The Philosophy of Hijab
The better Hijab
- Another Hijab verse is verse 59 of Al-Ahzab
“O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
In this verse two questions arise. One is, what does “Outer garment” mean? The second is that based on the verse, the purpose of casting the outer garment is to be known and not molested. What is this about?
Regarding what the term “outer garment” means, there are different commentaries that we will point to:
In Al-Kashshaaf interpretation below this verse Ibn Abbas has said: “the outer garment is a mantle that cover the body top to bottom” (24)
Lisan Al-Arab, below the word “outer garment” says: “outer garment is a garment larger than a kerchief and smaller than a cloak. Using it the woman covers her head and chest”
Also in the Majma’ al-Bayan, below this very verse and in the dictionary section it says: “outer garment consists of the scarf that is used when exiting the home, covering the head and face.” (25)
It is obvious that there are different opinions among philologists as well; however, what is clear is that “outer garment” is said to a cover that is wide and large and covers the whole body. By the way; it is also necessary to note that among women there have been two types of cover: One “toile” which was the scarf used inside the home and the other “outer garment” which was used outside the home.
The second topic of discussion is about the cause for cover, which according to the verse is: “to be known and not molested”. Regarding the interpretation of this verse there are two opinions:
The first is, some have said that during the time of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), some rabble would intrude on the slaves or free women at night. When held accountable, they would say that we did not know she was free and thought that she was a slave. Therefore, the free women were commanded not to go out without an outer garment, so that they would be recognized and not be molested or annoyed.
The second is that some commentators believe that this verse has been revealed for all women, commanding them not to leave home without a full cover, so that they would not be molested due to their coverage and chastity.
The first impression of this verse has a problem, since this interpretation means that Islam has allowed molesting and annoying slaves and has only obligated covering up for free women. Although covering the head was not obligated for slaves, and perhaps the secret to this was that the face and condition of the slaves was not very interesting and they would not attract anyone; but anyway intrusion on slaves was still a sin. This impression does not seem to be correct. However; the second interpretation of the verse matches the verse better and can be used as the correct interpretation of this verse.
It can be noted that according to what is revealed in this verse, when Muslim women appear among people, they should maintain their dignity, gravity, hijab and modesty so that they would not be invaded by sick people or raped. If a woman maintains her hijab properly, she shields herself against the evil gaze of others.
In addition to the sayings that we presented in the verses section, we will point to some here as well:
Imam Ali (PBUH) states: “Avoid embellishing yourself for others, and do not rise to fight God by sinning” (26)
Imam Ali (PBUH) states: “Wear thick clothes; as wearing thin and transparent clothes by anyone is a sign of their looseness and weakness in religion” (27)
In the book Bihār al-Anwār a beautiful saying has been quoted from Imam Ali (PBUH) who states: “One day we were sitting with the Holy Prophet (PBUH). The Prophet stated: “Tell me, what is the best thing for women?” None of us knew how to answer the prophet’s question, until we scattered from his presence.
I went to Lady Fatimah (SA) and told her about the Prophet’s (PBUH) question and said that all of us could not answer the prophet’s question.
Lady Fatimah (SA) stated: I know the answer to this question and it is this: “The best thing for the women is that as much as they can, they do not see men (strangers), and that men (strangers) do not see them.”
So I returned to the prophet and raised his question and in answer I said: Verily the best thing for women is that as much as they can, they do not see men (strangers), and that no man (strangers) sees them.
The Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) stated: You were with me before and did not know the answer to this; were you with my daughter Fatimah (SA)? He was surprised and stated: Truly Fatimah (SA) is a part of my body”. (28)
- Wisdom and Logic
The philosophy of hijab is one of those matters that is put under question in all ages. Awareness of the philosophy of cover can be the best method for achieving the Islamic cover prevalence in the society.
- The high value of women
In Islam, an extraordinary importance has been placed for women. A woman is the epitome of elegance and the beauty of creation. The woman (mother) is the teacher of mankind. Correction of society depends on her piety and the family environment is her assembly for teaching and upbringing. A woman can, by upbringing children correctly, benefit a nation with them.
However; the western culture is trying to put women in the hands of different individuals as a profitable merchandise, bringing her character so low by telling her to enter the society and put herself in sight of different people and become their tool for profit. The theory entitled Feminism (Freedom of women) considered by westerners, tramples on every woman’s basic rights; and when western women want to defend their rights, it strangles their voice and throws them to a corner.
The religion of Islam has suggested hijab and cover to the woman who is the epitome of elegance and beauty, to protect her value as a person. As in verse 59 of Al-Ahzab that was already pointed to: “that they should be known (as such) and not molested.”
“Nakata Khaula” is a Japanese writer who has turned Muslim. She says about her feelings regarding wearing the hijab: “It was by wearing hijab that I felt my humanity and feminine value. Hijab teaches me to stay away from the access of strangers. These days, there is an increasing trend towards wearing hijab, especially among youth, which is the sign of growth of Islam as well. While I am alive, I will advertise for hijab and Islam, because it is the source of tranquillity and comfort in society”.
Mr. “Levi” who is Jewish and his daughters have recently adopted the hijab, says about his daughters’ hijab: “Hijab is one of Quran’s commandments that sets the moral value of women in society. Hijab indicates cleanliness, redemption and lack of contamination of the woman.” (29)
- Woman’s tranquillity
In every task, peace and security is one of the most important matters that causes that task to be done well. Presenting beauty and body parts, foments the desire and wishes of men and eventually causes the woman to lose her own security and peace. Coquetry by women in society, not only causes them to destroy their own mental peace, but it also constantly induces men and especially youth. This causes nervous contusion and eventually leads to neurotic tension diseases.
That which can bring peace and security for women, is hijab. Hijab may appear to be difficult, but it acts as a provider of peace of mind and a barrier for her. In fact hijab defines the individual’s personal space.
“Yvonne Ridley” the famous English writer and journalist who has converted to Islam and wears hijab, says: “Hijab has played a major role in maintaining my security, by seeking refuge under hijab, I feel that I am secure.”
Hijab also provides a kind of mental peace for the person. Hijab causes a woman to slip and sin less and following that, a woman and generally a society can better ascent their spiritual steps and achieve the purity of heart and spirit. The Holy Quran recognises hijab as a factor for purity of heart (both for men and women) and in Al-Ahzab verse 53 states: “And when ye ask (his ladies) for anything ye want, ask them from before a screen: that makes for greater purity for your hearts and for theirs.”
- Family Stabilization
Family is a base for human development. Family is made firm on the basis of love, clarity, sympathy, intimacy and unity; on the other hand it is an environment to limit the sexual needs of a wife and husband in a legal and religious framework. One of the most important causes that can disrupt a family is the presence of provocative and lustful women and girls in society, who attract the gaze of every man (whether married or single).
If the person who is witnessing such moves from women is a married man, due to having the feeling of wanting diversity and beauty, he will apportion a part of his attention and thoughts to that woman, and as a result lose attraction to his own wife to some degree. In many circumstances the hijab-less woman may not have the beauty of the man’s wife; however, the feeling of wanting diversity and having something new removes the ugliness of the face completely.
When the man’s eyes are filled by the scenes of the society’s women and girls who are without hijab, naturally his interest in his own wife is reduced, since one of the main components of man’s interest in a woman is from the standpoint of sexual needs. As a result of these types of behaviour, we are witnessing grouchiness, reluctance and excuse-making by men towards their wives and finally we see the man who hates his wife, as he considers her to be the one preventing him from reaching his desires.
On the other hand, if the viewer of the women without hijab is single, the effect may be worse than the first. The single man surrounded by women and girls without hijab, is satisfied enough by seeing and having relations with them. Consequently, he will not accept the heavy costs involved with marriage any more.
In fact, these young persons assume marriage as a prison for themselves, as by getting married they can no longer step outside of the religious and legal framework and have relations with others. And perhaps some men or women, view their spouse as a jailor who has held them inside and does not allow them to have a relationship with the outside. As they were comfortable before marriage, have gone anywhere and had relations with whomsoever they wanted while nobody had dared to challenge them, but that has been reduced or stopped since they have got married.
Surely, delay in marriage is due not only to economical or educational issues, but the lack of sexual piety; while unrestrained women and girls with bad hijab also cause marriage delays. Doubtless, the harms and ill effects of these behaviours on behalf of those with bad hijab, will one day consume them as well. The religion of Islam, in order to prevent such problems for families, has suggested hijab, in order to not only prevent the plague and blight threatening of families, but also to prevent the unwillingness and weakness in the formation of family by the young people from being born.
- Societal stability factor
Certainly, the transfer of sexual needs from the home environment to the society, deteriorates that society, and causes depression in activities. The religion of Islam has never been opposed to women’s activities and working outside the home environment, studying or developing scientifically. In fact, it has allowed any economic, political or cultural activity, provided that it does not damage her main job, that is home keeping and upbringing of the children.
What hinders activities is in fact the lack of hijab. Imagine a school where boys and girls study together. In one classroom all girls have complete hijab and are without makeup. The other class’s girls are all with no hijab, with full makeup, wearing revealing and inappropriate clothes. In which classroom will the students study, think more, and listen to the teacher?
It is very clear and obvious that in the classroom with girls wearing hijab, productivity is much higher. The same can be applied to offices or other places.
Generally, a society where women are clad in hijab and do not reveal themselves to others will certainly by a more jolly and successful society that can develop in all aspects.
On the other hand, bad hijab and sexual stimulation has a destructive effect on the reproductive system.
Scientists believe that the stimulation that is created in the eye effects the Hypothesis gland which is located under the brain. This gland produces six hormones, three affecting the reproductive system. Looking at women with bad hijab and watching stimulating films leads to such destructive effects, and eventually causes negative effects in children and inheritable disorders.
In the Tafsir Noor al-Thaqalayn it is said: When the mating season for prophet Shuʿayb’s (PBUH) sheep came, prophet Moses (PBUH) (who served prophet Shuʿayb (PBUH) for eight to ten years) went among the sheep, cut sections of skin from his cane and left others, then threw it in the middle of the pen and covered it with a black and white cloth, then sent the male sheep to the females. The male sheep were looking at this black and white stick and mating, as a result their lambs were all born black and white. (30)
- Another scientific experiment
The French Jean Rostand presents an experiment in his book “La Vie”. This experiment, performed on several male and female ducks, has recorded useful scientific results.
Jean Rostand and his colleagues put several male and female ducks in an experimental lab and checked their reproductive hormones before the experiment. After the ducks were together for a while, they tested them again, the results showing an increase in hormonal levels. The male and female ducks were separated and were checked again after some time had passed; the hormones had returned to their normal levels. To prove that these hormonal changes had been made through their eyes and vision, they tried another experiment. They covered the male ducks with black cloths so that no light would enter their bodies through their skin, then left their eyes open so that they could see the other ducks. This experiment also showed an increase, proving that the hormonal changes were caused by the male ducks seeing the female ones. In another experiment the eyes of the male ducks were covered and they were then let loose among the females. This time the increase in hormonal levels was not observed. (31)
The previous story and also this experiment demonstrate what harmful effects women who put themselves on display in front of men bring to the society and the human race; even though they do not know these effects themselves.
The reason behind the religious hijab is to prevent such effects.
- Al-Kashshaaf, Vol 3, Verse 59 Al-Ahzab chapter, Al-Zamakhshari
- Majma‘ al-Bayan fi-Tafsir al-Qur’an, Vol 8, Shaykh Tabarsi
- Bihār al-Anwār, Vol 68, Allama Majlisi
- Bihār al-Anwār, Vol 80, Allama Majlisi
- Bihār al-Anwār, Vol 43, Allama Majlisi
- As above
- Tafsir Noor al-Thaqalayn, Vol 4
- Quoted from “Behdashte Ezdevaj dar Islam” authored by Dr. Safdar Sanei