Why do women wear hijab?

Why Do Women Wear Hijab?

What! Hijab (ḥijāb)? Why do women wear hijab in Islam? The Quran commands believers to treat women honorably and kindly. So you may ask, why does the Quran restrict women with hijab? You may read in the Quran that on the one hand, Allah honors human beings but on the other hand, it commands women to wear hijab. When we study all the verses of the Quran, we understand that hijab is a gift from God and a sign of God’s love for women.

In this article, you will learn the following:

What Is Hijab?

If our privacy is threatened by strangers, what should we do? Are we allowed to permit a stranger to deviate and misuse our loved ones and ruin the pillars of the family? The Quran honors the human being, so it does not let others disrespect women or misuse them nor does the Quran permit people to ruin the foundation of a family by offering women as a product. This is why the Quran commands believers to wear hijab. Hijab is worn by women to maintain modesty and privacy from unrelated and non-mahram males. Accordingly, hijab refers to anything that covers the hair and body that is worn by Muslim women. 

Hijab prevents men from entering the private territory of women and seeing them as a product. The Quran commands the believing women to wear hijab:

وَقُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِنَّ وَيَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا ۖ وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَىٰ جُيُوبِهِنَّ ۖ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا لِبُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ آبَائِهِنَّ أَوْ آبَاءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَائِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَاءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِي إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِي أَخَوَاتِهِنَّ أَوْ نِسَائِهِنَّ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُنَّ أَوِ التَّابِعِينَ غَيْرِ أُولِي الْإِرْبَةِ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ أَوِ الطِّفْلِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يَظْهَرُوا عَلَىٰ عَوْرَاتِ النِّسَاءِ ۖ وَلَا يَضْرِبْنَ بِأَرْجُلِهِنَّ لِيُعْلَمَ مَا يُخْفِينَ مِن زِينَتِهِنَّ ۚ وَتُوبُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا أَيُّهَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

Say to the believing women to lower their eyes and guard their private parts and they should not show their ornaments unless that which is [normally] apparent [such as rings on the fingers] and they should cover their breasts [in addition to their heads and neck] with their scarfs, and they are not allowed to show their ornaments to anyone except their husbands, fathers, husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, sisters’ sons, the women like themselves, female-slaves, or [insane] males who lack sexual desires, and children who are unaware of women’s nakedness. And O believers! All repent to God that you may become prosperous.1

What Are the Advantages of Wearing Hijab?

We may imagine that hijab is a limitation but when we think carefully, we see that hijab protects women, their privacy, and modesty. Women are like jewelry, so they must be protected so that they may not be misused or harmed. Hijab does not permit the evil eyes to see women’s beauties and private parts. Therefore, it helps men and women feel less anxious. In other words, hijab is a means for tranquility.

When men and women are not distracted, they can easily deal with their own families and children. However, if women attract the attention of men, they will be anxious and will neglect their wives and children. In other words, if women do not wear hijab, they will betray themselves, their families, and men who are led astray by them. This is why God commands women to conceal their ornaments and cover their breasts.2 In addition, to avoid indecencies and to protect women, God commands them to speak honorably with men. That is, women should not speak to men in an attractive way. To clarify the issue, let us study the following verses of the Quran:

فَلَا تَخْضَعْنَ بِالْقَوْلِ فَيَطْمَعَ الَّذِي فِي قَلْبِهِ مَرَضٌ وَقُلْنَ قَوْلًا مَّعْرُوفًا

So, do not speak with soft voices [with the men] lest those [men] whose heart is [spiritually] sick [and their belief is weaker] be moved to desires. And speak [only in an] honorable manner.3

قُلْ تَعَالَوْا أَتْلُ مَا حَرَّمَ رَبُّكُمْ عَلَيْكُمْ ۖ أَلَّا تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا ۖ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا ۖ وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلَادَكُم مِّنْ إِمْلَاقٍ ۖ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُكُمْ وَإِيَّاهُمْ ۖ وَلَا تَقْرَبُوا الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ ۖ وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ وَصَّاكُم بِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ ‎﴿١٥١﴾‏

Say [to them], “Come to me to recite what He has forbidden: that you should not ascribe partners to Him, and [you should] treat your parents kindly, do not kill your children because of poverty, do not approach indecencies neither in secret nor in public, and do not kill the one whom God forbade to be killed unless through legal right. This is what He has commanded you that you may use reason!”4

قُلْ إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ رَبِّيَ الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ وَالْإِثْمَ وَالْبَغْيَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ وَأَن تُشْرِكُوا بِاللَّهِ مَا لَمْ يُنَزِّلْ بِهِ سُلْطَانًا وَأَن تَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ ‎﴿٣٣﴾

Say, “Indeed, God has forbidden indecencies [Whether] apparent or hidden, and the sin and wrongfully oppressing and [He has forbidden] to ascribe partners to God [while] He has not given [people convincing] evidence [to do so and He has forbidden] to attribute to God what you do not know.”5

Can a Man Wear Hijab?

Hijab is indeed protection, but we should know that men’s weak points and interests are different from women’s, so their hijab should be different from women’s hijab as well. Accordingly, God does not command men to wear hijab like women. What God strongly commands men to do is that on the one hand, they must cover their private parts and avoid appearing sexually attractive, and on the other hand, they should not gaze at women, but rather they must lower their gaze:

قُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَغُضُّوا مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِمْ وَيَحْفَظُوا فُرُوجَهُمْ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ أَزْكَىٰ لَهُمْ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا يَصْنَعُونَ ‎﴿٣٠﴾‏

Say to the believers to lower their eyes and guard their private parts. It is more decent for them. Indeed, God is fully aware of what they perform.6

Conclusion

Hijab in general means covering private parts. Men and women have different types of hijab because their interests and weak points are different. Women wear hijab to maintain modesty and privacy from unrelated or non-mahram males. Therefore, hijab refers to any covering of the hair and body that is worn by Muslim women. Accordingly, hijab prevents men from entering the private territory of women and seeing them as a product. When hijab is worn, people are protected against indecencies and it obstructs indecencies and evil deeds. In other words, hijab does not permit evil eyes to see the private parts of both men and women. As a result, it paves the way for men and women to feel less anxious and protects men and women against indecencies. Moreover, it paves the way for having a safe and peaceful society. Finally, in the Quran, God commands men to cover their private parts and lower their gaze.



References

  1. Quran 24:31 (Foroutan).
  2. Ibid.
  3. Quran 33:32 (Foroutan).
  4. Quran 6:151 (Foroutan).
  5. Quran 7:33 (Foroutan).
  6. Quran 19:30 (Foroutan).

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Dr.Behrouz Foroutan
Dr.Behrouz Foroutan
Dr. Behrouz Foroutan is a scholar, author, and international lecturer in Islamic studies. He has been involved in scripture translation and its commentary for approximately two decades now but he put most of his focus on translating the Qur’an and its commentary in English in a way that makes it easier for the reader to understand, without losing its credibility. The product of that was books on spirituality, beliefs, and a new English translation of the Qur’an and its commentary in 12 volumes.

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