My Talk at TEDxBeirut- 2012

Video

“We can either choose to live in fear or speak up for ourselves. No matter how helpless we may feel, change is always an option.”

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2 responses »

  1. Dear Esraa…I have just watched your TED talk. You have a lovely voice and your delivery was excellent. Please enlighten me though on the topic, as you are obviously a woman who is observant of her religion: I have not studied the Qu’ran but according to all I have read, that there is NO requirement that women wear a veil. Is this true? As far as I know, your holy Book speaks of modesty, but the veil is quite specific. If you interpret the veil as necessary to your religious observance, then why do women such as Queen Noor/Rania not wear one? Is this because they are not as religious as you or your family? In my limited experience, the reasons behind wearing the veil are many and varied. But although the reasons are many, they end up being expressed in the same way (and this is where I get to my personal opinion, forgive me): hiding a woman’s hair, which is a totally natural and beautiful part of one’s body (although as I age, mine is getting nasty and thinner :). But you, yourself must have beautiful hair. So does your decision to wear the veil belong to the realm of the spiritual or does it belong to a more earthly realm? For example, if the veil is used to stop a man other then a husband from looking at one’s hair, then why stop at hair? As you might guess, I have never enjoyed this reason, as I feel that the image of a weak-willed man lusting after a woman is totally demeaning to men. They are not animals and can control themselves.
    I have traveled all over the world and see couples walking together…in many cases, where the women are veiled, the man of the couple is next to her wearing shorts, T-shirts, etc. and seem totally free and cool in a hot climate. Why is there one set of rules for men and another for women? Why should women be the standard-bearers for modesty in their respective cultures? I am not comparing West vs East – I am too well traveled for that…I am talking about universal freedom for men and women. I have tried very hard, but cannot help but see the veil as stifling for a woman in both an emotion and physical way. In Europe, my neighbor’s daughter was so young when they put her in the veil. This is far too distasteful for me as I would definitely not want to advertise my daughter’s puberty to the world. In fact, I would rather this very young girl be the one to choose the veil for herself and not have her parents dictate what she wears or doesn’t wear. Why do parents throw a veil on a very young girl?
    Anyway, I have many more questions on this topic, but slowly, slowly as they say.
    Thank you,
    Helga

    • Dear Helga,

      Thank you for opening the floor for a wonderful and challenging
      discussion and for raising some important questions that cross a lot
      of peoples mind including my self.

      The quraan mentions several versus that mention the veil ( In Chapter
      33 known as al-Ahzab, verse 59, Allah gives the following command to
      Prophet Muhammad: “O Prophet! Say to your wives, your daughters, and
      the women of the believers that: they should let down upon themselves
      their jalabib.” I know that it does not mention wearing the veil
      literary but there is one important thing you must take into
      consideration, the reading of the quraan and the translation of its
      versus requires in depth analysis of the sentence structure and
      wording and all of the major Islamic thinkers have translated this
      verse and others into the concept that women should be veiled. In Islam
      the quraan is the main reference but we also resort to the words of
      the prophet as reference for the Islamic rules.

      The quraan also mentions that muslims not drink alcohol but yet a lot
      of muslims do, when it comes to real life there are those who are less
      religious, those who do not abide by every single Islamic rule and
      others who do. This is why you see some who are veiled and some who
      are not, some who practice 100 % and some who practice what suits
      them.

      I wore the veil when I was 9 years old and I know that it seems a very young age, I did not wear it out of islamic conviction or because my parents forced me to do so, I wore it because that was what every girl my age did and I wanted to be like them and I thank god that I wore it at a young age because if I had waited until I was convinced I would have probably found a million reasons to why I shouldnt wear it and postponed it till it was too late. This is my personal belief, I have never in my life felt like I was treated unjustly or that I was forced to wear it and most people feel sorry for us when in reality I have lived all of my life never feeling any different .

      Why there are rules for men and rules for women is something I am still trying to understand and discover, the questions you have raised are all questions I have asked my self over and over again which is one of the reasons I started this blog to ask questions. But if there is one thing that I am certain of it is that Islam is just and once I have answers I will share them with you of course .

      I hope that my reply answers some of your questions and of course I am waiting and ready to answer any other questions.

      Thank you again for watching the talk and I hope to hear from you soon.

      Esraa

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