An important advice to the Muslim community in light of the debate over the face veil (Niqab)
All praise is due to Allah, may peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and all his Companions.
In light of the ongoing debate over the veil and the comments made by Jack Straw we, the undersigned, would like to present the following important and short advice to the Muslim community irrespective of its school of thought, sect or organisation.
1- The Muslim community should remain united irrespective of its differences and irrespective of its opinions towards the veil. This request is a response to the countless number of Quranic and Prophetic traditions that command Muslims to be united. Among those is the Quranic verse that says (translation): “Hold fast all of you together upon the rope of Allah and do not be disunited” [3:103]
2- We strongly condemn any attempt from any one, whether an individual or organisation to create any disunity between the Muslim community and we see this as an attempt to create disruption for the whole society through indirect discrimination. It is the nature of modern societies to be made up of a number of different communities that coexist peacefully as one political entity. Moreover, this is seen by most of these societies as a means to enrich the experience of the country to explore the way forward. It is completely irrational to achieve cohesion of communities through causing disagreement and disunity in any of them.
3- The veil, irrespective of its specific juristic rulings, is an Islamic practice and not a traditional one by consensus of all Muslims scholar. Therefore, it is not a debatable matter nor can we vote over it. Muslims should exercise extreme caution since denying any Islamic practice might lead to disbelief. Moreover, it is worth knowing that the vast majority of scholars consider the covering of the face for an adult Muslim female with the veil in the presence of non-mahram adult males as a religiously praiseworthy action. It has been practiced during the time of the Prophet Salla Allahu alaihi wasallam and throughout history as declared by many scholars.
4- We admit that Muslims hold different views regarding the veil, yet we would like to urge all members of the Muslim community to keep this debate within themselves. Furthermore, we also warn any Muslim individual or organisation from seeking to capitalise on this debate in order to further political or personal interests. Such a thing is judged by Islam as working against the interest of Islam and Muslims and is a matter strongly condemned. Allah says in the Quran [translation] [9:71] “The believers, men and women, are Awliya' (helpers, supporters, friends, protectors) of one another” . The Prophet Salla Allahu alaihi wasallam “The Muslim is the brother of a Muslim, he does not oppress him, betray him, mislead him, or fail him.”
5- We would like to call upon all members of the Muslim community to show solidarity against any attempt to criticise the veil or any other Islamic practice since this will be a stepping-stone to ban these practices. Such tactics, unfortunately, have been widely used by many European countries. Moreover, we feel that this campaign might be used to gauge the response of the Muslim community. Therefore, our response should be firm enough to send a clear and powerful message to those who are trying to promote the banning of the veil or any other common Islamic tradition. We, the Muslim community, will never tolerate such attitudes nor we will compromise on our values and common customs. All Muslim women, especially those who wear niqab/veil, should play a major role in this response since there voice will be more effective.
6- We understand the viewpoint of those who find the veil as a barrier in communication, yet we believe that the level of resulting discomfort is insignificant when compared to the discomfort and problems that result from other common and not widely condemned practices in society. Moreover, we feel that it is against the interest of the whole society to single out the Muslim community, to put them under the spotlight, and to use them or their practices as the recurring story of the media.
7- The un-expected and surprising massive reaction of the media over the past few days on this issue gives us an indication that there is a hidden agenda behind this campaign. This becomes more apparent when bearing in mind the already tense climate against Muslims. Therefore, Muslims should take this matter seriously and defend the niqab/veil as much as they can.. It might be a battle of “to be or not to be” for Muslims in the west. We urge all the brothers and sisters to strive in countering these attacks by implementing the various avenues open to them such as sending letters to the authorities, their MPs, human rights activist etc. Also, they should be involved in the debates aimed at discussing this matter as well as being involved in the media at all levels. The most important guidelines to be observed is to react in a very responsible manner and to avoid any action that might be used as an excuse for furthering their agenda.
8- We would also like to call upon the wider society to deal with the Muslim community without any prejudice and to exercise more openness and tolerance towards Islamic practices that aim to promote values of modesty and good-manners which should be the goal of peaceful co-existence.
We conclude by asking Almighty Allah to guide us to that which is better and to bestow his victory upon justice and truth to prevail on the British society as a whole.
16th Ramadan 1427
8Th October 2006