President Sirisena banning Burqa and Niqab
The ban is to ensure national security. No one should obscure their faces to make identification difficult
Muslims remain a minority and they need to live in harmony with other communities
President Maithripala Sirisena, using emergency powers, banned all forms of face covering - burqa and niqab - in public on Sunday 27 April 2019. The restriction came into effect within 24 hours - on the following day, Monday.
A statement issued in this regard by the President’s office said that “the ban is to ensure national security. No one should obscure their faces to make identification difficult.” The move, as expected, was supported by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
President Sirisena had issued this order without consulting the Muslim community, which should appreciate that a Buddhist monk came on television and said that this should be done in cooperation and coordination with the Muslim community.
Who is responsible for this humiliation? In view of the growing animosity towards Muslim women wearing face cover, the ACJU, claiming to be the sole religious body, should have advised Muslim women from the very inception, in keeping with the teachings of Quran.
The ACJU and Tableegh movement failed to understand that there has been growing resistance leading to animosity towards Muslim women wearing the black abaya and covering of face
This was extremely essential as Muslims remain a minority and they need to live in harmony with other communities. However the ACJU miserably failed.
President of All Ceylon Jamiathul Ulema (ACJU), Moulana M.I.M. Rizvi once said in an interview with Muslim newspaper Navamani that wearing face cover was compulsory-wajib.
However ACJU Assistant Secretary Moulavi Murshid Mulaffar now states that his organization fully endorsed the ban under the emergency regulations, and all Muslim women had to abide by the law.
Meanwhile prominent Islamic scholar Ustad Mansoor Abu Salih who has written a book on the subject - UNVEILED - The Concept of roles and attire of women in Islam - clearly explained that covering face has nothing to do with Islam. This was not mentioned anywhere in the Holy Quran and there was no saying of beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Added to this these are not even Sunna-optional.
Many scholars pointed out that Quran does not mention to cover the face, however a Hadith reflects uncovering of face and hands:
It was narrated from Aishah that Asma bint Abu Bakr entered upon the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) wearing a thin garment. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) turned away from her and said: “Oh Asma, when a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it is not proper for anything to be seen of her except this and this,” and he pointed to his face and hands.” [Sunan Abu Dawud (Darussalam Publishers, 2007),volume 4, p. 422,The Book of Clothing, chapter 31: “What a woman may show of her beauty,” Hadith number 4104. The Hadith is Mursal by itself but authentic due to supporting narrations and is used as evidence for this matter . . . It was authenticated by Sheikh Al-Albani in Sahih Sunan Abu Dawud, vol. 2, p. 774, number 3458.
Due to our own shortcomings we have failed to uphold the true values of Islam
Thus the ACJU and the Tableegh movement which has hijacked the ACJU, should take full responsibility for the humiliation suffered by the community caused by the president’s ban on face cover.
In fact this has been one of the main demands of Sinhala racists and the Easter Sunday massacre was exploited by the media and others to achieve their aim. The ACJU and Tableegh movement failed to understand that there has been growing resistance leading to animosity towards Muslim women wearing the black abaya and covering of face.
For example as early as September 2006 during a meeting organized by Bakeer Markar Centre for Communal Harmony, Aluthgama District Medical Officer Dr. Kanchana Munasinghe told me that the growing trend of Muslim women wearing black abaya was causing concern among non-Muslims who feel isolated. She said that this black cloth is not suitable to tropical climates like Sri Lanka as it could cause skin diseases.
Several leading Sinhalese intellectuals who are interested in communal harmony told me that the black Abaya and face cover cause friction between communities and kindly get your people to stop as they are not part of Islam.
I wrote about the growing threat. All appeals in this regard fell on the deaf ears of ACJU and Tableegh –a group deviated from mainstream Islam. People were confused and helpless and the community is paying the price.
During my visit to London in 2015, I bought a book titled Hijab or Niqab - An Islamic critique of the face-veil by London based Egyptian scholar Syed Mutawallai Ad-Darsh with an introduction by M. Mazherudding Siddiq.
He stated in the opening page as follows;
“I disagree with the statement that niqab (face-veil) is an obligation, and have been at pains to explain this from the outset. There is no hard or questionable proof in the Holy Quran or Sunnah to that effect. Otherwise are we going to question the integrity or scholarship of the overwhelming majority of the learned community of Islam? I find myself amazed by the claims of latter-day scholars, who say, “But we live in bad times…or society is a bad society….now women should this or that…..”This is an illogical attitude which opens the door to discarding Islamic rues, such as the government controlled muftis who say that modern banking is different from the lending and usury of times past. This is a very dangerous trend indeed.”
Meanwhile in his comments to Ustad Mansoor’s book. Dr. Seyed Aroos Sherfideen, Director Australia based Al Hikmah Publication had this to state about the current pathetic plight of Muslims worldwide.
‘Radicalization, terrorism, uncivilized,’ Very often these words appear in the media referring to Muslims or Muslim countries. Who is to be blamed? Some blame the extremists who have a corrupted understanding of Islam. Some blame the west. Some blame the media for false propaganda. And some blame Islam itself. Who is right?
Centuries ago, on a dark and desolate night, in the cave of Hira, in Makkah, Islam was revealed to a man chosen by God. A man who was called the Trustworthy by his own people; Muhammad (peace be upon him).
The revolution began. It took the world by storm. Within twenty years of its revelation the revolution was complete. From a land that was once infested with idolatory, crime, corruption, prostitution, slavery, infanticide, alcoholism, witchcraft and ignorance, rose the legendary men and women who fought and fell for the sake of Truth. For the sake of Justice. For the sake of God.
Islam gave birth to a new world where justice prevailed where slaves became rulers and women became leaders.
How does Islam view women? Do they have freedom? What role does Islam assign them in their society and what attire does Islam prescribe the women? These roles which flame across the media have given the image that Islam oppresses women. But reality is quite different.
More than 1400 years ago, Islam recognized women’s rights. It recognized woman’s right to inherit, a right for divorce, her right to bear witness and her right for equality and liberty. However, due to our own shortcomings we have failed to uphold the true values of Islam.
Ustad Mansoor’s book is an attempt to clarify some of the misunderstandings on how Islam treats women. The author explores the concept of social life and the attire of women in the light of Quran and Sunnah. By citing evidence from the Quran and Sunnah and scholarly interpretations, he cleverly argues how Islam has elevated the status of women and liberated them. It is written in context of the Sri Lankan situation, however, the logic applies to the larger context as well.
Thus concluded Dr. Seyed Aroos Sheriffdeen.