Hijab and Chastity

Chastity is a moral virtue that prevents one from becoming a slave of lust and carnal desires; whereas the term ‘hijab’ means a barrier, veil and covering. Hijab is, in fact, a means of maintaining chastity. The word ‘iffat’, or chastity, has a broader meaning than ‘hijab’, for it is an internal quality that has many dimensions. It influences our gaze, speech, behaviour, and desires.

In order to maintain chastity, one must not only protect ones gaze from indecent scenes, but also cover those parts of the body that are attractive and seductive. This covering is called ‘hijab’ and is a necessity not only for women, but also for men. In reality, the external covering (hijab) protects a persons outward modesty and sanctity, while chastity (iffat) protects one from the inside by moderating ones gaze, behaviour and speech and creating boundaries for the person concerned.

Hijab is not only emphasized in the religion of Islam. According to Will Durant, the concept of covering has existed among the Jewish community and in the laws of the Talmud. Although in the altered books of the old and new testament it is possible that it was deleted, and that is that “If a woman would act in violation of the laws of Judaism, it would mean that she would go amongst the people without anything to cover her head or that she would spin thread in public, or with every speech she would speak of her anguish, or she would raise her voice so much that if she were in her home, her neighbors would be able to hear her, and in this situation, the man has the right to divorce her without giving her dowry.” (Will Durant, The Story of Civilization)

The University of London, along with Doctor “Hakim Ilahi” the professor who explained the belief system of “Clement” and “Tertullian” (Two Christian scholars and great Bishops) says about Hijab: ” A woman must ve completely covered, unless she is in her own home; beause only the clothes that cover her can prevent the stares towards her. A woman must not show her self so openly that another person falls into sin by looking at her.

For believing Christian women, in the eyes of God, it isn’t good that she should wear jewelry near outsiders, and even her natural beauty should be hidden; because there is danger (of sinning) for those who see her.(Hakim Ilahi, Women and Freedom, p 53)

We have seen throughout history, women have been used as tools to reach colonial goals and the western world has been following the theories of Freud, which says to let desires be free to the extent that it is possible and they do not cause psychological problems. Today they have reached the conclusion that perhaps the desire to eat and sleep can be satiated, but sexual desires are considered insatiable! Perhaps it is for this very reason that in a culture that lacks limits and nakedness has become norm, western women have received the short end of the stick and have realized that in order to stop the stares and to avoid being made into an object of sex or to promote goods, they have no choice but to turn their backs on the culture that lacks limits. It has caused a wave of belief that Hijab is an important aspect of spiritual security. Though the culture that lacks limits and the culture of nakedness has endangered it, women have reached to the conclusion that in order for them to get attention, instead of showing their body, they need to focus on their higher individual and social aspects.

Author: Safura Taraqqi
Translator: S. Husseini