“In Islam, there are two opinions on the face veil,… One is that it is recommended but not necessary, the other valid opinion is that it is necessary.”
Many Emirate women here wear face covering. The simple explanation is found in the above quote.
But for me, beyond religious or cultural beliefs, I find the veil to be profoundly symbolic of something more purely human. Let’s be honest: we all wear veils. For most of us, however, our veils are invisible, though they cover us fully.
“Deep down, she believed that if anyone saw how she really was, they would reject her, so she held tightly to the mask she’d created.” This quote has nothing to do with Islam or with fully covered Muslim women; it’s taken from Baron Baptiste (founder of Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga) in his book 40 Days to Personal Revolution. We usually call it a “mask”, but essentially, it’s the same thing.
We are “covered” by our bodies, our conditions, our environments, our upbringings; we are “covered” by the beliefs we’ve been taught, given, and unto which we have been indoctrinated. We are “covered” by and our cultures, both broad and specific.
From the moment we are born, society begins to “cover” us with labels – belonging to this family or that; one economic class or another; boys are this way and girls are that way; you are good or not so good at this or that; you are destined to go here, not there, do this, not that; and on and on and on. We get channeled into specific holding pens for the entirety of our lives.
And there, within the confines of our social structure, we all put on a veil. We are “covered” by our fears and insecurities, and we mask them.
We wear our veils in exactly the same way the Muslim women wear their veils: we put it on every morning and go out into the world fully covered every day. Day after day. It’s just the way it is. We don’t question it or resist it; it’s just a part of who we are. In fact, those of us in invisible veils are so completely accustomed to our veils that we no longer even notice that we are wearing one. We’ve lost our true identity without even realizing it.
The veils I see here in the UAE are obvious, and to those of us who don’t wear such a full face covering, it seems odd. But when I began to consider the wearing of invisible veils, I can tell you that certainly, these full coverings are truly odd.
“Our greatest power to change ourselves is found in our ability to see beyond the veil, to see with an enlightened vision.” [Baron Baptiste]
I challenge you to identify the veil(s) that you are wearing and, more importantly, to see beyond your veils with a new, enlightened vision.