We, often, see Muslim ladies in a black attire, seemingly, a cover to veil their body. There are various claims which reveal how this tradition originated and maintained since the history. We thought to touch this topic and find out the real cause of this tradition. Let’s first understand it’s origin and the history of Burkha
ORIGIN AND HISTORY
Burkha or veil is an integral part of Islamic culture. It became a religious identity and means of self-expression accordingly. But significantly everyone has to be aware of the differences between the ideology and community. Islam is an ideology and Muslim is a community, a social phenomenon.
Islam entered in Persia and it spread from Arabian Peninsula to Central Asia. There were already many civilizations flourishing during that time. Many things were introduced in Muslim culture by these well established cultures.
Scarf or veil was in use before the advent of Islam in the first quarter of the seventh century, a piece of clothing used for veiling in many religions including Judaism and Catholicism. Scarves came in vogue in Persia. Under the influence of the Iranian culture, Muslims adopted the Burkha tradition and it got internalized by the Muslim culture.
DYNAMICS AND EVOLUTION
At present, Hijab is used equivalent to veil but in Quran, which is a source of Islam, refers it as a curtain (Khimar) that is quite different from the context which is prevalent in the present Muslim community.
There is more than one verse in the Quran which talk about the veil. Khimar or scarf is recommended to cover the head & hair and upper part of the body. But due to socio-economic and other factors, veil underwent its evolution.
The veil is of different types –
1) Hijab is named for a variety of similar headscarves. These veils consist of two or more than two scarves. One is to cover the head and another is to cover the neck. It is popular in the west.
2) The Niqab covers the entire body leaving eyes.
3) The Chador is a full-body length shawl held closed at the neck by hand or pin. It is black coloured and is mostly used in the Middle East Iran.
4) Burkha is a full-body veil and one can see through a mesh screen over the eyes and it is most commonly worn in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
TRUTHS AND MYTHS RELATED TO BURKHA
The patrons of veil argue by making many claims like veil symbolizes devotion & piety, and that veiling is an empowering experience as it liberates women from being objectified.
As Hijab literally means to separate or hide something and here, particularly, the body of the women. The essence of Quran verses, where veiling is discussed to respect the privacy and space of women. Later days, Quranic ethics got reduced to women’s dress, the way they should cover the colour, thickness and uniformity of the dress.
The ideology invites men and women to behave with decency and integrity, both physically and morally. It doesn’t intend to stipulate a rigid or fixed standard on them but rather intend to recommend a right attitude, ethics and moral values regarding the body and soul.
The religious faith is meaningful when it is practised without pressure. So, the spiritual symbol must not become an oppression to be enforced on the women who choose to live out of veil.