Hijab , or veil, takes center stage whenever there is a battle between truth and falsehood. It has always been a sensitive issue, but recently it has received a lot of attention due to Islamic legislation and proposed legislation in several European countries (for example, France, Germany) that have banned the use of hijab in government institutions and educational institutions. For women who wear this garment out of religious conviction, the truth is obvious and indisputable. For others with limited knowledge or lack of understanding, the issue of Hijab can be confusing.
It is important to understand several points related to Hijab and modesty. The first point is that modesty was the norm in history, until the last part of the last century. If one could read historical books of various times and ages, modest coverage of women in almost every society would be found. The other point is that modesty is a component in several world religions, particularly in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It may come as a surprise to many that it was not Islam that invented modesty or hijab. This existed in the laws of religions revealed before Islam, and the remains can still be found in the altered books of those religions. With the final message given to Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessings be upon him), the order to wear the Hijab has been confirmed and finalized.
This is a reality, since all of these revelations came from the same Source, Allah. Mary, mother of Jesus (may God exalt her mention), is rarely portrayed without a traditional head covering and anyone could assume she was a Muslim. (Which, of course, she was.) You can find Jewish and Christian women today who cover the same thing as Muslim women. It is one of the common bonds that are shared by these three great faiths.
More than a Religious Symbol
Hijab represents a woman’s submission to her Creator and her connection to faith. In referring to this, Allah, the Almighty, says: “It is more appropriate for them to be known …” But while the Hijab is a symbol, the true meaning is much more than that. The following objectives and functions of the Hijab will clarify this point.
Hijab is a test for Muslim women. The Qur’an and Hadiths make it clear that Hijab is a religious obligation, which a woman has to fulfill. There is no academic difference on this point and the Muslim Ummah applied it more than 14 centuries ago. When a Muslim woman wears a hijab, she is obeying and submitting to God. The following verses from the Holy Quran refer to the mandatory nature of the Hijab:
“And tell the believers to lower their eyes and to guard their sex and not to show their ornaments – except what appears from them – and to extend their lace over their necklines. And do not show your ornaments except to your husbands or your parents or to the parents of your husbands or to your children or to the children of your husbands or to your brothers or to the children of your brothers or to your sisters or to your wives or to slaves that they own or to domestic ones, among men, deprived of carnal desire, or to children who have not yet discovered the pudendal parts of women. And that they don’t hit the ground with their feet, so that they know what they hide from their ornaments. And, all of you, repent, turn to Allah, O believers, in the hope of being blessed! ” [Holy Quran 24:31]
Allah also says:
“The profet! Tell your women and your daughters and the women of the believers who hide in their clothes. This is more appropriate, so that they are recognized and not harassed. And Allah is Forgive, Merciful. ” [Holy Quran 33:59]
A woman wearing a Hijab frees herself from the vague and selfish desire to show her beauty and compete with other women around her.
This is an innate desire that is exacerbated by despicable displays and tamed by modesty and coverage. With Hijab, a woman need not live up to society’s expectations of what is desirable, and she no longer needs to use her beauty to gain recognition or acceptance from those around her.
In the chapter of Al-Ahzaab mentioned above, Allah the Almighty says what it means “This is more appropriate, so that they are recognized and not harassed”. Thus, one of the functions of the Hijab is to protect women from abuse and harm. This includes, in particular, various forms of sexual abuse and harassment, which are prevalent in societies where few women cover. Men often receive mixed signals and believe that women want their advances in the way they reveal their bodies. The hijab, by contrast, sends a signal to men that the wearer is a modest and chaste woman, who should not be harassed.