I am Muslim and I have lived in Buenos Aires for five years. My wife and I are very happy here and we love walking around the city. It usually happens to us that when we visit a new place, people stop for a few seconds and stare at her veil. In general, we perceive it simply as a gesture of curiosity. However, recently, something different happened to me. A lady, after observing Adila’s veil, confronted me directly. He asked me, to my surprise, why I forced my wife to wear the veil. I must confess that at first I found his attitude very shocking and immediately I thought that in a pluralistic society like ours, which guarantees freedom of religion, no devotee of any creed should give explanations to the other about their dress code. However, I realize that the death of the young Iranian woman, as a result of her wearing the veil wrong, went around the world and also left a stain on the image of Islam. Without a doubt, that lady who showed her anger is not a unique case in relation to certain erroneous assumptions about the Islamic headscarf, That is why I consider it opportune to transmit what our religion really teaches on this subject.
modesty and chastity
First of all, it is essential to emphasize that Islam is defined by its own sources and is based on the revelation of the Koran, in the practical life and in the words of the prophet Muhammadthe founder of the religion.
According to the Koran, modesty and chastity, both for men and women, are fundamental principles for spirituality and are achieved by establishing certain codes of behavior and dress:
“And tell the believing women to lower their eyes and guard their private parts, and not show their beauty and their adornments, except what is visible of them, and place their veils on their breasts…” (24:32)
Customs and traditions
However, Islam is a universal religion and does not claim to reflect any particular culture. There is no specific or mandatory dress for women, but each country adapts its attire according to its customs and traditions in order to fulfill the values of the faith. A common current error is the presumption of associating the veil exclusively with the Muslim religion, although we find the use of the veil as an expression of chastity in all the Abrahamic religions. Also in the Koran, the Virgin Mary is presented due to her modesty as a model for all believers.
In this way, the veil is not a sign of the authority of the man over the woman, nor is it only her task to establish modesty in our societies. On the contrary, First, men are required to fulfill their responsibility to observe chastity and not objectify women as sexual objects in any way. Therefore, regardless of whether she wears the veil or not, it is always the man’s responsibility to treat her with dignity and respect.
Example and duress
On the other hand, all Islamic laws are rooted in the exercise of free will and freedom of religion. Prophet Muhammad stated by his own example that there should be no coercion in matters of faith and ordered the separation of state and religion. Then, Although the veil is a religious commandment for Muslim women, Islam categorically prohibits the use of coercion in religious matters. A Muslim woman should wear the veil as a symbol of her spirituality solely out of her own choice and conviction. No man and no institution has the right to intervene or impose it in the name of God.
In conclusion, The shocking news of Mahsan Amini’s death is not in line with the authentic values of Islam. When some groups in the West want to coercively ban or compulsorily remove the veil from a Muslim woman, it causes us indignation and sadness in the same way as when certain groups in the name of Islam want to impose it on women. In short, as a Muslim, I never forced my wife to wear the veil or support any man who does, but I categorically defend freedom of religion and, above all things, the sanctity of life.
Imam (Islamic theologian) and president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Argentina.