Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Coz most of the time, our perceptions are responsible for our own deceptions...

I dislike winter for many reasons, but primarily because here in Johannesburg, our winter days are deceptive. They look sunny and beautiful while you're inside your home or office; making you want to go out and have a picnic or take a walk in the park. But the moment you step outside, you’re slapped with an arctic breeze, thereby freezing all your organs and rendering most of your senses completely useless.
The view from my office yesterday... it was a mild day, cold by SA standards

I often find that those things / places / people / concepts etc. that we find aesthetically pleasing are often laced with some kind of deception.

For instance, I’ve always liked butterflies. They remind me of Spring, the season of renewed hope. They also remind me of my childhood... those lazy Summer days and picnics by the river. Not many people dislike butterflies and if they do, no one comes right out and says it. It would be like admitting that you don’t like the sound of a baby laughing, or puppies.

But if one looks closely, there’s so much more to butterflies than meets the eye. Like Marian Keyes said, they’re kinda sneaky and manipulative. They play on whatever sympathy and emotion you have because what they really are, are moths in fantastically embroidered coats.

No one really likes moths... they’re peculiar little buggers that flap around sinisterly. Ever try catching a moth? Don’t bother. You’ll never catch one because they may linger about languorously but the minute you set your sights on them, they gain momentum and before you know it, they’re whizzing past you with those paper-ish wings faster than any demon mosquito ever could. And most of the time, they’re suicidal, like kamikaze pilots, often flying straight into flames like the little martyrs that they are. Not that you can blame them, when you’re constantly referred to as the fugly duckling of your clan, you’d fly straight into a flame too.

But the thing about moths is that at least they’re honest. They never pretend to be something other than what they are. They don’t seduce your senses and manipulate your emotions to make you believe that they’re these fragile little creatures that need to be saved. And there’s something noble in that.

In many ways, moths are similar to Dictators. The thing about Dictators is that while they’re amongst the vilest in the human race, at least they’re somewhat honest about it. Most of them are not out there, promising the world to their people. They don’t take oaths in the name of Democracy and Freedom. They’re not promising radical health, educational, financial or political reforms. They’re not pledging millions of homes for the homeless and destitute. They don’t sell hope and dreams of a better life.

They don’t claim that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law or state, or that people are entitled to democratic freedom, and then institute laws that discriminate and infringe on the rights of specific groups of people. They’re not painting beautiful elaborate pictures of an unattainable future filled with empty promises. They don’t even believe in democracy or freedom. They don’t care about you or me and they’re not afraid to show it. In fact, they’re not prejudicial and don’t discriminate in that regard, because they generally hate everyone equally and tend to hold their peers in contempt. They’re just regular assholes that need to be tortured all the way to Hell, where they should reside for eternity... but at least they’re honest about it... well most of them anyway.

Sometimes I wonder, how much of our disappointments in life are because of our assumptions and perceptions... our own doing? When your life resembles a tragedy, it's natural to want every Act to have a fairytale ending. It's that idealism that gets the better of us. And sometimes, it's just ignorance. Is it our fault for wanting to accept and believe in that which appeals to us, even when it turns out to be a lie? Are we victims of our own ever-changing beliefs? A paedophile in the form of a very beautiful and attractive man is still a paedophile. He’s not any more or less of what he is because of how he looks. And his looks don’t determine his behaviour, his character or what kind of person he should be in society.

Similarly, the sun never promised me a beautiful warm day. I should use whatever logic I've been blessed with and know that even if the sky is a brilliant blue and the sun is out in all its glory, it's still going to be cold when you're approaching the middle of winter. The same goes for the butterflies... they never proclaimed any superiority over moths; they never asked for our sympathies or adoration. And every dictator must have initially gotten the approval of the general public or the majority, that’s how he got to his position in the first place. And those keeping him in power clearly want him there for their own purposes and agendas... some sinister (monetary related) and others more innocently in that they genuinely want to believe that he is a good leader.

Speaking of leaders...

I sit on the fence with the banning of the Niqaab in France for many reasons. Firstly, I do believe that it’s every person’s human right to choose their attire. People everywhere have the right to choose how they want to present themselves... as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone or infringes on anyone else’s human rights. I mean, some of us are subjected to sights that we’d rather not have the privilege to view... like the neighbour’s butt crack or that elderly woman on the beach who thinks she’s still sixteen years old... but ultimately, they have the right to wear and present themselves in whatever manner they like.

That said, I also believe that Islam explicitly states that one should respect and adhere to the laws of the country you choose to visit or reside in, provided that those laws do not contravene the laws of Islam. From what I understand, France did not ban the Hijab... women are still permitted to cover themselves and dress modestly... they did however ban the Niqaab / Purdah / Face-covering... which is essentially, in my belief, not compulsory in Islam. The Niqaab stems more from cultural practices in the Middle East region.

I still believe that women in France should have the choice to wear what they like though. I understand that with the proliferation of Terrorist groups and organisations, they may feel it necessary to institute the ban for security reasons. But in that case, why not issue a blanket ban on every form of dress code? I don’t doubt that amongst these same Bureaucrats that voted in favour of the ban, there are those that may think or believe that if a woman is wearing very revealing attire and is consequently raped, that it is her fault in some way. So why not issue a blanket ban where everyone in France is required to dress modestly, where certain groups aren’t allowed to wear the Niqaab, and other groups aren’t allowed to prance around half-naked. That way, no one group is singled out prejudicially.

At the same time, I can’t help but agree to this statement, tweeted earlier today by another female Muslim blogger and writer: “Moving to a secular, first world country, in order to reap the benefits, but demanding a theocracy as a minority? Why not go live in Saudi!”.

And the reason I’d agree to such sentiments is because when you’re in the Middle East, as a non-Muslim, you’re still required to respect their laws. So non-Muslims have to cover up substantially and dress modestly. In Ramadan, non-Muslims cannot eat in public because it’s considered rude and offensive and any public displays of affection between couples is severely punished, either through fines or jail time.

So why should non-Muslim visitors and residents be expected to respect and adhere to various laws in Islamic states, but Muslims can’t respect and adhere to the laws passed in secular states?

If we want to be fair, we have to exercise fairness on both sides, at all levels... throughout the spectrum. I can see both sides of this argument and I’m inclined to agree with both parties to a degree. Like I said, I sit on the fence.


  1. The French are going to look ridiculous in trying to enforce this law. Gendarmes will end up chasing veiled "women" who turn out to be comedians with beards. You could ask them to unveil their faces if they're asking for service in a shop, but there's no need to harass them if they're walking about minding their own business.

    What do these niqaab girls do when they're showing their passports in an airport?

  2. A couple kissing in public could, for example, lead a child watching to think it was something he can/should do - I can control what my kids watch at home and on the internet but not when they go out. A woman wearing a bikini isn't something a man should be looking at and if I was having a hard time keeping my fast, I dont think I would be able to control myself if I saw someone else (albeit non-Muslim) eating, so I guess these rules in a Muslim country are to prevent Muslims from further gunah? I know Muslims themselves should make sure their Iman is strong enough to not let these things bother them, but a little help never hurt anyone, did it?

    On the other hand, how does another person covering their face make you uncomfortable?

  3. * When I say you, I dont mean *you*, I mean another person in a non-Muslim country.

  4. Well because Saudia Arabia has a state religion and so does other Arab nations, whereas countries like Europe does not have state religion and their constitution allows freedom of religion for all.

    Pointing out a particular act of a minority is more of criminalising them. There were better ways of addressing this.

  5. Mr. GB - No doubt the French will look like the asses they are... giving everyone just cause to poke fun of them.
    I think Niqaabi's are required to show their faces to officials (in an enclosed space) for security reasons at airports.

    Humaira - I understand all the rules implemented in Middle Eastern countries, I even agree with most of them. Women choosing the Niqaab don't make me uncomfortable personally. However, I am very well aware of how ignorant most Western societies are of Islamic practices and cultures...and its not like they *want* to know more about Islam as a religion. Hence they view it as a threat. The rise of Terrorism and the many innovative ways terrorists operate only serve to increase their fears. And even though their hypocrasies are just waiting to bite them in the arse, they are still a Western nation entitled to make their own laws - regardless of how hyprocritical it may be - and as Muslims we should respect and adhere to their laws. After all, The Almighty has promised redemption to the Oppressed.

    Tauqeer - I believe that the concept of "Democracy" is a fallacy and is in itself an Oxymoron. It is not only a paradox but it is also a lie. There are no "true" Democratic states unless they delve more into the Socialism sphere. Countries like France only serve to prove this theory. But like I said, despite this, they are still a Western nation entitled to make their own laws - regardless of how hyprocritical they may be - and as Muslims we should respect and adhere to their laws. And The Almighty is the only Judge and Adjudicator.

  6. Awesome post as always!

    In a different blog post I read a quote something along the lines of "France is like the taleban in enforcing a dress code"

    You're right, we should obey the law of the land, and in terms of the hijab, There's more to it than just a cloth.


  7. Nas - It's true, France is no different to the Taliban in that sense. In fact they may be even worse because the Taliban never laid any claim to Democratic policies etc. :)