Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 21:00 pm (KSA) 18:00 pm (GMT)

Al-Azhar bans "niqab" in classrooms, dormitories

While a vast majority of Egyptian women wear the headscarf, only a few wear the niqab (File)
While a vast majority of Egyptian women wear the headscarf, only a few wear the niqab (File)

Egypt's top Islamic school, al-Azhar, issued on Thursday a ban on wearing the "niqab" or face veil in classrooms and dormitories of all its affiliate schools and educational institutes.

While a vast majority of Egyptian women wear the headscarf, only a few wear the niqab.

The Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar Mohamed Sayyd Tantawi has created a heated controversy in Egypt earlier this week when he told a middle school student in a class he was visiting to take off her niqab while in school.

 The ban has created a battle with no battlefield among Egypt's female students 
Essam Derbala, Muslim Brotherhood

Commenting on the incident, Tantawi told Al Arabiya that he had explained to the girl that the niqab was only a tradition and said she was required to wear only the school uniform at al-Azhar, the world's leading school of Sunni Islam.

The majority of Islamic scholars say the face veil is not obligatory in Islam and is merely a custom that dates back to tribal, nomadic societies living in the Arabian desert before Islam began.

In the meantime, Essam Derbala, a leader in the Muslim Brotherhood group, slammed both Tantawi and Egypt's Higher Education Minister Hani Hilal and said that the niqab ban has "created a battle with no battlefield among Egypt's female students."

Derbala told Al Arabiya that the Egyptian top cleric Tantawi has done wrong to Egypt, al-Azhar and Islam and that there should be reconsideration of whether to keep him in his post as the Grand sheikh of al-Azhar.


(Translated from Arabic by Abeer Tayel)

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