Top Ten Questions about the Niqab/Face Veil

“He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever”

People are scared to ask what they think might be silly questions. Without these questions, however, you will always be in doubt. Recently asked about how her mum eats with her face veil, Amina Ahmed brings you the top ten questions people have about the niqab.

A Muslim woman covering her face will always be a hot topic and even though it has caused many controversies and been in the news more than it deserved, there are people who are still confused about what it’s all about.

The purpose of this article is not to convince you that it is the right thing, or even to tell you why the veil should or should not be worn. A quick Google search will bring up more arguments on that than you can read. I’m here to clear some of the misconceptions that people have about the life of a woman who covers her face.

1. How do you eat?

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The face covering can be lifted up, so to answer that question, lifting the niqab up and over your head is how it’s done. If there are people around, or more specifically, if there are men around, then you just have to lift it a little and stuff your face quickly.

It’s awkward and you might think it looks stupid, but who cares? You do what you have to do.

2. How do you manage wearing it at home? / Do you shower with that on?

No, we don’t. The niqab or face veil is to be worn, basically, in front of anyone who you can marry. So you don’t cover yourself in front of your dad, brothers, uncles, grandfather, etc. You get my point.

At home, we can wear what we like, as less or more as we like. We can dress just like you in front of our girlfriends or go to parties and be skimpily dressed as long as it’s only women!

3. Do your parents tell you to wear it?

Yes. But they can’t force me. I started covering my face when I was about twelve. I stopped wearing the veil when I was eighteen. Both were my own choices. Yes, there are people out there who are forced to wear it and any good Muslim would tell you that that is wrong. Niqab is a personal decision that a woman must make. There is no force in religion.

4. How do you interact with society while your face is covered?

People who are open-minded and who are worth my time will talk to me and get to know me before making a judgement regardless of what I wear. I interacted with loads of people in the years that I covered my face and I know that I changed a lot of people’s views about how we Muslim women are. When people spoke to me, they understood that I still have character, personality and most importantly, my own views and opinions under that covering.

People are quick to judge and that’s where the problem lies. If a woman is wearing too less she is automatically labelled a slut and if she is wearing too much, then she obviously has no existence. That’s not the case.

5. Covering your face isn’t necessary, so why do it?

Maybe so. In the Quran, God tells us to cover our beauty and be modest. This can be interpreted in many ways and that’s why this issue will be debated till the end of time.

Personally, I think God wanted us to be able to choose what we think is better in our situation and what is easy for us. He could have told us straight out to cover or not cover our face but He didn’t. I think covering your face is a good thing and props to those who go along with it, but I do not condemn anyone who doesn’t. Live and let live.

If some women can walk around practically naked, other women can cover themselves from head to toe. Freedom of expression.

6. What about on your passport and your oyster? You have to show your face then.

I promise she's human.
I promise she’s human.

Yes and yes we do. If it’s for security, medical or any official business, it’s fine. Women who cover their faces do go to the dentist, they have oysters and passports and they will show their faces when and where necessary.

Niqabi women may look frightening but they’re really just normal people going around doing their business.

 

7. How do you breathe?

My very own best friend asked that, and to answer your question: I really don’t know. But I have worn it for several years and know a handful of people who still do and we haven’t fainted as yet and seem to be breathing fine, thank you.

8. How do people recognize you when you’re walking down the street?

It’s funny, because they just do. Maybe your accessories give it away, or the way you walk or your eyes even but people seem to recognize you even though you are fully covered and literally nothing is showing.

9. Aren’t children embarrassed of their mothers/sisters who wear it?

If brought up the right way and if children love you for who you are, they won’t care what you wear. My brother is proud of my mum and would not be friends with anyone who made fun of her for covering her face.

Children should be taught not to judge anyone for what they wear. Everyone deserves to be given the chance to prove themselves before being labelled or made fun of.

10. So you’re saying that anyone who doesn’t cover themselves is wrong?

As I said, covering your face is a choice. Covering your hair with a scarf is a choice. Eating halal is a choice. Being a Muslim is a choice.

We, as imperfect humans, have no right to say who is right or wrong. A woman who covers her face may end up in hell because she’s a murderer. A woman who wears barely any clothes may go to heaven because she has the kindest heart.

Who am I to go around telling people they are right or wrong? How easy would it be to live in a world where people didn’t automatically jump to conclusions, judge and backchat about others?

Thank you for prompting me to write this article with your question. You know who you are. x

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24 thoughts on “Top Ten Questions about the Niqab/Face Veil”

  1. Thanks Amina. Interesting article. When we lived in Saudi for two years, 2009-11, I was obliged to wear a two layered niqab whenever I went outside. I had never worn the niqab before, and for me it took some getting used to. The first (inner) layer – with the eyes slit – was not so bad, and actually not uncomfortable to wear. But with the second (outer) layer flipped down, my vision was affected and it very quickly became hot under the niqab and more difficult to breathe. I found I breathed through my mouth more, and so frequently when I inhaled, the synthetic material of the inner layer got sucked up against my lips. The material is very soft against the skin, but it’s still not a pleasant feeling. And with both layers flipped down, the air under the niqab was always hot and stale. I would welcome any breeze that would rustle through my veils and freshen the air under my niqab, although any sudden gust would send the outer layer fluttering uselessly in front of my eyes and mean that momentarily I couldn’t see… I found Alyssa’s comments interesting; with my second layer flipped down, whilst I could still see well enough to navigate my way around, I certainly couldn’t read a book or a newspaper. Even watching TV became an effort, and after a while I would gradually just retreat into my own little world and listen to TV like it was a radio. Being outside on the street was the worst though. I never got used to being not able to see everything around me; I would hear people and cars suddenly right up close, but because of the way the outer layer narrowed my vision, I could never actually see them. Its actually quite scary! I could never get used to that, and I always felt nervous in busy public spaces whenever I had my eyes covered. I understood the cultural need for me to wear a niqab, but I dreaded those occasions when I had to flip the outer veil foward. Your vision is reduced to shapes only, with no detail. You cannot see easily to the sides. You lose your sense of independence. You feel vulnerable.

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