By Aimen Eljali.
Tripoli, 13 October 2013:
The Grand Mufti, Sheikh Sadik Al-Ghariani, has issued a fatwa saying that female teachers in schools and colleges must cover their faces if they are teaching males who have reached puberty.
He made the ruling following a request for advice from the Ministry of Education on the issue. It had said that some female teachers were veiling their faces while giving lessons but it felt that this was having a negative impact on students’ understanding because, by not seeing the teacher’s face, they were not able to interact and properly lean.
It asked for a fatwa telling female teachers to remove their veil inside the classroom while teaching.
The best solution, the Grand Mufti said, was to segregate male and females altogether in schools and colleges and universities “because those in charge are duty-bound in Islam to do so, if they able to”.
If that is not possible, they must at least be segregated during break times, in halls and corridors and have separate entrances for boys and girls.
In addition, students must be made to dress “respectfully and to abide by the Islamic dress code and not to allow girls to wear make-up and perfumes to avoid temptation”, the fatwa said. Schools should have male teachers to teach boys and female teachers to teach girls, it added.
There was a suggestion of a concession for older female teaches. The ruling about covering the face specifically said that a female teacher should veil herself if she was herself of a young age.
It is not clear where this leaves the Ministry of Education. Last month it said that it would not segregate male and female students in schools and universities because, given that the vast majority of teachers were females, this would damage their education.
But having requested a fatwa and having obtained one that is clearly not what it wanted, the ministry is now in the position of possibly having to force female teachers do cover their faces.