Tales of the Lecrin Valley

A personal view of life in an andalusian village.

The two types of veil most commonly seen in Morocco are the hijab and the niqab.  The hijab is a scarf that covers the head and neck but leaves the face uncovered, and the niqab covers all but the eyes.  The veil is worn to preserve the modesty of the woman and to avoid arousing desire in men, bless their cotton socks, but the type of veil worn does not necessarily reflect the beauty of the woman and the amount of desire she is likely to arouse.  You see niqab-clad hunchbacked women of obviously advanced years with nothing but their eyes visible, these often covered by bottle-bottom glasses, while young, attractive, and heavily made-up women wearing the latest fashions will be wearing the hijab.  Some young women who wear the niqab take great care to make what little is showing as attractive as possible by the liberal application of khol, at times challenging Cleopatra in their efforts.  Money and education have a direct bearing on whether women wear a veil at all.  If you go around the old medina you will notice that nearly all the women are wearing at least a hijab, but go to the business sector of any city or a branch of a European supermarket and you will see that there are very few women with any kind of covering at all. Much seems to be made of he fact that Islam makes women wear a veil and therefore represses them, but often the women wear the veil of their own volition, as a sign of respect and love for their family traditions or religion, as do Quakers, Amish and Menonites and Catholic nuns to name but a few.  The Quran says that the veil should be worn to reflect modesty, but Mohammed did not introduce the veil, they wore being worn by women in this part of the world millennia before Mohammad, and were mentioned by him purely as they were the style of the day.  When the temperature reaches 40+ºC it makes sense to wear protective clothing and the noble Taureg with his whole face less his eyes covered by his blue headdress to protect him from the Saharan sun is never questioned.  In fact, in my village in Southern Spain, the women wear veils when they working in the fields for the same reason, and they wear scarves or other head-coverings when they go to church.  It is true that there are Islamic fundamentalists who dress in a manner which is not understood by other religions, but there are many other sects in many other religions which do the same; the naked Hindu sadhu in India, the Israeli Hassidim in 17th century Polish garb, Christian monks and friars in their hooded habits, and nuns with their version of the hijab showing chastity and devotion to Christ.  If you seek to understand religion, you have missed the point.  That is why religions are are also called beliefs or convictions.  If it bothers you, that is your problem, just get on with life and live and let live.