It’s really cool for me, as someone who has spent so much time interviewing people of the Jewish faith, to remove myself and get to know more about other faiths – like Islam.
I recently read a book review for Marnia Lazreg’s Questioning the Veil: Open Letters to Muslim Women making the case for Muslim women to remove their headscarves. I found this fascinating that a Muslim woman would tell others to just stop wearing the veil. As someone who didn’t know much about veiling, or covering, I assumed the veil was a heavy symbol of showing faith in G-d. Marnia has told me this is what many women believe, even those who wear the veil, but it is not. In her research, she attempts to prove the veil is a man-made tradition in order to sustain inequality of man and woman, and that the interpretation of veil is falsely interpreted as a literal veil, and not what its intention is which is to protect oneself, truly meaning “guarding” oneself; not hiding.
I went ahead and asked other Muslim women how they feel about Marnia’s argument. Several women felt strong in their conviction that they are wearing the veil for G-d, others are doing it to make a statement or to take back the veil, a “reveiling,” to show their Muslim pride and identity, and one woman who is not even Muslim has taken on the veil to separate herself from the “Sex obsessed” society which does not allow her to be fully spiritual. I’ve heard such a diverse opinion about this one garment, the headscarf, that it was almost a relief to my understanding that people of the same faith, let alone people of the world, can be aligned on a belief and a religion.
To see other traditions outside of Judaism have such an array and struggle with interpretations of laws, I’m reinforced that there is not one way to be religious, to interpret religion, or to feel religious. The way one dresses, believes, prays, etc. is so personal. Not to mention how exciting it is for me to have a Muslim-Jewish dialogue around a garment. It’s the most I’ve ever attempted to understand the Islamic culture and tradition, and I look forward to what other conversations come from this.
Stay tuned for my upcoming article where I interview Marnia on her book, share some of my favorite passages, and ask other Muslim women to comment.
Do you have any opinions on Muslim women wearing or not wearing the veil? Please share.