Mohamed Islam Zerari
On the major issues that have been threatening the cultural and social life of the Middle East is the gender equality especially when it comes to forging statements about women inferiority under the umbrella of religion. The Niqab is a major factor into limiting the feminine freedom that most women across the region are struggling against. The Niqab or Burqa were never mentioned in the Quran and people still adhere to the fact that it would be haram if a woman’s face is revealed, god himself didn’t mention Niqab in his holy book. From this I personally concluded that traditional Islamic values in the Hijaz region were contributing factors to the phenomenon of Niqab or complete veil. Women are in constant pressure under the male dominance, this practice takes its roots from the tribal lifestyle back in the days of the prophet Muhammad (peace and prayers be upon him). In my own opinion I believe that environmental factors played a major role in making the Niqab a necessity. In most Sahara regions heat and high temperature contribute to dress code. In areas in Nigeria and deep into the Grand Sahara, people adopted a different style of clothing such as the Touareg, men and women cover their faces from the harsh sand storms and brutal heat to stay cool.
Another major aspect is the western view on Middle Eastern women or more precisely, Muslim women. Some westerners believe that Muslim, veiled women are oppressed and uneducated, illiterate and backward in their thinking and lifestyle because if we take a basic psychological interpretation to this phenomenon we find that a closed, covered object or even person would insinuate closure, mystery and darkness which in itself represents uncertainty and limitation. The media also plays a major in depicting Muslim women as submissive and dependent on their husbands be it in movies or drama series, even in advertisements.
I came up with this idea from my daily exposure to how women are treated and talked to, thought of and most importantly how people describe a Muslim woman. I used paint and tried my best to send the message across. There are two men sucking the life out of a veiled woman by calling her different names and she is in the middle crying and confused as to what is she supposed to do. I’m a personal advocate for women’s rights and I believe that gender equality will bring social justice because when both genders recognize their roles in society and most importantly in the family, our society will thrive and move forward instead of backward. One should never forget his traditions and culture but if either of them limits a person’s freedom or role in life I think that a good enhancement in our tradition will make us a strong nation.