Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Real Issue: Choice Between Modesty and Nudity

Historically, African Americans have looked at the country of France with respect and admiration. When African American solders were sent to France in 1917, during WW I, they were treated with respect and consideration. The French citizens demonstrated open-mindedness toward African Americans soldiers. The recognition and respect, without marginality, demonstrated by France was in direct contrast to America's Jim-Crowism and segregation leveled at its Black citizens.

However, after 93 years France has shifted its political and social policies of democracy and equality toward 'secularism' at a cost of religious freedom. In America, where 24-30% of its Muslim population are African Americans, the respect for France has shifted to regret and condemnation at the French Senate, which adopted into law banning Muslim women from wearing veils -- including the burqa, the full-body covering worn by some Muslim women. This law denies Muslim women the right to cover their faces in public arenas such as hospitals, schools, government buildings and while using public transportation.

The law imposes a fine of 150 euros ($190) and/or a citizenship course as punishment for wearing a face-covering veil. Forcing a woman to wear a women to wear a niqab or a burqa will be punishable by a year in prison or 15,000-euro ($19,000) fine, the government said, calling it "a new form of enslavement that the republic cannot accept on its soil."

The ban pertains to the burqa, a full-body covering that includes a mesh over the face, and the niqab, a full-face veil that leaves an opening only for the eyes. The hijab, which covers the hair and neck but not the face, and the chador, which covers the body but not the face, apparently are not banned by law.

The real issue, from a Muslim's perspective, is framed around the choice between 'modesty' and 'nudity'. The non-Muslim political face may suggest that the real issue is the choice between 'religion' and 'secularism'. Secularism may be viewed as the endeavor to maintain the separation between 'church' and 'state'.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believes that a person's choice of dress is a personal matter. Islam teaches modesty for both men and women but underlying all Islamic injunctions is the Qur'anic principle that 'There is no compulsion in religion'. Thus if a woman, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, chooses not to cover her head then that is her right but on the other hand if a woman, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, chooses to cover her head or face then that too is her right and ought never to be interfered with. This belief was echoed by President Barack Obama in a speech in Cairo last June 09. He said:

" is important for Western countries to avoid impeding Muslim citizens from practicing religion as they see fit - for instance, by dictating what clothes a Muslim women should wear. We can't disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretense of liberalism."

America! Religious freedom is a gift that we must honor, preserve and protect. Our claim as a great nation is not through discrimination, prejudice and intolerance, but through exemplifying the qualities of freedom, justice and equality.

Allah, bless America!

No comments:

Post a Comment

What say you?