The Niqab is Cultural!

French Muslim women paying a fine for exercising their right to wear a Niqab

And so it is claimed by our friends, and our enemies. But with friends like these, who needs enemies?

The Niqab has undeniably a theological foundation in traditional Islam. This has been proven time and time again. Failures such as Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, who is an Ismaeli and therefore not representative of mainstream Muslims, Taj Hargey who rejects Hadith outright and therefore is not representative of mainstream Muslims, disillusioned Muslim men and women who speak without knowledge, and non-Muslims who have no qualification whatsoever to challenge the theological foundations of the Niqab, however keep repeating the same claim – The Niqab is cultural.

I am not going to go through each school of Fiqh and reiterate what has already been mentioned elsewhere. Here are the links for each of the schools as espoused the experts in each of the schools:

  • Hanafi, here) and here (In the second link, the Maliki scholar, Abdus Shakur Brooks clarifies the opinions of the Malikis in the comments section)
  • Shafi’i position here
  • Hanbali position here
  • Maliki position here

A general resource on the position of the Niqab in Islam, here

There is a difference in the obligatoriness, i.e. whether it is Waajib, Sunnah or Mustahab, but none of the classical authorities dispute the Islamic basis for the Niqab and the commendation for it if worn.

To address the Muslims first.  Please do not undermine the sisters who wear the Niqab. It is their opinion, it is their belief, let them practice their faith as they see fit.  As shown above it has it’s basis.  We have to realise that when statements like its cultural are made and condescend it through comfort statements like I don’t think its right but…, you are,

  1. Being factually wrong
  2. Providing ammunition against a fellow believer

This will result in our Niqabi sisters being isolated and exposed to unjustified attacks from spoon-fed politicians and right-wing media. Instead Muslims should support this right, even if you do not practice upon it yourself.

To address MPs and the media,

Understand that within each minority there are common factors.  These are what define a minority. The Muslim minority have common factors, however as with any minority, there will always be differences.

To pick a position which is suitable to your fancy and attack the other, or to marginalise it, or use one against the other to make your point, is grossly inappropriate and smacks of colonialist strategies to control a group. It is ethically immoral and also against International norms and recommendations. In November 2013, the Sixth Session of the Forum on Minority Issues which has been authorised by the Human Rights Council to provide recommendations to States, at paragraph 13 stated the following:

The diversity that exists within religious minority groups must also be recognized. The rights of every single member of such minority groups must be respected fully.

The Niqab is Islamic. It is the choice of women to wear it. It is practiced by a minority within the Muslim minority. To not recognise this constitutes a violation of International standards associated with minorities.

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