Unveiling the Truth behind the Veil
(Bringing Islam to the World One Concept at a Time!
Taking the Qur'an to Every Home and Heart that Needs It --
And which One Does Not?)
Commenting on Current Events
I keep saying I don't; I don't want to; and I will not - comment on current events. Yet, some of them won't leave me alone.
The veil in a British classroom is one such issue that keeps thrusting itself upon my consciousness. So here I am doing what I maintain and say I will not do.
My sources are the same sketchy newspaper reports that everyone reads. And media accounts, as everyone should know, are at best fragmentary, hurried and incomplete. At worst, they could be anything anyone wants. Your guess is as good as mine.
I bear no malice toward either the Muslims or the West. How can I when God has made me both Muslim and part of the West, all at the same time, both identities tightly rolled into one: a Muslim in the West?
To me, there never was and never will be a contradiction between the two, as in reality they are both one and the same.
Islam and Muslims in a Nutshell
A Muslim everywhere is a Muslim: first, second, last - and all the time. And at no time would any Muslim want to be anything else.
At the same time, a Muslim is also an absolutely devoted, loyal, faithful, sincere, dependable, trustworthy, caring, concerned and solicitous friend and servant of those in whose midst God Almighty chooses to place him or her: family, friends, neighbors, community, society and the entire world, including animals, plants, air, water and the environment - that world spreading out in concentric circles from his or her person to infinity.
And all the time a Muslim conducts himself or herself - to the extent humanly possible, and within the limits of individual variations that apply to all human situations - with a profound sense of accountability before God as well as before his fellow humans.
That is Islam for you in a nutshell. And that is the true life, values and orientation of a Muslim, no matter what the drive-by or instant mercenary experts on Islam and Muslims, with their secret and not-so-secret agendas and motivations, tell you otherwise.
And what a nutshell it is. Allahu Akbar!
Western Wing of the Muslim Ummah
It was at least 15 years ago that I articulated, in several hours of back-to-back speeches, and in subsequent writings, the notion of the Western Wing of the Muslim Ummah.
To me the Muslim Ummah is one, just like Allah says in the Qur'an it is. And so is all of humanity at a different level. Both are indivisible, through time and through space, and neither can be chopped up in airtight compartments of either history or geography.
Whatever distinctions of tribe, nation, people, race, color or region exist, they exist so people will recognize each other and organize their lives in a more efficient manner. Otherwise, every man's and every woman's sense of concern should be to all of humanity and everyone's sense of loyalty together should be to God Almighty, the maker and master of all.
Focus of One's Service and Solicitation
And the focus of every human being's service and solicitation should be one's own fellow-humans, starting out with family, relatives and neighbors and extending to the last human being on earth.
So, as a Muslim in and from the West - as part of the Western Wing of the Muslim Ummah that is - the veil issue simply will not leave me alone. I hope nothing but good will come out of my comments on it.
May Almighty Allah forgive me if I say something wrong! And may those who may be affected by my comments also forgive me if I in any way offend them.
For, I seek nothing but to be helpful to the extent I can. As the Qur'an puts it: In ureedu illal islaaha masta-ta'tu.
The Real Issue in the British Classroom
What exactly is the issue? The teacher in England should not have her mouth and face hidden behind a veil when teaching English language to students? Is that the issue?
If it is, then to me it is a nonstarter. For, how else do students learn to associate sound, intonation, voice fluctuation and proper pronunciation with lip movement, mouth position and facial expression?
What about the radio then? Well, then, what is the point of having a classroom with a real teacher in it? Why not we all go back home and turn on our radio sets?
Does the teacher have a choice? Of course she does. She can either remove her veil while teaching or resign.
She can always go to a school that would allow her to teach with the veil on. But such a school will be doing its pupils a signal disservice. And I, though a fairly proud Muslim, would hesitate to send my son or daughter to a school where teachers cover their faces in veils when teaching.
Islam vs. Expediency
The teacher defined her own real position on the issue when she, if newspaper accounts are to be believed, showed up for her job interview, with her face unveiled. The entire story begins and ends right there. Provided, of course, the story as reported by the media is true.
If that indeed is the case, then it is not Islam, but expediency. Islam as a rule does not sanction, far less require, extreme or rigid positions with regard to anything.
And if the teacher's conversion to the veil had occurred after her interview and acceptance of the job, then the proper thing - and the Islamic thing - for her to do was to go to the management and brief them on what had happened and ask them if the changed scenario was acceptable to them.
That is what would have been the right and proper thing - the Islamic thing - for her to do. But clearly the issue is deeper than that.
Who Dresses How in Public: Whose Business Is It Anyway?
As for how a woman chooses to dress in public, when she is not teaching, that is entirely her business, and no one else's. Since when are the dress habits of citizens a politician's business?
Is Britain turning into a Banana Republic with a tin pot dictatorship of the kind the world has been used to in parts of Africa, Middle East and Latin and Central America? Are Egypt and Tunisia and Turkey the examples and lodestars of civil society for Britannia?
Egypt's Anwar Sadaat banned men from wearing long shirts on university campuses. Turkey has been fighting a rearguard action to keep Muslim women from wearing a head covering. And Tunisia has recently issued a ban on headscarves for women.
So, is that the direction of freedom, democracy and human rights in which Britain and other European nations are heading?
Race: The Great Big Default
We all want to be delicate and sensitive how we talk about touchy issues. The Qur'an imposes on Muslims a standard of "softness of discourse" that keeps them tongue-tied most of the time.
But the fact is that it is the height of audacity, arrogance, cynicism - and rabid racism and sexism - for White non-Muslim male politicians to attack or insult a presumably non-White Muslim female citizen based on the way she dresses in public. Under British and European law and culture, her rights in this matter are absolutely unassailable, as even a two-bit politician should know.
So, when it comes to dealing with the Brown people of the world, Britain and Europe have had a long and painful history of adjustment. And anyone can see that they are still working on it.
So, when issues involve the Brown people - or any other so-called "Colored" people - and their cultures and mores the great big default in most Western societies and cultures in many cases is race. Even though by no means is race the sole variable in the equation.
A Dress Code for British Females
What is next for Britain, a dress code for English, Irish, Welsh and Scottish females?
Muslim or not, it is a matter of the inalienable right of a British woman to dress as she jolly well pleases. And it is the duty of politicians and other Ogling Toms to nod to her politely and get out of her way if they don't like the way she is dressed.
As for Islam, it is perhaps best to leave poor Islam out of this entire discussion. For, Islam has nothing to do with people covering their mouth while teaching kids, except where some opportunistic politicians may decide to use it as an occasion to make political hay.