Join the mailing list

Click here to read our privacy policy


Subscribe to emel's RSS Feed Subscribe to emel's RSS Feed


Hopes for a Post-Veil Society

Hopes for a Post-Veil Society

Issue 63 December 2009

Earlier this year, the head of of Al-Azhar Islamic university found himself in agreement with Italy’s extreme right-wing Northern League, the BNP’s anti-immigration anti-Islam stance and Turkey’s rampantly secular constitution. The subject was the veiling of Muslim women, a topic that makes for unlikely bed-fellows.


Al-Tantawi, the senior sheikh at al-Azhar, was visiting a girl’s school when he told an 8th grade student to remove her face-veil saying, “the niqab has nothing to do with Islam and it is only a mere custom,” adding bluntly, “I understand the religion better than you and your parents.”

At his insistence she removed the veil. Whereupon he remarked shockingly: “You are actually like this. What would you do if you were even a little beautiful?”

Whether you agree or disagree with his intervention, it surprises me that a scholar –and role model - feels that he can publicly intimidate a young woman, and that he has a right over a woman’s clothing, defining and commenting on her intelligence, her family and her looks.

French president Sarkozy used the historic occasion of his first speech in the French parliament to pick out the veil as an issue of primary concern to the French public. It was subsequently reported that only 367 women in France’s population of over 62 million wear the face veil. This raises questions about why the veil is of greater concern than other issues relating to all women, across all social groups. For example, why not raise the serious topic of domestic violence, whose victims numbered a heart-rending 47,000 in France in 2007? Further, I found it spooky that French intelligence could offer such a specific number of niqab-wearers – were these women being monitored? 


To read the rest of this article, get your latest issue of emel magazine>


1) Delivered to your door for only £3.50 with FREE Postage and Packaging


You can get your latest issue of emel with FREE Postage & Packaging.

Click here for terms and conditions


Call us on 020 7328 7300 or email


2) Find your Local Stockist


Your latest issue of emel is also available in stores nationwide including WHSmith and Borders. 

Find your nearest stockist>


3) Subscribe for one year - now only £29.95


You can subscribe for only £29.95 (that's 50% off the standard UK subscription price) and get 12 issues delivered straight to your door, every month..

Call us on 020 7328 7300 or email

Bookmark this

Add to DIGG
Add to
Stumble this
Share on Facebook

Share this

Send to a Friend
Link to this

Printer Friendly

Print in plain text


1 Comment


Fa'izah USA

22 Dec 09, 21:10

As salaamu alaikum

It is beyond disheartening to hear that Al-Tantawi made such a harsh statement to this young girl. Such remarks reveal the superficial nature of people's hearts. Further he spoke in what can be described as an arrogant tone; yes he may know more than others but where it not for Allah he would not.

While the niqab may be cultural rather than part of the modest dress of Islam it is for the individual woman to choose to wear it or not; not for someone to dictate her choice.

It's so hard for Muslim women as we face opposition from both within and outside Islamic society as we are the visible face of Islam. It is our right to be autonomous beings and we must reclaim that right or lose it forever to the whims and will of others who are no better than we are. The fears of other countries which is driven by their ignorance impacts on us despite how it is framed to be a 'fight against terrorism" or for our "liberation from oppression".

Wa salaam

Positive Rating Negative Rating Report this!

Leave a comment


Sign in or Register to leave a comment