The Hijab of Women : Modesty, Humility and Dignity

In Surah Noor and Surah Ahzab Allah commands about the believing women about Hijab.

“And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed”. (24 : 31)

“O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful”. (Qur’an 33 : 59)

Here “lowering the gaze” are first ordained onto “Men” and in the very next verse same orders were prescribed onto the believing women. There are three kinds of Hijab : Hijab of the eye (desire), Physical hijab and Social hijab. The Sattar (the body parts to be covered) of the women is complete body except face and hands in front of Na mahram but for Mahram it’s permissible. Obviously, wearing hijab is mandatory.

▪Eye Hijab : Hijab of the eye is the first instruction given to both men women. It’s very important to discipline and control the inner feelings first. First of all, we must know what the inner aim of the being is, the aspiration, the descending force, what action receives from the approval from it — As desire is considered to be a very authoritative feeling which carries the ability to shape actions and life as a whole. Action is the last blow of our desire/feelings.

In today’s hypersexualized society, many of us would rather just ignore the concept of lowering the gaze and avoiding inappropriate glances at males/females all together.

Many of us might believe in “lowering the gaze”, but this is an aspect of our Hijab that most of us still need to perfect. In addition to not looking at non-Mahrams, prudence dictates that we should avoid looking at pictures, billboards, magazines as well television/movies (unethical/ provoking).

▪Physical hijab : In the above two verses, women are told to lower their gaze, and to cover their private parts and bosoms. First of all, wearing a hijab for a Muslim woman is a way of liberating oneself from the norms of this world. It protects Muslim women from the ideas that the fashion industry dictates, as well as the media, on what to wear and not as well as Hijab is the protection against vanity and the lustful gaze of men.

Nowadays, it tends to be viewed as a piece of cloth on the head. A woman who wears this is referred to as “wearing hijaab”.
But hijaab is much more than this. It encompasses our demeanour and behaviour and the entire way we are dressed, around non-mahrams. It might be helpful to view it as a state, not a garment.

So, if a person wears a piece of cloth on the head but is wearing tight or short clothes or not covering her bosoms then they can be referred to as wearing a headscarf, but perhaps not as being in a state of hijaab. Just like in ihraam that is referred to as two white sheets worn by men for hajj or umrah, but actually those two garments are just one part of a total state of being, which includes not cutting one’s hair or nails, not killing any animals and not engaging in certain other types of behaviour.

Similarly, Islam’s code of modesty extends to all aspects of one’s life, including attire. Hijab, the head-covering worn by Muslim women, is an outer manifestation of an inner commitment to Allah. In totality, hijaab encompasses women’s apparent and conceal act.

▪ Social Hijab : In addition to the physical Hijab, Islam has clear teachings about social Hijab. It is one thing that Islam permits us to meet with non-Mahrams for school-/work-related, hospitals or otherwise unavoidable reasons – and even then, complete modesty should be observed. The list of Mehram of the woman is described in the above verse :

1. Husband

2. Father (includes grand father, great grand father, great great grand father, etc.)

3. Sons (includes sonss and daughters sons, grand sons, and so on)

4. Brother ( includes brothers sons,their sons, and so on)

5. Sisters sons (includes sisters sons sons, their sons, and so on)

6. Paternal and Maternal uncles

7. Son in law

8. Father in law

9. step father (from the day the step father conjugates with ones real mother)

10. step sons (from the day the wife conjugates with the real father of the step sons)

11. All the men who (in their infancy) have shared the suckle of the woman she suckled with in her infancy.

In actuality, Wearing hijab is a personal and independent decision that comes from a sincere yearning to please Allah while appreciating the wisdom underlying His command. To some it can be way of restraining oneself but to Muslim women, it mean freedom. The dress code, the hijab encompasses modest behaviors, manners and speech. The inner humility as exhibited through etiquettes and morals completes the significance of the physical veil.

Lastly, turn towards Allah and Repent of the lapses and errors that you have been committing in this regard so far, and reform your conduct in accordance with the commands given by Allah and His Prophet pbuh. Also, wearing a hijab is a way of treating oneself as somebody who is precious and special gaining more self-respect like a treasure that is kept hidden until it is uncovered. In this way, Hijab represents their distinct identity ga and claim to religious authenticity; it protects women and defines their place in society.

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