Hijab is an Arabic word for veil, and has two meanings. It is a form of barrier or obstacle. For example, when a man commits a sin such as stealing or lying, he places ‘hijab’ between himself and his Lord. Thus, he goes far from receiving the grace of Allah, Most Exalted and Most Merciful.
The other meaning of hijab is ‘to cover’ or to conceal something. This is going to be our main discussion. In Islam hijab is obligatory on all mukallaf. Allah has said in the Holy Quran:
“ Say to the believing women that they cast down their glance and guard their private parts and reveal not their adornment except such as is outward and let them cast their veils over bosoms and reveal not their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, or their husband’s fathers or their sons or their husband’s sons, or their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons or their women or what their right hands own, or such men as attend to them, not having sexual desire, or children who have not yet attained knowledge of women’s private parts; nor let them stamp their feet, so that their hidden ornament may be known. And turn all together to God, O you believers, so you will prosper.” Holy Quran 24:31
Hijab is also applied to men, as the following verse narrates:
“Say to the believing men that they cast down their glance and guard their private parts; that is purer for them. God is aware of the things they do.” Holy Quran 24:30
One may ask, why is it obligatory to observe hijab. An obvious answer would be because Allah has commanded us to do so, but we can lay out more reasons for the necessity of hijab. The first reason is modesty. Women are like precious jewels. They have to be protected.
The Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) said, “ From the things of the world, I regard women and perfume highly, but prayers is the light of my eyes (the love and worship of Allah).”
Al-Khisal, vol.1 pg 183, Biharul Anwar vol.76 pg 141
Hijab is our protection and our chastity. It shields us from the dirty looks of men and we are not being treated as their toy. By wearing hijab, we are keeping lusts at bay. Islam has not ruled out any specific clothing on women, but it is understood that women should dress modestly. One should not wear clothing that would reveal her figure, or the clothing that would be too flashy, attractive or transparent that would cause heads to turn.
One great example that we all should follow is Hazrat Fatima tuz Zahra (a.s). She is the perfect woman, daughter, mother and wife: the leader of women of all times. Here is an account of what happened in the house of Fatima (a.s)
One day the Prophet (SAWA) was sitting in the house of his daughter Fatima (SA) when there is heard a knock on the door. The housemaid comes to the Prophet (SAWA) and says :
“Oh! Prophet of Allah (SAWA) your companion Abdullah Ibn Umme Maqdoom (who was blind) has come to visit you”
The Prophet (SAWA) immediately told the housemaid to let him in. In the mean time Lady Fatima, Chief of the women in Paradise, (SA) gets up to go to her room. Her father questions her “Oh! My daughter (SA) where are you going?” She replies that since “your companion is coming to see you I am going to my room to observe my hijab from him.” The Prophet (SAWA) replies: “But my daughter (SA) the companion of mine is blind and cannot see you” and the Purist of all ladies replies:
“My father, he cannot see me but I can see him thus I must go”
This is not to say that the Prophet of Allah (SAWA) was not aware of the matter but this question was posed to inform the women, whose chief is Lady Fatima (SA), of the importance of Hijab. And that it is not sufficient to think that we are capable of controlling our desires and will not think or look badly at someone. Who can say that (na’uz o billah) Lady Fatima (SA) could not have had such a control on herself and yet she followed the Shari’a very strictly.
My first article completed on 10th April 2004