The Psychological Reason
Some people believe that the hijab and staying at home are based on psychological reasons and that women have had an inferiority complex towards men from the very beginning. This feeling is based on two reasons: one is that some women think they lack something organic in the bleeding during their monthly menstruation and following childbirth.
The monthly period was considered to be a kind of deficiency in ancient times. That is why women were isolated during their monthly period and everybody avoided associating with them.
Perhaps that was the main reason for asking the Holy Prophet a question on this subject. God revealed a special verse in answer to this question. The Quran does not say that menstruation is something deplorable and that a woman is to be isolated during this time and that no one shouls associate with her. It says that it is a kind of harm leaving the body and during this time, they should not have sexual intercourse. It does not say that they should not associate with each other. "They ask you about menstruation. Say, "It is a kind of harm. Do not have sexual intercourse with woman at this time"1. According to the Quran, it is a kind of harm like many others and it is far from being deplorable.
Abu Dawud related a tradition of the Holy Prophet: "Ibn Malik said that the Jewish people used to send their wives out of their home when they were menstruating. They did not eat with them and did not drink water from their glass. They did not remain in the same room with them either. For this reason, the Prophet was asked about this and the above verse descended. The Prophet forebade the isolation of women at this time and said, "Nothing is forbidden except sexual intercourse."1 According to Islam, the menstruating woman is mohdis, that is, a person who does not perform the partial or total ritual ablution. Such a person is deprived from performing the ritual prayer and fasting. Every hadas is a kind of ritual impurity ablution. By this we mean that the state of menstruation is like the state of having had a wet dream or sexual intercourse, etc. But this ritual state is not special for women and it is removed by partial or total ritual ablution.
Many ideas have been expressed about the fact that women have a sort of deficiency in their feelings and because of this, both men and women thought that women were abased. Whether they are correct or incorrect, there is no relation between this and the philosophy of Islam about women and the hijab or 'covering'. Islamic precepts neither refer to menstruation nor the hijab as reasons to consider women lowly or abased.
These, then, are the five causes which others have more or less related and all five which are mentioned then be able to say that the hijab is no longer necessary or that from the very beginning it was unjust.
Can the hijab have another cause or not? May we offer the fact that the hijab in Islam has other reasons which do not compare to any of these five mentioned: the well-being of a person's 'self', family and society.
- "Sunan-e-Abi-Dawoud", Al-haid, p.32.
It is well known that the spirit of the human being, just like a person's body, can either be healthy or sick. What is the cause for its sickness? They have given many reason. One of the reasons mentioned is frustration, the failure to attain one's desires, deprivation or disillusionment.
Some people have suggested that these sexual frustrations arise from social limitations. With the removal of these limitations, all individuals will then succeed in the area of sexual affairs and sexual frustrations will disappear. This assumption was put forward but the drawbacks to it become quite apparent. It became clear that although it is true that sexual frustration causes psychological illnesses, it cannot be eliminated by the removal of the limits because if we remove social limits, we will only serve to further stimulate sexual urges. Thereby increasing demands which only lead to further disillusionment within the human being.
For instance, say that a human being had a limited number of demands, such as the demands in relation to food. Every society has a certain amount of demand for food. If a country has a population of 20 million, the amount of food required is clear. If their supply is greater than that, they cannot consume it. It should not be less but if it is more, they have to throw it away. When demands are limited, they can be satisfied. Demands can even be decreased in relation to the supply but it has been proved that the demand of cretain things in human beings are unlimited. However much they are satisfied, the desire persists. Things which have a quality which are not solely physical are like this. For instance, in the area of material things, if we want to say how much food a society needs, we can estimate this but if we were to ask how much money a society needed, the demand would be unlimited.
We may ask, "How much wheat would it take to satisfy the people of Iran?" This is possible to estimate. But it is more difficult to estimate if we ask, 'How much money would satisfy the people of the country. If you give as much as possible to an individual, he would never say, "That's enough". Knowledge is also like this.
Many of the demands of human beings are rooted in unending human desires. When you relate to them, a person still says, "I want more". Wealth is also like this. It cannot be satiated. A tradition of the Holy Prophet relates to this. "There are two kinds of hunger which are never fulfilled, the hunger for knowledge and the hunger for wealth."1 Can one fulfil the ambition of a person? Can a society fulfil the ambition of a person? No. No matter what position a person is given, that person wants an even higher position. Even if you gave him the highest position, he still would not be satisfied. The reason for the development of ethics was because of this very things. That is, to regulate unending human desires which have created chaos and conflicts.
Sexual enjoyment is limited from the pysical point of view. A man can be satisfied from one woman, or, at the most, two. But from the point of view of attachment that a man and a woman develop even Russel, mentions the fact that the physical sex differs from the attachment which can result from it. When it takes on this quality, can it be fulfilled? Given a man who has fallen into this way, a man, for instance, who has a harem of a thousand beautiful women. If someone were to say to him, "There is a beautiful woman in such and such a place", would he then say, "No. I am satisfied with my harem and my relations with the women here". There is no question of ever being satiated.
It was because of this that they readily saw that the desire for sex is like wealth. It is insatiable. They came and gave another suggestion. The human being must be made to deviate from this way. A person must be placed upon an unending road, a road
- "Sunan-e-Al-daremi", Moqaddamah, p.32.
that leads nowhere. Freud suggested it. He first struggled against any kind of social limits and limitations. He then saw that giving people limitless sexual freedom
created more difficulties and problems for them. It created far greater psychological disturbances. He said, "This spirit must be directed to other things so that it becomes preoccupied with art, literature, etc. because this way is impossible!" This spirit has to be allowed to develop without anything standing in its way.
Experience and statistics have shown that in the West where sexual freedom is very great and in some areas, there are no limitations, psychological illness are greater than is a society which has limitations. The greater the stimulation, the more the desires increase. They increase several times just like fire. Can a person satiate a fire with fuel? This clearly cannot be done. They say that no matter how you try to prevent a human being from something, the great for it increase. This is true but the point of note is that the human being develops greed for something which is both forbidden and stimulated but if it is not offered or it is offerred less, the human being finds less desire for it. When it is stimulated it is impossible for everyone to satisfy it.
When it is stimulated it is impossible for everyone to satisfy their desires for it no matter how much freedom they are given. Thus, if there is a kind of limitation and sexual desires are to be satisfied within the marital environment, if society is to be the place of work and activity, if a woman does not have the right to stimulate sexual urges nor a man has the right to seek sexual fulfilment outside the marital environment, if it takes this form, the spirit and morale of people will clearly develop in a more healthy and wholesome way.
As to the family, efforts must be made so that, to the extent possible, marital relations become more and more intimate and whatever will weaken this relationship must be resisted. The limiting of sexual fulfilment to marriage, whatever kind of fulfilment it may be, causes the married couple to develop a more profound union because a man who know only his wife to be able to give him satisfaction and a woman who knows only her husband to be the source of her pleasure and happiness clearly will develop deeper and stronger ties.
For instance, some people ask why is it that the sexual relation of a man without a wife and a woman without a husband are forbidden outside of marriage? Why can they not have sexual relations? We accept the fact that there is a difference but note this point which appears to be very clear to me. In the recent past and in the present among societies which live according to Islamic law, a girl who reaches puberty is not free to take sexual enjoyment from every youth even though the instinctive desire exists. When a boy reaches puberty, a desire and inclination for the opposite sex develops but there are no means to satiate it.
From the beginning he is told, for instance, that he can marry when he reaches the age of 20 and the girl knows that she will marry in a few years. Marriage for them is a very sweet and pleasurable thing. Marriage is a fulfilment of desires after a time of deprivation. That is, sexual urges my not be satisfied outside of marriage. This boy who is facing a girl for the first time seeks her as the person who will satisfy his desires, bring him pleasure and happiness and the girl who faces the boy for the first time knowing he will bring her happiness and well-being, develop such emotions that are incomparable to anything else. Marriage and the family centre is like this. When the satisfaction of sexual urges is forbidden outside this realm, it becomes the centre of happiness.
Thus this issue of forbidding the fulfilment of sexual activities outside of the family centre serves to strengthen family solidarity whereas allowing such possibilities outside the family centre separates the family. As we will come to point out, the Islamic hijab is nothing more than this; the limiting or restricting the sexual needs to marriage.
Now we will look at society. It has been said that the hijab paralyzes half of the society. I accept that if the hijab were that which they say existed among the Indians or that which existed in ancient Iran, this may be true. But the Islamic hijab does not say that a woman should be imprisoned nor does it say that a woman has no right to leave her home or to do a particular job which is of social or economic nature. Islamic precepts say, as we will read in the verses of the Holy Quran and in the traditions, that a woman who leaves her home does not have the right to leave in such a way that she stimulates other men or attracts and no man has the right to cast a lustful look towards a woman who leaves her home. This is a particular duty of men.
If a woman did not speak in stimulating tones in a social situation, if this did not happen, would boys and girls not study better? If boys did not have the right to flirt, would society not function better? If a woman is wearing the hijab and goes to buy something and the seller knows that this is not the place for games, which way is better? Clearly if there is the Islamic hijab, the human task force will most certainly perform with more efficiency and in this manner marketing activities will improve. That which has been created clearly prevents work from progressing as it should. Students to not study; marketing activities have been made to deviate from their main purpose which is selling, quality goods. Instead they empty the pockets of people by showing a beautiful woman who is selling something. Men go to buy, not caring what the product is, to enable them to talk to her. Will this cause society to deviate?
Thus, from the point of view of work and social activity, the improvement of society dictates that it should not be the place for the stimulation or fulfilment of sexual urges and the Islamic hijab serves just this purpose.
THE ISLAMIC HIJAB - PART I
THE HIJAB BRINGS DIGNITY TO A WOMAN**
There is one issue which remains to be discussed. It is one of the criticism they have made against the hijab which says that the hijab deprives the honour and respect of a woman. You know that human dignity has become one of the important goals of humanity since the words about human rights have developed. Human dignity is respected and it must be followed; all human beings share in this whether man or woman, black or white, or whatever nation or creed. Every individual has this right of human dignity. They say that the Islamic hijab opposes a woman's dignity. We accept the right of human dignity. The discussion is whether or not hijab, i.e., the hijab which Islamic precepts mention, is disrespectful to women, an insult to her dignity. This idea came into being from the idea that the hijab imprisons a woman, making her a slave. Enslavement opposes human dignity. They say because the hijab was introduced by men to enable them to exploit women, men wanted to captivated woman and imprison her in a corner of her home, thus, it is to have overlooked or insulted her human dignity. Respect, honour and nobility of a woman call for not having a hijab.
As we have said and we will further describe later, that is, we will deduce from the verses of the Holy Quran that we have nothing which would serve to imprison a woman and the necessities of the Islamic hijab are not to imprison a woman. If a man has duties in his relation to a woman or a woman has duties in relation to a man, the duty is in order to strengthen and solidify the family unit. That is, it has a clear purpose. In addition, from the social point of view, it has necessities. That is, the well-being of society demands that a man and a woman commit themselves to a special kind of association with each other or the ethical sanctities and ethical balance and the tranquility of the spirit of society, demand that a man and a woman choose a special way of relating to each other. This is neither called imprisonment nor enslavement nor does it oppose human dignity.
As we observe if a man leaves his house naked, he is blamed and reproached and perhaps the police will arrest him. That is, even if a man leaves his house with pajamas on, or with just underpants, everyone will stop him because it opposes social dignity. Law or custom rules that when a man leaves his house, he should be covered and fully dressed. Does this oppose human dignity to tell him to cover himself and leave the house?
On the other hand, if a woman leaves her house coverd within the limits that we will later mention, it causes greater respect for her. That is, it prevents the interference of men who lack morality and ethics. If a woman leaves her house covered, not only does it not detract from her human dignity, but it adds to it. Take a woman who leaves her home with only her face and two hands showing and from her behaviour and the clothes she wears there is nothing which would cause others to be stimulated or attracted towards her. That is, she does not invite men to herself. She does not wear clothes taht speak out ro walk in a way to draw attention to herself or does not speak in such a way to attract attention.
Something the clothes of an individual speak. His or her shoes speak. The way she or he talks says something else. Take a man, for instance, who speaks in such a way so as to say, "Fear me", or dresses in such a way opposite to that which is customary. That is, with a traditional cloak, a bread and a turban, etc., communicates to the poeple, "Respect me." It is possible that a woman wears clothes in such a manner that a human being, a respected human being, would associate among people and it is possible that she wears clothes and walks in a way which stimulates, "Come and follow me". Does the dignity of a woman, the dignity of a man, or the dignity of society not cause a woman to leave her home serious, diligent and simply dressed in the manner not drawing the attention of everyone she passes by.
She should be such that she does not distract a man and turn his attention from what he is doing. Does this oppose a woman's dignity? Or does it oppose the dignity of society? If a person says something, which existed in non-Islamic societies, that the hijab was to imprison women, that a woman must be placed in a locked house and she should have no right of association outside the home, this does not relate to Islam. If Islamic precepts were to say that it is not permitted for a woman to leave her house; if we were to ask whether it is possible for a woman to buy something from a store where the seller be a man and they said no, it was forbidden; if a person asked, "Is a woman permitted to participate in meetings, religious gatherings?' we were to say no, it is not permitted; if it is possible for women to meet each other?; if someone were to say all of these were forbidden, that a woman must sit in a corner of the house and never leave her home, this would be something, but Islam does not state this.
We say this is based on two things. One is based upon that which is good for the family. That is, a woman must not do anything that would disturb her family situation. For a woman to leave her house to go to her sister's house if her sister is a corrupt and licencious person or even to visit her mother where in the effects of the visit bring chaos to the house for a week, they say no to such circumstances. The family must not be disturbed. The second basis is that leaving the house, according to the Holy Quran, must not be in order to flaunt oneself, to disturb peace and tranquility of others, to prevent the work of others. If it is not these things, there is no problem.
THE COMMAND TO ANNOUNCE YOUR ENTRANCE TO SOMEONE'S HOUSE
Now we will discuss the Quranic verses and after we clarify what traditional commentators have explained about the verses, then with the help of traditions which have been narrated on this topic and the edicts of the religious jurisprudents on this issue, it will become clearer. The verses relating on the hijab are found in Surah Nur and Surah Ahzab. We will mention all of them. We will begin our discussion with the verses from Surah Nur. Of course the verses which relate directly to the hijab are verses of 30 and 31 of Surah Nur but there are three verses before this which are more or less introductory to the hijab and relate to this issue.
"O believers, do not enter houses other than your houses until you first ask leave and salute the people thereof; that is better for you; haply you will remember."1 This verse describes the duty of a man who is not mahram, to the house of another person, that is, the house of a person whose wife is not mahram to him. Of course, there are rules regarding those who are mahram and we will mention them later. Also there are some places where it is not particular to those who are mahram. It relates to how a person who wants to enter the house of another
- Quran, 24 : 26.
To begin with, let me say that during the Age of Ignorance before the Holy Quran was revealed, the present situation of houses did not exist with locks, etc. Doors are closed basically because of the fear of thieves. If someone wanted to enter, he would ring the doorbell or use the knocker. In the Age of Ignorance this situation did not exist. It was more like the situation in villages. People like myself who lived in the village know that there were basically no doors shut. The doorst to the courtyard are always open. In many places it is not even the practice to lock the doors at night. In Fariman a village near Tehran where I live I do not remember the door to the yard being closed even once and there was very little theft.
History shows that, in particular in Makkah, they often did not even put doors for a house. In Islam a law was passed that a person never owns the houses of Makkah. Of course, there is a difference of opinion among the religious jurisprudents. The Imams and the Shafe'ites agree that in Makkah, the land cannot belong to anyone person. That is, it belongs to all Muslims and the land of Makkah cannot be bought and sold. The houses belong to all the people. It has the ruling of a mosque. In Surah Hajj it says that the people who live there and the people who come from outside that area are all the same. These rents which people get today in Makkah neither agrees with the Shi'ite jurisprudence nor with much of the jurisprudence of Sunnis. It must have an international ruling. They have no right to establish limits there and not allow a person to enter. It belongs to him but he has no right to prevents others from entering. The person has no right to close off an empty room. Of course, if a person is using it, he has priority.
The first peson who gave the order for doors to be placed on the houses was Mu'awiyah. This had been forbidden to be done to the houses of Makkah. This was the general situation.
It was not the custom among Arabs in the Age of Ignorance to announce that they wanted permission to enter. They felt it was an insult to seek permission to enter. The Holy Quran says in another verse, if you go and seek permission and it is not granted, return. This may be considered to be an insult by some but this emphasis in the Holy Quran is one of the introductory aspects of the hijab because every woman in her own home is in a situation that she does not want to be seen or she does not want to see a person. A verse was revealed. "And when you ask his wives for something, ask them from behind a curtain (hijab)"1 Thus, a person must first seek permission to enter and then in agreement with the owner, the person enters even if the other party knows that he wants to enter.
The Holy Prophet said, "In order to announce yor entrance, recall God's name in a loud voice. I later realized the words 'ya Allah' that Muslim say, for instance, to enter, is the implementation of this command.
Thus, announce and how much better it is when this announcement is made by the recitation of God's name. The Holy Prophet continuously did this and he was asked, "Is this a general ruling that we should use when we enter our sister's house, our daughter's house, our mother's house?" He said, "If your mother is getting undressed, would she want you to see her then? They said, "NO." He said, "Then this same ruling holds for one's mother's house.
Do not enter without announcing your entrance." When the Holy Prophet would enter, he would stand behind the door of the room in a place where they could bear his vioce and would call out, "Assalamo alaikum ya ahlal bait". He said, "if you hear no answer, perhaps the person did not hear you. Repeat it again in a loud voice. Repeat for a third time if you receive no response. If, after the third time that you announce
- Quran, 33 : 53.
yourself, you hear no response, either that person is not home or the person does not want you to enter; Return". The Holy Prophet did this and many stories have been narrated about this, such as when he wanted to enter his daughter's house, he would call out salutations in a loud voice. If she resonded, he would enter. If he called out three times and received no response, he would return.
There is something here to note which is the difference between dar and bait in Arabic. Dar is that which we call courtyard and they call a room as bait. The Holy Quran refers to bait, that is, when you want to enter the room of a person. Since the doors to the courtyards were open, the courtyard clearly did not assume an area of privacy. That is, if a woman was dressed in such a way that she did not want anyone to see her, she would not be so dressed in the courtyard. She would go into a room. The courtyard has the ruling of a room. The door is closed and it normally has high walls. Women still consider the courtyard to be, to a certain extent, a place of privacy. Now dar has the ruling of bait because bait basically means the place of privacy where a woman does not want a strange person to see her.
"This is purer for you." That is, the commands We give are better for you, contain goodness, are not illogical. "Know that this is good."
"And if you do not find anyone therein, enter it not until I leave is given to you and if you are told 'return'. That is purer for you; and God knows the things you do." "There is no fault in you that you enter uninhabited houses wherein enjoyment is for you. God knows what you reveal and what you hide."1 This was very difficult for the Arabs to understand. To seek permission when they wanted to enter a house was itself difficult and then to be told to return and to return was next to impossible. It was an insult.
- Quran, 24 : 27-28.
In the verse, "there is no fault in you ...", an exception arises. Does this ruling apply whenever one wants to enter any or only a person's residence. The Holy Quran says this is not a general ruling and only applies to someone's home.
A home is a place of privacy, the place of one's private life but if it was not, there would be need to seek permission. If there is, for instance, a caravanserai and you have business, do you have to seek permission, etc. No. Here it is not necessary to enter by seeking permission. What about a public bath. There is no need here. "There is no fault in you ..." if it is not a place of residence in which you have business. "God knows what you reveal and what you hide."
From the word, 'uninhabited', one can understand that the philosophy of why a person cannot enter the home of another without announcing it first is because of the wife as well as the fact that the home is the place of one's privacy. Perhaps there are things which one does not want someone else to see.
Thus, when a person enters the privacy of another's home, the entrance must be announced. A person must, in some way, announce that he wants to enter even if the person knows that the other has allowed him to enter. He is your friend. He knows that you are going to enter. You know that he is totally in agreement with your entering. Still, you should realize that you are entering upon his privacy.