Thursday, September 13, 2007
THE QUESTION OF HIJAB: SUPPRESSION OR LIBERATION?
"Why do Muslim women have to cover their heads?" This question is one
which is asked by Muslim and non-Muslim alike. For many women it is the truest
test of being a Muslim.
The answer to the question is very simple - Muslim women observe HIJAB (covering
the head and the body) because Allah has told them to do so.
"O Prophet, tell your wives and daughters and the believing women to draw
their outer garments around them (when they go out or are among men). That is
better in order that they may be known (to be Muslims) and not annoyed..."
Other secondary reasons include the requirement for modesty in both men and
women. Both will then be evaluated for intelligence and skills instead of looks
and sexuality. An Iranian school girl is quoted as saying, "We want to stop men
from treating us like sex objects, as they have always done. We want them to
ignore our appearance and to be attentive to our personalities and mind. We want
them to take us seriously and treat us as equals and not just chase us around
for our bodies and physical looks." A Muslim woman who covers her head is making
a statement about her identity. Anyone who sees her will know that she is a
Muslim and has a good moral character. Many Muslim women who cover are filled
with dignity and self esteem; they are pleased to be identified as a Muslim
woman. As a chaste, modest, pure woman, she does not want her sexuality to enter
into interactions with men in the smallest degree. A woman who covers herself
is concealing her sexuality but allowing her femininity to be brought out.
The question of hijab for Muslim women has been a controversy for centuries and
will probably continue for many more. Some learned people do not consider the
subject open to discussion and consider that covering the face is required,
while a majority are of the opinion that it is not required. A middle line
position is taken by some who claim that the instructions are vague and open to
individual discretion depending on the situation. The wives of the Prophet (S)
were required to cover their faces so that men would not think of them in sexual
terms since they were the "Mothers of the Believers," but this requirement was
not extended to other women.
The word "hijab" comes from the Arabic word "hajaba" meaning to hide from view
or conceal. In the present time, the context of hijab is the modest covering of
a Muslim woman. The question now is what is the extent of the covering? The
"Say to the believing man that they should lower their gaze and guard their
modesty; that will make for greater purity for them; and Allah is well
acquainted with all that they do. And say to the believing women that they
should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; and 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..." (Qur'an 24:30-31)
These verses from the Qur'an contain two main injunctions:
A woman should not show her beauty or adornments except what appears by
uncontrolled factors such as the wind blowing her clothes, and the head covers
should be drawn so as to cover the hair, the neck and the bosom.
Islam has no fixed standard as to the style of dress or type of clothing that
Muslims must wear. However, some requirements must be met. The first of these
requirements is the parts of the body which must be covered. Islam has
two sources for guidance and rulings: first, the Qur'an, the revealed word of
Allah and secondly, the Hadith or the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (S) who
was chosen by Allah to be the role model for mankind. The following is a
Tradition of the Prophet:
"Ayesha (R) reported that Asmaa the daughter of Abu Bakr (R) came to the
Messenger of Allah (S) while wearing thin clothing. He approached her and said:
'O Asmaa! When a girl reaches the menstrual age, it is not proper that anything
should remain exposed except this and this. He pointed to the face and hands."
The second requirement is looseness. The clothing must be loose enough so
as not to describe the shape of the woman's body. One desirable way to hide the
shape of the body is to wear a cloak over other clothes. However, if the
clothing is loose enough, an outer garment is not necessary. Thickness is
the third requirement. The clothing must be thick enough so as not to show the
color of the skin it covers or the shape of the body. The Prophet Muhammad (S)
stated that in later generations of his ummah 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." (Muslim) Another requirement is an over-all
dignified appearance. The clothing should not attract men's attention to the
woman. It should not be shiny and flashy so that everyone notices the
dress and the woman. In addition there are other requirements:
Women must not dress so as to appear as men."Ibn Abbas narrated: 'The Prophet
(S) cursed the men who appear like women and the women who appear like men.'"
Women should not dress in a way similar to the unbelievers.
The clothing should be modest, not excessively fancy and also not excessively
ragged to gain others admiration or sympathy.
Often forgotten is the fact that modern Western dress is a new invention.
Looking at the clothing of women as recently as seventy years ago, we see
clothing similar to hijab. These active and hard-working women of the West were
not inhibited by their clothing which consisted of long, full dresses and
various types of head covering. Muslim women who wear hijab do not find it
impractical or interfering with their activities in all levels and walks of
life. Hijab is not merely a covering dress but more importantly, it is
behavior, manners, speech and appearance in public. Dress is only one facet
of the total being. The basic requirement of the Muslim woman's dress apply to
the Muslim man's clothing with the difference being mainly in degree. Modesty
requires that the area between the navel and the knee be covered in front of all
people except the wife. The clothing of men should not be like the dress of
women, nor should it be tight or provocative. A Muslim should dress to show
his identity as a Muslim. Men are not allowed to wear gold or silk. However,
both are allowed for women.
For both men and women, clothing requirements are not meant to be a restriction
but rather a way in which society will function in a proper, Islamic manner.
ermm...actually, i put the article here is for me to look at it and for myself
to be remembered. sumtimes, u tend to glide ur way out of what it was supposed
to be. and its our job as sisters and brothers in Islam to guide or siblings on
the matter. for if sumbody had looked onto this and find her/his way back home,
i'm totally content.
currently, am being a total loser of myself coz finding myself sumtimes lost in
the mist of world. but sure enough, i'll get back up on my knees and then wait
for reality to check in. the world-is-not-forever and
*sigh... am 'merepek'ing. pardon me. it's 11.40pm and my mind is totally
blurreed out by a cup of SO PEKAT Nescafe i drank just now.
to my fellow blogarians, Happy Ramadhan. I wish u all the best for finding and
getting His bliss and bless on this most Glorious month.
just making a few steps in this big big world,