No burqa required: Muslim world weighs in on women’s dress

And say to the believing women that they restrain their eyes and guard their private parts, and that they disclose not their natural and artificial beauty except that which is apparent thereof, and that they draw their head-coverings over their bosoms, and that they disclose not their beauty save to their husbands, or to their fathers, or the fathers of their husbands or their sons or the sons of their husbands or their brothers … (Al Quran 24:32)

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN
updated 7:19 AM EST, Fri January 10, 2014

(CNN) — Saudi Arabia is often touted as among the most conservative places in the world, with women forbidden even to drive.

But in terms of attitude toward women’s freedom of choice in clothing, it’s significantly more freethinking than some of its neighbors, a survey of seven Muslim-majority countries suggests.

Nearly two out of three people in Saudi Arabia believe women should keep everything but their eyes covered when they are in a public place — but at the same time, nearly half say it is up to a woman to dress however she wants.

That puts it on a level with socially liberal Lebanon, and ranks it as far less conservative than Iraq, Pakistan or Egypt.

“Saudi Arabia is not as conservative as it appears. Definitely on some level there is a considerable liberal leaning,” said Mansoor Moaddel, the lead author of the study.

That could be partly a reaction to the conservative leadership, he said.

“Saudi has had a religious government for a long time. People tend to develop an oppositional attitude,” he argued.

The findings come from a report published by the Middle Eastern Values Study of the University of Michigan’s Population Studies Center.

It suggests Egypt is, in terms of gender relations, the most conservative country in the study by some distance.

Only 14% of Egyptians believe women should be allowed to choose how they dress, the lowest level in the survey. Egyptians are also the most likely to say that a woman should be required to obey her husband — only one Egyptian in 20 disagreed.

Moaddel does not link Egyptian conservatism to religion.

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5 replies

  1. All the terror ,hate ,frustration you see in islamic world is all due to Women in parda. I am 100% srue if Parda system is removed .people will have clammer mind , love in heart and feeling to respect and care for the family . All 90 % problem in islmaic world will be over just by this change in life style. Women face makes man mellowed and happy . No wonder if you look at any muslim he look like a terrorist. Specially Mullahs.

    • sahani: strange conclusion. I am in Amman, Jordan, and I just heard from a German lady who came here a few months ago that only since she reached an Arab country does she see all that is wrong with European family life (and all that is good with Arab family life). I also re-call that once upon a time I visited Cairo. My host said that on Wednesday lunch we are invited to his mother. It seemed that she invites all the family every Wednesday. One of her sons was the big boss of Alexandria’s public transport system. He always tried to arrange his Cairo appointments in such a way that he could attend his mother’s lunch. Western mother’s, who might see their children on Christmas and if they are American may be on Thanksgiving would be jealous if they would know the respect Muslim children (usually) have for their parents. (veiled or unveiled …)

  2. Sahani, women don’t cover their faces in most of the Muslim world, yet there is terrorism. Even in most countries where women cover their faces, it’s not a requirement for all women. So again, your statement has no basis in reality.

    India is an example of a non-Muslim country, where majority of the women don’t cover their faces, and in bigger cities dress in revealing western clothing. It does not bring calm and mellow feelings to the men there (who are mostly non-Muslim). India has been in the spotlight recently for deplorable treatment and heinous crimes against women.

    One thing many of these places do have in common is lack of education. Whether it’s a Muslim majority country or not, treatment of women improves with education.

    Reasons for terrorism are varied. I think it used to be mostly fueled by the atrocities against the Palestinians. Now it’s mostly a tool power-hungry monsters use in the name of religion, while taking advantage of uneducated people. Western countries also commit many atrocities in the Muslim world, which makes it easier for these greedy thugs to recruit people for their mission.

    I’ll end with one last example…that of the USA. Here you see women freely showing their pretty faces and bodies, and men and women have free access to each other with no contractual obligations. Despite that, America invaded Iraq without cause and turned it into the pathetic state that it is in today. For decades now the U.S. has been in alliance with Israel, allowing it to cause pain and suffering to the Palestinians…treating them like animals….not because American men don’t have enough women to look at…but because of the dirty demands of Godless, self serving politics.

    That’s what the Muslim terrorist leaders are doing…they just sell their story in the name of religion. Many of those on the lower level are turning into terrorists watching Muslims suffer in places like Iraq.

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