In today’s times, one of the most inevitable topics that we come across is the Hijab. Every now and then, we notice deliberations, discussions, disputations and debates, associated in one way or the other with Hijab.
We see people debating whether the face veil is a must or not. We see Muslim women being mortified for wearing the Hijab. We see young girls not being permitted to enter examination halls in their Hijab. We come across several countries that observe the Hijab ban. We find people discouraging veiled women not to be a part of merchandise or professionalism. All in all, what we can wrap up is that – today’s world discourages women who observe Hijab – in the name of oppression; and simultaneously encourages them to renounce it – in the name of emancipation, choice and women empowerment.
In the same context, we do chance on women who speak their minds and express their opinions as to why they feel Hijab is a symbol of coercion and why the Burqa must be debarred. We also come across women who observe Hijab taking up their stance – they speak about how Hijab isn’t a symbol of oppression for them, what liberty it gives to them and why they willingly put it on.
Throughout all these debates and discussion, two things are common – Hijab and Women. Or rather, I can say one thing is common – women. Maybe because of the very fact that Hijab has been inherently associated with women so much that the word ‘Hijab’ itself brings in our minds the picture of a woman.
Before coming to our main topic, Let us briefly talk about why women observe Hijab. Basically, because, to my understanding of religion, it’s a part of Islamic Sharia’h. Thinking logically, we can draw out two very definite reasons as to why women observe or why women ‘must’ observe Hijab. Firstly, exposing and flaunting out one’s body is a clear way to entice men to act out their natural tendencies. In fact, that’s the obvious strategy of the Western society! And secondly, a women’s body must be reserved exclusively for the eyes of her husband. So when a female exposes herself to every other male in the lane, where’s the physical bit of loyalty she’s going to save up for her husband? In other words, a woman who exposes herself to every man is being disloyal to her husband. No doubt in that.
So that’s where we end our talk on why women observe or why women ‘must’ observe Hijab. But there’s still one misconception cleared. Why women wear Hijab? No. that’s not the misconception. The answer to this question’s given in the earlier lines. The misconception is – Why ONLY women wear Hijab? Why men are not associated in any way to Hijab? Why ONLY women!
It is obvious for one who contemplates to question why men aren’t commanded to observe Hijab. While on one hand, we see females flaunting their bodies to entice men; on the other hand, we get to know about men working out on treadmills and smith machines and ab coasters. For what sake? Just the same! We see men working out and exposing off their bodies to entice women. And for the western society, this method works absolutely perfect for their society to function.
Here, we come to a big conclusion! Exposure is business. Exposure leads to the arousal of natural tendencies, and this in turn leads to what? Everlasting Love? It leads to fulfillment of worldly pleasures. A fruitful relationship? It leads to disloyalty in love, obsessions or suicides on a mental level, and abortions or depression on a physical level.
And above everything, as one keeps on involving himself in worldly life, fulfilling his carnal desires and finding ways and means to elevate his status in this world, he loses his connection with the Almighty. His Taqwa (God-consciousness) decreases. His faith dwindles. His focus of pleasing and impressing transforms from the Almighty to the earthly world. And at one point, the veil that was supposed to be put on his body now finds a place on his heart.
Why do we people fail to discern this? Why don’t we people realize that all these mental, social, physical and spiritual problems are the product of what we call exposure and disclosure. And now the next ultimate question is, is exposure really to be blamed? If truth be told, what we people fail to actually realize is the increasing role that immodesty plays in our society.
Oftentimes, when modesty as a virtue is discussed within our communities, the discussion almost always exclusively surrounds the modesty of Muslim women. Personally, I feel that when discussing modesty (both character (inward) as well of clothing (outward)), a greater focus needs to be put on men as contributors to the decline of modesty within the community. It is my belief that many of the causes in the decline of modesty are based mainly upon the lack of modesty amongst Muslim males (and the double standards they tend to enjoy).
IMMODESTY. Yes! That’s the word. Immodesty – which compels both the genders to check out each other. Immodesty – which makes the society think that in Islam, women are walking prisons and men are free birds. Immodesty – which encourages one to take a dip in one’s ocean of desires to fulfill one’s thirst. In fact, immodesty is what gives birth to that thirst, which in turn leads to desire.
So now, what’s the solution? Is Hijab the solution? Covering the body is indeed a good solution to prevent immodest behavior. Besides that, When Allah SWT Himself has commanded both men and women to dress and cover themselves in a certain way thus making it a part of our Sharia’h, there must be undoubtedly immense wisdom hidden is these commands of His.
Coming back to looking for a definitive solution – would mere covering prevent such immodest behavior? Certainly not! Unfortunately, the reason is that materialistic covering doesn’t cover one’s mind and thoughts! What can be done now? Alhamdulillah, Allah SWT has blessed us with one such gift that helps us to look for any king of solution to every kind of problem in our lives – The Quran!
Allah SWT mentions in the Holy Quran:
“Say to the believing men that they cast dawn their looks and guard their private parts; that is purer for them; surely Allah is Aware of what they do. And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and not display their ornaments except what appears there of, and let them wear their head-coverings over their bosoms, and not display their or name except to their husbands…” (Holy Qur’an, 24:30-31).
If we scrutinize on this verse, we will discover that both men and women have been given a particular set of responsibilities to act on. This sturdily shows that Islam aspires to set up unsoiled relations between the two genders, spread purity and poise among people and sustain the society with healthy relations. This verse also explains that in no way Islam is meant to disgrace a woman’s dignity among people or prevent her from performing her role in life.
When referring to the physical aspect of the Hijab, Quran first mentions the men, and later the women. The primary rule of maintaining one’s hijab is to keep gazes/looks down. This does not mean we have to walk while looking down, but what it means is that our looks/gazes should not be lustful and we need to wear modesty/honesty in our eyes first. In simpler words, that’s what we call modesty!
Also, Allah SWT mentions:
“O Children (of) Adam! Verily We have sent down to you clothing, it covers your shame and (as) an adornment. But the clothing (of) [the] righteousness – that (is) best. That (is) from (the) Signs of Allah so that they may remember.” (Holy Qur’an, 7:26-31).
The above verse defines modesty in the most comprehensible manner. Modesty is what makes one recognize one’s moral boundaries. It defines the individual’s moral boundaries. Thus, modesty – the primary step towards our overall Hijab – is an espousal of self-restraint against everything that can be considered harmful or sinful. Therefore, it isn’t Hijab but modesty primarily that implies the responsibility of both men and women to exercise morality and self-discipline in their daily lives.
In today’s society, what we notice is that most of the people just ignore the concept of lowering the gaze and avoiding inappropriate glances at females all together.
Even a few inappropriate glances can over time cause one to abandon one’s modesty. From a psychological point of view, the things we perceive with our eyes during the course of the day are stored in our memory. These images then subconsciously “accumulate” and slowly lead a person to physically manifest them. Hence the alarming rate of Muslim youth today who have become addicted to pornography and cannot help but satisfy their desires through unlawful means. Such unlawful acts can only be stopped when we pay heed to what the Quran says to us. If we try to stop such thoughts from accumulating in our minds (by actually lowering our gaze), these uncountable issues can be resolved Or in other words, we can say – immodesty can be avoided by being modest!
Modesty or lowering one’s gaze is a critically imperative instruction. However, most of us have forgotten this command. Let’s stop our minds from being preoccupied with the issue of Hijab, and be concerned about being modest and diffident in the first place!
Ending this piece of my deliberation, I would here like to bring back the eventual account of modesty. The story of the most handsome man on earth, Prophet Yusuf AS and the beautiful queen of Saba, Zulaiqa.
Yusuf AS lived for years in the Zulaiqa’s palace. Zulaiqa was a woman of beauty, power and influence. Day in and day out, Zulaiqa was exposed to his corporeal allure, a composition so stunning that the Messenger Muhammad [peace be upon him and his family] said “Yusuf has been given half of all beauty” [Muslim]. Zulaiqa suppressed her desire for Yusuf until she could no longer control it. She waited until her spouse left the dwelling. Alone with Yusuf, she locked the doors and called him to fulfill her lust.
Her endeavor to seduce him was fruitless, and his aspiration to remind her of Allah was falling on a deaf heart. Allah recounts the story Himself:
And she certainly determined [to seduce] him, and he would have inclined to her had he not seen the proof of his Lord. And thus [it was] that We should avert from him evil and immorality. Indeed, he was of Our chosen servants. [ Holy Quran 12:24]
Yusuf AS was a prophet of Allah who was in control of his desires. Zulaiqa, like you and I, was not. She allowed her desires to overcome her love for Allah. An unbridled nafs leads to immodesty, which in turn will lead us to prefer all carnal desires over the love of what Allah SWT and His Messenger Muhammad SAW call us to. Doing so will cause us ruination in this world, and in the next. Yet a nafs that has been tamed to be modest will learn to prefer Allah SWT over everything else. The story of Yusuf and Zulaiqa explores on one hand the nature of desire, temptation, and envy that occupies space in all of our souls and leads many of us astray. On the other hand, it teaches us the techniques and helps us become aware of the products and blessings of being self-effacing, humble and modest!
So next time when someone starts lecturing us (women) about Hijab, humbly remind him/her of the equivalent applicable Hijab for men too.