By Yasser Latif Hamdani
Thank God for Nicholas Sarkozy who said what Muslims should have been saying in the first place: Burqah is NOT a sign of religion. It is a sign of subservience.
The Holy Quran does not prescribe the Burqah. Even Hijab or headscarf is a contentious issue though the latter has become a symbol of political identity more than a religious issue and therefore has become a sine qua non for multi-culturalism in the west. However we cannot allow the question of Burqa to take a similar status.
The determinants of Islamic Jurisprudence known as the Usul ul Fiqh are:
1. Holy Quran
On all four counts, the Burqah fails the test of mandatory religious observance. And if the rituals around the holiest Islamic gathering of Hajj is anything to go by, Burqah goes against the grain of Islamic spirit. After all during the Hajj all believers are expressly forbidden from hiding their identity and there is no segregation of the sexes. Going by the Hajj Islam appears to be a radically modern and egalitarian faith – which is the true spirit of the faith.
My only regret is that this wise statement has come from Nicholas Sarkozy, , the President of the French Republic, and not from one of the leaders of a Muslim majority countries, especially those who have christened their states “Islamic Republics” for clearly Islam upholds complete equality of all human beings. Surely they don’t want their religion, Holy Book and the Holy Prophet (PBUH) associated with something they had nothing to do with?
The second issue ofcourse is whether France has the right or moral authority to ban anything. This has been done to death in the past few years but let us revisit the issue once again in the light of the arguments forwarded by those like the holiest of the holies from Darul Uloom Deoband etc. These brilliant ideologues claim that French President’s statement is apparently against human rights. Ofcourse these people are so shamelessly mum about the forced observance of Burqah by Saudi Arabia and that of Hijab by Iran. But let us consider if the French Republic has the right to ban the Burqah. The answer is overwhelmingly yes! Not only is Burqah not a mandatory religious observance but is ostensibly a security risk in this day and age. Furthermore a ban on the Burqah will be in line with the French state ideology of “Laicete” which is secularism with a capital S. In this secularism goes beyond being a state principle as it is in the US or UK but becomes an active policy of the state to push religion into private space. Is there anything wrong with having an ideology? If so the same objection should apply to all ideologies across the board. In that case if France is to be stopped from making this crucal decision, citizens of Iran should also be allowed to go nude in public if they so desire. See the absurdity of the claim that the French republic has no right to ban the Burqah?
All fairminded Muslims should support the ban on Burqah if the French Republic goes along with President Sarkozy. It is the only Islamic thing to do.