Tuesday, 20 August 2013

On dying for one's beliefs, and on living.

There's an image going around Facebook and Tumblr (in Arabic, I don't know if there's one in English) of a woman in niqab and a man in a beard.  Yellow on black, like a yield sign, except the caption is to never yield and never give up your niqab/beard, not even if it costs you your life, because your fate is written.  This is in relation to the massacres in Egypt, where people have been killed who don't display those observances, but the ones who do are targeted especially.

The people I know who are sharing this are outside Egypt, and a few of them have put on niqab recently, and are encouraging others to do so.  I'm happy for them; I love my niqab and I understand how they feel about it.

I have to take my niqab off.

It's easy, to say that you would die for your beliefs, and it's exciting to resist, especially if you're young and the danger isn't immediate.  I understand.  I also understand that upper middle class girls in Amman aren't really risking anything when they put on niqab, except their neighbours' disapproval, and their families' puzzlement.  They won't lose their jobs, if they have them, or their housing, and they won't be shot.

I would gladly die for my beliefs, if it was a quick death, and if it would mean something.  What I won't do is give up my livelihood or accept a marriage I don't want.  I won't live a life of servitude or give up my autonomy. 

Given the choice between a beloved article of clothing and my larger principles, in this case, the clothing will have to go.

I feel guilty for thinking all of these things, when people are dying, but I don't think I've made the wrong choice.


  1. I don't think that it is the same as dying for the sake of Islam, or the right to wear it against prejudice. It is sad that niqab is being attacked so:(. Egypt is a mess. As if Islam is being practiced a lot there in how things are going on... is to infer something of a dream.

  2. No, I don't think it is either, I keep repeating to myself, 'it's just clothing,' but people are treating it like it is.

    What really makes me angry is that MB supporters here in Jordan are using the deaths of MB supporters and others in Egypt to try to bully women into wearing things, because other people died for their beliefs, so what's [this Jordanian woman's] excuse? It's like they don't value those peoples' lives at all.

  3. And I *headdesk* real hard every time someone reduces the Egyptian revolution and its failure to Islamists vs. secularists. Especially when people here in the Arab world do it, they of all people should know better. I'm not sure how many people are really paying attention at all.

    But the ones who are paying attention are absolutely gutted, especially after the Ghouta massacre yesterday. We had so much hope that things would get better, in Egypt and Syria and in Jordan too. It's hard not to want to resign from the world.