Living Under the Veil

October 15, 2016

Written by Talitha Fraser

As recent media coverage and political rhetoric suggests that there is something to fear hidden beneath a burqa or the wearing thereof might be considered “un-Australian” I found myself thinking that, most likely, what the burqa covers is a naked woman.  How do we live well in a world where so much of who we are feels obfuscated by the power of things seen and unseen to influence and affect our lives? This photo series seeks to invite exploration of the layers, applied internally and externally, at personal, public and political levels through an exposition of the veil and its religious significance.

In considering some of those impacting powers, seen and unseen, that might prevent all humanity from fully encountering God (or becoming all we have the potential to be and “naked”) I made a wedding veil with the following five layers: media, culture, society, family and experience. Naming these layers as veils that must be peeled back in order to see clearly. We, all of us, are navigating these layers – visible or not. How can we know and be known through such thickness that clouds and blinds us?

The burqa sits in juxtaposition to this invisible veil challenging our ideas of what is visible and what is hidden and calling into question what shelters and what smothers. Dr Nora Amath, founder of AMARAH (Australian Muslim Advocates for the Rights of All Humanity) shares this:

I first wore the headscarf at the age of 18 (with no pressure to wear it from parents at all even though they are very devout religious leaders in our community). My reason for wearing it was that I was at a point in my life where I was growing in my faith journey and wanted to make my surrender to God visible. For me the headscarf was an extension of my prayer (it is exactly what I wear when I pray).  The act of wearing a scarf had nothing to do with a man, whether it was my father, brother or husband. In fact, my husband did not see me without a scarf until we were engaged. This in itself raises an interesting function that many women who wear the scarf also acknowledge- that the scarf can liberate their bodies from the insistent objectification of women in the public space. It demands that people deal with them based on their intellect, values, manners, behavior, ideas, etc and not based on their looks. Quite a strong feminist statement.

Islam, Feminism and Interfaith Dialogue –  Part 2, GirltalkHQ
[link: http://girltalkhq.com/conversation-dr-nora-amath-feminism-islam-interfaith-dialog-part-2/%5D

The bridal veil traditionally symbolises the modesty and purity of the bride and her reverence for God. Also it can represent the Temple veil that was torn in two when Christ died on the cross. “The removing of the veil took away the separation between God and man, giving believers access into the very presence of God. Since Christian marriage is a picture of the union between Christ and the church, we see another reflection of this relationship in the removal of the bridal veil. Through marriage, the couple now has full access to one another. (1 Corinthians 7:4)” [about.com]

The Church is the Bride of Christ but is the church dying? [link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-mcswain/is-the-church-dying_b_8498804.html] The Greek word ecclesia, for church, means “The called-out (ones)” i.e. the church is its people, if the institutional church as we know it dies – what does that mean for the called? Does God become a widower? Is the church as we know it glorious? …holy and without blemish? …ready and righteous?

Ephesians 5:25-27  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Revelation 19:7-8 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

Who is really living under the Veil? What does it look like to live with full access to God? How can we remove the veil that creates separation between God and humankind?

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No one knows what makes the soul
wake up so happy
Maybe a dawn breeze has blown the veil
from the face of God
~ Rumi

__________

Talitha Fraser works bivocationally as the Administrative Assistant to the Residential College team at Trinity and as a contemplative theopoetics-dabbler living in community with asylum seekers and refugees at Footscray Salvos Outreach. Her poetry and reflections can be found at itellyouarise.wordpress.com.

 

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2 Responses to “Living Under the Veil”

  1. […] Michael] Marder might put it, to attain an ontophytological state”. After that, Talitha Fraser in Living Under The Veil photo essay “seeks to invite exploration of the layers, applied internally and externally, at […]

  2. […] being over our eyes and nothing being able to get through felt like a good excuse to pull out the veil I made – “…wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is the freedom to see clearly. The […]

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