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The Islamic Veil

Maha Dabbous
The Review of Religions, October 1992

Islam has always suffered from many false charges against it due to the misunderstanding of its true teachings. One example of this is the wide spread false notion that Islam in general deprives women of their rights and forces them to go behind the veil.

The Islamic veil is condemned by non-Muslim and regarded as a sign of backwardness and a thing of the past which is no longer practical in the daily way of life today. They think that it is a burden and a restriction which has been imposed on Muslim women to deprive them on them of their freedom; they see it as if it was a chain with which the cruel Muslim man has tied his poor wife or daughter or sister of any other woman under his rule, because of his selfishness or jealousy.

But if one looks with a deeper glance on this subject, it will be found that the veiling of women is not something that Islam has invented. The previous revealed scriptures also contain some traces of similar teachings and Islam came only to complete and perfect them.

The revealed religions teach women to be modest in clothes and actions. If we study the Bible we will find that it teaches that modesty and reverence demanded the veiling of the face of the woman and that the veil was used by ladies of high rank.

In the Old Testament we read about what Rebekah did before Isaac in the following passage:

When Re-bek'ah raised her eyes, she caught sight of Isaac and she swung herself down from off the camel. Then she said to the servant 'who is that walking in the field to meet us?' and the servant said 'It is my master' And she proceeded to take a headcloth and to cover herself. (Genesis: 24: 64 and 65)
In the New Testament we also read:
But every woman that prays or prophesies with her head uncovered shames her head for it is one and the same as if she were a (woman) with a shaved head. For it a woman does not cover herself let her also be shorn; but if it is disgraceful for woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. (1 Corinthians: 11: 5, 6)
From the above, it is obvious that the Bible regards the veiling of women as a pious act. But the present day commentators of the Bible, in their efforts to prove that its teachings do not in any way deprive women of their freedom, have denied this fact because they thought that it is a burden on women.

Similarly even some of the modern day Muslims have also followed the same course for the same reason, and they have tried to prove that even Islam does not put this restriction on Muslim women. But they were not successful because, unlike the Bible, the text of the Quran is preserved in its original form and hence it is impossible to get away by twisting the meanings of its verses. Yet this reveals that the lack of the proper knowledge of the wisdom behind the Islamic veil prevails even among the Muslims.

The majority of Muslim women misunderstood the teachings of their own religion and they do not recognise its implications nor its benefits. Admiring the modern societies, they have followed blindly the false notions regarding the liberation of women and they have adopted some wrong ideas and consequently many of them rebelled against the teachings of Islam relating to the observance of the veil, and they went on indulging in the way of life of the modern society with all its false glitter.

Some other Muslim women, as a reaction to the rebellion of their ignorant sisters, have adopted the opposite course and they observed these teachings of Islam in such a manner that they have put on themselves some burdens that Islam did not prescribe and by so doing, they became a cause for more rebellion against the Islamic veil and they pushed the non-Muslims farther away from seeing the beauties of Islam.

Today it is a well known fact that many non-Muslims who can see the truth of Islam, refuse to enter its fold because of this so-called restriction. They feel that they cannot give up their habits and modern way of living and sacrifice their freedom to mix with the other sex as they wish.

Islam, however, can neither be blamed for what non-Muslims think of it nor can it be accused on account of the notions and practices of its ignorant followers. The fact remains that Islam has given women rights which have no parallel in any other religion.

As for the Islam veil, far from being a burden on women, it is blessing for them.

The true concept of the Islamic veil can be understood and judged correctly by studying the source of all the Islamic teachings, The Holy Quran.

The Holy Quran has preserved the teachings of Islam in its original form and it does not only prescribe the correct commandments but it also explains the reasons and the wisdom behind them and it points out the benefits which can be gained by following them.

One of the verses of the Holy Quran which deals with the subject of the veil is found in Sura Al Noor where God, the All-Mighty says:

And say to the believing women that they restrain their looks and guard their private parts and that they display not their beauty or their embellishment except that which is apparent, thereof, and that they draw their head coverings over their bosoms, and that they display not their beauty or their embellishment save to their husbands, or to their fathers or the fathers of their husbands or their sons or the sons of their husbands or their brothers or the sons of their brothers or the sons of their sisters or women who are their companions or those that their right hand possess or such of male attendants as have not desire for women, or young children who have not yet attained knowledge of the hidden parts of women. And that they strike not their feet so that what hide of their ornaments may become known. And turn ye to Allah all together, O believers that you may prosper. (24:32)
This verse directs the believing women to restrain their eyes when they happen to face men and to guard their chastity and also not to display their beauty and embellishment, whether it is natural or artificial.

The believing men have already been given a similar commandment, from God in the verse that preceeded this verse where we read:

Say to the believing men that they restrain their looks and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Surely, Allah is well-aware of what they do. (24:31)
So it is clear that both men and women share equally the responsibility of observing this injunction. They should both restrain their looks when facing each other or, in other words, they should observe the Veil of the eyes.

Now we need to understand the benefits which can be achieved by following these directions. God never gives orders to his servants without a reason. Behind every commandment of God there is great wisdom.

The words that is purer for them at the end of one verse and the words that you may prosper at the end of the other verse indicate that these directions are meant for the well being of the believers and to enable them to purify themselves and to safeguard themselves against moral stumbling.

The Promised Messiah has clarified this point in a comment on these verses:

We can confidently claim that this excellent teaching with all its devices that is set forth in the Holy Quran is peculiar to Islam. It should be kept in mind that as the natural condition of man, which is the source of his passions, is such that he cannot depart from it without a complete change in himself, his passions are bound to be roused, or in other words put in peril, when they are confronted with the occasion and opportunity for indulging in this vice. Therefore, God Almighty has not instructed us that we might freely gaze at women outside the prohibited degrees and might contemplate their beauty and observe all their movements in dancing etc. But that we should do so with pure looks. Nor have we been instructed to listen to the singing of these women and to lend ear to tales of their beauty, but that we should do so with a pure intent. We have been positively commanded not to look at their beauty, whether with pure intent or otherwise, nor to listen to their musical voices or to descriptions of their good looks, whether with pure intent or otherwise. We have been directed to eschew all this as we eschew carrion, so that we should not stumble. It is almost certain that our free glances would cause us to stumble sometime or the other. As God Almighty desires that our eyes and our hearts and all our limbs and organs should continue in a state of purity, He has furnished us with this excellent teaching. There can be no doubt that unrestrained looks become a source of danger. If we place soft bread before a hungry dog, it would be vain to hope that the dog should pay no attention to it. Thus God Almighty desired that human faculties should not be provided with any occasion for secret functioning and should not be confronted with anything that might incite dangerous tendencies.

This is the philosophy that underlies the Islamic regulations relating to the observance of the veil. The Book of God does not aim at keeping women in seclusion like prisoners. This is the concept of those who are not acquainted with the correct pattern of Islamic ways. The purpose of these regulations is to restrain men and women from letting their eyes to rove freely and from displaying their good looks and beauties, for therein lies the good both of men and of women. It should be remembered that to restrain one's looks and to direct them only towards observing that which is permissible is described in Arabic by the expression ghadde basar, which is the expression employed in the Holy Quran in this context. It does not behove a pious person who desires to keep his heart pure that he should lift his eyes freely in every direction like an animal. It is necessary that such a one should cultivate the habit of ghadde basar in his social life. This is a blessed habit through which his natural impulses would be converted into a high moral quality without interfering with his social needs. This is the quality which is called chastity in Islam. (The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, pp 23-25)

As the Quran is a book meant for the spiritual progress of the soul, the question arises: How can these teachings help the development of the spiritual state of the soul? The answer to this question is also found in the writings of the Promised Messiah:
As the natural urges of man become very dangerous when they are roused and often destroy the moral and spiritual qualities, they are described in God's Holy Book as the self that incites to evil. It may be asked what is the attitude of the Holy Quran towards the natural state of man, what guidance does it furnish concerning it and how does it seek to control it?

The answer is that according to the Holy Quran the natural state of man has a very strong relationship with his moral and spiritual states, so much so that even a person's manner of eating and drinking affects his moral and spiritual states. If the natural state of a person is subjected to the control of the directions of divine law it becomes his moral state and deeply affects his spirituality, as is said that whatever falls into a salt mine is converted into salt. That is why the Holy Quran has laid stress on physical cleanliness and postures, and their regulation in relation to all worship and inner purity and spiritual humility. Reflection confirms that physical conditions deeply affect the soul. For instance, when our eyes are filled with tears, even if the tears are artificially induced, the heart is immediately affected and becomes sorrowful. In the same way, when we begin to laugh, even if the laughter is artificially induced, the heart begins to feel cheerful. It has also been observed that physical prostration in prayer induces humility in the soul. As a contrast when we draw ourselves up physically and strut about with our neck raised and our breast pushed forward, this attitude induces a mood of arrogance and vain glory. These instances establish clearly that physical conditions certainly affect spiritual conditions. (The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, pp 3-4)

He also added:
As the soul is affected by physical conduct, in the same way sometimes the soul affects the body. For instance, when a person experiences sorrow his eyes become wet, and a person who feels happy, smiles. All our natural actions like eating, drinking, sleeping, waking, moving about, resting, bathing etc., affect our spiritual condition. Our physical structure is related intimately to our total humanity. If a certain part of the brain is injured memory is immediately lost. An injury to another part of the brain causes loss of consciousness. Poisonous air affects the body and through it the mind, and the whole inner system, to which the moral impulses are related, is impaired and the unfortunate victim passes out quickly like a madman.

Thus physical injuries disclose that there is a mysterious relationship between the soul and the body which is beyond the ken of man. Reflection shows that the body is the mother of the soul. (The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, p 4)

From the above we can see clearly that the body and soul are two interlinking things. Each one of them affects the other and the uplift of one will raise the other. We can understand the wisdom behind the teachings of Islam concerning the veil and the spiritual benefits which can be gained by both men and women if they follow them. It is also now very clear that observing the veil is not a duty for women alone but it is an injunction equally binding on men and women alike.

But God has prescribed these commandments to the believing men and the believing women separately and there must be great wisdom behind this. One of the obvious reasons behind this is to point out clearly that each of them is responsible for his or her own behaviour when carrying out and obeying these injunctions. So this proves that the Muslim man has nothing to do with forcing the woman to obey this order, out of any love for domination on his side.

Also comparing the two verses, emphasizes the fact that in this respect, due to the physical differences between men and women, the nature of the way it can be observed is different. The woman has an additional responsibility of hiding her beauty and embellishment.

Women are by nature the delicate sex, and they need special care and protection. Thus Islam treats women as a precious treasure that should be guarded and protected from being startled at or molested or inconvenienced by other people in any way. So, far from depriving women from their rights or freedom, these injunctions show the high status of the Muslim women. Islam is even protecting the inner feelings of women.

To understand the implication of this point fully we need to understand the true nature of the role of men and women in the society.

Man and woman differ physically in nature and capabilities. Man is physically stronger than woman and this is why his natural role in the family is to go out and provide the family with its means of sustenance. He is also the protector of the family from the outside dangers. But this does not in any way degrade the position of the woman because she has her own sphere of responsibilities as well. With her loving and caring nature she is more capable of looking after the members of the family. In this aspect she has more to offer than man. She acts as the protector of the family from the internal dangers and she is responsible for the education and training of the children. The combined efforts of both man and woman are needed to produce the perfect family. As the man needs the help of the woman to protect his house and look after it in his absence while he is away carrying out his duties, similarly the woman needs the protection of the man from the outside dangers to provide her with the peaceful atmosphere, that will enable her to perform her duties inside the house in the best possible way.

The Islamic society can be likened to one big family where women represent its spiritual body and the men represent its soul. As the Promised Messiah (may the peace and blessings of God be upon him) has explained, there is a deep relationship between the body and the soul and therefore, in a way similar to what was mentioned above, both the men and women depend on one another to produce a perfect society. The men are responsible for the outside affairs and the protection of the community from external dangers while the women are responsible for the internal welfare of the society and the education and training of the members of the community. The protection provided by men does not mean their superiority over women but on the other hand it emphasizes the importance of the role of women in the society. Women need to be fully protected from outside dangers so that they can give full attention to carrying out their sacred duties.

The Islamic veil symbolizes the spiritual protection of the Muslims. As the women represent the spiritual body of the Islamic society, this veil takes a palpable form in the case of women while it remains intangible in the case of men. Women need protection from external dangers and this is why their veil is manifest because it represents their external protection while for men the veil is concealed because it represents their internal protection. But it must always be remembered that observing the veil is an obligation for both men and women alike, even if it assumes different forms.

We notice that in the above quoted verses, after the mention of the commandments to men and women separately, the Quran ends this by saying:

And turn ye to Allah all together, O believers that you may prosper.
This emphasizes the fact that for the achievement of the sought results, both men and women need to carry out their share of responsibilities in connection with these injunctions. Or, in other words, like the soul and body, men and women complement one another and they will have to work together to act upon these commandments for the sake of the prosperity of their society as one unit. It is a sort of a blessing which can only be acquired by the joint efforts of men and women.

Yet comparing the two verses reveals another point of interest. The directions concerning the believing men ends with the words: that is purer for them. Surely, Allah is well-aware of what they do which means that if the believing men obey this command, they will be able to purify their souls. God knows well their intentions and the results of their actions, so they should do their best to observe this command and if they are sincere in their efforts, God will bless these efforts and will grant them success. But the order concerning the believing women does not end with a similar statement.

This is to hint to the believing women that there are still some more requirements that they will need to fulfil before they can achieve fruitful results. These requirements are mentioned separately in the verses that directly follow the above verses because they can only be complied with by the combined action of the men and women together. Those verses instruct the believers to arrange marriages for the women having no husbands. This emphasizes the fact that the real duty of the woman in the society can only be carried out fully after she becomes a housewife. This point will be further clarified when one understands the true role of the woman in society.

The directions in the previous verses were meant to be only the first steps for the believers in their journey towards God and the commandments in them were meant for the control of the natural human desires and passions which the Promised Messiah has called the self that incites to evil. This is the first stage of the human development that differentiates human beings from animals.

Thus the Quran has given the believers some additional guidelines in this respect. Concerning women, it does not only direct them to hide their outer beauty, but it also teaches them not display their hidden beauty as well, so much so that we find that in the above mentioned verses, women are reminded to watch even their manner of walking and moving about. They should be careful with every aspect of their behaviour and actions. This is further elaborated in another place of the Holy Quran where Allah says:

O wives of the prophet you are not like any other woman if you are righteous. So be not soft in speech lest he in whose heart is a disease should feel tempted; and speak decent words.

And stay in your houses with dignity and display not your beauty like the displaying of the former days of ignorance and observe prayer and pay the Zakat and obey Allah and His Messenger. Surely, Allah desires to remove from you all uncleanliness, O members of the household, and purify you completely. (33:33-34)

Here the Quran has ended the commandments with the words: Surely Allah desires to remove from you all uncleanliness, O members of the household and purify you completely. This indicates that these teachings are completing the previous ones for the purpose of purifying the believing women. These verses address the women who have already taken the first step of educating their natural faculties and are now in the process of educating their moral state.

The verses address the wives of the Holy Prophet. But as the Holy Prophet is an exemplar for all Muslims, it is the custom of the Quran that what he is ordered to do is meant to be followed by all the other Muslims. In the same way his wives are taken as exemplars for all the Muslim women. It is also interesting to notice here that the women are addressed in this verse as wives to draw their attention to the fact that, to reach this stage, they need to become housewives. The words members of the household added towards end of the verses indicate that these directions are meant for the believing women who want to be counted among the members of the spiritual household of the Holy Prophet or, in other words, to be regarded as the believing women of a high spiritual status.

In these verses it is required from women to behave with dignity and talk in a formal manner when addressing men. This is another veil that should be observed between men and women. Islam discourages too much familiarity between the two sexes. This is intended to purify their thoughts and to protect women from slanderous tongues. It is clear that these teachings are meant for the well being of women and to remove any cause of inconvenience for them from its very roots.

These verses also encourage women to give their full attention to the discharge of their serious and important duties in the management of the household affairs and to looking after the children and bringing them up. It adds that this can be successfully achieved by observing the teachings of Islam and obeying God and His Messenger.

The real purpose of a woman staying in the house is explained in the verse that follows the previous verses where we read:

And remember what is rehearsed in your houses of the Signs of Allah and wisdom. Verily Allah is Subtle, All-Aware. (33:35)
This shows that the purpose of women staying in their houses is to enable them to make use of the spiritual provisions presented to them and to use them the best possible way to produce the best spiritual food for others.

A woman has the capacity of being a mother which means that she has the capacity of providing spiritual and physical nourishment. So the real aim of her staying in the house is to nourish spiritually the members of the family and to train the younger generation. The women represent the body of the community and the body is the mother of the soul. Therefore, the main duty of the women is to prepare the spiritual food and present it to the community. This is a great and sacred responsibility, which has been entrusted to women. To teach them how to discharge this great task, God has mentioned the example of the bee in the Holy Quran where we read:

And thy Lord revealed to the bee: 'Make thou houses in the hills and in the trees and in the trellises which they build.

Then eat of all manner of fruits, and follow the ways taught thee by thy Lord and which have been made easy for thee.' There comes forth from their bellies a drink of varying hues. Therein is healing for mankind. Surely, in that is a Sign for a people who reflect. (16:69-70)

Allah praise belongs to Allah, the Gracious. He has created many things in the universe to teach human beings great points of wisdom. From the example of the bee, both men and women can learn many important lessons. In these verses God has given some directions to the bee, which in reality should be observed by human beings also, as hinted by the words:
Surely, in that is a Sign for a people who reflect.
God has directed the bee to find itself first a suitable house, then it should eat from the fruits or the nectar of the flowers and follow the paths that God has made easy for it, so that it can produce the drink or the honey which is described by the Holy Quran as: Therein is healing for mankind.

There is a strong similarity between the duties of a bee and the duties of a woman. In the life of bee, we can see the picture of the true role of woman in society. First a woman should protect herself by belonging to a house. The spiritual house is the divine religion because it provides the spiritual shelter to the person. So here the woman learns that she has to first search for the true divine religion and find it. Then she should eat from its fruits or, in other words, she should herself follow the teachings of this religion and reap the good results of doing this. When she will have successfully followed the straight path that leads to her Creator, she will have become a good example for others to follow and she will be able to give others the advice and guidance that can help them reach the same destination as herself and this is how she will be able to produce the drink that can cure others and guide them to this right path as well.

To enable women to discharge their great and sacred trust, God gave men the following orders:

O ye who believe! enter not the houses of the Prophet unless leave is granted to you for a meal, not waiting till it is cooked. But enter when you are invited, and when you have had your meal, disperse, without seeking to engage in talk. That causes inconvenience to the Prophet, and he feels shy of asking you to leave, but Allah is not shy of saying what is true. And when you ask them - the wives of the Prophet - for anything, ask them from behind a curtain. That is purer for your hearts and their hearts. And it behoves you not to cause inconvenience to the Messenger of Allah, nor that you should ever marry his wives after him. That indeed, is a monstrous thing in the sight of Allah. (33:54)
The apparent aim to this verse is to teach the Muslims some ethics and rules of conduct regarding their day to day life. But this verse also manifests the sanctity of the status of women in Islam. The wives of the Holy Prophet and his houses are mentioned in this verse as one and the same thing.

A house provides a person with shelter and lodging. It is also the dwelling where one finds peace, rest and food.

The houses which were mentioned in the previous verses were meant to provide shelter but the houses mentioned in this verse are the houses which provide a dwelling for the people, where they get their nourishment and restore their strength. In both cases the spiritual house meant is Islam, the religion and the teachings of Holy Prophet. His true followers can be described as his house because they have embodied in their own persons the teachings of his religion. The men among his true followers represent the house that provides shelter and the women represent the house that provides a dwelling. Again we can see that in this case also there is an undetachable relationship between men and women as they both together form the spiritual house of the Holy Prophet.

Forbiding the believers to marry the wives of the Holy Prophet after him, means, in addition to its literal meaning, that they should never mix the true teachings of his religion with any other new teachings of their own because his religion is the last and perfect religion. In this sense, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) is the last Prophet and his house is the last spiritual house to be constructed. In this sense also he is the seal of the Prophets because any prophet who might come to the world after him, must be from among the inhabitants of his spiritual house.

In this verse also we notice that in the commandments concerning the believing men, they are reminded of their responsibilities towards women. They must be attentive to women's progress because their own progress is linked to it.

So to some extent we can say that, in this respect, God has enjoined men to be in the service of women to protect them and help them attain a very high level of piety because on this depends their own advancement as well.

This is the true implication of the Quranic proclamation:

Men are guardians over women. (4:35)
The righteousness of the woman is a very important factor in the formation of an upright society. This is why Islam has secured her protection and made this manifest in her outer clothes.

The Holy Quran has summed up for us beautifully its teachings regarding the Islamic veil in the following verse:

O Prophet tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers, that they should pull down upon them their outer cloaks from their heads over their faces. That is more likely that they may thus be recognized and not molested. And Allah is Most Forgiving, Merciful. (33:60)
In this verse God has given His commandment to all the believing women to clarify the fact that these orders must be obeyed by all Muslim women and not only by those who reached a certain stage of their spiritual development. The women of all ranks must obey this order.

As the aim of this commandment is the spiritual perfection of the soul, the garment mentioned here should not be taken as just a physical one.

Elsewhere in the Holy Quran we read:

O children of Adam, we have indeed sent down to you raiment to cover your nakedness and to be a means of adornment, but the raiment of righteousness - that is the best. That is the commandment of Allah, that they may remember. (7:27)
This verse applies to both men and women and it explains beautifully the true essence of the Islamic veil. It enjoins men and women to cover themselves with the garment of righteousness, which is described as the best garment. This means that the covering of the body signifies figuratively the covering of the nakedness of the soul and its protection from evil by becoming righteous in actions.

The Islamic veil of a woman is a symbol of her protection from the external dangers that can affect her moral and spiritual advancement. The real Islamic veil is more than just covering the physical body. It implies also drawing a virtual curtain upon herself to protect her from all the evil surroundings.

If a woman is still taking the first steps towards purifying herself, her veil will act as a protector from any external dangers that can hinder her progress. And when a woman reaches a high moral state, it will be in her interest, and she will desire to cover herself completely lest she should be harmed or injured in her feelings in any way and so that she can develop spiritually and reach even higher stations. Hence, the outer garment of the Muslim woman is a symbol of the protection of her inner states as well. Her veil is a manifestation of the divine attribute (Ghafour) which was mentioned at the end of the verse which dealt with the subject of the veil in general. Though the word is translated as Most Forgiving, its full meaning is, One who forgives the previous sins and covers and protects a person from any weaknesses or shortcomings that might hinder his progress in the future. It is clear that this meaning matches what was mentioned earlier about the purpose behind the Islamic veil.

Yet in the same verse we find a mention of another divine attribute, Raheem which means Merciful.

God has created woman with the capacity of bearing her child in her womb to protect and nourish it until becomes able to survive outside her body independently. And even then she continues to look after it and nourish it till it becomes an independent mature person. She has the capacity to do the same for humanity at large. She has the capacity of caring for others and nourishing them by presenting to them the best spiritual food that she prepares using the divine spiritual provisions.

As she encompasses her child in her womb, God encompasses her with His Mercy. It is interesting here to notice that, in Arabic, the word womb is called rehm and the word merciful is raheem. They both originate from the same root rahama. This is a clear proof that the woman manifests in herself the divine attributes of mercy. As a reward for her great service to humanity, God Himself encompasses her and protects her with His mercy. Her outer garment is a symbol of this protection and mercy also.

Thus God has ordained these teachings for the Muslim woman to observe, to manifest His love and care for her and to declare His protection and support for her while she carries out this sacred task of looking after the spiritual house of His beloved Messenger, the Holy Prophet of Islam. This explains the purpose behind the words: that is more likely that they may thus be recognized and not molested which means that the outer garment of the Muslim woman acts as a proclamation to the world that she is under the protection of the Lord of the universe, so nobody should dare cause any inconvenience to her.

God has created women with great capacities and abilities and it is up to the women themselves to make use of these great blessings in the proper way to fulfill the purpose of their creation.

According to Islam, a woman can go out as long as there is a legitimate necessity for her to do so. But her primary and principal duties are confined to her home and family which are as important and serious, if not more, as the vocations of men are. Her principal sphere of responsibilities is her house. A woman can prove her superiority inside her house. If a woman takes to man's vocations, neglecting her domestic duties as the mistress of the house, she will be seeking to defy nature and nature does not allow its laws to be defied with impunity.

Now when we look at the present day modern societies we will see a picture of women totally opposite to the picture recommended by the Holy Quran.

The majority of women have neglected their duties as housewives and started competing with men in all fields of life. They are taking part in all sorts of professions, shoulder to shoulder with them, doing the jobs that only men used to do it in the past and taking responsibilities which nature did not prescribe for them. They wrongly believe that this is the way be which they can achieve their freedom and can then enjoy equity with men.

Women are mixing freely with men, vying with one another in attracting them. They find pleasure and pride in exposing their beauty. They are even competing with one another in displaying their beauty contests for women all around the world. They are treating their bodies as they are some kind of commodities available for display for anybody to look and gaze freely at.

They are not aware of the danger of their acts and the harm, injury and damage they are causing to themselves and to their society. They think that this is freedom but is it really so? What was thought to be the freedom of a woman turned out to be the very cause of her degradation and the destruction of her dignity and far from acquiring her freedom she was reduced to the degree of slavery. She became a slave to passions and carnal desires. With her own will, she made herself a slave for the pleasure of man.

If we look at those so called free societies today we will not find any trace of morality let alone spirituality. We will only see dissolution and depravity. A society will all the ills one can imagine. Broken marriages, illegitimate children, intentional abortions and unfaithfulness between married and even unmarried partners are only a few products of these societies. The easy availability of women for the pleasure of men has resulted in them being no longer desired by men and therefore we see more social evils like child abuse, homosexuality, drug addiction and crimes of rape and even murder for the sake of excitement.

It can be seen clearly that the first to suffer from these social ailments are the women themselves who bear the greatest responsibility for this to happen.

This is what the Holy Quran warned them fourteen centuries ago. This is why God has put on women more responsibility than men in this respect, as they were the ones who will suffer more by disregarding these teachings of Islam.

The Islamic veil is not a disgrace or a hindrance for a woman in any way. On the contrary, it honours her and frees her from the obstacles that prevent her moral and spiritual advancement and thus it is the means of her deliverance from the sufferings and ills that she faces in modern day societies. In reality it embodies the Mercy of God on women.

If women in the world today can understand the real implication of the true teachings of Islam regarding the veil and if they know the benefits they can gain and the high stations they can attain by following these teachings, they will soon be wanting their freedom from their ill societies and they will be fighting for their rights to adopt the Veil, where they secure their true freedom and where they can find real peace and tranquillity, and where their honour and dignity lies. Only then, will they enjoy the real bliss of being encompassed by Divine Protection and the Mercy of their Creator.