not a sister I am a brother :o)
I did not back bite anyone, I simply do not believe in wearing niqab in a western society where it brings a lot of suspecion, of course this is a free country and you are entitled to wear what ever you want.

Anonymous said...

Anglolibyan, I hope you don't proclaim to be openminded? Because your thoughts and actions in this case come across (to me) to be quite judgemental. I don't mean this to be an attack, it's just an observation.....perhaps just my perception.

Certainly no one deserves to be yelled at (unless shouting to prevent harm like, "Stop! Don't fall down that hole/step on the dogturd/fall in front of that truck!!" LOL). I admire that you & the lady's husband kept your respective 'cool' (firstly by you not yelling back at her and then by you & her husband not getting in a punch up). However there could be several reasons why she didn't help her husband at the checkout other than the ones mentioned above. Speaking from personal experience I'm tired of the "oh no, let me do it" tug-o-war between hubby and me (he loves to show his 'protector/warrior/hunter/gatherer' side,) and also whenever I'm pregnant I have a high risk of miscarriage which comes with the doctor's warning of bedrest and NO bending, lifting, vacumning etc etc.

I personally believe in obeying the laws of the country you live in or visit. Was she breaking any laws by wearing niqab? If no, then we should be accepting and tolerant of differences of opinions, tastes, dress, lifestyles etc - everyone has their own way of living. Certainly when you are one who doesn't "blend in with the crowd" then be prepared for some looks and stares but they needn't be rude, mind you, just curious/ or interested/ or WTF?!- I don't think women who wear niqab expect to blend-in as it is my understanding they do it because of religious conviction and their interpretation of Islam. I believe it takes great bravery to make a stand and follow what you believe in (so long as you aren't breaking any laws of course). I think it is incorrect to assume that because someone is different (looking/thinking) that they reject the rest of society and also want to change that society.


Anonymous said...

PS I have to laugh at some people who said that niqab is misused (which then calls for it to be banned). What about other disguises such as glasses, sunglasses, wigs, make-up, beards & moustaches, padding, false teeth, fake tans/skin colors, clothing/uniforms, height-increasing shoes- the ones that if used skillfully can change your appearance & make you blend in, not STAND OUT! Aren't these disguises more dangerous? Wouldn't wearing fabric all over your face and body make you stand out more rather that blend in? Just a thought..I feel sorry for all the media-bashing these poor women (niqab-wearing) get. I feel sorry for them that when they dress how they want to dress they get such a hard time from everyone. Just my views...

Jannah said...

I live in america and am an american convert married to an arab. I don't wear niqaab yet but am thinking of doing it. I think these brave women who wear niqab in "the west" need all the support they can get especially from other Muslims. If you would not personally wear niqaab, that is you, but we should all support each other in Islam and try to make the way easy for other Muslims to practice Islam as much as we can.

About the groceries, I don't help my husband with the groceries because he doesn't want me to. I am not sure why exactly he doesn't like it. He does all the lifting and work outside the house (even carries the baby) and I do the work inside the house. Maybe her husband is like mine and doesn't want her to do the groceries.(maybe he thinks it is the mans job?) But then again, my husband would never let me shout at a man like that. If I want to shout at some one I ask my husband to do it for me (but he doesn't).

Also if you are a Muslim man, what are you doing trying to look into the eyes of a married niqaabi woman? Even if you are not concerned with downcasting your own eye, you should be able to understand that she is and respect that.

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