- May 26, 2005
- Tend do walk the 40 meters from my bed to lecture.
My point still is that something doesn't have to have a basis in scripture to be a very important part of ones religious beliefs. Just looking at how differently christianity is interpreted by different sects, groups, not to mention the bigger fractions like lutheranism, catholisism and orthodox christianity. Even in much smaller religious groups, like jews, there are several different groups who interprit scripture very differently.The veil has become, during the centuries, an obligation. But there are several types of veil in the islamic cultures, the majority of them don't involve covering the face at all, just the hair and maybe the shoulders, and all islam refers to the same Quran. Even in Syria the use of less covering veils is so widespread that niqab and more covering veils are used only by minorities.
What that lady is telling is, therefore, wrong, and judging by the fact that she IS syrian, so she knows the country she live is, she told a plain lie. I can't stand people lying and I can't stand religious nonsense.
That woman telling that this is her obligation is probably both of those things. And this is the least offensive statement I can make, because if she isn't either of the two, she would just be a sorry woman who hasn't got a clue about her own religion, which would make not her, but her entire culture quite a bit plunged in desperately senseless times. But I surely am not racist, so I think this is more of a personal problem than a cultural one.
This woman appears to me as the Mormons telling you what undergarments you should be using (if you were a mormon). It's not written in the Bible (provided it is the same book as I have, even vaguely) and the vast majority of christians around the world behave differently.
The problem, after all, is bigger than we perceive. We are used to think that everybody should be free to do whatever they please to do and whatever their religion might tell them, as long as they don't do harm to anyone else. It seems fine, but it is not, it's much more complicated than this. Many times what someone considers part of his/her own heritage and traditions brings on problems after problems. We can start with the "traditional" female circumcision (whose issue is not really what is being done, but the free will of the woman involved), we can continue with chinese "traditional" medicine involving a massacre of rhinoceros and tigers and who else knows what, to the "traditional" japanese whale-based dishes, to the "traditional" women have no right to do anything without the consent of men, which is typical of many more countries than you can think of (including old-times sicily), to the "traditional" friend-of-a-friend-recomandation to find a job (to the detriment of those worth of it) that I can experience in some part of my country to the "traditional" let's-drink-ourselves-to-unconsciousness so typical in so many countries and that is, for some reasons, being regulated in countries like sweden, for example (drink and drive?). Or we can even think of the mass suicidal sects in rural USA. I'm provoking here, but how is it that we find it right to stop them when it is their own decision and their own beliefs that bring them to do such things?
I've purposedly done a list of the first things I had in mind, but what is clear is that relgious heritage often brings about things we don't accept and that some traditions that seem unharmful actually do damage in other ways.
The thing is we can not (unfortunately, to be honest) allow every nutter to do whatever he/she pleases, because that would mean allowing for senseless and potentailly destructive behaviours. The anarchist dream for total freedom of action (provided it doesn't harm) is an illusion. Not that we can not push ourselves in that direction and pusrsue that utopia, but we should not let ourselves be fooled by our own tolerance.
I have already said this elsewhere: covering one's entire face brings lots of problems in real life and disrupt the idea itself of equal rights for men and women. Your culture may tell you to do that, but the bad consequences don't change, even if that's your culture. It would be like me going around in a Darth Vader's mask and refusing to get it off telling that I'm a jedi and I'm not allowed to take it off because of my religion. I would be considered crazy, and emarginated and I would sustain heavy damage to my social life, even if that would really be a free choice.
Yet, because of a healthy tolerance gone a little bit fanatic, people prefere to allow for women to lose part of their rights than to renounce to a useless piece of clothing (useless in a very wide number of ways). A piece of clothing that can, moreover, be replaced, for all and every religious purposes, by different, and equally traditional, clothing that don't have the same drawbacks.
To say that ie. confession isn't a religious duty for a devot catholic is obviously a too technical view, as it is, in fact, a religious duty to a devot catholic. I'm not saying it's the same as the hijab, the burka and the niqab, but it's the same basis for a religious belief. And if we're to be very serious, we could say that there are passages in the Koran that supports it as a religious duty (there's a passage that talks about dressing properly), which are obviously open to interpretation. So while there is no direct basis in islamic scripture to support the idea that the hijab, the niqab or the burka are religious obligations, there are no reason to say that it can't be a religious obligation to the individual religious, muslim woman.
As for the tolerance argument, I have a big issue with forcing women to wear ie. a hijab. I think that's opressive and despickable. But if the woman wants to wear it, I think it's just as moronic and despickable to force her to take it off. And however you look at it, that will be the result in a large number of cases. And in that context, I don't give a rats about wether or not other people think it's a useless piece of clothing (and I don't give a rats about the fact that I think it's a useless piece of cloth as well, I actually do), but I just won't stand for the argument that it can't be a religious duty because it's not written plainly in the Koran, and I don't see how we can take the liberty of forcing women to take it off. If they don't want to, it's not our business, just like it's not our business if a mormon woman wants to dress in a way that conforms to her religious beliefs. I despise religion, and I hate dogmatic ideas like it, but it's not for me to decide.
That's my point.