Muslim Women need not to Cover Face in Hijab... by Peace-Forum
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Dec 21, 2013 - Uploaded by Moey SlatsWomen in Islam vs Women in Christianity &Judaism ... Why do Muslim women wear Hijab?
Rabbi Dr. Menachem M. Brayer (Professor of Biblical Literature at Yeshiva University) in his book, ‘The Jewish Woman in Rabbinic Literature’ writes; it was the custom of Jewish women to go out in public with a head covering which, sometimes, even covered the whole face leaving one eye free. He quotes some famous ancient Rabbis saying," It is not like the daughters of Israel to walk out with heads uncovered" and "Cursed be the man who lets the hair of his wife be seen....a woman who exposes her hair for self-adornment brings poverty." Rabbinic law forbids the recitation of blessings or prayers in the presence of a bareheaded married woman since uncovering the woman's hair is considered "nudity". Dr. Brayer also mentions that "During the Tannaitic period the Jewish woman's failure to cover her head was considered an affront to her modesty. When her head was uncovered she might be fined four hundred ‘zuzim’ for this offense." Dr. Brayer also explains that sometimes, the veil symbolized a state of distinction and luxury rather than modesty. The veil personified the dignity and superiority of noble women. It also represented a woman's inaccessibility as a sanctified possession of her husband. The veil signified a woman's self-respect and social status. The fact that the veil was the sign of nobility was the reason that the prostitutes were not permitted to cover their hair in the old Jewish society. Jewish women in Europe continued to wear veils, till their lives became more intermingled with the surrounding secular culture. The external pressures of the European life in the nineteenth century forced many of them to go out bare-headed. Some Jewish women found it more convenient to replace their traditional veil with a wig as another form of hair covering. Today, most pious Jewish women do not cover their hair except in the synagogue. Some of them, such as the Hasidic sects, still use the wig.
In the Christian tradition, it is well known that Catholic Nuns have been covering their heads for hundreds of years, but that is not all. St. Paul in the New Testament made some very interesting statements about the veil: St. Paul's rationale for veiling women is that the veil represents a sign of the authority of the man, who is the image and glory of God, over the woman who was created from and for man. St.Tertullian in his famous treatise 'On The Veiling of Virgins' wrote, "Young women, you wear your veils out on the streets, so you should wear them in the church, you wear them when you are among strangers, then wear them among your brothers..." Among the Canon laws of the Catholic church today, there is a law that requires women to cover their heads in church. Some Christian denominations, such as the Amish and the Mennonites for example, keep their women veiled to the present day. The reason for the veil, as offered by their Church leaders is that, "The head covering is a symbol of woman's subjugation to the man and to God”, the same logic is introduced by St. Paul in the New Testament. Jesus said: “But I say to you, that every one looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart”. (Mathew;5:28). This implies that while, the men should lower their gaze, the women should not display their beauty.
It is obvious that Islam did not invent the head cover. However, Islam did endorse it as a symbol of modesty and respect not of subjugation. The Qur’an instructs: "Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty......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 ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms..." (Qur’an;24:30,31); “There is no blame on such elderly women who have no interest in getting married, if they lay aside their cloaks without displaying their adornment, but it is better for them if they do not discard. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.”(Qur’an;24:60). The Qur’an is quite clear that the outer garments (Jalabib) is an essential part of a recipe designed for the purposes of modesty. Allah says in Qur’an: "O’ prophet, tell your wives and daughters and the believing women that they should cast their outer garments over their bodies (when abroad) so that they should be known and not molested" (Qur’an;33:59). Different methods were evolved with the expansion of Islam and intermixture with other cultures. The custom of veiling women as known at present (which originally arose as a sign of aristocracy but later served the purpose of segregating women from men; the pardah), was acquired in Iraq then under influence of Iranian culture. Much has been said about the synthesis of Hinduism and Islam in the period of Muslim dominance, but, as far as the Hindus were concerned, this was generally a matter of superficial observances. Thus, veiling (purdah), the strict seclusion of women, became commonplace among the Hindu upper classes of northern India.
The modesty is prescribed to protect women from molestation or simply, modesty is protection. According to Bible: “If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed (engaged), and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and SHE SHALL BE HIS WIFE, because he has violated her; he may not put her away all his days.(Deuteronomy;22:28-29), “If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed, and lies with her, he shall give the marriage present for her, and make her his wife. If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equivalent to the marriage present for virgins.”(Exodus;22:16-17). The marriage of the victim of rape with the rapist is a punishment to her, she may not like to spend the rest of her life with such a criminal, payment of money equivalent to the marriage present will hardly deter such criminals. There is swear punishment for adultery and rape in Islam. The marriage is by choice and with mutual consent of the woman and man. The modestly and dignity of women is well guarded, leveling a false allegation (Qadhf) against chaste women is a hadd crime, having strict punishment mentioned in Qur’an;" And those who launch a charge against chaste women, and produce not four witnesses (to support their allegations)- Flog them with eighty stripes; and reject their evidence ever after: for such men are wicked transgressors"(Qur’an;24:4). Islam has laid down harsh punishments for such crimes, which strictly guards the modesty of women.
The status accorded to woman by Islam is unique and has no parallel in any other society. In Islam, the rights and responsibilities of a woman are equal to those of a man, but they are not necessarily the same. The variation in their functions does not imply that one is inferior to the other. In Islam, both men and women can rise in spiritual eminence. "Whoever works evil will not be requited but by the like thereof, and whoever works a righteous deed -whether man or woman- and is a believer- such will enter the Garden of bliss"(Qur’an;40:40); "Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has faith, verily to him/her we will give a new life that is good and pure, and we will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions"(Qur’an;16:97): “Allah has set an example to the unbelievers in the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. They were married to two of Our righteous servants, but they betrayed them. In no way could their husbands protect them from Allah. Both of them were told: "Enter the fire, along with those who enter." And Allah sets forth, As an example to those who believe the wife of Pharaoh: behold she said: "O My Lord! build for me, In nearness to thee, a mansion In the garden, and save me from Pharaoh and His doings, and save me from those that do wrong"; And Mary the daughter of 'Imran, who guarded Her chastity; and we breathed into (her body) of Our spirit; and she testified to the truth of the words of Her Lord and of His Revelations, and was one of the devout (servants).(Qur’an;66:10-12). Islam grants highest respect to Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, Chapter.19 is named ‘Mary’ [Maryam] in Quran.
The greatest honour bestowed upon man by Allah is Divine Revelation. Along with men, women have also received the gift of Divine Revelation, it is mentioned in Qur’an: “Behold! The angels said: ‘O Mary! Allah hath chosen thee and purified thee, chosen thee above the women of all nations’.” (Qur’an;3: 42); “So We sent this inspiration to the mother of Moses...”(Qur’an;28: 7).
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