These habits “have nothing to do with Islam,” says Mufleh Mohammed, and strictly speaking, he’s right: a Muslim woman is under no obligation to cover her face in front of her husband. Nonetheless, the idea that there is something shameful about showing herself is inculcated by genuine Islamic laws calling upon women to cover everything but their faces and hands. “Saudi women’s veil versus modernity: Husband has not seen wife’s face despite 10 years of marriage,” from Emirates 24/7, December 5 (thanks to all who sent this in):
After nearly 10 years of marriage that produced five children, Mufleh Mohammed of Saudi Arabia still has not seen his wife’s face.
Mohammed Hilal, another Saudi husband, could not identify his wife who was killed in a road crash until her veil was put back on her face.
Mufleh and Mohammed are among many Saudi men who have never seen the face of their wives as they insist on sticking to ancient tradition of keeping their face covered even in front of their relatives or husbands in defiance of ongoing changes brought about by the advent of oil and a massive foreign influx.
In a report on such habits, the Saudi Arabic language daily Alhayat said many women in the conservative Gulf Kingdom that controls nearly a quarter of the world’s oil still defy the winds of change and stick to their ancestors’ traditions.
Even after they get married, they never remove their burqu (face veil), leaving their husbands guessing how they look like. Mufleh is one of those husbands.
“My wife still keeps her face covered all the time even in front of her family and relatives because she has been accustomed to this since she was a child…I have to respect her wishes and not insist on seeing her face,” he said.
“I cannot deny that the woman’s habit to cover her face in front of her family and inside her house is a tradition that my tribe had inherited from our ancestors…but I have thought that social changes and openness will alter some of these habits since they have nothing to do with Islam…but they have not changed…although I have been married to my wife for nearly 10 years and have five children from her, I have not seen her face even once in my life.”…