Contemporary religious practice
[Secularity and the bans on the Hijab in France]
According to the Qu’ran, Muslim women have to wear a scarf called hijab over their heads as a way to cover and guard their aspect against men outside their immediate family. Given the situation of France as the country with the largest percentage of Muslim population in Europe, the use of hijab has become a threat to the country’s secularity. The rule on the use of veils is based on the belief is based on the Quran that states:
“Tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap (…) their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women, (…) or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women.” (Qu’ran, 2015: 24:31).
Prophet Mohammed’s instruction are clear, women should not show their faces in public. For that reason, throughout the Muslim world, women had used garments to hide their faces. Headscarves such as the burka and the hijab are commonplace in the Muslim world, although in the last century, secularity has grown in the Muslim countries and some of them eased the restrictions, allowing women to show their faces. Also, in the last century, Europe has received many Muslim immigrants who bring their religious traits with them. One of them the use of headscarves and veils on women. France, for instance, has banned the use of veils in public buildings thanks to the country’s policy of cultural assimilation and secularity. (Mullholland, 2013).
On the other hand, Islamic groups have opposed the ban, considering it hinders their religious liberties as it denies the possibility of complying with the precepts Prophet Muhammed left them. Also, many Muslims claim these bans are a result on the increasing Islamophobia after 9/11 (Daley and Rubin, 2015). Hence, the dichotomy French Muslims face, on whether or not they should abandon their culture to become French. Ultimately, by banning hijabs, the French government is restraining religious liberties to uphold a national ideal. Nevertheless, labeling as oppressive these headscarves that are part of the Muslim faith and culture is misunderstanding Muslims, seeing them through the Western’s lens.
Daley, S., & Rubin, A. (2015, May 26). French Muslims Say Veil Bans Give Cover to Bias. The New York Times. Retrieved January 5, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/27/world/europe/muslim-frenchwomen-struggle-with-discrimination-as-bans-on-veils-expand.html
Mullholand, R. (2013). The Telegraph. Retrieved January 5, 2016, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/10516342/France-mulls-overhaul-of-assimilation-policy-towards-immigrants.html
The Noble Qur’an. (n.d.). Retrieved January 3, 2016, from http://quran.com/24