What makes a team?
It seems to me that there are two main components; a common purpose and a uniform. In the case of religious groups the details pertaining to common purpose are found in the Holy Books. As for the uniform, the precise details may be found explicitly in religious texts or they may be as much a matter of tradition as anything else. But whether we are talking about the veil or a beard for Muslims, or Tallit and Kippah for Jews or the Crucifix for Roman Catholics or the Turban and Kirpan for Sikhs, isn’t the idea to announce to the world a certain position about self-identity?
There is nothing unique about this to religion. Aren’t skin heads making an announcement to the world in the same way that religious people do? Isn’t carrying an I-Phone and driving a Prius also an attempt to deliberately project an unmistakable image?
When people want to let you know what “team” they’re on, the uniform is always the clearest way to get the message out. As Muslims seek to announce their identity again after what they see as a period of humiliation and marginalization in the post World War I years, the beard and the veil are the most unambiguous way to send a message to the world.
What’s the message?
Prof. Berger asks: “Is modern feminism the final word in the construction of modernity?”
A couple of empirical observations might give a clue.
As a Specialist 4th Class in the U.S. Army 25th Infantry Division in the Vietnam War in the late 1960’s, I observed a significant number of solicitous prostitutes hanging out in front of bars in Saigon. I remember the humorous scenes of 19-year old U.S. Army troops being pulled into these bars by groups of such women. As a Psychiatric Social Worker in the 25th Medical Battalion I heard many a first hand story of what happened to American soldiers who frequented such bars – theft, muggings, venereal disease, etc.
I bet there was little to no access to Muslim women in Baghdad during the Iraq War.
Which system is best? Which is best for women?
The words gender and sex both have the sense of the state of being male or female, but they are typically used in slightly different ways: sex tends to refer to biological differences, while gender tends to refer to cultural or social ones.
First, one should consider what are the standard teachings of Islam. Islam would violate the 1st, 2nd, 13th, and 14th Amendments to the US Constitution. Thus, we should consider whether Islam is compatible with American Principles and the US Constitution? If it is not, then there can be no reconciliation between Islam and America.
On top of everything and before anything else Veils and Beards are self directed personal and public directed DECLARATIONS and CONFIRMATIONS of identity and allegiance to the faith and traditions of the faith.
As such they are also declarations of rejection, denunciation and defiance of the enemies of the faith as personified and materialized in foreign aggression against , domination and occupation of the Dar Al Islam (the HOME of Islam: land and people) partial or complete, explicit or implicit.
In practical every day terms it means POLITICALLY : condemnation and rejection of the output from USA conquest of Iraq and Jewish/Israeli colonization of Palestine, inter alia.
SOCIALLY it means rejection of Western modes of living and Western definition of modernity, ditto.
OVERALL it is the rejection of the Western colonialist legacy in both domains and, BUT still is, an avid search for an independent Islam derived and Islam based outlook to life as distinct from the present Judeo/Christian outlook .
None of that necessarily implies or ordains hostility to others except, of course, to foreign aggression and foreign occupation..
It is simply an act search for and ASSERTION of one’s cultural/confessional/nationalist separate and distinct identity hitherto partially submerged and disfigured by the colonialist Judeo/Christian legacy of the WEST.
Women LIB in Islamdom is only a part of the overall Islamdom Liberation movement as much as Men, Land, Resources and overall Cultural Lib are.
“There are only two sexes. One can only be defined in distinction from the other. A man is defined as a human who is not a woman, and vice versa.”
Biology is actually a bit more complicated. Genitalia can be anatomically ambiguous (a fact not lost on, for instance, the rabbis of the Talmud who assigned a third sex to some such people) and people’s genetic sex can be complicated and/or not in synch with their external genitalia.