Dr Joas Wagemakers (Religious Studies) wrote in Nederlands Dagblad about the recently enacted ban on burqas in specific (public) spaces. In the debate about the ban, the origins of Islamic face-covering clothing are often neglected.
The Burqa Ban Also Divides Muslim Communities
"Islamic veils stem from the idea of purity, which is prescribed to both men and women," Wagemakers suggests. "Soera 24: 30-1 states that Muslim women should, among other things, wear veils and should not show their 'jewel'. According to some scholars, this indicates that there should be a certain seperation between non-related men and women, in order to prevent impurity. Means such as head scarfs and veils can provide this seperation."
"However, some scholars go much further than this," Wagemans explains. "They describe women as a source of 'temptation' (fitna) and therefore as a possible cause of civil unrest. For that reason, they should cover themselves (completely) in order to give the least offence."
"Still, some scholars criticise this line of thought. They point at the fact that soera 33 is explicitly directed towards the women of the prophet Muhammad, not to women in general," Wagemans concludes.