There has been a lot of recent news in Canada of a controversial bill (Bill 62) that the province of Quebec has put into law. It deals with preventing people from receiving services who wear an article of clothing associated with the Muslim faith, the burka and nijab. Having grown up knowing only of the Catholic faith, and not knowing many (any) people that were Muslim, I at first was outraged at how the government would impose such restrictions on a people of a certain faith. I didn’t know very much what was the difference between a burka and other articles of clothing associated with that religion, so as always, I did a bit of objective research on it.
I learned the following:
– the Koran (holy Muslim book akin to the Bible), never explicitly orders women to wear these (burka, nijab, hijab etc), but calls for BOTH men and women to cover and be modest
– women may wear these due to one’s personal faith, culture, family values, and location
– some women wear it as a form of self expression, while some see it as a view of oppression (against women), because they may be forced to wear it in public or to enter certain buildings (like temples)
In case you’re wondering like I was, “how are men supposed to be modest?”:
– men are meant to be modest by avoiding “checking out” the opposite gender, wearing tight or revealing clothes themselves, to not attract undue attention (probably flexing, strutting about or posting topless selfies) and remain virtuous throughout life
Per below, from the National Post, this is a good picture that can help you understand the various kinds of head coverings:
Probably what you see most frequently in public:
Hijab, which is a piece of cloth that covers a woman’s head and neck while leaving the face clear.
Nijab is a piece of cloth that covers the head, hair and face, while leaving the eyes exposed.
Less commonly known/talked about:
Khimar which is similar to the hijab, that covers the head, neck AND shoulders, and usually falls to just above the waist.
Chador which is similar to the nijab, but is a full body cloak, and commonly worn in Iran.
What is much less commonly SEEN in North America is:
Burka is a one-piece garment that covers the entire face but leaves an opening around the eyes free.
I absolutely respect one’s right to freely practice one’s religion, so long as it doesn’t infringe on the rights of other people. After learning about the difference of the nijab, hijab and burka, I kind of understood why there was such a high approval (~80+%) of the new Quebec bill; Muslims make up a tiny fraction of Canadian society, so we are not used to their culture or customs, including their traditional head ware.
This is more an article about learning the different kinds of Muslim pieces of clothing that we may not be educated on. I believe the aspiration to be modest in a hyper-sexualized North American society is a noble goal, and I admire the beauty in women that wear hijabs and sarees (different culture/religion, but still modesty and beauty, all in one). At the same time though, there are some instances in which I believe one would need to reveal their face, such as taking their photo for government issued documents.. or if requested by the police for legitimate reasons.
Bill 62 opens up many questions, and it is up to us, as its citizenry to question the interpretation and implementation of the law to ensure its fairness of those that are affected by it.