Islam is a world religion; its presence can be felt all over the world through conversion or migration. However, the most visible symbol of Islam’s presence in the West is the hijab—the headdress used by a Muslim woman to cover her head
The Term Hijab
The term “hijab—الحجاب”literally means a cover, curtain or screen. It is not a technical term used in Islamic jurisprudence for the dress code of women. The term used in Islamic jurisprudence that denotes the conduct of unrelated men and women towards one another, and their dress code, is “satr or satir—الستر، الساتر”.
In the last two decades however, the Muslims in the west, as well as the media, use the term “hijab” to define the headdress and the overall clothing of Muslim women.
It is in this latter meaning —headdress as well as the overall clothing— that we have used the term “hijab” in this article.
The holy book of the Muslims is the Qur’an; it is the revelation of Almighty Allah upon Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny). For Muslims, the Qur’an is the first and the foremost source of Islamic laws and values.Some Muslim sisters have started incorporating Western feminist ideology in studying the Qur’an; they believe that hijab and other related issues have been interpreted from almost exclusively male perspective.The problem with this trend of thought is that there is no evidence to support it.Are we going to have now a gender-based interpretation of the Qur’an where the men and the women will study the holy Book differently? The Qur’an clearly says,
“And do not covet that by which Allah has made some of you excel others; men shall have the benefit of what they earn and women shall have the benefit of what they earn; and ask Allah of His grace; surely Allah knows all things.” (4:32)
Islam has strongly emphasized the concept of decency and modesty in the interaction between members of the opposite sex. Dress code is part of that overall teaching.
“Say to the believing men that: they should cast down their glances and guard their private parts (by being chaste). This is better for them.”
This is a command to men that they should not lustfully look at women and in order to prevent any possibility of temptation, they are required to cast their glances downwards.This is known as “hijab of the eyes”.
Then in the next verse, Allah commands the Prophet to address the women: “Say to the believing women that: they should cast down their glances and guard their private parts (by being chaste)…”
This hijab of eyes is similar to the teaching of Jesus where he says, “You have heard that it was said by them of old time, you shall not commit adultery. But I say unto you, That whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” So if you see a person casting his/her eyes downwards when he/she is talking to a member of opposite sex, this should not be considered as rude or an indication of lack of confidence — he/she is just abiding by the Qur’anic as well as Biblical teaching.
After “hijab of the eyes” came the order describing the dress code for women: “...and not display their beauty except what is apparent, and they should place their veil over their bosoms...”
he requirement of hijab is a Qur’anic command. The basic requirement is that a Muslim woman should cover her head and bosom with a khimar (a head covering), and her body with a jilbab (a loose over-garment). Of course, she can leave her face and hands open
When it comes to the style, colour, and material of the khimar and jilbab, each Muslim ethnic group can follow the Qur’anic injunction according to their own cultural background. One of the many questions that I have been asked is why does Islam make hijab mandatory for women? Islam has introduced hijab as part of the decency and modesty in interaction between members of the opposite sex.
Men, whether they confess it or not, are slaves of lust and desire.
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