Written by Quinn Knoblock
The word hijab is an Arabic word signifying a barrier or partition. It is also the veil most Muslim women wear, typically covering all of their heads and necks, with the exception of their face. This tradition comes from scripture written in the Qur’an, which is the principal religious text of the Muslim religion and is said
to have been a revelation from god relayed to Muhammad. In the Muslim religion, Muhammad, a prophet, is said to have received revelations from Allah, the Muslim god, instructing him and his people on how to practice their faith, also including how to dress. The Qur’an has many regulations about how a practicing Muslim is required dress. The Qur’an directly states for Muhammad to, “Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested...”(Qur’an 33:58–59). This verse is intended to advise Muslim women to wear their hijabs as a means to identify themselves as Muslim. According to the Qur’an, when these dress rules were created, it was important for Muslim women to indicate that they were indeed Muslim, as it was not a safe practice for women to go out alone as they could be assaulted or mistaken as prostitutes. For this reason, as claimed by the Qur’an, it was a necessary precaution that Muslim women wear their hijabs for safety purposes. The Qur’an also instructs Muhammad to tell “the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, [a list of relatives], [household servants], or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments...”(Qur’an 24:31). Therefore, once again the Qur’an states that women should always be covered in public and should keep their veils on as a way to shield their beauty from men. In addition, although it is not directly stated in the previous passage, the Qur’an also says that “technically,” women only need to be concealed when in the presence of a potential suitor, or a male they could theoretically marry. Women nowadays however, take in different extremities as to how often and in whose presence they wear their veil. It is also somewhat left up to interpretation as to how concealed a woman chooses to dress. For example, some women wear complete body covering attire that only reveals their faces, while others only cover their hair and cleavage, and there are a rare few, who do not observe any rules in dress. Another Arabic word, awrah, indicates specific parts of the body in which Muslims must cover with proper clothing. Awrah is any part of the body under the specific dress rules and regulations that must be covered by both men and women. However, depending on one’s sex, awrah refers to a different part of the body. Generally speaking, dress rules regarding men are less complicated than women. Men are ordinarily, are only expected to cover the parts of their body in which range from the navel, to the knee as this is considered awrah in the eyes of the Muslim religion. For women however, awrah is more strict and is not solely based on parts of the body that need to be covered, but also specifically people who cannot see certain parts of the body. This is evident in the quotes provided above stating women’s dress rules according to the Qur’an. The Qur’an has very strict rules that must be followed if one wants to be considered a devoted follower which include rules about how one must dress. In conclusion, the hijab veil is worn by Muslim women for religious purposes as a symbol of their loyalty and commitment to their religion.
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