Home Hijab The moral role of Hijab

The moral role of Hijab

By: The Religious Authority, Sayyed M.H. Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah

Translated by: Manal Samhat

Hijab (the veil) is one of the most important elements of identity in the personality of the Muslim women. Why was it decreed as an obligatory duty?

To understand the reason, we have, at first, to answer the following question: Is it necessary to regulate the relationship between man and women? Or is this relation one of the manifestations of personal freedom that no one has the right to interfere in?

In Western philosophy there is a tendency to give human beings a universal freedom in his relations with the other sex, being a private affair that people have the right to practise without any restrictions.

But Islam, as well as other religions and ideologies, has put certain restrictions on the personal freedom in this field, since unrestrained freedom creates chaos, especially in the domains of linage and family relations. Thus, Islam believes that you have to remain committed to the wellbeing of the society and prepares man psychologically to control his desires, through a set of laws. In this sense, Hijab is one of the regulations that prevent man from living a state of psychological emergency in response to the call of desires. It is a part of the legislative structure that builds moral commitment.

How does Hijab play this role? Hijab creates the psychological atmosphere to resist the calls for deviation, and builds an internal immunity in both men and women. It suggests to the woman that she should present herself as a human being and helps her to do so by veiling her sexual beauties.

It also suggests to the man that he has to consider the woman as a human being only, since he cannot see her body. Thus the Hijab represents to a large extent a means of blocking the roads that lead to deviation.

What does wearing the Hijab involve?

The material Hijab demands that the woman should cover all her body except the face and the hands, and that she should not wear make-up when she goes out. This means that the Hijab has a martial side which involves the covering of the body, and a moral aspect that makes a woman act as a human being in the society, by not being seen in a makeup that draws attention, or by talking in a certain way {If you will be on your guard, then be not soft in (your) speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease yearn;} or by any other means for that matter.

Which is better for a woman to be committed to the material Hijab or the moral one?

The issue is not which is better, since Islam views the Hijab as one integrated unit that has two closely interacting dimensions. On the one hand, it urges women to be committed to the moral Hijab which prevents the woman from deviation, and which is the reason behind ordaining the material Hijab, and on the other hand, it considers the material hijab a kind of protection that protects both man and woman from being affected by the situations that can have negative effect on their morals. This means that leaving the material hijab threatens the moral one, and vice versa. Thus the Hijab is not a personal or individual matter but a social one too, since everything that prevents the individual from deviation, also impacts the society, since the society in the end is the sum of all its individuals and the system of values, principles and regulations that govern their relations.

The man's veil

Why was the veil limited to the women only, knowing that both sexes are a source of attraction to one another?

We do not deny that the man is a source of attraction to the woman just as the woman is to the man, but historical reality has made the woman the only symbol of sexual attraction. She has been raised in all human communities without any exception, on the notion of taking care of her outlook and body being the major source of her value in the future.

This reality that the woman lives, whether based on her psychological characteristics or the social education she receives, has made her a source of attraction while it did not make man as such.

This was not due to the objective elements of attraction in the man or the woman, but it was to a large extent the result of cultural and educational elements, and this is what made the woman an object of attraction in the mind just as it is an object of attraction in reality. And this is probably why Islam has imposed Hijab on the woman only.

Role of education:

How do you comment on those who believe that education is enough in our modern age to create a moral veil?

When we look at the crisis and deviations the contemporary man's experience has produced despite the legal restrictions, we have to say that depending on man's inner deterrents has proved to be a failure. The deviations in the societies that believe in sexual freedom and consider ethical commitment as a personal choice are greater than in those societies that adopt the veil. This is because being affected by ones look is but natural in such a way that getting near the fire one will ultimately burn, or at least becomes vulnerable. There is no difference in this respect between material fire and instinctual fire: when we prepare for a hungry man all the elements that stimulate his apatite, then it is natural that he will respond.

Can't partial nudity be a positive factor in immunizing the society against such stimulants, as the West claims, since its spread will lead man to becoming familiar to it and consequently it will have no effect?

Nudity represents a direct sexual stimulant. It reminds man of sex, and its organs, which makes him stimulated to the extent of community a haram act, even if nudity is common. Since being common does not stop its stimulating effect. The studies in the West prove that the more man wears less clothes, even if he is not completely nude, the more his desire will be aroused. If this is not the case, how can we explain the vast number of rape crimes in a society where relationships are absolutely free to the extent that the girl would bring her boyfriend hope to have sex with him under the very eyes of her parents who would remain indifferent?

Thus we find that nudity, although it might vary between one woman and another, has risen the vitality of the instincts and the demand for sex, when compared with conservative societies, to the extent that we find in some eastern societies where women are almost completely isolated woman are highly evaluated by man. Although there are certain theories that say that deprivation increases the desires, we believe that this is true with respect to the needs that are not deterred by the need of being committed to the values. But when education on values and virtues is practiced, man will not respond in this manner.