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Hijab and Psychological Tranquility

Without limits being established for relations between men and women or with unlimited free associations, sexual excitement and stimulation increase and demands become unquenchable and insatiable. The sexual instinct is a powerful, deep-rooted instinct which resembles the fathomless ocean. Although one thinks that by obeying it, one will have tamed it, its rebellions nature continues to show forth. It is like a fire; the more fuel is added to it, the greater would be its flame, in order to comprehend this, two points should be noted.

Firstly, just as history recalls those who coveted wealth, who were continuously seeking to add to what they already had and however much more they gained, they were still greedy for more, it also mentions those who were covetous for sexual pleasures. In no way were they satisfied by possessing beautiful women dominating over them. This was the situation of all of those who had harmes and, in truth, all those who had the power to possess women.

Christensen writes about the Sassanian rulers, "The women we see carved into stone at Taq-i-Bustan are only a few of the 3000 women Khosrow Parviz possessed in his harem. This king was never satisfied sexually. Whenever girls, widows or women with children were introduced to him (for their beauty), he would order that they be sent to his harem. Whenever he desired to replenish his harem, he would write letters to his governors wherein he would describe the perfect and beautiful women he wanted. They then would send him any women who fitted his description".

Stories like this are endless in history. In most recent times, this greed does not take the form of harmes but exists in another form with the difference that today it is not necessary for a person to have the wealth and possibilities that Khosrow Parviz or Harun al-Rashid had. Today, with the blessing of contemporary culture, it is possible for a man who only has one-thousandth of the possibilities of Parviz or Harun to take advantage of women.

Secondly, have you ever considered what the desire to serenade or write love poems stems from inhumanity? A large part of world literature is filled with love poems. In this type of literature, a man praises his beloved, asks for his needs to be satisfied by the beloved, raises the position of the beloved as he lowers his own status and suffers greatly from separation.

What is this? Why does humanity not behave in the same way towards other needs? Have you ever seen a person who worships money or a person who is ambitious for higher material positions, writing love poems on money or on ambition? Has anyone ever written a love poem asking for bread? Why is it that people enjoy listening to or reading the love poems of another? Why is it that so many people receive such pleasure from Hafiz's love poems? Is it not because each person senses that it conforms to some very deep instinct which possesses their whole being? How mistaken are those who say that the one and only reason which forms the basis for human activity is an economic one!
Human beings have developed special literary rhytmic forms to express that love just as they have done with spritualities whereas no special literary rhytmic forms have been developed for things which are essentially material like bread and water. We do not want to insinuate that all loves are sexual nor do we mean to imply that all of Hafiz's or Sa'adi's poems stem from their sexual instinct. This is something which needs to be discussed separately at another time.

But what is clear is that many of the love poems are ones written by men in devotion to women. It is suffiecient for us to recognize that a man's attention towards a woman is not based on bread and water so that is can be satiated when the stomach is full. Rather, it either takes the form of greed and the worship of variety and multiplicity or the form of love and love poems. We will later discuss under what conditions the state of greed and sexual covetousness is strengthened and under what conditions love and love poems assume a spiritual quality.

At any rate, Islam has placed special emphasis upon the amazing power of this fiery instinct. There are traditions which speak of the danger of 'a look', the danger of a man and woman being along together and, finally, the danger of the instinct which unites a man and a woman.

Islam has established ways of controlling, balancing and taming this instinct. Duties have been given to both men and women in this area. On duty which is the responsibility of both men and women relates to looking at each other. "Say to the believing men to cast down their look and guard their private parts ..."1 and "Say to the believing women to cast down their look and guard their private parts ..."2 In summary, the command is that a man and a woman should not fix their eyes upon each other; they should not flirt with each other; they should not look at each other with lust or with the intention of seeking sexual pleasure (unless it is within the sacred bounds of marriage).

Islam has established a particular command for a woman which is that she covers her body from a man she is not mahram and that she should not flaunt herself or put her body on display in society. She is not to stimulate the attention of men by any means.

The human soul readily accepts stimulation. It is great error to think that the sexual desires of humanity are limited in extent and that after a certain point, are naturally satisfied. Just as the human being, man or woman, is never satisfied. Just as the human being, man or woman, is never satiated with wealth or position and is continuously seeking more; in the area of sexual desires, it is the same. No man is ever naturally satisfied by beauty and no woman is ever naturally satisfied by a man's attention and the conquest of his heart. Clearly the desires of the heart are never satiated.
On the other hand, unlimited demands are never fulfilled and a sense of deprivation is continuously felt. Not achieving one's desire results in psychological illnesses and complexes. Why is it that in the West psychological illnesses have increased? The reason is freedom of sexual ethics and continuous sexual stimulation through the newspapers, magazines, cinemas, theatres and official and unofficial parties and even the streets and alleys.

The reason why the Islamic command to cover is exclusive to women is because the desire to show off and display one's self is a particular trait of women. She is the hunter in the domination of the hearts of men and man is the prey. A woman's desire to display herself comes from this essence of the hunter. It is the female instinct which, because of its particular nature, wishes to capture hearts and imprison the male. Thus the deviation begins with the female instinct which, because of its particular nature, wishes to capture hearts and imprison the male. Thus the deviation begins with the female instinct and therefore the command to cover was issued.


1. 24 : 30

2. 24 : 30-31

Adopted from the book : "On the Islamic Hijab" by : "Murtaza Mutahhari"

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