What are the shibboleths of ignorance about Islam?
I’ve been getting a lot of tweets lately about talk of a ban on the so-called burqa in France, the latest chapter in the long saga of the French obsession with what Muslim women wear on their heads (Muslim responses: 1, 2. I’m sure I’m not the only Muslim who gets annoyed at the tiresome use of the term “burka”, a term almost never used within the community to refer to the garment under discussion here. The term actually refers to the all-in-one “shuttlecock” garment worn by Pashtun women in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and separately to the mask consisting of cloth over metal, worn by some women in the Emirates. The niqab, which is the veil with the headband, usually with layers so that the woman can cover or expose her eyes while leaving the rest of her face covered, is not the same thing as the burqa.
This is a classic shibboleth: a practice, or a manner of speaking, which gives away something about someone. Historically, the term meant a pronunciation which gave away the tribal background of the speaker, and you can read about the origin of the term here. Whenever you see someone talk about the burqa, or burka as it’s commonly spelled, in reference to Muslim women in virtually any country except Afghanistan, Pakistan and the UAE, you know that this person doesn’t know much about what he’s talking about and quite possibly doesn’t care.
What other examples of such give-aways have you come across? What are the things which, when you hear them said, you think that this guy’s a know-nothing or an Islamophobe?
Update: One I just saw by “habibi” at Harry’s Place:
Perhaps the MCB could enlighten us on the religious aspect? I can’t find a mandate for the burqa in the Qur’an.
“It’s not in the Qur’an” … but it doesn’t mean it’s not part of Islam (I’m not talking about the burqa specifically here, just about the use of this excuse to de-legitimise Muslim customs).
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