I'm not sure how to start this post. There are a lot of things running around in my head. I guess this all started a few days ago when someone told me about the head of Al Azhar humiliating a young woman into taking off her niqab and then basically called her ugly. Then a few days later, al Azhar made the move of banning niqab in the classroom. Read more about it here.
As a niqabbi I find this all really disturbing. I find it even more disturbing when I try to talk to other Muslims about it and they tell me I have to respect this man that called for the ban. Why should I? He obviously does not deserve my respect. He went as far as to say that niqab has no place in Islam? Really? So the mothers of the believers were wrong in wearing it? So the top scholars (Bin Bazz, Uthameen, Fawzaan) are wrong when they say its an obligation? I also get the same old lines from people when I discuss niqab. They always bring up that they know a niqabbi who does bad things AND that sometimes men disguise themselves in niqab to gain access to places they should not have access too. What do I say to that? So what! Just because some people do wrong things does that negate the right things? No, it doesn't.
One other response I get is that clothing does not make a Muslim. Yes, that is true, but following the commandments of Allah does. It is one of the same old arguments I get. When it gets down to it... people want to make excuses and throw up barriers. They want to tell me that dressing like an Arab is not required. I don't think I dress like an Arab, I dress like a Muslim, like I was commanded to dress. Just because abaya and niqab happen to fufill these requirements best does not mean it has anything to do with being arab.
Perhaps I'm delving in too deep here, but the resistance that is found at the level of clothing leads to much bigger issues. If you can't give up the fashion of this world for the sake of Allah you are pretty stuck aren't you? As an Ummah we spend so much time trying to redefine boundaries of Islam that we lose sight of what we should be doing. Worshipping Allah subhanna wa ta'alah. There is this wonderful guide book, its called the Quran.... it had everything we need to know. It also instructs us to listen to our Prophet, and we do that by following the hadiths... so whats the big problem here?
While there are other issues to be discussed in Islam, I find that if we can't get past the speed bump of covering properly that we are lost at the starting gate.