Scholars raise their voice against ban on hijab

ABU DHABI - In reaction to the ban on hijab or veil in government offices in Abu Dhabi, scholars and a cross-section of employees have urged the authorities to seek some other alternative to solve the problem.

By A Staff Reporter

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Published: Thu 28 Apr 2005, 10:17 AM

Last updated: Wed 1 Mar 2023, 12:18 PM

A circular issued by the Organisation and Management Department in Abu Dhabi prohibited women employees of all local government departments from wearing veil at their workplace.

“This decision came to bridge the gap as regards the issue of discipline at the workplace. It aims to ensure that the employee will not leave her workplace during the working hours," the circular said.

It added that the veil helped some employees to leave and return to their workplace without being noticed, even with the monitoring cameras.

Khaleej Times, after being inundated with calls from inquirers, spoke to a cross-section of scholars and employees who were not in favour of the decision. They suggested that each department can appoint a female employee to check employees or simply make use of the technology to identify their employees including the punch card or any other electronic identification system.

Shaikh Dr Mohammed Sulaiman Faraj, Senior Preacher at the Ministry of Justice, Islamic Affairs and Auqaf, said hijab is a protective shield for woman as well as men against fitna or seduction and should not be taken out without legal necessity.

"It is a command by Allah the Almighty for women to cover the parts of their body. There are different opinions that if there is no fitna then the woman can take it out from the parts covering her palm and face but this is not a call to ask people to take hijab out," he said.

He added: "No one has the right to prohibit women from wearing hijab unless there is a legal necessity".

He said this could be in the case of preventing misuse of the hijab for purpose of impersonation such as in the cases of exams or travelling using other person's passport and picture, etc. He suggested that each government department, for instance, can appoint a female employee to be responsible for the verification and checking process.

Another scholar at the ministry said religious teachings should be followed strictly. "Shariah regulates our way of life and for the good of everyone. But this should not be at the expense of uncovering our women's faces without any necessity," he said.

S. Amantullah, a government employee, said this move would compromise women's freedom. "It will be like infringing on our rights. This is about our freedom. No one has the right to tell us to take it out," she said.

She said there were a lot of national male employees who leave their workplace during working hours and nobody questions them. "A lot of them come and leave and nobody dares to ask where they are going. So why should it be women. I think this idea should stop here and some other alternative be sought instead," she remarked.

"This is the 21st century. They came up with robots to act as camel jockeys... so why don't they come up with another smart hi-tech idea to identify employees and avoid this hassle. This is a religious matter and we should not tamper with it," said S. Amantullah.

She said many of her female colleagues were worried now after hearing the news, adding that nobody expected this from a Muslim country.

"This is a Muslim country and if the government is doing this at its departments, then it will be opening Pandora's box," she said.

She said even without any such a procedures, any head of department or section should be having a system to monitor his staff. "If you are in charge of an office, if a lady worker is missing, you should know and you don't need to check and match faces to do that," she said.

Umm Uthman, a private sector employee, said this move is disobedience of Allah's command. "There are many ways of identifying people. They can use any electronic system," she said.

She stated that veil is protection to both women and men. "Veil has been adopted by Islam as a protective shield for woman against aggression and attacks against her dignity by the followers of sick inclinations," she noted.

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