Behind the veil
November 8th, 2010
10:59 AM ET

Behind the veil

Editor's Note: CNN Producer Gena Somra brings us this report from Yemen on CNN's Inside the Middle East Blog.

I've always been curious what life must be like for women who live behind the veil.

But I never thought I'd be in a position to experience it first hand.

As our team ventured out of Seiyun, Yemen, on our way to Tarim, I found myself pulling out my newly purchased niqab, and looking for help from my bewildered male teammates as to the proper way to adorn this thin and delicate piece of cloth.

After several unsuccessful tries to assemble it myself, our local fixer stepped in to assist. Soon I was looking at the world from a new (and somewhat uncomfortable) perspective.

September in this dry and dusty desert valley is scorching hot.... and being covered from head to toe in all black with only a tiny space for my eyes to glean the sun, seemed to draw the rays directly into me and intensify the already sapping heat that was bearing down on all of us.

The fabric was stretched and tied so tight that it cut across my lower eyelids and when I would blink I would feel its chiffon gently scratching my lashes. And even though I could breathe just fine, somehow this fabric over my nose and mouth made it feel like I could not. It was an unusual sensation to say the least.

Read the full story here.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Islam • Middle East • Women

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soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Muneef

    The Holy Quran is all about giving simplified examples for the brains of that time,and addressed to illiterate Nomadic Beduins of the dry Arabian desert to understand and they have managed to do understand it and achieved miraculously for centuries in creating a multinational Islamic communities that has contributed so much to today's knowledge and science. 
    But i failed to understand how was the Quran able to penetrate the minds of illiterates and they were able to understand it's codes! And why wasn't able to penetrate the minds of the modern literate men dramatically failed to understand it and understands it's codes? In such case it seems that our illiterates were more literates than today's modern men literates?!   

    November 10, 2010 at 7:51 pm |
    • Muneef


      November 15, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  2. Muneef

    Gibrael is the Holy Spirit of God.

    November 9, 2010 at 7:09 am |
  3. Muneef

    They do what they like to do as customs and traditions but not of Islam to cover the face unless wearing makeup but normally taken off when reach destination visiting female friends or family.

    November 8, 2010 at 9:20 pm |
    • Reality

      From Sir Salman Rushdie's book Satanic Verses- one page that captures the essence of Islam:

      Mahound = Mohammed
      Gibreel = Gabriel

      "The faithful lived by lawlessness, but in those years Mahound – or should one say the Archangel Gibreel? – should one say Al-Lah? – became obsessed by law.

      Amid the palm-trees of the oasis Gibreel appeared to the Prophet and found himself spouting rules, rules, rules, until the faithful could scarcely bear the prospect of any more revelation, Salman said, rules about every da-mn thing, if a man farts let him turn his face to the wind, a rule about which hand to use for the purpose of cleaning one's behind.

      It was as if no aspect of human existence was to be left unregulated, free. The revelation – the recitation- told the faithful how much to eat, how deeply they should sleep, and which se-xual positions had received divine sanction, so that they leamed that so-domy and the missionary position were approved of by the archangel, whereas the forbidden postures included all those in which the female was on top.

      Gibreel further listed the permitted and forbidden subjects of conversation, and earmarked the parts of the body which could not be scratched no matter how unbearably they might itch.

      He vetoed the consumption of prawns, those bizarre other-worldly creatures which no member of the faithful had ever seen, and required animals to be killed slowly, by bleeding, so that by experiencing their deaths to the full they might arrive at an understanding of the meaning of their lives, for it is only at the moment of death that living creatures understand that life has been real, and not a sort of dream.

      And Gibreel the archangel specified the manner in which a man should be buried, and how his property should be divided, so that Salman the Persian got to wondering what manner of God this was that sounded so much like a businessman.

      This was when he had the idea that destroyed his faith, because he recalled that of course Mahound himself had been a businessman, and a damned successful one at that, a person to whom organization and rules came naturally, so
      how excessively convenient it was that he should have come up with such a very businesslike archangel, who handed down the management decisions of this highly corporate, if noncorporeal, God."

      November 9, 2010 at 12:30 am |
    • Muneef

      Most that you mentioned here is not of the Quran but from either Hadith or by the Diligence of the knowledgeable ones made through researches of such factors as what is healthy or healthier for the person to do and what is right and wrong as in morals. Wish you would ask me one by one for the reasons behind that for me to explain as per my little knowledge rather than mixing all together confusing me.
      For example for the slaughter of sheep we are ordered to shapen the knives to the sharpest to and direct the neck towards Mecca and say Allah Akbar and make quickest deep cut to the throat allowing all blood to come out since it is considered unhealthy if to remain in body and impure if left inside... But as to your explanation of the story I do not know where you got it from but could be mystic sofies words of path that are not of ours to think of it like that since we know that feeling are lost when the throat is cut and no pain is felt what ever you do to a corpse??

      November 9, 2010 at 8:09 pm |
  4. Vrodel

    It's not supposed to be worn that tight. They aren't mummies wrapped so tightly that their eyeballs are popping out (although some women may look that way) – everything must be comfortable and well-fitting or it's not worth wearing.
    Kick them for giving you clothes that were obviously too tight. It was rude of them. They should be ashamed.

    November 8, 2010 at 2:25 pm |
    • honestanon

      Yeah, that's all that's wrong with it.. just let it out a little around the neck.. that's better, now. What, you can't see? Turn it around... You have to go to the restroom? Now? You just put this on...

      Where exactly in the koran does it stipulate that your women must 'dress' like this?

      November 8, 2010 at 8:32 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.