trying to explain a niqab to my daughter - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 44 Old 12-10-2008, 05:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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at the children's museum today my daughter saw a few women wearing a full dress and face covering. She said she was 'scared' and asked "what is it?" (now I am completely mortified since she said this as loud as possible)


I have limited knowledge of these things, but I knew it was called a niqab (at least the head part was- is there a specific word for the full dress together?) so I told her that and that it was a woman dressed just like she is dressed with clothes she likes.

She ran off to play at that point but I would like to talk to her more about it. She is almost four and is kinda starting to learn about cultural and religious differences from her own. Any tips?

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#2 of 44 Old 12-10-2008, 06:07 PM
 
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See if your library has the book, "Muslim Child" by Rukhsana Khan (?sp). In it, there's a story about the "Black Ghost" which is somebody's Mom in Niqab.

Niqab can be scary for those who aren't used to see it. It even freaks out my Muslim kids a bit.

You could start with a typical hijab... and (if Christian) compare it to Nun's...or how folks used to dress and cover their hair in Biblical times. Can also go through history and talk about how many women covered their hair...even in the US... up until not too long ago. Wearing hats outside, etc.

Then just say that some women don't feel that people outside their family should see their faces, so they cover them as well. You could let her play with some playsilks...and make a pretend hijab and niqab...and see what it's like.

HTH.

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#3 of 44 Old 12-10-2008, 06:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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excellent ideas! I am headed to our library for story hour tomorrow and I will see if I can pick it up. I see I can get it used on Amazon for pretty cheap if I can't find it there. thanks!! also love the play silk idea; I got her a bunch of those in her stocking this year so we can try it out

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#4 of 44 Old 12-10-2008, 09:01 PM
 
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I just wanted to say, umsami, that you're a very wise mama. We're really priviledged to have you on this board.

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#5 of 44 Old 12-11-2008, 11:01 AM
 
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I just wanted to say, umsami, that you're a very wise mama. We're really priviledged to have you on this board.
Thanks smeisnotapirate

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#6 of 44 Old 12-11-2008, 11:44 AM
 
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(now I am completely mortified since she said this as loud as possible)


The first time my son saw a woman in niqab, he thought she was a Jedi and tried to have a light saber battle with her. Talk about mortified.

Then my dh had to try to explain to her dh what had happened. The family was from the UAE and was only vaguely familiar with Star Wars. :

The gentleman was so kind to my son though and offered for him to come and see (see would lift her veil) that his wife was just a woman wearing clothes, like other women, just that her clothes hid her face, but she not a Jedi.

My son was so disappointed she wasn't a Jedi that he declined the gentleman's offer.
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#7 of 44 Old 12-11-2008, 11:45 AM
 
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See if your library has the book, "Muslim Child" by Rukhsana Khan (?sp). In it, there's a story about the "Black Ghost" which is somebody's Mom in Niqab.

Niqab can be scary for those who aren't used to see it. It even freaks out my Muslim kids a bit.

You could start with a typical hijab... and (if Christian) compare it to Nun's...or how folks used to dress and cover their hair in Biblical times. Can also go through history and talk about how many women covered their hair...even in the US... up until not too long ago. Wearing hats outside, etc.

Then just say that some women don't feel that people outside their family should see their faces, so they cover them as well. You could let her play with some playsilks...and make a pretend hijab and niqab...and see what it's like.

HTH.


I'm gonna store this one in the mental bank.

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#8 of 44 Old 12-11-2008, 11:45 AM
 
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The first time my son saw a woman in niqab, he thought she was a Jedi and tried to have a light saber battle with her. Talk about mortified.

Then my dh had to try to explain to her dh what had happened. The family was from the UAE and was only vaguely familiar with Star Wars. :

The gentleman was so kind to my son though and offered for him to come and see (see would lift her veil) that his wife was just a woman wearing clothes, like other women, just that her clothes hid her face, but she not a Jedi.

My son was so disappointed she wasn't a Jedi that he declined the gentleman's offer.

babyf.gif

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#9 of 44 Old 12-11-2008, 11:47 AM
 
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The first time my son saw a woman in niqab, he thought she was a Jedi and tried to have a light saber battle with her.


Of course I'd totally have saber-battled with him, but that's just me.
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#10 of 44 Old 12-11-2008, 01:44 PM
 
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He would have loved that.
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#11 of 44 Old 12-11-2008, 03:53 PM
 
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m'v, : What a cute story. And how gracious of that family, too.

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#12 of 44 Old 12-13-2008, 04:20 AM
 
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The first time my son saw a woman in niqab, he thought she was a Jedi and tried to have a light saber battle with her. Talk about mortified.

Then my dh had to try to explain to her dh what had happened. The family was from the UAE and was only vaguely familiar with Star Wars. :

The gentleman was so kind to my son though and offered for him to come and see (see would lift her veil) that his wife was just a woman wearing clothes, like other women, just that her clothes hid her face, but she not a Jedi.

My son was so disappointed she wasn't a Jedi that he declined the gentleman's offer.
That is totally something my son would do! He once saw a man in a speedo and loudly asked why he was swimming in his underwear!


We have a lot of discussions with my ds1 about modesty, what our family considers appropriate clothing, etc. And we explained that different families have different bleliefs about modesty. Some think less clothes is ok, some wear more clothes than us, etc. I would think in this case, if your dd has any concept of what modesty is, you could discuss how certain religions/peoples/family feel that covering their face is a modesty issue, etc.

Happily married to my dh, mama to ds1 (01/2005), ds2 (07/2007)  and dd (07/2009).
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#13 of 44 Old 12-18-2008, 09:34 PM
 
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The first time my son saw a woman in niqab, he thought she was a Jedi and tried to have a light saber battle with her. Talk about mortified.

Then my dh had to try to explain to her dh what had happened. The family was from the UAE and was only vaguely familiar with Star Wars. :

The gentleman was so kind to my son though and offered for him to come and see (see would lift her veil) that his wife was just a woman wearing clothes, like other women, just that her clothes hid her face, but she not a Jedi.

My son was so disappointed she wasn't a Jedi that he declined the gentleman's offer.


This has got to be the coolest story I've ever heard! I wore niqab for a year almost 10 years ago, and on one occasion two boys who looked like they were about 6 years old asked me if I was a ninja! I had a friend whose daughter also wore niqab but she liked to wear all white-- white dress, white hijab and white niqab and a little girl said to her mother in the grocery store upon seeing her "Look, mommy! An angel!"
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#14 of 44 Old 12-18-2008, 10:12 PM
 
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"Look, mommy! An angel!"
How sweet.
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#15 of 44 Old 12-22-2008, 09:26 PM
 
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How sweet.

Yeah - that is a really cute story, isn't it. :-) Kids are so sweet.
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#16 of 44 Old 12-23-2008, 09:57 AM
 
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The first time my son saw a woman in niqab, he thought she was a Jedi and tried to have a light saber battle with her. Talk about mortified.

Then my dh had to try to explain to her dh what had happened. The family was from the UAE and was only vaguely familiar with Star Wars. :

The gentleman was so kind to my son though and offered for him to come and see (see would lift her veil) that his wife was just a woman wearing clothes, like other women, just that her clothes hid her face, but she not a Jedi.

My son was so disappointed she wasn't a Jedi that he declined the gentleman's offer.
Ok, that is really cute.
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#17 of 44 Old 01-07-2009, 04:48 PM
 
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I used to wear niqab...

once I was walking in the mall COMPLETELY covered...
a teenege boy walked by and said "That chic is HOT!" LOLL!!!
my husband and I thought that was the best reaction ever! couldnt stop laughing!

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#18 of 44 Old 01-07-2009, 04:54 PM
 
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MuslimMama, that is hilarious!

Mom to DS(8), DS(6), DD(4), and DS(1).  "Kids do as well as they can."

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#19 of 44 Old 01-07-2009, 10:22 PM
 
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I used to wear niqab...

once I was walking in the mall COMPLETELY covered...
a teenege boy walked by and said "That chic is HOT!" LOLL!!!
my husband and I thought that was the best reaction ever! couldnt stop laughing!
I must understand the niqab even less than I thought. Wouldn't a comment like that be considered very offensive to a woman who covers her face in public etc?
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#20 of 44 Old 01-07-2009, 10:49 PM
 
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Well, he could not see anything... it was sarcastic obviously, we took it lightly. When you are dressed in niqab, you learn not to take yourself too seriously!!

Faiza married and with , mama to DS (09.23.08) and with #2 (due in June 2010).
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#21 of 44 Old 01-07-2009, 11:17 PM
 
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The first time my son saw a woman in niqab, he thought she was a Jedi and tried to have a light saber battle with her. Talk about mortified.

Then my dh had to try to explain to her dh what had happened. The family was from the UAE and was only vaguely familiar with Star Wars. :

The gentleman was so kind to my son though and offered for him to come and see (see would lift her veil) that his wife was just a woman wearing clothes, like other women, just that her clothes hid her face, but she not a Jedi.

My son was so disappointed she wasn't a Jedi that he declined the gentleman's offer.


I can't stop laughing. That is awesome.

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Our community is very diverse. Anyway, some don't do anything, some girls wear a hijab with pants, some wear a hijab with their (sorry, I don't know the right term) dress, and some wear the niqab.
I tell my children that just like in our religion: some aren't observant at all and some are like us - quite observant. It has worked for me.

I do have a question - and mean no offense. I thought that women who wore the niqab would probably not be the ones driving, yet I see them driving on a regular basis. Please excuse my ignorance; I'll have to ask my SIL (she's muslim, but from W. Africa) more questions.

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Our community is very diverse. Anyway, some don't do anything, some girls wear a hijab with pants, some wear a hijab with their (sorry, I don't know the right term) dress, and some wear the niqab.
I tell my children that just like in our religion: some aren't observant at all and some are like us - quite observant. It has worked for me.

I do have a question - and mean no offense. I thought that women who wore the niqab would probably not be the ones driving, yet I see them driving on a regular basis. Please excuse my ignorance; I'll have to ask my SIL (she's muslim, but from W. Africa) more questions.
Driving has nothing to do with Islam. I believe Saudi Arabia is the only place where women are restricted from driving and it has nothing to do with religion but everything to do with culture.
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#24 of 44 Old 01-12-2009, 11:26 AM
 
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I do have a question - and mean no offense. I thought that women who wore the niqab would probably not be the ones driving, yet I see them driving on a regular basis. Please excuse my ignorance; I'll have to ask my SIL (she's muslim, but from W. Africa) more questions.
Yes, what TurkishKate said. As far as I know, Saudi Arabia is the only country that bans women from driving. From a religous standpoint, many people say that since the Prophet's wife, Aisha, drove a camel... women should be allowed to drive cars.

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#25 of 44 Old 01-12-2009, 01:25 PM
 
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I like that equation. Sorry, for my lack of knowledge.

Rivka, mommy to 3 big boys and a set of b/g twins
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#26 of 44 Old 01-12-2009, 06:11 PM
 
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Anyway, some don't do anything, some girls wear a hijab with pants, some wear a hijab with their (sorry, I don't know the right term) dress, and some wear the niqab.
I tell my children that just like in our religion: some aren't observant at all and some are like us - quite observant.
Would that be an accurate way to describe it, from a Muslim perspective? That a woman who wears a niqab is "more observant" than a woman who only wears a hijab, both are more observant than those who wear no head covering, and so forth?
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#27 of 44 Old 01-12-2009, 06:29 PM
 
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Would that be an accurate way to describe it, from a Muslim perspective? That a woman who wears a niqab is "more observant" than a woman who only wears a hijab, both are more observant than those who wear no head covering, and so forth?
Hmm ... not really. I mean it *can* be true, but it doesn't have to be by any stretch of the imagination. There are legitimate religious scholarly differences of opinion on what is required, what is preferable, and what is disallowed -- two women dressed very differently from one another might be strict adherents of two different lineages of thought on the matter. A woman appearing less observant in that regard might be strictly adhering to a religious ruling where another who appears more observant might simply be following a regional or cultural trend or tradition. Etc.

ETA: But I'd still say, depending on age, if it's something a child will understand it's a good way to explain it to them, however imperfect.
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#28 of 44 Old 01-12-2009, 06:33 PM
 
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I must understand the niqab even less than I thought. Wouldn't a comment like that be considered very offensive to a woman who covers her face in public etc?
That's interesting, because I think you have shown one of the common misperceptions people have about Muslims, particularly very conservative ones. Just because we are "conservative" as people commonly understand it and we obviously dress conservatively and observe some behavior rules that some people may see as strict, doesn't mean we are also a) humorless b) uptight and easily offended and/or c) sexually repressed.

It reminds me of the 2005 La Leche League conference when the two people sitting in the front row of the "sexuality and beastfeeding" session were me and another woman with hijab and I wondered what people must be thinking LOL. Actually a number of years ago I was asked to make a presentation to our city council regarding World Breastfeeding Week. Our mayor at the time, a man, in our Bible Belt town, was visibly uncomfortable every time he had to say the word "breastfeeding"-- he literally mumbled the word every time he had to say it. Then I got up in my hijab and jilbab (long overcoat) and, having been a champion public speaker in high school, gave a loud, professional presentation about "BREASTFEEDING" to the entire city council and audience (both live and TV). Ha ha ha ha!

This all incidentally also reminds me of a friend of mine from college who wore all black and niqab--by choice and in the United States, mind you, not because it was the law or because anyone forced her to (she was a convert too)-- along with a pair of bright neon blue plastic sneakers. She was a hoot. Actually some of the funniest people I've ever met were niqab-wearers, go figure.

Like someone else said, we're a very diverse community and unfortunately the mainstream media never wants you to see us as such. We are rarely allowed to speak for ourselves, usually most "reports" are some liberal Western woman speaking for us, or some "ex-Muslim" or self-professed "progressive Muslim" who wants to tell you what we conservative types are "suffering" with. If people could see us speak for ourselves more often, they would get a totally different idea about us.



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#29 of 44 Old 01-12-2009, 06:50 PM
 
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Would that be an accurate way to describe it, from a Muslim perspective? That a woman who wears a niqab is "more observant" than a woman who only wears a hijab, both are more observant than those who wear no head covering, and so forth?
Well, let's put it this way, it can be interpreted this way on the surface, yes. Regarding hijab, there is little debate among mainstream Muslims that it is considered a religious requirement. I know, every time you read about hijab now the media takes the "progressive" argument that "hijab is not in the Qur'an" but that is blatantly false (and a long discussion for another time perhaps). So the point here is that among mainstream traditional Muslims, not fringe groups, a hijabi is more "observant".

Now there is a greater debate regarding niqab. Some more conservative sects consider it to be required. Most mainstream schools of thought hold it to be not required but a good thing to do. Many people believe it is untenable in the West. But among most Muslims in the West, a niqabi will be interpreted outwardly as more strict, sometimes even as "too strict".

In many Muslim countries, niqab is part of the "costume" of the cultural group you want to associate with. In Syria for example, a woman has a choice as to how to dress, and that includes no hijab at all. Yet depending on how religious you or your family are, or how religious you want to seem, there are prevalent styles that inlude (in increasing order of "observantness"): hijab with pants, hijab with a skirt, a light colored or patterned hijab with a light-colored "trench coat", light or dark solid colored hijab with dark "trench coat", dark hijab and niqab (under the nose or over the nose) with dark "trench coat" and finally total over-the-whole-face niqab with dark "trench coat".

However, having lived in a Muslim country and having family there, I will tell you that underneath the surface this is not necessarily the case. I know women who wear all black, niqab, sunglasses/eye covers, gloves, etc., who don't pray 5 times a day (one of the 5 pillars of Islam which all Muslims MUST do), who smoke, who drink alcohol, etc... so looks don't necessarily determine everything. What's in a person's heart can be very different from what is on the outside.
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#30 of 44 Old 01-12-2009, 09:38 PM
 
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That's interesting, because I think you have shown one of the common misperceptions people have about Muslims, particularly very conservative ones. Just because we are "conservative" as people commonly understand it and we obviously dress conservatively and observe some behavior rules that some people may see as strict, doesn't mean we are also a) humorless b) uptight and easily offended and/or c) sexually repressed.
A lot of women would find it offensive to receive a comment like "That chick's hot!" from a stranger, even if they were not humorless or sexually repressed. I have heard mamas on this board say that one advantage of being completely covered is avoiding looks and remarks of this type, so I assumed the woman would find it annoying.
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