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Hiding Your Assets: The Surprising Origin of the Burka & Niqab

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The practice of acquiring beautiful wives of others by the Muslim ruling class, following Muhammad's example as he had acquired Zainab, the wife of his son-in-law (Zayd), had forced Muslims to introduce all-covering veils in order to conceal their women from the prying eyes of the predatory Islamic authorities, assumes the author....

It is commonly believed that Islamic dress code for women, and most especially garments like the burka and the niqab (from Afghanistan and Arabia respectively), are about female modesty and the avoidance, on the part of male observers, of lustful passions.

Certainly such garments are an extremely effective means of hiding the attractions of the female form. However, it has – rightly – been pointed out that nowhere in Islamic law is the complete hiding of the face and body required. Beyond a few admonitions to 'modesty', there are in fact very few specific recommendations either in the Qu’ran or any other Islamic scriptures about how a woman should dress.

For this reason, it has recently been suggested that the burka and the niqab have nothing to do with Islam, and are simply local customs that have achieved the status of religious practice. Yet, this is a spurious argument. There is no reason to believe that anything like the burka or the niqab were worn in pre-Islamic Afghanistan or pre-Islamic Arabia. And so these garments can only be understood within the context of Islam and Islamic culture.

But if such dress is not necessarily sanctioned by Islamic law, where did it come from?

In order to understand this, we need to take a broad look at Islam and the culture it fostered. As soon as we do this, the truth about the burka/niqab emerges from its cover; and it is a truth of the most disturbing kind.

When early Islam emerged from the Arabian Peninsula, it emerged as a warlike conquering creed. Most of the conquered peoples, to begin with, were Christians; though there were many Jews among the subdued. The followers of both religions were permitted to continue to practice their faiths on condition that they paid a special tax, or jizya, to the Muslim conquerors.

At the beginning, when the vast majority of the population of the Middle East remained Christian and Jewish, this tax amounted to a fabulous sum for the government of the Caliphate. In such circumstances, it will be obvious that it was financially advantageous to have Christians and Jews as subjects, not convert then. Muslims were exempt from this kind of taxation. So lucrative was the jizya that Muslim rulers did not, in most cases, actually want Christians to convert. Christian conversions meant loss in revenue. Bat Ye’or comments:

“Baladhuri related that when Iraq fell to the Arab conquerors, the soldiers wanted to ‘share out’ the region of Sawad between themselves. The caliph Umar b. al-Khattab permitted them to divide the booty, but decreed that the land and the camels should be left to the local farmers so as to provide for the Muslims: ‘If you divide them among those present, there will be nothing left for those who come after them.’ And Ali, the Prophet’s son-in-law said of the non-Muslim peasants of Sawad, ‘Leave them to be a source of revenue and aid for the Muslims.’” (Bat Ye’or, The Dhimmi, 1985, p. 68).

This attitude, that the Muslim is entitled to live in perpetuity off the labours of infidels, goes a long way to explaining the peculiar propensity of Muslim societies for producing bandits and pirates. In my book, Holy Warriors: Islam and the Demise of Classical Civilization, I examine the part played by Muslim piracy in the destruction of Graeco-Roman civilization during the seventh century. The war begun by Islam against the rest of the world in the seventh century was a total and unending one, and a real or enduring peace with the infidel world was impossible, owing to Muhammad’s and the Quran (i.e. Q 8:39) stipulation that Muslims wage war against the non-believers until all peoples accept the one god, Allah. All Muslims were therefore permitted and even required to wage active ‘jihad’ against the infidel world. A private individual cannot raise armies and invade infidel countries; but he can organise small-scale raids and guerilla attacks. And this is precisely what we see Muslims doing throughout history wherever they lived in proximity to non-Muslim peoples.

It was such “low-key” warfare, in the form of countless piratical raids, that effectively closed the Mediterranean to trade during the seventh century and terminated Classical Civilization.

But away from the Mediterranean, unconquered infidel communities or nations to plunder had been diminished, while the vast Jewish and Christian dhimmis under Islam started declining in number through conversion under the terrible oppression of the jizya tax, as well as daily humiliations and all-too-frequent violence they suffered at the hands of their Muslim masters.

With fewer and fewer Christians and Jews to plunder or exact taxes from, where could the Caliphs and Sultans acquire the wealth they demanded?

The answer was clear: There may have been very few Jews and Christians left; but there were more and more Muslims: these – almost all of whom were descendants of Christian and Jewish converts – could readily supply the shortfall in the administration’s tax revenues. And having, for centuries, become accustomed to living off the labor of others, the Muslim ruling class – the Caliphs, Emirs, and their associates – oppress the poorer Muslims. And this, of course, is precisely what we find.

Throughout Muslim history, the Caliphs and the Sultans ruthlessly plundered the wealth of their citizens wherever and whenever they required it – irrespective of religion. This was a fact noted by Bernard Lewis. In his 2001 book, What went Wrong?, Lewis asked the question: What went wrong with a civilization which – he believes – showed such promise at the start, only to be mired in poverty and backwardness from the 12th-13th century onwards?

Lewis concludes his volume without arriving at an answer. Yet at one point he makes a telling observation: Wheeled vehicles were virtually unknown, up until modern times, throughout the Muslim lands. This was all the more strange given the fact that the wheel was invented in the Middle East (in Babylonia) and had been commonly used in earlier ages. The conclusion he comes to is startling: “A cart is large and, for a peasant, relatively costly. It is difficult to conceal and easy for requisition. At a time and place where neither law nor custom restricted the powers of even local authorities, visible and mobile assets were a poor investment. The same fear of predatory authority – or neighbors – may be seen in the structure of traditional houses and quarters: the high, windowless walls, the almost hidden entrances in narrow alleyways, the careful avoidance of any visible sign of wealth.” (Bernard Lewis, What Went Wrong?, 2001, p. 158).

In the kleptocracy that was the Caliphate, it seems, not even Muslims – far less Christians and Jews – were free to prosper.

But the Caliphs and Sultans did not stop at plundering their subjects’ material wealth: They were able and willing to take much more. Right from the beginning, Muhammad, the first “Commander of the Faithful”, did not baulk at acquiring women from his friends and relatives. At least two of Muhammad’s wives were requisitioned: one from a close friend and one from his son-in-law. The Caliphs, of course, were not slow to copy the example set by the Prophet, and throughout Muslim history Caliphs and Sultans regularly took wives from their subjects. Even if these women were already married, it made little or no difference. Islamic rules on divorce, which required a man simply to say three times “I divorce thee” to his wife, meant that any objecting husband could be easily compelled to pronounce the required phrase. The threat of torture and death was normally enough to persuade the recalcitrant spouse.

Given such a culture of predatory authority, it is little wonder that men in Islamic lands began to conceal their wives under shrouds. This new style could of course be excused as a pious exercise in modesty; but the real reason, in most cases, was identical to that which produced the drab, windowless exteriors of Muslim homes: Hiding your assets.


John J. O’Neill is the author of Holy Warriors: Islam and the Demise of Classical Civilization.

Comments (32)Add Comment
Ignorance of the author...
written by Apostate , March 24, 2010
While the author makes an interesting observation concerning Islamic veil's origin, he is thoroughly ignorant of the Quran, which clearly commands that Muslim women must confine themselves inside a "cloak" when they go out (33:59):
“O Prophet! Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers (i.e. of Muslims) to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad). That will be better, so that they may be recognized and not annoyed.”
The Fat Lies of Zina
written by Fuaad , March 25, 2010

Islam Has grown and will ever grow, people from All race will convert to Islam and Zina will Die with his Fascist and Racist Attitude.

This author Zina has deep-hatred attiitued and is paid by Zionists for sure. He fabricates Propoganda against Islam and Mulsims and Prophjet Mohamed peace and blessings of ALLAH be upon him.

Mr Zina if you are dispaired from GOD or ALLAH we are not We beleive in Him and we will die as Muslims.

Kashmir and Islamic Barbarism
written by Indian-Infidel , March 25, 2010
@ author

I request you to visit this site http://www.ikashmir.net/index.html


and download the pdf version of the Wail of a Valley.
The books and the web site provide good insights into how islamic barbarism is being practised in todays world.
Wife stealing
written by Wagamama , March 25, 2010
It is true that Muslim kings and Caliphs took other's wives. Akbar, the Moghul king, had Bairam Khan killed and took the latter's wife to his harem. Akbar's son Jahangir killed the husband of Noor Jahan and took the latter as his wife. Whenever these Islamic thugs defeated and looted a kaffir kingdom, they took infidel women to their harem. After nearly 1200 yrs of onslaught on India, the half diks formed two separate regions out of the mainland: East Porkistan and West Porkistan. East Porkistan became Bangladesh (Bengali + desh ----- a kaffir terminology) and West Porkistan remained Porkistan. Unfortunately, the people of Bangladesh and Porkistan try to hide the fact that their ancestors were forced to accept Islum and that many are the product of rape. I shall write an article by quoting from the medieval sources the extent of torture perpetrated on the Indians all in the name of Allah.
Hiding your assets
written by ZAINABY , March 25, 2010
written by sceptical , March 25, 2010
i dont know why the turkish prime minister criticise germany for not allowing duel citizenship . i understand its germany business and interest not turkey , also i think there is evil purpose for his critic , may be he want to fill germany with muslims then with their huge breeding they will become majority and declare the islamic republic of germany .
To Wagamama,
written by Healer_999 , March 25, 2010
Brother, we can use much better language. Please.
Verses 5:32, 33.
written by Healer_999 , March 25, 2010
Turkish Prime Minister know these two verses (5:32 ,33) too much, but precisely what they mean. That is why he makes such comments.

Some of his comments:

1. What Happened in Sudan was not a genocide, killing of 200,000 Muslims (Black) and non Muslims. Hey says Muslims can never commit genocides.

2: Turkey never committed a Genocide in killing 1.5 Million Armenians.

3. Armenians committed a genocide by killing a (or few) Turkish Muslims.

4. China clamped down on Uighur Muslims some time back, estimates vary, in which 100 to 1000, Muslims were killed. He called this as Genocide. He repeated it, China is committing a genocide.

5. Islamophobia is a crime against Humanity.

Why is he making such statements? Because of what verses 5:32, 33 say and mean.

Thit is precisely Islam is far worse and inhuman than Nazism. It is a disease and a totalitarian ideology.

Turkey is a perfect example why a Muslim or Islam can never be secular. A Muslim simply stays a Muslim, words of secular Muslim and liberal Muslim are just like masquerading.
written by COMMON SENCE , March 25, 2010
It is easy to observe that mostly un-attractive muslim women would wear Hijab/ Niqab or veil. Islam provides good camoflague for un-attractive women. In fact these women have nothing to show.

Burqa is a curse from bearded muslims upon uneducated women.
Vitamin D and the Burka
written by duh_swami , March 25, 2010
Then there is the problem of vitamin D deficiency... vitamin D deficiency is widespread and can cause... osteoporosis, depression, heart disease and stroke, cancer, diabetes, parathyroid problems, immune function...

On top of that many of these afflicted Muslimahs, are subject to having multiple children where some of these conditions are passed on to them...
The burka and other head to toe coverings, are all by themselves, choking the life out of Islam...The biggest crime is that this is preventable...The cause is not the burka, it is Islam itself...The burka etc, should be banned for health and safety reasons, but I don't see any moves in this direction from Islamic authorities anywhere...
burka is vitamin D?
written by Machmoed , March 25, 2010
Oh Duh-Swami...didn't you know vitamin D is in the burka. Burka's are made by allah and it prevents Sheitaan (lustfulness of men towards these women) from entering women. smilies/grin.gif

The sad truth is that even a lot of women don't want to ware the Burka. There was a documentary on tv about a muslimah who wear a burka. Not because of faith, but because of potential threats from husband and relatives. She had to wear even gloves. She was sad and cried. She is trapped in the jail called islam. These muslim men are the most insecure humans on earth. What is it with the most muslims...why are they so protective? a tiny dick i suppose?

But a muslim man wouldn't believe this...they all think women do it because they believe in it or want it....sure! They don't; they are forced and Allah can't do a thing about it. Allah is a god of incompetence. Women should complain to Allah and they do, but he never listens and never helps the innocent..it seems.
written by duh_swami , March 25, 2010
Machmoed...What is it with the most muslims...why are they so protective? a tiny dick i suppose?

An old man in white robes once appeared to me in a dream, among other things he told me, he said that,

'Allah had robbed Muslims of their manhood, and left them with a small, leaky member'...

I have no way to verify that and have no desire or ambition to do so...I will let someone else do that research...Then they can report their findings...maybe write a book about it...Or better a documentary movie...'Plumbing Problems in Islam Exposed'...Not suitable for all audiences, nor those faint of heart...Contains graphic scenes of ...leaks and leak repair... if Allah is willing, sometimes he is and sometimes he's not...
written by Kabir , March 25, 2010
John, a good article but i disagree that Burka is not quoted in Koran. As Apostate has pointed out there are some references. However, i think that the system was started by Mohammad(pedophile curses be upon him) himself. It is because him and his gang used to go out and lift and rape the women. Clearly they had to protect their share. Imagine some guys start a car stealing gang. Of course they will try to hide their loot form each other and others. Why would they show the cars to anyone with pride. Muslims never created anything , they have only looted and plagiarised.
small tools can't do the job....
written by Kohi , March 25, 2010
"What is it with the most muslims...why are they so protective? a tiny dick i suppose? "

LOL this would explain why they want to blow themselfs up!
in india muslim leaders this openly even today
written by in india muslim leaders do this openly even today , March 26, 2010
in india muslim leaders do this openly even today.in bihar and
up etc even maharashtra some muslim politicians have forcibly
married hindu girls and now even if they want to return
back their family is threatened.

and they r supported by congress-ncp.

one case is nawab malik,who is ministed from ncp
in maharashtra govt,he is married with kids from muslim
wife still got another woman a hindu woman,converted
her and forced her to have children.

her parents conoamied but police which is congress
controlled,did nothing.and he offered money
or death to her family so they chose money.

this came in newspapers,but no one cares.
written by Reed Wilson. , March 26, 2010
duh-swama. Your post is erotic. "An old man in white ROBES once appeared to me in a dream, among other things he told me, he said that,Alla had robbed Muslims of their manhood, and left them with a small, leaky member'... I have no way to verify that and have no desire or ambition to do so...I will let someone else do that research..

Were you sleeping before the dream? What did you eat before sleeping? How many robes he was carrying? What other things he said? What is your age and matrimonial status? All this is needed to further research.

You please read Islamic Sex and Sexuality of Abul Kasem.
written by Reed Wilson. , March 26, 2010
Fuaad. You write "This author Zina has deep-hatred attiitued and is paid by Zionists for sure".

No, no. Zionists have not paid him, I am sure.
The Other Reason
written by Non believer , March 26, 2010
Probably Mohammed did not want stolen property (widows of his victims) to be identified by others. An easy way to conceal theft. So cover up all your property. Great idea Mohammed!
written by Machmoed , March 26, 2010
Maybe that's why muslims believe Allah is going to give them a hard one in jennat. It never softens....hmm. Wishfull thinking because on earth they can't have a hard one like that i suppose. What's impossible on earth, is possible in heaven (jennat).
Reed and dreams
written by duh_swami , March 26, 2010
That the above mentioned dream was erotic is your fantasy Reed...There is nothing erotic about a clear statement of fact...As far as Allah robbing Muslims of their manhood, and leaving them with a small leaky member, you would know more about that than I do...The man in the white ROBES, also told me that Muslims have nocturnal emissions during the day...Maybe you could enlighten us about that...
Excellent essay.
written by Tanstaafl (JW) , March 26, 2010
Very well written. Of course, it begs the question - do Muslims males still think that their wives can be taken away from them by more powerful Muslim men?
Is Hijab ok?
written by Reed Wilson. , March 26, 2010
To John J. O’Neill. I quote from Dr.Shabbirs article."The wearing of the head covering for women is not part of the Prophet’s teachings and is not found in the Quran. It is a belief and a practice that was taken by the early Muslim scholars from the Christian Bible.
1Cor 11:5 — but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head-it is the same as if her head were shaven.11:6 For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her wear a veil. 11:10 That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels. 11:13 Judge for yourselves; is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? (RSV)

So the commandment for a woman to cover her head is in the Bible. This belief has seeped into the Muslim belief and has now become part and parcel of the practice of Islam today. The West has no problem with Catholicism putting its nuns in head cover. In Europe today Catholic schools still encourage young girls to take up the wearing of the Catholic head-cover

The early muslim scholars he refers are the narrators of Hadith.
Unfortunately under the guise of modernity, a vast majority of Christians themselves today are not following the teachings of the Bible - the large majority of Christian women do not cover the head. Hence, it is the Muslim Ummah who are very good Christians because they still uphold these Bible teachings".

The early muslim scholars he refers are the narrators of Hadith.
written by Reed Wilson. , March 26, 2010
duh-swami. Please dont give any heed to the damn old man in white robes. May be he was too old.
You write"The man in the white ROBES, also told me that Muslims have nocturnal emissions during the day...Maybe you could enlighten us about that"...
Ignore him duh. I know that the emission in the day time can never be nocturnal.
written by duh_swami , March 26, 2010
I know that the emission in the day time can never be nocturnal.

Your the expert Reed...do you speak from experience or did you read that somewhere?
the tragedies of the jail called Niqab.
written by fineliving56 , March 26, 2010
very interesting article ,it makes sense how the njqab was invented and we women got saddled with it . I have anther observation that I use to try to sway some covered women from wearing that suffocating jail. Suret al ahzaab , ayet -58,59 [ And those who annoy believing men women ,unjustly , have laid upon themselves calumny and open sin ] clearly the concern for the safety for the muslim women is there .now ayet 59 [O prophet! Tell your wives and daughters of the believers,to EXTEND THEIR OUTER GARMENTS AROUND THEMSELVES SO THAT THEY WOULD BE DISTINGUISHABLE AND NOT MOLESTED. ] As you can see the connection between the 2 Suras ,the only reason women was asked to cover around their face and body is to protect them selves from rape and harm from the kufars and some [muslim men] AT THAT TIME .This lead me to think and tell covered women that I know WE LIVE NOW IN 21 CENTURY WE DO NOT HAVE SEX STARVED MEN WHO NEVER SAW NOT EVEN A LITTIL SKIN ON ANY WOMEN OTHER THEN THEIR WIVES .WE LIVE IN THE WORLD OFTHE WEB,MEN ARE USES TO SEEING ALLTHE SKIN THEY WONT AND MORE . HAIR OF A WOMEN IS NOT AS ATTENTION GRABER AS it did 1400 YEARS .
I tell these women you should stop putting the vial or niqabe on because the reason for it is past and GOD asked to put the vial, GOD did not order and made it sinful not to have it on . Of course no one listens .
What do you think [any of you ]about this observation?
thank you

written by vbv , March 27, 2010
Muhamad was a filthy lecher,rapist,a highway-robber,,a plunderer,a goon, a ganfster all rolled in one. For Muhamad women were just a part of men's property or possessions and this attitude compels them to put their women in ugly sacks with peeping holes to find their way around. What can be more degrading to any human being than this miserable condition forced on one half of humanity?
The quran says that women are just 'half as intelligent as men' , it requires two women in any case to testify in any litigation to be equal to that of one man, in a rape four male witnesses are required as witness to the event of rape to confirm the crime or else the woman in question is branded as an adulterer or of loose morals ,to be stoned to death(in case of married woman) or given 200 lashes with a whip in public in other cases... What can be more barbaric than this? Burka,naqab,hijab are all symbols of humiliation of womanhood ,nothing else.
2 Reed Wilson
written by Mule , March 27, 2010
The instructions that you quote from Corinthians for the covering of the head of apply only to women who are praying or prophesying, 1 Cor 11v5 "But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head". They only refer to the appearance of women during the worship service inside the church. How women should dress at other times and places is not within the scope of this passage you quoted. A justification for muslim impositions of dress code on women is not found here. You will have to look elsewhere for that. It is my opinion that only the covering of the hair is meant here, not the whole head or the face. "But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering". "For a man indeed ought not to cover his head." The KJV does not use the word veil but uses the word covering. The RSV is inferior to the KJV to my way of thinking. As far as Catholic head cover for nuns goes this is just more or less a uniform and nothing more in my opinion.
written by Reed Wilson. , March 27, 2010
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF HIJAB: While many Muslims call “Hijab”, an Islamic dress code, they completely ignore the fact that, Hijab as a dress code has nothing to do with Islam and nothing to do with the Quran.

In reality, “Hijab” is an old Jewish tradition that infiltrated into the Hadith books like many innovations that contaminated Islam through alleged Hadith and Sunnah. Any student of the Jewish traditions will see that head cover for the Jewish woman is encouraged by the Rabbis and religious leaders. Religious Jewish women still cover their heads most of the time and especially in the synagogues, weddings, and religious festivities. This Jewish tradition is a cultural, not a religious one. Hijab was observed by the women of the civilizations that preceded the Jews and was passed down to the Jewish culture.

Christian women cover their heads on many religious occasions while the nuns cover their heads all the time. This religious practice of covering the head was established from traditions thousands of years before the Muslim scholars claimed the Hijab as part of the Muslim women’s dress code. The traditional Arabs of all religions, Jews, Christians and Muslims used to wear “Hijab,” not because of Islam, but because of tradition. In Saudi Arabia, up to this minute most of the men cover their head, not because of Islam but because of tradition. Thank God this tradition for men has not been counted as Islamic dress code yet!

North Africa is known for its Tribe (Tuareg) that have the Muslim men wearing “Hijab” instead of women. Here the tradition has the Hijab in reverse. In brief, Hijab is a tradition and it has nothing to do with Islam.

Mixing religion with tradition is a form of idol-worship, because not knowing (or not trying to find out) what God asked us to do in His Book, the Quran, is a sign of disregarding God and His Message. When tradition supersedes God’s Commandment, the true religion (Deen) takes a second place. But God is always the First and never the second.

written by Reed Wilson. , March 27, 2010
To duh_swami.
"I know that the emission in the day time can never be nocturnal.
Your the expert Reed...do you speak from experience or did you read that somewhere?"

No my dear. My experiences can not be standard. I didnt read it either. I just know that nocturnal is an adjective of night.
written by duh_swami , March 27, 2010
Reed...I just know that nocturnal is an adjective of night.

Not if you're a Muslim in heat...

Reed...My experiences can not be standard.

Of course not...
Women's adornment in the New Testament
written by Mule , March 27, 2010
1 Tim 2 v 9-10: "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But, which becometh women professing godliness, with good works."

1 Peter 3 v 2-5: "While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price."

"Christian women cover their heads on many religious occasions while the nuns cover their heads all the time. This religious practice of covering the head was established from traditions thousands of years before the Muslim scholars claimed the Hijab as part of the Muslim women’s dress code."

I have seen very few Christian women covering their heads in worship. A very small number in all the years of church attendance. Only the older ones at that. It seems to be that if it is culturally acceptable to wear hats the Christian women will also do it but if it is not accepted in the broader culture they will not. Liberal theologians said that Paul was only speaking of his culture and he was biased against women anyway. This false teaching has had a bad effect.

It seems that various contributors are not sure what Islam teaches here. If muslim scholars claimed the Hijab what right did they have to do that? Why did they approve a dress code that was a contamination from Jewish culture. How can Reed Wilson say it has nothing to do with Islam? If it was something from the outside culture it must have been approved by Mohammed or his successors. Or did Mohammed forget to ask Allah how muslim women should dress?

"As you can see the connection between the 2 Suras ,the only reason women was asked to cover around their face and body is to protect them selves from rape and harm from the kufars and some [muslim men] AT THAT TIME."

I don't buy this argument. Where is the evidence that the moslem women were threatened by anyone except muslim men? If this is so then why must the women still cover themselves in countries with a muslim majority population? Where is the danger from the kuffar there? The only women who have to fear rape are the non-muslim women in these countries who have no rights and protection because they are kuffar.

Origin of niqab
written by Curious , July 20, 2010
I thought (could be wrong) that the Badu (Bedouins) in the Saudi, Yemen (Gulf States region) women lived in what was called 'the forbidden tents', where they were veiled at all times. The reason was because the nomadic Badu stole each others women and also used women as compensation for other tribes stealing their women. The idea being to protect a man's property (women have been the property of men in most cultures until very recently) by keeping the women away (in the tents where they were isolated from any non-relatives) and covering up their beauty.

So I'm surprised that the article suggests there is no evidence for wearing a face covering before Islam. It seems quite possible that all of the head coverings and the veil stemmed from desert culture, affecting Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions.

One other thing, the nun's habit is often referred to when discussing the niqab. The nun's habit never covered the face, and was only worn by nuns, never by Catholic women in the general population. You didn't marry a man and wear a habit, you married Christ and wore a habit. Monks and priests (and bishops, etc.) also wore (and many still do) robes or cloaks of various description.

It's important to also note that nuns have not been required to wear the habit since Vatican II in the 1960's (many changes at this time including allowing priests to deliver mass in other languages other than Latin, and face the congregation). This was part of Pope John Paul's effort to modernize the Church (unfortunately he still left it with a very chauvinist hierarchy).

Culture and religion effect each other and are deeply intertwined. The rise in wearing the niqab is greatly related to the Saudi push (the Saudi's have spent 85 billion around the world building mosques) to convert other Muslims to Salafism, which is not very old but seems to revel in digging up ancient customs that limit the freedom of women in particular, but also men.

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