The Social Reason

Another cause which has been given for the observance of the hijab is the sense of insecurity. They say that the hijab appeared because of the lack of security which had developed.

There were times in history when those who had power and force held the keys to everythings. If people had money, property and wealth, for instance, if aristocrats had jewels, they had to hide them so that none would know what they had because whenever it become known what so and so had, powerful persons would forcibly take it away. People who had great wealth would hide it. They would hide it so well, even from their own children, that when they died, no one knew where it was. They were afraid to tell their children for fear they would tell their friends, etc. and then everyone would know what they had. The person would then die and thus everything that he had remained hidden.

Lack of security was very extensive in the past. Just as there was no security in relation to wealth and property, there was no security in relation to women either. Just as men were obliged to hide their money and their wealth, they were obliged to hide their women. History records that in Sassanian Iran, the high

  1. "Kafi", vol.5, p.494.

priests and prince would seek out and take any beautiful girl that they heard about. The idea of the hijab then was to hide women so that no other man would come to know about her.

Will Durant in the "History of Western Civilization" writes about the situation in ancient Iran. Count Gobineau also wrote abou the hijab. "The hijab which presently exists in Iran basically relates to pre-Islamic Iran and not Islamic Iran."1 He believes the difference between the hijab in Iran and the hijab in other places is the national character of Iranians.

Thus, in ancient Iran, as history tells us, the man had no assurance with regard to their women. I read a story about the time of Anushirawan, the Just, who had a major in his army and even though the major had hidden his wife word of her beauty had spread. One day when the major was out of town, Anushirawan went to his wife and then he returned to place. The woman told her husband. The man saw that not only would he now lose his wife, but his own life as well if he tried to keep her. He let her go. Anushirawan was informed that major so and so had divorced his wife. When he saw the major, he said, "I understand you had a beautiful garden and that you sold it. Why?" The major said, "Your majesty, I saw footprints of a lion in the garden and I was afraid the lion would eat me." He laughed and said, "No, that lion won't be found again in that garden."

Thus, there was no security. Everyone lived in fear and because of this, they say one of the causes for the appearance of the hijab was insecurity. Then they say that this cause no longer exists. No one takes another's wife through force. Therefore, since insecurity in this sense no longer exists, there is no reason for the hijab. Just as people can now put their money in the bank

  1. Count Gobineau, Three years in Iran.

where no one will touch it, there is security. Since security exists, there is presently no need for the hijab. We have to compare this with the philosophy of Islam. This was the reason why Islam brought the hijab because of a lack of security or not? When we look at the issue, we see that neither in Islamic analysis has such an issue appeared nor does it conform with history. The hijab did not exist among the Arab bedouins during the Age of Ignorance and, at the same time, security existed. That is, at the same time that individual insecurity and aggression against women had attained the greatest extent possible in iran and women covered themselves, this type of aggression did not exist among individuals in the tribes in Arabia. The very tribal character protected the women.

The security which did not exist among the tribes was social or group security and covering does not solve this kind of problem. When two tribes fought, they not only took the men, but the women, their children, and every thing as well. Covering would not have protected the women.

In spite of the obvious differences which the Arab bedouins had with our industrilized life, it resembled our life in the sense that adultery, in particular by married women was rampant. But because of a certain type of democracy and lack of a tyranny no one would forcibly take the wife of another man. Yet the individual insecurity which a person in the industrilized West senses was lacking among the bedouins.

The 'covering' prevents the aggression of a person who lives in one place. This kind of aggression does not exist among the tribes. Therefore we cannot say that Islamic precepts established the hijab simply to provide security.

The Islamic philosophy for covering is other than this and will be explained later. At the same time, we do not want to say that the security of a woman against the aggression of a man is not at all to be considered. We will discuss this when we refer to the verse on Jilbab. We also do not feel that this issue is irrelevant today and that women have total security against the aggression of men. All one has to do is to read the newspapers about the crimes committed against women in the western world.

LESSON TWO

REASONS GIVEN FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE HIJAB - PART II

Our discussion will centre on the issue of the hijab in Islam but as we had mentioned, we must first hold a more general discussion because the hijab is not exclusive to Islam. That is, it is not the idea that the hijab appeared for the first time in the world with Islam. It existed in ancient India and in ancient Iran, as well. The hijab which ancient India and Iran had was much stricter then that which Islam brought. of course, if we take the Arabian peninsula into consideration, the Islamic hijab was established, not imitated. That is Islam imported the hijab into the Arabian peninsula but it existed in non-Arab lands throughout the world.

It is a phenomena which existed during non-Islamic times. Philosophical, social, economic, ethical and psychological reasons have been given as the cause for the development of this phenomenon and as to how it happened that the hijab came to appear in history among people. It is necessary to mention these reasons because they have said that these are the causes for the appearance of the hijab and that it first appeared because of certain very particular conditions which existed in those times. Conditions where by it was, perhaps, necessary for it to be but now that those conditions no longer exist, there is no reason for the hijab.

Thus, we have to see what the reasons mentioned are, whether or not they are the real causes or is it, as some people say that which caused the hijab to come into being was unjust, that from the very beginning the hijab itself was imposed upon women. If this is so, they conclude that this is even more reason why it should never come into being.

In the last discussion we mentioned two reasons, one of which was the sense of insecurity. We said that this has been mentioned as a reason for women wearing the hijab. The other reason mentioned was the sense of asceticism, the sense of struggling against sexual urges. This is something which existed in the world, in both the East and the West. In the East, one of its largest centres was India and in the West, in Greece.

THE ECONOMIC REASON

Another reason given for the hijab is that they have said that the hijab developed because of economics, and of corse, it was to exploit women. As a result of this it is unjust. They came and divided things this way. They said history shows that there have been for ears in the relations between men and women, including the present age.

The first age of humanity, according to this view, was a communal age with refrence to sex. That is, essentially no family life existed. The second era, then, was the ear of ownership by man. The third era was the age when women rose in objection to men and the fourth era is the era of equality of rights between men and women.

The first era, the communal age, they say, relates to prehistory. The era of ownership is the longest era that history has recorded where man dominated over woman and they identify Islam as an example of this era. The third era, which is known as the era of rebellion, occured in the second half of the 19th century. The fourth era is the one which more or less has appeared or is appearing. It is the era of seeking complete equality between men and women's rights.

It is clear that these eras were developed from what others said about economics which refers to the various eras of humanity with the first era being communal, then the feudal era, the era of capitalism and the era of communism. That which they have mentioned as to the economic causes for the appearance of the hijab does not relate whatsoever to these economic stages mentioned by others.

These four stages expressed in this manner are all erroneous. There are no facts regarding the first era which they mention as being communal. There is no evidence that family life did not exist from the very beginning.

We do not intend to go into detail about these ages but simply to refer to the fact that they say the hijab relates to the era when men dominated over women. If we do not accept that era, they say that it resulted from men being the intermediator for women: A man hired a woman for his own purposes. He kept her in his home to do his work. He left some of his work for a woman to do for him. This was similar to when they imprisoned slaves and prevented them from leaving to better perform the work of their master. Men saw that it would be to their advantage to put women behind a curtain and prevent their comings and goings so that they would better undertake the work of the house which had been given to them to do. Thus, men did this in order for them to have hired women from the economic point of view and to have turned them into an instrument. Otherwise there was no reason to do such a thing. Wherever the hijab has appeared, it was accompanied by such a situation of the employing of women by men to work in the house.

Is it true that this reason existed in those places in the world where the hijab appeared? We do not deny that perhaps in some corners of the world this situation existed. If men prevented women from leaving their home and prevented others from seeing them in whatever from, if men imprisoned women, the roots of such a cause might have been economic. However we are discussing Islam. Islam, on the one hand, established and brought the hijab and, on the other, very directly stated something which is among the very clear aspects of Islam which is that a man has absolutely no right to gain economically from a woman. A woman has economic independence. Great emphasis has been given to this issue.

That is, a man has no right to benefit economically in any way whatsoever from a woman. The jobs of a woman belong to her. If, within the home itself, work is given to a woman to do if she so desire. But if a woman was to say, "No, I won't do that", a man has no right to force her to do it.

A woman is free in whatever work she does. In the first place, she has a right to refuse; a man has no right to order her to do something. Secondly, if she says, "I will do this for such and such a wage", she has a right to receive a wage, in the case of nursing her child, for instance. Even though a mother has priority to nurse her own child, she still has a right to obtain a wage for it. Her priority is in the sense that if another woman wanted to nurse her child and says "I will take 1'000 rials a month to nurse the child", the mother herself says, "I will not take more than 1'000 rials a month", then the mother has priority to nurse the child unless the other woman, for some reason, is more suitable.

A woman has a right to work outside the home as long as it does not harm the family environment. Whatever she earns belongs to her alone, no matter what legitimate work, she performs.

It must be clearly recognized, then, that Islamic precepts do not intend for the hijab to be a means to economically exploit women. If this had been the intention, the rulings would have reflected this. For instance, the precepts would have stated that a man has the right to employ his wife in his home and a woman must wear the hijab. Then these two things would have been connected. A system which states that a man has no right to exploit a woman but, on the other hand, that same system has established the hijab, clearly, then, did not establish the hijab to exploit women.

We do not think, either, that this reason was a very major one for wherever in the world the hijab existed but some Iranians who have written against the laws of Islam have greatly stressed this point. That is, they say in order for men to be able to keep women in their homes to exploit them and to turn them into their own tools, they imprisoned them. This is one reason they have given and as we have stated, this reason in no way conforms with Islam.

THE ETHICAL REASON

Another reason they have given for the appearance of the hijab has an ethical aspect. That is, it relates to the character and nature of individuals.

They say it stems from the selfishness of men and men's jealousy. A man dominated over a woman so that he could enjoy her exclusively himself; so that no other man would share with him, not only in sexual intercourse but in every-thing. He wanted to monopolize a woman so that the touching of her body and even the viewing of her be exclusively his privilege. That is, a type of excessive greed which existed in men caused them to present the hijab.

Russell says just this. He says that human beings have been able, to a certain extent, to dominate over their greed for wealth in such a way that they later encouraged charity and sharing one's able with others because these related to wealth. They came to regard excessive greed as something disgreeable in human beings but they were not able to control their greed for sex in the same way. Thus, they came and changed the name of this to 'manliness' or 'zeal' They considered jealousy and greed under this name to be a virtue whereas if charity is good and if it is good in relation to wealth, it should be good in relation to women as well, or else it is wrong in both areas. How is it that when it comes to something that belongs to a person, it is good to be generous and liberal with it but then when it relates to women, it is evil. No, there is absolutely no difference between them. If it is good, it is good for both and if it is bad, it relates to both.

In the first place, it is not right to compare 'having a wife' to 'having property'. Secondly, from our point of view, there is a difference between jealousy and zeal (passion, fervour or ardency, ghairat). We believe them to be two different feelings. Zeal is a natural instinct given to humanity. It is a collective word. That is, its roots are to preserve society, not is a collective word. That is, its roots are to preserve society, not an individual. It is like a policeman that God has placed within humanity to preserve future generations.

As we have pointed out, however much satisfaction a man receives in sexual pleasure, his sense of zeal becomes more weakened along with his sensitivities to wards modesty, piety and moral will-power. Lustful men do not object to their wives having affairs; they may even enjoy it and defend such deeds.

Whereas the opposite is true of men who struggle against their ego's desires and lust. In this struggle, gathering together their moral forces, they dominate over vices such as greed, envy or the worship of money within themselves. They become what the term 'human being' really means. They then devote themselves to serving people as a sense of providing service to others develops within them. Such men have greater 'zeal' or 'sense of manliness' and are more jealous and protective of women. As a matter of fact, they protect all women in general. That is, their conscience does not permit them to allow any kind of aggression against women in society for it is as if they were the protectors of all women.

Hazrat 'Ali said, "A noble, zealous person never commits adultery". He did not say 'a jealous person never commits adultery' but rather a zealous one. Why? Because manliness is a noble, human virtue. It is a human virtue which relates to society and is purity. Just as a zealous man does not allow the corruption of women he is related to, neither is he content to see the women of society being corrupted. This is because zeal is other than jealousy. Jealousy is a personal and individual affair and stems from a series of spiritual beliefs but zeal is an emotion and a sensitivity which relates to the human species as a whole. The secret of the fact that men have a very great sensitivity towards their wife having sexual intercourse with other men is an instinct which creation gave to every man to preserve future generations. If this did not exist, if the singular affection for children did not exist, not even one individual would be inclined towards reproduction. If this sense of wonder did not exist within the human being to protect and guard the place of the seed so that other seeds, which are similar, would not fall there, the relation between the sexes would be completely cut off. No one would know their father and no father would know his child whereas the connection between one generation to another is one of the principles of human society. If it did not exist, there would be no society.

Human beings have been given an instinct which is the basis for the preservation of society and that instinct is this: Women are desirous of preserving their generations and so are men but women are protected as a result. When a child is born, it is clear who its mother is and the mother knows her child. Even if she were to have intercourse with a thousand men, she would know that the future generations are assured but men are not reassured in this way unless they have guarded that woman and created some precautions whereby they are assured of their fatherhood. Can a person say that we must eliminate this instinct called 'zeal' which exists within human beings? And, that this is the same thing as jealousy? This is something which even those who have a community type of living as far as property is concerned have not said in relation to women.