Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Invisible Women

Few weeks ago at a friend's house we were watching a program that discusses social issues in Saudi-Arabia. I had actually never watched the program before since my understanding of Arabic is not that good to follow the whole discussion.

So the program called MBC 8pm (aired from Riyadh) has experts in their field come over to share their views on each episode's topic. I was surprised to see a woman with an uncovered face on the show sitting next to the men, participating in the discussion. How did they allow this mingling on Saudi TV?

We'd been watching for a while and then suddenly someone said, "you all realize there's five people sitting around the table right?" Wait, what? Where? OMG is there someone sitting in the far left corner?

A woman in all black was indeed there. She hadn't said anything or even moved and they had placed her in front of the black background to make her literally invisible. At first it seemed really funny and comical and everyone (including Saudis) laughed. Why would they even bother to have her on the show if she was not going to speak? And how about placing her in another seat to make her more visible? It was almost as if the director was making fun of her appearance.
Especially when they were picturing the stern and concerned expressions on the other participant's faces while listening to the audience calling in and they showed her "expression" too.
This image reminds me more of a character in Star Wars than of a human being. The form doesn't have much human resemblance to it. Maybe it was a dummy since there was no movement?

Ironically perhaps they were discussing women's rights, this time in case of divorce and this woman was supposed to be the representative of the women's rights organization. Who does she in fact represent? The invisible, silent or silenced women out there? The ones who are all good with their rights been taken away by patriarchal legal systems such as the Saudi one? Women who think they should remain silent, patient and accepting of everything because the woman's word is not as important as the man's? Women who think their voices are too enticing for men to hear them? Or perhaps those women out there that sincerely believe (or were brainwashed to believe) that men were created a level better than them?
 The show also brought out these two very different approaches or interpretations of the Islamic women's dress code. The all black approach to me personally seems very extreme and unnecessary. The woman is literally handicapped by her outfit. She cannot see clearly, her hearing has been impaired by all those thick layers of cloth, her breathing has been restricted and her voice muffled. The gloves on her hands inhibit her sense of touch. Even moving around in this attire is difficult. Every sense in her body has been hindered. It is as if her dress places her in disadvantage not only as a participant in this program but also in public life in general.

Honestly is this really what God in all His wisdom wanted women to look like in public, 'black crows' as some clerics have put it? Would God really be so evil that He wanted women to suffer so much under those black layers while men can just strut around in shorts and go topless in public in the +50c heat? How can a human being even interact normally with all these obstructions? Would He make women cover every inch of their bodies and be deprived of fresh air, oxygen and the health benefits of the suns rays on their skin resulting in not only the woman's illness but her offspring as well? If this were what God intended for all women then how would women be able to wear this in the jungle or in the savanna where so many women live and work without even a hope of air-conditioning? They would die of heat stroke or dehydration in no time!
Now I believe in freedom of speech and dress but what bothers me about extremes like this is how it goes against the teachings of Islam. Extremism in any form or way always has a negative influence on humans. Going to extremes in any aspect of life is never good. And if this is not overly extreme, then what is?

Also disturbing is the fact that many truly believe this is what all Muslim women should look like and anything else is basically, going to hell. They think it's best women remain unrecognizable and hidden, without a trace of what is normally apparent from humans. Many women do choose this type of dress but others might be forced to cover so drastically by their families. Unfortunately some of those women who choose from their own free will, (including some western converts) tend to be very judgmental and even hostile toward those Muslim women who don't cover as much as they do. As if the more layers you hide yourself underneath, the better Muslim you become. The more invisible, silent and submissive a woman is in all aspects, the better.

I just don't believe God intended half the world's population to be invisible shadows. That just doesn't make any sense.

"Children of Adam, take your adornment / pleasantness to every Mosque." (Qur'an 7:31)

This verse addresses both women and men describing them as having a pleasant appearance and adornment. 

"(People), do you not see how God has made what is in the heavens and the earth useful to you, and has lavished His blessings on you both outwardly and inwardly?" (Qur'an 31:20)

This verse tells us how God made both women and men attractive inside and out. Why does only the other gender have to cover it all? Men can be outwardly beautiful and alluring to women as well as vice versa. Why would there be so many so called heart-throbs and top 100 lists of handsome men out there if women didn't find them attractive? If women were really ordered to cover every single inch of visible skin because they are attractive to men then by the same mentality, why shouldn't men cover from women's "lustful" eyes? Both should be modest equally, there is no differentiation here.

The verses in the Quran that speak about women and modesty have always been highly debated. There are many different translations and interpretations of verse 24:31 in the Quran which speaks specifically of men then women and modesty, here are few examples of the part for the women:

"Tell the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their private parts, and that they shall not flaunt their beauty except for what appears (naturally) from it, and let them put forth their covers over their cleavage" 

"And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment "

"And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and protect their private parts and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent (like both eyes for necessity to see the way, or outer palms of hands, or one eye or dress like veil, gloves, head-cover, apron, etc.) and to draw their veils all over Juyubihinna (their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms) and not to reveal their adornment"

So basically the one and only body part which is specifically mentioned by name that women are guided to cover here are the chest/bosom/breasts. Private parts should be guarded which I guess would come naturally. All the other versions of this are mere interpretations of the different meanings of words such as khimaar and Juyubihinna which is why there are so many varying views on what is the proper dress code for women. Everything in those brackets has been added by humans (misogynist men).

Personally I think the verse being ambigous and vague has much wisdom to it. This way it gives a certain degree of variability and freedom of choice because women live in such different climates and under many circumstances which all require different types of dress. The point is to maintain modesty and make sure your breasts are not popping out, that's it. 

Women were not created to be mere shadows of humans. 


Anonymous said...

Take in how "hair" isn't mention anywhere in the quran >:(

*Cinderella* said...

Masha allah Laura, you hit the spot :)I am sick of the way men say this and that must be done but what do they do? Drives me nuts also scares the hell out of me when I have kids, and my daughters in saudi will be like mum do I have to wear like that. As far as I am concerned my daughter can make her own choices in the way of hijab/abaya and niqab. I will not force her. It is their choice and it is between them and Allah. SO sick of the judgements people will through around especially men who throw them around what business is it to them. My friend who is a revert also however she is only 8 months in was told by a saudi student here in Australia that she should be ashamed etc cause she wasn't wearing hijab. Meanwhile this same guy was trying to get one of her friends no's. It makes me sick. So she came to me for advice and I told her plain and simple do not listen to them, who are they to judge you that is for Allah alone. And I told her whether you choose to wear hijab or not is up to u. Do not allow anyone to push u. And just remember at the end of the day when we stand in front of Allah and pass judgement he passes it on to you and only you and you should only need to be concerned about your choices noone's elses. BTW still laughing about the fact she never even spoke so what was her purpose of even being on the show..crazy

Shireen Baig said...

I wish I could write huge paragraphs as to my opinion on this post of yours, although I don't personally wear niqab, but to sum it up for now, I'd say I disagree with some of your views mentioned on this post.

Safiyah said...

I don't think God ordered women to be invisible. If we look at the women during the time of the Prophet (pbuh), they weren't invisible nor barred from participating in public life. Saudi is not a very "islamic" country in my opinion, rather a sum of tribal values and extreme interpretations of Qu'ran and sunna. I do think modesty is important in Islam, and I believe that the headscarf has its value. I feel more ambiguous about the niqaab, where the eyes are still visible, but this is really too much.

Anonymous said...

Women dressed like that by choice, with that kind of mentality fill me with disgust. Like seriously, make me want to vomit.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Soul is the most important thing of a human being and is invisible...The body is just a dress, there's no sense to cover it with another dress!

Congratulations for doing this excellent blog!!! I've been reading it from 2 days back and I really admire your strength to deal with a different world.

Anonymous said...

Asalam wa alaykum. I would like to say that the wives of the Prophet covered themselves, including their faces,only leaving thier eyes open. So do not say that woman who cover are opressing themselves. The wives of the prophet were not opressed, they were highly educated, buisness women, and the mothers of islam. Maybe your opion is skewed because you live in Saudi, but I do not live in an Arab country and all the niqabi women I know stil have a voice and place in the community. They do not fell inferior to men. I would advise you to invest in a Quraan with commentary (tafseer) and traslation, written by a reputable scholar,where the reason behind the revelation of the verses are stated and the hadith that go with and an expanation of what it commands us to do. as we should not read the translation and form our own opinions.Jazakallah

Muslimah in reverie said...

Oh wow, that picture made me feel physically sick. No wonder non-muslims think we ave no rights as women, when this is what is shown on the TV.

Anonymous said...

You are correct Laylah! I totally agree with you. Woman are NOT meant to be invisible. Modesty does not equal invisibility. Thank you for sharing your story with us! Francesca from Ottawa, Canada

Noor said...

I believe its no ones choice but a woman's if she covers everything or not so I would hate to belittle or make fun of that choice. We never really know the true story of what is going on maybe she has a controlling husband who would not allow her to speak much or the such. A lot of the men here control woman in those ways and that is why many act as they do and even cover everything.

I used to not understand the niqab and why women chose it but after living in Saudi it is part of the culture and I do get it. But as an American I get a lot of attention if I was only in hijab I wear the niqab and I blend in which is what I like.

For those talking about the scholars and the rulings I would say be careful they know much more than each one of you. They have studied for years and to talk bad about them puts you in a worse place then you are speaking of them.

Each to their own..

Karen said...

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Martin Luther King, Jr., American Civil Rights Martyr.

I have a personal dream that women of the world will, one day, be not judged by the color or the opaqueness of the abaya, but by the content of their character.

Snow said...

...يَا أَسْمَاءُ إِنَّ الْمَرْأَةَ إِذَا بَلَغَتِ الْمَحِيضَ لَمْ تَصْلُحْ أَنْ يُرَى مِنْهَا إِلاَّ هَذَا وَهَذَا ‏"‏ ‏.‏ وَأَشَارَ إِلَى وَجْهِهِ وَكَفَّيْهِ ...
...O Asma', when a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it does not suit her that she displays her parts of body except this and this, and he pointed to her face and hands.. [Sunan Abi Dawud Book 32, Hadith 4092] | more here

Salam, :)

This is the closest statement I can find regarding covering the awrah. Only Allah SWT Knows Best.

Perhaps it the clothing looks odd in another country, but sometimes I wonder if I too will wear like that if I live in the harsh desert. I've went to Saudi, & I've tanned. So I personally think, maybe the clothing can protect from the sun. Maybe I'd even wear it. Still, in another environment, I think I'd choose another dress. As long as I cover my awrah & it fits the place, I think it's OK.

I really don't want to look down on the woman in black. Coz I've seen Suzan Zawawi & I too find her different at first, but then I actually find her lovely after seeing her personality.

Snow said...

If I may say, & I'm sorry if I sound ignorant or vain erk! :D If I were to cover my face, leaving just the eyes slit, will it leave a zebra tan? If so maybe I'd wear the full face covering. Saudi can be quite sizzling, and I dunno I just have this premature aging thing in my mind, if I get under the sun too much.

Star Vogue said...

Please let us all leave the judging to Allah (SWT) we all take our interpretations of modesty and for all we know she has chosen to dress this way or act a certain way instead of bringing up all these husrtful comments we should remember to respect each other. And as for being hot or not being able to hear through the thick clothing I find that to be the lowest form of insult as non muslims use this always to poke fun at muslims who are not wearing an abaya but just a simple scarf. So please refrain from these posts as it is not your duty to bring about judgement on one. If you have something positive to write we would all love to hear it.

Tiffany Wacaser said...

Thank you for this very thoughtful post, Blue Abaya. I also appreciated the comments from others, both those who leaned toward full covering and those who do not.

I am an American woman but also a Mormon. My faith strongly encourages modesty in dress and behavior. We believe our bodies are temples--sacred and that we should treat them sacredly and not flaunt ourselves. So I definitely understand the principle of modesty and its importance to God (or Allah).

I want to say that I honestly respect women who are faithful believers of the Islamic faith and don the coverings out of deep belief and a genuine desire to obedient and faithful to the dictates of their religion.

What I dislike is that covering is enforced here. So I never know if the women I encounter outside of my compound are donning the coverings out of faith or fear.

I do have to say that to Americans, donning those coverings does render women invisible. I find it very frustrating because I would like to interact more with Saudi women, but the abaya, hijab, and veils really act as a barrier that I'm not sure how to get around.

My other question is that in the extreme covering of one's body, I wonder if it heightens the feeling that women are merely sexual objects--put out of sight so that they aren't temptresses. Maybe that it is an extreme view. I'm not saying that western women don't also face that same problem, but that comes out of immodesty.

Again, thanks for the good discussion. It has been very interesting.

Hope said...

I actually watched this show, and the truth is that anyone who would look at the show will be disturbed, they will feel something unsettling and perhaps not normal. I was very distracted by her and from the constant zooming to a BLACK image. Is that what women are supposed to be? a BLACK Screeen?
But I do have respect for the lady in Black for showing courage to look like this in public. But I wonder, how does she feel about it? does it bother her? did she feel comfortable?

What needs to be clear is what was portrayed has more to do with the country's CULTURE and customs ..they play a big part of how the men and women look like in a country. This has nothing to do with ISLAM, but this is how the country wants their women and men to look like. They force their women to wear the color black and the wear the abaya in public and their men are forced to wear white thobes and shmagh when they go to work. This is a political movement that wants everyone to look the same ... to not have freedom of expression, thought...

According to ISlam and to most scholars, there are two opinions on this matter, some who believe that it is part of the hijab to wear Niqab and the other opinion is that you are allowed to show the face and hands.. But all have agreed that loose garments must be worn that don't shape the body.. These are the two most popular opinions and women are free to choose what makes them feel comfortable. Sadly, culture has creeped into the interpretations, and have made it compulsory on women to wear a specific color and specific style ..

Hope said...

In regards to what the wives of the prophet ... God says that in the Quran "Ya Nisaa Alnabi lastuna ka a7ad min alnisaa" ...."Oh wives of the prophet, you are not like any other women..." They had special privileges that only applied to them (not all other believing women) ... For example, the wives of the prophet were forbidden to remarry after the death of the prophet Sallah Allah alaih wasalam. There are many other examples. We really need to understand that not everything that applies to them applies to ALL women. THey were special cases....

But what we need to follow is what Allah has ordained on all believing women which is to dress modestly.. and follow the interpretation that makes sense to you.

Susie of Arabia said...

I totally agree with you and have asked many of these same questions until I'm blue in the face. I don't feel you were belittling the woman in black. You were pointing out the irony that she was a panelist who was supposed to speaking up for women's rights, yet she was invisible and said nothing. I certainly wouldn't want her representing me as a woman because of her lack of participation on this show.

Hope said...

Layla is freely expressing her views and that is her right... ... To be covered from top to bottom where you can't even breath is an EXTREME... Our religion tells us to be MODEST in everything we do and to not take anything to the extreme...
The lady may have been talking, but we have no idea and Im sure the camera man had no idea .. bc her voice cannot be heard from all the layers, and no one could see her facial expressions to know if she was agreeing or disagreeing... What is the purpose of the Hijab? to hide her from society? paint a women in a black color incase she decides to leave her home? ...

Layla's intention was not to Belittle the lady, but to bring attention to the matter ... out of concern.. She wants women to THINK and Ponder about this image... >>>> thats all... Is there any logic to this dress code? if this is ordained from God, then it must be good for us and suitable for all women around the world in all conditions.. she is saying something like this is HARMFUL to women,.. especially the ONES who actually leave their home and contribute to society in hot weather and in many other circumstances.... Perhaps, this is her choice to dress like this! however, don't do it in the name of ISLAM and don't blindly believe this.....and don't expect women to admire it...

Anonymous said...

Whether we like it or not thats her choice of dress. Its her right, not yours.

Also I think some Muslim Women who appear on television cover more than they ordinarily would in a day to day situation, considering the fact that this image will be beamed to thousands of strangers.

Lastly, I regularly watch televised debates and interviews in my own homeland of Europe where non Muslim women sit for the most part, quietly whilst the men take the lead in the discussion, all this while wearing a low cut top and a tight pencil skirt!

So its not something limited to this lady's religion. Get over it, Muslim women are equal citizens you facist.

Hope said...

Yes its her choice to dress like this.. and it is her right .. but thats not the case or the problem .. and that is not what is bothering Layla.. The lady is dressed like this because this is what is being taught to be the ONLY correct way to dress in the name of Islam ... Other opinions on the matter are not taught as options to choose from and they are not accepted... Just look around!.. Yes it is concerning to Muslims, that this image is being portrayed to be the image of Muslim women.. .. It was disappointing that she did not speak up the whole time and did not let her voice be heard .. eventhough everyone was talking and engaging in the show except her.. It kept the viewers wondering what was her purpose of coming to a debate show ?

Layla's intention is to bring attention to the matter ... out of concern.. She wants women to THINK and Ponder about this image... >>>>We will do everything ALlah has ordained us to do , however, did Allah ordain us to look like this??? Is there any logic to this dress code? if this is ordained from God, then it must be good for us and suitable for all women around the world in all conditions.. Dressing like this can be HARMFUL to some women,.. especially the ONES who actually leave their home and contribute to society in hot weather and in many other circumstances....

Perhaps, this is her choice to dress like this which is fine and it is respected ! ....and don't expect women to accept it and admire it...

by the way, calling Layla names and labels is not the right way to debate with wisdom. If you think Layla has erred, then ISLAM teaches us to be respectful and convince them other ways by engaging in debate to convince her!

Kat said...

Great post. I've often thought how impractical this style of dress must be for the wearer. It must be like being disabled, unable to see or hear properly or walk anywhere fast. If God really thinks womens' faces and hair are so problematic that they need to be hidden, why didn't he make women without faces and hair?

It doesn't make any sense to me. Because even if there are a few lustful men who may get excited by seeing a woman's face, the majority of people won't be excited by seeing it. Children, other women, men that are too old to get excited, men that are gay, men that are happy with their partner and decent men who don't look at women as sex objects, they won't be looking in lust. So why should women have to hide behind veils just because of a few lustful men? They are shutting themselves off from most of their community. I know I wouldn't feel comfortable chatting to a lady with her face covered, as would most other people I expect, so she misses out on making friends and having pleasant conversation. She also can't play sport or have a regular job dressed like that. That's not fair. It certainly seems like she is being restricted, oppressed and controlled.

Anonymous said...

That's what everyone is talking about imitating in things that can be done, obviously all of the Messenger's Sallah Allahu Alaihe wasalam wives and sahaba have a higher status but in them are examples for women and men to mirror should they choose.

Tiffany Wacaser said...

Anonymous, asserting that Muslim women are equal without backing up your statement with facts leaves us all hanging. And then to add name-calling to the mix is very sloppy.

I would like to hear how you think Muslim women are equal in Saudi Arabia. I'm not being snarky, I would just like an honest assessment from you.

From my viewpoint, I don't see that equality. I don't see how being cloistered in homes, wearing such heavy coverings (when men are free to wear Western clothing without censure), being unable to drive, not being able to work if they choose, etc. is being equal.

For the record, I don't think women should have to work if they don't want to. I stay at home and care for my children because I think it is extremely important. I just think that women should have more options than the medical field.

Again, I'm very interested in an honest and open discussion in how you view equality and how you think that Muslim women have equality.

Tiffany Wacaser said...

And there is great irony in a women being so heavily veiled that she is rendered invisible sitting, without speaking, on a panel about women's rights.

Sadly, this type of invisibility isn't unique to Saudi Arabia. Even in the U.S., women are often excluded in conversations about women's rights (especially reproductive ones).

Tiffany Wacaser said...

Anonymous, it is not, in fact, the right of the woman to dress like that. It is enforced here. So to claim that a person has a right to do something when aberration from the prescription is punished, is a misunderstanding of what it means to have a right to do something.

Perhaps her only choice in the matter was whether or not to appear on the show.

Tiffany Wacaser said...

Star Vogue, I think you misread the post. This woman was not criticized for her dress. The culture was criticized. How is it an insult to question whether a woman can hear or see properly through the layers of a veil or hair covering? It isn't an insult but an honest question.

I am not a Muslim, but I genuinely want to understand the reason behind all the coverings. I am trying very hard to understand the culture and religion. Being defensive instead of explaining your position does not allow for me to understand you better. And your post struck as me as extremely defensive.

If you want people to understand your beliefs about covering as a Muslim woman, you need to avoid the defensiveness and answer clearly. We would all benefit from that type of dialogue.

Tiffany Wacaser said...

Noor, I really don't think the author is belittling the woman, but rather the custom and cultures of this country which dictate an extreme covering. And also pointing out that in dressing so extremely, it renders this women invisible.

Anonymous said...

"They are shutting themselves off from most of their community. I know I wouldn't feel comfortable chatting to a lady with her face covered, as would most other people I expect, so she misses out on making friends and having pleasant conversation. She also can't play sport or have a regular job dressed like that. That's not fair. It certainly seems like she is being restricted, oppressed and controlled."

To me these words are very true. I'm speaking from my own experience, as someone who wears niqab.

Anonymous said...

You can't know for sure it's her own choice! It could be her father's, husband's, her family's, society's choice for her to dress like that. In some circles where people think that's how honorable women should dress, women have no other option but to submit to it! I wish YOU were forced to dress like that always when leaving the house, till the day you die.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous may 09 12:37. Facist??, LOL. Did you actually mean faceist?

Anonymous said...

I wanted to repost my comment as the other was likely too long, lol. I wanted to basically say as women we must stick together, and perhaps she became nervouse with stage fright and that's why she didn't speak. She's not invisible, al hamdu lillah we see hear and people including great Sheiks and Scholars hear the voices of women and do all they can to help show how our high status it's haram to insult them. Allah says their favor over us are like moon over stars. I've heard many scholars from KSA crying at the podium over the great care they recieved by the mothers and how greatful they are and how important all women and mothers are. We are shapers of society, the educators, the pillar of strength and emotinal support of every family. We have the right to be cared for, respected and fair treatment as stated in the Quran. Unlike today in most countries women are used for sex, and left to be proped up by pills and alochol to get through the day, a husband if he so chooses doesn't have to support his wive financially it's only after a divorce does the law intervene and decree a support amount. Or when a woman is old they are tossed aside and no one even bothers to ask how they are doing anymore. So many die here all alone rotting in Apts for weeks before someone comes along and calls the Police. If anyone violates the rights and treatments ordained by Allah that they will answer for it, tuely the victory is to the patient. If a women chosses to cover even her eyes it's not extreme. When the ayat of hijab came down the women of that time followed without debate and Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) was a linguist in Arabic, whose virtues of speech have been document in Hadiths. They used fabrics available at the time and sometimes they wore black, green and so on as narrated in Al Bukhari but they did in deed cover their faces and entire body. And they are the best examples for women in modern life. Their understanding of the Ayats are better than ours and if they were wrong the Prophet (sallau allehi wa salam) would have corrected them. Whatever the woman's reasons for being quiet didn't have anything to do with her dress, and if she or others dress that way for the sake of pleasing Allah, or themselves, their husbands, fathers etc. it should be respected and admired. Because when it's all said and done those that do it will get the reward for doing it and it will be written as a good deed for reving a Sunnah or a requirement of Allah, it's a win win scenario. People should ask themselves why is so few hate or complains about women dresses in today's fashion, with butt baring shorts, and dresses with the front cut out all the to the belly button, is that not extreme and obscene? Or the way women are sexually exploited in every magazine, film etc.? It's okay to use women, dress them like strippers & stage props to sell a perfume or a handbag. There a tons of commercials where women have no speaking roles, just lying around making faces with a bag betwen her legs and all the ladies are like yay give me a hermes, a LV bag etc. but let her have hijab/niqab/black abaya they say ohh I feel sick! It's a crime, bad for ones health. Why do many Sisters admire those that are misguided? I could keep going.

Allah stated in Quran in surah Ahzab O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks all over their bodies. That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allâh is Ever Oft­Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Al-Ahzab 33:59) People should start asking themselves why do they hate to copy our nation, and love to copy those that follow their own desires whose deeds will be weightless on the day of judgment.

Islam is the cure and knowledge is power. May Allah make it easy for you and guide everyone to what's true and right.
Best wishes. :)

SmurfBurkan said...

In all honesty, all I read in this post was a lot of preconcieved notions on what it means to wear niqab. I personally wear it, and neither do I feel restricted, nor do I have any problems with breathing, my voice is heard loud and clear (believe me) and I hear without any problem what so ever - and I even know sisters who go outside jogging and exercising with the niqab if needed (though I am sort of a couch potato and only time I exercise is on my cross-trainer at home).

Niqab and hijab and "abaya" can be found in many different shapes and forms and colours so it all depends. I mean, not all trousers are alike, nor all high heels. Some are actually quite comfortable while others are torture in and of themselves. So if you wear three layer niqab with a net and a over head abaya 5 sizes too big and 20 cm too long and combine that with gloves and what not, then of course it is quite uncomfortable. But that is not the only way to wear a hijab, abaya or niqab - with all due respect...

SmurfBurkan said...

Oh, and I forgot to mention - I study at the University, and I am quite active in my community. I even go visiting museums, libraries, cinemas, parks and other places. AND I even occasionally run to the buss when I am late.

Imagine that!

nina said...

Assalaamu aleykum! I agree with sister aisha h. And i was about to post that ayat aswell :) that ayat that sister layla posted is not the only ayat or sunnah that there is about the hijab and proper dress of muslim women. And i do wear similar style black hijab (overhead jilbab) sometimes and it is made from so thin material that nothing shows to others but it is very cool and airy to wear even during the hottest summerdays. You dont need to pack under it tons and tons of clothes, its up to you how much you wear under it. and why some say that this "invisible" woman was representing the image that saudi admire and want? why wasnt the other lady in the program dresses the same then?
I personally know many niqabis in my society who are very active in the community and among muslims so please dont say that niqab prevents them from participating. If you dont know how to "break" that "barrier" then maybe a smile would be a start and then saying maybe hello or assalaamu aleykum. I agree that some niqabis can be judgemental, but so can some women who only wear scarf. It doesn't mean that if you wear niqab then you are judgemental.
People get so upset if sister advices other sister who wear scarf with jeans or so on but then do that exatly the same (in more judgemental way...)to niqabis. Like it would be accepted to judge them as extreme (which they are not, like many sisters have said already mashallah) or backwards etc. If a sister wants to follow the sunnah then let her follow it.
Men also have hijab that they should follow but as soon as they follow it then there are people telling them that they are extreme and backwards. Like some sister already said: would you tell the mothers of the believers that they are extreme?
The hijab was given to muslim women so they can wear it in any climate and time. Overhead jilbab is cool in the summer (its up to you to dress under it accordingly..) and in the winter you can put as much clothes as you want, so it goes for any climate. And you can still work and exercise normally. Who would want to excersice in front of men (muslim or non-muslim) anyways?
So please lets not judge the sister when we dont know her background or story. Lets look at ourselves first :)
Someone was asking why we cover (here is my opinion):
1) It's a command from Allah for the believing women
2) It protects us from other peoples looks and stares (meaning they dont see anything that we dont want to show, this gives the woman the power to control who sees her and what they see. Some men and women hate this cos they think they have right to see everything from everybody...like we would be a piece of meat or something cheaper...)
3) it helps us to focuss more on the inwardly and outwardly (it doesn't happend overnight, it's a long process)
4) It helps us to remember Allah more.
5) People have to confront our brain and intellect rather than out bodies. (some women have problem with this, cos they like to judge peoples bodies etc...)

Layla said...

thanks I have a Quran with tafseer and really enjoy it. I believe God gave us a brain so we can actually use it.

Using brains, as well as forming our own opinions and expressing thoughts are not reserved for just scholars.

Layla said...

Noor swedemom got it right. I have no idea how you got that impression that I was belittling someone here. Maybe you should read the post again with an open mind and leave your prejudice behind. I hate when people read and immediately go into defense mode.
Like NOTHING critical can ever be said and one can't be concerned about something like this at all.

And if she has a controlling husband that makes her dress like a black screen then I think that is of concern and since like you say its common here then I think its an issue we should open to discussion. First of all, why do the women allow it? Why do they let themselves be treated like children and forced to dress a certain way? It's HER choice. The husband should have ZERO say to it.

Layla said...

Rayyah-thanks for the comment. I don't think the lovely Susan Zawawi and the woman in the TV program have anything in common. And the issue and this post is not about niqab. like I said I'm all for choice but when people start imposing such extremes on others is when I have an issue. Also covering your whole body has HUGE health risks, I cannot tell you how many women and children I've watched suffer from this. I should write a whole post about the problem of vit D deficiency and maybe you would understand my concern more..

Anonymous said...

I want to add one thing which is that the woman participated in the show as a divorced woman and she talked about her experience. you can hear her voice here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbb4D4LEiXE
secend, I recommend you to read this
I respect those people who stated their opinion in a respectable way-

finally , just through communication we can understand each other

Layla said...

Star Vogue-Yep, you misread the post and went for immediate attack in defense mode. Read it again with thought.

All those "hurtful comments" and "lowest insults" exist ONLY in your head. Not in this post.

I would say I have more positive stuff to write than 90% of Saudi bloggers out there. If I find something disturbing and I feel I should spread awareness or warn people of dangers whatever it is, even if negative then I have every right to write about it. I really don't need you to come here to tell me to only write about positive things.

swedemom above is giving you good tips on how to address issues like this in the future!

Layla said...

swedemom-thanks for your comments they were full of wisdom :)

You have an excellent point about how the niqab becmes as a barrier to interaction.

When I wrote the post about Saudi positives, I had lots of difficulty remembering nice things Saudi women had done in public. The reason is you very seldom interact with them when they're covered.
But in situations like as patients, in their homes, at salons, gyms, expos and so on where they've been "normally" dressed and without any barriers I find them to be very curious, friendly and open to discussion.
So I would recommend you try to chat with Saudi women when those barriers are down :)

Layla said...

Hope-thanks for you comments! I was also disturbed and so much so I felt the need to write about it. I think if she was comfortable then she would've perhaps said something?

I agree 100% that this is from culture not Islam. Also good point about how everyone including the men are forced into certain uniforms. A clever way of control from the government!

Layla said...

Remember we should also think about what is reasonable and necessary to imitate in the 7th century compared to the 21st century. Things and times change. Do you think we should take slaves for example?

Do you honestly think the wives of the Prophet dressed like this woman? I don't.

Layla said...

Susie-thank God for people like you and the others who actually understand what I wrote.
I think writing a post just to belittle this women would be really foolish and stupid and totally pointless.

If someone thinks that way they should look into their selves and think where that negativity ultimately comes from.

Yunnan said...

Well said Laylah. I think you were right to point out, that not just being unislamic, that once established as a custom, it becomes a point of moral superiority over others, and this sort of social religious pressure is extremely dangerous and disturbing, as extremist behaviour becomes the norm. And I don't see it as to be anything to do with religion at all - as you point out, the religious justification for it is extremely flimsy - it is entirely to do with power, and power inequality. Men can dress, behaviour, move with autonomy and sometimes even with impunity, but women are enclosed, protected, hidden - more a property than an individual.
It makes me wonder how these women who spend so much of their time blanketed from the outside world deal with their identity and perceptions of them.
It is rather unsurprising that when cozened in these extremes, the few opportunities for expression and vanity (such as your great article on wedding make-up) are just taken WAY too far.

Really enjoy your insights of a little understood society, and your non-judgemental nature as an expat (very refreshing). Of course, on such issues, cultural relativism is hard to swallow...
Keep writing!

(Chinese Brit living in Canada)

Layla said...

anonymous- Before you attempt to publicly insult someone, perhaps you should check your spelling first. It's FASCIST not facist. Thanks for the great laughs though! I'm also pretty sure you don't have clue what it actually means since you're calling me one.

Do you have reading difficulty or are you too coward to put even a nickname on your insults? Also requested on the comment policy is no personal attacks allowed. This will be your last warning. I only kept your comment for its entertainment value.

Layla said...

Princess Aisha-I agree with you on everything you say about how women should be respected and so forth.
But I can't agree with the fact that this isn't extreme form of covering. This is NOT issue of merely niqab. I never said anything such. And like I asked before, if this is not extreme, then what is? Dressing in a box?

Those commercials of half naked women are naturally very harmful. Who said anyone here admires them? I think they're mainly men who admire those women! But unfortunately like we can see just by watching american idol, these days even girls like 15 yr olds are dressing in sexy dresses. I mean she is just a child!! That really disturbs me as well, because that's the other end of the extremes.

Layla said...

Smurfburkan-you obviously read this post with a certain mindset since you wear niqab, you immediately assume it's an attack against niqabis or something. Well you've got it all wrong.
This post was not about niqab.
Of course I know it's not the only way to wear niqab, abaya or hijab I live in KSA remember LOL

Layla said...

I don't know why you keep having this feeling you have to stand up for yourself and prove something, just because you wear niqab.

Layla said...

Nina- like I said before this post is not about niqab as such it seems that all the women that choose to wear it out there are flocking here and acting very defensive about it. You might think it's sunnah, someone else wouldn't. So lets leave it to that.
I am not judging the person on the show as a person at all. Just bringing up the point that covering the whole body like that is extreme and not healthy in many ways and acts as barrier to some things in life. Also it's imposed on women here in ksa which is wrong.
If the husband of family makes her do it, it's equally wrong.

Layla said...

thanks for the comment and pls place nickname next time. I guess the first five min we missed she had indeed said something. Good to know.

Layla said...

Yunnan-thanks for your insight! You have hit the nail on the head with your comment about this custom consequently becoming a point of moral superiority over others and creates social religious pressure.
This can be seen not only in Saudi, but sometimes among converts as well. Covering eyes and hands is more superior to only niqab, jilbab superior to shoulder abaya, niqab more better than hijab, abaya better than this and that and so forth..

And the amount of layers is associated with how good of a muslim the woman is. I see this as another form of control over women actually, leaving them to bicker among each other and think about such a superficial issue rather than more important things in life. As you put it, power inequality.

Of course we can't generalize anyone according to how they dress and there are always exceptions but that goes without saying right ;)

Layla said...

You're the first woman who wears niqab to actually speak about it critically on this thread.
May I ask why you still wear it if you feel it has this negative effect on your life?

Anonymous said...

Laylah you know i see women wearing niqab all the time and this might sound mean but honestly most girls look better with their faces covered and only their eyes showing. The niqab makes most eyes look amazing especially when rimmed with black liner hence why i dnt really see the point in niqab if it makes a woman look even more alluring then when a woman is showing her entire face without wondering whats underneath when really wants underneath is nothing special.
Many social issues have been caused because of the excess of covering in saudi..people are obsesses with sex and no one can deny it. This is a social sickness in itself. I think the idea of suppressing women to the point that even their tone of voice is sexy is a preview of bad things to come. I think personally its a very scary thought.

SmurfBurkan said...

Dear Layla, it has nothing to do with standing up for myself or "prove something" as it is that I was quite bothered by your prejudice attitude about what it means to wear niqab. You DID go on a rant about how you (obviously, I mean, your attitude did shine through your post - I have never read any of your posts with a negative attitidue but I was disturbed by this one despite you having written about hijab/niqab before) THINK living with niqab is all about.

Of course I'm going to be a little bit offended when you write that niqab wearing ladies feel this or that, or live in this way or that way (all negative of course), when it's simply not true. Especially you saying that we are cutting ourselves from society, not participating etc when it's just not true. THAT is what bothers me. I DO feel offended when you say that, because you DID utter those words pretty much about ALL niqab wearing women.

If you do not like the niqab, that is your buisniess and I have not commented on that because I simply do not care. I commented on your prejudice attitude towards women wearing niqab and how they "all" live in a certain way.

And we obviously have different experience, because even when I didn't wear hijab I was never condemned by any other Muslim women wearing hijab/niqab. But I AM condemned and looked down upon by Muslim women wearing nothing or only hijab because of my choice, despite the fact (once again) I am much more active in my community and much more educated than most of those women...

PS. All people read things with a certain "mind-set" and not only niqab wearing women, so of course those who condemn the niqab are going to agree and post positive comments (which I have read several of already).
And I do agree with you that a lot of Muslim women wearing hijab or niqab are invisible in the society, because they "chose" to by their attitude and behaviour and not necessarily clothing. It can be because of the fact that they cover themselves up all in black not seeing anything of her (which I don't, because I do not like it nor do I think it's good) combined with a certain attitude or character which I have seen in hijabis as well. So once again it's not about the fact that you wrote about the invisible woman (she was invisible)...

SmurfBurkan said...

And one more thing, I have read another Saudi woman's blog and she did NOT like the niqab and even went so far to claim that it was not and Islamic custom. I never commented on her opinion (was always open minded towards others poinions), and actually shared many of her opinions regarding certain issues.

But I was bothered and offended when she one day went so far in her hate towards niqab that she claimed that it was ONLY niqab wearing women who cut in line and that it was obviously that they had "de-humanized" themselves and made themselves anonymouse and therefore felt that they could do whatever they wanted. Someone not wearing niqab basically is more keen to follow cosial norms etc and are more well behaved... I mean... Seriously...

Had I said anything about that, I would have been occused of being a "niqab wearing woman" who "of course does not like to hear the truth" or something like that. Or maby having a certain mind-set when reading her article ;) ;) ;)

Asaddenedreader said...

Laylah, I really feel insulted by your remarks. I think your arrogant tone and nature while writing and responding to others comments shows that you aren't really open to understanding. You say that you are open to this society but so much of the time you really drag it down. It seems to me that you feel like your choices are superior, but I would really advise that at the very least you would withhold commenting on verses from the Quran and extrapolating your own views. This is especially without studying Classical Arabic. You are not doing anything new with taking the explanation of a translation and saying, so in my opinion this means this. You aren't the first one and will certainly not be the last. Why don't you just say that it's not what you want to do, instead of insulting all the people who are striving to please their creator. Everyone doesn't have time to waste by thinking they are better than others. For the ones that do, I don't relate to them. But as a women, I was saddened that you can so easily just make fun of so many women in your country who are so unlike how you describe. I really respected you. I deal with a vast array of Saudi women and have experience with them, and can vouch that your description is so false so much of the time, especially with the new generation who are able to keep their religion and take out the culture that might suggest them to be a certain way. Just to clarify, I'm not even Saudi, but I just didn't think you would join the bandwagon in rehashing all the popular statements about Saudi women and the veil and how it restricts them. On the contrary, I can tell you on a daily basis of how I see these women as being that is so far from the stereotype!

Personally I'm confused that you became irritated by a commenter because you thought she had to stand up for herself and prove something. Laylah, doesn't everyone want to stand up for themselves when they think their beliefs and life are being picked on. Would you too not, stand up and defend yourself if someone laughed at something that Finns do? Why the double standards?

To make fun of someone's unintentional misspelling of a word, is always a cheap way to laugh and deflect from what they are saying too.

Can I ask you one simple question, if women want to wear whatever and show their body, Why in the world is that considered freedom, when someone chooses to cover it's backwards. For the life of me, I will never understand this!

Anonymous said...

I ask a sincere question, not to be facetious, but Finns can be naked in a sauna in front of others right? Will you defend your culture and way of life, if others disagree with that practice?

Maybe, I think it has to do with feeling threatened because it's different from the way you want to live your life. Ultimately, if you want people to respect your life, respect theirs. I don't understand why you ALWAYS get so defensive when you write a reactionary post and then people disagree with you. If you write a post and say you would love to hear thoughts, and opinions, then be sincere in being able to welcome them with an open heart or at least mind. Thank You.

Noor said...

I am sorry that you thought I meant you but I was referring to the post made above mine. I agree that woman should not be controlled like that having to dress a way they may not want to but this is Saudi and we can not change it yet I know many women who dress that way by choice and think women who do not are crazy. I do not think woman here have the right to not allow it. Families do not support divorced woman and its shamed upon many women are stuck and its not so easy for them to just leave. They money belongs to the husband and life here is all about what men do and want SAD yes I agree but that is the way it is here.

Noor said...

Even I have it Layla I have been taking vitamins since coming here :( This is not normal.

Anonymous said...

@Anon..i really love this blog and laylah but i have to agree that when replying to people comment its seems to be that you were faulting them for doing just the same as you were..being defensive and reading it wrong.
Everyone should be entitled to their own opinion especially when u are talking about things that effect not only yourself ..such as Islam, Saudi, Niqab, Covering.
For example.
"I don't know why you keep having this feeling you have to stand up for yourself and prove something, just because you wear niqab."...well aren't you doing the same as this person..standing up and trying to prove something just because you DO NOT wear niqab?
"you obviously read this post with a certain mindset since you wear niqab, you immediately assume it's an attack against niqabis or something."..The same issue..why judge..you are also talking about something with a certain mindset..from your beliefs and values you have grown up with and also because of the fact you cannot relate to a niqabi woman.
I am not trying to be rude but i really believe that everyone doesn't have to agree with your ideas. You have strong ideas and thats cool and thats why many love you blog..at the same time others may still love your blog yet not agree..and why not? this is life..just as you love and hate many things with saudis and saudi.
Maybe the real issue here is your own personal struggle with the idea of Niqab or the full face cover or even hijab (dnt know if u wear any) and not just "lets liberate the saudi woman" plight.

Anonymous said...

I think there is a difference between niqab with the eyes popping through and having the face completely covered. It doesn't seem like many of the commentators mentioned this.

I happen to be in Saudi and wear niqab. I don't feel threatened or defensive by this post. The gist I got from it was, that it is silly to be on a show and say nothing and be completely hidden from view. It would make more sense if the woman wasn't there and just called in.

This form of dress is very common in Saudi Arabia and at times it can actually be comforting like going on a five minute walk out of the house alone. Why? To avoid a lot of creepy men. For example, I walked to a day care center in Riyadh literally next door to my work. I was in all black wearing a face veil with my eyes showing and some random guy follows me. It is simply safer in my opinion. Is this dress appropriate for the whole world? No. However it is in parts of Saudi. If I am completely covered like the woman on the show, and I was alone walking to the grocery store. I would feel much safer simply because of harassment.

However, in the mall I feel more comfortable with a niqab and with my eyes visible. In Dubai, hijab but no niqab. For me really depends on my environment.

Also...I wanted to ask if anyone out there who is highly educated in the classical Arabic word for Khimar? I really want to see a strong argument for how this word which I have learned to mean a covering or piece of cloth somehow means "head covering"?

Tiffany Wacaser said...

Laylah, I would love to interact with Saudi women more. The problem is how to find those opportunities. I'm not afraid to go, I'm just not sure how to go about meeting other Saudi women and getting to know them on a more personal basis.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe how people even get the idea that Laylah is critizising this woman in niqab. The the problem doesn't seem to be the niqab or abaya or veil but rather the question of freedom of choice. If something is forced upon someone it's not okay. I just can't understand how anybody can think differently.

And for the person commenting Finnish sauna and nakedness there, well, it's a Finnish culture's own peculiarity and propably no Finn will care about how someone else feels about it. So feel free to think it's weird and wrong;P All that matters is that we know what's what. And even though it's very common to go naked, it's not obligatory, it's also okay to cover:) Is it okay for example to go without abaya in KSA? See the difference?

KSA is a very intriguing country, I think Laylah has done excellent job in presenting all the good and bad in it (which is the case everywhere, despite of many many wonderful things in Finland we also have huge problems with alcohol consumption etc). So there are good and bad phenomenons everywhere:) Closing one's eyes from problems just doesn't solve anything.

Keep up the good work Laylah! Terkkuja Suomesta:)


Tiffany Wacaser said...

I've really enjoyed reading the comments in this discussion. I feel like many women have been saying that they don't feel understood or respected for their decisions to cover. May I make a suggestion to you? If you want people, especially expats to understand you better, you need to reach out to us. We're strangers in your land. We don't know the rules that govern interactions. If you were to reach out to us, and open up your homes and let us get to know you, I can guarantee you that the expat perception of women in Saudi Arabia would change dramatically. Real interaction is how you change perceptions. But as long as you allow those barriers to stand between us, misunderstandings will continue to abound.

And given the current world climate, can you really afford to let those misunderstandings about Muslim women persist?

Anonymous said...

Oh and a thought that came to me (the rebel that I am;)) was that what if the woman came to the show to protest against women's invisbility? By coming and being "invisible" she made a point and got people to think and discuss. Just a thought:)

And also I noticed that I used wrong word niqab here when talking about the woman in tv, sorry:) Is the correct word veil?


Layla said...

Dear Smurfburkan,
Sincere Apologies for offending you, it was not my intention!! My reply was written very late at night and very quickly I just wanted to point out that I had not intended this post to be anti-niqab or anything. Maybe I didn't express myself clearly! I meant you don't have to defend yourself, there is no need, because niqab does not make you any less worth and just because someone chooses to wear it doesn't mean they can't be highly educated, wise, intelligent, successful, I mean I know so many amazing niqab wearing women and have friends who wear it..
I sincerely do not condemn the niqab and I do respect women who choose to wear it, ok :)
Please understand what I was trying to say is how it disturbs me that some people (men and women) think the above way (everything covered in multiple layers+gloves) is the only way to go with islamic dress code and it's imposed on some women here, which I think is wrong. Also I do find the verse to be open to different interpretations so saying that is only correct way I think is not fair or logical.
Also it concerns me how SOME, not all or most, persons who do dress that way feel like they are superior to other women who choose different ways whatever it be. You must have met people like that? For me personally I encounter this attitude very often.

Then I also honestly am worried about the Saudi women and their vit D deficiency which is SEVERE as in it causes babies born crippled and with the most horrific birth defects you can't even imagine those poor innocent souls have to go through! You can never get used to seeing them, in the hospital it's everyday life and somehow you do even get numb to it all. But we shouldn't get numb! the problem is these women simply don't go out uncovered at all, for multiple reasons which I'm not going to go in here. But if they AT LEAST had some skin showing to the sun then maybe it could lessen the problem..

Layla said...

Zahra-that's an interesting point of view I hadn't thought about it. True that, there are some women who wear lots of make-up with the niqab and they do look really alluring or lets say eye-catching? But I think they do it on purpose to flirt with men ;)
However most women who wear niqab in Saudi don't have that much make-up to go with it, at least according to my observations..

Layla said...

Swedemom-I would recommend you go to the women only exhibitions, or to large spa/sports centers such as manahil or multaka, Ive met many lovely Saudi women there for example. Sometimes they will initiate the conversation but other times you could try 'chat them up" by asking about their kids for example :) p.s dont forget your smiles and mashallahs ;)

Layla said...

Thanks for your comment, well I'm glad someone who wears niqab didn't feel offended :)
I know what you mean about those creeps.. it think all women in Saudi get bothered by them some way, unfortunately! My personal experience was that the times I wore niqab the unwanted attention tripled and creeps were following me everywhere! I think it might had to do with the exotic blue eyes/niqab combo though.

Layla said...

Hiba- It takes me literally hours to read through and comment everyone!and sometimes I feel like it's better I don't at all, but I want to correct if someone got me wrong or misunderstood the tone or purpose etc. If I write shortly or to the point I guess someone might think its rude, but its not intended, really mostly because of circumstances.
I am just trying to point out the fact (that which most commenters have understood) that this is not some sort of anti niqab rant..and I felt by the loads of comments saying it was something like that, I had to clarify myself.
If ppl say I'm belittling her,making fun, it's simply not true.
Like I said I have good friends who are amazing women that wear niqab, it doesn't matter to me, but that's not the issue here at all. I just wish I didn't have to come back every time and correct peiple who twist my words, or misunderstand bcz they felt defensive from paragraph one, and thus continued to read the post as an insult toward niqab.
It's extremely frustrating. it takes so much of my time and I really cant answer to each and every comment question or even insult. You have not even seen all the comments because I had to delete some very rude ones. So yes it does make me quite frankly tired of having to say things over and over and STILL people want to misunderstand.

I can see how some authors of popular blogs that get many comments have stopped replying to everyone for years..Its simply impossible. I should do that too because it only seems to be causing more misunderstandings and a big headache :)

Layla said...

Sini-kiitos kommenteista, joo en makaan tajua!!
Yes we have many problems in Finland and every country has them..I have zero difficulties with bringing up some serious issues we have in Finland and criticizing it..It's good to discuss even things we dislike to bring up.
You have valid point about sauna. First of all it has nothing to do with this post but anyways we go in there with family, second of all you can wear swimsuit or whatever you want, it's ur choice. Abaya in Saudi is not a choice, neither is veiling for some.

Anonymous said...

I fully understand now and i do have to point out that you are 1 of VERY few bloggers that actually replays back to comments..and..please dnt stop! lol
I can't imagine reading through 70 comments and having to explain myself that many times ...frustrating. Thank you

Anonymous said...

true that laylah..its not a choice in saudi for some

Layla said...

Noor-see that is what happens when you try to read through comments in a hurry half asleep lol sorry about that I guess someone else misunderstood too.
I agree it's sad how some women are controlled like that, but as a sort of a rebel and a person who always fights for women's rights, I would still encourage those women NOT to live like that..If more and more women start protesting against mistreatment of women here, I believe change will come!

Layla said...

Noor I'm so sorry to hear that! Do you have a place to go outside and enjoy some "unlimited" sunlight like yard or balcony? You know what you should come to my house I have a rooftop terrace with a pool and our kids can swim and play together and we enjoy the sun :)

Layla said...

Hiba-no worries :) my husband complains about why I have to be so polite and answer everything, because all my time goes to that (and not to him lol)

راوية said...

I agree with you. When I came to the US, I had many bad views, mostly form from TV American shows. However, when I met the people and was invited to their home to meet their families, I was very surprised of how different the American culture from the Hollywood life. I am planning to reach out to expats in Saudi Arabia when I finally return home.

Anonymous said...

I'm a convert. As a new Muslim I read a lot on this topic and convinced myself it was obligatory and better.

For few years I wore it without questioning, ignoring the obvious. I was a kind of woman to defend niqab on the Internet, saying it's not uncomfortable and it's my choice to wear it. There were some wake up calls along the way, my knowledge building up, slowly I came to the point where I could not ignore the truth any longer. Then I allowed myself to admit that it's uncomfortable, unpleasant looking. I resent myself for putting it in the first place.

I wear it because of my husband. He is fine with me not wearing it outside GCC, but he insists I wear it here. It's a culture where respectable women cover their faces, as if those with open faces are "less modest, less pious, display themselves, invite the harassment" My open face would bring shame. I asked him once: Look, niqab is a choice. I put it on myself and I want to be able to take it off myself... To which he replied he would not allow me.

Now I have to accept wearing niqab because of my family, because it was me who made the choice to live in this culture, to be married to this man. I want to stay married to him, our family is more important to me than an open face.

The negative effects on my life are not very important, although I'm afraid I might develop some neurological disorder with time. I don't feel comfortable talking to other women with covered faces. These women just seem unfriendly. The mouth is covered, the cloth is like a barrier. I can't read their expressions. Usually, I don't have a chance to interact with niqabi women in public, but once I was in a lady's park with my religious Omani friend. We were sitting under the trees with open faces. Then we decided to take a ride on a train. The driver was male, so, my friend covered her face. I kept my face open. We were on the train, she continued to chat, showing me some pics in her phone, while I felt very uncomfortable talking to her. I discovered that it was very difficult for me to communicate with her because of the niqab, it was so much harder to understand her. It made me realize other people may feel similarly uncomfortable when talking to ME.

Anonymous said...

Niqab makes me shy to communicate with people, because I may come off as unfriendly, stiff, arrogant, intolerant, overzealous religious woman, a woman who does not want to be bothered. My niqab makes it impossible for me to make friends with women in public places, I just can't approach them without my face, my smile and friendly expression. Whenever I deal with doctors, shop assistants or my children in public places I feel an urge to rip it off the face to establish a better trusted connection. I think it's disrespectful of me to hide the face, while seeing faces of others.

I don't like how niqab makes me look like. For me niqab results in low self esteem. I feel "oppressed" because I'm forced to wear it, it's humiliating I can't decide about my own appearance. It's degrading for an adult individual. For me niqab is a public banner of my stupidity to the shrewd, intelligent women out there who know exactly what niqab is about. Niqab is uncomfortable. I felt it distinctly when I returned from a trip to my home country and put on a niqab again. It's unpleasant and irritating to wear it in hot weather on a sweaty face. When I carry a small child, or when he's sitting on my lap, he pulls my headscarf and niqab, or lifts niqab, it's awkward, and I have to readjust it, to keep the eye opening straight and symmetrical. Niqab gets in a way when looking after children, walking down the stairs or grocery shopping. I feel like niqab takes away a huge part of my identity when in public. I'm still recognizable to close female acquaintances. But to other people, to the world I'm no longer me. Because of the niqab I would not be able to get a regular job. My husband would not allow me. I could have my face open if working in a women only environment.

Anonymous said...

Laylah, I have a question. Just out of curiousity. I've wondered this for a long time. Why is your picture with niqab, if you don't wear it and don't agree with it? On top of that, it's the exotic harem style, with the heavy eye makeup attracive look. If you are indeed in disagreement with the niqab, it always struck me as being a little ironic that the minute I come and read your blog I see you with niqab. Now I understand the whole, I want to have some semblance of anonymity, and don't want to show my whole face on my blog, but a part of me still always wonders why women who disagree with the niqab, LOVE to use pictures where they look gorgeous with their heavy makeup and eyes. The big picture looks like quite a dichotomy. May I ask why you didn't post a picture with no eye makeup and a regular unbejeweled niqab?

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you. I dont necessarily agree with everything you've said. Women are created differently from men in that Allah and His wisdom as to why when don't cover as much as women do. Women think differently then men and women are number one shahawat for men as stated in ale-imran. we cant expect to think "well why do women cover if men dont" this is not what Allah intended us to ask. It's like saying why cant a 12 year old girl work in a factory which requires heavy lifting meanwhile men can? we both are created differently but equal in the sense that we are to worship Allah all the same way. I mean sure the sister in complete black MAY seem a bit extreme but maybe she doesnt want to expose her adornments to the men present and since she is on tv maybe she doesnt want others seeing as well. We cant judge what is going on because we do not know the women's intentions only Allah does. I think we have to becareful with this subject. For some women they choose to completely cover themselves. The sahabiyyat actually did this and so did the mother of belivers. It is THEIR choice and who are we to judge the sisters who choose to cover and who don't? besides, would you want your husband staring at some gorgeous hijabi on television admiring her beauty? Maybe the women all covered up is doing all us married women a favour and creating LESS fitnah than there already is in this corrupted world. Allah knows best and we should not judge. Just as we are free to dress however we want, we shouldn't question Allah's verses especially since we are not scholars or interpreters of the Qur'an and we definitely shouldn't judge or question those believing women who DO choose to cover up. But all in all, you are entitled to your own opinion and I am entitled to mine as well. This is just my opinion and you definitely don't have to agree :p love ur blog still!!!

Kat said...

I kind of think that is obvious, she is trying to represent something.

Kat said...

You people will try to limit her, I hope you don't succeed. She seems like the most sense I have read coming out of Saudi Arabia. I love her blog, long may it continue.

Kat said...

Maybe she doesn't want to be judged, as you are doing anyway. Would you question a mans appearance in the same way?

Anonymous said...

I'm a niqabi.So lemme tell u how I feel abt it.

For me,it gives me shelter from this world.I feel safe and secured.In a way I feel free as no one is judging me by the way I look.As I really don't look much different than the other niqabi standing next to me.

So how do I and others around me define who I am?Its a great,yet blessed challenge for any covered woman out there.

As a niqabi I need to pay extra attention to the way I speak,words I use and how I treat others.To use your niqab as a scape way to say and do what ever(as no one can identify you)is according to my common sense against Islam and it's teaching.

When wearing niqab,my interaction with others is the only way I can show and shine my personality.We humans have a natural urge to be individuals and this applies to niqabies as well.

When it comes to this post by sister Laylah,I actually do agree with her on some points.This woman,totally covered with multiple layers seems scary even for me.In niqab,eyes are still visible so it's possible to say if I'm smiling,surprised,tired...

Niqab doesnt bother my eye sight and in abaya I'm free to move as much as u want.I can also hear perfectly.

But to cover up like this lady in TV seems too radical for my taste.Yes,as Muslims we should lower our gaze and dress up modest.But there is a limit to everything.I prefere to see the eyes of the other person,they tell a lot.

For the niqabi sister who commended earlier how niqab hurts her eyes;I had the same problem before.Suprisingly getting a smaller size helped me.I also pull my hijab closer to my eyes so the ends of the niqab go on top of the scarf,not the sensitive part of the skin.InchAllah this may help you as well.

I like the way sister Laylah addresses different topics that all Muslims around the world can relate to.We dont always have to agree on everything but I wish to see more respect from the readers part.No one forces you to read this blog.The only book Muslims need to read is the Holy Quran and everyone knows what it says about treating others.

Just my humble opinion,in the end Allah knows best.


Affinity for Modesty said...

Laylah,i don't knowhow you can sabar with buffons like these on your cokment sections but i pray you hv patience n don't let haters bring you down. Anon,i suggest you throw your bigoted attitude and find a life yourself. Laylah seems to hv a great life mashaAllah.

Affinity for Modesty said...

Well said, Farah,mashaAllah.

Anonymous said...

Anon..that was such a pathetic comment..everyone has the rite to state their opinion in a respectful manner..and u are defiantly not doing so. Hope laylah doesn't stop blogging all together with all the crap she has been getting.

Anonymous said...

How does niqab give you shelter from this world? I'm curious to understand this point.
I think all hijabis pay extra attention to their actions whilst in public as they are basically a display board of islam.
You said you prefer to see the eyes of someone as they tell a lot..well some people like to see the entire face of someone as that tells a lot as well so i guess your observation on the hijabi with her entire face covered as scary or strange seems hypocritical when to others wearing niqab might seem just as strange.
If anyone has lived in saudi and knows anything about their channels MBC is such a questionable network..who knows if this lady spoke, maybe the editor cut her out, maybe the reasons why they placed her behind a black screen was to gain a reaction such as this. Surprise everyone there are people in saudi who are 100% saudi who do not like conservativeness and would like to show those who are alluding to more stricter practises as strange ..very scary if you ask me. Women should be able to wear what they want. If she wants of cover her whole face and feels good doing so and is not forced ..more power to her.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ano.Its Farah here.

I'll try to answer your questions the best way I can.

Niqab was a personal choice for me.I wore hijab before,al hamdulillah,but thought something was missing from my emaan when it came down to how I dressed up in public.

Although hijab kept me modest,and yes,like you said I was visibly Muslim to everyone,somehow it wasn't enough for me.People still had ideas of me,based on how they found my face or if they liked my style of fashion.I thought this was unnecessary and started to look for options.

Some of my friends were wearing niqab.I asked questions from them and myself.After some time I just simply put it on and here I am!

I can tell you with pure heart how niqab indeed protects me from this world.No human can tell me what should I do to my appearance,people respect me for my actions not my beauty and neither does anyone look down on me in case of missing beauty.No unwanted attention from anyone and I can feel safe and sound where ever I go.Maybe a bit similarity of your choice not to use your own or nickname when commenting:)

When you said how others might wanna see the full face of the person who they are interacting with...Well,I cannot live my life based on other peoples liking.Im a free woman and the only one who tells me what to do,when to do and how to do it is Allah Subhaana w Taalah.

InchAllah I answered your question,I tried my best to be clear and honest.

Anonymous said...

whew..!!! i got a headache after reading these comments. hope u are ok laylah emotionally, coz in your condition right now being pregnant u don't deserve some of those hateful comments. i think one lesson learned here, we may have right to express our opinion but sometimes we have to choose some words that would not be hurtful or quite offensive to some.

Tiffany Wacaser said...

What a great attitude! And you are right, America as portrayed by Hollywood is pretty awful. I'm an American, and I couldn't be more different than what they show. I dress modestly. I am the mother to 5 children. I married in my early 20's. My husband and I are religious. We believe in chastity. (no relations before marriage and then complete fidelity to one another after marriage). I don't drink alcohol.

But I can't expect anyone to know that about me if I don't reach out to them. When I'm in my own country, I do a lot of reaching out to other women. It's just tricky being the foreigner and trying to figure out how to make those connections and learn more about the culture in a respectful way.

Layla said...

Thanks Kat :) Haters gonna hate, what can I say? They are just sad people you know, with really bad lives..they're jealous if someone has nice things going on..
Haters are ALWAYS going to HATE people who are better off than them! There's just no stopping them! But no stopping me either ;)

Layla said...

I don't know what to say to this other than, it's an old pic, I liked it in the beginning and started using it. The moniker of the blog is 'scandinavian princess' so the golden trim makes it more blingy and like a "princess-look" I guess..Also for anonymity..
Why does everything have to be twisted around..why oh why.

Layla said...

Farah-thank you for the thoughtful comment and for telling us about your experience so nicely. I really enjoyed reading that and hopefully others did too :)

Layla said...

thanks for asking I'm fine alhamdulillah it's always nice to see how many good people are out there.
Haters gonna hate.

Layla said...

I bet not..

KDLeila said...

I don't understand the people, especially the non-Muslim Western commenters, who argue "It should be her right". WHY?! It would not be her right to be naked on a talk show, so why should this, which hampers any actual expression of opinion and muffles her voice be allowed on a VISUAL and AUDIO medium?! If she wishes to cover her features, then a batoola type thing can certainly be used. This would muffle the sound of her voice less and make her eyes visible, but it would still cover her features. Having said that, I will not be able to understand any argument (religious or secular) that argues for what she is wearing, unless she is a major criminal who can escape detection this way. I understand modesty and dress modestly (by Western standards, so think long sleeves, always turtle neck, long skirts to the ground etc) as well. Religiously, the most inspiring and spiritual Muslim woman I know, who spends the most time of any person I know with prayer and Qur'an studies does not even wear a head scarf unless she is engaging in precisely such a religious activity (thus when she leaves the house to go grocery shopping her head will be bare so as to not draw attention).

Jean said...

Honest, it looks creepy to see her as a dark shadow on TV.

Sad. How could any woman support this? But then, if one began from young girlhood, then that's all they can imagine, rather than experience the "other" world, more uncovered at least in the face. At the very least, uncover the face.

RIH said...

what a stupid question thats like asking someone why did u post a pretty pic of urself to represent u?everyone has nice profile pics with makeup on whats the problem and this is saudi blog so niqab belongs to image and didnt u notice susie of arabia has it too and many others. I her pic stunning maybe u r jealous!

Anonymous said...

May I politely disagree with Laylah. While I agree that negative words and hateful speech should not be used, I don't agree that anyone who disagrees with you be lumped in the "hater category". I have a mind to disagree with your comments, and trust me I am far from jealous of anything that other people have. Why does it automatically have to be assumed people are jealous or are haters, when they disagree with you? That's sounds quite pompous. I know you have stated before that you get annoyed when people look at your "handsome" husband, or that you have moved to a place in DQ. But just thank God, for your blessings and realize that people can be happy and very blessed in their OWN life without eyeing yours. Why the rush to assume people are jealous of you?

Anonymous said...

I think we are starting to miss the point here.The topic was about full covering and silent woman "talking" abt human rights.

When it comes to Laylah's husband and whatever she has posted earlier,comment on the right blog post.

Its not easy to keep up a good and healthy discussion via web when people are jumping from a topic to another without making any sense.

If someone told you to go back to what ever hole you came from,wouldn't you call this person a hater?In case you don't agree with Laylah views,you can point that out politely as you said yourself,not making attacks against her personality.In the end if the day,you don't know her at all.Your conclusion of her being paranoid how everyone wants her life,comes from your own reading experience.May not have occurred you,but what you see here is not her entire soul and true image.

She has also requested people not to make personal attacks against her,yet many upset people on this comment box are turning blind side to it.

I don't know her in real life,I owe her nothing.But it really makes me upset when I see people taking advantage of the possibility to comment as Ano.We would never say such things to her if we met her in a social gathering!So what makes people forget all their manners and act without any shame as long as its done on Internet?

Allah has eyes everywhere.Angels record not just your words,but also what ever you type.So think twice before pressing "Publish".


Layla said...

My God what is wrong with people? To anonymous volume #3525 above there, DID YOU NOT SEE THAT SOMEONE WROTE GO BACK TO YOUR HELLHOLE YOU PATHETIC LOWLIFE.
Can you see that now? Is that not hateful? If someone has the need to write something so stupid their life must SUCK> Now that if anything is pathetic and sad.

Man I'm getting really tired of people jumping to the most ridiculous assumptions. DQ, handsome husband, blahblahblah. Seriously. What the heck?

If you still can't make yourself respect the rules below and use the nicknames and behave on this blog I will take the anonymous option out. Most blogs have done this, now I understand why.
I was stupid and naive to think people could remain respectful and not get personal here.

I was wrong.
There will always be all sorts of whackos and mean people out there.

This is NOT about agreeing or disagreeing. GET OVER YOURSELF.

I have had enough of personal attacks and tried to remain patient but everyone has their limit of shit they can take.

Layla said...

Thanks very much my country is actually one of the top in the world when it comes to well, almost everything and every single poll, statistics and charts there possibly is out there LOL
I will soon be lucky enough to go back to this paradise which is Finland in the summer...ahhh good times! Sorry if you're stuck in your negativity :)

RIH-lets keep the comments policy in mind and not stoop as low as her.

Anonymous said...

My dear laylah...i am hoping all these negative comments wont make u stop blogging...coz i dont know how my 24/7 stay at home mom wud be like without reading your posts. i am a fan,and all these numerous numbers of comments you get means THEY are reading your posts so don't be discouraged. you can't please everyone... KEEP BLOGGIN'!!! - Umm Mansour

Farooq said...

You do know that you walked right into this when you made this post. LOL. Keep going Laylah.

Your blog is one of the few things that brighten my day :-)

Anonymous said...

I disagree, because the choice of our clothes is not random. Clothes represents our character, our views, believes, lifestyle. It's normal that we judge each other based on how we look. First impression, visual representation of ourselves matters. Opaque abaya, covered face of a woman tell the people about her religiousness, extremism (maybe fanaticism, intolerance, hatred to non muslims,mental issues - social phobia). Niqabi women themselves often say niqab is their shelter, protection from the world i.e. they view the world, people as dangerous, they feel threatened by society, insecure in public places, they say they put niqab because they don't want to be bothered (looked at, talked to, addressed to). Is it a healthy attitude of a harmonious society member, where people treat each other with honesty, friendliness, trust and not as a potential threat? Something is wrong with societies if women need such extreme covering as a protection!

Anonymous said...


Aliyah-Ahluuul said...

Laylah, I wear niqab and I don't feel 'insulted' by your post. I feel you were merely pointing out the irony of the tv show's situation. I'm sorry you get a lot of negativity merely for stating your opinion. I think when someone is really passionate about something (e.g. niqab) they may feel attacked if someone merely states an opposition to their position.

My niqab isn't black nor does it cover my eyes. I will admit that sometimes I don't wear it out of consideration for time/place (e.g. at the playground or at the doctor's/hospital). I will also admit that:
- sometimes it feels hot to wear it
-sometimes I don't feel like wearing it, but I do. And then sometimes I don't :)
- it can look scary to people who aren't used to it, and even to people that are used to it :)
-kids in particular can be a little frightened.
-people can feel uncomfortable talking to a 'niqabi'
-niqabis in the West can face a lot of abuse for wearing one.
-some muslims can be the harshest critic of niqab. I was told to my face that it is bidah.

But despite the negatives, I do wear it whenever I can. It does have positives. But I won't be boring and list them. I also think that there are many things in the world that seem strange or disturbing at first, but with time (and respect/understanding) become less so. I do wish that even if people hate niqab, that they respect that others are entitled to a different opinion (and vice versa). Yes, it hurts me to see supporters of niqab displaying intolerance also.

I used to spend a lot of time studying whether or not covering the face is obligatory or not. I had a lot of angst over it and researched till my husband went crazy, lol. But then I thought perhaps the verses that talk about covering are deliberately ambiguous for a reason. That is, the verse doesn't specifically state the words, 'women must cover their faces' instead referring to covering the body. So if you think the head is part of the body then cover it. If you think the face is part of the body, then cover it. If you don't, then don't. I'm glad someone else thinks this too:
'Personally I think the verse being ambigous and vague has much wisdom to it.'

For the record, I've seen women completely covered be very sexy and vice versa. As we all know, hijab is more than just clothing, it's a persona we put on when in the company of strange men.

Sorry for the long comment.


Adeel Abdullah said...

This piece is very judgemental. First of all, the Quran clearly says that women should draw their "veil" over their chest and bodies. I know English isn't your first language but what is a veil? It is an item of clothing used to cover the head and face. In Arabic, it says "khimar" and everyone knows a khimar is at item of clothing used to cover the head. As for the face, it is a well-known issue of disagreement among the scholars but noone should criticise the woman who chooses to cover completely when in public.

Secondly, we don't just have the Quran in our religion. We have a second source which is the Sunnah. Among the evidences for hijab from this source is: "Ayesha reported that Asma’ the daughter of Abu Bakr came to the Messenger of Allah while wearing thin clothing. He approached her and said: 'O Asma’! When a girl reaches the menstrual age, it is not proper that anything should remain exposed except this and this. He pointed to the face and hands." [Abu Dawud]

Saudi scholars dispute the authenticity of this hadith because it calls into question whether the face must be covered or if it is simply preferable but the hadith is deemed authentic by the greatest hadith scholar of our time, Sheikh Al-Albani, who was the teacher of many Saudi scholars. The point is that at the very least the hadith tells us the woman must cover her whole body (except face and hands) when in public.

Sure things are far from perfect here because people all over the world are failing to practise Islam as it should be practised and Saudi is no exception but look at the other end of the spectrum when it's a free-for-all between the sexes such as this shcoking statistic from your homeland, Finland:

World Briefing | Europe
Finland: Sexual Harassment in Parliament

Published: January 25, 2008

An internal report on sexual harassment in Parliament has found that 33 percent of its female employees said they had received inappropriate comments from male colleagues, 15 percent had been subjected to improper advances, and 7 percent had received propositions for sex. In 4 of 10 cases, the advances or comments were made by a lawmaker, according to the survey of 680 employees.


bigstick1 said...


Got to ask when did Islam make it better? I believe it was Aisha that stated that she had not seen such suffering except from believing women as she had been better and was greener in bruising than the cloth she wore.

Next are you aware of the numerous variations in readings, the missing verses, the satanic verses, etc, etc, etc.

bigstick1 said...


Interesting that you don't quite understand that this has nothing to do with sex but everything to do with putting you in your place in a position that is powerless. Harassment is about power not sex when you go back into your havel the harasser, the controller, the terrorist wins. You believing in the mechanisms that allow this only creates more terrorist/harassers and more victims.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for addressing this problem Laylah. I think that it is a problem when someone appears to represent a certain group, and somehow they don't seem to have a voice. Firstly I should state that I personally wear the veil, because I chose to, but I truly believe that it is between a women and her CREATOR how she CHOSES to dress. It is not for anyone to judge; that authority does not belong to any human being period.

Back on topic: It is vital that every individual express themselves and stand up for what is right. Islam does not encourage a woman to disappear, that is NOT the meaning of hijab. On the contrary, Islam brought about the liberation of women. It gave them back their freedom to an education, inheritance, voting, and most importantly LIFE. Before Islam they were burying baby girls ALIVE. Islam came and highlighted the importance of women's ACTIVE PRESENCE in society. So, I think that it is not right to have a representative of Muslim women completely invisible and unheard. It is both Islamically and morally incorrect. I have personally seen several veiled women talking, debating, and surprising the masses with their intelligence and wits. And they did it with their face covered~ I just hope that more women who choose to cover come out and start being heard.

I would also like to point out that men and women are both encouraged to dress modestly in Islam. You can see many men in the Muslim world whose dress resembles the same modesty of a Muslim woman's hijab; loose white thobes, long head covers and beards.

Anonymous said...

I've been perioically reading this blog all day, I just can't stop! So interesting.

I'm not a Muslim and I'm from the UK and I always thought the niqab looked very, very oppressive. Then I saw pictures of Saudi men wearing the long white robes (thobes, is that what they are called?) and the red and white head coverings and I thought 'well, I suppose it looks less oppressive in a Saudi Arabian context than a western context'. What I mean is, if everyone in Saudi Arabia - male or female - is wearing long, shapeless garments and head coverings then it's not that much of a difference for a woman to wear a long shapeless garment, a head covering AND a face covering. It's not such a contrast in Saudi Arabia as it is in the UK. A woman in a face covering here looks really, really covered in contrast to everyone else.

I could be wrong but it seems to me that in Saudi Arabia, even small variations in clothing - face covered or uncovered, sheer abaya or thick abaya, embroidery or no embroidery - take on a much larger significance than small variations in clothing in the west. Seems as if maybe there is a religious sugnificance too?

As for vitamin D deficiency, this is a huge problem in the UK, among the whole population, especially Muslim women who wear the niqab, because we get so little sunshine here. If niqab-wearers in Saudi Arabia lack vitamin D then think how much worse it is for them in the UK! I hope they take supplements!


Layla said...

Hi Sophie! Thanks for sharing your point of views here it was very interesting :)

Anonymous said...

This is the first time I read your blog, I find it very entertaining:)

I have to disagree with you though on this post, though it is your right to express your thoughts, opinion and feelings on the subject.

There is evidence that says a woman should cover her entire body, except her eyes. There is a hadith that talks about how the women, once the ayat about hijab were revealed, tore off parts of their garment and covered their faces with it. Also, in the quran there is evidence, though subject to difference of interpretation.

I don't think it's right to assume this woman has been silenced or forced to dress the way she does, or any woman who dresses this way. I don't see an oppressed woman, I see a woman who adheres to her faith in the most conservative way, and I find it's wrong to brand this as extreme.

Again, I respect your right to voice your opinions, but I believe that if you study Islam more in depth, you will find out that the way this lady dresses, and the way many women do,is according to Islamic requirements. It is just that people choose to interpret things differently.