|By: ATRI Staff Writer; ©2009|
|When you see her you know. The woman may be wearing a simple headscarf, or she may be completely covered head to toe, including gloves and a transparent covering over her eyes. This is the sign of a woman who follows the tenets of Islam. But why does she conceal herself in this manner?|
When you see her you know. The woman may be wearing a simple headscarf, or she may be completely covered head to toe, including gloves and a transparent covering over her eyes. This is the sign of a woman who follows the tenets of Islam. Both the Qur’an and the Hadith require that when a woman leaves her house for any reason she must cover her “personal adornment and physical charms” from everyone but her husband.
There is a fairly broad range of thought about how much of herself the woman must cover. This may depend on the country or upon the particular branch of Islam to which she belongs. The simplest form of the veil (or hijab – literally veil, curtain) covers just the head and the shoulders. At the other end of the scale is the burqa, which completely covers the body, including a transparent mesh over the eyes.
But what is the purpose of the hijab? Why are the women to cover themselves so completely? It is because upon them is placed the responsibility for the honor of not only her family but of the entire community, as this extended quote reveals.
Notice that the man who committed the crime bears little of the responsibility for the crime. Instead it is the woman’s fault – because she tempted him by not covering herself! Even Allah himself will hold her responsible. That’s a heavy responsibility for a woman to bear. One wonders why Allah (or Muhammad) would place such responsibility in the hands of those who are considered deficient in intelligence.
Women who are found guilty of violating the commands concerning their dress may find themselves victims of honor killings. The woman’s relative will kill her in order to preserve or renew the family’s honor. Other reasons often cited for honor killings include marital infidelity, failing to serve a meal on time, and seeking a divorce. Experts suggest the latter (seeking a divorce) is likely the reason why 37-year-old Aasiya Hassan was allegedly beheaded by her husband in New York earlier this year.
Surprisingly, but perhaps understandably, some Muslim women actually come to think of hijab as liberating. As one writes,
The veiling clearly offers what at least some women view as a form of protection. But Samuel Zwemer provides one more compelling glimpse at the woman behind the veil when he writes:
What these women have not understood is that true liberty is to be found in Jesus Christ. While God’s holiness demands that His law be fulfilled, in His mercy He sent His own Son to fulfill that law for us – by His death on the cross. And what does the Gospel of Matthew say? When Jesus died on the cross, at that moment the veil in the Temple tore from top to bottom (Matt. 27:51). That veil, that barrier between us and God was severed! The way is open for you to come to God, throw down the heavy burden of your veil, and receive instead the robe of His righteousness! [Isaiah 61:10]
To be sure, turning from Allah to the God of the Bible is a difficult choice for a Muslim woman to make. She is almost sure to lose everything: her family, her home, her children, perhaps her freedom, and possibly even her life. But as one woman writes, “After spending all your life in the darkness, it hurts your eyes to see the light for the first time. But I can never go back to the darkness.”
For more information on the issues facing women in Islam, we recommend our new book by John Ankerberg and Emir Caner entitled The Truth About Islam & Women (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2009). Contact our office or visit our website for ordering information.