“Let’s make the abaya ban a spiritual opportunity”

En this back-to-school period when Islam is again in the forefront of the news, with the school ban imposed on the abaya and the qamis, the spiritual and ethical dimension of the subject was not addressed: we debated the cultural or religious nature of these clothes, the political nature of this measure, its societal impact, its legally admissible or discriminatory status , but we did not go beyond these usual discussions.

Through this platform, that is what I would like to do by asking myself, in my capacity as an intellectual of Muslim culture, what my co-religionists can draw from it more profoundly, that is to say here too beyond the ordinary reflexes, in particular that of shouting at the stigmatization.

Certainly, I understand the turmoil on the Muslim side, which feels targeted once again, and I regret that the misunderstanding persists on both sides, between Islam and France, which can only be overcome if efforts to understanding are made on both sides.

Nothing prevents, in France, from cultivating one’s believing interiority

It is to invite us to overcome this turmoil that I propose the following question, which may surprise at first glance: what spiritual exercise can the Muslims of France rely on this time, as on each occasion when secularism sets a limit on the public expression of faith? How then can an apparently contrary circumstance, which shocks many Muslims, be transformed into a spiritual opportunity?

The idea will no doubt seem strange and will be judged inadmissible by some, but it is nevertheless quite justified. For there is certainly an opportunity here for Muslims to see in this external impediment the reminder that faith is an interior affair, that it is not essentially worn on the garment or outside but is lived and expressed within, in the intimacy of the soul and the heart, the place of personal and secret relationship to the divine.

However, nothing today, in France, absolutely nothing, thus prevents the Muslim from cultivating his believing interiority, and outside of himself, nothing prevents him either from practicing his worship in the mosques or from externalizing his faith. in what is the most sublime of its manifestations: the “good behavior”THE “noble qualities” (Makârim-al-Akhlâq) whose model Islam finds in the figure of the Prophet.

State of religious education in Muslim families

This is what religious education must or should focus on, and this is what this prohibition should commit us Muslims to: transmitting to our children first and foremost a sense of interiority, by teaching them for example that our spiritual tradition did not wait for the French State to speak of “conspicuous sign”, but that our spiritual tradition has been teaching for centuries to distrust a faith which, wanting to display itself too much, then takes the risk of superficiality, even lack of sincerity and hypocrisy; to also transmit the sense of the excellence of universal moral qualities, which Islam promotes – when it is enlightened – in the same way as the other great cultures and civilizations of the planet.

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