burqaThe Burqa was a big hit yesterday. Here’s the podcast if you missed it. It’s probably one of the biggest responses with had to a WHYS show in a long time.So here’s what we are thinking. Seeing as so many of you have responded and are still responding (I came into well over a 100 comments this morning), how about we keep the debate going with a continuation of yesterday’s show?

If we do the Burqa again, who do you want to hear from? What question would like to ask? John in Las Vegas wants to ask how do we reconcile the Burqa with conflicting cultural values? And Scott’s broadening it out by suggesting where do we draw the line with freedom of religion? Or like Jim, do you feel we’ve thrashed this subject to death?

28 Responses to “Burqa…again?”

  1. 1 Deryck/Trinidad
    July 2, 2009 at 10:28

    Please try to bring an Imam or Islamic teacher on your program to get his view as a cleric on what the Qoran about says about dress as opposed to what is tradition.

    1. How is the wearing of the burqa spiritual?

    2. Is the wearing of the burqa or covering one’s body essential for a woman to achieve holiness and thus go to heaven?

    • 2 Ebrahim
      September 6, 2009 at 15:24


      Denying the Sunna is simply wrong. Otherwise we wouldn’t know how to pray and how to perform Hajj, etc. There are rules for what to accept and what not to accept from the Sunna. The hadiths prescribing hijab are authentic and arrived to us from authentic sources, just like the Quran arrived to us from authentic and clean sources. I don’t think any Muslim denies the Quran and authentic Sunna.

  2. 3 Zain Al-Thawadi
    July 2, 2009 at 11:46

    The problem with non-Arab muslims is that they cannot differenciate between arabic tradition, and islamic requirements.

    Fact: Bedouin men and women BOTH cover their faces for thousands of years… for safety and protection…Safety: in a hostile desert environment with constant risks of being attacked by other tribes, the threat of being robbed, attacked, killed, and raped was a daily threat in the desert! therefore when traveling through the desert, it was better to remain annonymous and unrecognizable. Protection: From the sun, the dust! the weather!! This was done before the prophet mohammed was born for thousands of years.. how could it be muslim tradition if it was done before the prophet introduced Islam?

    Fact: In the quran, there is no mention of the burqa and its requirements. Not even once!

    Fact: the word Hejab (which your panel use to refer to the headscarf) actually means cover of any sort, even a living room partition is a form of Hejab! and again there is no mention of this in the Quran. The Quran clearly states that both men and women should be modest in every aspect of their lives, including dress.

    Fact: the quran clearly FORBIDS women and men to cover their faces during prayer. so how could it be required if its forbidden during prayer?

    Fact: if you go to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, and get into the holy mosque, and you have your face covered, you will have a police pointing at you yelling and telling you to uncover your face, as it is forbidden to face the Kaaba with your face covered during prayer. I have been there personally and have seen this happen.

    Burqa is a tradition, and not part of religion!

    • 4 Ebrahim
      July 19, 2009 at 02:54

      I would like to ask you a few questions which may let you rethink your position about the hijab (headscarf). I agree the burqa shown in the picture is a tradition, but let us define what you mean by “not part of religion”. If you mean it is not required by Islam then you are correct and no one disagrees with that. however, there is no reason to assume that covering one’s face is contrary to religion. The prophet of Islam’s daughter and progeny used to cover their faces. It is not required but it may be preferable.

      Now to the questions, which I hope you will contemplate upon and change your mind about the hijab.

      1. have you taken the time to read the sunna and conclude that the hijab is not

      2. have you understood the meaning of “tabarruj al jahilia” forbidden by the holy QUran, as intended by God, rather apply your prior understanding on the Quran’s meaning?

      3. have you identified, as above, the meaning of “khimar” required by the Quran without prior application of your own thoughts?

      4. does forbidding covering of thy face in hajj and prayer lead to the conclusion that the headscarf is not required?

      5. have you read the Quran where it requires men and women to “lower their gaze”? do you think the Quran will ask people to lower their gaze and allow the footsteps to it by allowing women to uncover their beauty?

      6. suppose you are in doubt whether the hijab is required or not, and suppose you do not trust the ulama, don’t you think it is more submissive to Allah to take the precaution and wear the hijab?

      7. have you investigated what the profit’s close women used to wear, and what the saints such as Mariam used to wear?

      8. have you read verses 9/122 and 21/7 to be informed that religion is a special field which requires specialists who go and spend their time learning all aspects of religion and that people must refer to them?

      • 5 Zain Al-Thawadi
        August 17, 2009 at 09:52

        I’m an arab, and I know the difference between tradition and religion. Others can’t differenciate between the fine lines.

        There is no verse in the Quran or Sunna clearly stating “cover your face”. Prophets wives are an exception, and everyone knows this, as the prophet cleary states this on many occasions.

        Unlike what you’d like to beleive, Islam does not require a person between you and God. This is what sets is apart from other religions. You should know this.

        You should also know that our so called famous and popular experts have never been questioned or challenged. So to actualy imply that how the common “expert” interprets the Quran is actually correct is just being naive.

        Defending your religion doesnt make you a good Muslim. However, admiting something is wrong , and correcting yourself is what makes you a good Muslim. That is what the prophets history and story is, and not about covering faces and body parts!

      • 6 Ebrahim
        August 24, 2009 at 12:07


        There are authentic traditions in the Sunna clearly prescribing the hijab (covering your body except face and hand).

        And regarding your relationship with God, the first person between you and God is the prophet himself. If you do not believe in the prophet then this is a violation of being Muslim.

        Yes, God is close to you and there is no one in between your worship, however, to know what God wants, the prophet is here to tell you what God wants, albeit you may not like it. And the prophet said in the traditions that women should wear the hijab.

        Islam in arabic means submission. This means you obey God and obey what he said you should do. You shall not deny what God said before making enough research. This means first read all traditions and contemplate on the whole Quran before deciding whether God said women should wear the hijab or not.

        And you are correct, admitting that something is wrong is a trait of the true Muslim. The reality is, what God said is right is what I consider right, and what God said is wrong is what I consider wrong. Not what I wish to believe.

      • 7 Zain Al-Thawadi
        August 24, 2009 at 12:16

        The prophet is not a medium between a muslim and God. You could not be more wrong. The prophet is a messenger who brought the message, hence the word “Rasool” in Arabic…again, it helps to be a native Arabic speaker to understand the difference between Arabic tradition and Islamic traditions…Secondly, Sunna is considered weak evidence, even by Sunni Muslim standards… the word of the book is above all. You cannot deny this and cannot make an argument based on Sunna…there will always be a dispute because its open to interpretation and the sources are rarely correct.

  3. 8 Linda in Italy
    July 2, 2009 at 11:54

    Good Idea Deryck, only trouble is, you will get as many different opinions as are already on the blog, just like if you asked a Catholic, a Methodist and a Jehovah’s Witness how to be holy and get to heaven, you’d get completely different answers.
    IMHO Scott’s idea would make for a more interesting debate and would not run the risk of accusations of Islamophobia. Perhaps we could debate the idea of the way in which so many religions seek to trample over human rights, not just for women, but for gays and often just those who don’t share the same beliefs, and are thus inevitably in conflict with the law in counties that like to style themselves as liberal democratic and secular. Mind you, defining the last one of these attributes will be tricky when you look at the power of the evangelical Christian lobby in the US and such institutions as The Church of England and the monarch’s role as head of this in the UK, both ostensibly secular countries.

  4. 9 Nigel
    July 2, 2009 at 12:24

    Suggest you read Qur’an. A question for you……will going to church every Sunday (or Saturday these days) help you to go to heaven?

  5. July 2, 2009 at 13:48

    Hi Krupa. As a 23 years old Iraqi woman who proudly practices Islam and has been WILLINGLY wearing Hijab since she was a kid, I do have a number of points to make : 1stly it is so true that Islam orders Muslim females to dress modestly (notice that Muslim males should also dress in a modest way, but rather less than Muslim females), but also Islam orders Muslim males to ALWAYS cast down their gazes when they look at females who are not related to them, so Islam has different orders for males and females according to the way each gender was created i.e. according to the biological and also psychological differences between the two genders. Islam doesn’t at all oblige Muslim females to wear the burqa, but if a Muslim female choose willingly to wear the burqa, then Islam doesn’t say no to that. Allah in the Holy Koran says : “There’s no compulsion in religion”, and the Holy text is pretty clear I think, it states that according to Islam no one should be forced to do something he/she doesn’t want to. By wearing Al Hijab, I am making myself precious, invaluable, and inaccessable, males around me look at me and they see a star in the seventh sky which they can never reach out to no matter how hard they tried. By wearing Al Hijab I am sending this signal to everyone around me : “Hey, that’s me, I’m so proud of being a woman, and also I’m a queen, and my crown is my Hijab, and if anyone of you guys can’t handle my pride then I am so sorry, but I’ll just remain the way I am”. With my love. Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad.

  6. 11 patti in cape coral
    July 2, 2009 at 13:54

    I would like to know the consequences if a woman does not want to wear the burqa or hijab anymore. On the show yesterday, a husband said he would counsel his wife to review the scriptures so she would understand that she had to wear it. What if she still refused? What happens to her marriage, her standing in the community, her religious standing?

  7. 12 debbie in cleveland
    July 2, 2009 at 15:18

    I agree, yesterday’s show was very interesting and I came away with almost the same feeling I had at the beginning of the show……..I think it is still an issue of power. Power over women. I sort of agree with “in Rome, do as the Romans do” to a point but after yesterday, I still think it is a power issue. Comments on the line of ‘feeling very spiritual when covered’ my thought being so men don’t feel spiritual because they do not cover? Wives getting/needing permission from husbands……or not, but what about single women, who do they get permission from? Etc…and ‘people will listen or pay attention more to me and not focus on my beauty when covered’……OK why not men? Don’t we distracted by handsome men (i do)???? There are comments today about women dressing too casual could be arrested, do men get arrested if too casual?
    Power of one over another – and this is not my religion or part of my Christian faith.
    Many Thanks

  8. 13 Tom K in Mpls
    July 2, 2009 at 15:21

    Alright, the purpose of clothing is to cover the body for a variety of reasons. There are minimum limits set in about half of the world (by area, not population). These limits generally make sense due to what clothes are for. But banning clothes because they ‘work too well’?

    Ok, it seems to be agreed that some women openly choose to wear the burqa. Many argue that a majority are lovingly coerced and mistake this for choosing. And nobody argues that some are openly forced. So now are we going to have governments step in and decide to arbitrarily control our lives at this minute level for a vague greater good?

    Maybe some politician could openly recognize and state that what the real issue is. The burqa is part of a fundamental interpretation of a religion. This interpretation is also a political and legal system. This system *will* conflict with any other system. Now here is the real question: Can, or how can, you stop this conflict?

  9. July 2, 2009 at 16:27

    Hallow everyone

    if you can allow bikinis and nude stuff on the televison set which need much scrutiny than one dressing modestly i wonder why is dressing the way you like i.e burqa matter in peoples life when it doesnt affect the personally….to me that is dectataiing your views to people who chose to be different and its if britain advocates that its damaging its stance to defend tolerance and the so-called democratic views. As for france i dont see them any different that afganistan which imposes its rules on people withour the choice of the individual.

    thank you

  10. 15 Sharafadeen A. (Sokoto, Nigeria)
    July 2, 2009 at 16:51

    Thank you Nigel for you suggestion to the questioner.
    Bring an Imam or Islamic teacher may only help you in having more understaind to this concept of veiled women. But for the benefit of doubt you should read these verses yourself (one with commentary may do you some good) Qu’ran 33:59 and Qu’ran 24:30 -31.
    The sincere rightousness of a person will certainly be reflected by his/her outer deed and innermost conciousness of his/her creator. Thus, Muslim were commanded to submits to the dictate of Allah his creator and obey Him and his messanger. He whosoever obey the Messenger obey Allah. So it is left for the wearer or non-wearer what is to be derived for it.

    As for John in Las Vegas, asking “how do we reconcile the Burqa with conflicting cultural values” I will like to ask him whether everone in Las vegas wears clothing that is perculiar to Lag Vegas or what is real cultural value of Las Vegas people with there present day dressing?
    Certainly all cultures have it ways of live (good or bad) but the religious guideline trimline these cultures toward moral and spritual uprightness. Prior to Islam there is the arab women (even women all over the world) dressed, which poteray them as an object of sex. Islam modifies these dressings that dignifies them.

    • 16 Nigel
      July 3, 2009 at 01:20

      I do not think that many people believe that while Christianity is a religion, Islam is a way of life. Additionally I’m not sure that people want to accept that Islam and Christianity are both founded in the time of Abraham and that the books of the Old Testament are revered by both. Islam evolved in a different environment to Christianity and therefore picked up different cultural icons that over time became part of the religious expression based on Qu’ran. Sign of the cross and genuflecting before the alter that is done in some Christian churches is not required in the Bible but is heavily used in the Roman Church as a sign of respect and committment.

  11. 17 VictorK
    July 2, 2009 at 17:27

    The opinion of an imam/mullah on the wearing of the burqua in a Western country is irrelevant. It is a matter of Western values, standards, traditions, culture and expectations, and to be decided by Westerners. Besides, I’ve noticed an interesting thing when you have Muslim experts on your show: they never allow themselves to speak candidly. They always speak with a view to defending Islam. They are on as experts, but speak as propagandists. If you want to get to the truth about the burqua (irrelevant though it is) you’d be better off speaking to a secular (even Western) expert on Islamic culture.

    • 18 Jim Newman
      July 2, 2009 at 22:02

      Hello again
      And hello ViktorK. Those with high religious and moral values have always been an easy target for those browsing in the lush pastures of unconciousness.

  12. 19 Jessica Reichard
    July 2, 2009 at 18:12

    Westerners continue to pursue an enforced secularism in the west. Growing up in the United States, more religious than Europe, I am surrounded by passionately religious people. How is the wearing of a Burqa hurting anyone? I don’t understand how one could possibly enforce a law that controls the dress of someone that won’t infringe on their personal rights to dress etc. Why is it important to force your western culture on someone unless you feel threatened by theirs? Just as gay marriage should be allowed because it doesn’t impact other peoples lives, so should Muslims be allowed to wear whatever they want because it doesn’t impact peoples lives.

  13. 20 Ibrahim in UK
    July 2, 2009 at 21:23

    Please can you invite 2 or 3 who wear the Burqa and ask them why they wear it. And please can you invite 2 or 3 who oppose the Burqa and ask them why they oppose it.
    Hopefully the two sides can exchange views and dispel mthys and confirm realities on both sides.

  14. 21 Deryck/Trinidad
    July 2, 2009 at 22:41

    @Linda in Italy

    Religion is a great way to legitimise something that you want to do. All you do is say God told me to do it and that takes away all doubt and silences all criticism. The problem I have with religion is the removal of all critical thinking and belief that someone who critically analyses and finds fault with aspects of the belief is in some way satanic.

  15. 22 Deryck/Trinidad
    July 2, 2009 at 23:12

    @ Lubna

    Lubna there are many different versions of Islam and therefore different sects and subsects confuse the issue. You seem to be under a mild form of Islam in the strictest sense but there are people who live under a more robust interpretation of the qu’ran.
    An example is the people living in the tribal region of Khyber Pakistan where women cannot go anywhere without a male relative and they must be covered at all times when they are outside. There are also strict interpretations in other regions that deny women the right to an education.

  16. 23 VictorK
    July 3, 2009 at 10:57

    @Jim Newman – July 2, 2009 at 22:02: I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about.

  17. July 4, 2009 at 22:54

    re: burqa.

    Personally i think men should be made to wear it. especially criminals.

    Also Ugly men, like myself.

    The burqa turns society in a faceless mass.

    If Einstein wore a burqa no one would ever know who he was.

  18. 25 Dilli Sharma
    July 5, 2009 at 16:49

    Just like any other religion,Islam has its dogmas too.Religions like Christianity and Hinduism have modified themselves according to the demands of changing societies.For example in Hindu tradition woman had to sacrifice and kill herself in her husband,s funeral fire if her husband died sooner than her.it took a long time to eradicate this system.now no Hindu woman has to kill herself just because her husband died before her.But Islam seems to be hard bent on making people follow some of its stupid traditions in the name of religion.Things can,t stay same for much longer so sooner or later Muslim people will be able to do whatever they think is reasonable for them.Let,s hope that Muslim cleric or religious authorities will understand people,s aspirations and learn to respect them as well.

  19. 26 chus_m3
    July 6, 2009 at 08:11

    I think it should be something optional for women. If a woman wants to wear it cause she believes it what she has to do according with her religious convictions then is acceptable altougth i think this is degrading for woman and is more fanatism than religion convictions.

    But the real problem is they want to make it mandatory so a woman can not choose wheter to wear it or not, so wearing the burka as a law restrict the rigths of the female comunity, so the conclusion could be that it shouldn´t be imposed any religious doctrine that restrict the human rigths, cause religion should be something optional for people.

    Is a very stupid thing trying to impose someone a religion which it only depend on the faith.

    woman in that countries really think that they are inferior to man as a result of a bad education.

    Fanatism and imposition of religious ideas is a bad interpretation of what religion should mean. Burka should be supressed, or at least be optional

  20. July 6, 2009 at 18:15

    I really enjoyed listening to this discussion – as usual it was a well moderated, balanced and respectful forum for a very sensitive topic.

    I personally don’t agree with the burqa, whether it is really decreed by God or not, being a Muslim myself. If indeed God ordered that women should go around covering themselves up differently from men then that is one unjust God. Having said that, because I grew up in the cultural atmosphere I did, I love wearing my own clothes (shalwar kameez), even more than wearing Western clothes. I love my cultural identity because of cultural reasons, certainly not religious ones.

    I was amused to hear the justifications of the British Muslim lady Tahira. She is completely unconvincing as far as her personal reasons go. Do we have to cover ourselves up head to toe including face to be CLOSE to GOD? How does that make one more spiritual? Is spirituality a piece of clothing? None of her comments or analysis made any sense. I don’t feel or believe one can be a complete human being by covering oneself up like this. You can be modest without wearing this ridiculous outfit. The lady went on to say because the Prophet’s wives wore the burqa she wants to wear it and be closer to God. What a nonsensical remark! What exactly does she want to do? Be closer to God or want to be the Prophet’s wife? Do Muslim women have to be closer to God or to desire to be the Prophet’s wife? What kind of limited identity is this?

    I have a lot of problems with the Muslims living as minorities in the West. On one hand there is indeed racism and discrimination against them for political and cultural reasons. However, they also project an idea of Islam which is sometimes very divorced from the mainstream Islam in Muslim countries. For instance, no woman in her right mind in my country (Pakistan) would CHOOSE to wear the burqa which was often a symbol of oppression. It was always coerced whether directly or psychologically or politically or culturally.

    How can a symbol of oppression be a symbol of freedom in the UK?

    Lastly, I do not agree with Sarkozy’s comments. It is not his place to make comments on Muslim women. It is a cheap shot.

  21. November 4, 2009 at 14:44

    There is an excellent article about burqa and how it is totally against the Quranic teachings, please go to:


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