Monday, 25 June 2007

Sharing the Responsibilities of Hijab

Men and women complement each other. We are both halves of a whole – says the Qur’an, as it has described spouses to be garments for each other. What do garments do? They protect us from unwanted attention, protect us from the weather, disguise our imperfections and beautify us.

What more the garment known as Hijab? Hijab is an obligatory fulfillment ordained by Allah Ta’ala upon women. Muslim women are required to don the headscarf and wear loose, non-transparent and long clothes when in the presence of non-mahram (marriageable) men. Men too have the same obligation to dress the same – save for the head cover.

However, the Hijab, always a media hype, seems to be the most controversial piece of clothing for the practicing Muslim woman. When asked why the head-covering is required, Muslims always answer: a woman is not allowed to display her beauty in front of men who are not related to her.
Yes, this is true by all means, but sometimes, interpretation to this sentence brings yet another wave of misconceptions where women have to be covered and have to be protected and somehow or another women are the oppressed gender in Islam. What is more? Men in Islam force this dress-code upon women. As mentioned, these are misconceptions, and misconceptions easily brought about by a simple truthful sentence.

So as Muslims, let us think: let us turn it around and see how it sounds. If a woman is not allowed to display her beauty, how does this affect the man?

The next time someone asks you about the Hijab, whether you are a Muslim man or woman, tell them: a man is not allowed to look at a woman’s beauty if she is not his wife nor is not related to her.

This sentence tells us the same thing that woman are to be covered and have the utmost right to be protected from the ogling of the opposite gender, yet, men are the second half of the whole, and they are the ones who must guard their modesty and steer clear away from any form of proximity.
This elevates the true Islamic status of a woman by women are not meant to be seen as sex objects, but are to be recognized as women of substance. When a man marries a woman, he does only vow his loyalty and dedication towards a woman of piety, he is also allowed to enjoy her beauty as she is allowed to unveil in front of him.

The Qur’an requires believing men and women to lower their gazes and guard their chastity when dealing with the opposite gender. It further requires women to drape their hair veil over their chests – this sentence just exemplifies how attractive women are to the opposite gender that Allah prompts us with a friendly reminder that women are to concentrate on improving their inner beauty rather than their physical attributes.

The Hijab therefore requires men to be equally responsible to guard the Hijab of women through advising their wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, and other relatives the importance keeping the veil and at the same time, the practicing Muslim man guards his own Hijab in more ways than one.

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