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Why Muslim women wear veil?

Solutions of Islam to Adultery and Fornication

Non Muslims ask: Why do Muslim women wear veil? Why do they cover their heads? Isn’t this an oppression? To answer this question, we must first understand how Islam dealt with the problem of adultery and fornication. Allah says in the Quran:

32.   And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way. (Holy Quran 15:32)

God also says:

21.  O you who have believed, do not follow the footsteps of Satan. (Holy Quran 24:21)

When Allah forbids adultery, He knows that it has many introductions and steps. If the road to these steps is open, then it will be difficult to reduce adultery. These roads depend on both men and women. In case of men, it is forbidden that a man looks at a woman. Allah says in the Quran:

Tell the believing men to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what they do. (Holy Quran 24:30).

Why Hijab?

Moreover, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ says:

Beware of getting, into the houses and meeting women (in seclusion). A person said: Allah’s Messenger, what about husband’s brother? whereupon he said: Husband’s brother is like death. (Muslim)

Of course veiling women is not the only way to prevents adultery. There are many Islamic manners Muslims are ordered to do, and it is a complete structure of manners, if this structure is not applied correctly, a problem shall exist according to the deficiency of application. For example, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ says:

O young men, those among you who can support a wife should marry, for it restrains eyes (from casting evil glances) and preserves one from immorality; but he who cannot afford It should observe fasting for it is a means of controlling the sexual desire. (Muslim)

 So Islam urges to expedite marriage. If we find a society where marriage costs a lot and fornication is easy, this may drive weak people to fornicate. If a man can’t get married and he is seduced by women wearing provocative clothes everywhere this may drive her to harassment or to rape.

Veil of Women

On the other hand if a man is asked to look away and not to look at women, women are also asked not to wear provocative clothes that arise the desires of men to look at them. Holy Quran says:

  1. 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. (Holy Quran 24:31)

It says in another verse:

O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful. (Holy Quran 33:59)

Note that veiling of women is not just a head scarf, it’s a complete cover on the body that with loose clothes and keeping away from attractive colors. Because actually this is a common misunderstanding even among some Muslim women who think that veil is just a head scarf. Covering the women’s face is Islam is preferable but it is not mandatory.

We must take into consideration here the nature of women. God created women with beautiful bodies. This makes them look provocative if they didn’t cover their body well. This may lead to drag men’s attention to them, and hence can lead either to adultery or to rape or at least to affect the productivity of the society.

Why shouldn’t men wear Veil?

What about men? Why shouldn’t they cover their heads or wear loose clothes? The case is that men and women look to each other in a different way. The way men look to women is more directed to sexual desire, that’s why it may happen that a man is seduced by a woman and all what he thinks about is to have sex with her without love. This is not the common case with women. A woman usually is not seduced to have sex with a man unless she really loves him. That’s why we find rape and harassment common among men towards women, not in the opposite direction.

Veil in Christianity

What about Christianity? Did Christianity tell anything about veiling women? When we look at the early Christian tradition, we find that Tertullian wrote a book telling that women should be veiled. He wrote in the preface of the book:

Having already undergone the trouble peculiar to my opinion, I will show in Latin also that it behoves our virgins to be veiled from the time that they have passed the turning-point of their age: that this observance is exacted by truth, on which no one can impose prescription—no space of times, no influence of persons, no privilege of regions. For these, for the most part, are the sources whence, from some ignorance or simplicity, custom finds its beginning; and then it is successionally confirmed into an usage, and thus is maintained in opposition to truth. (Source here)

Also what was written in the didascalia apostolorum, which is a reliable source for Eastern Orthodox:

Thou therefore that art a Christian, (p. 9) do not imitate such women; but if thou wouldst be a faithful woman, please your husband only. And when thou walkest in the street, cover your head with your robe, that by reason of your veil your great beauty may be hidden. And adorn not your natural face; but walk with downcast looks, being veiled. (Source here)

Results of Uncovering Women in Western Society

So it’s clear that veiling women has been present also in Christianity. The case is that it was a tradition among earlier ages. We can even see the photos of Virgin Mary wearing complete veil. These western clothes have been introduced within the last 2 centuries which kept on being directed to showing the woman’s body that it is even used for commercial purposes to promote different products. We see the horrible results of uncovering the woman’s body in the Western societies where the high rates of rape, infidelity and fornication that it even became normal among many Christians to have girlfriends or boyfriends and have sex before marriage. Uncovering women is one of the main reasons that led to these results. In Islam, the body of a woman is not cheap to be shown to all people but only to her husband whom she chooses.