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An Answer to the Crit­ics : Injunc­tion of Wear­ing the Hijab in Islam

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Over the years, the dress code among Mus­lim women has been giv­en great atten­tion, espe­cial­ly in rela­tion to the hijab (head cov­er­ing) prac­tice in which is con­sid­ered as a sym­bol of oppres­sion” towards Mus­lim women. While Islam is cer­tain­ly not the only reli­gion to intro­duce the prac­tice of cov­er­ing head, it con­tin­ues to be the cen­tre of attack and heav­i­ly dis­cussed as the wom­en’s right issue espe­cial­ly out­side Mus­lim world. Fur­ther­more, this has been includ­ed as a polit­i­cal agen­da in some coun­tries, which results in Mus­lim women being oppressed and their free­dom to prac­tice their reli­gion was tak­en away. Sad­ly, we also see that some so-called Mus­lim” sec­u­lar­ists and hyp­ocrites, under the false insin­u­a­tion that wear­ing the hijab is oppres­sion for women, make the ridicu­lous claim that the Qur’an does not make a state­ment about cov­er­ing the hair”. Obvi­ous­ly, this claim stems from their arro­gance com­bined with their sheer igno­rance on the mat­ter. The pur­pose of this paper is to answer these crit­ics’ claims to show them that their lies do not hold water.

In the Qur’an we read the fol­low­ing injunc­tion about the hijab :

Oh Prophet ! tell thy wives and daugh­ters, and the believ­ing women, that they should cast their out­er gar­ments over their per­sons (when abroad): that is most con­ve­nient that they should be known (as such) and not molest­ed and Allah is Oft-For­giv­ing, Most Merciful.”

    [Yusuf Ali’s trans­la­tion of the Holy Qur’an, Sura’ al-Ahzaab, verse 59 ; The Ara­bic translit­er­a­tion is : yaa ayyuhan-nabiyyu qul-lil azwaa­ji­ka wa banaati­ka wa nisaaa’i‑l mu’m­i­neena yud­neena alay­hin­na min jalaabee­bi­hin­na thaa­li­ka adnaa ay-yu‘rafna fa laa yu’thay­na wa kaana-llaahu ghafoorar-raHeema”]

In the above verse, women are required to cast their out­er gar­ments for them to be recog­nised as a decent woman, and fur­ther to avoid any harass­ment in any way. The word used in the verse, jal­abib (plur­al of jil­bab), refers to an out­er gar­ment which cov­ers the body com­plete­ly, and so this is also an argu­ment in favor of cov­er­ing the hair. While the above verse does not specif­i­cal­ly men­tion what is the right dress code applied (apart from the fact that women should cov­er their body), it clear­ly shows that the basic under­ly­ing con­cept is mod­esty. It is wide­ly agreed that women who dressed and behaved mod­est­ly are respectable, and it helps in hav­ing respect­ful rela­tion­ship with oth­er women and men in their dai­ly life. This is the most impor­tant rea­son behind the rules set in Islam, in which it gives total respect to women with regards to their body and pre­serve their dig­ni­ty, and at the same time act as a guard and pro­tec­tion to them, at least to a cer­tain extent, from being phys­i­cal­ly and emo­tion­al­ly harassed.

We also hear anoth­er claim from the crit­ics that :

    “…a [Mus­lim] woman has to cov­er cer­tain parts of her body, parts which no sane woman expos­es already.”

This is as ludi­crous as suggesting :

    A) How would cov­er­ing the breasts dis­tinct­ly iden­ti­fy a woman as a Mus­lim in par­tic­u­lar ? Were all the oth­er women of the time walk­ing around top­less ? Thus, would cov­er­ing the breasts and/​or neck­line” be a specif­i­cal­ly Mus­lim prac­tice ? Will these crit­ics say that the Jews and Chris­tians of Ara­bia allowed their women to march around top­less ? No, they were not, as any­one even slight­ly com­pe­tent in his­to­ry would know. These are all pathet­ic assump­tions and a sad attempt to twist a reli­gious tenet to fit one’s per­son­al whims.

    B) If God had only revealed a verse about cov­er­ing breasts and/​or neck­line”, He would then be forced to address every oth­er part of the body. Accord­ing to this argu­ment, the midriff or bel­ly” is not addressed and thus, waltz­ing around in a bel­ly dancer out­fit would be halal. Again, this is insipid, to say it nicely.

The Qur’an fur­ther extend the guide­lines in rela­tion to the Mus­lim wom­an’s dress code through the fol­low­ing verse :

And say to the believ­ing women that they should low­er their gaze and guard their mod­esty, that they should not dis­play their beau­ty and orna­ments except what (must ordi­nar­i­ly) appear there­of, that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not dis­play their beau­ty except to their hus­bands, their fathers, their hus­band’s fathers, their sons, their hus­band’s sons, their broth­ers or their broth­ers’ sons, or their sis­ters’ sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hand poss­es, or male ser­vants free of phys­i­cal needs, or small chil­dren who have no sense of the shame of sex, and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw atten­tion to their hid­den orna­ments. And O ye believ­ers ! Turn ye all togeth­er towards God, that ye may attain Bliss.” (Sura’ An-Nur : 31

Again, the main sub­ject behind the Islam­ic dress code is mod­esty. Cou­pled with a num­ber of hadiths, this verse being the only verse with­in the Qur’an to men­tion about wear­ing veil to be includ­ed in the pack­age to safe­guard wom­en’s dignity.

While most West­ern soci­eties often con­sid­er veil to cov­er wom­en’s hair as a rad­i­cal and vio­la­tion to wom­en’s right, Mus­lim women feel that veil gives them free­dom. Dif­fer­ent from the def­i­n­i­tion of free­dom set by the West, a Mus­lim woman who fol­lows Islam­ic dress code con­sid­er them­selves free from being judged by her phys­i­cal fea­tures, but rather to be judged by her char­ac­ter. What impor­tant is their intel­lec­tu­al and per­son­al­i­ty, and not the dis­crim­i­na­tion for their beau­ty. While women always empha­size on their beau­ty to ful­fil the stan­dard of attrac­tive­ness set by men, Mus­lim women set them­selves free from being such a dis­play object , but rather con­sid­er them­selves as humans who have an exclu­sive right over themselves.

Fol­low­ing the Islam­ic dress code includ­ing wear­ing veil to cov­er wom­en’s hair obvi­ous­ly has no effect on wom­en’s social inter­ac­tion. The rights of each Mus­lim woman to get prop­er edu­ca­tion and enjoy equal right with oth­er women and men is not denied although they are required to wear veil and cov­er them­selves accord­ing to Islam­ic require­ment. With that rea­son, the word oppres­sive” assigned to Islam­ic wom­en’s dress code cer­tain­ly has no basis at all. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this has been a favourite issue for some coun­tries to deny the right of these Mus­lim women from get­ting prop­er edu­ca­tion and play a major role in the soci­ety, with­out real­is­ing that they give a heavy bur­den upon these Mus­lim women, and that is what we call oppression !

If these so-called Mus­lim” crit­ics do not wish to fol­low Islam, the world is full of many oth­er reli­gions they can choose from. Chris­tian­i­ty, for exam­ple, will let you do what­ev­er you want, eat what­ev­er you want, drink what­ev­er you want, or wear what­ev­er you want, as long as you accept the blood of Jesus to cleanse your sins. But if these same crit­ics know that Islam is the truth, then please do not play games with it just because they do not wish to wear the hijab. The Prophet Muham­mad(P) had stat­ed that in lat­er gen­er­a­tions of his umma’ there would be “…women who would be dressed but naked and on top of their heads (what looks like) camel humps. Curse them for they are tru­ly cursed.” Nar­rat­ed by Mus­lim from the report of Abu Hurayrah. We would like to chal­lenge these crit­ics to find a sin­gle his­to­ri­an who will say that the Mus­lims in the time of Muham­mad(P) did not believe that wear­ing a head scarf was com­mand­ing by God and His Mes­sen­ger. Just one, sim­ple request…otherwise, desist.Endmark

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1 Comment

  1. George Carty Reply

    I remem­ber see­ing on an athe­ist anti-Islam site an image of a pro-hijab demon­stra­tion, cap­tioned These women see them­selves as 96% vagi­na and 4% per­son”. I won­der if these peo­ple advo­cate com­pul­so­ry near-nudity ?

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