Related Articles in IRFI
: Women in Islam: Hijab,
Ibrahim B. Syed,
Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.
7102 W. Shefford Lane
Louisville, KY 40242-6462, USA
One of the verses in the Quran protects a
woman's fundamental rights. Verse 59 of Surah A1Ahzaab reads: "O Prophet! T'ell
thy wives and daughters and the believing women, that they should cast their
outer garments over their persons (when outside) : so that they should be known
(as such) and not molested".
According to the Quran, the reason why Muslim
women should wear an outer garmcnt when going out of their homes is that they
may be recognised as "Believing" women and differentiated from streetwalkers for
whom sexual harassment is an occupational hazard. The purpose of this verse was
not to confine women to their homes, but to make it safe for them to go about
their daily business without attracting unsavoury attention.
Older Muslim women who are past the prospect of
marriage are not required to wear "the outer garment". "Such elderly women as
are past the prospect of marriage, there is no blame on them if they lay aside
their (outer) garments, provided they make not wanton display of their beauty;
but it is best for them to be modest; and Allah is One Who sees and knows all
The Quran does not suggest that women should be
veiled or they should be kept apart from the world of men. On the contrary, the
Quran is insistent on the full participation of women in society and in the
Morality of the self and cleaniness of
conscience are far better than the morality of the purdah. No goodness can comc
from pretence. Imposing the veil on women is the ultimate proof that men suspect
their mothers, daughters, wives and sisters of being potential traitors to them.
How can Muslim men meet non-Muslim women who are not veiled and treat them
respectfully, but not acccord the same respectful trcatmcnt to Muslim women?
To wear the Hijaab is certainly NOT an Islamic
obligatory on women. It is an innovation (Bid'ah) of men suffering from a piety
complex who are so weak spiritually that they just cannot trust themselves!
Muslim women remained in mixed company with men
until the late sixth century (A.H.) or 11 th century (A.C.). They received
guests, held meetings and went to wars to help their brothers and husbands, and
they defended their castles and bastions.
It is part of the growing feeling on the part of
Muslim men and women that they no longer wish to identify with the West, and
that reaffirmation of their identity as Muslims requires the kind of visible
sign that adoption of conservative clothing implies.
For these women the issue is not that they have
to dress conservatively, but that they choose to. In lran, Imam Khomeini first
insisted that women must wear the veil and chador, but in response to large
demonstrations by women, he modified his position and agreed that while the
chador is not obligatory, MODEST dress is.