Philosophy of Hijab

by Tauqeer Abbas
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Chastity and modesty is a natural matter, and the holy legislator has used hijab as a religious framework in all heavenly religions to confirm it. Therefore, hijab is rooted in religions and it was considered a rational and natural accepted principle in most societies till several decades ago, nevertheless the formation of the challenges of modern society and the emergence of atheistic and pseudo-atheistic and anti-religious thoughts which led to the collapse of religions in societies caused religious sentiments and its related value behaviors including hijab be weakened and faded in the society.

Hijab, prior to be an individual choice, is actually a social requirement so that a moral and religious society can be formed within it. Hijab in Islam has many reasons and philosophies, whose overall goal is to preserve the moral values ​​and status of women in society, and it is a kind of material and spiritual support for women, just as alimony for women and children is defensible in order to emphasize the aspect of supporting the family. Therefore, the propaganda of the opponents that hijab is a sign of a woman’s subjugation and a sign of her submission to a man and indicates the “male patriarchy” of religions, especially Islam, is completely wrong, and the Holy Quran has given women special advantages over men and said: And the male are not the same as the female (which God has blessed with special characteristics and excellences).

1. The originality of hijab in divine religions

In books and dictionaries, the root of the word hijab is “hojb” which means veiling, chastity, modesty, shame, etc. (Definition of hijab in online website of vajeyab) For this reason, hijab has no gender, and every man and woman must observe the framework of chastity and modesty, etc., as an intellectual necessity prior to the religion and religious obligation. Terminologically, what is known as “hijab” today is a special female covering with certain characteristics, especially the covering of hair and chest, and it has been proposed in different countries with the same name (Le Hidjab / Hijab ). The difference of attitude among people about hijab, is not the principle of the necessity of chastity and hijab, but the quality of its observance in comparison between heavenly religions and among the male and the female, at least among those who believe in the value and moral framework of religions and the necessity of observing “chastity and modesty”

Therefore, the main question in this regard is “whether divine religions believe in hijab and covering or not?” And in the meantime, what is the wisdom and philosophy of the difference between men’s and women’s clothing.

1.1. The origin of hijab

Although there is no doubt that hijab has a religious origin and its necessity is mentioned in all the holy books, but covering itself can be considered natural, and the citation of this claim in the holy books is related to the covering of Adam and Eve with the leaves of the trees after their descent. And on this basis, observing a certain framework of covering has been originated in all large and small civilizations, and since Mesopotamia is considered as the “cradle of human civilization”, it is natural to assume that the emergence of hijab rule is originated from this region of the world. Regarding the social necessity of covering in ancient cultures, Will Durant reminds that “women can only visit their relatives and friends and attend religious festivals and theaters if they are fully covered”. So basically, the origin of the beginning of hijab can be known as the religion of Prophet Abraham (PBUH), which is described in the Torah.

But the answer to the question that why there is difference between women’s and men’s hijab may be easy, and it lies in the attractiveness in the appearance of women, because God created women and men in a different nature, and in addition, He has placed the tendency of the male to the female in most creatures in a natural way, and therefore by choosing hijab for women, he protects them from the aggression of men, who are also naturally and often of a stronger physical powers. At the same time, in the heavenly religions, chastity and modesty is required for both genders, and it is recommended that people should be careful not to look at the strangers, in order to preserve the moral and behavioral balance in the society.

Philosophy of Hijab

Holy Quran 33:59

1.2. Hijab in Judaism and Christianity

It is natural that Judaism and Christianity and even Islam are influenced by the religion of Abraham (PBUH) and Judaism and Christianity introduced social laws including hijab specifically under the influence of it. Referring to the following verse and many other verses, the Jews accepted and promoted hijab (covering hair and chest, etc). It is mentioned in the Torah, from the attitude of the elders of the tribes, that “Rifqa” (Rabbe Ka, Isaac (Abraham’s son)’s wife, before her marriage) raised her eyes and looked at Isaac and got down from her camel and asked the servant: Who is this man coming to welcome us in the desert? The servant answered: He is my master. So she took her burqa and covered herself.” (Torah, Book of Genesis, Chapter 24, Paragraphs 64 and 65). Jews refer to this verse for the obligation to wear hijab. According to Jewish ethics, if a woman violates the Jewish law, for example, she goes out of her house without covering her head, or speak confidently to any types of men, or has a voice so loud that when she speaks in her house, her neighbors can hear her, in that case the man had the right to divorce the woman without paying the dowry.

But in Christianity, we can also refer to this verse from the Bible: “…any woman who prays with her head bare…, desecrates her head: as if the hair on her head had been shaved.” Because if a woman is not veiled, she must shave her hair. So if it is shameful for a woman to cut or shave her hair, she must wear a hijab” (Bible: Book of Genesis, 11:5-6). Or to this verse about shame and modesty: “And also women should dress themselves in modesty and chastity, not in frills and pearls and expensive clothes, but in the way that women who fight for religion are dressed in righteous deeds” (Bible, Apostle Paul’s Epistle to Timonaus, Chapter II, Paragraph 159). In the Bible, it is also stated: “Young women should be wise, chaste, stay at home, good and obedient to their husbands” and covering the face is necessary and adorning the hair and styling and adjusting them in the mirror and piercing the ears and wearing necklaces, anklets, gold and Expensive bracelets, dyeing hair and changing one’s appearance is forbidden (Bible, Epistle of Peter the Apostle, Chapter III, Paragraph 1-6). Therefore, in summary, hijab is obligatory in Abrahamic religions in general, but by the development of anti-religious and secularization cultural policies from the West, the culture of not veiling, and even nudity, was carried out with a great speed and the last phase of the collapse of religious and cultural restrictions in the matter of covering is related to the “French sexual revolution” in 1968, which has spread throughout Europe and the West.

1.3. Hijab in Zoroastrian religion

In non-Abrahamic religions, including Zoroastrianism, wearing hijab is obligatory and this is rooted in the religious culture. In Avesta book, which is the main source of Zoroastrian religion, it is said about the hijab: “A woman’s covering should be such that not even a single strand of her hair is exposed.” What emerges from the writings of the researchers is that Zoroastrians have been fully covered throughout history and women have used long dresses, pants and a charqad that covers the head. (Hijab in Divine Religions, p. 138.)

2. Hijab in Islam

2.1. The principle of the necessity and obligation of hijab

In Islam, hijab is a signature rule and not an established one, in the sense that Islam has not invented hijab but accepted it and of course its minimums are stated. In the Holy Quran, there are many verses about the necessity of observing hijab, modesty, and chastity, the most important of which, are verses 59 of Surah Al-Ahzab and 31 of Surah An-Nur, which says in the first one:

And tell the believing women to stop their eyes (from the lustful gaze), and to protect themselves, and not to reveal their adornment – except the amount which is visible – and put their headscarves over their chests (so that the chest and neck should be covered with it), and they should not reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their father-in-laws, or their sons, or their son-in-laws, or their brothers, or their nephews, or the wives of their co-religionists, or their slaves [ their maidservants], or foolish people who have no desire for women, or children who are ignorant of women’s sexual affairs; And (women) should not step firmly on the ground while walking so that their hidden adornment is known (and the sound of the anklets they are wearing is heard), and return to God all of you, O believers, that you may be saved.

There are also many hadiths about hijab that emphasize the necessity of wearing hijab. The Messenger of God (PBUH) says about this: “Any woman who believes in God Almighty and the Day of Resurrection, does not reveal her adornment to anyone but her husband, nor does she reveal her hair and her ankles [feet], and any woman who does these things for someone other than her husband, she has corrupted her religion and she has made God angry” (MostardakHakim, vol. 2, p. 549). or “suppress your women from strangers by covering their bodies because the more covered the women are, the happier they are.” (Safinat al-Bahar, vol. 2, pg. 298.)

2.2. The amount of hijab coverage

Therefore, Islam has obligated the principle of hijab based on these verses and hadiths, and covering is obligatory for both men and women, although the type of clothing for them is different. According to the rules of Islamic jurisprudence, hijab is obligatory for women and jurists have considered it as one of the religious necessities (Al-Arwa Al-Wothgha, vol. 5, pp. 494-495.), and all Islamic schools agree on its obligation (New polls, vol. 2, p. 348.). On this basis, women must cover parts of their bodies,although the exact qualitative range (the color of the cover and its exact size) has not been determined, they consider covering the hair, chest, and body protrusions as part of the obligatory Islamic covering. What is stated in the explanation of the issues is that covering should include hiding the whole body of the woman from the stranger men, except for the roundness of the face and hands from the tips of the fingers to the wrists, and also the feet from the tips of the fingers to the wrists. Based on a hadith from the Holy Prophet (PBUH), according to which the Prophet of Islam introduces women’s clothing in front of a stranger man as “Dara”, “Khemar“, “Ezar” and “Jilbab“, which means a shirt, a scarf or headdress, a veil and pants (Tafsir Noor al-Thaqlain, vol. 3, p. 624). Of course, covering the private parts is compulsory for both men and women, and even in Western countries it is generally mandatory. According to another hadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the whole body of a woman is considered private by nature (Jami` al-Maqasid fi Sharh al-Qawa`id, vol. 2, pg. 96), and this is because all parts of women’s bodies are attractive and charming, and for this reason, women must cover their bodies except for the parts that are specified and excluded by the legislator. About the set of hijab rulings in normal situations, during prayer time or during Hajj, there are detailed rulings that include permissible matters (lack of hijab in front of the insane, foolish and immature people), obligations (principle of covering hair, etc.), forbidden items (thin and unconventional covering), makruh (wearing infidel clothes and black color) and mustahabat (dressing nicely, using white color) and they are discussed in the jurisprudential books and explanation of the issues of jurisprudence with a little difference in its quality. Here, the main question is what is the philosophy of hijab in Islam?

Philosophy of Hijab

Holy Quran 24:31

2.3. Philosophy of hijab

The basic question here is what are the main reasons of covering in religions in general and in Islam in particular, and what has caused the Islamic world to become sensitive to it and the western world to be hostile towards it, which according to various articles of the “World Declaration of Human rights”, of the most basic human rights, which is the right to properly cover based on one’s beliefs and the freedom to express one’s religious manifestations be suppressed? In Islam, the followings can be briefly mentioned as the philosophy of hijab:

1. Respecting the principles of chastity and modesty:

The first effects of hijab are undoubtedly covering the body in front of the stranger men, so that veiling and modesty replace gender in relationships among people. In other words, when a woman covers herself in front of others, it promotes the message that don’t look at my body as a woman, but look at me as a human being who has certain belief and opinion and in conveying it behaves freely and respectfully.

2. Preserving the status and value of a woman:

Every covered woman conveys this message to others that the value of a woman is not in her appearance and beauty, but in her good behavior, actions, and faith, and therefore hijab actually creates a veil between how others look at a woman and the values ​​she actually has. The nakedness and hideous covering reduces the value and position of women to the level of a sensual tool.

3. The stability of family values:

Unchastity and misbehavior in a contaminated society may lead to descend the men with families. Although it is in the Quran and Hadith that men should stop their eyes from stranger women (Tell the believers to stop their eyes from looking at the strangers and to preserve their chastity; This is better for them; God is aware of what you do (Nur: 30)). and every impure look on a Muslim woman is like an arrow from the devil (Imam Sadiq (A.S.) said: “Looking is one of Satan’s poisonous arrows, and perhaps one look can cause long-term regret and remorse Eghab Al-Amal, p. 604))., but if the society is full of manifestations of unchastity, it will be difficult for a believer to save himself, and in this case, a family may become unstable and its effects will affect the whole family and even at least parts of the society.

4. Prohibition of abuse and misbehavior of men:

In one of the verses of the Holy Quran, hijab has been made obligatory to prevent the abuse of others “This is better so that they are not harassed (by ill men) (Ahzab: 59)”. Because considering the superiority of men’s physical strength over women, if a man who does not have the power to control his sexual feelings, may attack a woman, it is very difficult for the woman to control him, and therefore to avoid these cases Hijab is the best option.

5. The religious message of hijab:

Hijab, especially when it is voluntary and without legal and social obligation, promotes an attitude of society in which faith in God and following His commandments is real and the ultimate goal of human creation, which is “servitude”. (Dhariyat: 56) is conveyed to others and it causes the spread of Islamic rules and encourages others to follow them. In the western world, where the tendency towards separation and hostility towards religion in the society has become more intense day by day and the principle of servitude to God is being fought, hijab is a manifestation of faith and belief in God, which has been tried for centuries to eliminate Him in the west and to announce the death of God(Emmaneul Todd, L’invention de l’Europe, éditions du Seuil, Paris, 1990). One of the reasons for the hostility of laic and secular western societies with religious symbols is the religious revival that Islam has created in the West and is being expanded with a great speed. (Michel Lelong, Le retour des religions, péril ou espoir? édition Guibert, Paris, 2009)

6. The political message of hijab:

In western societies, which witness the migration and settlement of many Muslims and the formation of several generations of European Muslims, the spread of hijab is considered to mean the slow influence and cultural invasion of Islam to the West, and for that reason, it is strongly contrasted to the Islamic manifestations, which the most important is hijab and have become a symbol of the religious demands of the minorities.

7. Women’s mental and spiritual peace:

The peace that hijab brings to faithful women is such that recently Christian women and girls in the West have also started using it with the same psychological effect. In the studies of experts on social issues, this tendency of young Western Christian girls is a kind of emphasis on personality, showing a relationship with God and also enjoying mental peace, which has been emphasized by them. (Sur TikTok, des jeunes filles cartonnent avec leur “voile chrétien”, Observers. france24.com, 13 JUILLET 2022). Therefore, the mentioned peace is not only the claim of Muslim women, but it has also been confirmed by young Christian girls living in Western countries.

8. Opposite of natural freedom and freedom in covering:

In religious thoughts, real freedom is freeing a person from his own selfishness, which leads him to sin, violation and crime. Certainly, paying attention to this freedom in its highest sense will prevent the absolute physical (covering) and sexual freedom of human, which itself is caused by the tendency to freedom without framework and without responsibility. To scientifically investigate this claim, it is enough to look at the statistics of assault, rape and dishonor against women in Western liberal societies to check whether physical and sexual freedom in the West has benefited or harmed women. Official statistics in Europe report a continuous and very high rate of rape and sexual assault in such a way that between 2014 and 2018, this phenomenon has witnessed a 57% growth(Viols et agressions sexuelles en Europe, https://www.insee.fr, Source : Eurostat, extraction des données en septembre 2020.). Although the rate of sexual assault is not low in Eastern and Islamic societies, it can be confirmed that veiled women face a lower risk of sexual assault, because men are looking for women who are not being strict about hijab and are assumed easier preys for having sexual relations, while hijab is only one of the indicators of veiling and modesty, and there is no reason to think that women with low hijab or sometimes bad hijab absolutely lack the element of veiling and modesty. Therefore, it seems that bad hijab and low hijab only increase the “risk” of assault.

9. Increasing the tradition of marriage:

If it is assumed that in a society, women prevent the temporary abuse of their bodies and souls, by maintaining their religious and covering obligations, and men have no other way to satisfy their emotional and sexual needs than establishing a legitimate relationship, the importance of Hijab becomes more. Today, it is assumed that men will always find someone for their immediate needs, and therefore they do not feel the need to marry. This avoiding marriage, which has innumerable personal and social effects will impose irreparable damages on the society and facilitate and accelerate its decline, because it causes a decrease in the number of births, a decrease in the mental and physical peace of the members of the society, and a tendency to improperly satisfy the natural needs, and as a result, will face a social crisis which has become a social principle in the West (Jean-Marc Ferry, Défis et dilemmes actuels de l’Europe politique: Crise tendancielle du politiqueet mondialisation, Dans: Revue étique et de théologie morale, N° 276, 2013.). The society’s constant need for a young and dynamic generation in the context of a moral family requires the development of a healthy marriage, otherwise illicit relationships will spread with its destructive effects.

10. Hijab is a symbol of natural differences:

In the modern Western thought, which they have entered an almost feminist phase from an absolutely patriarchal period, intrinsic justice at the expense of formal and apparent justice has become the cause of all the natural differences between men and women and by material and spiritual equality between the two genders, both genders, especially women are being penalized. The idea that there is a match between intrinsic and apparent equality has caused women to be exploited socially and economically and to reduce women to all-round exploitation tools. The artificial and forced justice between the two genders, which inherently have fundamental differences that are needed for human and social development, has harmed them, although before God and in the scales of divine justice, it is not the matter of gender that is evaluated. Rather, it is righteous deeds and God’s piety that distinguish people from each other on the Day of Judgment: “the most honorable of you (humans) in the sight of God is the most pious of you (Al-Hujarat: 13).

Of course, in addition to these things, hijab may have more spiritual and even material effects, and we only mentioned the most important ones. It is possible that even some medical and health works are related to hijab, stating of which is not allowed here without careful scientific examination and proof, and therefore this debate is still open and can be investigated further.

Sources:

The Holy Quran.

Bible.

Torah

Mustardak Hakim, Volume 2.

Safina al-Bahar, Volume 2.

Al-Arwa Al-Wothgha, vol.5.

New polls, vol.2.

Tafsir Noor al-Saghalin, vol. 3.

Jami al-Maqasid fi Sharh al-Qasas, vol. 2.

Hijab in divine religions.

History of Civilization, Volume 1.

Eghab al-Amal

Emmaneul Todd, L’invention de l’Europe, éditions du Seuil, Paris, 1990.

Michel Lelong, Le retour des religions, péril ou espoir?, édition Guibert, Paris, 2009.

Emmanuel Terray, La question du voile : une hystérie politique, Dans: Mouvements, N° 32, 2004.

Sur TikTok, des jeunes filles cartonnent avec leur “voile chrétien”, Observers.france24.com, 13 JUILLET 2022.

Viols et agressions sexuelles en Europe, https://www.insee.fr, Source : Eurostat, extraction des données en septembre 2020.

Jean-Marc Ferry, Défis et dilemmes actuels de l’Europe politique: Crise tendancielle du politique et mondialisation, Dans: Revue étique et de théologie morale, N° 276, 2013.

This text is written by Mohammad Saeid Taheri Moosavi & translated by Fatemeh Aghaei for Shafaqna English. All rights reserved for Shafaqna.

Source: Shafaqna English 

www.shafaqna.com

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