Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Today's "Modern" Muslim fashions

Turkish President Abdullah Gul (a member of the conservative Muslim AKP ruling party) holds his daughter's hand at her wedding at the Istanbul convention center, an event attended by thousands:

Here is a picture of the wedding party. Notice the shapeless fitting clothes worn by the older women. All the women have their heads covered in the conservative Muslim Fashion. Except maybe that women to the right in the photo below, wearing the red blouse. And is she wearing pants, too?

How did that whore get in there? I guess that's what happens when Sharia Law isn't enforced by the state. Turkey is special in that regard, and I hope it continues to be, despite changes the AKP is attempting to make to Turkey's constitution.

The bride looks happy enough, even if she is wrapped up like a 1950's nun.

Wedding of The Year In Turkey; President Gul’s Daughter Tied The Knot
Turkish President Abdullah Gul’s daughter Kubra married Mehmet Sarimermer, son of a businessman, in a ceremony that was held yesterday at the Istanbul convention center, and was attended by thousands of guests.

Istanbul’s Mayor Kadir Topbas officiated the ceremony and PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the former parliamentary speaker Bulent Arinc and current Speaker Koksal Toptan were the bride’s witnesses.

Source: All Turkish dailies, October 15, 2007

I suppose they do look like a happy wedding couple, even if her dress has a touch of that "Mother Superior" look. Women look more human when you can see their ears, neck and a bit of hair, in my opinion.

Now on to another continent...

Are you ready for the "burkini"? It seems the Muslim women of Australia are:

Burqa at the beach
[...]Developed for Muslim women looking for modest swimwear, the long-sleeve polyester tunic with long pants and a stretchy hood -- the name is a melding of bikini and burqa -- lets women hit the waves without fear of either revealing too much skin or drowning in yards of drenched clothing.

The loose-fitting suit, which has won the Australian Islamic Council's approval and is being bought by women across the world "is not just a swimsuit. It's a complete lifestyle change for the better," said Aheda Zanetti, its Lebanese-born Australian designer.

The swimsuit -- a remarkable mix of Victorian fashion and high-tech modernity -- also offers an option for modest-dressing bathers with no ties to Islam; swimmers worried about skin cancer and stinging jellyfish; and more than a few women eager to display a little less of their flabby thighs and sagging breasts in public. [...]

Are they having fun yet? Lets hope so!

This young Muslim lady actually has a job as a life guard. The "burkini" actually makes that possible for her.

I've been tempted to make some snarky comments about the burkini, but I can't. As strange as it is, I have to admit, with the bright colors and patterns, they actually look cheerful. And there's no denying that it's offering many Muslim women a freedom they have not had before. And while it may not seem daring and modern by Western standards, in some Muslim countries, it would be considered actually criminal:

Here's proof of just how revolutionary the Burkini really is. Here is Laura Bush meeting with breast cancer survivors in United Arab Emirates. Some burkini's for these ladies would be a great improvement, IMO.

The idea that a woman has to cover herself completely implies that men don't (or aren't expected to) have any self-control. What about the concept of a man cultivating himself to be a "gentleman"?

And it's not just that I hate it when you can't even see a woman's face; there are also real health reasons to consider. Many Muslim women suffer from vitiman D deficiency, because their skin is not exposed to sunlight enough. Lack of sun exposure can even contribute to breast cancer (Sunshine helps in the fight against breast cancer).

I can understand Muslims valuing a woman's modesty; why they don't want their wives or daughters emulating Britney Spears or other Hollywood celebutramps. But surely, there has to be a happy medium somewhere between the thong and the burka, that's still modest but just more comfortable, human and healthy, too.

UPDATE 08-12-09: This post has generated a lot more traffic and interest than I thought it would. I'm adding a link to the following article, because I think it adds some insights into the subject:

Muslim women uncover myths about the hijab
[...] The surprising history behind the hijab

Some women say the hijab makes them feel like they're locked in a cage. But others say it leads to personal freedom.

Sarah Hekmati first wore the hijab at age 15 growing up in Detroit, Michigan. She is the daughter of Iranian parents who left Iran in 1979 during the Islamic revolution.

Hekmati says the hijab liberated her from some teenage angst: Does my hair look good? Am I cute enough? Should I lose weight?

"It gave me a sense of identity," she says. "I really liked the purpose behind the hijab -- a woman covering herself so that a man should know her for her mind, not her body."

That purpose can be traced back to the Quran, Islam's holy text, which encourages women to dress modestly, says Faegheh Shirazi, author of "The Veil Unveiled."

Some Muslims take the Quran's advice as a command for women to wear the hijab, while others disagree, she says.

"The Quran is very ambiguous about whether you have to wear the veil or not," Shirazi says.

The hijab, however, actually predates Islam, Shirazi explains. The first known reference to veiling (Shirazi uses the term hijab and veil interchangeably) was made in an Assyrian legal text in the 13th century B.C., Shirazi says.

In the Assyrian, and later, the Roman and Byzantine empires, the veil was a symbol of prestige and status, she says. By the 12th century, the veil had been imposed on women in the Muslim world to exclude them from public life, Shirazi says.

"A sign of distinction had been transformed into a sign of exclusion," she writes in her book.

People are still debating the meaning of the hijab today. [...]

Read the whole thing for more about the "culture clash". I've expressed my opinions here already. Mostly, I just want women to have a choice. I see the Burkini as basically a good idea, because it gives women more choices. It's a rather clever and smart-looking design, too.

As for the rest, well, no doubt the debate will continue.

Related Links:

Rima Fakih Crowned Miss USA!

TIME magazine cover shows Taliban atrocity

Iranian Fashion Police Publicly Bludgeon Women

Slaves to Fashion or Fascism?

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At Sun Nov 04, 07:16:00 AM 2007, Blogger Bob said...

Very well done post...thanks!

At Mon Jun 23, 11:56:00 PM 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1) wow really nice and decent wedding dress, thanx for sharing.

2) i hope you are not encouraging bikini by your criticism to the burkini.

3) in america, one person out of three suffers cancer, so the sun doesnt seem to much of a help there either.

At Tue Jun 24, 12:02:00 AM 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey man i am a muslim, i wanna talk with u, to see why u have so much hate like this, dont be scared tho, am thousands of miles away. haha just kidding of course.

At Tue Jun 24, 12:03:00 PM 2008, Blogger Chas said...

The bikini and the burkini are both extremes. I embrace neither, but tolerate both as other people's choices. But for simple health reasons, I would advocate something between the two.

Too much sun can be just as unhealthy as not enough. Moderation is what I am advocating.

If you think what I've said is hateful, then you don't understand the difference between criticism and attack.

I'm generally as tolerant towards other people, as they are towards me. I find that to be a good policy.

At Thu Jul 03, 10:46:00 AM 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guess what, the 'shapeless clothes' worn by the wedding party in the first picture is their personal choice, just like the bride's '1950's nun' style wedding dress. you have to realise that a lot of women dress this way out of CHOICE and not because some man forces them to cover that way. and they have every right to dress the way they want to just like the 'liberated and independant' women in the west. why harp on about freedom when muslim women are criticised for the way they WANT to dress :S

and as far as the whole lack of vitamin D and its effects are concerned, let me tell you this as someone who lives in the middle east. regardless of whether you cover or not, whether you're a woman or not, most people here avoid the sun 'cause it's extremely hot here for most of the year. you'll find men and even non-muslim women having a vitamin D deficiency in this part of the world 'cause most people tend to stay indoors and avoid the sun like the plague.

At Fri Jul 04, 01:17:00 AM 2008, Blogger Chas said...

I'm all for women making choices. In Turkey, women have a choice. The one lady on stage with her head uncovered, wearing pants, is proof of that. But in some other countries, it's much more difficult, especially if some form of Sharia is made the law of the land, and punished if not observed. That kind of Sharia is not a "choice".

I don't have to like the fashions of the Turkish wedding party, anymore than you have to like my opinions about it. But even I have to admit that the wedding party fashions are far better than those black rags covering those women from head to toe, in the photo with Laura Bush. It's the extremism I object to, especially if it leads to health problems.

The vitamin D issue most likely affects women who have to cover themselves completely, who hardly get ANY sunlight. If a woman's hands and face get some sun, it may be enough to keep her healthy. I'm not saying she has to wear a thong!

Of course people in the Middle East have to protect themselves from the sun, I'm not disputing that. I'm saying that excessive covering, followed fanatically, can be dehumanizing, impractical, and sometimes even unhealthy.

The Burkini, while not thrilling to me, is still, I think, a positive development, and I'm glad to see it.

At Wed Jul 23, 01:01:00 AM 2008, Anonymous Hey said...

lol, u dont seem to know shit about muslims and their dressing styles. but yet there u are talking like a lil know it all. yeah, ofcourse u`d like it if a woman shows a bit of neck and all that shit. but the dumbass u are, u cant get the fact that there will be someone who would see all that. their husband ofcourse. maybe you want ure wife to roam around like a lil slut not covering any shit. but muslims do not want their wives to be exposed. the wedding gown that woman was wearing is decent. but i dont like it much. but it sure doesn't look like a nuns. which church did u go to? i gotta see those nuns. do send me pictures or something. or better yet, post it on ure lil blog and critisize it.
in islam, woman dont have to dress in black and cover the faces. u only have to cover ure body and hair and feet. but some women do cover everything but their eyes. thats their fault.
and u seem to be tooo concerned about health. what? u never drank alcohol or smoked a cigarette? i think ure a hypocrite. and a dumb one.
and just because a muslim doesnt wear burugaa it doesnt make her a whore. atleast the red blouse woman was wearing something decent.
look around you. u`ll see some real sluts and whores. come on, ure in america, u should know this stuff. ure old, but not so much in ure head.
i can think bigger, and im definitely younger than u.
and hey, i blog too =)

At Sat Jul 26, 01:42:00 PM 2008, Blogger Chas said...

I could assume you were drunk when you wrote that, but if you are Muslim you aren't supposed to drink, so I guess that isn't an excuse you could use. Does your religion say anything about having a foul mouth?

I see from site meter that you were posting from the city of "Male", from the Maldives. I can only wonder if most of the men there share your opinion, and if they would express it in the same way.

I don't generally print comments with foul language or verbal abuse, but sometimes I make exceptions if it illustrates some things the poster seems oblivious to.

The bride is pretty, and of course she doesn't look exactly like a nun, you're taking what I said too literally. I meant that she has her head wrapped up the way nuns used to do. Most contemporary Catholic Nun Orders have stopped doing that, opting for a more humane, but still modest, way of dressing.

I would think that in a hot climate, wrapping ones head up like that would be uncomfortable. If you had read my blog, you would know that my interest in the topic is not prurient.

I don't smoke, and I have a glass of wine with dinner. Nothing hypocritical about that, it's a healthy thing to do, and fun too.

I'm glad you think that just because a Muslim woman doesn't wear a burka it doesn't make her a whore. That might be one of the few things we can agree on. The lady in the red blouse looks decent to me too. I was being ironical.

As for the rest, I suggest a spelling checker. ;-)

At Tue Oct 21, 09:32:00 AM 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Standards of beauty, class and elegance vary depending on the region, country or culture you are from or embrace. Making fun of those who are different is often indicative of racism, jealousy or ignorance -- none of the characteristics that will convince those you are critical of that what you may have to offer is of any value. In most societies, when a woman dresses a certain way it sends a message. Example: As we approached our train in New York Penn Station recently, a co-worker asked me if it is difficult to "dress differently", I replied that although sometimes I do feel a little out of place, no one would never, in any case, ever mistake me for a "hoochie mama" like the woman who walked in front of us who actually resembled one of the street walkers on 8th Avenue.

At Wed Oct 22, 11:59:00 AM 2008, Blogger Chas said...

Gee "Anonymous", where do I start? You say:

"Making fun of those who are different is often indicative of racism, jealousy or ignorance -- none of the characteristics that will convince those you are critical of that what you may have to offer is of any value."

Well you certainly failed to convince me. Are you suffering from an irony deficiency? You would have to be, in order to follow that with:

"... although sometimes I do feel a little out of place, no one would never, in any case, ever mistake me for a "hoochie mama" like the woman who walked in front of us who actually resembled one of the street walkers on 8th Avenue."

Somehow, I doubt "hoochie mama" would appreciate your remarks if she heard them. No doubt you wouldn't say it to her face. For the same reason, I suppose that's why you also post remarks like these anonymously.

Clearly the woman who had the misfortune to walk in front of you had "Standards of beauty, class and elegance" different from yourself and your culture. But you make fun of her, and vicously, too. So, let's use YOUR standard, shall we? Are you a racist, ignorant, or just... jealous?

Now that's not MY standard, it's YOURS. I'd be perfectly happy to let you have your opinion without inferring racism, ignorance or other things, except for the fact that you feel entitled to try to stifle my opinion with insinuations of the same. Shame on you. It's that sort of double standard, that hypocrisy, that makes many people lose respect for people like yourself. People who want to forbid criticism of their own choices, while feeling free to dish it out on everyone else's.

Who knows, if I saw the woman you are criticizing, I might even agree with you about her taste in dress. But if I had it within my power to coerce or force her, or YOU, to change to what I think is appropriate, I wouldn't. I'd rather let you both decide how you wish to dress, and have your opinions, even if they are different from mine. Why? Because that is how I would like to be treated. It's called genuine tolerance. I highly recommend it.

At Mon Dec 22, 04:37:00 AM 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

do you believe in god??
those girls do...
god order muslim womnen to cover...
it is an order quran the book of god and you will get it.

At Mon Dec 22, 11:49:00 AM 2008, Blogger Chas said...

Many people (myself included) believe in God, without believing in the quran. I'm familiar with what it says, and it's not for me, thanks.

Even some Muslim women don't cover their heads. A contentious issue among many Muslims, I'm sure. I only mention it to point out that not even everyone who is Muslim agrees on every Islamic practice.

You and I are not likely to ever agree on this issue. I suggest we respectfully agree to disagree.

P.S. I see you are posting from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I would be interested to know your opinion about the burkini. Do you approve of it? What would you say people in general think about it, where you live? And the opinions of the men, versus the women? I'm just curious.

At Wed Apr 15, 04:33:00 PM 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just want to tell you (as girl living in Dubai) that the black cover is our tradition NOT religion.

Muslim women shoud cover their nick and face, and wear something that clean and not tight.

For your information, not only muslim women should cover their hair, there are other religions that have scarf or hair cover.

any way, this blog shows how you think, I am happy to know Americans way of thinking, and sorry for my bad English.

At Thu Apr 16, 12:40:00 AM 2009, Blogger Chas said...

Thanks for pointing out the distinction between tradition and religion. In many cultures the two can overlap, but not always.

I expect that most women in America would not be comfortable with a requirement to cover their heads, because it's (mostly) not part of our traditions and culture. Yet I think most Americans would respect a woman's choice to do so. I have known women here of various religions who cover their hair; it's generally accepted as their choice.

My blog does reflect how I think, but it's only my opinions. If you talked to a lot of Americans about this, you would find a diversity of opinions.

No need to apologize for your English, it's quite good, you've made yourself perfectly understood.

At Tue Jun 09, 06:17:00 AM 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im a Muslim and am proud of it. I agree that covering the head is anyone's choice and that whatever u call it- hijab, scarf, veil etc... is only a testimony of belief, and a symbol of identity... we r not burdening ourselves as we feel a sense of 'protection' when wearing such things.
i am glad that outsiders like chas r curious and r willing to shre his thoughts on these things, because those with demeaning judgments without prior knowledge and understanding are the ones who r 'extremists'...
as for us Muslims, our role is as a 'khalifah', to make 'dakwah', to teach, preach and invite others to our religion. so at least, be good role models. we dont need to be mean, let alone prove ourselves. we r Muslims.

At Sun Oct 18, 07:03:00 AM 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey man .. to me wearing veil is proud . I dont really like what you mean by people look humanity when showing their neck,hair,and what you word for handicapped where they dont have leg or hand or eye,are they not enough humanity because they lose some of theirbody.You better think about that.And about the bride,Iam stunning.She was beautifull without showing her body such you brilliant and freedom people always did.I huess you understood what i mean by brilliant and freedom...well you guys just always being too much

At Sun Oct 18, 12:15:00 PM 2009, Blogger Chas said...

Hey man ... if you think it's such a proud thing, why don't you use your name when you defend it?

Missing body parts? There is a considerable difference between covering body parts, and not having body parts to cover.

In the first instance, if someone wishes to cover parts of themselves (and provided that they do actually have the freedom to make the choice), then it's their personal preference. That's their own business. I think I made that clear in my latter comments, but I suspect you only read my initial comments before posting yours.

In the second instance, people with missing body parts, they have no choice. No shame in that.

There is no shame in a woman covering herself either, if that's what she really wants. I can still have an opinion about that, but my opinions are not binding, and I'm not FORCING my preferences on others.

Having the freedom to make the choice, is what I call freedom. And for the most part I will tolerate other people's choices, if they don't harm other people or infringe on my freedom to choose.

If you think I should be respectfully tolerant when a Muslim woman freely chooses to cover herself, fine. I have no problem with that. Just remember, respectful tolerance is a two way street. It has to work both ways, or it won't work at all.

At Sat Mar 20, 11:05:00 PM 2010, Blogger Amanda said...

I really *LOVE* that wedding dress, its so beautiful.

I also like Islamic swimwear, when I converted to Islam, I was scared I'd never swim again (Since there arent an abundance of all female beaches/pools in the US) But I do plan on buying one.

And women in places like Saudi Arabia, where the Niqab is required for the citizen women, they do go outside in like...a tshirt and what not. Most houses have large private gardens, with high fences for privacy.

They go outside all the time not covered, just not in public.

At Tue Jun 08, 11:30:00 PM 2010, Blogger Modestkini said...

I just came across this blog and found it very interesting indeed.Thanks for sharing.

At Sat Jul 17, 03:11:00 AM 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Chas, I really appreciate your calm and well-reasoned arguments. I think we are very similar in philosophies here. For example, I am certain you intended humour - or irony - when you used "whore" in your original article and no harm was intended. I think it is the only slip you made throughout your various comments. The problem with many of the posters is that they do not value equality, or define it, as you do. So your two-way street argument will fall on differently-educated ears. I am all for respecting others and acknowledging their right to free choice as long as it doesn't restrict or limit the freedoms of others. Too often we westerners have been apologists for our cultures, our history, our origins - and certainly if you are from European stock, there has been a horrific and tumultuous history. What is very good about us though, is we have learned from this (ok, not perfectly) and we have opened our doors to others who are different from us. We didn't have to do it, we could have kept the walls high and gates closed. We had the power to do that, but we didn't - and I hope we don't suffer for that in the future. I do not wish to change the religion, culture, traditions of any other peoples except in one way - they ought to learn and show the same respect and tolerance that I have. (Ok, that sounds egoist, so maybe I should have said we...but then I don't speak for everyone else.) Living in Indonesia alongside 220 million Muslims, reaffirms my belief that at heart, most people are just like me in that they want to live peacefully, comfortably and in harmony with others. There is only a very small percentage of people who create the bulk of the problems for others - and sadly they get all the media attention for it. These people exist in all places, races, religions and cultures. Thankfully, the vast majority are tolerant and friendly. Oh yes, the burqinis look very nice and I am glad they enable some women to swim when otherwise they might not. As for me, I cover up arms,legs and head against the sun too - so I hope to find a nice one for me in the right colour...ha ha.
Keith, Canada (I only used anonymous since it's quicker to post and protects somewhat my email address.)

At Sat Jul 17, 03:14:00 AM 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Crap! I just wrote a long eloquent post - very supportive too - and got an error message when I tried to post it saying it was too long. I couldn't retrieve and I don't want to type it again. So Chas, put a warning up so people don't go over board like I did, then lose it all. Very good arguments by you - I frowned when you said "whore," so lose a mark for that one. Burqinis seem like a great idea. Keith

At Mon Jul 19, 12:50:00 AM 2010, Blogger Chas said...

Your original post got through, it just doesn't publish right away. I review comments first, so I can delete spam, and the really abusive, uncivil ones.

Yes, the "whore" comment was meant to be ironical. When I wrote this post, I had no idea it would generate so much interest and traffic. If I had known, I probably would have been... more thoughtful in my choice of words. I'd change it now, but with so many comments responding to the original post, it would change the context of those comments, so I'm letting is stand.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

At Sat Jul 24, 05:42:00 PM 2010, Blogger monarosa said...

I really do not understand Americans` annoying self-love as if they created the whole world. I couldnt read this whole post since it doesnt make sense to learn Turkish and Muslim clothing from someone sitting in some big chair comfortable enough for his big butt... just stop being annoying you Americans

At Sun Jul 25, 03:44:00 PM 2010, Blogger Chas said...

Aw, you poor thing. It must really suck to be you.

If American's annoy you so much, then don't read their blogs. Oh, wait, that's right, you DIDN'T read my blog, did you? It was just too beneath you to read the opinions of an Ugly American.

But you did see fit to express a lot of envy, and insult me personally. Because you decided you don't like my opinions, even though you couldn't be bothered to read them.

And you think I'M arrogant? Sounds like the pot is calling the kettle black.

Maybe you've got a Lard Ass husband at home, who doesn't encourage you to express your opinions, so you take out your repressed anger and frustration on me?

You could just as easily have contributed to the thread and expressed an opinion about Kubra Gul's wedding dress, or what (Turkish?) women like yourself think of the burkini. It would have most likely been more interesting than hearing you speculate about the size of my ass.

I see you used a small bird as your avatar. Is your mind like a small bird, trapped in a cage? Open the door and let it fly around a bit. There is plenty of room here in cyberspace for it to spread it's wings.

Hate my opinions, if you must. No one has to agree with me, it's a free country. But I'm not obligated to host insults here.

So if you come back, and if you can be civil, tell me: What do you think of the burkini? Is it good or bad, and why do you think so?

At Sun Oct 10, 03:39:00 AM 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

muslims should live in muslims countries. it's plenty in the world. simple.

At Mon Oct 11, 09:59:00 AM 2010, Blogger Chas said...

I would say that Muslims who want to live under Sharia law, should not immigrate to Western countries, because Sharia law is incompatible with Western culture and values.

On the other hand, Muslims who are willing to assimilate, like Rima Fakih who just became the new Miss USA this year, would be fine. But why move to a Western country if you disagree with all or most of it's values? That's looking for trouble.

At Wed Nov 17, 03:22:00 PM 2010, Blogger Tece said...

Most of the women of differing denominations that I know personally say that covering for them is not about men lacking respect or control- they say it is about them respecting and honoring God- since in many religious traditions, both men and women cover themselves before they go before God in prayer.

At Fri Dec 07, 05:30:00 PM 2012, Anonymous Dian said...

"muslims should live in muslim countries" ok so non muslim should not live in muslim countries ever too.. that's really rasist, small thought. we live in globalztation era. religion is a privacy and lets appreciate each other. cover head for women moslem is faith not only a choice. in my country i ussually meet in public area chatolic who also wear something covered their head and we never comment bad things about that. we have 5 religios and lot of tradition.

At Mon Dec 10, 04:15:00 PM 2012, Blogger Chas said...


"muslims should live in muslim countries"

That was an opinion expressed by a visitor, not mine.

There are plenty of Muslims living in the USA. If they respect our laws, and assimilate to our culture (at least in some ways), I think that's fine. I think a Muslim woman in America who covers herself, and her hair, but leaves her face visable, can still assimilate and participate in our culture. Many do.

But women who want to stay 100 percent covered, and follow strict Sharia law... severe interpretations of Sharia Law aren't compatible with our civil laws. Wouldn't people who want that be better off living in countries where that is already the norm, instead of coming here and trying to change our culture into that kind of place?


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