This article is a fatwa to unveil the veil and liberate the world from violent and lethal punishments for adultery. It is designed to be explanatory, for Muslims, and non-Muslims alike, on the status of the veil, and its more oppressive forms. If you are a Muslim, it is set out as a valid religious opinion. If you are not a Muslim, its grounds are human common sense and compassion. It includes scientific and biological arguments, which are valid for all human beings, traversing all human cultures, and have implications for the practices of other religions as well as Islam. In religious terms, this is a fatwa rejecting the claim that, under Muslim teachings, women are required to wear the veil, or that it is desirable to do so.
It has come about now, because a conservative Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia has called on women to wear a full veil, or niqab, that reveals only one eye . Sheikh Muhammad al-Habadan, an influential ultra-conservative cleric , known for cursing the Olympic games as showing obscene scenes and giving a fatwa that permits the killing of the owners of satellite TV stations who show “immoral” content, who was answering questions on the Muslim satellite channel al-Majd, said showing both eyes encouraged women to use eye make-up to look seductive.
Although the one-eyed niqab is part of an older tradition, noted in the hadith, when a religion gets to the point of issuing a command that half the people on the planet are to be allowed to see only through one eye, whenever they go out in the world, it brings that religion into disrepute.
To cut out one eye from being able to perceive the world at large, is an assault on the most basic integrity and autonomy of the human being. The need to cover the woman entirely comes from a mistaken notion that because women are beautiful and attractive, they are entirely awrah (sexual parts), and thus must be entirely concealed, even to covering one eye, or they will pose a shameful threat to themselves and to their family, through being uncontrollably attractive to strange men.
This is an assault, not only on women, the sex who bear the living generations of humanity, but on men, social trust, the natural world, and our access to it. It stands alongside dire punishments, such as stoning women for adultery, which are an affront to the basm-allah بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate. Neither niqab, nor stoning, are in the Quran, so it is a time to take stock and make the way clear, so women will not continue to be oppressed.