Cover or not cover, that is what seems to be the question.
In 2018, the era of technology, great scientific achievements and useful research. Scientists are working on curing cancer, Alzheimer and Parkinson with CRISPR and other methods. While we invented the car of the future with auto pilot feature, walked on the moon almost fifty years ago and used DNA to solve criminal cases or determine ethnicity.
In an era of extraordinary progress with computers, iPhones, Internet and many other proofs of to what extend human intelligence and talent can take us, we are witnessing a fourteen-century old debate about covering or not covering girls and women hair.
We could be using our minds and thinking for better purposes, but we are still in the middle of: Shall women wear a scarf or not? and: Is the scarf the ultimate condition to enter heaven or not?
Middle- Easterners, Americans, Europeans and the rest of the world have news and debates about this crucial problem that seems to be the center of human concern. Apparently, more important than curing cancer or achieving peace in the world or achieving freedom and human rights for people who are victims of genocides, torture and imprisonment in dictatorships. Yet, radical preachers are still screaming in their microphones in places of worship, public squares, and on you tube that women have to cover their hair, or they are naked pariahs who will go to hell.
Thanks to the growth of Wahabi philosophy, to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Iranian coup of nineteen seventy- nine, women were convinced that wearing a scarf is a religious obligation, and men thirsty for more control and abuse were convinced that they had to enforce the so called religious rule by forcing their wives, mothers, sisters and daughters to cover. In spite of the fact that the Quran says, “No compulsion in religion”.
The radical propaganda is so strong and so successful that not only Muslim women are convinced that they have to cover, but also non- Muslims think that that Muslim women are all covered and believe it is the rule. After being the majority before the eighties, non- covered women seem to have become a minority. Jewish orthodox women are also convinced that they have to cover with a scarf or a wig in spite of the fact that neither the Thora nor the Quran mention women hair or covering the hair. They don’t mention head scarf, veil or covering the face. They do not mention black veil or black scarf, or any outfit judged and proclaimed as religious by the ones who wear it or the ones who make them.
In many cases tradition prevails over religion, especially in the Middle-East. Talking about this controversy can fill pages and days. I wrote about it in my book: “Islam and the People of the Book” but I still did not say everything I wanted to or could say. Bottom line, it is very much subject to interpretation and if the holy scripture is misunderstood or misused or misinterpreted either voluntarily or not it is still depending on individual interpretation and understanding.
The problem each religion is facing is that some people want to impose their understanding to the rest of the world while we should respect each other’s views, but brain washed fundamentalists do not see it this way. Our objective is to teach tolerance and peaceful coexistence and the first step is to focus on what we have in common not our differences.
The secret of a successful community, nation or world is coexistence based on tolerance not controversies or violence in order to impose our believes or views or understanding. At the instant a human being thinks that he is right and the rest of the world is wrong, he or she fell into the dangerous trap of extremism and forgot that before belonging to any religion, tradition, culture or ethnicity, we are all human beings meant to coexist in peace.