Rafed English

The Hijab brings Dignity to a Woman

There is one issue which remains to be discussed. It is one of the criticism they have made against the hijab which says that the hijab deprives the honour and respect of a woman. You know that human dignity has become one of the important goals of humanity since the words about human rights have developed. Human dignity is respected and it must be followed; all human beings share in this whether man or woman, black or white, or whatever nation or creed. Every individual has this right of human dignity.

They say that the Islamic hijab opposes a woman's dignity. We accept the right of human dignity. The discussion is whether or not hijab, i.e., the hijab which Islamic precepts mention, is disrespectful to women, an insult to her dignity. This idea came into being from the idea that the hijab imprisons a woman, making her a slave. Enslavement opposes human dignity. They say because the hijab was introduced by men to enable them to exploit women, men wanted to captivated woman and imprison her in a corner of her home, thus, it is to have overlooked or insulted her human dignity. Respect, honour and nobility of a woman call for not having a hijab.

As we have said and we will further describe later, that is, we will deduce from the verses of the Holy Quran that we have nothing which would serve to imprison a woman and the necessities of the Islamic hijab are not to imprison a woman. If a man has duties in his relation to a woman or a woman has duties in relation to a man, the duty is in order to strengthen and solidify the family unit. That is, it has a clear purpose. In addition, from the social point of view, it has necessities. That is, the well-being of society demands that a man and a woman commit themselves to a special kind of association with each other or the ethical sanctities and ethical balance and the tranquility of the spirit of society, demand that a man and a woman choose a special way of relating to each other. This is neither called imprisonment nor enslavement nor does it oppose human dignity.

As we observe if a man leaves his house naked, he is blamed and reproached and perhaps the police will arrest him. That is, even if a man leaves his house with pajamas on, or with just underpants, everyone will stop him because it opposes social dignity. Law or custom rules that when a man leaves his house, he should be covered and fully dressed. Does this oppose human dignity to tell him to cover himself and leave the house?

On the other hand, if a woman leaves her house coverd within the limits that we will later mention, it causes greater respect for her. That is, it prevents the interference of men who lack morality and ethics. If a woman leaves her house covered, not only does it not detract from her human dignity, but it adds to it. Take a woman who leaves her home with only her face and two hands showing and from her behaviour and the clothes she wears there is nothing which would cause others to be stimulated or attracted towards her. That is, she does not invite men to herself. She does not wear clothes taht speak out ro walk in a way to draw attention to herself or does not speak in such a way to attract attention.

Something the clothes of an individual speak. His or her shoes speak. The way she or he talks says something else. Take a man, for instance, who speaks in such a way so as to say, "Fear me", or dresses in such a way opposite to that which is customary. That is, with a traditional cloak, a bread and a turban, etc., communicates to the poeple, "Respect me."

It is possible that a woman wears clothes in such a manner that a human being, a respected human being, would associate among people and it is possible that she wears clothes and walks in a way which stimulates, "Come and follow me". Does the dignity of a woman, the dignity of a man, or the dignity of society not cause a woman to leave her home serious, diligent and simply dressed in the manner not drawing the attention of everyone she passes by.

She should be such that she does not distract a man and turn his attention from what he is doing. Does this oppose a woman's dignity? Or does it oppose the dignity of society? If a person says something, which existed in non-Islamic societies, that the hijab was to imprison women, that a woman must be placed in a locked house and she should have no right of association outside the home, this does not relate to Islam. If Islamic precepts were to say that it is not permitted for a woman to leave her house; if we were to ask whether it is possible for a woman to buy something from a store where the seller be a man and they said no, it was forbidden; if a person asked, "Is a woman permitted to participate in meetings, religious gatherings?' we were to say no, it is not permitted; if it is possible for women to meet each other?; if someone were to say all of these were forbidden, that a woman must sit in a corner of the house and never leave her home, this would be something, but Islam does not state this.

We say this is based on two things. One is based upon that which is good for the family. That is, a woman must not do anything that would disturb her family situation. For a woman to leave her house to go to her sister's house if her sister is a corrupt and licencious person or even to visit her mother where in the effects of the visit bring chaos to the house for a week, they say no to such circumstances. The family must not be disturbed.

The second basis is that leaving the house, according to the Holy Quran, must not be in order to flaunt oneself, to disturb peace and tranquility of others, to prevent the work of others. If it is not these things, there is no problem.

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

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