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Reasons Given for the Modest Dress - Part 2

The Economic Reason

Another reason given for the modest dress is that they have said that the modest dress developed because of economics, and of course, it was to exploit women.

to refer to the fact that they say the modest dress relates to the era when men dominated over women. If we do not accept that era, they say that it resulted from men being the mediator for women: A man hired a woman for his own purposes. He kept her in his home to do his work. He left some of his work for a woman to do for him. This was similar to when they imprisoned slaves and prevented them from leaving to better perform the work of their master. Men saw that it would be to their advantage to put women behind a curtain and prevent their comings and goings so that they would better undertake the work of the house which had been given to them to do. Thus, men did this in order for them to have hired women from the economic point of view and to have turned them into an instrument. Otherwise there was no reason to do such a thing. Wherever the modest dress has appeared, it was accompanied by such a situation of the employing of women by men to work in the house.

Is it true that Ws reason existed in those places in the world where the modest dress appeared? We do not deny that perhaps in some corners of the world this situation existed. If men prevented women from leaving their home and prevented others from seeing them in whatever form, if men imprisoned women, the roots of such a cause might have been economic. However, we are discussing Islam. Islam, on the one hand, established and brought the modest dress and, on the other, very directly stated something which is among the very clear aspects of Islam which is that a man has absolutely no right to gain economically from a woman. That is, a woman has economic independence. Great emphasis has been given to this issue.

That is, a man has no right to benefit economically in anyway whatsoever from a woman. The jobs of a woman belong to her. If, within the home itself, work is given to a woman to do if she so desires. But if a woman were to say, "No. I won"t do that," a man has no right to force her to do it.

A woman is free in whatever work she does. In the first place, she has a right to refuse; a man has no right to order her to do something. Secondly, if she says, "I will do this for such and such a wage," she has a right to receive a wage, in the case of nursing her child, for instance. Even though a mother has priority to nurse her own child, she still has a right to obtain a wage for it.

A woman has a right to work outside the home as long as it does not harm the family environment. Whatever she earns belongs to her alone, no matter what legitimate work she performs.

It must be clearly recognized, then, that Islamic precepts do not intend for the modest dress to be a means to economically exploit women. If this had been the intention, the rulings would have reflected this. For instance, the precepts would have stated that a man has the right to employ his wife in his home and a woman must wear the modest dress. Then these two things would have been connected. A system which states that a man has no right to exploit a woman but, on the other hand, that same system has established the modest dress, clearly, then, did not establish the modest dress to exploit women.

The Ethical Reason

Another reason they have given for the appearance of the modest dress has an ethical aspect. That is, it relates to the character and nature of individual.

They say it stems from the selfishness of men and men"s jealousy. A man dominated over a woman so that he could enjoy her exclusively himself. That is, a type of excessive greed which existed in men caused them to present the modest dress.

Russell says just this. He says that human beings have been able, to a certain extent, to dominate over their greed for wealth in such a way that they later encouraged charity and sharing one"s table with others because these related to wealth. They came to regard excessive greed as something disagreeable in human beings but they were not able to control their greed for sex in the same way. Thus, they came and changed the name of this to "manliness" or "zeal".

They considered jealousy and greed under this name to be a virtue whereas if charity is good and if it is good in relation to wealth, it should be good in relation to women as well, or else it is wrong in both areas. How is it that when it comes to something that belongs to a person, it is good to be generous and liberal with it but then when it relates to women, it is evil. No, there is absolutely no difference between them. If it is good, it is good for both and if it is bad, it relates to both.

In the first place, it is not right to compare "having a wife" to "having property". Secondly, from our point of view, there is a difference between jealousy and zeal (passion, fervor or ardency, ghairat). We believe them to be two different feelings. Zeal is a natural instinct given to humanity. It is a collective word. That is, its roots are to preserve society, not an individual. It is like a policeman that God has placed within humanity to preserve future generations.

As we have pointed out, however, much satisfaction a man receives in sexual pleasures, his sense of zeal becomes more weakened along with his sensitivities towards modesty, piety and moral will-power. Lustful men do not object to their wives having affairs; they may even enjoy it and defend such deeds.

Whereas the opposite is true of men who struggle against their ego"s desires and lust. In this struggle, gathering together their moral forces, they dominate over vices such as greed, envy or the worship of money within themselves. They become what the term "human being" really means. They then devote themselves to serving people as a sense of providing service to others develops within them. Such men have greater "zeal" or "sense of manliness" and are more jealous and protective of women. As a matter of fact, they protect all women in general. That is, their conscience does not permit them to allow any kind of aggression against women in society for it is as if they were the protectors of all women.

Imam Ali said, "A noble, zealous person never commits adultery." He did not say "a jealous person never commits adultery" but rather a zealous one. Why? Because manliness is a noble, human virtue. It is a human virtue which relates to society and its purity. Just as a zealous man does not allow the corruption of women he is related to, neither is he content to see the women of society being corrupted. This is because zeal is other than jealousy. Jealousy is a personal and individual affair and stems from a series of spiritual beliefs but zeal is an emotion and a sensitivity which relates to the human species as a whole.

The Psychological Reason

It is well known that the spirit of the human being, just like a person"s body, can either be healthy or sick. What is the cause for its sickness? They have given many reasons. One of the reasons mentioned is frustration, the failure to attain one"s desires, deprivation or disillusionment.

Some people have suggested that these sexual frustrations arise from social limitations. With the removal of these limitations, all individuals will then succeed in the area of sexual affairs and sexual frustrations will disappear. This assumption was put forward but the drawbacks to it became quite apparent. It became clear that although it is true that sexual frustration causes psychological illnesses, it cannot be eliminated by the removal of the limits because if we remove social limits, we will only serve to further stimulate sexual urges, thereby increasing demands which only lead to further disillusionment within the human being.

When demands are limited, they can be satisfied. Demands can even be decreased in relation to the supply but it has been proved that the demand of certain things in human beings is unlimited. However much they are satisfied, the desire persists. Things which have a quality which are not solely physical are like this. For instance, in the area of material things, if we want to say how much food a society needs, we can estimate this but if we were to ask how much money a society needed, the demand would be unlimited.

Experience and statistics have shown that in the West where sexual freedom is very great and in some areas, there are no limitations, psychological illnesses are greater than in a society which has limitations. The greater the stimulation, the more the desires increase. They increase several times just like fire. Can a person satiate a fire with fuel? This clearly cannot be done.

They say that no matter how you try to prevent a human being from something, the greed for it increases. This is true but the point to note is that the human being develops greed for something which is both forbidden and stimulated but if it is not offered or it is offered less, the human being finds less desire for it. When it is stimulated it is impossible for everyone to satisfy their desires for it no matter how much freedom they are given.

Thus, if there is a kind of limitation and sexual desires are to be satisfied within the marital environment, if society is to be the place of work and activity, if a woman does not have the right to stimulate sexual urges nor a man have the right to seek sexual fulfillment outside the marital environment, if it takes this form, the spirit and morale of people will clearly develop in a more healthy and wholesome way.

As to the family, efforts must be made so that, to the extent possible, marital relations become more and more intimate and whatever will weaken this relationship must be resisted. The limiting of sexual fulfillment to marriage, whatever kind of fulfillment it may be, causes the married couple to develop a more profound union because a man and a woman who knows only her husband to be the source of her pleasure and happiness clearly will develop deeper and stronger ties.

Thus this issue of forbidding the fulfillment of sexual activities outside of the family center serves to strengthen family solidarity whereas allowing such possibilities outside the family center separates the family. As we will come to point out, the Islamic modest dress is nothing more than this; the limiting or restricting the sexual needs to marriage.

Now we will look at society. It has been said that the modest dress paralyzes half of the society. if the modest dress were that which they say existed among the Indians or that which existed in ancient Iran, this may be true. But the Islamic modest dress does not say that a woman should be imprisoned nor does it say that a woman has no right to leave her home or to do a particular job which is of a social or economic nature. Islamic precepts say, as we will read in the verses of the Holy Quran and in the Traditions, that a woman who leaves her home does not have the right to leave in such a way that she stimulates other men or attracts them towards herself. This is a particular duty of women. And no man has the right to cast a lustful look towards a woman who leaves her home. This is a particular duty of men.

If a woman did not speak in stimulating tones in a social situation, if this did not happen, would boys and girls not study better? If boys did not have the right to flirt, would society not function better? If a woman is wearing the modest dress and goes to buy something and the seller knows that this is not the place for games, which way is better? Clearly if there is the Islamic modest dress, the human task force will most certainly perform with more efficiency and in this manner, work productivity will improve.

That which has been created clearly prevents work from progressing as it should. Students do not study; marketing has been made to deviate from its main purpose which is selling quality goods. Instead they empty the pockets of people by showing a beautiful woman who is selling something. Men go to buy, not caring what the product is, to enable them to talk to her. Will this cause society to deviate?

Thus, from the point of view of work and social activity, the improvement of society dictates that it should not be the place for the stimulation or fulfillment of sexual urges and the Islamic modest dress serves just this purpose.

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