Rafed English

Hijab in Modern Times Why is it needed?

The concept of Hijab is not a new phenomenon. Most people know that Muslim women who cover their hair and are dressed modestly are observing the Hijab. Most people are unaware, however, that the concept of Hijab is rooted in Judeo-Christian philosophy.

The three Abrahamic religions share many beliefs, one of which includes Hijab.

According to Rabbi Menachem M. Brayer, Professor of Biblical Literature at Yeshiva University, it was the custom of Jewish women to go out in public with a head covering which, sometimes, even covered the whole face leaving one eye free. Rabbinic law forbids the recitation of blessings or prayers in the presence of a married woman with uncovered hair, since uncovering the woman's hair is considered "nudity". Dr. Brayer also mentions that a Jewish woman's failure to cover her head was considered an offence to her modesty, during the Tannaitic period (the first era in Jewish history).

Dr. Brayer also explains that veil of the Jewish woman was not always considered a sign of modesty. Sometimes, the veil symbolized a state of distinction and luxury rather than modesty. The veil personified the dignity and superiority of noble prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head.

And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head - it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or shaved off, she should cover her women. It also represented a woman's inaccessibility as a sanctified possession of her husband.

Let us also not for g e t the Christian tradition. It is well known that for hundreds of years Catholic Nuns have worn habits, a dress much like the Islamic Hijab. Their observance of the veil is indicated in the Holy Bible:

“Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or head. A man ought not to cover his head,  since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.

For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.” (I Corinthians 11:3-10)

As indicated by St. Paul, the veil represents a sign of male authority and as well as a symbol of woman’s subjection to man and to God. But even though it is stated in the Bible for a woman to cover her hair, many Christians have forgot this practice.

Unlike Judeo-Christian belief, the Islamic Hijab is neither a sign of man's authority over woman nor a
sign of luxury and distinction of noble married women. In Islam the Hijab is a sign of modesty that safeguards the personal integrity and honor of women.

The Quran urges the believing men and women to lower their gaze and guard their modesty and then urges the believing women to extend their head covers to cover the neck and the bosom:

"Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty…

And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms..." (Quran 24:30,31)

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