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In the Name of God بسم الله

New Airport Scanners

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seekerofwisdom

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I have to travel this weekend by air within the US, and have learned that the airport has the new full body scanner. If you have not read about them, it uses a technology that allows a computer to generate an image of what you look like with no clothes on in order to search for weapons and explosives. Supposedly the face is blurred, but there is a lot of detail that is not. If one does not wish to submit to this scan, the other option is a full body pat-down, supposedly by an officer of the same gender. The notion of having some stranger see a digital image of me naked is disturbing, but then the idea of a stranger, even a female, putting her hands all over me is about as bad.

Since I'm flying in 36 hours, I don't have time to get a response from my marja as to which is the lesser of the two evils. Does anyone know if there have been any rulings about this, or simply have an opinion?

Part of me is thinking about just going along with the scan. The last thing I want to do is create a scene in a busy American airport where a woman in hijab is fussing about being scanned for explosives for a flight to DC...especially not right now. Chances are they're going to want to pull my hijab off to search beneath it anyway, which is humiliating enough.

And no, before it is suggested, driving is not an option. It would mean 22 hours of driving plus stops alone in the car with a 7 year old, and the tickets are non-refundable.

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(salam)

As for the halalness of it, I don't know if the digital scanning would be haram but I highly doubt it since it's digital. With a female patting you down, I am pretty sure that is halal because that's what they do at the shrine of Imam Redha (as) (and probably in Iraq aswell) as part of the security process of entering the haram.......then again, they only do a brief pat down, they don't sit there thoroughly feeling every part of your body (I'm not sure how thorough airport searches are?).

As for my personal feelings about it, I'd probably feel a little more uncomfortable with the digital scanning particularly if the security officer seeing the scans is a male, but then I would also want to avoid creating a fuss. Howeverrrr, I'd probably end up going with the pat down coz it's the safer option in terms of fiqh and coz I'd probably feel more uncomfortable with the digital imaging. Sorry if my advice is confusing lol.

edit: or you could do as suggested below and then make a decision based on the answer you get

wasalaam

Edited by ~RuQaYaH~
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I will choose scanning over the pat down - or body check or whatever it is called - as I think it would be fairly thorough ... considering that they are going to do away with the privacy block during screenings.... I really dont want to be groped. :( But on the other hand, I am not sure if the image of you from the screening box is stored somewhere .. what happens to it? Too many unanswered questions.

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8303983.stm

I was pretty concerned about the ethical issues regarding this aswell..

interesting to see some of the responses, only like 3 out of the 10 people thats comments are shown gave the thumbs up to it. Personally, I dislike the idea, only if they could improve security without taking the step of viewing such disclosing images of people

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The new scanners do NOT capture your digital body image as if you are naked. It creates a highly defined image of your body which is nothing like an image of a person in flesh. It's like a digital 'negative' of your body with every part defined. [Not enough to turn on the person watching the scans lol]. It may appear as if it "sees" under the clothing, but actually it captures things external to your body such as mobile phones and keys in your pocket, or the suicide belt you are wearing in your underpants. :squeez:

Edited by Marbles
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Salams,

This is not a fiqh answer, but just common sense. I would go with the pat down if I had a choice. The reason is twofold. First, most of these scanners are X-Ray machines and repeated exposure to X-Rays (especially if you are a frequent airline travel or look arabic or wear hijab in which case you will be profiled and subject to 'extra' scans) is known to increase cancer risk. Here is an article regarding the technology behind the scanners. Second, once someone takes a digital image of you, there is no way for you to control who gets their hands on it. I don't trust the government with the information they already have on me, much less giving them more information that they are free to do what they want with. If you are a women in hijab, I think you should be especially careful not to let anyone get their hands on a digital image of you that could harm your dignity and potentially get on the Internet. Go with the patdown, if it is a female officer that is doing it. It is humiliating, but usually quick and there is no lasting remnant of it that could be shared with others. Also, with the patdown, if they are targeting only women in hijab or arabic looking men for the patdown, it will be obvious to the other passengers and may cause them to think about issues of justice.

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The new scanners do NOT capture your digital body image as if you are naked. It creates a highly defined image of your body which is nothing like an image of a person in flesh. It's like a digital 'negative' of your body with every part defined. [Not enough to turn on the person watching the scans lol]. It may appear as if it "sees" under the clothing, but actually it captures things external to your body such as mobile phones and keys in your pocket, or the suicide belt you are wearing in your underpants. :squeez:

Actually that is not the case. They can invert the picture to show it in full colour like a normal picture. I dont want to post the link to it as it contains a nude photo of a woman but for those who are curious enough then you can go to http://www.google.com.au/search?hl=en&rlz=1T4GZAZ_en-GBAU311AU312&q=body+scanner+&meta=&aq=f&oq= and it is the one from www.prisonplanet.com.

I will not be surprised if that Nigerian boy worked for the Americans so that it gives them an excuse to invade people's privacy even further. I wonder what will be next. Microchips implanted in us?

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WHAT BS man, are you kidding me?? this is unacceptable, I wouldn't let my modest grandma go through such a degrading procedure. Sisters are you comfortable with some high school drop out checking out your live pics on screen and possibly taking some screenshots with his new nokia? death to the crusaders and invaders of privacy lanatul illa billa

you kidding me?

man you gotta be kidding me....

inta ibn haram shafunan

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WHAT BS man, are you kidding me?? this is unacceptable, I wouldn't let my modest grandma go through such a degrading procedure. Sisters are you comfortable with some high school drop out checking out your live pics on screen and possibly taking some screenshots with his new nokia? death to the crusaders and invaders of privacy lanatul illa billa

you kidding me?

man you gotta be kidding me....

inta ibn haram shafunan

LOL bona you forgot to take your med tonight.

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Actually that is not the case. They can invert the picture to show it in full colour like a normal picture. I dont want to post the link to it as it contains a nude photo of a woman but for those who are curious enough then you can go to http://www.google.com.au/search?hl=en&rlz=1T4GZAZ_en-GBAU311AU312&q=body+scanner+&meta=&aq=f&oq= and it is the one from www.prisonplanet.com.

I will not be surprised if that Nigerian boy worked for the Americans so that it gives them an excuse to invade people's privacy even further. I wonder what will be next. Microchips implanted in us?

See below:

Friday’s Northwest Airlines incident has people talking about a different type of airport x-ray called a full body scan. In addition to detecting regular weapons, this technology can spot liquid explosives, gels, and PETN (which the suspect in the Christmas-day incident allegedly used). The down-side of the technology: it gives airport screeners - but not other passengers–a very clear look at your body. Passengers can cover their private parts with a metal plate so that the operator can’t see, but the machine will still record the detail.

Privacy advocates call the full body scan a “virtual strip search”. Security advocates call it a life-saving measure.

What do you think?

http://newsroom.blogs.cnn.com/2009/12/29/would-you-submit-to-a-full-body-scan/

WHAT BS man, are you kidding me?? this is unacceptable, I wouldn't let my modest grandma go through such a degrading procedure. Sisters are you comfortable with some high school drop out checking out your live pics on screen and possibly taking some screenshots with his new nokia? death to the crusaders and invaders of privacy lanatul illa billa

you kidding me?

man you gotta be kidding me....

inta ibn haram shafunan

Quite frankly, I`m not really sure what to make of these scanners. Given that I am a very frequent flyer myself, I know I may be subjected to things like this - and I wonder, wouldn't I rather strip dignity for a few seconds every now and then than face being strip searched? or "pat down"? or other things?(where the experiences are a lot more long lasting than the few seconds it takes going through the scanner)...on the assumption of course, that going through something so revealing would reduce the chances of having to go through other things instead.

I've had some somewhat uncomfortable experiences in the past (always when I'm travelling through the US of course!) and I have a lot of hijabi friends who have had experiences a lot worse than I have. I know one girl and her mother who were forced to remove their hijab at the security checkpoint - so they had to reveal themselves not only to the security officers, but to every other person in the security line. Not only that, but they were being yelled and screamed at by the officers, drawing the attention of hundreds of people around them. Would I rather be "exposed" for a few seconds than go through that? In a heartbeat.

And finally, being that I am a frequent flyer, the thought does cross my mind every now and then that "that plane could have been mine". I know the chances are slim, but they exist, don't they? I am concerned for my general safety, and I know everyone else here is too - wouldn't you rather go through a scanner like this than face a higher chance of your plane being blown up?

I know some would say that there are more chances of being killed in a car accident by a drunk driver, hell...there even are more chances of being killed from being hit in the head with a coconut than there are in a terrorist attack on a plane.

But if there is a way of making our lives a little more safer than it already is, would you take it?

I guess the question to be asked is, wheres the limit?

So yes, I feel rather indifferent to it, only because I've been subjected to humiliation worse than something like this.

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Quite frankly, I`m not really sure what to make of these scanners. Given that I am a very frequent flyer myself, I know I may be subjected to things like this - and I wonder, wouldn't I rather strip dignity for a few seconds every now and then than face being strip searched? or "pat down"? or other things?(where the experiences are a lot more long lasting than the few seconds it takes going through the scanner)...on the assumption of course, that going through something so revealing would reduce the chances of having to go through other things instead.

I've had some somewhat uncomfortable experiences in the past (always when I'm travelling through the US of course!) and I have a lot of hijabi friends who have had experiences a lot worse than I have. I know one girl and her mother who were forced to remove their hijab at the security checkpoint - so they had to reveal themselves not only to the security officers, but to every other person in the security line. Not only that, but they were being yelled and screamed at by the officers, drawing the attention of hundreds of people around them. Would I rather be "exposed" for a few seconds than go through that? In a heartbeat.

And finally, being that I am a frequent flyer, the thought does cross my mind every now and then that "that plane could have been mine". I know the chances are slim, but they exist, don't they? I am concerned for my general safety, and I know everyone else here is too - wouldn't you rather go through a scanner like this than face a higher chance of your plane being blown up?

I know some would say that there are more chances of being killed in a car accident by a drunk driver, hell...there even are more chances of being killed from being hit in the head with a coconut than there are in a terrorist attack on a plane.

But if there is a way of making our lives a little more safer than it already is, would you take it?

I guess the question to be asked is, wheres the limit?

So yes, I feel rather indifferent to it, only because I've been subjected to humiliation worse than something like this.

Thought provoking. You ask good and difficult questions.

I'm wondering what are the chances of your digital scan being used for sinister purposes. Who is going to bother with Hijabi x when you have hundreds of female passengers of all sizes, shapes and colours going through the same scanners. I think the chances of misuse are less than being blown up in the sky.

I'm wondering again. Your inverted scan is not a picture taken from camera. It is a nearly-photographic digital depiction of your body without clothes. Ugh thanks to sophisticated graphics. I don't know how would it equal being seen naked. But whatever it is, I do hope they assign this job to females in order to avoid needless erections in men. I'm not joking.

Edited by Marbles
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See below:

http://newsroom.blogs.cnn.com/2009/12/29/would-you-submit-to-a-full-body-scan/

Quite frankly, I`m not really sure what to make of these scanners. Given that I am a very frequent flyer myself, I know I may be subjected to things like this - and I wonder, wouldn't I rather strip dignity for a few seconds every now and then than face being strip searched? or "pat down"? or other things?(where the experiences are a lot more long lasting than the few seconds it takes going through the scanner)...on the assumption of course, that going through something so revealing would reduce the chances of having to go through other things instead.

I've had some somewhat uncomfortable experiences in the past (always when I'm travelling through the US of course!) and I have a lot of hijabi friends who have had experiences a lot worse than I have. I know one girl and her mother who were forced to remove their hijab at the security checkpoint - so they had to reveal themselves not only to the security officers, but to every other person in the security line. Not only that, but they were being yelled and screamed at by the officers, drawing the attention of hundreds of people around them. Would I rather be "exposed" for a few seconds than go through that? In a heartbeat.

And finally, being that I am a frequent flyer, the thought does cross my mind every now and then that "that plane could have been mine". I know the chances are slim, but they exist, don't they? I am concerned for my general safety, and I know everyone else here is too - wouldn't you rather go through a scanner like this than face a higher chance of your plane being blown up?

I know some would say that there are more chances of being killed in a car accident by a drunk driver, hell...there even are more chances of being killed from being hit in the head with a coconut than there are in a terrorist attack on a plane.

But if there is a way of making our lives a little more safer than it already is, would you take it?

I guess the question to be asked is, wheres the limit?

So yes, I feel rather indifferent to it, only because I've been subjected to humiliation worse than something like this.

The point isnt increasing the level of your safety on the plane by 1%, the point here is where do you draw the line, these scanners are here today(which is already ridiculous IMO), then whats next? Tomorrow sisters will be nude computer chips stored in online hackable databases ready for sale so your ex boyfriends can play strip the hijabi beta online. Are you telling me they have found a way to clone things but not found an alternative technology for scanning that can achieve the same results without being such a privacy hazard? If they haven't then we can surely wait. Privacy is precious, already theres the internet being used to exploit naive minded people so we definitely don't need this. For those hijabis that were given hell by the officers at the airport, that was very unfortunate and wrong on all accounts. I feel those are the instances in which you take a stance and fight to prevent such discrimination from being commonplace rather than running away. I would rather have the government expend its energy to make sure its officers do not harass and discriminate travelers rather than investing in such ridiculous technologies which are a serious threat to peoples privacy. It is definitely a step in the wrong direction, I wouldnt trust my family with such scanned images of my wife, you think I would trust the pervert being paid minimum wage at the airport? HELL NAWS intamasha izzatluutil

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Thought provoking. You ask good and difficult questions.

I'm wondering what are the chances of your digital scan being used for sinister purposes. Who is going to bother with Hijabi x when you have hundreds of female passengers of all sizes, shapes and colours going through the same scanners. I think the chances of misuse are less than being blown up in the sky.

I'm wondering again. Your inverted scan is not a picture taken from camera. It is a nearly-photographic digital depiction of your body without clothes. Ugh thanks to sophisticated graphics. I don't know how would it equal being seen naked. But whatever it is, I do hope they assign this job to females in order to avoid needless erections in men. I'm not joking.

Exactly. And again just to emphasize, the bolded part in your post - the scanners cannot capture or save any images from the scanner:

Although the scanners seem to rob individuals of their privacy, the images are never stored, printed or transferred from the computer. People don’t need to feel embarrassed because the security personnel review the image in another room, without ever seeing the individual face-to-face.

http://www.newsrecord.org/sections/opinion/us-airports-adopt-full-body-scanners-1.2130951

Again, I would rather this than to be frisked, or have my hijab lifted at an airport.

The point isnt increasing the level of your safety on the plane by 1%, the point here is where do you draw the line, these scanners are here today(which is already ridiculous IMO), then whats next?

This is the question I asked in my previous post. Where do we draw the line when it comes to protecting ourselves? That answer is subjective from person to person I guess, but it can be collectively agreed upon. How much do you value personal and national security? and what is your alternative? Is there an alternative?

I spoke from my experiences as a somewhat frequent traveler, where maybe these types of threats are more of a concern to me than other people who only get on a plane once or twice a year. There are people in my family who travel in and out of the country 1-2 times a WEEK so when I'm not concerned for my own safety whilst travelling in the air, I still have concern about the safety of my family.

Lets look to an analogy of something simple. Lets say food specialists found a strain of salmonella poisoning in apples. The strain is present in 1-2% of all apples on the market. Would you still take the risk and eat those apples?

For those hijabis that were given hell by the officers at the airport, that was very unfortunate and wrong on all accounts. I feel those are the instances in which you take a stance and fight to prevent such discrimination from being commonplace rather than running away. I would rather have the government expend its energy to make sure its officers do not harass and discriminate travelers rather than investing in such ridiculous technologies which are a serious threat to peoples privacy. It is definitely a step in the wrong direction, I wouldnt trust my family with such scanned images of my wife, you think I would trust the pervert being paid minimum wage at the airport? HELL NAWS intamasha izzatluutil

Being okay with the scanners doesn't mean I support discrimination. Not all terrorists are Muslims, and like I said, my concern was for security - I'm not "accepting" racism here. A cousin of mine was once frisked in an American airport...at the age of 9. After 9/11, me and my parents were made to go for finger printing every 6 months. I lived and breathed discrimination. I know other people go through much worse than I have too ( I consider myself quite lucky). However, whats the alternative? Do I throw a fit because my body is being subjected to screening? Doesn't that infer I have no concern for security? How does a hijabi woman "fight" being subjected to security measures?

Its undignifying, I agree, but isn't the alternative even more devastating? (ie, not investing in security measures?)

Also, would you just not fly planes anymore in order to avoid these measures? Like whats more important to you here...a few seconds of shame or just locking yourself up in one place.

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The point isnt increasing the level of your safety on the plane by 1%, the point here is where do you draw the line, these scanners are here today(which is already ridiculous IMO), then whats next? Tomorrow sisters will be nude computer chips stored in online hackable databases ready for sale so your ex boyfriends can play strip the hijabi beta online. Are you telling me they have found a way to clone things but not found an alternative technology for scanning that can achieve the same results without being such a privacy hazard? If they haven't then we can surely wait. Privacy is precious, already theres the internet being used to exploit naive minded people so we definitely don't need this. For those hijabis that were given hell by the officers at the airport, that was very unfortunate and wrong on all accounts. I feel those are the instances in which you take a stance and fight to prevent such discrimination from being commonplace rather than running away. I would rather have the government expend its energy to make sure its officers do not harass and discriminate travelers rather than investing in such ridiculous technologies which are a serious threat to peoples privacy. It is definitely a step in the wrong direction, I wouldnt trust my family with such scanned images of my wife, you think I would trust the pervert being paid minimum wage at the airport? HELL NAWS intamasha izzatluutil

Okay. You didn't forget your med tonight. I agree. . .

LOL jokes apart bro no one likes to live in a surveillance society where their privacy is at risk. If you are in touch with the UK, the opposition to national ID cards with biometric data is one such example. The ID cards don't harm anyone but their potential misuse is the problem. Same is true for storing DNA record of not only convicted criminals but all suspects. The government wants it. People and lobbyists don't for obvious reasons. There is no way people are going to trust governments. The same is the case with these scanners. If I'm gonna oppose these security measures I'm gonna oppose it because they put my civil liberties at risk not really because some officer is looking at a scan of my stuff.

Check THIS book.

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Have you guys seen the videos? it just not some random x ray scan that reveals your bone structure... It fully reveals your figure and the inverted scan can fully be converted into something that totally resembles you in real life. WTH has this world come to????

Okay. You didn't forget your med tonight. I agree. . .

LOL jokes apart bro no one likes to live in a surveillance society where their privacy is at risk. If you are in touch with the UK, the opposition to national ID cards with biometric data is one such example. The ID cards don't harm anyone but their potential misuse is the problem. Same is true for storing DNA record of not only convicted criminals but all suspects. The government wants it. People and lobbyists don't for obvious reasons. There is no way people are going to trust governments. The same is the case with these scanners. If I'm gonna oppose these security measures I'm gonna oppose it because they put my civil liberties at risk not really because some officer is looking at a scan of my stuff.

Check THIS book.

Obviously yaar that is the basis on which you would oppose it on, but I am just trying to be specific here to show how obviously alarming this is.

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Being okay with the scanners doesn't mean I support discrimination. Not all terrorists are Muslims, and like I said, my concern was for security - I'm not "accepting" racism here. A cousin of mine was once frisked in an American airport...at the age of 9. After 9/11, me and my parents were made to go for finger printing every 6 months. I lived and breathed discrimination. I know other people go through much worse than I have too ( I consider myself quite lucky). However, whats the alternative? Do I throw a fit because my body is being subjected to screening? Doesn't that infer I have no concern for security? How does a hijabi woman "fight" being subjected to security measures?

Its undignifying, I agree, but isn't the alternative even more devastating? (ie, not investing in security measures?)

Also, would you just not fly planes anymore in order to avoid these measures? Like whats more important to you here...a few seconds of shame or just locking yourself up in one place.

Yes you throw a fit, you have every right to throw a fit if your body is being subjected to such unnecessary revealing use of technology. As I said, you cannot tell me there are no other less risky methods to determine if someone is carrying an explosive hidden in the body. I am not talking about pat downs either. Am I not concerned with my safety or the publics? Am I worried some perverted man who got fired from burger king for scanning pornographic images of pornstars to the company computer will be taking a look at my wifes incredibly revealing scans???

I am the most ticklish person the in the world, my doctor can't feel my stomach for problems if his life depended on it since I laugh hysterically out of control. I would still prefer a pat down.

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Well I made it back safely, alhamdilillah. The smaller airport's scanner was not yet in operation. However, unlike the 30 people in front of me, of course I got pulled for a secondary pat down. It was a female officer thankfully, who was rather pleasant about the whole thing.

The larger airport also was having trouble with the scanner, and I went right through - no one even blinked.

I did hear from Fadlallah's office. The ruling said that if a female officer is available for a pat down, then that is preferable. If a female officer is not available, then the scanner is preferable over having a male touch the body.

But here is something that bothers me even more. The previous scanners, called millimeter wave, show no health side effects. The new ones, called backscatter scanners, actually use a radiation that has the capability of doing damage. Scientists have estimated that there will be an additional 10-20 cancer deaths per year in the US alone because of these scanners.

Okay, let me get this straight. We're putting in the scanners to keep terrorists from blowing up planes, killing people. Yet in the course of two years' time, the scanners themselves will kill as many people as would be on the average commuter jet. Sorry - but we benefit from this how?

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Well I made it back safely, alhamdilillah. The smaller airport's scanner was not yet in operation. However, unlike the 30 people in front of me, of course I got pulled for a secondary pat down. It was a female officer thankfully, who was rather pleasant about the whole thing.

The larger airport also was having trouble with the scanner, and I went right through - no one even blinked.

I did hear from Fadlallah's office. The ruling said that if a female officer is available for a pat down, then that is preferable. If a female officer is not available, then the scanner is preferable over having a male touch the body.

But here is something that bothers me even more. The previous scanners, called millimeter wave, show no health side effects. The new ones, called backscatter scanners, actually use a radiation that has the capability of doing damage. Scientists have estimated that there will be an additional 10-20 cancer deaths per year in the US alone because of these scanners.

Okay, let me get this straight. We're putting in the scanners to keep terrorists from blowing up planes, killing people. Yet in the course of two years' time, the scanners themselves will kill as many people as would be on the average commuter jet. Sorry - but we benefit from this how?

Well there could of been 300+ deaths just on the plane alone if that last bomber has succeeded, not to mention many more deaths on the ground depending on where the plane crashed. As for an extra 10-20 cancer deaths per year in the US, well that is miniscule in comparison to the number of cancer deaths via other sources. Maybe everybody should stop using mobile phones also, due to possible increased cancer risk, or stop driving a car since there are a many more deaths per year due to driving accidents?. If these scanner make air travel safer then I have no issue with them. I not a Muslim, but I get the stop and search and extra checks most time I travel through airports.

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salam!!

I was just wondering as to how should a muslim interpret the new scanners at the airports????>...

I think its not right to reveal the "awrah" which are parts of the body that must be hidden.. is this righT??...then how is such a thing allowed?...i hope it has not started in muslim countries!!...

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Well there could of been 300+ deaths just on the plane alone if that last bomber has succeeded, not to mention many more deaths on the ground depending on where the plane crashed. As for an extra 10-20 cancer deaths per year in the US, well that is miniscule in comparison to the number of cancer deaths via other sources. Maybe everybody should stop using mobile phones also, due to possible increased cancer risk, or stop driving a car since there are a many more deaths per year due to driving accidents?. If these scanner make air travel safer then I have no issue with them. I not a Muslim, but I get the stop and search and extra checks most time I travel through airports.

Well if you look at it that way, you could probably take out more with a well placed person wearing an explosives vest standing in line at Walmart at 4 am on Black Friday or at your average Friday night high school football game. If some idiot pulls a stunt like that off, do we start setting up random scanner checkpoints through our cities and towns? Where do we draw the line between fear and freedom? Where is the line for what constitutes an acceptable sacrifice?

There are other. better ways to ensure safe flights than backscatter. Chemical sniffing technology, bomb sniffing canines, metal detectors, interviews by well trained personnel, thermal scanners, millimeter wave scanners, air pressure scans - theyre all good alternatives that have zero potential for damage. They might also pick up things that the backscatter would miss, like internally implanted explosive devices.

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