Clarifications offered for article on Muslims As a...

Letters

September 23, 2001

Clarifications offered for article on Muslims

As a Howard County resident, I found Laura Vozzella's article on the plight of Howard County Muslims ("For better and worse, attacks breach divide between U.S. Muslims, neighbors," Sept. 18), sensitive and illuminating.

However, several of her statements bear clarification.

The "khimar" (more often known as the "hijab") is optional -- many Muslim women here and abroad do not wear it, and while many wear it for devotional reasons, another common motivation cited is the prevention of harassment (catcalls etc.) by men in public.

The Quran does not specifically "require" women to cover their heads, though it does prescribe women (and men) to be modest in their dress and appearance.

Covering the head and/or face are seen by some scholars as pre-Islamic, Arabian tribal customs that carried over into and were legitimated in Islamic terms.

The head covering is not necessarily intended to cover a woman's "chest" -- this is what loose-fitting, accompanying clothes (dresses, coats, slacks) are intended to do.

Among many Muslim women, the head covering has become (albeit secondarily) a "fashion accessory" in terms of the colors, prints, etc. available -- not all head coverings are white or black (as is typical in Iran with the "chador").

These points may seem technical, but precise cultural knowledge of each other as Americans is important as we navigate the current crisis."

Oliver Wilcox

Columbia

WeCare volunteers deserve our thanks

It's important to give credit when credit is due.

The volunteers in the Columbia Association's WeCare Program have been tutoring students at Running Brook and Bryant Woods Elementary Schools.

They deserve our thanks for giving so much of their time and energy for this very worthwhile service. Now they will be expanding their service to Talbott Springs Elementary School.

The Columbia Council should be praised for approving the expansion of this program and serving more students in various villages in Columbia.

Alex Hekimian

President Alliance for a Better Columbia

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