Rafed English

The Islamic Concept of Hijab

Adopted from the Book : "The Islamic Hijab" by : "Al-Balagh Foundation"

Surely, the concept of hijab adopted by Islam differs completely from the hijab which was introduced by the civilizations of Jahiliyah including the miserable social phenomenons which were existed in the palaces of some Ummayad and Abbasid rulers concerning the exploitation of women in order to achieve their own enjoyment. Even the term hijab did not enter the ideological life of Muslims except recently. Whatever has been said about woman, the fact remains that Islam's aspiration for protecting her through shaping a special dress for her shows Islam's honor and respect for her and her dignity, cleanliness and purity.

In Islam and its right message, there never exists any law or regulation which prevents woman from participating in the aspects of life nor imprisoning her at home like the civilization of the period of Jahiliyah. Even this word hijab is newly used in Islamic thought. 14

In addition to the special dress worn by woman while moving outside her home - as we will explain later on - Islam also uses the term sitir (screen) for this action.

Islam made it obligatory for both men and women to cast down their eyes for others than their wives, husband or harem. On one hand, Islam makes it obligatory for woman to wear hijab, on the other hand, it imposes certain obligations for men too.

If a special dress is limited for woman to hide the fascinations (beauties) of her body; on the other side it also imposes that men lower their eyes to women others than their mahram women in addition to guarding their private parts.

In agreement with this new use of the word hijab as a definition within and Islamic context, it is correct for us to say: Islamic veil includes both men and women; but its essence differs in the form that preserves morals, protects virtue and respects woman in daily life. Islam has nothing to do with imprisonment, or preventing woman from exercising her natural right and there is no insult or degradation for woman in its criteria and schemes. It is honor for Islam that the establishment of its civilized practice was a conviction for the end of the movement of exploitation and enslavement which was practised by men against women in the period of Jahiliyah, which blackened the history of man before the rising of the blessed mission of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.).

The Islamic hijab is defined briefly as the shape of a modest dress in addition to the limitation of the relation between men and women other than the non-mahram (one who is marriageable) women and placing her in a pure legal frame entwined with chastity, respect and giving rights.

Notes :

14. Mas'lat al-Hijab, Shahid Murtadha Mutahari.

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