Dear Sister, Hijab and the Law of Modesty Pt. 2

In our last issue (of the Sabeelur Rashaad brochure) we dealt with the concept of Hijab in Islam, and highlighted a few aspects of the law of modesty as they relate to ‘dressing’ for a woman. Under this topic, we indicated to some of the teachings of Islam which clearly established the prohibition of wearing ‘tight-fitted’ and ‘thin’ clothing for women. Those who wish to get more information can refer to our last issue of Sabeelur Rashaad (Jan. 2010 #63) for the full article.
Going further into the aspect of dressing for Muslim women, it should be understood that it is also prohibited for Muslim women to wear (their) clothing in such a manner that allows their physique (of the body) to be revealed. This is an area which many sisters do not pay attention to, and while covering themselves, they are yet revealed. Besides the fact that some Muslim sisters wear tight-fitted ‘tops’ or ‘upper garments’ (which is totally haram), they go to the extent by wearing short ‘tops’ which reach only up to the waist. This manner of dress allows the physique of their posterior, thighs and legs until the ankles to be revealed to the eyes of the public (both male and female).

The many different ways of the present day ‘modern Islamic dress’ falls into this prohibited way of attiring, and while many sisters think that they are up keeping the law of Hijab in Islam, they are, in reality, violating the teachings of the Holy Quran and the beautiful Sunnah of the Prophet (SA).

Sisters must fully understand that Hijab, as it relates to attiring, is not only about covering the head, in fact, it includes covering other parts of the body also, as we have explained in our previous issue of the Sabeelur Rashaad brochure. Along with this, attiring/dressing must be done in a manner where one’s body or physique does not become visible to others.

Hijab, as a whole, is a sacred institution which is founded on piety and righteousness, and hence, all that which is connected to it must be deep rooted in piety and righteousness. It therefore means that in the manner of ‘dress’, the ‘fear of Allah’ (taqwa) must be a guiding principle, so that one does not succumb to the satanic whispers of revealing that which Allah has ordered to be concealed.

The Holy Quran states, ‘O Children of Adam! We have sent down to you clothing in order to cover your shame and as an adornment. And the best of all garments is the garment of the piety’. (Sura Al A’raf (7) verse26).

The Principle of piety must therefore be the driving force behind one’s manner of dress. Once this is present/found, then the type of clothing, as well as the manner of attiring will all be in conformity to the laws of modesty, shyness, morality, decency and chastity. In this way, the woman’s dress will not be a means of displaying evil intentions and motives, nor will it be a means of seduction and attraction to the opposite sex, but instead, it will be one which represents a high degree of shyness, decency, purity and modesty.

On the other hand, if the fear of Allah is not the guiding principle in one’s attire, then the external covering of the body may not be sufficient to resist the temptation of falling into many wrongs that are in total violation of the concept of Hijab in Islam. It is on account of the absence of this fundamental value, we see that many Muslim women get involved in activities that are sinful, indecent and unchaste, although they may be from among those who cover themselves completely or partially. It is for this reason, Allah informs the believers in the above mentioned verse, ‘And the best of all garments is the garment of Piety’. (7:26). In a similar manner, we see that the very verse which ordains Hijab (for women) ends with the words, ‘And Allah is well acquainted with all that you do’.(24:30)

Another very important aspect of ‘Hijab in Islam’, is that which pertains to the conduct and behavior of a woman. When one looks at the teachings of Islam, it becomes very clear that a woman has been given a tremendous amount of guidance with respect to her conduct and behavior. These guidelines go beyond that of the attire and dress, and extend to the manner of speech, interaction, outward behavior, intermingling with the opposite sex, etc. The reason for these divine instructions, which have been given specifically to women, is due to the great differences which exist between a man and a woman. This has been clearly highlighted in the Holy Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet (SA). As evident, these differences are not only confined to duties and responsibilities, but they go straight back to the creation of the woman with respect to her qualities, emotions, feelings and the nature with which she has been created.

The same has been admitted by many renowned writers of the present day. In this regard, the French Nobel Laureate, Alexis Carrel wrote, ‘The differences existing between man and woman do not come from the particular form of the sexual orgasm, the presence of the uterus, from gestation, or from the mode of education. They are of a more fundamental nature. They are caused by the very structure of the tissues and by the impregnation of the entire organism with specific chemical substances secreted by the ovary. Ignorance of these fundamental facts has led promoters of feminism to believe that both sexes should have the same education, the same powers and the same responsibilities. In reality, woman differs profoundly from man. Every one of the cells in her body bears the mark of her sex. The same is true of her orgasm and, over all, of her nervous system. Physiological laws are as inexorable as those of the sidereal world. They cannot be replaced by human wishes. Woman should develop their aptitudes in accordance with their own nature, without trying to imitate the males. (Alexis Carrel, ‘Man, The Unknown’ as quoted in ‘Woman in Shariah’ pg.1 and Woman between Islam and Western Society pg.35).

In a similar manner, Professor Steven Goldberg has written, ‘The central fact is that men and women are different from each other, from gene to the thought to the act. These differences flow from the biological natures of man and woman’. (Woman between Islam and Western Society pg.35).

Muslim women must therefore understand that in Islam, laws and instructions that govern their conduct and behavior, have been given in consideration to their distinctive disposition, soft natured traits and their feminine characteristics. It is on account of these delicate qualities, we find that women in general have a natural tendency and inclination to be private, soft spoken and peaceful.

Women should therefore view the guidelines of the sacred shariah as a means of protecting their chastity and womanhood, and should not look at these as a means of ‘demotion’ in our so called ‘western liberated society’.

From among the divine guidance which Allah has given to His female servants (Muslim women) is that which is connected to their voices. It is common knowledge that the voice of a woman can be a means of attraction to the opposite sex. The manner of speech and the alluring, charming and attractive voice of a woman can be used as a means of seduction on the path of women. It is a well known fact that today, many ill mannered women use their voices and manner of speech to captivate the hearts of those they desire. In a similar manner, sometimes a woman may be innocent of any such intent, however, the opposite sex may find pleasure, excitement and enjoyment in listening to the female’s voice.

It is in order to protect the Muslim women from falling prey to such evils, and to preserve their honor, Allah Has guided them in this regard by saying, ‘Be not soft in speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease (of evil intent) should be moved with desire, but speak in an honorable manner’. (Sura Al Ahzab (33) verse32).

Here, the believing women are commanded that when the need arises for them to speak to a male who is not blood related to them, then they must refrain from speaking in their normal, soft, gentle and pleasing way. The soft and tender nature of the voice, as stated by Allah, can create ill desires in the hearts of those who have evil intent. The Quran states that the woman must speak in a straight and sensible manner, which must be upright and scrupulous in nature. She must not adopt ‘a manner of speech’ or speak in such a voice that seeks to produce or create passionate desires in the hearts of those who are spoken to. All these are totally haram / unlawful for a woman.

Muslim sisters must therefore take note of this teaching of the Holy Quran which is also part of the Institution of Hijab in Islam.