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The Veil: Origins and Mistaken Interpretations

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The fundamentalists, who do not struggle with the veil issue, might very well struggle with this issue. Their spirit arguments cloak deeper ambitions rather than the essence of Islam. Significantly, even those that choose to wear the veil in modern times tend to resort to reasons that do not imply the veil as the sixth pillar of Islam. For instance, a Saudi educated woman, who has an MA in social sciences in London, has explained why she chooses of her own accord to wear a veil, stating rather matter-of-factly "It is because I lived in the West and I saw all the corruption and immorality in there, as they call it liberated society of illicit sex and drug abuse, that now I am more convinced of our local traditions and I am sticking to them.

I want to preserve my Arab-Islamic identity, and for me, this is a way to show it. ” 5 Her reliance on personal choice and symbolism is informative. An educated woman, living in London, does not feel compelled to wear the veil; more specifically, does not understand the veil to be mandated by Islam itself.

Significantly, this point of view is not limited to educated women in Islamic society. "For a 34-year-old uneducated woman, wearing a veil is just a result of growing up with it and getting used to it. As she expressed it: I don't wear the veil. I was born in it, and I grew up with it. "6 What is striking is the uniformity of opinion that evolves from a discussion of the veil with both educated and uneducated women Islamic societies.

The veil is not really viewed as a pillar of Islam nor as a theological directive; quite the contrary, a careful reading of the opinions of these women suggest that the veil is more a symbol of their culture and way of life and to that end a personal choice. They choose to reveal their beauty or to demonstrate it through the symbolic fashion device of the veil. In either event, Islamic women are behaving in a manner consistent with Islam. On the other hand, there are that advocate a more stringent interpretation.

These types of arguments treat the veil as an essential feature of Islam and a precondition for women to be truly Islamic.  

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