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Sister Noor's Experience

My name is Sister Noor and, at the request of my friend Sister Amina, I am writing this article as I have lived in purdah since the age of 17 when my formal school-based education ended.

I am now 22 and am engaged to be married to a young man who lives in Pakistan. For all of my life so far, I have lived with my parents in Scotland, my father having moved here from Pakistan as a young man.

I know that the word 'purdah' can mean various things. As far as I am concerned it is a matter of living strictly in accordance with the teaching of the most holy Quran, and the teachings of wise men over the centuries, along with the words found in Ahadith.

To me it is also a matter of keeping myself unsullied for my future husband. He is studying to become a cleric and, although he has placed no restrictions on my behavior or movement, I feel that I owe it to him to act in a way that is beyond criticism.

When I leave my room, I normally veil fully, covering up to the extent of wearing gloves and over-veils. I know this must seem strange but it is necessary as my father runs an counseling service for fellow Muslims from home. So there is a chance that I might come in contact with a non mahrem man when away from my room.

I do not leave the house unless it is strictly necessary, and then only when properly veiled. Whenever I do leave the house I am accompanied by my mother and also by either my father or brother. My family believes that young women's voices are awrah (even my mother rarely speaks to men except when ABSOLUTELY necessary), so I don't speak to people away from home, except for our (female) doctor.

In fact visiting the doctor is about the only real reason I have to leave the protection of my home and I am glad to say I am in very good health so these trips rarely occur. I have been questioned on line about the health problems of such a life. I have a exercise bike in my room and I 'go cycling' every day. As for lack of sunlight, my window faces south and I probably get more sun that most young women of my age. But, in case, I also take vitamin supplements.

In some ways better health than most people and, because I don't come in contact with many people, I have not had a cold or flu since I left school. I pray at home and do not go to the masjid but some sisters living near here do come to see me. I spent my time in prayer and study and help my mother round the house when she needs it. I do not watch TV because it seems only to show the works of Shaitan, but I listen to news broadcasts on the radio. I also write to friends in Pakistan so I never feel cut off.

I have been asked if I am ever lonely. I think I can say that I am not. I really do have masses to occupy my time and I am very blessed that I am able to study and read the most holy Quran in peace, not being distracted by people and outside appointments. Some time ago, at the suggestion of Sister Amina, I started doing a variety of secretarial work for a charity, so that there are times when I wished there were more hours in the day than there are.

Back in Pakistan many girls live as I do, so I don't feel that I am being treated differently from girls of my class there. It's true that few girls in Britain live in purdah but the opposite is true in Pakistan where my family comes from. I feel that I am extremely lucky to be able to live like this as it seems the correct way. It pleases my fiancé's family and my own to know that I try my best to observe purdah all the time.

It also pleases me as it is how I think I should live at the very least until such time as I am married. I am new to the Net as this is my first computer. It was a present from my father who believes that it will do me good to 'meet' other sisters who believe the same things as I and my family does. It is a temptation to go 'surfing' but I allow myself only to visit decent Islamic sites and to meet proper sisters. I am very lucky that I was in ordinary correspondence with Sister Amina for some time before my computer arrived and so she has been able to guide me through what could be a minefield if I had tried to 'go on-line' by myself.

Since going on-line, I have written to many sisters and have made some wonderful friends. But I would like to stress that 'living in purdah' was all that I wanted before I got my computer, and I STILL believe that it is the right way for me to live. I am indeed blessed that I have parents and a family who are prepared to allow me to live like this, in a way that I certainly believe to be correct.