A Two-Thirds World Christian Reflection on Head Coverings -- By: William David Spencer
PP 20:3 (Summer 2006) p. 23
A Two-Thirds World Christian Reflection on Head Coverings
An Interview by
M: Maureena (female)
A: Ajai (male)
B: What is the niddah?
M: The niddah ritual separation is historical in Jewish, Muslim, and some other religions. The niddah veil is their warning signal. They believe, if a woman is menstruating, she is unclean. So, for example, for Muslims, when a male goes to a mosque and he prays, he should be clean. He cannot touch a menstruating woman. So, you know, when they go for prayer, they wash their hands; they wash their feet; and they go to the toilet; they clean themselves, because, before they go to pray, they should be clean. But they are not supposed to touch anything unclean, because, if they touch anything unclean, they cannot go and pray. So, they consider a woman who is menstruating, she’s unclean. So, that is why they cannot touch a woman. That is why they say sometime even to a stranger or anybody, they do not touch, because they do not know whether she is menstruating or not. If they touch, they are defiled. They become unclean and cannot pray. So, it is mainly for prayer accountability, for guarding the prayers of men. They go to mosque; women don’t go to mosque.
A: Women have a mosque, too. They have their separate mosque.
M: Some places have special mosques for women. Still, when she is menstruating, she cannot go to mosque. Nowadays, modernizations are made, though in conservative Islam there are no modernizations; females do not go to mosque.
A: They pray at home.
M: Yes, they pray at home. We Christian men and women go to church—in the conservative Muslim world, no. Only men go to mosque. Women there are not supposed to go. They’re supposed to be at home and pray. Now, this niddah practice is also among Hindus. For Hindus, if a woman is menstruating, she cannot enter the kitchen. Because, if she enters the kitchen . . .
B: She can’t enter the kitchen?
M: Yes, she defiles the whole kitchen.
B: So, who cooks?
M and A: Somebody else in the family.
A: Even these teenage girls, when they are menstruating, they don’t go to school. They stay at home.
B: That must set them back in their education.
A: It’s only a matter of four days or five days.
M: In the olden days, the women would not go to school.
B: So, it didn’t matter?
M: Yes, it’s only now they sta...
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