Responsibility Of Hijab For Man and Woman

Let us scrutinize the required important matters for both sexes in order to specify the difference in responsibility between them concerning this framework of Islamic hijab.

Both man and woman are responsible according to the following verse of the Holy Qur'an:

"Say to the believing men that they cast dawn their looks and guard their private parts; that is purer for them; surely Allah is Aware of what they do. And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and not display their ornaments except what appears there of, and let them wear their head-coverings over their bosoms, and not display their or name except to their husbands..."

Holy Qur'an (24:30-31)

The great jurisprudents (fuqaha) have cited explanations for these edicts:

A. A woman must cover her body and hair from the sight of non-mahram man.

B. It is unlawful for a man to look at the body and hair of a non-mahram woman with the exception of her face and hands. It is also unlawful for a man to look her hair and this verdict is applied on a woman concerning looking at men other than her father, son, uncle, grandfather , brother and those related to them.

C. It is forbidden for a man to look at the details of the face of a non-mahram women, or her hands with sexual desire and vice versa.

D. It is lawful for a man who wants to marry a woman to look at her in order to be acquainted with her physical qualities and vice versa.

E. It is lawful for both a man and woman to look at the body of their mahrams (except for the genital region) so long as it is not with sexual desire, but to look with sexual desire, is forbidden (haram) whether they are mahram or not.

F. It is obligatory for a woman to cover her body and hair from the sight of a non-mahram men (i.e., those with whom she is legally allowed to marry).

G. It is unlawful for a man to be alone with a non-mahram woman in a place where nobody else can enter if they fear that they may commit haram acts; but there is no objection for a man to be alone with a non-mahram woman when other are not prohibited from entering the place, even if the other are a mature rational child or in the state of security from committing corruption.

H. It is unlawful for a non-mahram man to touch a non-mahram woman nor a non-mahram woman may touch a non-mahram man such as shaking hands and so forth.

I. If there is a necessity for a man to touch a woman, and vice versa, such as medical cure or saving a drowning person, and there is no a female doctor for the woman or a male doctor for man, it is lawful for both sides to touch or look at the other side for tests, cure or the like.

J. It is lawful for non-mahram men to hear the voice of non-mahram women on condition that hearing should not be with sexual desire or as a cause for committing haram acts and it is permitted for a woman to make her voice heard through discourse or address by a non-mahram man on condition that her voice should not mislead or seduce listeners, because it is haram for a woman to talk to men in an excited and agitating manner.

K It is recommended for a woman to keep her beauty and elegance for her husband because attractiveness and beauty represent an important side in the life of woman and an essential source among the sources of the happiness of matrimonial life.

L. It is forbidden for a woman to imitate men (by dress, actions or behavior) and vice versa.

M. It is forbidden for a woman to perfume herself and go outside her home, i.e. it is forbidden that her perfume is noticed by non-mahram men while passing among them or mixing with them.

If we examine carefully these legal responsibilities which fall under the frame of Islamic hijab, we will find that both men and women share the task of responsibility regarding this rule, with the specification concerning women in covering their body. This shows strongly that Islam is aspires to establish clean relations between the two sexes; spread purity and dignity among people; and safeguard the society with healthy relations.

It is not among its intentions to disgrace a woman's dignity among people or prevent her from performing her role in life as it is clear through the above mentioned laws concerning Islamic hijab.

If we want to judge strictly the matter of covering woman's body and we have said it is correct to say that both men and women hold the same task in the general framework of Islamic hijab, the question comes: Why a woman alone bear the burden of covering her body and without man to do so?

The fact, which no fair-minded person can doubt, is that the reason for the specification of covering a woman's body alone relates to her sentimental and physical qualities. Because the temptation side of woman is much stronger than a man; she has the competent side for sensibility; and she has instinctive tendencies for showing herself off. Thus, ornaments and beautification are among her first specifications. If they are unrestricted, she may cause, knowingly or unknowingly, and innocent person to commit a haram act, thought or deed.

This natural characteristic of woman and which makes her more able to attract, tempt and fascinate man towards herself, is the main reason Islam tackles this point through hijab. Therefore, it is not normal to ask a man to cover his body like her; whereas man in general does not possess these specific characteristics, nor is he naturally prone to decorate and beautify himself in order to draw attention of woman.

Still, Islam does require a man to dress in an appropriate manner so as not to expose unnecessary parts of his body.

On the subject of attraction, two sure things exists, one in a woman and one in a man. That which exists within a woman is the desire to show herself off, it is a part of her nature. That which exists in a man is an inclination towards looking, not just looking but flirting and receiving pleasure from it. Both of these things exist. Will Durant says that there is nothing in the world more firm and more perservering than a man's desire to look at a woman.

It is also clear that men and women are sexually stimulated in different ways. A woman, being a naturally sensitive and tender-hearted creature, requires touching and tactile movements in order to stimulate her. A man, on the other hand, is a much coarseer creature, tough and virile with a strong imagination. He can be stimulated by a mere look. A woman covers herself to keep from showing off her body and the man cannot see anything which will stimulate him sexually. How clever Islam is to adopt hijab in society! So it completely conforms with the innate natures of woman!

In accordance with this reality of attraction, we see that Islam also forbids acts such as sodomy among men and lesbianism among women because each of the two decrees has its own subject and background like other legal decrees which rely on certain backgrounds necessary for them.

These are the true centers which addresses in order to build this positive edict; the blessed Islamic hijab.

Doubts Concerning Hijab

The question remains: Will the designers of progress share consciousness of what they pretend concerning hijab that led to disable woman's abilities towards development and paralyze her from rising against the burdens of work in general life, and which disabled half of society?

Indeed, this miserable excuse is an extent to what was stirred up by the agents of thinkers (ideologists) and politicians in the Muslim world against woman's hijab which contradicts her freedom and hinders her from achieving her wish to participate beside men in the world of reality.

This stirring up requires that the origin of the problem should be discussed, it is: Do the designers of progress originally believe themselves when they propagate this rumor? What do they mean, in reality, by the "freedom" of women?

If what is meant is to be free to express one's views; give one's opinion; the freedom of possession; the freedom of choosing a suitable husband; and the cultural freedom and what relates to it; there is no obstacle in woman's hijab which stops her from enjoying these freedoms and what relates to them?

Does hijab prevent women from seeking culture and knowledge or competing in its diverse fields?

Does hijab, for example, prevent women from expressing their views and ideas?

Does hijab intervene between woman and her right of possessing wealth?

It is proper to ask whether hijab originally has any relation to these questions in reality and it is a matter which relates to the modesty of woman, her dignity and the purity of her treatment with those around her.

Economic ills and production levels are also affected by this question of hijab. The wasted talents, energies and efficiency is apparent. Let us suppose that there are two foundations or projects for production:

The first one deals with female workers who wear Islamic hijab and conduct relations between non-mahram men and women in an Islamic manner.

The second one deals with female workers who are seductively dressed and adorned and follow the Western way of civilization in their relations between the two sexes.

Surely, we see the foundation which observes hijab is hard working all time for the sake of production and work, because of the nature of relations between men and women.

While, on the other hand, we see in the second foundation, in which flirtation and sexual discourses prevail, that much time and effort is spent in the affairs imposed by fluidity and sexual excitement in that imposed environment.

Let us suppose that there are two study halls:

In the first one there are Islamic relations prevailing between the young men and women, including Islamic hijab.

The second hall is controlled by the free relations between young men and women in which adornment is spread. What do we think, for each example, regarding the performing of work and responsibility?! Is it possible to describe the second hall as a serious place for studying?

In summary, has it not become clear that Islamic hijab, with its own image and nature, has no negative reflection against the freedom of woman nor her work nor her movement in general life.

It is true that if one imagines that hijab is the same as was used in India, Iran, Egypt, and Europe during the pre-Islamic era "Jahiliyah" in which they imprisoned women behind four walls, it is natural that she thinks of herself as being deprived and hindered in her activities. The result will be to disable half of the society or more.

This is a matter of fact which we should think about concerning the miserable conditions for kind of hijab which hindered woman from general and social movement. Islam condemns this kind of hijab of Jahiliyah and changed it to a certain cover which includes clean and pure relations under the name of hijab. There are great differences between the two kinds of hijab as we have explained.

What the designers of progress imagine concerning hijab contradicts the origin of the matter. The society, in which the disorder of sexual relations prevail, is the main cause which hinders the abilities which are, instead, spent in the affairs of sex, flirtation, and negligence unlike the society in which clean relations are spread between the two sexes.

Regarding their imagination about the abuse of the freedom of woman under the shadow of modesty and purity which are brought about by Islamic hijab; what they mean by freedom is the common sexual freedom with all its dimensions of the adornment requirements which are spread in all remote places and circumstances. Concerning other freedoms, they do not think of, nor do they consider them in their logic based on non-Islamic ideas.

Briefly, hijab, from the Islamic view, has no negative effects at all against the freedom of woman nor her general movement no in her participation in progress and making life around her active. The sane logic considers Islamic hijab as providing great guarantees for the freedom of woman and her dignity in addition to a larger participation of woman in general social work and also in progress and development of the society as a whole.

Beyond this, Islamic hijab, in its known form, gives woman her personality and raises her position in society. People deal with a modest woman, dressed in Islamic hijab from the point of view that she is a human being. For a woman without hijab, people generally deal with her from the point of view that she is a human being but through her femininity and through what she stirs up in men by her exposed body. Therefore, Islamic hijab will remain a weapon against affliction, distress, fluidity and abuse.

It is worth mentioning here that in spite of Islam, staking great care in covering a woman's body in front of non-mahram men; it also calls for her to take suitable care for her beauty and body inside her home, to enhance and respond to the demands of her femininity, which are bestowed on her by Allah, the Most High, and also to achieve her lawful wishes which are allowed by Islamic law.

While woman is restricted in showing off her body and adornments to the general public, she is encouraged to beautify herself for her husband, whereas she is not allowed to expose herself to men at large. She is in fact, commended upon showing herself to her husband and to enjoy herself with him totally.

Another point to mention is that the woman who observes the proper Islamic hijab not only gains respect and dignity in the society and from her family, but also she is pleasing Allah, the Most High, and gaining rewards from His for her obedience to His religion. This is the highest achievement for her. She is following Qur'an and traditions of her Prophet; safeguarding the society from vice and corruption; eliminating unhealthy thoughts and actions; raising work and production levels and bringing purity and spirituality to the human race.

All of this she accomplishes, with little efforts, simply by the use of hijab. The blessings she receives for this great deed can only be speculated upon.

When she controls the tone of her voice, the movement of her body, the manner of her behavior, and the hidden secrets of her person from those who have no legitimate right to enjoy them, she is serving humanity in untold dimensions.

This realm of responsibility that she shoulders brings about so many sources of relief to her fellow beings, that it is easy to understand how and why Islam has placed such importance on her. She is the backbone of society and the foundation of man's growth as a human being. When she becomes corrupted, she in turn corrupts the entire society. When she is pure and guarded by the protection of hijab, the society is protected as well.

Many of the social ills, diseases that plague the Western world, abuses of drugs and alcohol, sexual deviations and other problems could be cured if women were allowed to realize the concept of hijab. Of course, in those societies, the idea is mass consumption, control of the people's minds and oppression of their general well being and growth toward perfection as they were created. These polluted and decadent societies and the rulers behind them found the perfect way to achieve their aims. They corrupted the women and therefore corrupted the people.