Women, dress, undress and religions

5 02 2009

Or, to cover or not to cover.
I have always been very interested in fashion and fashion-history. I love beautiful elegant clothes, and I love making my own clothes when I have the time. It always irritates me when people think they have the right to tell you what to wear. And don’t think this doesn’t happen in the Netherlands! The Dutch really don’t like it if people don’t look exactely like everybody else. They don’t even like it when you dress up nicely to go to the opera. I know, I have suffered…

And the topic is always so inflammatory! American Bedu has shocked the blog-sphere populace by giving us a spirited account of her anarchistic spree around Riyad wearing a long coat instead of an abaya!!!!! ”I dared to go out without an abaya” And Achelois has beat me to it by posting her views on Uniforming the Muslim women.

Anyway, what is it, why are men so obsessed with women and covering up. Or with seeing them naked? I don’t think it’s actually covering (or not) which is oppressive, I think not giving people (women) the choice is oppressive! Because I see a correlation in both extremes, The total covering of the evil fitnah female’s shape as is fashionable right now in Muslim circles, or the slutty revealing dress codes now fashionable in the west. Believe it, these contrary dress styles are based on the same foundations: a patriarchal society bent on degrading women to be sexualised commodities. Both imply women’s subservience to male lust.
This post is about women,  because dress restrictions are far more restrictive and more heavily pressured on women then on men!  These two images are the extremes, in reality the crossection of western women dress modestly, and the majority of muslim women dress modestly but do not veil and many do not wear hijab either. Many people want to make women believe hijab is compulsary.  For those muslim women from my personal aquaintance who do not wear hijab, it is a serious and well informed decision

abaya-couture-niqab fashion-slutty

There are, as far as I know, no humans who don’t show some individuality and some manner of adorning themselves. Even very basically living tribespeople in hot countries, while they may wear no clothing as such, they will mostly cover their genitals, or at least wear beads, of style their hair, paint their bodies… Humans will always ”wear” something which pleases them, and/or may indicate social status or wealth.

While this Minoan style of dress may seem sexy, and compared to the above creepy photo of professional bimbo Paris Hilton may seem sexually exploitative, it actually was meant as a statement of pride. The minoan priestesses were very important very powerful women, and being a woman was a good thing, they were proud of being women, and so showed off their most prominent female attributes: their breasts.

feminism-minoansnakegoddess2a

So, you need to know about a societies culture before you can interpret the dress-codes. And I am now narrowing down to religion, specifically today’s patriarchal monotheistic religions, or I could say ”religion”, because they are basically the same religion, divided in different sects. Yes, the good old Judaïsm, Christianity, and Islam. Patriarchal religions showing a strong interest in controlling women, women’s sexuality, and who’s offspring a woman may bear. This is in contrast with earlier interpretations of religion which left women more freedom. But that is another post (and believe me, it will come soon).
I don’t know why it is, but it is as if a part of the male humans are very scared of the female ones, and feel an uncontrollable urge to suppress them and keep them basically captive. In modern literature this weird pathological mindset is excellently portrayed in ”The Stepford wifes” by Ira levin.

Looking into the past I see a clear correlation between women getting more and more oppressed and being required to cover themselves up more and more. If we move back to the dawn of European and Middle Eastern civilisations, both have been influenced in their very beginning by Egypt, a very early and very sophisticated culture.

In ancient Egypt, women were what we now call ”emancipated”. Of course Egyptian culture has been developing virtually unbroken for many thousands of years, and so the status of women has been fluctuating, but upon the whole women had their own possessions, could file for divorce, worked, and were pretty self-confident. Egypt being a hot country, clothes were fairly minimal. Clothes were like jewels, they showed your status, and were often see-through. Egyptians had no issues with nakedness either, if the work would call for it they would strip with no one getting upset. They also did not suffer the obsession with female virginity so clearly noticable in modern patriarchal religions. Actually, they didn’t have a word for it. While it was not encouraged to bring home a baby before marriage, it would not subject a girl to harsh punishments, social disgrace, or the death penalty.  After all, it did prove a girl’s fertility, and the Egyptians did have an obsession with fertility.  Fertility was good!
Boys and girls inherited equally, but men and women could also make wills and distribute their wealth as they liked.

Here you see on the left Queen Nefertari, in a typical very chique see-trough linnen dress, held by the hand by the goddess Hathor, in a more archaic dress which left the breasts clear. More like a very high skirt.

egyptian-painting

This statue, showing an Egyptian couple, shows both husband and wife as equals, of equal hight. The Egyptian manner of emphasising importance in depicting people was to make the important people much larger as the less important people. So depicting the man and the woman as equally large, really means they are of equal status! (As is the deceased queen Nefertari, now she is dead she is of equal status as a goddess)

egyptian-art

Right, so, after the Egyptians we get the Etruscans and the Greeks. Now the Etruscan woman also owned property, and were regarded as full members of society. They were also educated and literate, this lady is reading some tablets.

etruscan-ladyjpg

Now the Etruscan women lived in a very different world as the Greek women. While Greek women were kept entirely apart from public life, Etruscan women went to plays and games, like the men, with the men, and had dinner together with men, and there are many Etruscan Sarcophagy with couples lying in each others arms, and/or gazing lovingly into each others eyes. Só sweet! I want to be buried together with my husband like that! The Etruscans loved music! They sang and played music everywhere!
Interestingly, the Greek spoke as demeaningly of the Etruscans and in much the same terms as conservative muslims like to use when they demean western culture.

etruscan-couple3

etruscan-couple5 .

DE004641

In ancient times everybody in the known world seems to have collected Grecian pottery, and in Etruria it was the women who owned precious Grecian pottery, moreover, you can see their names written on the bottom of certain pieces. Now this was inconceivable in Greece! In Greece a woman did not own household goods, in Greece a woman was part of the man’s household goods!
On the left you can see an early Kore, it looks very much like an Etruscan carving, and she looks serene and self posessed, standing tall. As the ages pass by Grecian women were not portrayed as such anymore.Women were kept in the house, they basically got out only one day a year, and had to be veiled, as seen on the right.

feminism-kore . feminism-tanagra

Some Greek men considered women only good for breeding more (preferable male) children, and so unformed in mind and character that while they may have kept a wife in the house, their real romantic interest lay with a young boy: love was waisted on women.

In Rome, a married woman was considered a priestess of Vesta, and like the priestesses from the temple of Vesta, had to be veiled. At her marriage, a woman was transferred from the custody of her father, to the custody of her husband. Roman married women had to be veiled, and it looks pretty constricting to me.

roman-womanroman-woman5roman-woman4

For Jewish women the Talmud and Midrash created rules for Jewish women to cover their hair as part of religious observation. The Talmud not only regarded women’s hair as beautiful, but as erotic; and for that reason it had to be covered.
Check it out, Marocco, France Tunesia, Uzbekistan.

jewish-moroccan-womanjewish-woman-france-1870

jewish-woman-tunesiajewish-woman-uzbekistan

Later on Jewish women started to wear wigs instead. Which seems a bit hypocritical to me, but even more recently the really orthodox Jewish women have turned to complete covering! There is also emerging a very scary ”morality police” which harasses, abuses and terrorises women who don’t cover enough, or, God beware, commit such atrocities as wearing a red blouse!!!!!!!!!

Jewish ”covered” women.

jewish-haredi-womanjewish-veiled-woman

Ok, let’s go on to the next abrahamic religion: Christianity. Based on Judaism. And as Christianity was highjacked, and adapted, by an extremely agressive Roman sect, founded by Paul, later known as the Roman Catholics, heavily based on Roman culture. Which includes veiling for women, especially married women.

midieval-woman-2

Paul stated in Corinthians:
“Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head”
This still holds true in Christian churches: the men take their hats off, the women wear hats, or headscarfs, or don a veil.
“For that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered”
Shaving the head is a age-old tradition to punish women. So to recap, according to Paul, God wants women to be covered. If she doesn’t cover up she is shaming herself, and Jesus. And if she doesn’t want to cover up, she should be punished by having her head shaved. Women, by the way, in midieval Europe, had no rights to speak of, and at some time weren’t even allowed to speak to men unless spoken to.
Women were supposed to be a collection of vices, men were all that was virtuous. In art you will see the vices portrayed by women, and the virtues by men. In medieval society there were three classes, The religious class, the nobility, and the commoners. There were three different prayer books, one for each class. For the men of each class.
Women were so inferior; being born upper class, or being in the religious class as a nun, did not compensate for their inferiority, so there was only one prayerbook for women.

And to make it really scary, there are now also Christian fundamentalist calls to ”Dress for the Lord”, and join the ”Modesty Movement” All this is of course only targeted towards women. Fundamentalist Christians are also against women wearing trousers.

 

midieval-woman-3

And now we (finally) get to the latest in Abrahamic religions: Islam. Covering, hijab and niqab are major discussion points on any blog visited by muslims. So I wanted to find out about it. As I was looking into covering rules for women I noticed a lot of different views, from modesty in dress is all that is obligatory, up to Islam-QA, who claim niqab is required by Allah. For women. All these restricive dress codes mostly target women, men are also required to dress modestly, but in reality they can wear whatever they like, including swimwear even in Saudi Arabia!
It comes to such a pass that you read women are condemned to hell if they don’t cover. Speeches like: ”Allah requires it of you, you have to suffer it for Allah” It seems that women cannot show their devotion to God by living according to the message but only by covering themselves up.

As I see it this group who insists that not wearing Abaya hijab and niqab, and gloves and stockings will put you on the downwards elevator to hell are equating cloth to religion. They worship the abaya! A bit of fun with the abaya is not allowed! Using an abaya as halloween decoration is sacrilege!!!!
The Holy Abaya has to be devoutly honoured and worshipped like the idols of yore!

I found, to my astonisment, that the Quran doesn’t actually orders women to veil. Veiling was already a practise amongst upper class Jewish women, who veiled themselves, leaving only one eye, because they were too select to be seen by the common people. So they were basically too snotty for words. Slaves and common women were not allowed to veil. So when they converted to Islam they kept their ”upper class cover”.

abaya-burka

There is one passage which is aimed at the wives of the prophet:  “When ye ask them (i.e. the wives of the Prophet) for any article, ask them from behind a curtain; that is purer for your hearts and for theirs” (33: 53, 55).

An early Arabian historian explains that Muhammad’s wives had been bothered by his opponents in Medina when they left the house at night to ‘relieve themselves’, because they took unveiled women for slaves. “O Prophet! say to your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers that they let down upon them their over-garments; this will be more proper, that they may be known, and thus they will not be given trouble; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful” (33.59).’

To me it actually sounds as if they women went out in their undergarments for ease. Why else should they put on their overgarments?

Anyway, Islam qa translates it thus: “O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way)”
[al-Ahzaab 33:59]

That looks like ”innovation” (absolutely forbidden in Islam) to me.

It does seem  that some women in Arabia exposed their breasts and wore see-through dresses, like the Egyptian fashions. The most important quote about women’s dress is this one:
“And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments except what appears thereof, and let them wear their head-coverings over their bosoms, and not display their ornaments except to their husbands or their fathers, or the fathers of their husbands, or their sons, or the sons of their husbands, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or those whom their right hands possess [slaves], or the male servants not having need (of women), or the children who have not attained knowledge of what is hidden of women; and let them not strike their feet so that what they hide of their ornaments may be known; and turn to Allah all of you, O believers! so that you may be successful” (24.31).

 

Ok, to me, not having been imbibed with lots of misogynists scholastic interpetations when I first read this, it looks like this: Cover your private parts, well, yes, I’m all for covering private parts. Don’t show your bosoms/ornaments, I can relate to that one too. And don’t stamp your feet. Why stamp your feet? because it sets your bosoms all wobbling! And we all know that the male brain, when being confronted with bare and/or wobbling bosoms, will immediately shut down all higher brainfunctions for an unspecified time. And there was a new nation to be formed, so I do see the point of that one too. But I don’t see where complete enveloping in black cloth comes in: there is no mention of any need to be covered head to toe.

Here you see some Arab women in traditional dress. As in nice modest dresses. Few niqabs.

arab-dress

Of course there were slightly different dress codes all through Arabia.

bedouinwomen_of_beersheba_edited1 . arab_women_hand_mill

bedouin-women-breakfast

bedouin_woman_weaving

arab-woman-niqab

arab-woman-with-cradel

arabic-traditional-dress . bedoin_woman2

bedouin_woman_2_1898_-_1914 . bedouin-woman-carrying-water-1925

bedouin-girl2 . bedouingirl5

bedouinwoman . bedouinwoman_spinning_wool

bedouinwoman3 .   bedouin_mother

I love these pictures of the past. These women look so beautiful, and strong, and intelligent. So, it was by no means the custom through the whole of Arabia to cover up completely. The current unwritten law in Saudi Arabia that all women must wear the abaya, hijab and even niqab was forced onto the populace in living memory. And according to reports many women, and men did not like it, but they were given no choice.

It’s evil to force women to cover one eye as per recent fatwa proclaimed by Sheik Muhammed al-Habadan. Apparently even two eyes is to much for men to resist. It’s against nature. God’s nature. God gave us two eyes for a reason. Who do these men think they are they can ”improve” on God’s creation?
And now they try (and manage) to convince women that being fully veiled ”empowers” them and helps women express their personality.
Yeah, right….

saudi-veils

Sayida Fatimah ruled Hail in 1911 to 1914. Arab women are not weak secondrate shadows to men.
Something has changed, change as in: it didn’t use to be like it is now.

arab-lady-fatema

I think ”covering” makes people more erotic. And it doesn’t matter how far you go in covering. In Europe and America when women used to dress from the neck downwards a ladies ankle would set the men all astir. In the middle east a naked finger, or two eyes are enough.

Perhaps we are meant to walk around naked! To me there is nothing more off-putting as a landscape full of naturists butt-naked!

nudism2

If God wanted us covered at all times, if God would have problems with us jumping around in our birthday suit,

nudism4

He/She would not have made us to be naked.
If God was so worried about us showing no skin,
He/She would have let us keep our fur.

covr woman

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87 responses

6 02 2009
Chiara

An Aafka-esque tour de force! :-)
I’m rather speechless. All I can come up with is the need for future research into the eroticism of the cyclops! :-) I know Mayans are out of place here, but they used to set an object above the baby’s cradle to encourage cross-eyedness, and use a wooden frame to elongate and flatten the head–both signs of beauty to them, kind of like the diverse and sometime strange notions of beauty/ coverings throughout world history.
Somehow nude jumping about reminds me of Amsterdam, or maybe the Netherlands Antilles in this weather.

My understanding of St Paul is that he was a Jew and a Pharisee, also a Roman citizen because Roman had conquered the Levantine, but not a fan nor a proponent of Roman ways, wrote in Koine Greek (as was common in the Roman Empire), and spent most of his time in Turkey, Macedonia, and Greece with some travels to Jerusalem before being made a prisoner of Rome and then dieing there. So I’m not so sure he was so Roman nor that the Romans were so oppressive dress wise ( bacchanalia, lusty goddesses and all that).

But no matter, still very interesting, with stunning photos. :-)

6 02 2009
Chiara

PS Is the new banner a warning? The juxtaposition of “Clouddragon
spreading sweetness and light” and the Arabian sayf is striking (all puns intended)! :-)

6 02 2009
Lat

Very good article and analysis done! Esp the nude and ape woman pics.I’m loss for words.

6 02 2009
Achelois

Very interesting!

The sculpture of the Etruscan woman really interested me as well. Its at the British Museum, right?

I once was sitting in a government office and a Khaleeji woman came to sit next to me. She could not have been more than 50 years old. From her speech I understood she was there with her grandchild (a baby) and another baby who was her son! The two boys were almost the same age.

Anyway, she was constantly chanting Allah’s names. When she wasn’t talking to her daughter (the baby’s mother) or the two babies, she was doing dhikr and constantly saying Bismillah. Her head was uncovered but she wore an outer gown around her shoulders. Her hair was heavily decorated and her face was covered with tattoos and a metallic looking mask. Then to my horror when the grandson started fussing she gave her baby to the daughter and popped out her boob to feed the grandson! She continued to feed the baby with exposed boobs so comfortably while men of all nationalities walked past her.

Was she a BAD Muslim? Was she sinning exposing her hair and her boobs? But her face was veiled!

It all has to do with culture. And what I find offensive is when women say they will pray that I be guided onto the right path because I don’t cover my head. I don’t do it because I refuse to be dictated by ill-informed men who never took the pains to read the cultural history of Arabia but who are called “scholars”! And I find it offensive when women who cover their heads by blindly following these scholars think I am sinning. I have never condemned them for following an innovation in the name of religion. End of rant :)

6 02 2009
coolred38

Women throughout the span of humanity have bent themselves over backwards to accomodate the latest fetish of men…everything from clothing to personal body parts being altered…just ask the women of China that had their feet bent in half in order to maintain the tiny foot that attracted men so much at the time. These women literally walked on broken feet their whole lives…all to win a man and keep him happy.

I have never for a moment believed that God preferred women to hide their beauty…why else would there be the command to lower the gaze…lower it from what…the all enshrouding abaya that really shows nothing? Not to mention that men are beautiful too…but are not ordered to cover…is this supposed to mean that women can handle their sexuality towards men easier…better…are we stronger in handling our sexual desires as many men prefer to believe? While men apparently have no ability to handle themselves at all…whose the superior creature now?

6 02 2009
Sumera

Ah its cousin It at the end !

6 02 2009
Aafke

Chiara, body modifications can be found all over the globe, Some archeologists think it was practised on a very small scale in Egypt as well, considering the rather unusual skull shape of some of the Amarna inhabitants.

Paul is the founder of the RomanCatholic Christianity, His writings and views are incorporated in the bible by later bisshops. Woemn in Rome had very little rights, dress restrictions were there, on exeptian were tha bachanailian feasts, held only once a month and they were frowned upon, and of course as soon as the christians had enough influence, banned, together with the worship of Isis who empowered women and was very popular all through the Roman Empire.
Pauls views and convictions have become part of later Christian doctrine, a few centuries later the Roman Christians set out to subdue all other forms of Christiantity, like gnostics and Arian Christians, they composed and editted the bible, burnt anybody and anything which didn’t concur with their narrow view of religion.
I always thought Mohammed was aware of that, and that’s why there is such a strickt injuncture in Islam that nothing may be chanced, (bidah).

The sword is a Chinese Liue Dao, it’s mine, it was forged for me, it’s called Clouddragon.

6 02 2009
Aafke

Lat, glad you enjoyed!

Achelois, I don’t think any of these sculptures are at the British Museum, rather the Villa Julia in Italy.
That is a lovely anekdote you told, that woman is the real thing! A real muslim who is living the faith, rather than staying on the fringe of true faith being obsessed with trivialities . And I don’t get people’s aversion with wothers feeding their children, what can be more natural?
And because it’s natural what else should a mother do?

I will pray you keep on at the right path, informing yourself and sticking to the real meaning of religion.

Coolred, women all trough the centuries have been generous and accommodating to their men. Why isn’t it acknowledged?
Of course the ”lowering the gaze”means men have resposibility over their own actions. No woman has resposibility over any man’s actions, But to deny that makes it so much easier for men, so easy to always be blaming somebody else for your own shortcomings…

Sumera, Ooops you discovered me! I thought nobody would notice….

6 02 2009
Achelois

I too noticed your nude but covered with hair last photo :D But I was so engrossed in telling my anecdote I forgot to mention it. You Fitnah! Showing us your nude picture!

6 02 2009
Specs

“…think not giving people (women) the choice is oppressive! “

I’d agree with that 100%!

Secondly, I am SO impressed by the way you’ve taken every religion into account. It was good to know the history of the ‘covering-uncovering’ debate in such a comprehensive form.

I personally cover my head because women did it in the era of the Prophet (PBUH) and he didn’t stop it, so even if I err, I err on the side of caution, as they say because I’m not so sure about not covering, if you get the gist of what I’m trying to convey.

But while I cover my head, I do believe its a personal choice and a personal decision that I took because I don’t want to end up in the wrong direction since I’m not sure of NOT covering. but that also means I can’t point at women who don’t because I’m not sure I SHOULD be covering my head or I’m erring! I hope I’ve been able to convey what I mean.

While we’re at it and I’m ranting away, I also STRONGLY DISAGREE with people who base all our religion on how a person dresses. Its one PART of it, for sure. But not ALL of it! There are so many aspects to it: raising a family, society, your dealings with people etc. Its so myopic of the people who use such strong words like a woman who doesn’t cover will go to hell.

ANd I’d like to add: if, as the Saudi Govt and some like thinking scholars say: Niqab EMPOWERS a woman, that’s for the WOMAN to decide, not a man!!

6 02 2009
Chiara

I should have more liberally sprinkled my first comments with :-) :-)

Of course I am generally aware of the exceptionality of Bacchanalia, Roman dress codes regarding social status, marital status and gender, and the evolution of Roman culture from its early days to its fall. I wasn’t specifically aware of the rise of the 1st century “new woman” who was characterized by feminist professional occupations, and “too sexy” clothes, inspiring Augustus to codify dress further in an effort to repress the upstarts, and St Paul to warn Christian Romans not to follow suit (pun intended). A great reference on this if you haven’t already read it is: http://www.bookschristian.com/se/product/books/Bruce_W_Winter/Roman_Wives_Roman_Widows/281078/Roman_Wives_Roman_Widows_Paperback.html
Pauline scholarship (again in the sense of professional systematized
study) is complex and seemingly divided into 2 major schools: those that saw him as a great apostle and appreciated him, and those who saw him as an innovator and didn’t appreciate it; following to some extent on the Southern latin catholic vs the Northern teutonic protestant split in Western christian scholarship. He seems to have seen himself as a Jew of Roman citizenship spreading the Gospel of Christ among the Gentiles (missionary work assigned to him by the original apostles), and persecuted by Jewish sects who handed him over to the ruling Romans.

My understanding is that Mohamed was well aware of Judaism and Christianity because of his profession as a travelling merchant, hence his respect for them, and simultaneous warning against corruption from the straight path through innovation.

As I said above, no matter, the post is excellent. :-) :-)

Thanks for clarifying about the Chinese sword “Clouddragon”,–still looks like a warning of your rapier wit. :-) :-)

6 02 2009
Chiara

PS sorry this is a better reference for the ideas about the Roman “new woman”

http://www.sbl-site.org/publications/article.aspx?articleId=277

6 02 2009
What Did Muslim Women Really Dress Like Back in the Day? « Oy, Habibti….

[...] Aafke of Clouddragon follows up Achelois with another great post on the topic of Muslim womens’ dress….and she has some [...]

6 02 2009
sabiwabi

I only have a minute to comment because I’m super busy. I got into a very interesting conversation with a friend of mine who is a Lubavitcher Jew and she said that covering the head for women, according to what she had been taught, had nothing to do with modesty, but rather it was used as a “shield” of sorts to seperate ourselves from the glory of God and to show a level of reverence to Him. I have to research this idea further and will let you know the whole theory behind her logic but I thought it was interesting because I was taken aback by her answer. Muslim women often compare their reasons for covering to that of Jewish women….but Jewish women, well, some of them, have a completely different understanding of it. That’s one.

Two: have you had the chance to see the HBO mini-series “ROME”? If you haven’t, I highly recommend it. I think you would love it! It is great a capturing the historical realities of women during the time of Julius Ceaser.

6 02 2009
RhondaL/remlane79

So, how did you convince Mrs. Chewbacca to pose? ;->

6 02 2009
coolred38

and what shampoo does she use to get that glossy smooth look…sigh?

6 02 2009
Aafke

Oh coolred, I forgot, theoretically speaking a thobe (looks like a 19th century sleeping gown) never seemed the most exciting male garmebt to me, But I saw a documentary a while ago, and there were these saudi guys, in a high wind, with the sun behind them, and I thought, ”Waw! These guys look sexay!!!!!!”
These thobes are haraaam!!!!
I think it best if everybody in the middle east would wear an abaya! ;)

Achelois, Moi? I’m not naked? Do you see one inch of uncovered skin??? But it is very inviting isn’t it???? :mrgreen:
And the first Etruscan Lady, reading the tablets, is from the british museum, :)

Specs, I think we agree, to wear hijab is a choice and it is not the essence of religion!

Chiara: it is a warning! ;)

Sabiwabi, I have seen ”Rome”, I think it’s an amusing historical show, although I was getting very depressed to see so many people I liked die. But I wouldn’t take it as a historical document.

RhondaL, I offered a free spa-and-grooming-session! ;)

Coolred38, I use the recipe I posted before! ;)

7 02 2009
Saudi in US

Very interesting article Aafke. Muslims borrowed many traditions from Jews and they still remain with us until this day.

The quote: “The Holy Abaya has to be devoutly honoured and worshipped like the idols of yore!” is a keeper :)

7 02 2009
Aafke

Saudi in US, I’m glad you liked it! :) Your opinion means a lot to me!
That’s my favorite sentence in this post ;)
I hope if you have the time you will read Achelois’ post too, it is excellent!

7 02 2009
seeker2008

I really liked this post. My wife and I were talking about it and its good to get some historical background. Nice site I will be back to read on your blog.

Dave

7 02 2009
Abu Sinan

The whole hijab/abaya issue is indicitive of what is SO wrong with large segments of the Muslim world today, nowhere more so than Saudi Arabia.

The people are so obsessed with appearance over substance. Under such thought it is much better to be a person with very lax morals who covers, than a chaste woman of substance who does not.

It is a choice that a woman should make by herself. I dislike those so called liberals who proclaim all women who cover are sheep as much as I dislike those conservatives who proclaim women who dont cover sluts.

The liberal men forcing their views on women and labeling those women who dont obey them are the very same as their counterparts.

I have seen this all of the time, the liberal men attack the religious leaders who demand women cover, then these same liberal men feel the right to label and attack women who dont think like them.

Both sets of these men have no respect for women. Birds of a feather, peas in a pod.

7 02 2009
Lat

The ape woman is you?!! OMG! That was totally awesome!
If only Big Foot was around,……I bet he’ll kiss your feet and be a slave forever. Finally he’s got mate! :P

7 02 2009
Achelois

Yea, Lat and then he’ll be pulling hair out of his mouth for the rest of his life :D

I told you its in the British Museum! :D

You look hot, Aafke. But you are right we can’t see your skin under your well-conditioned hairs. You are flat as an ironing board though!

7 02 2009
Susan

Brilliant Aafke.

Abu Sinan … I agree with you

7 02 2009
sabiwabi

Yeah Aafke…my husband almost stopped watching it during season two because he was so depressed over his favorite people dying. I had to remind him “it’s just a movie, honey”. I thought he would never recover after Niobe went over the balcony. LOL

It’s obviously a piece of historical fiction….but watching it certainly does make you super grateful to be a woman in the 21 century! The accuracy of the costumes and customs is what got me. I think they did an astounding job. One special feature had an interview with the costume designer and she was just gushing over how this was “her dream job come true”. I was so envious.

BTW, I’m sure glad that Atia and Marc Antony made it to the end, aren’t you? What a pair of actors those two were!

7 02 2009
sabiwabi

Oh and BTW Aafke, I wouldn’t say that covering makes us more erotic….but it sure does make us “HOT”. ;)

7 02 2009
coolred38

“Yea, Lat and then he’ll be pulling hair out of his mouth for the rest of his life …”

Is it just me or did that reek of sexual inuendo? Sorry, maybe its just my “been divorced 2 years now” mind at work ;)

7 02 2009
Achelois

Coolread, That was in reference to Lat’s “I bet he’ll kiss your feet…” but then he can have a foot fetish and then you would be correct :D Haha!

7 02 2009
Chiara

a hairy foot fetish?: tricho-podophilia, one for the casebooks! :-)

7 02 2009
Rhysz

Sexy Hobbitses!!!!!!

Regards,
Rhysz

8 02 2009
susieofarabia

Aafke – you never cease to amaze me!!! Another awesome job of colorfully making your point – some of those photos are priceless!

8 02 2009
Aafke

Dave, welcome to my blog :)
Glad you enjoyed.

Abu Sinan, excellent comment… Sigh.. I see now I could have made this post a lot shorter…..

Lat, and then I would finally have found a mate! ;)

Achelois, ok, okeee, you told me it was in the British Museum……….
What can you mean I look hot? I am modestly covered with fur!!!!!!! And what do you mean Ik look flat???? My ample adornments are hidden beneath my silky fur!!!!!!

Susan, glad you enjoyed! I really like AbuSinan’s comment too!

Sabiwabi, I actually did stop watching the show after Niobe died… :( But then there were several reruns, so in the end I did see a lot of the rest… :(
No? not more erotic??? But what about those ”hot” saudi’s in their thin thobes???

Coolred38, sigh… in the end any conversation about ”covering” will end in a discussion on sexual innuendo… But this time it was fitnahish Achelois who brought it up in the first place….
Oh, no, it was Lat introducing strange fetishes!!!!!!!!
What sort of blog do you people think this is????
Sheesh!

Chiara? oh, no! Another one who’s joining the foot-fetish debate???

Rhysz, naturally…. sigh… “You too, my child?”

Susie, Glad you liked it! :D

8 02 2009
Lynn

I enjoyed this post. You sure put a lot of reasearch into it all. Fun stuff!

As far as the stamping of the feet prohibition, I understand that it was a fashion back in the day to wear jewelry like charm anklets and the women would stamp their feet to show off what they had hidden by their long dresses so it was seen as immodest to show it off by stamping the feet.

8 02 2009
Aafke

Lynn, yes, there is actually an account of Aïscha and other women having hitched up their skirts for ease of movement during the battle of Uhud, when they ran around giving water to the fighters, and their anklets showed. It think it was both: making noise and making wobbles! ;)

8 02 2009
Chiara

Aafke–I couldn’t risk the compulsion to accurately diagnose a fetish as presented LOL :-)

Lynn and Aafke–noisy attention to wobbles definitely a no-no :-)

8 02 2009
coolred38

My wobblies are no longer noisy… :(

8 02 2009
Lat

ROTFL! OOhh Aafke! You’re so cute!

8 02 2009
Achelois

Coolread, you hardly ever display it but you this crazy humour that I totally dig! I love your wit :D

8 02 2009
Uniforming the Muslim women « Achelois: a retired goddess

[...] My talented sister Aafke’s blog Women, dress, undress and religions [...]

8 02 2009
Haleem

You know, this post throws out one assumption.

Niqabi wearers tell me “well the Prophet’s wives wore it so we do”

But now, maybe there is some doubt as to what exactly they wore!

8 02 2009
Aafke

Chiara, no?

Coolred!!! Fie!!!! Keep it down!!!!

Lat, I’m nót cute! I’m evil!!!!

Achelois, Coolred rocks!

Haleem, there are a lot of assumptions about, And I think a lot of falsefying of history. It may be that really we just don’t know, and never will!

8 02 2009
coolred38

“It may be that really we just don’t know, and never will!…”

From you lips to so many Muslims ears…InshaAllah!!!

9 02 2009
Saaleha

I laughed until I cried. I’m an ex niqaabi. I’ve a lot to learn since I freed my face and my mind :P

9 02 2009
Aafke

Coolred38, I won’t count on it, I’m getting moore and more the impression that ”scholars” and their interpretations are given more regard than the actual text of the Quran.

Saaleha, Welcome to my blog :)
Glad you enjoyed :)

9 02 2009
Achelois

@Aafke, She does! Poor thing’s wobblies are no longer noisy!! hahaha! That is just so funny.

9 02 2009
coolred38

Aafke…”Coolred!!! Fie!!!! Keep it down!!!!…”

Unfortunately…if they were any more down theyd be getting caught between my toes :(

16 02 2009
susanne430

Enjoyed this. Thanks for sharing the history of coverings.

25 02 2009
Zaribeni

Nice post! Keep it real.I have looked over your blog a few times and I love it.

25 02 2009
Aafke

Zaribeni, Thank you and welcome to my blog.
Would you explain about zaribeni.com and your IP?

10 06 2009
Laura

Interesting article, with some good points. However I question your paragraph on the medieval period;

“Women, by the way, in midieval Europe, had no rights to speak of, and at some time weren’t even allowed to speak to men unless spoken to.”

– Not true, within Medieval Europe, almost everything about noble society was governed by the rules of chivalry and courtly love, both of these revolved around women being treated with respect, fair enough women were not usually involved in political discussion however they were not required to shut up and stand in a corner silently all day.

“In medieval society there were three classes, The religious class, the nobility, and the commoners.”

This is a common misconception, there are also people who worked for a living but who were certainly not commoners, the two major examples of this being merchants and mercenaries.

“There were three different prayer books, one for each class. For the men of each class. Women were so inferior; being born upper class, or being in the religious class as a nun, did not compensate for their inferiority, so there was only one prayerbook for women.”

Usually prayer books were divided between the clergy and laity. Mostly there is not a distinction between women and men in the laity. They were inferior to the clergy in that they could not read latin and therefore had their own prayer books. There are also examples of women commissioning psalters for either themselves or for dedication to a religious house. Again the most notable example is the psalter belonging to Christine of Markyate- who could not only read but was the major critic of the otherwise critically aclaimed “Romance of the Rose” during the medieval period, and who wrote open texts which were sent to Kings, Emperors and Archbishops across Europe.

To conclude, I think this article was very interesting however the fact that you have pulled on historical ‘facts’ which at best are just well spread misconceptions detracts from the overall article.

11 06 2009
Aafke

Laura, welcome to my blog. You might want to have another look at this post.
If you had understood what I am writing about you would know that ”Midieval history” is not the subject of this post. I am merely using a very generalised, very superficial look at history to make a point about something completely different. I hope you understand that now.

I agree there is much more to be said about the middle ages and women’s place therin. Like for example the concept of chivalry, which wasn’t at all as widespread as you infer, but strickly a hobby in some circles of the upper classes.
The subject of this post is not the middle ages, I’m freewheeling very superficially through the history of the world to make a point about the evolving of restrictions on women’s dress.

You are welcome to comment here, but I do expect people to read the posts and grasp the subjects I write about.
You might also want to rethink the length of your comments. In future I will be very strickt about the rules for this blog which you can read up in the post on Blog etiquette.

8 07 2009
Tsu Dho Nimh

“let them not strike their feet so that what they hide of their ornaments may be known”

That was to keep their ankle bangles from jingling and attracting attention. If you look on the dress restrictions as trying to distinguish the Muslim women from the other women in town, they make sense.

BTW, if you read “Travels in Arabia Deserta” that author mentions several times that the “Persian fashion” of complete veiling was taking over.

8 07 2009
Aafke

Yeah I also think bangles might feature in it. However, that makes for a less funny post. I have read before that is was the Ottomans who introduced both the black covering, or khimar, and extreme segregation to Arabia.

Welcome to my blog, btw :)

20 07 2009
poop

coooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool

23 07 2009
Um_Musaa

bismilLaah 1st off religion has come from Allaah and you started with the Abrahemis Religion and they were Judism, Christianity and finally Islam: in truth Allaah mentions in the Quran that both the Jews and the Christains claimed to follow Ibraheems religon but in fact were not upon it, acusing each other in not following anything. Because Ibraheem was upon monotheism which is lacking in any religion except the true Islam. Look at the sources and not the people because many people claim to be upon the path of Allaah (just as the Jews and Christains claimed) 2nd—its hypicritical to say others are taking dress as the only thing in religion then do this whole ariticle because you are falling into that as well. Islam is a religion of Allaah and He is the 1 that makes the rules; its a dictatorship and the Dictator is Almighty Allaah…have you ever thought that covering/veiling and modest dress is the remains of what Allaah has ordered with the Jews and Christains with. I feel sorry for the women in these photos go back to the basic the pilars, there is no problem with the rest if the foundation is firm upon LA ILAHA ILLA LAAH (there is no God but Allaah) knowing that a God is worshiped then there is only Allaah that should be worshiped (in the way He has ordered—not according to our whims/opinions)
There is clearly something wrong with your notion of guidence if you think that Allaahs religion is not organized with His Wisdom. And that there is anything wrong with any of His commandents. Allaah mentions in the Quran that ‘that is better for them that they not be harrassed’ and He is the most truthful of speech. Do not allow the world to decieve you (society and their every changing values that confirm to desire to justify what is right/wrong) if you believe in Allaah then He is the 1 who has destinguished wright from wrong for His servants.
And the thing about the scholars be aware that Allaah mentioned in the Quran that the scholars are the most fearful of Him out of all His slaves. Therefore the rightly guided Schoalr is a great slave in front of Allaah be aware of having ill feelings towards the scholars. But before all that learn about your Lord. The lady who isnt sure about covering her hair—its a must (if you want to follow the path of Allaah) read the Quran and the authentic Hadeeth of the last and final Prophet SAW. And be firm in what you believe in because Islam requires you to firmily believe in Allaah, thats what makes you actions relect your belief. And guidence is only with Allaah.

23 07 2009
Aafke

Um musaa, Welcome to my blog, and thank you for the effort and time you have taken in writing a well thought out informative comment.

23 07 2009
coolred38

“Therefore the rightly guided Schoalr is a great slave in front of Allaah be aware of having ill feelings towards the scholars…”

You said it….the “rightly” guided scholar…the point being…just how many are there and which ones do we trust and follow?

23 07 2009
Aafke

I have reservations about ”scholars” as you know; you can’t just call yourself a scholar and get a free ticket out of honesty- and logic-land, and I think many do think they have.

But Umm musaa is correct in that the only real basics are the five pillars, and dress is not one of the five pillars.

Think for yourself.

13 08 2009
Mona El Sabbahy

GREAAAAT ARTICLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A really intriguing topic and a great analysis and laying of facts. Honestly, I love you!! Sorry if my comment didn’t add anything but I felt a just had to say something!!! Really impressive.

13 08 2009
Aafke

Mona El Sabbahy, welcome to my blog :D, and any flattering comments are adding!
Especially to the huge smile on my face :D
I’m glad you enjoyed!

13 08 2009
Odette

My problem with the liberated Egyptian culture you praise so highly is that all of these women had a slight problem known as pharaonic female circumcision. In other words, the outer labia and clitoris were removed and the ensuing wound sewn up so it would heal, fusing the labia together. It was automatically done to higher class females, thus assuring to this day the prestige of the operation.

Yep, they started it and after that, they had no worry of women walking around nearly naked wanting to indulge in wanton sexuality. It’s still the same today in parts of Africa where women easily reveal breasts and walk around only wearing the equivalent of a sheet.

Before you idealize or demonize a culture as you are prone to do you need to check your facts.

Personally, I am shocked at what I see about female sexuality today. Women see no need to control their sexuality, they feel it’s appropriate to sexually arouse any man, without limits, and have discovered in droves that it’s easier to sell their sexuality than to develop the skills needed to earn their living. How long do you think men are going to put up with women’s grasping consumerism, fueled by their sex for money behaviour as personified by Paris Hilton, before they feel justified in cracking down?

Recently, there was a scandal here in Canada about teenage girls trading sex for math homework with boys. That’s right, the social rejects have figured out a way to get laid and ambitious girls exploit the situation so they can pass themselves off as more talented than they really are to get into top-flight colleges.

Casts sexual morality in another light doesn’t it! All I know is I don’t want some Sex and the City style engineer working on any aircraft I will be flying on.

13 08 2009
Aafke

Odette, Although there have been mummies found with cicumcision marks, the actual origin is unknown, it is generally believed to have originated in Africa.

I agree it’s a pity that in male dominated societies girls are tought to use their sexuality rather than their brains. I think it’s high time female sexuality should be celebrated and boys should be taught to have more respect for both women and their sexuality, instead of only thinking of their own satisfaction.
It would also help if men could learn to control their own urges a bit better.

Girls and boys should be taught that woman are of value in their own right, without having to resort to misusing their sexuality and worth a lot more as our current twisted cultures and religions are giving to us women.
Then, maybe, we will finally grow up to be adults who can respect each other and treat sexuality in a healthy and responsible manner.

When men can learn control themselves and their sexual urges, and stop using women as sex objects, and pushing women down into an unnatural role where using sexuality is seen to be a normal thing to do, when men can learn to deal with the fact that women are every bit as intelligent and capable as they are. when men can stop being scared of strong independant and intelligent women; then there will be no more need for artificial dress restrictions, and forcing of women into extreme and unhealthy restrictive covering.
Every human being on the planet would be the winner.

Women are the lifeblood of humanity and deserve a lot more respect as they are currently getting.

14 08 2009
Lat

Excellent reply,Aafke! You nailed it :D

14 08 2009
Aafke

:D
Love you Lat :D

31 10 2009
Joan

Excellent article…you placed your efforts in the best way to address women weather its their dress, or given social position ….I agree the way you described 24:31 verse about women stamping feet n covering of their bossom…this is exactly the thought behind it….. infact many of covering instructions in Arab culture is influenced/or due to its environment. I am glad what you wrote n I love it.and I am glad some one in some part of the world thinks the same way I do about women n related issues.

Cheers!
Joan

14 11 2009
RADA MAKEEN

The problem is not dealing with women at all .It is political issue …we are able to change these features …so we are able to change this society…means symbol for a problem of forcing ideas.
It has no impact on the society at all….u r free to wear what u want and we are free to protest and push u arround …u will feel not safe any more.
in the west or the east…show the strength of the community to change any thing.

1 03 2010
gayatri wedotami

wow, thanks for this inspiring post..i am thinking of doing something the same of yours for my next post, then i found this blog..i knew the history perspectives as my major was history, but i am going to do from another perspective…i agree with rada makeen…i wear what i like…like a book, don’t judge people by its cover…. and as long as it won’t harmful to others or making other suspicious or uncomfortable…i mean, in my opinion, either naked or burqa both inappropriate… one like crazy man another keep you wondering who is that…? hehehe…peace…

1 03 2010
Aafke


EDIT: For reasons unknown to me this old comment keeps going down as the last comment which it isn’t. I don’t know why this is happening and I can’t change it.

But that is what people just won’t do isn’t it? they don’t judge people from the inside. It’s so much easier and costs so much less brainpower to judge people by their cover. And it’s so much easier to look pious by wearing the right cover and then you don’t have to worry about being evil….

6 03 2010
Monaya Emad

hi everyone
to be honest, i am slightly offended. I am an american muslim that is not veiled, but both my mother and my sister are. does that make me a bad muslim? partly yes. women were ordered to be veiled, but not by some guy, but rather by GOD ALMIGHTY. being veiled does not lessen a womens power, rather strengthens it. You look into a candy basket, and there is a wide variety of yummies to choose from, would you take an open one? the choice of being vielded depends on when and rather that should. im am euphoric that i stumbled upon this website, i love it but it is better to take different views from women about the this topic before critisism.

Monaya, thank you for sharing. I have my doubts about you being an American as you make grammatic mistakes which to me seem not those of a native English speaker.
It also seems from your comment that you haven’t read this post at all. So maybe you should do that next time before you comment.

Women are not candies, and the analogy is too demeaning for sentient beings to merit more attention.
You cannot have been reading much of my site either me thinks.

God never ordered women to veil. As you can read in the quran. it is only men who order women to veil.
A good muslim is to follow the five pillars of Islam, veiling is not in any way part of them. So you are in no way a less good muslima as your family members (or anybody else) who do.

6 03 2010
Aafke


EDIT: For reasons unknown to me this comment keeps going down as the last comment which it isn’t. I don’t know why this is happening and I can’t change it.

And I state that it isn’t God, but men who like control opver women and therefore put this onto women. And this look back at the last 4000 years of history of the world is a historic proof that orders to cover the female form is made up by men, and only enters human culture when men take power and misuse it for their own inclinations.
It’s not only the muslims who want to restrict women, Christianity and Judaism does the same, but then they are all basically the same religion anyway. Christianity started out as a Jewish sect and Mohammed borrowed greatly from Judaism and christianity when he developed islam.
And of these three reliugions islam is the only one which doesn’t explicitly order women to cover themselves. All passages which are used to claim women have to cover and veil in Ilsam are interpretations of ambigious texts, which may not even have been correct ion the first place as some part of the Quran are misinterpreted when the Quaran was written up in Arabic. The lingua franca in the time of the prophet was Syriac, and there were many foreign words in the Quran, which early quranic scholars identified. When looking at the noe bizarre passages of the quran it becomes clear that the chilled translucent vrigins with black pits for eyes, the houris, were really White grapes. And the word hijab was never used for women’s apparel, and the references to covering could have meant a girdle to symbolise one’s intention to be chaste.

So one can cover up to the eyes, or walk around dressed functional and appropriate to the weather, or one can walk around naked for all I care. Just don’t call it an injunction from God. Because it isn’t.

21 03 2010
Sadja

Everyone is entitled to their own options just as I am to mine. I am an American, born and raised. From a “traditional” Christian home. I converted it Islam 14 years ago, all praise be to God. A year after my conversion I started to cover my face with the niqaab and I can’t looked back. I know many people view fully covering as opression or subjecting oneself to a man, but for me and many other women it is not.

I started covering fully 2 years before I even met and married my husband. I came to this decision on my own after reading and educating myself on fully covering. Yes, I do feel liberated. I do feel free. I have the control as to who sees me. I am not subjected to the norms of beauty. Someone, if they choose to get to know me, must do so based on my knowledge not by how I look.

I’m glad that I decided this for myself, and based on my beliefs, covering is an act of worship, is an act of submission to the Creator of all things. So covering not only my face, but my whole body has risen me to a high station in my life and I wouldn’t want to live any other way.

Sadja, thank you for sharing. You also made a mistake which does not seem like a native English speaker. If you are an American convert it is clear that you were fed a twisted saudi version of Islam as they are the only ones who insist veiling is a command from God.
You cannot have been putting the quran first in all your reading as you would undoubtedly have noticed that veiling is not a command from God.

You are mistaken if you think that being veiled makes people consider only your ”knowlege”. Being veiled is also a ”look” and you are judged on that look. I personally feel that fully veiled women can be as nasty and sinful as the next one, they are only more hypocritical.

And nigabis can be very vain, condescending, stuck up, arrogant, presumptuous, self-satified and superior about their ”sacrifice” to god.

As you have shown in your last sentence, where you make clear that, because of you veiling yourself, you are now risen to a station above that of women who do not veil.
Very unpleasant look into your personality.

22 03 2010
Aafke

The two last comments are old ones which keep slipping down.

20 05 2010
AmericanWoman

Well done! Thank you. In researching women’s roles in ancient history I cam across this post. Absolutely facinating. Of course I got caught up in some of your other thought provoking posts.

Hope you are able to add me to your email list. I am a writer and don’t have a blog. I’m a mom, an artist, a business owner, and I ride a chrome horse.

Look forward to reading more of your thoughts.

20 05 2010
Rhysz

hahahahahahhaha.
I forgot how much fun your blog can be sis, seems like you’ve been really attracting the crazies lately. There were, at least, four posts that I’d rip into if they showed up on my channel.

I will disagree on a point you made in a comment; boys (men) aren’t trained to only view women as, as I like to say, ‘potential sperm recepticals’. We’ve had this discussion since I hit puberty I think. I really think the male gender needs to get a bit of patience. Yes, many of us can be complete and utter jerks bot most of try to be decent guys. Lately I’ve looked into some ‘radical feminism’ literature and their supporters, your arguments, on the surface, are very similar and I think you should, at least consider, getting some of the edges off of what you’re saying or at least offer some more concrete points.

BTW Tonight on BlogTV is the debate between Dawahfilms and happiecabby, If anyone cares to check it out I’ll be there. This Saturday I’ll be modding the debate between mrCrazyDudefull (relicon to the extreme) and my friend Rithrandil (conservative atheist). I you guys want to please check it out and PM me.

Best regards,
Rhysz

24 08 2010
Therese Walker

I appreciate your postings. You are a very very patient person. You also write very well indeed. Up here in Canada I just hear – from my 9 year old completely oblivious son – that girls in his PUBLIC school class who attend swim classes (at the PUBLIC community centre are supposed to wear a t-shirt to cover up if they wear a two piece suit. Prepping for a Human Rights challenge starts now. I do have a daughter. In Ontario, Canada women have the right to be topless in any place a man can be.

I really appreciate your postings and your dialogue. I and my family are anti-religion. We respect persons even if they talk to imaginary invisible persons. I never understood it – why when I was made to attend church the wandering eyes of elderly male sleazebags were my responsibility to deflect. Weird! Especially since the mind is the biggest sexual organ and the hidden is far far more erotic than the totally naked.

This is a rambling post – my apologies. best I post before the computer crashes again. Usually better structured. Please write more.

27 08 2010
Iva

Hi,
I am neither a Muslin, nor am I from a Muslim country, and I stumbled on this web-cite while looking for pictures of interesting fabrics…
But anyways, the point is, I read your article, and I have to say that, it was fascinating! I have never thought much about the significance of the veil and it’s meaning until now. I always though, and pardon my ignorance here, that Islam is quite dogmatic and especially harsh to women, but I never thought that, as in Christianity, it is people’s interpretation of certain passages of the Koran, that forces them to believe that modesty=covering up from head to toe.
To be completely honest there were few times when I was in airports in Europe that I saw women wearing the burqa and although I tried not to stare, it is impossible not to watch. I tried to picture myself under all this fabric, and the feeling was suffocating. I don’t know how one gets used to being a moving black dot, when, as you have clearly shown through the pictures you’ve posted, there is much more subtle modesty of the beauty in fabric and design of the dresses of Muslim women from previous periods. For me it’s a shame.
But then again, what do I know?
Anyways, the point is, I really enjoyed reading the article; very intriguing indeed!

30 08 2010
Koen

Great article, but do you also have some scientific works dealing with the different ways of dressing in different cultures? i’d just like to know where you get your information from. Some references, apart from pictures.
Pictures of the statues and images are one way to prove your point, but I’d like also some further reading on the topic (not that i doubt your analysis at the moment, but I just would like to read more into it). I have one interesting book partly dealing with veiling in islam, by Fatima Mernissi (a moroccan muslim feminist, but I’m sure you know her). But some more reading too on older traditions would help.
Thanks!

30 08 2010
Aafke-Art

This is not a ”scientific” blog. I do not write ”scientific” monographs. I write whatever pops up in my mind. Naturally I have been reading a lot, but I don’t want to spend an extra week on each article digging up what I read where.
It’s just a blog.
Go to a library or bookshop and you’ll find lots of books.
Probably the same I read.

Actually, this article is mostly based on my deductions from visual material some of which I have shared here.

11 03 2011
Ab

I think there’s a lot of exaggeration in this article. Life of humans started with Adam Alaihissalam, and I believe there is where we should look at first when talking about human behavior,etc. Learning about him and sin that took him and Hawwa out of Paradise would help to understand that people sin,face the consequences, and may also learn from their mistakes. One reason why we follow the Quran & Sunnah, is so that we may learn to help our own selves before/after sinning so that we may know how to deal with sinning. We don’t the actual outcome or certain actions that take place and we need guidance. To simply throw out something because it seems strange reflects our own ignorance and intellect. Looking at the stories you’ve posted along the pictures, I think anybody could be offended with clothing and want to be nude. However, we weren’t there to understand and this article doesn’t help us understand since it’s so biased.Those people in those pictures,we can’t read their minds, but they seem content as they are. Even the Europeans not very long ago wore huge clothing, but they were happy. Later, with technology, clothing and other innovations became easier to produce and easier to alter. So, that’s how you see all these slimmer, almost painted on types of clothing. If the objective of these innovators of fashion was to be modest, then it makes no sense about all these tight clothes being around now. But that wasn’t the intention behind them, it was just ole desires. That’s how sins are so easy to be committed,because of human desires. But desires don’t make right what wrong and vice versa. The stories you’ve mentioned are just about certain people, not everyone did felt & did the same as those sodomizers,or whomever.

Women in Islam are like gems. Even though you have on an Abaya doesn’t mean you can’t see any shape (unless it was made out of cardboard). And also, not every woman dresses as Afghanistanis do,they are very small amount of people. Rape still occurs in countries that have a majority of Muslims, so that tells you that not everyone follows the laws in the Quran.

Women aren’t meant to be isolated in Islam, so regardless of how they dress, they are allowed to work,shop, interact and be around other human beings. When you are around others, Muslim women don’t act like robots, they have feelings too, and as humans they may sin. All you see in these pictures are still images in time. You’re not seeing or hearing what these people are like, so you can’t say that just because a woman has all this clothing on that she isn’t fully capable of being happy,without having to practically paint “clothing” onto her body. Muslim women of today and in the past alike who understand why they cover and understand that there’s a wisdom behind it. It is easy to sin and hard to be pious.
For you to say “If God was so worried about us showing no skin,
He/She would have let us keep our fur.” is ridiculous.There’s no real proof of evolution. Just as you talk down about scholars, why couldn’t you do the same with scientists? They don’t have proof for everything they say, and usually make assumptions like you and I,and are not aware of future events.They are just examining what they have found while Allah ta’ala informs us of what we didn’t know, but surely He knows everything.Scientists make guesses and often make new discoveries that then may change their original hypothesis. They don’t have an honest guideline as the true scholars of Islam do (i.e.Quran & Sunnah). To really understand Islam, you’d have to read the Quran and Sunnah itself, then can you see truth from falsehood and be able to know who the true scholars are. They are not, as you may assume,like monks hidden and few. The Prophets were scholars along with their companions. They understand and were taught Islam properly. The scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets, and from them would you gain true knowledge of Islam.

11 03 2011
Aafke-Art

Woehahahahahahahahahaaa!
Thank you for commenting!
Please go to the ”about” page and read the disclaimer.

8 12 2011
bigstick

Got that late 70s early 80s look going. The wookie look. You really are a sci- fi fan.

13 12 2011
94hasan

I am a muslim and I think u really have a misunderstanding toward muslims
u take only a group of ppl (those of saudi arabia) where as muslims are classified into about 50 to 100 group
also you try to explain the holly Quraan after it is translated into english where even scholars and relegous men and arabic proffesionalists cant explain it completely write when the Quraan is in arabic so how could u explain the english version (and translation is kinds : 1 kind is word by word and the other is by meaning and other kinds ,so if u translate the Quraan by word by word method then u cant explain it from the translation because it dont hold the meaning and u cant translate it by thd second method because the meaning is not fully and completely known)
finally i think woman’s body is like a treasure if some wants to get it he must pass certain traps and if it is distributed on many ppl it loses it’s value
and so is a girl she must examin every guy that try to get near to her inorder to know if he deserves her beauty and she should not show her beauty in public but to only one person inorder to maintain the repectable fact that she is tooooooooooooo precious (this one is my openion not islamic)
also men must cover their yes not like women but they must and yes this may show that women are more precous than men in this domain

18 01 2012
Aafke-Art

I know Arabic speakers and they tell me there is nothing in the Quran which vcannot be perfectly well translated into other languages. After all, if that were not so the Quran would not be for all people and all times. And where some English translations may be deviating it is to soften some nasty bits.
And if even Arabic speaking scholars do not know what the Quran is saying then we can forget about the Quran being perfectly understandable and adapt the sura’s to our modern, more advanced moral insight.
Which is excellent of course.

If you think a woman’s body is like a treasure you should make sure it remains healthy, for which exposure to sun, light, fresh air, and freedom of movement and trainig/sports, are essential.

If ”guys” cannot keep their eyes to themselves, and treat women, even if she were truly naked, with respect and decency, then the problem lies wholly with the ”guys”.
And the solution if you think this is a problem, should be geared towards the men. There are many possibilities: you can order men to stay in the home, in a room without windows, like they now want women to spend their time, or you can force men to wear blinders, and/or cover one eye, as a Saudi scholar’s fatwa told women to do. And force men to walk with their heads bowed, and only look at the ground, like they want women to do.
As the problem is with the men, I do not think the women should have to do anything to resolve it. I think the men should look at themselves and realize how flawed they are and work on themselves to become modern advanced human beings.

18 01 2012
Amir

“If God was so worried about us showing no skin, He/She would have let us keep our fur.”

God is not worried at all, He’s just testing you and me. And that is the nature of the few days you spend on this earth, testing. Like all His orders (“Don’t kill”, “Behave with manners”, etc.), God tests us by sending us His commands, and obviously gives us the ability to disobey. Furthermore, He provides us with incentives beautifying His disobeydiance, usually contradictory to the neutral thinking. For example, you may love to see women naked, but you may not feel happy knowing that your mother, sister, wife and daughter are naked on the street and all males are watching them with lust.
Certainly you need to know what His commands are, and what are false commands. There should be a cristal clear proof for those who seek guidance.

Amir.

18 01 2012
Aafke-Art

You did not read the article correctly, and you do not look around you and see the evidence of what’s happening: covering the female body fuels men’s lust.
Again, there’s nothing less arousing than actually having people run around naked. Again: this is not a pretty sight.
Compare the ”Wicked West” when women can lay on a beach without being molested, while in a supressive country like Saudi Arabia, where women are forced to cover head to toe, women cannot walk anywhere without being harassed by men in the most heinous manner.
So if there is one or more gods who are testing you I think you are going the wrong way in covering women up in a black bee-keepers costume. You are failing the test.

18 01 2012
Hasan Ismail

Well i disagree with what saudi arabia says , women hide one eye! Women are not meant to hide their face but to be modest as well as men, scholars are not brave enough to say that men must abide by the rules of the 80s:prudent muslim men used to wear shirts with long sleeves that even could hide the fingers, and very tight in a way it could squeeze the neck. Women are not ordered to be home sick they are ordered to go out side like Fatima(daughter of prophet mohammad) and zeinab(her daughter) who stood between all men and defended the good, women are not ordered to look at the ground they can look at men and love as well as loved, it is religous men that look at the ground .

18 01 2012
Hasan Ismail

As for the quraan.
It talked about the earth to be egg‏ ‏shaped but muslims never noticed that
it talked about many scientific facts that science just proved years ago but muslims never noticed them until lately
and there are more facts in the quoraan that are not discovered yet
jesus came to spread peace and love between all humans but his enemies did not allow him
the same way prophet mohammad came with the quoraan and tried to explain it but -as i and some people believe-he was killed by people that only wanted to be lords and kings and wanted to rule, they were never real muslims, but they knew that there will be a strong islamic country and they wanted to rule it, after the prophet they fought imam ali who had all the knowledge people need and at last they killed him
so the people dont have the knowledge he had, yet we got some
so the people cannot refer to the quoraan only to monitor there life, it is as law it needs mature and genuis lawyers to explain it ‎
indeed prophet mohammad said:i am leaving with you two races, the book of allah and my strain, my family, whenever you stick to them you will never be lost after me. He did not say i am only leaving with you the book of allah

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