Rafed English

What is the Philosophy of Covering (part 3)?

Adopted from the book "Woman" by : Mahdi Mahrizi

It seems that all these things can be admitted as evidences and applicabilities of Tabarruj, since Tabarruj means displaying of finery and every one of these can be an applicability of these things. The verse 33 of surat An­Noor stated three applicabilities of this Tabarruj "displaying the charms" in this way:

1. Displaying and revealing hidden finery and charms;

2. Uncovering the neck and place of necklace;

3. Walking in a coquetry way to show off the concealed finery.

To sum up, what causes deviation from life and course of development, in view of the Quran, being Tabarruj which is an indecent and obscene practice. In many traditions, as in the Quran, chastity and bashfulness are referred to as philosophy of covering.

1. Al­Imaam Ar­Riza"A", in a reply to a question put to him by Mohammed Ibn Sinan, said:

"The reason behind prohibition of gazing at hair and body of women lies in the fact that this gaze constitutes a ground for exciting the men, the excitement that will lead ultimately to corruption and indulgence in unlawful acts and practices." 181

2. Al­Imaam As­Saadiq"A" said:

"Successive looks "at women" plant seeds of lust inside the heart "of men", and constitute a seduction that causes the seer to slip "commit sin"."182

3. In Tafseer Al­Qummi, Al­Imaam Al­Baaqir in interpreting the verse "O children of Adam! We have revealed unto you raiment to conceal your shame...", said:

"The raiment being that which people put on, with living facilities and wealth. Raiment is absteniousness and chastity. A chaste and pure man is that who never displays his private parts although being naked of clothes. While a debaucher is that whose private parts are revealed, even when his body be covered with clothes. Allah says: Raiment of virtuousness is better, meaning that chastity is better "for people".183

4. There are traditions reported too about chastity giving this meaning, like:

· "No chaste man has ever committed adultery." 184

· "Overcome the sensuality by chastity and continence." 185

· "Chastity weakens the lust." 186

· "Bashfulness lies in lowering the gaze." 187

On the other hand, among statements of the Infallibles a reference is made to this fact that chastity is one of factors leading to perfection of character of man:

· "Virtues can never be completed but only through chastity and sacrifice."188

In brief, chastity and bashfulness being a human characteristic that was and be admitted by all human beings, and to which all great men and Divine religions recommended and called. The Islamic Shari'ah has also recommended emphatically on it making it a basis for certain rules and ordinances like: Covering, controlling the gaze and observing the limits between woman and man.

On this basis, we can criticise the various theories that have been presented on the subject of emergence of covering among human beings. Some "researchers" have presented reasons and purposes for covering of women, which being incompatible with human history and man's nature, and for affirming of which no witness or historical evidence is available. Very often these causes have been stated for showing ignorance or tyranny of veil "hijaab". Herewith I will first cite these causes, and will give a finish then to their criticism.

1. Self­discipline and monasticism being a factor for the covering and for creating limits "if inviolability" between woman and man, in order that the greatest subject of joy and pleasure for humans, i.e. seeking sexual pleasure, would be removed.

2. Insecurity of women before violation and injustice, being another factor causing women to cover themselves and hide their charms.

3. Men, for getting more enjoyment and economical exploitation of women, they accustomed them to stay at home.

4. Men's jealousy caused women to cover themselves. The husband would cover his wife for the sake of secluding her exclusively for himself and preventing others from exploiting her.

5. Menstruation and menses of women led them to think little of themselves and to their retirement from society and keeping aloof from them. 189

6. Martyr Mutahhari considered another factor for covering of the woman, saying:

· "In my view the social root of emergence of limits and fender between woman and man should not be sought in inclination to mortification of the man's desire to exploit the woman, or man's jealousy, or social insecurity, or woman's menses, or at least can be sought with a less degree. The root of this phenomenon should be sought in an instinctive skilful prudence of the woman herself.

In general the debate is concerning the origin of woman's sexual morals like bashfulness and chastity, and among them the tendency toward covering and veiling herself from the man. There are several theories introduced on this subject.

The most exact of these theories being that bashfulness and chastity, veiling and covering being altogether a policy adopted by the woman as an inspiration to valuating herself and preserving her position in front of the man. The woman, with her innate intelligence and own special sense, realised that she cannot be equal to the man in respect of bodily capabilities. And if she wants to struggle with the man in the field of life she would not be able to cope with him is strength. On the other hand, the weak point of the man lies in this want that creation being stored in existence of the man as God made him a manifestation of love and request "search" and the woman a manifestation of belovedness and subject of desire and request. When woman realises her status and position in front of the man and recognises the man's weak point in front of her, she would, just as she was trying to fascinate the man's heart through ornamentation and displaying her finery and charms would resort to seclusion and keeping aloof from the man. She realised that she should not offer herself gratuitously, but rather should make flame of loving and desiring her sharper. 190

The reason why this viewpoint was attributed to Ostaz Mutahhari being that he has not criticised this theory, and admitted its basis, that is woman's being beloved and man's being lover in his other articles, from which he derived some scientific conclusions. 191

These opinions and viewpoints, regardless of their not having an evidence and witness on their generality, have faced so many criticisms:

1. In these views no human root is considered for covering of man throughout long history, but woman and man were supposed to be engaged in a trade manly and womanly dispute, evaluating one's acts according to it.

2. Origin of mantle was not confined to women alone so as to approve of veracity of most of these opinions. The covering "mantle" has no restriction to women but it includes all mankind throughout history. With this description how can one talk about exploitation, jealousy or violation seeking on part of men and regarding them to be the motive behind covering.

3. Generality and comprehensiveness of covering among various peoples and communities, with multifarious ideals and aims, would lead us to refuse the influence of monasticism and asceticism in emergence of covering.

To sum up, it is infeasible to neglect the effect of instinctive quality of shyness and chastity in appearance and perpetuity of covering, and resort to mechanistic causes. In the same way as it can't be denied that some of these philosophies were effective in certain epochs and places, but restricting the emergence of covering in them is incorrect.

Of course it should be added that if bashfulness and chastity being the main incentive for covering, some conclusions other than sensual perfection, would be resulted from the covering. One of them being safeguarding the healthiness of human society, to the meaning that woman and man can, in social intercourses, establish relations as two human beings having human request from each other, and so they won't go after satisfying their sexual instincts in collective life.

The other benefit that is derived from them "bashfulness and chastity" being to preserve the genuineness of the family. Since the family, which is composed of a woman and a man living together as legal spouses, can insure the permanency and safety of mankind offspring, which is one of original and essential aims of the family, through legitimately satisfying the sexual instincts. Observing continence and woman's and man's adherence to bashfulness and chastity, and restricting the satisfying of sexual instincts within a legal environment, all this will have great impact upon stability and healthiness of the family.

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