Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Burqa to no Burqa

We need to be pro-choice, i.e., respecting the right of woman to make that choice and not impose on them or ban them for wearing. Who are we do that? We must honor every one's freedom to wear what they want to wear, as long as it is not obstructive to some elses' functioning. French commies want to force women not to wear whereas the Talibans force them to wear, who the heck are these idiots - Mike Ghouse

Burqa to no Burqa
Mike Ghouse, July 4, 2007
Updates added on July 7, appended at the bottom
When the President of the United States abuses the authority given to him and violates the constitution and trust of the people (low approval ratings), when the Pope abuses his authority and utters words that create gratuitous chaos, when the Mufti of Saudi Arabia abuses his authority in pre-empting God’s authority and issues a fatwa declaring another Muslim as a non-Muslim, and when people in power abuse their authority; the people in power over their family also abuse the imposition of Burqa as an instrument of control. However, not all the Presidents, not all the Pope’s, not all the Clerics and not all the people abuse the privileges, some do and I estimate that to be no more than 1/10th of 1% when it comes to the general public.

A majority of Muslim women wear the Burqa out of their own volition, there is no doubt that there are a few men who compel them to wear, and it is certainly an oppressive situation. When you take a principled stand, women are indeed oppressed by all societies, The insecure men; whether it is a Bubba, Mullah or a Prince, be it in China, United States, India, Brazil or Saudi Arabia, they all behave the same, take it out on their women and always prey on the weak or the dependent. They are the one’s that need education and not the Burqa elimination.

Burqa is used from the Shuttle-Cock format in Afghanistan to the Hijab format (a bare scarf in the United States, Canada, India, Turkey, Bangladesh, Pakistan and some other nations. The Original Islamic idea was for a woman to be modest in public places, hold on from jumping to conclusions, it is not only women, it is men as well. Men in most Muslim societies do not wear shorts, they wear full length pants, they do not go bare chested even in their homes. That is range of modesty in practice. For an average American to understand this concept of modesty, all they have to do is compare the society of a higher threshold where, some families walk around the house with barely any clothes on, but most American families have modesty, what they wear in front of their children, especially of the opposite gender, when their sister, daughters or cousins are around is not the same.

If some woman wants to drop the Hijab, she can, but she has to feel comfortable with it. It would be hypocritical of us to impose our values onto others, let alone our own relatives.
We have an obligation to maintain a balance in the society and it is our duty to keep law and order and faithfully guard the safety of every citizen. If we can learn to accept and respect the God given uniqueness of each individual, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
Prejudice against any one is one of the many sources of disrupting the peace in a society and it is our duty to track down the source of such hate and work on mitigating it. if we let hate mongers, hate sermons and hate lectures creep in our societies, we lose that desired balance in the society.
First, we have to believe that the societal balance begins with each one of us; we see goodness around if we upload good values in ourselves. It is in our interest to treat the world as one nation under God, one family and one people with liberty and justice for all. We are on the bus.
Another column on the topic in Feb:

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker, Writer and a Moderator. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio, discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He founded the World Muslim Congress with a simple theme: "good for Muslims and good for the world." His personal Website is and his articles can be found on the Websites mentioned above and in his Blogs: and . He can be reached at . Mike lives in Carrollton with his family and has been a Dallasite since 1980

Canada should not ban burqa

Two articles to refer to following the update on July 7th

July 7th update:
Dear Ahmed, Allyternity, Bharat Born, Sabiha and Mariam,

All your comments and questioned can be contained in the following paragraph;

I have always wondered about the "own volition" part of the wearing of the veil. Do women really do it on their own or are they conditioned to ?" Do majority Muslim women wear the "burqa" (or some modification). Is this really true? And what is the basis for your statement that majority women who wear the burqa do so because they want to?

We have to take a principle stand on the subject and test it out.

The various formats as the pictures have suggested are determined by culture and within each culture there is diversity. In any given Muslim community, you may find the whole range of practices with varying ratios.

The Saree; Are the women in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka or the diaspora forced to wear the Saree or conditioned to wear? Can we get a traditional woman to wear a skirt instead of the Saree? Would most of them jump at the opportunity?

Are Men at work forced to wear pants and shirt or conditioned to wear. Is police forced to wear the uniform or conditioned to wear? Is the clergy forced to wear the head gear or conditioned? Are we conditioned to eat medium rare steak or well done? Are we forced to eat the meals we grow up with any opportunity we get or we conditioned to?

A traditional American woman would be reluctant to wear a bikini in presence of her sons and brothers, and a conservative American father would not run around the house bare naked, where as a Norwegian or dutch would be comfortable with that... nothing is wrong or right about it, it is the level of comfort one develops or conditioned to. We can even label it conservative or liberal, but one has to be comfortable to be in either classification.

As with all habits, including the habit forming taught by Stephen Covey, it takes effort and conditioning at the beginning, but later on it becomes a practice, it become part of your daily living and personal or family culture.

The form of Burqa may have similar beginnings as Covey's habits and Muslim women are used to it now. The Shuttle Cock Burqa (Leftmost picture) is mainly used in Afghanistan and NW frontier of Pakistan, however you still see it co-exists in different communities here and there, I have seen that in India also. The dominant one is with an openable flap on the face in most conservative places. The very rural and very urban women across the world except in Saudi Arabia and Iran wear just the Hijab, a small piece of cloth covering their hair, it is simply a scarf. America and Canada is developing it's own fashionable clothing. Mother Mary wore full clothing with fully covered hair, it is a symbol of purity, the practice has continued in Islam.

Do most Muslim women wear Hijab in one form or the other? Yes, they do and do it out of their own volition with a few exceptions (please refer to the original article appended below) It is a symbol of modesty and they are comfortable with it. Even though I may not see the need for it, but as a pluralist and as person who believes in democracy and rights of individuals, I would not force any woman to wear or not wear, let it be her choice.

The fallacious assumption that she would drop it instantly if she had a choice, falls flatly on its face. Let's go back to our principle stand, and ask the same question to the liberals and moderates.

Men: Would you cut your hair short or long if you do the opposite? Would you change because some one tells you to, or would you retain what you have because you are conditioned to?

Women: Would you drop the Saree if some one tells that it is primitive and wear revealing clothes that shows you are on par with the society? Can a Hollywood girl tell you to drop the traditions and wear like them as they do on Oscar night?

Except a few, most working Muslim women have adopted to the environment, I honor them and also honor the right of those who want to wear what is good for them. You can wear a Saree, Burqa or a Skirt, that is entirely your choice.

Personally, I would like to see all Men and Women wear clothing that are modest, which would facilitate the person to focus on other's thoughts, talks, emotions and ideas rather than the appearance.

Mike Ghouse

Hi Mike,

Thanks for sharing your interesting. I'd like your feedback on the following question: Your article seems to imply that majority Muslim women wear the "burqa" (or some modification). Is this really true?

And what is the basis for your statement that majority women who wear the burqa do so because they want to?

Dear Allyternity,

I have always wondered about the "own volition" part of the wearing of the veil. Do women really do it on their own or are they conditioned to ?"

Burqa to no Burqa
Mike Ghouse, July 4, 2007

Pakistani cleric captured under Burqa

By MUNIR AHMED, Associated Press Writer1 hour, 34 minutes ago
Security forces besieging a radical mosque in the Pakistani capital captured its top cleric Wednesday as he tried to sneak out of the complex in a woman's Burqa, and more than 1,000 of his followers surrendered.

But heavy gunfire raged into the night, and it was unclear if his capture would lead other hard-liners to give up the fight at the mosque.

President Gen. Pervez Musharraf deployed the army to subdue the militants holed up at Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, whose clerics have boldly challenged the government for months with a drive to impose a Taliban-style version of Islamic law in Islamabad.

The peaceful arrest of the mosque's prayer leader, Maulana Abdul Aziz, was a coup for the government. The firebrand Aziz has been a vociferous opponent of Musharraf and threatened suicide attacks to defend the mosque. His thousands of male students have been at the forefront of anti-government and anti-U.S. rallies.

Tensions exploded into a daylong battle Tuesday between security forces and militant students, some heavily armed and masked. Officials said 16 people died, including militants, security officers and bystanders. Mosque leaders put the death toll among just students at 20.

The government ordered the militants to lay down their arms and surrender by Wednesday morning as it positioned armored vehicles and helicopters around the mosque in a show of strength.

A security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to journalists, said Aziz was captured when he tried to get away disguised as a woman, wearing a full-length black burqa, and a female police officer tried to search him.

The officer began shouting "This is not a woman," the official said, prompting male officers to seize Aziz. "The suspect later turned out to be the mosque's chief cleric," the official said.
An AP Television News cameraman saw plainclothes police bundling the gray-bearded cleric into the back of a car, which sped away.

Javed Iqbal Cheeman, an Interior Ministry official, said Aziz's wife, the principal of the mosque's religious school, was also arrested.

"The entire operation will end in further success, and we will be able to give you and the nation more good news," Deputy Interior Minister Zafar Iqbal Warriach said.

He said the whereabouts of the mosque's deputy leader, Abdul Rashid Ghazi, who is Aziz's brother, was unclear. Ghazi said earlier Wednesday that "we will continue to defend ourselves."

Cheema said at least 1,100 people surrendered during the day, with some of the women in tears. All women and children will be granted amnesty, but males involved in killings and the top mosque leaders will face legal action, Deputy Information Minister Tariq Azim said.
Cheema claimed that "not many more" people were left inside the mosque complex.
One who decided to give up, 15-year-old Maryam Qayyeum, said those who stayed in the seminary "only want martyrdom."

"They are happy," she said. "They don't want to go home."
Qayyeum said mosque leaders were not trying to stop students from giving up. But her mother, who had come to take her home, disputed that "They are making speeches. They want to incite them," she said of the leaders.

Over the past six months, the Red Mosque clerics have challenged the government by sending students to kidnap alleged prostitutes and police in an anti-vice campaign.
The bloodshed has added to a sense of crisis in Pakistan, where Musharraf — a major ally of President Bush — already faces emboldened militants near the Afghan border and a democracy movement triggered by his botched attempt to fire the country's chief justice.
The mosque siege sparked street protests Tuesday in the cities of Lahore and Quetta organized by radical religious parties.

On Wednesday, officials said a suicide car bomber rammed a vehicle into a Pakistan army convoy near the Afghan border, killing five soldiers and five civilians. In northwestern Pakistan, unidentified assailants fired a rocket at a police station, killing one officer and wounding four, and an explosive killed four people and injured two district officials.
It was not known if the incidents were linked to the mosque crisis.
Associated Press reporters Sadaqat Jan and Stephen Graham in Islamabad and Riaz Khan in Peshawar contributed to this report.


International Herald Tribune.

Head-to-toe Muslim veils test tolerance of stridently secular Britain
By Jane Perlez
Thursday, June 21, 2007

LONDON: Increasingly, Muslim women in Britain take their children to school and run errands covered head to toe in flowing black gowns that allow only a slit for their eyes.
Like little else, their appearance has unnerved Britons, testing the limits of tolerance in this stridently secular nation. Many veiled women say they are targets of abuse. At the same time, efforts are growing to place legal curbs on the full Muslim veil, known as the niqab.
The past year has seen numerous examples: A lawyer dressed in a niqab was told by an immigration judge that she could not represent a client because, he said, he could not hear her. A teacher wearing a niqab was told by a provincial school to go home. A student who was barred from wearing a niqab took her case to the courts, and lost. In fact, the British education authorities are proposing a ban on the niqab in schools altogether.

David Sexton, a columnist for The Evening Standard, wrote recently that Britain has been "too deferential" toward the veil. "I find such garb, in the context of a London street, first ridiculous and then directly offensive," he said.

Although the number of women wearing the niqab has increased in the past several years, only a tiny percentage of women among Britain's two million Muslims cover themselves completely. It is impossible to say how many exactly.

Some who wear the niqab, particularly younger women who have taken it up recently, concede that it is a frontal expression of Islamic identity, which they have embraced since Sept. 11, 2001, as a form of rebellion against the policies of the Blair government in Iraq and at home.

"For me it is not just a piece of clothing, it's an act of faith, it's solidarity," said a 24-year-old program scheduler at a broadcasting company in London, who would allow only her last name, Al Shaikh, to be printed, saying she wanted to protect her privacy. "9/11 was a wake-up call for young Muslims," she said.

At times she receives rude comments, including, Shaikh said, when a woman at her workplace told her she had no right to be there. Shaikh said she planned to file a complaint.
When she is on the street, she often answers barbs. "A few weeks ago a lady said: 'I think you look crazy.' I said: 'How dare you go around telling people how to dress,' and walked off. Sometimes I feel I have to reply. Islam does teach you that you must defend your religion."
Other Muslims find the niqab objectionable, a step backward for an immigrant group that is under pressure after the terror attack on London's transit system in July 2005.

"After the July 7 attacks, this is not the time to be antagonizing Britain by presenting Muslims as something sinister," said Imran Ahmad, author of "Unimagined," an autobiography of growing up Muslim in Britain, and the head of British Muslims for Secular Democracy. "The veil is so steeped in subjugation, I find it so offensive someone would want to create such barriers. It's retrograde."

Since South Asians started coming to Britain in large numbers in the 1960s, a small group of usually older, undereducated women have worn the niqab. It was most often seen as a sign of subjugation.

Many more Muslim women wear the headscarf, called the hijab, covering all or some of their hair. Unlike in France, Turkey and Tunisia, where students in state schools and female civil servants are banned from covering their hair, British Muslim women can wear the headscarf, and indeed the niqab, almost anywhere, for now.

But that tolerance is eroding. Even some who wear the niqab, like Faatema Mayata, a 24-year-old psychology and religious studies teacher, agreed there were limits. "How can you teach when you are covering your face?" she said, sitting with a cup of tea in her living room in Blackburn, a town in the north of England, her niqab tucked away because she was within the confines of her home.

She has worn the niqab since she was 12, when she was sent by her parents to an all-girls boarding school. The niqab was not, as many Britons seemed to think, a sign of extremism, she said. The niqab, to her, was about identity. "If I dressed in a Western way I could be a Hindu, I could be anything," she said. "This way I feel comfortable in my identity as a Muslim woman."

No one else in the family wore the niqab. Her husband, Ibrahim Boodi, a social worker, was indifferent, she said. "If I took it off today, he wouldn't care."

When she is walking, she is often stopped, she said. "People ask, 'Why do you wear that?' A lot of people assume I'm oppressed, that I don't speak English. I don't care, I've got a brain."

Some commentators have complained that mosques encourage women to wear the niqab, a practice they have said should be stopped. At the East London Mosque, one of the largest in the capital, the chief imam, Abdul Qayyum, studied in Saudi Arabia and is trained in the Wahhabi school of Islam. According to the community relations officer at the mosque, Ehsan Abdullah Hannan, the imam's daughter wears the niqab.

At Friday prayers recently, the women worshipers were crowded into a small upstairs windowless room away from the main hall for the men.

A handful of young women wore the niqab and spoke effusively about their reasons. "Wearing the niqab means you will get a good grade and go to paradise," said Hodo Muse, 19, a Somali woman. "Every day people are giving me dirty looks for wearing it, but when you wear something for Allah you get a boost."


  1. "the level of comfort one develops or conditioned to" This statement says it all. Many women 'believe' this custom to be 'Islamic'; however, it is the level of comfort developed as a result of being conditioned in their current environment - we all behave or develop our character based on our environment or what we learn as children - we learn what is good, bad, okay, etc. based on the models in our lives. So are the models that of Prophet Mohammed or of one's male-dominated culture? Is it truly Islamic or is it male dominance?

  2. Here is a another good piece in Times of India, critiquing Sarkozy -

  3. Martha Nussbaum, one of the most influencial american philosophers today calls for end to Burqa Bans.



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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.