Many believe that the Hijab is a form of oppression of women. Why do Muslim women wear Hijab? Let’s analyse.
What exactly is Hijab?
Hijab is the Islamic dress code for women which prescribes that the woman covers her entire body except her face and hands from the wrist.
Importance of Hijab in Islam
In Islam, Hijab is so important that it is prescribed in the Quran. Hijab is one of the most important religious identities for a Muslim woman.
Does the Quran prescribe Hijab?
Yes. God says in the Quran:
Islam prescribes dress code for men also
Islam prescribes dress code for men also. In fact, many of the conditions in the dress code are common for both men and women. Both men and women are expected to:
- Dress should be modest and not obscene or indecent
- Dress should be loose and not tight fitting
- Dress should not be transparent
Difference between dress code of men and women
The only difference between the dress code of men and women is the extent to which they should cover their body. While the woman is expected to mandatorily cover her entire body except face and hands from the wrist, a man is expected to mandatorily cover his body from navel till the knees.
Men and women are equal – so why this difference?
True, men and women are equal BUT they are NOT identical. Equality is NOT identicality. The physical characteristics of men and women are different. Women have more body parts that are to be covered than men. Let’s take the example of Swimming, a sport in which the athletes wear the bare minimum dress a human should. Is the dress for the male swimmer and female swimmer the same? If no, why not? Since men and women are equal, why not have the same dress? Have you ever seen anyone call the different dress codes for men and women swimmers as inequality? It must be now clear to you that women have more body parts that are to be covered than men.
Should women cover up?
The body of a woman is extremely attractive to a man. You may say, well women are also attracted to a man’s body. Yes, they are attracted too but not in the same way as the man. Have you ever heard about women raping men? If no, why? Aren’t women attracted to men? Yes, they are, but the sexual arousal for a man and a woman is different. Every adult knows this through experience.
When a woman exposes her body, most men lust on her. Some may stop with just looking at the woman, some may share obscene comments among their friends, some may start fantasizing, some may start passing lewd comments, some may start stalking her and some may even molest her if they have the opportunity. One cannot shut their eyes and mind to this naked reality
Hijab Experiment in New York
They did an experiment in busy streets of New York by making a young woman walk with tight clothes and then with Hijab fully covering her body. When she walked with tight clothes, we can observe men looking at her, making comments and one person even following her. When the same woman walked with Hijab, she could walk freely as if she was completely unnoticed. You can watch the experiment video yourself.
Bottom line, a woman when she exposes her body becomes an object of lust for men. In the name of liberation, if you are okay with women being seen as sexual objects, that is your privilege. Islam wants women to be respected and will not allow room for such sexual objectification of women. Islam liberates women from the exploitation and lustful objectives of perverse men.
Does Hijab suppress women’s growth?
Remember, Muslim women wear Hijab to cover their head and NOT their brains! Wearing Hijab does NOT prevent the progress of any woman. Let’s take the example of Mother Theresa. She was not a Muslim. Look at the dress she wore. Apart from her face and hands, her entire body was covered. Basically, Mother Theresa wore the Hijab. Did the dress she wore stop her from achieving what she did? The answer is NO.
Let’s take the example of Tawakkol Karman, a Muslim woman who won the Nobel Peace Prize. The Hijab she wears did NOT stop her from achieving what she did. Throughout the world, we see lakhs of Hijab wearing Muslim women excelling in different fields. Muslim women wearing Hijab are doctors, engineers, PhD scholars, teachers, pilots etc. Do a Google search on this and you can see for yourself. It must now be clear to you that Hijab does NOT prevent the progress of the women.
By the way, has anyone called Mother Theresa oppressed because of the dress she wore? Has anyone called Catholic nuns oppressed because of the dress they wear? Double standards? You decide.
Are Muslim women forced to wear Hijab?
Islam is a faith of choice and a person must willingly come forward to follow the commands of God. None can force any Muslim man or woman to follow Islam. God says in the Quran:
Whoever forces Muslim women to wear Hijab (when the women themselves do not want to wear Hijab), are not following the guidance of the Quran.
Are Muslim women forced to wear Hijab? – Answer by British Feminist.
7 Reasons Why Muslim Women Wear Hijab
- Religious beliefs: Muslim women choose to wear hijab as a symbol of their faith and obedience to God.
- Modesty: Muslim women believe that wearing hijab preserve their dignity and self-respect.
- Identity: Muslim women see hijab as a way to express their religious identity.
- Personal choice: Wearing hijab is a demonstration of their personal choice. Many Muslim women see Hijab as a way to assert their independence and autonomy.
- Protection: Muslim women believe that hijab provides a sense of physical protection from the prying eyes of men.
- Spiritual fulfillment: Wearing hijab is an act of worship that helps Muslim women to feel more connected to God.
- Political statement: In some countries, wearing hijab communicates a strong political statement. It is used as a form of resistance against Islamophobia and discrimination.
Why should Muslim women display their religious identity in public?
For those who ask this question, we would like to ask them in what way are they affected if women wear Hijab in public. Women wearing Hijab in public does NOT cause harm to anyone. So, what is the issue?
India is a land of multiple faiths and multiple culture. Are Muslim women the only ones displaying their religious identity in public? No. Hindu women also do that. Isn’t “Ghunghat” part of some Hindu women’s religious and cultural identity?
Don’t Hindu women wear Kumkum on their forehead that show their religious identity? How are these a problem to anyone? If Judges who are in a position of delivering judgments to people of all faiths, can use Tilak on their forehead and display their religious identity, why can’t Muslim women wear Hijab in public?
In ancient times, humans roamed around almost naked. With advancement in civilization and intellect, humans learnt decency and covered themselves up with clothing. The dress that we wear is a manifestation of our decency and intellect. Muslim women or Catholic women who decide to cover themselves with decent clothing represent the highest form of civilization and intellect. To force them to remove their head covering is robbing them of their right to dress as they please and that is indeed oppression!