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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Beauty of the Veil - Maryam Amen

I have just submitted my first ESSAY about the issues and challenges in global development. My Masters degree is social policy soanything that has to do with the society comes under our discipline. I tried to focus on the topic GLOBALIZATION AND THE POLITICS OF CULTURE.
I'd like to share abstract of my research hoping it could be of benefit to appreciate more the importance and beauty of the VEIL.

The emergence of the global economy and the political ascendancy of the West dictated a global trend that threatened individual culture and identity. Globalization is viewed as a successor to imperialism. The extreme flows of outside culture can eliminate vulnerable culture. Many anthropologists have become interested in how dominant societies can shape the culture of less powerful societies, a process some researchers call cultural hegemony. This is an era of worldwide social change bringing a new form of cultural imperialism that they associate with globalization homogenizing other indigenous cultures in the Western image.
The power struggle to assert competing claims to the cultural constructs such as labels, ideals and symbols has come to be known as a politics of culture.
It is believed that cultural dependency robs one of faith and identity, far more effective than political rule. The use of culture in advertising is a subtle and subliminal attack that corrupts not only the nation's consumption pattern and economic behaviour but also its cultural orientation. Advertisements in movies, TVs, magazines etc is seen as cultural pollution intended to eliminate cultural identity and replace it with a homogenous global consumer culture.
Globalization is not strange to Islam. In fact it is being encouraged when it says:

...We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). ...(Quran 49:13).
The following among several hadiths that delve on the subject demonstrate how Islam is design to co-exist peacefully with other cultures who are member of the human race.
God will not be merciful to those who are not merciful to mankind (hadith).

"I have forbidden oppression for Myself and have made it forbidden amongst you, so do not oppress one another. O My servants, all of you are astray except for those I have guided, so seek guidance of Me and I shall guide you. (Hadith Qudsi)

Having read the bad effect of globalization which can extinguish existing weak culture, how can then Islam protect its identity? Will Muslims be submerged with the western image?
Islam is no just a set of religious ideas and practices, but also a political community endowed with a system of law designed to protect the collective interests of believers as well as to regulate their relations with the outside world. Nothing is neglected in the Quran so we can read in the following the assurance that Islamic culture will not just be a component of western image:

O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most suitable, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.(Quran 33:59)

Veil then became not only a sign of modesty but also a strong symbol of resistance to cultural imperialism. Islam encourages a global society where there is an acceptance and respect of individual cultures. It is not regarded as oppression since Islam advocate freedom of religion. Anybody not comfortable with Islam is free to choose his religious affiliation.
Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error (Quran 2:256)
Veiling no matter how some consider it to be, becomes necessary not just for modesty but for the survival of Islamic identity or the Muslim Ummah. Modesty is beneficial for maintaining a certain moral fibre in various cultures and should therefore be maintained not just for the Women but also for the Men.

Who is the best among people?

He who, when you look at him, you remember God

Veil of Women as a symbol.

Women are regarded as the primary culture bearers, as the "maintainers of tradition since a woman is the exclusive human capable of bearing children necessary for the continuation of human race, Quran is emphatic about the reverence, sympathy, and responsibility due to the female procreator.

'o mankind.have taqwa towards Allah in Whom you claim your rights of one another, and (have taqwa) towards the wombs (that bore you).' (Quran 4:1)

Women same as the men are accountable directly to Allah for their individual deeds and sin. Women go to hell or heaven not through her husband but only through her own deeds. As the primary bearer of culture, women should not be kept stagnant in knowledge and jailed in the four corners of her home. A good Muslim woman is first and foremost a good Mother that can educate her children who will be the next generation intelligent and smart bearers of the banner of the Muslim Ummah.
Muslim men who are sympathetic to the lone fight of the women in resisting cultural imperialism are welcome to join us by wearing a beard that our Prophet (saw) made sunnah. But not only the political aspects but more so on the spiritual side we must neither neglect as emphasized:

We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover your shame, as well as to be an
adornment to you. But the raiment of righteousness,- that is the best. Such are
among the Signs of God, that they may receive admonition!(Quran 7:26)

Incorrect belief developed a sense of pride and arrogance that irrespective of our deeds and general moral standards, God had permanently granted us favor by merely professing the KALIMA SHAHADA and maybe worst for some, by just wearing a beard or long dress.
...the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you (49:13)
Our class went on an excursion after submitting our individual essays for a break. Sitting beside my classmate who is a Christian Nun from Uganda in the Bus and having fun together made me realize the beauty and importance of living in a peaceful world. Indeed, we are being graded not just by our outside appearance but more so on our righteousness and good deeds towards all creations regardless of faith. Women are made for special purposes not just limited to being a wife but foremost, is designed to be a good educated mother to raise a strong Muslim.

May Allah accept our good deeds and grant righteous offsprings who shall be the bearer of the banner of the Muslim Ummah, ameen.

Maryam Amen


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