On the Command to Guard their Private Parts
- :Shahid Mutahhari
In the next sentence it says, "Tell the believing men ... to guard their private parts." (24 : 30) To guard from what? From everything which is not correct, guard against both corruption and the glance of others.
As you know, it was not the custom among Arabs in the Age of Ignorance to hide their private parts. Islam came and made it obligatory to cover this area.
It should be noted that the present western civilization is moving directly towards the habits of the pre-Islamic Arabs in the Age of Ignorance and they are continuously weaving philosophies justifying that nakedness is a good thing. Russell in "On Discipline", says that another illogical ethics or taboo is that a mother and father tell their children to cover themselves which only creates a greater curiosity in children and parents should show their sexual organs to children so that they become aware of whatever there is from the beginning. Now, they do this.
But the Holy Quran says, "And guard your private parts", both from corruption and from the view of others. Covering one's private parts is obligatory in Islam except, of course, between a husband and wife and it is among the most disapproved acts for a mother to be naked before her son or a father before his daughter.
"That is purer for them. God is aware of the things they do"1. The Holy Prophet said that from childhood a certain event occurred several times. He sensed that there was another kind of power within him and it would not allow him to do things that were being done during the Age of Ignorance. He said once when he was a child he was playing with the children. Masons were building a house for one of the Quraish nearby. The children enjoyed helping the builders by bringing them stones, bricks, etc. The children would carry them in their long white skirts (underneath which they wore nothing) and then place them before the builders. In doing so, their private parts would be revealed. The Holy Prophet related that he went and put a stone in the skirt of his long chemise and when he wanted to rise, something stopped him and hit against the skirt of his dress. He repeated it and he had the same feeling. He then realized that he should not do this and he did not try again.2
"Say to the believing women that they cast down their look."3 You see that in these two verses, the ruling particular to men. For instance, if women were forbidden from ruling for a men and women is the so me this is not something looking and not men, there would have been a distinction that such and such ws allright for men but not for women. It is clear, then, that when there is no distinction made between men and women, it has another purpose which we shall discuss in the next lesson.
1. Nahj al-Balaghah, Sermon 227.
2. Ibn Abil Hadid, Sharhe Nahj al-Balaghah, Sermon 190.
3. 24 : 31.
Adopted from the book : "On the Islamic Hijab" by : "Murtaza Mutahhari"
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