Solidifying the Roots of the Family
There is no doubt that anything which confirms the root of the family and increases the perceptions of marital relations is good for the family unit. The greatest efforts must be made to have this happened. The opposite is also true. Anything which causes the relationship between a husband and wife to grow cold is detrimental to a family and must be struggled against. Finding the fulfilment of sexual desires within the family environment and within the framework of a legal marriage will strengthen the relationship between a husband and wife causing their union to become more stable.
The philosophy of the hijab and the control of sexual desires other than with a legal wife, from the point of view of the family unit, is so that one legal partner will be the cause for the well-being of the other, whereas in the system of free sexual relationships, one's legal partner is psychologically considered as a competitor, someone who gets in the way of that person's 'fun' like a prison guard. As a result, the basis for the family becomes enmity and hatred.
The youth of today have fled from marriage and whenever marriage is suggested to them, they say, "It is too soon. I am still a child", or give some other excuse because of this very reason. In the past, one of the greatest desires of the young people was to get married. They were not so particular before about the blessings of Europe which introduced so many women as goods. Marriage in the past was undertaken after a time of anticipation and wishful thinking. For this very reason the partners saw their happiness and well-being in their partner. But today, sexual desires are so freely satisfied outside of marriage that there is no longer any reason to have the former feelings. Free relationships of girls and boys have made marriage look like a duty and a limitation to them. It then becomes necessary to speak to them about ethics, morals, etc. As some magazines suggest, it must be forced upon the young people.
The difference between the society which limits sexual relations to the family environment and a legal marriage with a society which promotes free relationships is that marriage in the first society is the end to the anticipation and deprivation whereas in the latter, it is the beginning of deprivation and limitation. In the system of free sexual relationships, the marriage contract ends the free period of boys and girls and it obliges them to learn to be loyal to each other whereas in the Islamic system, their deprivation and anticipation is met.
The system of free relationships, in the first place, causes boys to become soldiers of fortune because of marriage and the formation of a family and not until their high, young spirits tend to become weak, they turn to marriage; then a girl is taken because she will bear children or clean the house or act as a maid. In the second place, it weakens the roots of the existing marriage. Instead of the marriage being based upon a pure love and deep affection where they know their partner to be the person who shares in their happiness, the reverse happens.
They look at their partner with the eyes of a competitor, as a person who prevents freedom and brings limitations. As they say, each one becomes the other's prison guard. When a boy or a girl wants to say, "I am married", but instead says, "I have taken on a prison guard". What does this mean? This means that before marriage, they were free to go wherever they wanted to flirt; there was no one to tell them what to do. But after marriage, these freedoms were limited. If a man goes home late one night, there will be an argument with his partner. "Where were you?" If he talks with a young girl, his wife objects. It is clear to what extent family relations become weakened and cold in such a system. Some people like Bertrand Russell believe that the prevention of free relationships is not just for the certainty of men in relationship to future generations because methods of birth control have been developed to solve this difficulty. Thus, the issue is not just the knowledge of who the father is.
The other issue is that the purest of emotions exist between the marriage partners and the relationship should be based on unity and solidarity. These goals can only be met when the partners close their eyes to other relationships, when the man closes his eyes to other women, when the wife is not bent on stimulating and attracting anyone but her husband and when the principle of forbidding the satisfaction of sexual desires outside of the family, even before marriage, exists.
In addition, when a woman who has progressed following Russell and people like him and in accordance with the 'new sexual ethics' still seeks her love in another in spite of having a legal husband. When she sleeps with a man who has become the love of her life, what assurance is there that she will take preventive measures with a man who is her legal husband whom she does not love and not get pregnant by the man she now loves and then claims her legal husband to be the father of the child? It is clear that such a woman will prefer to have her child be the product of the man she now loves, not of the man who the law says is her legal husband and the only person by whom she should have children. It is natural that a man should have children by a woman who loves him and not by a woman who is forced upon him by the law.
Europe has clearly shown that the statistics for illegitimate children has risen at an alarming rate despite the modern means for preventing pregnancy.
THE PERSEVERANCE OF SOCIETY
Taking sexual desires from the bounds of the family environment to society has weakened the society's capacity for work and activity. Contrary to the opinion that 'the hijab results in paralyzing half of the energy potential of the individuals of society', the lack of the hijab and the gradual development of free relationships has caused the social force to fail.
That which has caused the paralysis of woman's power and that which has imprisoned her talents is the lack of the hijab. In Islam, there is no question of the hijab prohibiting a woman from participating in cultural, social or economic activities. Islam neither says that a woman cannot leave her home nor does it say that she cannot seek knowledge and learning. Rather, men and women must both learn and seek knowledge. There is no objection to women's economic activities in Islam. Islam has never wanted women to be useless and unoccupied. It has never desired that women bring up useless and indifferent children. The covering of the body, except for the face and hands, is not to prevent any kind of cultural or social or economic activity. That which paralyses the working force is the corruption of the work environment by the element of seeking the satisfaction of sexual pleasures.
If a boy and a girl study in a separate environment or in one environment where the girl covers her body and wears no make-up, do they not study better? Do they not think better and listen to the words of the teacher better? Or is it better when a boy sits beside a girl who has make-up and wearing a short skirt which barely reaches her knees? Will men work better in an environment where the streets, offices, factories, etc., are continuously filled with women who are all having make-up and are not fully dressed up or in an environment where these scenes do not exist? Any company or ofiice that is serious about its work and endeavours to produce a good job, prevents these kinds of intermixing. If you do not believe this, check it out yourself.
The truth is that the disgraceful lack of hijab in Iran (before the Revolution) whereby we were even moving ahead of America, is a product of the corrupt western capitalist societies. It is one of the results of the worship of money and the puruance of sexual fulfilment that is prevalent amongst western capitalists. It is one of the means they use to manipulate human society and stimulate them by this force to become consumers of their products. If an Iranian woman only wants to put on make- up for her legal husband or only wants to get dressed up for gathering with women, she will not be a consumer of western products. It will be her duty and assignment to mislead the morals of young boys and girls, to weaken them so that they are no longer active members of society which is to the benefit of the exploiters.
REASONS GIVEN FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE HIJAB - PART I
Our discourse will centre around the hijab (Islamic covering or dress). We will discuss the hijab from three aspects and I think that it is best if we divide it in this way.
One discussion will be a philosophical and socio-historic one about why the hijab appeared among people, in general, because it is not particular to Islam. It existed before Islam among many of the ancient nations and it was stronger in Sassanian Iran than is any other place. What deductions and reasonings have been mentioned for this? Is it possible that some of these reasons may be correct in relation to some societies? In other words, are the causes given for the development of the hijab true in some places? Then we have to see if the reasons they have given hold true for the hijab in Islam well, or whether or not Islam has other reasons. We will deduce the Islamic point of view from Islam itself.
The second discussion relates to the problems which a person may find with the hijab, the criticisms that one may make about it and the drawbacks which are mentioned. What are these drawbacks that others mention? Does the Islamic hijab have the same drawbacks that are mentioned for the hijab in general? Thus, the second discussion will be devoted to criticisms.
The third area of discussion relates to the Islamic hijab itself, its history, whether or not there was hijab during the Age of Ignorance in Arabia and Islam confirmed it, increased it or decreased it? Or did it not exist in the Age of Ignorance and Islam established it?
Then, what is the Islamic hijab? Here we will refer to the verses and commentaries upon the Holy Quran and traditions from the Holy prophet and the Infallible Imams, the verses referred to are in two Surahs, Surah Nur and Surah Ahzab.
THE PHILOSOPHICAL REASON
Social commentators have often presented their deductions for the appearance of the hijab centred around the idea that even in the first principles of nature, no covering or evil has been made to come between males and females. They say that there is no place in nature; where a curtain or veil appears between the male and female sex, for the female sex to be set aside behind a curtain, and to wear a covering.
It would appear that there are five reasons given for the appearance of the hijab. The philosophical reason centres on the tendency towards asceticism and struggling with pleasure in an effort to subdue the ego. The main source for this thought is perhaps India where a barrier was created between men and women through the pursuance of asceticism because a woman is the highest form of lustful pleasure giving. If men were to mix freely with women, according to this idea, a man would mainly pursue this and his society would remain undeveloped in other ares. Therefore, he had to struggle to conquer his own soul by denying it enjoyment of sexual pleasures.
Other things which, like women, cause lust to arise within the human being are also struggled against such as the resistance towards cleanliness or encouragement of messiness and filth. Do not think that some people chose this because of carelessness on their part or because of recklessness or lack of concern. It was rooted in a philosophy which confirmed and even extended it. As Bertrand Russell mentions in his book, "Marriage and Ethics", in the early stages of Christianity, this kind of thinking developed through St. Paul when celibacy received sanctity and moved a large number of people towards the wilderness to destroy satan. Then, he says that the Church even rose in opposition to taking a bath because the body leads sin. The Church applauded uncleanliness and a smelly body took on the smell of sanctity. According to St. Paul, cleanliness of the body opposed cleanliness of the spirit and lice came to be considered as 'pearls of God'.
Then it occured to me that having long hair among the saints (darwesh), who, as you know, practised asceticism and kept distance from women, was for this very reason. They say that in the past, whether or not it is true, whosoever shortened or cut the hair of the body, that person's sexual instincts were strengthened. Thus, with this reasoning, long hair would lessen sexual desires. This idea existed in the past and perhaps it is true that if a person was to cut or shorten or shave all the hair on one's body, one would increase one's sexual desires. Then the Indians and he Sikhs who forbide the cutting of their hair could have been for this very reason; because they were seeking asceticism.
Some have said that the reason why the hijab was found in the world, in an absolute sense, was because the idea of asceticism appeared. Then they ask why asceticism was found or began to develop among people. They have mentioned two reasons for this. First, because among the deprived class, there were people who carried on with women, had beloveds and then their beloveds were taken away from them, a kind of hatred for women suddenly developed in them, in particular, where women themselves conspired against them. That is, this hatred developed against them. Thus, this hatred developed against teh women. They essentially began to seek celibacy and asceticism and would propagate to the extent possible against women. This they developed as a philosophy of the priests.
The second reason given for the appearance of desire for asceticism is the opposite of the first. Persons who were very extreme in their sexual practices, an extent which even exceeded the limits of nature and persons who turned to drugs or stimulators or things so that they were continuously stimulated in one way or another, would suddenly turn away from sex. It can be seen in human nature that sometimes when on does something to an extreme limit then turns comletely away from it, even if it is pleasurable. If something is imposed, a revulsion towards it can develop. At the end of their lives, they develop a hatred for sexual activity. History, more or less, confirms this in the lives of sultans who had spent their lives in carnal pleasures and harems. At the end of their lives, because of the extremity of their behaviour a hatred for it developed within them. They say it produced immense exhaustion within them and created a sense of antagonism and rivalry against women.
At any rate, they say that the hijab and the barrier between men and women was caused by the appearance of the idea of seeking asceticism. The materialists who wanted to justify asceticism and ascetic practices said that it was for one of these two reasons.
As to these two reasons, we do not say that none of these existed in the world. They could have been and these causes might have had these effects but Islam, as we will mention later, established the hijab. It did not exist during the Age of Ignorance in Arabia. We have to see whether or not these causes have been mentioned in Islam and have been given as proof or other reasons have been given for it. Does this precept conform with other Islamic precepts? Does the Islamic spirit of asceticism conform with the concept of asceticism which we have mentioned? We will see that Islam has never presented this point of view and, as a matter of fact, Islam has struggled greatly against this view. Even non-Muslims agree that Islam never promoted asceticism and ascetic practices. the concept that began among Hindus and extended to Christianity did not exist in Islam.
It is clear that whatever Islam brought to the concept of the hijab, this reason was not one of them. Islam has emphasized cleanliness. Rather than considering lice to be God's pearls, it said, "Cleanliness stems from faith." The Holy Prophet saw a person whose hair was disheveled, whose clothes were dirty and he presented a bad appearance. He said, "Pleasure and taking advantage of God's blessings is part of religion."1 The Holy Prophet (S.A.) said, "The worst servants of God are those who are dity."2 Amir al-Mu'minin Ali (A.S.) said, "God is beautiful and He loves beauty."3 Imam Sadiq (A.S.) said, "God is beautiful and He loves His creatures to emblish themselves and reflect their beauty. The reverse is also true. He considers poverty and pseudo-poverty to be enemies. If God has given you a blessing, the effect of that blessing must be shown in your life." They asked him, "How should the blessing of God be shown?" He said, "By the clothes of a person being clean, smelling good, whitening their house with stucco, sweeping in front of their house and lighting their lamps before sunset which will add to its splendour."4 In the oldest books we have available such as Kafi, which has been for one thousand years, there is a section called Bab al Ziyye Wat Tajammul. Here Islam hs strongly emphasized combing the hair, keeping it short, making use of perfumes and
- "Wassail al-shi'ah", vol.1, p.277.
- Wassail, vol.1, p.277.
- Wassail, vol.1, p.277.
- Wassail, vol.1, p.278.
oiling one's hair.
In order to perform their worship better and in order to gain greater spiritual pleasures, a group of companions of the Holy Prophet left their wives and children. They fasted during the day and performed worship at night. As soon as the Holy Prophet learned of this, he prevented them from continuing, saying, "I, who am your leader, do not do this. I fast on some days and on others, I do not. I worship a part of the night and I spend other parts of it with my wives." This group then asked the Prophet's permission to castrate themselves. The Holy Prophet did not give his permission. He said that this was forbidden in Islam.
One day three women went to the Prophet. They complained about their husbands. One said that her husband did not eat meat. Another said that her husband shunned perfume. The third said that her husband distanced himself from her. The Prophet of God suddenly become angry, threw down his cloak, left his house and went to the mosque. He went upon the minbar and cried out, "What should be done with a group of my friends who put meat, perfume and woman aside? I myself eat meat, I smell perfume and I receive pleasure from my wives. Whoever objects to my methods is not from among me."1 The command was given to shorten the length of dress because the custom among the Arabs was to wear dresses which were so long that they swept the streets. Because of cleanliness, one of the first verses revealed to the Holy prophet was, "And thy garments, keep free from stain."2 Also, the encouragement to wear white clothes is, first of all, because of beauty and secondly, because of cleanliness, White clothes show off dirt sooner. This has been indicated in the traditions. When the Holy Prophet wanted to meet his companions, he would first look in a mirror, comb his hair, and
- Wasaa'il, vol.3, p.14, Muhammad Ibn Ya'qub Kulayni, "Kafi", vol.5, p.496.
- Quran 74 : 4.
check his appearance. He said, "God loves His servants who when they are going to see their friends make themselves ready and beautiful."1 That is, "wear white clothes because they are more beautiful and cleaner".
The Holy Quran says that the creation of means of embellishment are among the kindnesses that God shows His creatures and it severely criticizes those who deny themselves the beauties of this world. The Holy Quran says, "Who has forbidden the beautiful (gifts) of God which He has produced for His servants and the things, clean and pure, (which He has provided) for sustenance?"2 Islamic traditions say that the pure Imams consistently debated with the Sufis and referrring to this very verse of the Holy Quran, invalidated their deeds.3
The legitimate pleasures which spouses receive from each other are considered to be blessings in Islam, among the Divine rewards. It is perhaps difficult for foreigners to understand this concept and perhaps they reflect to themselves, "How strange that they call this filthy act, a blessing, a spiritual reward!" It is surprising for a Hindu or a Christian to realize how much spiritual reward there is in performing the ceremonial washing (ghusl) after sexual intercourse and washing away the sweat which had been created in this act. Islam has placed many limitations on the issues but within the area that has been limited, not only does it not forbid it, but it encourages it and it has even introduced the kindness and compassion of women as being among the qualities upheld by God's prophets.
There is a tradition in Wasa'il, "Within the nature of the
- Wasa'il, vol.1, p.280.
- 7 : 32
- Wasa'il, vol.1, p.279
prophets in their love of woman ...1 The Holy Prophet straightaway forbids the seeking of asceticism and ascetic practices at the beginning of Islam, practices which may have been in limitation of monks. What a great encouragement has been given to women. In the same way that they are encouraged to limit their contacts with men who are not their husbands, they are encouraged to adorn themselves for their husbands. A woman who does not do so is even cursed; a woman must make herself beautiful for her husband. At the same time, husbands are encouraged to cleanliness.
Hasan ibn Jahm said, "I went to see Musa ibn Ja'far, peace be upon him, and saw that he has used (hair dye) on his hair. I said, "have you made use of hena? He said, "Yes. A man's use of hena and well dressing up increases the chastity of his wife. Some women lose their chastity because their husbands do not dress up well for them."2 In another tradition of the Holy Prophet, one of the reasons he gives for the Jewish women who were committing adultery was becuase their husbands were so filthy that their wives sought men who were clean and well-groomed.3 'Uthman ibn Maz'un was one of the recorders of the traditions of the Holy Prophet.
He wanted to put this world aside in limitation of the monks and forbid himself sexual pleasures. His wife went to the Holy Prophet and said, "O Prophet of God, 'Uthman fasts every day and he gest up every night for prayer." The Holy prophet became angry and went to him. 'Uthman was performing his ritual prayer. The Prophet waited until his ritual prayer ended. he then said, "O 'Uthman, God has not sent me to institute monasticism and asceticism. God has sent me to introduce the Divine Law which is primordial and simple and to
- Wasa'il, vol.3, p.3.
- Kafi, vol.3, p.3.
- Nahj al-Fusaha.
tell about returning to Him. I perform my ritual prayers, I fast and I also have relation with my wives. Whosoever loves religion which coincides with my primorial nature must follow what I do. Marriage is one of my customs."1 Clearly this philosophy of asceticism cannot be attributed to Islam. This philosophy might have existed in some places in the world but it does not conform to Islam.