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Friday, September 19, 2014


by Catherine Cimillo Cavallone

. . . Nor is there any evidence in the Koran to support the wearing of the burka. Indeed, the Holy Book stipulates that men ‘should lower their gaze’ when meeting women to avoid lecherous staring (verse 24, chapter 30). So logically, if women were fully covered up there would be no need for such an instruction. Some Muslim clergy claim that the burka is religiously necessary. They assert this because the Prophet Muhammad’s wives allegedly hid their faces in public. These puritanical clerics do not base their theological misrepresentations on the Koran but on the subsidiary and suspect hadith (a collection of books containing the reputed sayings of Muhammad, written 250 years after his death).  In any case, this is a wilful misreading of scripture. In fact, verse 32 of chapter 33 in the Koran explicitly states that ‘the Prophet’s wives are not like other women’. So  there is no reason to emulate them. Just as revealingly, it is forbidden for Muslim women going on pilgrimages to Mecca to cover their faces. So if such a pre-Islamic practice is banned in Islam’s holiest site, why on earth would it be required on the streets of Britain? The truth is that there is no theological foundation for these separatist face masks, as most non-fundamentalists recognise. Only recently, Al-Azhar, the leading institution of Muslim theology in the Islamic world, declared that the burka has no spiritual authenticity. --Dr Taj Hargey, Imam of the Oxford Islamic Congregation and the Director of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford

she will feel the caked earth

mud huts seeping through

blistered toes.

the winds will wrap about her ankles

coil up her splintered calves.

her knees, like desert rocks,

buckle and shake as she exposes

heaving midriff to the flagrant sunlight.

her breasts, like two ashen husks,

quiver in the stagnant air.

finally, her eyes,

landmines about to detonate onto the world,

gaze upon the adumbration of where

woman once stood.

Catherine Cimillo Cavallone is a teacher of middle school students. Her work has appeared in Four Walls, Sensations Magazine, The Rift Arts Forum Publication, Beyond the Rift-Poets of the Palisades, Red River Review, Phantom Kangaroo, Red Wheel Barrow, Turk’s Head Review and is forthcoming in Oddville Press and Nerve Lantern.  She lives in New Jersey with her husband George and son Michael.