Veiled women in the Maldives
- victims of Arab colonialist infiltration
LACK VITAMIN D
Gabe Mirkin, M.D.
A recent report
from Turkey shows that women who wear veils have lower blood levels
of vitamin D and therefore are at increased risk for suffering
Vitamin D is found in egg yolks, liver and salt-water fish oils
from sardines, herring and salmon. The vast majority of people
on earth do not eat enough of these foods to meet their requirements
for vitamin D, so they have to depend on sunlight. You get enough
vitamin D to meet your requirements by exposing a few inches of
skin to sunlight for less than one half hour a day. Veiled women
in Turkey rarely expose any part of their bodies to sunlight,
so they have low blood levels of vitamin D that increase their
risk for osteoporosis. Fortified milk is not a good source of
vitamin D because the calcium in milk uses up vitamin D to increase
a person's need for that vitamin.
D status and bone mineral density of veiled and unveiled Turkish
women. Journal of Womens Health & Gender - Based Medicine,
2001, Vol 10, Iss 8, pp 765-770. R Guzel, E Kozanoglu, F GulerUysal,
S Soyupak, T Sarpel.
Paris: The French Government plans to ban the
Muslim headscarf from public schools to protect teenage girls
from “fundamentalist pressures” to wear it, the French
Prime Minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, said.
Mr. Raffarin told his centre-right UMP party on Friday defending
women’s rights would be the guiding principle in any law
the Government passes about the veil.
Women politicians have been especially keen for a ban on the headscarves,
saying Islamic fundamentalists and conservative male family members
were pressuring teenage girls into wearing them in violation of
France’s principle of sexual equality.
“The legislative decision we take will be good if it protects
women, all women, from all fundamentalist pressures,” Mr.
Raffarin told a party meeting in the Paris suburb of Villepinte.
“That is the main point. This is not about religion, it’s
about lifting a constraint on women.”
The above Reuters report
was sent by a regular visitor to the site. The following is a
slightly edited extract of the accompanying email:
is relevant in the Maldives because the anachronism of the dholhi/
burugaa/ veil was self-inflicted after 1984. Before that year
this problem did not exist in the Maldives, but when the Saudis
dished out petrodollars and hard-line schools opened (eg: Mauhad
el-Diraasaat el-Islamiyyah and el-Medrasah el-Arabiyya
el-Islamiyya), the pandora's box was opened.
Now there are many girls (some of them closely related to us)
who hate it, but are forced by their parents to wear it. I know
of terrible stories about this violation of girls' rights.
Muslim Book 4: (Kitab Al-Salat) - Hadith number 1034
Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah said: A woman, a
donkey and a dog disrupt the prayer, but something like the
back of a saddle guards against that.
Fallaci writes in her book The Rage and the Pride that
"Because our cultural identity has been well defined for thousands
of years we cannot bear a migratory wave of people who have nothing
to do with us … who are not ready to become like us, to be
absorbed by us….Who, on the contrary, aim to absorb us. To
change our principles, our values, our identity, our way of life.
And who in the meantime molest us with their retrograde ignorance,
their retrograde bigotry, their retrograde religion. I am saying
that in our culture there is no room for the muezzins, for the minarets,
for the phony abstemious, for the humiliating
chador, for the degrading burkah."
Bardot presents Muslims as barbaric and cruel invaders, responsible
for terrorist acts and eager to dominate the French to the extent
of wanting to exterminate them", a Paris court said of former
actor Brigitte Bardot's book A Scream in the Silence in
which she laments the "underground and dangerous infiltration
who have chosen the veil are invited to exercise their
right of reply to this article. Replies sent with verifiable
identities of the author will be published under the
author's legal name
Traditionally, the veil is foreign garb in Maldives.
The old Maldive word for the women's veil is dholhi, the
same word used for the piece of cloth tied around the head of a
human corpse to prevent the mouth from opening. This probably indicates
the oppressive view of the garment held by early Maldivians.
The current Dhivehi word for the veil is burugaa, borrowed
from various Indian languages
Several mediaeval Arab visitors to the Maldives noted with alarm
what they regarded as the revealing attire of Maldive women.
An artist's impression of
Queen Siri Raadha Abaarana (Khadija) with her attendants and
husband. This image was in a web site called Maldives Story.
It is interesting that the Queen and her female attendants
appear to be wearing upper-body garments. Historical records
show that Maldive women of the period (15th century)
went topless in public. The queen banished her younger brother
to gain her throne and assassinated two usurper husbands in
order to hold on to it. It is anyone's guess what fate would
have befallen the person who dared dictate her attire.
author's great grandmother, the Princess Consort Maandoogey
Don Didi (above left) and aunt the Princess Uthuru Ganduvaru
The author's great grandmother's
photograph shown here is the oldest available of a Maldive
lady- taken in about 1895. These ladies would have laughed
at the thought of wearing a veil.
The most notable amongst them was Abu Abdullah Mohamed Ibn Batuta
who served as the chief Islamic magistrate of Malé early
in the 15th century. Not only did he endure the "indignity"
of serving a female sovereign (Queen Siri Raadha Abaarana), but
also he tried in vain to make women cover their bare breasts.
Maldive women of the time wore a skirt called the feyli
hanging from just below the navel to just above the ankle. This
was not due to a shortage of cloth. Maldives at that time produced
a large quantity of fine textiles, with a healthy surplus for export.
Back then, people were more sensible in terms of what they wore
in a humid and hot climate. Ibn Batuta was able to force his Maldive
wives and slave girls into an upper garment and the veil, but these
unfortunate women were heckled and jeered at on the streets.
The only record of the official enforcement of the dholhi
for live humans, was in the 17th century. In March 1691
a fundamentalist nobleman succeeded to the throne. Proclaimed as
King Siri Naakiree Sundhura (Sultan al-Adil Mohamed Mohyeddine),
this new ruler was a follower of the Iraqi mullah Abdel Qadir Jeilani.
According to page 75 of the Tarikh, Siri Naakiree Sundhura
made a public proclamation on 6 April 1691, which included the following:
drinking alcohol was banned
fornication was banned
women were forced to wear the veil.
women were forced to stand aside for men on the streets
A Taliban vice squad member from the Ministry for the
Prevention of Vice and the Promotion of Virtue beating
an Afghan woman for accidentally exposing the skin above
her wrist. She was lucky only to be beaten. Normally
she would have been executed. Such barbaric acts of
violence was inflicted in full view of children
She would rather hang
from a tree
author's aunt (not the one pictured on this page) is a formidable
elderly lady with a mind of her own. While on her regular
early morning walk, she was accosted by a male member of the
foreign-funded veil-mongers' brigade and received an ear-full
of abuse for walking "naked" in public. To these
people an unveiled woman is much the same as a nudist.
with school girls
aunt was told that her "sin" would result in her
being hung by her hair from a tree in hell. She thought for
a while and replied that this new revelation meant that any
remote chance she would ever be wearing the veil was now gone.
Her mother and grandmothers were unveiled, and she couldn't
bear the thought of basking in paradise while her mother and
grandmothers were hung by their hair from trees in hell.
veil-monger was lost for words by this display of female rudeness.
He hung his head low and walked away in disgust..
Book 54, Hadith number 464
Narrated 'Imran bin Husain:
The Prophet said, "I looked at Paradise and found
poor people forming the majority of its inhabitants;
and I looked at Hell and saw that the majority
of its inhabitants were women."
The Tarikh was quite specific on the point that this was
the first time such laws were adopted and enforced by the state
in the Maldives.
The traditional dress of the Maldives
is fast being abandoned in favour of nightie- type Arab clothes. Some
of those who adopt the Arab dress would accuse Maldive women who favour
Western fashions of being unpatriotic. A case of the kettle calling
the pot black.
Eleven months later, Siri Naakiree Sundhura died. The throne was
then siezed by a foreign missionary and mentor of the king's. The
foreigner, a native of Hama in Syria proclaimed himself as King
Siri Mikaalha Madhaadheettha (Sultan Mohamed Shamsuddine I). This
mullah first arrived in the Maldives a few years before in the reign
of Siri Kula Ran Meeba Katthiri Bavana (Iskander Ibrahim I). On
that occasion he was deported for preaching puritanical religious
fetwas that the locals found intolerable.
Under Mullah Shamsuddine, restrictions became more severe. Those
who missed the five prayer times each day were executed by beheading,
according to page 70 of the Tarikh. After five months of
oppression, Mullah Shamsuddine died of food poisoning.
There is no further record of veiled women in the Maldives until
the 20th century,
An attempt was made by mullahs to introduce the veil early in that
century but it did not gain any significant support, though a few
jealous men seized the opportunity to force their women folk into
the veil. By the 1960s, the veil was again virtually non-existent
and wearers attracted the the traditional ridicule.
Enlisted women of the Maldive
National Security Service (NSS)
on parade in Malé. By example, the government upholds
a Maldive cultural tradition of veil-free women. The first
time the NSS women appeared publicly on parade (circa 1990),
a notorious foreign-funded fundamentalist onlooker threw up
his hands in the air and in a guttural voice, shrieked out
the innovation "O Allah who created and raised
me! Show me, your slave, a day other than this!"
Since the 1980s, a campaign has again gained
momentum to force Maldive women into the veil. With no active government
backing, this fanatical foreign-backed campaign has not been
completely successful. As was the case in the 1680s and 1690s, the
campaign has its roots (and significant funding) in foreign interests
centred in the Middle East, and a cocktail of threats, coercion and
financial reward, together with jealousy among men, seems to be making
this campaign more successful than previously.
The difference this time is that the objective is not just the imposition
of an alien headgear. There seems to be an attempt to introduce complete
wardrobes from Taliban Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Palestinian refugee
graphic on the right appeared recently in an apparently
fundamentalist-inspired Divehi language web site.
teacher prompts student transfer
the Holhuashi section Huvaas
1 June 2002
the Maldive National Conference on Vision 2020,
Malé March 2001
Photo: Meemu Zaviyani
grade 5 primary school student recently transferred
to another class after his dislike of his teacher's
veil began to affect his schoolwork.
The boy began complaining from the time the teacher
first appeared in the class. Specifically, he said
that the veil made his teacher look ugly, and that
she didn't wear any attractive coloured dresses either.
The teacher ignored his comments.
A short while later, the student's mother contacted
the teacher and told her the student had always been
very fashion conscious. She said her son was extremely
disappointed that his teacher wore the burugaa
(veil), and this reaction was affecting his studies.
Although the teacher refused to remove the burugaa,
she continued to perform her duties as best she could.
listening to foreign mullahs preach during Ramadan
the student's parents contacted the school authorities
and made a complaint, but even the most experienced
administrators had never dealt with a complaint like
this before, and it developed into a 'serious problem'.
Because it was a complaint from parents, the school
had to take it seriously, and eventually the parents
were advised to make a formal written application
requesting transfer to another class, on the grounds
that the teacher's veil was having a negative impact
on their boy's academic progress.
The parents acted, and now the student attends a class
where the teacher has no veil. Instead she wears lipstick
and bright clothes. The boy is very happy and smiles
when he looks at her.
Now an amusing rumour is claiming that the new fashionable
teacher is thinking of wearing the burugaa!
Translated by Fareesha Abdullah
and Michael O'Shea in Australia
Aminiya School. The Maldive government-run girls'
school in Malé in the mid-1960s, with Miss
E.M. Alwis, principal, seated in the middle. These
girls, some of whom are now grandmothers, introduced
the mini-skirt and the "shift" to the Maldive
fashion scene. Some of them, now in high places, continue
to ensure that the foreign missionary-funded campaign
to impose the veil is unsuccessful. A far-sighted
investment in a modern educational system pays dividends
against imported barbarism!
Elevation of the status
of that generation seem to have succumbed to pressure
and adopted the macabre dholhi. A much younger
Maldive woman academic lamented to the author after
reading this page: "I know for a fact there are
some very nice photos of Maldivian young ladies from
the late sixties and seventies wearing what then used
to be called a 'shift'. Such photos have miraculously
disappeared from circulation!!! I really rather liked
them - signifying youth, freedom, and the ability
to smile and laugh and be oneself. What's wrong with
web site unequivocally supports
President Jacques Chirac for applying the ban on the
veil. As in the Maldives, the veil is foreign garb in
France. The veil is used as a political statement to
achieve the objective of altering the character of the
French Republic. The French people must resist this
barbaric assault on their culture. Franco-Maldive political
relations go back to the 18th century to
the premiership of the author's grandfather seven times
Interior Minister Patrick Dewael for backing draft legislation
by two Belgian senators to ban the veil from state schools.
The emotive demonstrations by about 15,000 Muslims across
France against its planned law to ban the wearing of
hijab by girls in state schools has had apparently no
effect on authorities in Belgium.
out of the sixteen German states for banning the hijab.
a Muslim country where the state religion is Islam,
for its long-standing policy to ban the hijab.
for its long-standing policy to ban the hijab. Turkey
is officially not a Muslim country but 99% of Turks
would acknowledge their Muslim background. Turkey is
a member of the Islamic Conference Organisation
Regarding the articale about "veiled
women" I think you were a bit biased about the "veil", Buruqa
or dholhi. You see the articale gives the impression that
the "veil" is a totally alien attaire to the maldives, now
I'm not a fanatic advocating that women should be "veiled"
however there is Maldivian version of the burqa or rather
as I should say more or less resembling a "scarf" which many
women even among the educated & westernized elite have adopted,
which is their own choice. Oyu see this attaire I mentioned
is in no way resembling or even close to the very extreme
cases that you have just metioned. So while agreeing with
you in condemning the extreme versions of the burqa i think
a moderate version of it by a womens own chioce is quite alright.
It is interesting to note that
the women who have adopted this particular "Maldivian Version
of it" are quite open minded as regards to the scarf. So let
us men not be baised about it a women has the right to make
her chioce either to veil or to un-veil. We should respect
their choice don't you think.
Dear Mr "Ahmed"
Thank you for your unsigned mail.
I always write openly using my own identity and so appreciate
those who display the courage of their conviction to contact
me with their own verifiable identities. Those who choose
not to make their identities known are making themselves wide
open to accusations of being cowards.
In the article that you refer to I have mentioned historical
facts with references to Ibn Batuta and the Tarikh.
I also have two photographs of my own close family members
taken circa 1895 and 1920. They are among the oldest available
photographs of Maldive women's attire. The way the ladies
in the photos were dressed was the norm rather than the exception
in their time and earlier. No veils are apparent in those
It is based on this type of evidence that I have come to the
conclusion that the women's veil is historically and culturally
alien to the Maldives. If you have comparable evidence to
suggest to the contrary, I look forward to hearing about it
It is interesting that women would "choose" to adopt a permament
headgear, be it shaped like a scarf or whatever else, in a
climate so humid as that of the Maldives
I have a small database of narratives that suggest coercion,
financial reward, financial penalty and threats as the reason
for specific women in the Maldives to have made what you suggest
is "a free choice" to adopt such a restrictive foreign garb
as the veil. I do not base my arguments on narrative and so
did not include these as evidence in my article
I suspect that you regard someone as being "Westernised" if
they have spent time, as perhaps a student, in a Western country.
This is not necessarily the case. There are Maldive students
in Western countries who insulate themselves completely from
the local population. Some of them return home without so
much as having a social chat with a local. Some women among
these students actually "voluntarily adopt" the veil while
living in the West. In some cases, the fear of being labelled
as "Westernised" and the resulting social consequences drive
them to make such decisions.
Thank you again for your interest in my article. I wish you
had the courage of your conviction to identify yourself. .