The Rickets Scare
BBC Takes A Cheap Shot At Islamic Dress Code
Posted: 12 Zul-Qa'dah 1421, 6 February 2001
The story about rickets that was posted on the BBC web site on 5 February 2001, is not
only misleading and irresponsible, it borders on sensationalism and shows deep-rooted
anti-Islamic prejudice. Without even quoting any research study, statistics, or medical
authority, it claims: An increase in the number of cases of the bone disease rickets
may be partly due to strict Muslim dress codes. It tries to scare the readers by
using half-truths and distortions.
Rickets is a vitamin D deficiency disease of the children. In most cases it happens to
children 2 years of age or younger. While there are ample dietary sources of vitamin D
available, our bodies can also manufacture this vitamin when exposed to sun, in a process,
The BBC report suggests that Muslim dress code for women reduces exposure to sun,
thereby reducing photolysis, thereby causing vitamin D deficiency, thereby contributing to
rickets. This argument has many serious and obvious flaws. First, rickets is a childhood
disease, and the Islamic dress code for women does not apply to 2 year olds. Second, Islam
does not prevent women from getting the necessary exposure to sun in their own homes.
(Actually only several minutes of exposure to sun is sufficient to produce enough vitamin
D). Third, there are plenty of dietary sources for vitamin D. This includes cereals,
fortified milk (all milk sold in the U.S. is fortified with vitamins A and D), oils, and
liver. Fourth, vitamin D only acts as a regulator of calcium and phosphorous in blood and
bones. If there is not sufficient calcium in the diet, vitamin D alone wont help.
And you cannot get calcium from the suns rays. Bottom line: If there is a problem,
the cause is diet not dress.
The report also fails to mention the harmful effects of suns rays on our bodies
that the modest Islamic dress protects us from. This includes sunburn, wrinkles, premature
aging, and cancer. Skin cancer is a much more deadly and much more prevalent disease than
rickets. While cases of rickets are rare, thousands of people die of skin cancer every
year. In fact, in the UK, every 5 hours a person dies of skin cancer. In the USA, skin
cancer takes a life every hour. With the relaxation in the standards of decency in the
society, the rates have been climbing. In the USA, there has been an 1,800 percent rise in
malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, since 1930.
There is a connection between dress and disease, but it is exactly opposite of the one
claimed by BBC. There are 40,000 new cases of skin cancer every year in the UK; more than
a million in the USA. What needs to be highlighted is that, like it or not, most of these
people could have avoided this tragedy, had they followed the Islamic dress code.
While modesty itself is priceless and moral values cannot be subjected to cost/benefit
analysis, Muslim women have special reason to be thankful to God for their dress code that
also protects them from this deadly fate. The Islamic dress code protects us from all
harmful objects, from unwanted gazes to ultraviolet light. It is good for the soul, good
for the morals, and good for the body.