Question:
Why does Islam degrade women by keeping them behind the veil?
Answer:
The status of women in Islam is often the target of attacks in the secular media.
The ‘hijab’ or the Islamic dress is cited by many as an example of the
‘subjugation’ of women under Islamic law. Before we analyze the reasoning
behind the religiously mandated ‘hijab’, let us first study the status of women in
societies before the advent of Islam
1. In the past women were degraded and used as objects of lust
The following examples from history amply illustrate the fact that the status of
women in earlier civilizations was very low to the extent that they were denied
basic human dignity:
a. Babylonian Civilization:
The women were degraded and were denied all rights under the Babylonian
law. If a man murdered a woman, instead of him being punished, his wife
was put to death.
b. Greek Civilization:
Greek Civilization is considered the most glorious of all ancient civilizations.
Under this very ‘glorious’ system, women were deprived of all rights and
were looked down upon. In Greek mythology, an ‘imaginary woman’ called
‘Pandora’ is the root cause of misfortune of human beings. The Greeks
considered women to be subhuman and inferior to men. Though chastity of
women was precious, and women were held in high esteem, the Greeks
were later overwhelmed by ego and sexual perversions. Prostitution
became a regular practice amongst all classes of Greek society.
c. Roman Civilization:
When Roman Civilization was at the zenith of its ‘glory’, a man even had the
right to take the life of his wife. Prostitution and nudity were common
amongst the Romans.
d. Egyptian Civilization:
The Egyptian considered women evil and as a sign of a devil.
e. Pre-Islamic Arabia:
Before Islam spread in Arabia, the Arabs looked down upon women and
very often when a female child was born, she was buried alive.
2. Islam uplifted women and gave them equality and expects them
to maintain their status.
Islam uplifted the status of women and granted them their just rights 1400 years
ago. Islam expects women to maintain their status.
Hijab for men
People usually only discuss ‘hijab’ in the context of women. However, in the
Glorious Qur’an, Allah (swt) first mentions ‘hijab’ for men before ‘hijab’ for the
women. The Qur’an mentions in Surah Noor:
“Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard
their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: and Allah is
well acquainted with all that they do.”
[Al-Qur’an 24:30]
The moment a man looks at a woman and if any brazen or unashamed thought
comes to his mind, he should lower his gaze.
Hijab for women.
The next verse of Surah Noor, says:
“ And say to 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 veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty
except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their
sons...”
[Al-Qur’an 24:31]

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