Q: Why do Muslim women cover themselves?
A: They do so in submission to God Almighty (Allah). HE commands them to hide their beauty except to those whom HE permits and any woman who does so fulfils that very command that God Almighty has placed on her. God has legislated for all members of society to be modest and civilized in their conduct towards themselves and each other. Each human being will be judged according to following of commands that were ordained for him or her. The rights a wife has on her husband, or a son on his mother or a brother to his sister (or vice versa)all vary – and although they are different, quite essentially our submission to God Almighty is judged according to how we observe them. The bases of one’s success in terms of seeking God’s pleasure is purely based on total submission to commands and avoidance of evil of all kinds.
A woman’s hijab, is one such command to bring her closer towards the ultimate goal of achieving God’s pleasure. It’s not just a piece of cloth (as it looks), it’s a complete transformation of one’s self inside out. It’s a commitment between a loyal servant and her Creater, a form of total submission to the will of God Almighty.
As a rationale, it protects women and boldly demands respect for them from men who otherwise would have judged them by their looks as opposed to what they are capable of doing or saying as a human being. It gives women an opportunity to break the common stereotypical image of women-can-only-be judged-based-on-looks. It takes down the barriers for women to achieve the excellence in any field of work based on looks, gender and other differences.
Historically, the concept of keeping a women’s beauty covered/ hidden is not unique to Islam, but exists in many other faiths, e.g, Christian Nuns wear similar attire, orthodox Jewish women also do cover their heads in a similar way etc.
Today Hijab is seen as a sign of oppression while being naked or half naked is considered a sign of modernism/ freedom. This is completely different from the concept of Hijab wearing women. Hijab is worn as submission to God Almighty and not for the men in and around the life of the woman. Women of faith from any religion including Islam have always denounced this stereotype. We sadly live in the world where true teachings of faith are considered as fundamental/ conservative practices while not following the true teachings are considered as progressive. Hijab is one of those examples.
Women who wear hijab, do cover with their own free will and with the utmost personal commitment. They don’t always cover to make any statement, they cover to show that they are loyal servants of God Almighty who can be trusted, should be respected for their choice and protected from any ignorance based on their choice.