Thursday, September 06, 2007

Postcard From Syria

From a travel article about Syria comes this striking example of culture clash.

There are some peculiarities to get used to when travelling in an Arab nation. We giggle watching Arab TV chat shows, where a burqa-clad host interviews a burqa-clad guest, testing TV's role as a visual medium.

In public, men vastly outnumber women, yet some girls wear tight jeans, sprout piercings and wear close-fitting Western tops, which no one seems to mind. G-strings and flimsy underwear are sold alongside scarves and burqas in the market. In restaurants, a menu is offered to my wife without prices. Despite the widespread poverty, there is no shortage of German luxury limousines zipping along the potholed streets.

On the Al Jazeera TV network, we see US President Bush and then British prime minister Tony Blair talking about tackling the isolationism of Syria. We feel like sending them a postcard from Damascus.

And speaking of Burqa's and G-Strings it is a hot topic in secularist Muslim Turkey as well.

Debate on g-strings takes the Islamic community by storm Hürriyet

A very lively debate among religious columnists continues around the topic of the religious legitimacy of covered women wearing g-strings, reported the daily Hürriyet yesterday. Discussions about the religious compatibility of burka and g-strings are getting lots of attention from Islamic columnists. İlhami Atmaca, a columnist at Renkli magazine, was the initiator of the argument, by dedicating a whole piece to the topic, first explaining about the sexual motivation a g-string can give to a woman, then connecting this to covered women. Atmaca who defines the g-string as a “demoralization tool” drew strong reaction from female columnists with his controversial article. Halime Kökçe, editor in chief of Gerçek Hayat magazine – and also a columnist – wrote, “Information concerning the choice of undergarment of covered women is of extreme privacy and it is not possible for a truly pious man to get hold of such knowledge.” Another reaction came from Nigar Tuğsuz, a writer in the same magazine with Atmaca, who said, “Invading privacy neither makes you famous nor makes your readers more moral.” On another side of the debate Professor Saim Yeprem, ministry of religious affairs high commission committee member, former President of the Ministry of Religious Affairs Mehmet Nuri Yılmaz and researcher and journalist İsmail Nacar all agree that such matters should not be cared about, as what is inside a woman's burka is private in Islam and the real sin is the curiosity that concerns the issue.

Though I am sure the Koran never mentioned G-Strings.

Sura 24:31 in the Quran is the key to this entire debate. Shakir's translation of this sura goes as follows: "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... 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."

This is the crux of the matter and reading this translation, its pretty clear that veiling is compulsory and the woman is not to show herself except to her husband or close relatives.
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I bet these would be popular in the Damascus market.


National Pest Gets It Wrong

Hajibs and Habits

Spot The Contradiction

Breaking Out Of The Cultural Burka

Catholic Hajib

Watch How You Dress

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