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The Burkini Ban Shows Our Power

I’m glad they banned the burkini – now the world sees what stupidity we have to put up with

Many have been talking about the infuriating images we have seen of armed French police forcing a Muslim woman to strip to her undergarments on a beach in front of sun-bathers laughing, clapping and shouting racist abuse at her.[1] As one onlooker told the Guardian,

“The saddest thing was that people were shouting ‘go home’, some were applauding the police… Her daughter was crying.”

Although it is a sad example of what Muslim women face regularly in France, I am glad that the plight of our sisters has received some attention. The extreme authoritarianism we have been witnessing has made the carefully held façade of white supremacy, that France and its sister nations are more ‘enlightened’ or ‘superior’ than everyone else, increasingly difficult for its propagandists to uphold. There is no logic. There is no enlightened reasoning. There is only the coercive reach of state ideology and the fear of people’s empowerment that endangers it.

The whole European nation-state project has been in crisis since it began. Whereas Europe’s empires used to be held together with the threat of brute force, with a shared (Christian) religious identity of its citizens, those benefitting from the coercive nation state model have struggled to give people within artificial borders some kind of reason or shared values to identify their ‘nation’ with. As a result, our secular liberal state ideology must be defended at all costs. We have the right to invade and occupy sovereign nations to spread our ideology, whether they like it or not. No amount of violence or totalitarianism is too much to ‘defend the nation’.

Are Muslim women some kind of obstacle to this?

Some of those in denial have been trying to spin the war on Muslim women’s clothing as some kind of glitch in a normally enlightened, ‘free’ society; as an unfortunate imitation of one of those “backwards” Muslim countries that force women to cover themselves. I don’t buy that. I believe these are just excuses to pacify people while propping up an inherently authoritarian, unnatural centralisation of state power that serves few. It is a case of distracting the many by using whichever scapegoat is in fashion.

It is heartening to see the majority of non-Muslims I’ve come across criticise France’s recent own goals, defending Muslim women’s rights to choose what they wear. However, I am not fully satisfied with the “It’s their choice” narrative since it often hides a latent white supremacy that can be traced back to colonialism. Not to burn bridges, but this supremacist mind-set still imposes on us Muslim women a story that is not ours. It assumes us poor, defenceless, subjugated, oppressed objects are somehow convinced by men to cover ourselves despite not wanting to.

France banning the hijab is NOT like Muslim countries mandating it

We should not assume morally or philosophically, that asking someone to put something on is the same as asking someone to take something off. Covering ourselves is from the fitra of human beings,[2] whilst uncovering ourselves is from the fitra of animals; a learned behaviour for humans. More importantly, the instruction to cover oneself brings about benefit and repels harm both in this life and the next. As a result, all human societies have a minimum requirement for civilised adults to cover themselves in public.

If, according to the customs of a particular land, the vast majority share a particular minimum covering for men or women in public, then I do not see any problem with the law of that land reflecting that. If those criticising Iran or Saudi Arabia were genuinely against the prohibition of nudity (or against laws in general) I would respect their position despite disagreeing with it, obviously. If they were not, then their critique amounts essentially to “my culture’s threshold for nakedness or covering is superior to theirs,” hence the double standards and hypocrisy. They tend to—albeit subconsciously—regard their own cultural norms of covering as a civilising trait (distinguishing them from the naked tribal women they see on National Geographic), whilst seeing Muslim covering as a sign of subjugation or sexual exploitation; and herein lies the latent white supremacy.

The attack on Muslim women’s dress ironically shows just how much power we have. We have always been a locus for cultural engineering, since we are the carriers of culture from one generation to the next. We also represent a visible defiance against a male desire-oriented popular culture exported around the globe. This is one reason I believe the majority of new Muslim converts in the western world are women.

We see in our societies tragedies such as 85,000 women being raped a year in England and Wales alone (that’s more than 200 per day), with nearly half a million sexually assaulted every year.[3] 1 in 5 women aged 16-59 has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16, and a ‘rape culture’ permeates the country’s top universities.[4] A record 50% of our teenage girls suffer eating disorders due to the air brushed industries profiting from women’s manufactured, continual discontentment.[5]

Despite all of this, propagandists struggling to prop up this inherently unpleasant status quo always try to turn our attention somewhere else; from the trivial, odd story of a Muslim woman in niqab fainting, to the systematic, malicious misrepresentation of so-called ‘honour’ killings or FGM as ‘Islamic’ somewhere thousands of miles away.

The harder they try and spin our defiance of this status quo as a problem, the harder we will cling to our identity and our clothing. Muslim women should be an example for non-Muslim women. It is comforting to note that non-Muslim women are flocking to buy burkinis,[6] with the designer claiming almost half of all burkinis are bought by non-Muslim women![7] It is we who are upholding the natural fitra we have all been created upon and resisting the wider society’s call for us to lose our modesty and haya. Allah has already told us:

You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah. If only the People of the Scripture had believed, it would have been better for them.[8]

If we are denied from some beaches, then so be it. We would much rather hold onto our principles and await the beaches of the Hereafter if must. We do not take the words of men to undress above the words of the Creator instructing men and women to dress modestly.

The historical European has always had a complicatedly bitter relationship with the way we dress, and our unveiling has always been a symbol of colonial success. The words of Frantz Fanon in A Dying Colonialism are worthy of reflection, particularly in the first chapter, Algeria Unveiled.[9]

“After every success, the authorities were strengthened in their conviction that the Algerian woman would support western penetration into the native society. Every rejected veil disclosed to the eyes of the colonialists horizons until then forbidden, and revealed to them, piece by piece, the flesh of Algeria laid bare. The occupier’s aggressiveness, and hence his hopes, multiplied ten-fold each time a new face was uncovered. Every new Algerian woman unveiled announced to the occupier an Algerian society whose systems of defence were in the process of dislocation, open and breached. Every veil that fell, every body that became liberated from the traditional embrace of the haïk, every face that offered itself to the bold and impatient glance of the occupier, was a negative expression of the fact that Algeria was beginning to deny herself and was accepting the rape of the colonizer. Algerian society with every abandoned veil seemed to express its willingness to attend the master’s school and to decide to change its habits under the occupier’s direction and patronage.”

“Unveiling this woman is revealing her beauty; it is baring her secret, breaking her resistance, making her available for adventure. Hiding the face is also disguising a secret; it is also creating a world of mystery, of the hidden. In a confused way, the European experiences his relation with the Algerian woman at a highly complex level. There is in it the will to bring this woman within his reach, to make her a possible object of possession.

“This woman who sees without being seen frustrates the colonizer. There is no reciprocity. She does not yield herself, does not give herself, does not offer herself…”

Source: www.islam21c.com


[1] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/24/french-police-make-woman-remove-burkini-on-nice-beach?CMP=share_btn_tw

[2] Fitra: innate, natural disposition

[3] http://rapecrisis.org.uk/statistics.php

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/education/mortarboard/2014/jan/27/rape-culture-campus

[5] Neumark Sztainer, D. (2005). I’m, Like, SO Fat! New York: The Guilford Press. pp. 5.

[6] http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/news-and-views/news-features/nonmuslims-flock-to-buy-burkinis-as-french-bans-raise-profile-of-the-modest-swimwear-style-20160819-gqwx95.html

[7] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/24/i-created-the-burkini-to-give-women-freedom-not-to-take-it-away

[8] Al-Qur’an 3:110

[9] Frantz Fanon, A Dying Colonialism (L’An V de la Révolution Algérienne)1959

Available here: http://abahlali.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Frantz-Fanon-A-Dying-Colonialism.pdf


About Sana Ahmad


  1. satan is preparing-are we prepared?!

    loud and proud…as to wearing it on our shoulders……al-Hamdullah….we are M.U.S.L.I.Ms……..may cause more hatred but also more awareness……main thing is…the Quran that is what and where the whole game is……..it truly strikes fear into satan and his little minions…….

    so may it eat his little heart up in anger and anguish and bring guidance and love to who really need it…….

    In the name of the Lord of creation…….
    Whenﭲcomesﭳ(the) Helpﭴ(of) Allahﭵand the Victoryﭶ
    When the victory of Allah has come and the conquest,
    And you seeﭸthe peopleﭹenteringﭺintoﭻ(the) religionﭼ(of) Allahﭽ(in) multitudesﭾ
    And you see the people entering into the religion of Allah in multitudes,
    ﭿThen glorifyﮀwith (the) praisesﮁ(of) your Lordﮂand ask His forgivenessﮃﮄIndeed, HeﮅisﮆOft-Returningﮇ
    Then exalt [Him] with praise of your Lord and ask forgiveness of Him. Indeed, He is ever Accepting of repentance

    verily Allah is the Truthful


    as I leave you now…may I just say and advise…leave leave leave and leave again while you can…..talk amongst yourselves where could you go…..go in groups qawafil qawafil……jammmah is needed…….

    truly…..jannah is that way…but how to cross over..only Allah knows best……

    lets try and enter jannah of al-Akhirah by entering it here…..otherwise like ibn Tayimah / ibn Qayim said(may Allah have mercy on them) we will not enter the everlasting one of the next…..

    no matter what remember life is a test……so do what I do not and never rest…..rest in doing good that is..al-Hamdullah even rest can be blessed……

    intentions intentions……..


    LA ILAh ILA ALLAH..the one and only..the WAHAB, the PROVIDER, the QADIR……

  3. wish i was there

    oh burqinified / hijabified..who is that? yes that one on the horse?

    ma-sha-Allah w Allah Akbar

  4. good times ahead

    gheera…where has it gone?

  5. see you all in the next life....

    jihad of polygamy is needed……even though I do not really ever wish to get re-married myself…….

    pleasure is nice..is it not?…..

    enjoy the game……because the hunters are coming?!!!! what a great life……it is all fun and ..games..is it not?

    we all had the chance to get higher……..either reliance on people / self / or ……..?

    thank you……so much for al-taif…….

    good bye

  6. .WHO..... do you worship. ?

    Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty. Plato the unani……….

    they say and it is said that’s were it originated……

    time up….

  7. a MERCY 2 MANKIND follower

    Salaam alaikom,

    Dear br. Naved,

    I hope you are well in-sha-Allah! Please forgive me, I am not sure who your comment was directed at…etc. And apologies to any one if through attempting to reply…etc. With that stated, true to say that, words can not truly express what one really would like to say or try and get across and that goes for every one here.

    I’m sure you are aware that God declares in the Final Testament that He perfected Islam and chose it as the best Deen/way for Humanity and also to quote the brother’s mentioning above/below of verse 8 of surat al-Saff/ the Ranks and Allah Akbar, just to add if I may verse 9 of the Ranks and chapter 9, at-Taubah, verse 33, of which both the translation of the latter two verses are in the words/translation of sister Aisha Bewley as something like ‘ it is He who sent His messenger with the guidance and Deen of Truth to (exalt)it over every other deen, even though the idolaters detest it’
    Al-Hamdullah, you and us are believers in God/Allah and all that He says/promises, so may I just ask and I am sure you do, but would you agree that ISLAM is what is Superior?……a big yes, al-Hamdullah w Allah Akbar, i.e. God is the Greatest.
    So, al-Hamdullah we as Muslims are definetly not superior, but what we jointly aim to follow is….i.e. Islam…….Allah Akbar. And definelty it is the only way for the concord and harmony of the civilization/s. Don’t you agree? And just to add, that if any clash or battle, it is what is within us, is what is needed to be suppressed/snuffed out before any of us can go about bringing any much needed change in societies and the world. Most of all, I direct that towards myself, but also as a reminder to us all.

    As to the other parts, I speak for myself, but I have read bits of the milestones book and one thing I do agree to, personally, is that as much as Islam is here, always was and always will be al-Hamdullah, currently it is mostly by name and show (including myself). With that said, I intend to read mein kempf, just even just to get into and understand or at least try to that is, what someone in history did or did not do…etc! Bit confusing that sorry! Please read it again!……As to laws and what not, what was just stated may or may not get me into trouble, with that said, what is the difference between what our youth in society watch and listen to…etc? and then they go out to commit whatever crime they commit? Ok, they unfortunately and the victims suffer, fortunately for society in a way for the perpertrators too i.e. penance…etc!!. But who are the real initiators? Who is going to put them to the law? Suppose, the law is to protect only a few!…if it has all got a little bit more confusing,,,to sum it up or attempt to……..Interpretation debate, satan keeps going on about!……the Law and Book of Allah is irremovable, no matter what, do they want to sue Him…..haha and auz billah and most definetly istigfurAllah for what I wrote and also for them, as just to follow in our superior role models and say ‘forgive them for they know not/naught’. As the superiority of the Prophets our role models (peace be upon them all) what was just alluded to, may the story of Moses and his brother Aaron come to mind when Allah told them to go forward and proclaim and not to fear them but only Him ,i.e, the One who in whose Hand/s (just figuretly writing it-and not getting into unnecessarly, even though very important, i.e. Aqeeda issues..etc) all things are and that they (Musa and co) would be the Aalon, which I’m not sure to the exact meaning of the word, but exaltedness/superiority and also coming out on top as the winners comes to mind…etc.

    LIFE is by sure no GAME- and kefa/enough is Allah as a witness, His honourable angelic scribes, then what our own hands/deeds/actions have brought forth and everything else that is to witness! May Allah forgive us all! Allahoma Ameen.

    As to what you mentioned about balance, yes, balance and the golden mean in all things, most definelty, but at the same time only the radical middle way, i.e. fundamentally and radically attachment bil nawagiz in following the fundamentals of ..what shall we call it? The implementation and methodology of Nature’s law /the law of God’s nature, the made bogie/taboo word of the Shariah of God, the Law of His prophets, call them Noahide Laws to the Moses Laws/+ ten commandments to the accumulation and finalisation of the Shariah Laws of the way of Peace, i.e. Islam.

    I do agree that it will most definelty get harder for us to cling to our identities and clothing..etc, Allah Akbar , w hasbina Allah w naam al-Wakeel. Please refer to the Quran and the Sunnah and stories of the righteous salaf, and if just to remind us all, that Heaven is an expensive commodity.

    Good news to the strangers, a word coming to mind, is the tamhees/purification process of Allah! Basically the Furqaan/ criterion between Truth and falsehood will be manifest no matter what.

    I advise myself and anyone who happened to read this..to try utmostly to abide in God consciousness and awareness of Him in all things and not to give up constantly and patiently striving for our own betterments and the betterment of humanity as a whole and verily Allah’s promise is true. Tuba Tuba……

    Traps continue to be set and probably will still be such if not for a while, and may be I am one of the ones who have fallen again..perhaps in terms of desires and other….No matter what, for us all things can and will only get better …after hardship there must be Ease.
    Yunus:31, and al-Rad:11. And just to end with an extra two verses of the best of speeches from the Final Testament-the Noble Quran;
    Say, “O Allah , Owner of Sovereignty and the kingdom, You give sovereignty and the kingdom to whom You will and You take sovereignty and the likes away from whom You will. You honour whom You will and You humble whom You will. In Your hand is [all] good. Indeed, You are over all things competent and able’’ (Aal-Imran 3:26)
    So let us not be deluded by anything other or Besides the Creator and our ultimate purpose and goal and recall to mind ‘’ O you who (have) believe(d)! endure and preserve and remain stationed and fear Allah/God (alone), so that you may be successful’’ (Aal-Imran 3:200)
    Peace and blessings onto the Mercy to mankind/ and the universe, sayidna Muhammed.

  8. The burkiini ban shows our power….. It sure does
    ‘woman who sees without being seen……frustrates the colonizer’..can understand only too well.
    Guess more women like the wife of nawaab siddeeq hasan khaan rahimahaAllaah, one of the queens of Bhopal, British India, are needed for the small slap on the face of anyone who dares to even come near to remove the hijaab, burqa’ (either her or one of the other queens of Bhopal Allaahu a,lam).

  9. sallam alaikom

    Ma-sha-Allah, very nice and thought provoking article sister Sana,

    It goes back to the initial tree and the covering there after also. Al-hamdullah as muslims we believe in the story of creation and its purpose..etc, both literally and metaphorically. As to those who do not perhaps believe in it literally, they must admit that metaphorically it goes for us all.
    Some of our brethren from the jews pray and thank G_d that they were not women, and I came across a lecture where some muslim brother stated that he wished he was a muslim woman/lady, due to the high esteem and position of your species of nation builders. You truly are Super Heroines, just like the greatest women in history, i.e.lady Mary the mother of Jesus (peace be upon them both).

    If there are any sisters who still or may listen to anasheed…’who I am’ nasheed dedicated to you and a reminder, that the first everything in Islam, from the first to accept the message of our Beloved to umm Amaar to the greatest scholar, to the first nurse to the first establisher of a university in the whole world. Allah Akbar! We truly have nothing to hide but the truth, even though it needs not defending, and also nothing to fear except Allah.

    As to Sarkozy saying, no more time for minority issues. Ha ha. Al-Hamdullah as the author stated about most reversions being women, and despite Islam being the most practised way of life and fastest growing way…etc, the enemies of truth can let the anguish and anger in their hearts eat them up. They can accept and submit not to us (i.e. the truth bearers) but to the truth itself, as the people’s fate is on their necks, if not ours as muslims too. And we are definelty not a race or supremacists.
    O’ Muslmahs, O’ Maryams O’ Khadijas, hold on to and keep adorning yourselves with the oysters/ Hijabs for truly you are shining pearls and stars. Perhaps, those who think they are in control may need to make more babe stations for the advancement of human civilization. Blushing, as I wrote that, are they all over the continent, does anyone know? Or perhaps we should not? Albeit, al-Zukhruf/the adorments..etc, so as to zukhruf al qawl…dukh dukh onto you, you will not go beyond what is set for you.
    As back to the main topic, Allah knows best, obviously in everything, but there is some talk in Gnosticism that the soul being a female, or something along those lines and as Muslims we know that the ruhm /the womb, something to do with the root word of Rahma/ i.e. mercy…etc, clinged to the throne of Allah and the rest of the story…etc. Basically, as the family unit is the nucleus of society/nation, if not the home first mostly, we as muslims do understand that those who do not wish too good for humanity are aiming or aimed to dismantle the homes…etc.

    The women are the bees, whether here or there, hidden or not, truly in the eyes of us the muslims we know such, but ultimately in the high position they have with the Creator.
    Jannah in the end and even better only for Allah’s pleasure. So perhaps we all need much patience and constancy. Nothing remains and this life is naught but a few days or even half a day!

    Any good is from Allah and any bad is from me and my hawa/desires.

    Peace and blessings on the our Beloved Muhammed, his wives and his companions and all that follow him until the day we meet our Lord (in the next world).
    Maketheen feha abdaa..in-sha-Allah.

    • .WHO..... do you worship. ?

      dear sister,

      nice mention of the national geographic similitude……..

      suppose, we are the ones whoa are cattle. but may I remind the muslims, if not myself first….al wala w al bara…as much as we hate to see sins…we should not hate the sinner…..we need empathy, as they unfortuantley have been given our gift of islam, so sympathy is what is most needed and just hate of the action and love for humanity and praying for their and our own guidance…….

      even tho….

      • it is God who is in control

        whoops mistake…..

        oh well. what is the word these days…weird hahahahahahaha!

        we truly no not

      • since birth some of us(self included)...proudly say we are muslims(apart of islam)...when is islam going to say it is proud of us....

        *unfortunately not given the gift*

  10. As Allah swt sags in the Quran surah 61:8 “They want to extinguish the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah will perfect His light, although the disbelievers dislike it”

    Allah swt will look after his religion Islam, but we must look after our Islam!

  11. Naved Siddiqi

    I feel your resolve, I admire it too, but this still reads like a reworking of the “Clash of Civilisations” thinking to me. French superiority is denounced, rightly, but isn’t another supremacism taking its place?

    Iran and Saudi with naturally occurring customs? Both countries have had violent political pro-religion revolutions, as did Afghanistan. Then again, France and Turkey have had political anti-religion revolutions. In that sense at least there is a shared historical context. They all use the strong arm of state law to police the religious symbolism of women’s clothing.

    I do agree that the more a Muslim woman’s clothing is problematised and politicised, “the harder we will cling to our identity and our clothing.” The loser there, all too easily, is a sense of balance.

  12. Update:
    The burkini bans in France were overturned on 26/08/2016. ( the day this article was published)
    The French High Court said the bans (which had been implemented at a local level and not at a level as this article suggests) were illegal.

  13. Really insightful article

  14. Cracking article, masha’Allah.

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