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Ban the Burka? A Comprehensive Rebuttal (Part 1 of 3)

July 3, 2009

By Saiful Islam

History

For the best part of the last three centuries, Europe has waged a war against Islam which began at the behest of Pope Urban the second from Claremont, who declared the Crusades.  Since then, the battles against Muslims have taken a variety of forms, initially beginning with the full-on maximum attack mode of fighting the Muslims to recapture Jerusalem.  Realising that it was the zeal of Jihad embodying the Muslims which made them unbreakable and their arduous worship which was the cause for their victories, the attack on the beliefs of Islam began.

When the Othmani Caliphate allowed non-Muslims into Europe to establish and accredit “learning centres”, surreptitious individuals such as Mohamed Arsalen and Hussain Beham who had been nurtured by the Europeans to challenge Islam, came forth and who were inevitably to be the precursors and spiritual predecessors to the Ed Husains, Majid Nawazs, Taj Hargeys and now the Saira Khans of this world. They along with their masters being Christian Europe, constantly agitated the beliefs of Islam, advocating “freedom of thought” behind which lay the corruption of Islam and “national unity”, designed to fracture the Muslim community.  This placed the Caliphate in a vulnerable position and enabled grass root corruption. Irreligiosity was being promoted under the guise “equality” and “backwardness”; those who covered themselves, who promoted Jihad and who adhered to the Sunnah began being labelled “extremists” and “fundamentalists”.

So, I hear you ask, what is the point of this history lesson?  History is bound to repeat itself and events of today have more than a tinge of the past.  The French president Sarkozy recently “spoke out against the Burka“, stating that it reduced women to “servitude”, “undermined their dignity” and “was not a sign of religion”.  On this basis he is of course looking to ban the wearing of Burkas (a combination of the Niqab and Jilbab) in public.

Attack on the Burka

If this is not a blatant attack on Islam and dignity of Muslim women then, Allah knows best what is.  The Burka is undoubtedly the best form of covering for the woman, fulfilling the requirements of the Hijab perfectly.  Placed in a historic context, this statement by the French leader amounts to nothing new and is merely a continuation of the onslaught that began many centuries ago.  Europe has always been at war with Islam, ever since Islam came and civilised the West.  When Christians and Jews began living under Muslim rule because they were better off there, this flummoxed Christendom.  The systematic breakdown of Islam in order to render it a shapeless gas which can be changed to adopt any form came underway and is reaching its zenith today.  And what better way than to arouse those confused individuals in the Ummah and get them to start an internal war.  There will be those who defend the obligation of the Hijab and those who will negate it, along with the government funded regimes giving full support to the mischievous viewpoint.  On top of this will be the dictatorial pressure of officials on minorities to do away with their Deen. A two-pronged attack, no less.

Refuting the claims that reduces them to servitude and undermines their dignity is something that has been done many times. Instead it is worth examining the typical hypocrisy of West, as ever, steeped in ethnocentric and epistemological bias.  The ever-changing nature of hypocritical western ideals will be briefly elucidated upon later.  For now it is interesting note that France has a significant history of nuns and their “servitude”, something which exists today.  A simple comparison between the Muslim woman and a nun will highlight Sarkozy’s stupidity.

A Burka-clad nun takes vows to remain a celibate and live in a state of poverty. In the case of cloistered nuns, they are not to leave the walls of the enclosure and cannot leave or have any contact with the outside world.

Such extremisms do not exist in Islam.  On the contrary a Muslim woman practises her Deen in the public sphere, remains chaste through marriage, and observes the Hijab, but such vows which bind nuns are not placed on a Muslim woman.  She can conduct her own business, work freely in a segregated, halal environment and marry and have a family.

But plainly Sarkozy will never comment on the nuns.  Why? Simple: they are not Muslims.

Enter the Puppets

If the attack is to follow history, it is to be two-pronged.  Sarkozy needs to be supplemented with support, and what better support then to find the voice of someone from the very community being attacked?  With the assistance of Rupert Murdoch’s neoconservative media machinery, Saira Khan plays the role of the sycophant, the puppet whose baseless and brainless rhetoric seems to suggest that there is a huge divide in the Muslim community.  The reports which suggest this will be addressed at the end.  However, let us turn to Saira Khan’s ridiculous “opinion”.

Before this is done, a few things need to be clarified.  In assessing an opinion of something, one needs to look at the credibility of the person giving an opinion. Hence one will not ask a farmer about the intricacies of quantum physics.  Likewise, in matters relating to guidance in the spiritual, one will look at piety and factors such as adherence to Islam before taking on board the words of a particular person.  Allah mentions in the Quran:

“O ye who believe! if ye fear Allah, He will grant you a criterion (to judge between right and wrong), remove from you (all) evil (that may afflict) you, and forgive you: for Allah is the Lord of grace unbounded.” (8:29)

In other words, those who are God-fearing, who observe the laws of Allah are bestowed upon with knowledge to distinguish between right and wrong.  In other words, the righteous scholars are those whose opinion is of value.  Their status amongst the Muslims has been eloquently described by the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) where he stated that the “superiority of the religious scholar over the devout worshipper is like the superiority of the full moon over other heavenly bodies” (Ahmad).

In the famous Hadith, “al-Ulama warathat ‘l Ambiya” (The scholars are the heirs of the Prophets) the great classical Hadith master of the Ahl’ al-Sunnah wa ‘l Jama’, gives a unique perspective of the position of the Ulama in relation to its analogy with the moon.  He states:

“It has been said that the moon derives its light from the sun, just as a scholar is a reflection of the light of the divine message.  For this reason he has been compared to the moon and not the sun.  The Prophet (Sallalahu Alayhi Wassalam) was a lamp and luminous which shone upon the earth.  The scholars, as his heirs and successors, are compared to the bright and luminous moon.”

(Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, The Heirs of the Prophets, (Starlatch Press:US) (2001) 33)

The great early scholar of Islam, Sufyan ibn Uyayna (rahimahulla) also said, “The greatest people in rank are those who stand in between Allah and humanity; the prophets and the scholars (Al-Khatib, Al-Faqih).” It was worthy of note that Sufyan ibn Uyayna was that scholar who was from the generation whom the Prophet (Sallalahu Alayhi Wassalam) told the Ummah to follow (the Hadith of khayr al-Quroon).

In a well known Hadith, the Prophet (Sallalahu Alayhi Wassalam) has given a stern warning to those who wished to become enemies with the scholars of Islam. The Prophet (Sallalahu Alayhi Wassalam) said, “either become an ‘Alim (person of knowledge, scholar) or a learner of ‘Ilm (knowledge) or listen attentively to the words of ‘Ilm or become an admirer of ‘Ilm and its people (‘Ulama). Do not become of the fifth type, for you will be destroyed. The fifth type is one who holds a grudge against ‘Ilm and its people (‘Ulama). (Ibn  Abd Al-Barr).

What one can gather from all the above is that one does not look to a person so outwardly lost in sins and whose opinions are formulated upon one’s twisted desires.  Rather the opinions of the righteous, God-fearing and obedient are to be followed.  Saira Khan seems adamant to be from the “fifth type”, so ardently lambasting the Burka at the expense of her own Iman.

In an interview with the Guardian, the religiosity of Saira Khan is well demonstrated.  According to the author of the article, “She wore her religion lightly, sipping champagne and shrugging off the need to pray five times a day, despite coming from a traditional Pakistani family”.  When the author of the article goes to interview her, “Nine months pregnant, she opens the door wearing a sensationally sexy, figure-hugging black jersey dress.”

Even her mother describes her as shameful, “No, I don’t like that (showing the abdomen during pregnancy). I never showed my tummy to anyone. Very shameful. I see my daughter like this, it’s very shameful. I never show anybody.”

So in other words, she is a person who is merely a Muslim by name, clearly not by action.  One who does not pray, who would not mind a few drinks, or “marrying” a non-Muslim and revealing her body just to “fit in”.

It is for the readers to bear these point in mind, and to understand that when the media highlights “moderate Muslims” being against the Niqab or the “Burka” they are usually referring to those who drink, who have no understanding of Hijab or any of the commands of Allah, but just so happens to be born into a Muslim family or bear a Muslim name.  With this clarified, the article can now be analysed.

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