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In Rendezvous with G-d, twentysomething blogger and journalist Monica Rozenfeld explores what it means as a young Jewish woman in New York City to have a relationship with G-d.

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April 29th, 2010

Muslim or not

 
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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.

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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.

 
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The Author : Monica Rozenfeld

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  • Christy

    Interesting little article. I’ve been wondering myself about the veiling of women in traditional Latin masses. There’s a movement of people who are interested in going back to pre-Vatican II times, including the veiling of women in church. So it’s not just Muslims & Sisters who are veiling themselves. I’m intrigued to understand why – in a society that has seen the hard work of the feminists of the past several generations – would a woman consider this an expression of faith?

  • Wendy Stewart

    I think your post is a great start. I am also interested in the diverse opinions of the Catholic community. I think that Muslim women should wear what they feel is an honest expression of their faith. If that happens to be a headcovering, then fine. If covering the head is for modesty, that’s fine too. I like to keep my head covered and recently cut my hair very short to keep life simple and not get so wrapped up in outward expressions of beauty. If the headcovering is just a means to keep women subordinate in some way, then it needs to go. But that seems to be an individual decision that Muslim women need to come to terms with based on how orthodox their practice is. I have been trying to work a head scarf into my daily life with little success, so I wear baseball caps at times, but those are not always appropriate. I will say that since I have made my hair less of an issue, I notice more when women are trying very hard to use their hair to elevate their social status or make themselves feel better. Looking forward to your interview with Marnia.

  • Tom Gibbons

    This is a great post, especially with it’s theme of diversity within a community. I can completely relate to feeling a degree of relief that faith traditions outside of my own can have such a diversity of opinion on something so identified with the faith. As a Catholic seminarian, I can tell you that you will find the same diversity of opinion on the topic of habits (nun’s and other) as well as clerics in general – a lot of the opinions influenced by the generation of the person. .

  • Monica

    That’s a great idea, Theresa.

  • Theresa

    Perhaps you could fill out your study more by interviewing Catholic nuns who “take the veil”?

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