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Islam/covered face


1. Why do Muslim women cover their face? As a Westerner it creeps me out. I'm normally a fairly tolerant person and I'm an anthropologist so I understand different cultures have different social rules. I don't mind seeing Muslim women that cover their hair and I'm modest by my culture's standards, but something about seeing someone cover their face is creepy to me. I think it's because in the West we associate covering the face with shame (you'll notice Westerners covering their mouth if they say something inappropriate. Do Muslims do this as well?) or wrongdoing (i.e. the stereotypical masked robber). I do think this is an obstacle in Western-Islamic relations. If you cover your face, we've been socialized to distrust you.
2. Is there a difference between the face-covering Muslim women and the hair-covering ones? Do they belong to different sects or is it a matter of taste?

It's not a religious requirement to cover the face. It started in Persia and has been inherited by the elites and later by others.
Some stricter Wahabi style Muslims believe its an act of piety and they insist on covering but this is a fringe section. Majority of Muslim women do not cover the hair let alone the face.
You are right to look at this culturally and also would be helpful if you see each person for who they are and try to avoid that idea that a covered face is always a challenge to trust.

Thanks for your insight and willingness to learn.  


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Imam Habeeb


Being an Educator of Islamic Studies and Interfaith discussions for the past 25 years and having authored seventeen books and numerous articles on Islam - I think I can answer questions on Islam and other religions and issues of the Hanafi jurisprudence as well as general questions on Quran and Sharia. Love, sex and marital problems are some such topics! This is an independent volunteering service and not under any organizational banner that I may be affiliated with. My book- Intimacy and the Sacred talks about Sex and Muslims.


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