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About woman in Islam

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About woman in Islam

Mesaj  Admin la data de Lun Mai 16, 2011 8:03 pm

In the name of Allah the most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
Hijab - Modesty Degnity Respect

Literally, Hijab means "a veil", "curtain", "partition" or "separation." In a meta- physical sense, Hijab means illusion or refers to the illusory aspect of creation. Another, and most popular and common meaning of Hijab today, is the veil in dressing for women. It refers to a certain standard of modest dress for women. "The usual definition of modest dress according to the legal systems does not actually require covering everything except the face and hands in public; this, at least, is the practice which originated in the Middle East." 1

Hijab is an Arabic word meaning barrier or partition.

In Islam, however, it has a broader meaning. It is the principle of modesty and includes behaviour as well as dress for both males and females.

The most visible form of hijab is the head covering that many Muslim women wear. Hijab however goes beyond the head scarf. In one popular school of Islamic thought, hijab refers to the complete covering of everything except the hands, face and feet in long, loose and non see-through garments. A woman who wears hijab is called Muhaajaba.

Muslim women are required to observe the hijab in front of any man they could theoretically marry. This means that hijab is not obligatory in front of the father, brothers, grandfathers, uncles or young children.

Hijab does not need to be worn in front of other Muslim women, but there is debate about what can be revealed to non-Muslim women.

Modesty rules are open to a wide range of interpretations. Some Muslim women wear full-body garments that only expose their eyes. Some cover every part of the body except their face and hands. Some believe only their hair or their cleavage is compulsory to hide, and others do not observe any special dress rules.

In the English speaking world, use of the word hijab has become limited to mean the covering on the head of Muslim woman. However, this is more accurately called a khimaar. The khimaar is a convenient solution comprising usually one, but sometimes two pieces of cloth, enabling Muslim women to cover their hair, ears and neck while outside the home.

Hijab, in the sense of veiling, can also be achieved by hanging a curtain or placing a screen between women and men to allow them to speak to each other without changing dress. This was more common in the early days of Islam, for the wives of the Prophet Muhammad.

While Hijab means "cover", "drape", or "partition"; the word KHIMAR means veil covering the head and the word LITHAM or NIQAB means veil covering lower face up to the eyes. The general term hijab in the present day world refers to the covering of the face by women. In the Indian sub-continent it is called purdah and in Iran it called chador for the tent like black cloak and veil worn by many women in Iran and other Middle Eastern countries. By socioeconomic necessity, the obligation to observe the hijab now often applies more to female "garments" (worn outside the house) than it does to the ancient paradigmatic feature of women's domestic "seclusion." In the contemporary normative Islamic language of Egypt and elsewhere, the hijab now denotes more a "way of dressing" than a "way of life," a (portable) "veil" rather than a fixed "domestic screen/seclusion." In Egypt and America hijab presently denotes the basic head covering ("veil") worn by fundamentalist/Islamist women as part of Islamic dress (zayy islami, or zayy shar'i); this hijab-head covering conceals hair and neck of the wearer.

The Qur'an advises the wives of the Prophet (SAS) to go veiled (33: 59).

In Surah 24: 31(Ayah), the Qur'an advises women to cover their "adornments" from strangers outside the family. In the traditional and modern Arab societies women at home dress quite differently compared to what they wear in the streets. In this verse of the Qur'an, it refers to the institution of a new public modesty rather than veiling the face.

...When the pre-Islamic Arabs went to battle, Arab women seeing the men off to war would bare their breasts to encourage them to fight; or they would do so at the battle itself, as in the case of the Meccan women led by Hind at the Battle of Uhud. This changed with Islam, but the general use of the veil to cover the face did not appear until 'Abbasid times. Nor was it entirely unknown in Europe, for the veil permitted women the freedom of anonymity. None of the legal systems actually prescribe that women must wear a veil, although they do prescribe covering the body in public, up to the neck, the ankles, and below the elbow. In many Muslim societies, for example in traditional South East Asia, or in Bedouin lands a face veil for women is either rare or non-existent; paradoxically, modern fundamentalism is introducing it. In others, the veil may be used at one time and European dress another. While modesty is a religious prescription, the wearing of a veil is not a religious requirement of Islam, but a matter of cultural milieu.2

"The Middle Eastern norm for relationships between the sexes is by no means the only one possible for Islamic societies everywhere, nor is it appropriate for all cultures. It does not exhaust the possibilities allowed within the framework of the Qur'an and Sunnah, and is neither feasible nor desirable as a model for Europe or North America. European societies possess perfectly adequate models for marriage, the family, and relations between the sexes which are by no means out of harmony with the Qur'an and the Sunnah. This is borne out by the fact that within certain broad limits Islamic societies themselves differ enormously in this respect." 3

The Qur'an lays down the principle of the law of modesty. In Surah 24: An-Nur: 30 and 31, modesty is enjoined both upon Muslim men and Muslim women 4:

Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for Greater purity for them: And God is Well-acquainted with all that they do. And say to the believing women That they should lower their gaze And guard their modesty: and they should not display beauty and ornaments expect what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that They must draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husband's sons, or their women, or their slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their ornaments.

The following conclusions may be made on the basis of the above-cited verses5:

1. The Qur'anic injunctions enjoining the believers to lower their gaze and behave modestly applies to both Muslim men and women and not Muslim women alone.

2. Muslim women are enjoined to "draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty" except in the presence of their husbands, other women, children, eunuchs and those men who are so closely related to them that they are not allowed to marry them. Although a self-conscious exhibition of one's "zeenat" (which means "that which appears to be beautiful" or "that which is used for embellishment or adornment") is forbidden, the Qur'an makes it clear that what a woman wears ordinarily is permissible. Another interpretation of this part of the passage is that if the display of "zeenat" is unintentional or accidental, it does not violate the law of modesty.

3. Although Muslim women may wear ornaments they should not walk in a manner intended to cause their ornaments to jingle and thus attract the attention of others.

The respected scholar, Muhammad Asad6, commenting on Qur'an 24:31 says " The noun khimar (of which khumur is plural) denotes the head-covering customarily used by Arabian women before and after the advent of Islam. According to most of the classical commentators, it was worn in pre-Islamic times more or less as an ornament and was let down loosely over the wearer's back; and since, in accordance with the fashion prevalent at the time, the upper part of a woman's tunic had a wide opening in the front, her breasts were left bare. Hence, the injunction to cover the bosom by means of a khimar (a term so familiar to the contemporaries of the Prophet) does not necessarily relate to the use of a khimar as such but is, rather, meant to make it clear that a woman's breasts are not included in the concept of "what may decently be apparent" of her body and should not, therefore, be displayed.

The Qur'anic view of the ideal society is that the social and moral values have to be upheld by both Muslim men and women and there is justice for all, i.e. between man and man and between man and woman. The Qur'anic legislation regarding women is to protect them from inequities and vicious practices (such as female infanticide, unlimited polygamy or concubinage, etc.) which prevailed in the pre-Islamic Arabia. However the main purpose is to establish to equality of man and woman in the sight of God who created them both in like manner, from like substance, and gave to both the equal right to develop their own potentialities. To become a free, rational person is then the goal set for all human beings. Thus the Qur'an liberated the women from the indignity of being sex-objects into persons. In turn the Qur'an asks the women that they should behave with dignity and decorum befitting a secure, Self-respecting and self-aware human being rather than an insecure female who felt that her survival depends on her ability to attract or cajole those men who were interested not in her personality but only in her sexuality.

One of the verses in the Qur'an protects a woman's fundamental rights. Aya 59 from Sura al-Ahzab reads:

O Prophet! Tell Thy wives And daughters, and the Believing women, that They should cast their Outer garments over Their Persons (when outside): That they should be known (As such) and not Molested.

Although this verse is directed in the first place to the Prophet's "wives and daughters", there is a reference also to "the believing women" hence it is generally understood by Muslim societies as applying to all Muslim women. According to the Qur'an the reason why Muslim women should wear an outer garment when going out of their houses is so that they may be recognized as "believing" Muslim women and differentiated from street-walkers for whom sexual harassment is an occupational hazard. The purpose of this verse was not to confine women to their houses but to make it safe for them to go about their daily business without attracting unwholesome attention. By wearing the outer garment a "believing" Muslim woman could be distinguished from the others. In societies where there is no danger of "believing" Muslim being confused with the others or in which "the outer garment" is unable to function as a mark of identification for "believing" Muslim women, the mere wearing of "the outer garment" would not fulfill the true objective of the Qur'anic decree. For example that older Muslim women who are "past the prospect of marriage" are not required to wear "the outer garment". Surah 24: An-Nur, Aya 60 reads:

Such elderly women are past the prospect of marriage,-- There is no blame on them, if they lay aside their (outer) garments, provided they make not wanton display of their beauty; but it is best for them to be modest: and Allah is One who sees and knows all things.

Women who on account of their advanced age are not likely to be regarded as sex-objects are allowed to discard "the outer garment" but there is no relaxation as far as the essential Qur'anic principle of modest behavior is concerned. Reflection on the above-cited verse shows that "the outer garment" is not required by the Qur'an as a necessary statement of modesty since it recognizes the possibility women may continue to be modest even when they have discarded "the outer garment."

The Qur'an itself does not suggest either that women should be veiled or they should be kept apart from the world of men. On the contrary, the Qur'an is insistent on the full participation of women in society and in the religious practices prescribed for men.

Nazira Zin al-Din stipulates that the morality of the self and the cleanness of the conscience are far better than the morality of the chador. No goodness is to be hoped from pretence, all goodness is in the essence of the self. Zin al-Din also argues that imposing the veil on women is the ultimate proof that men suspect their mothers, daughters, wives and sisters of being potential traitors to them. This means that men suspect 'the women closest and dearest to them.' How can society trust women with the most consequential job of bringing up children when it does not trust them with their faces and bodies? How can Muslim men meet rural and European women who are not veiled and treat them respectfully but not treat urban Muslim women in the same way? 7 She concludes this part of the book, al-Sufur Wa'l-hijab 8 by stating that it is not an Islamic duty on Muslim women to wear hijab. If Muslim legislators have decided that it is, their opinions are wrong. If hijab is based on women's lack of intellect or piety, can it be said that all men are more perfect in piety and intellect than all women? 9 The spirit of a nation and its civilization is a reflection of the spirit of the mother. How can any mother bring up distinguished children if she herself is deprived of her personal freedom? She concludes that in enforcing hijab, society becomes a prisoner of its customs and traditions rather than Islam.

There are two ayahs which are specifically addressed to the wives of the Prophet Muhammad (S) and not to other Muslim women.

These are ayahs 32 and 53 of Sura al-Ahzab. ".. And stay quietly in your houses," did not mean confinement of the wives of the Prophet (S) or other Muslim women and make them inactive. Muslim women remained in mixed company with men until the late sixth century (A.H.) or eleventh century (CE). They received guests, held meetings and went to wars helping their brothers and husbands, defend their castles and bastions.10

Zin al-Din reviewed the interpretations of Aya 30 from Sura al-Nur and Aya 59 from sura al-Ahzab which were cited above by al-Khazin, al-Nafasi, Ibn Masud, Ibn Abbas and al-Tabari and found them full of contradictions. Yet, almost all interpreters agreed that women should not veil their faces and their hands and anyone who advocated that women should cover all their bodies including their faces could not face his argument on any religious text. If women were to be totally covered, there would have been no need for the ayahs addressed to Muslim men: 'Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty.' (Sura al-Nur, Aya 30). She supports her views by referring to the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (S), always taking into account what the Prophet himself said 'I did not say a thing that is not in harmony with God's book.'11 God says: 'O consorts of the Prophet! ye are not like any of the (other) women' (Ahzab, 53). Thus it is very clear that God did not want women to measure themselves against the wives of the Prophet and wear hijab like them and there is no ambiguity whatsoever regarding this aya. Therefore, those who imitate the wives of the Prophet and wear hijab are disobeying God's will.12

The status of woman in Islam constitutes no problem. The attitude of the Qur'an and the early Muslims bear witness to the fact that woman is, at least, as vital to life as man himself, and that she is not inferior to him nor is she one of the lower species. Had it not been for the impact of foreign cultures and alien influences, this question would have never arisen among the Muslims. The status of woman was taken for granted to be equal to that of man. It was a matter of course, a matter of fact, and no one, then, considered it as a problem at all.
In order to understand what Islam has established for woman, there is no need to deplore her plight in the pre-Islamic era or in the modern world of today. Islam has given woman rights and privileges which she has never enjoyed under other religious or constitutional systems. This can be understood when the matter is studied as a whole in a comparative manner, rather than partially. The rights and responsibilities of a woman are equal to those of a man but they are not necessarily identical with them. Equality and sameness are two quite different things. This difference is understandable because man and woman are not identical but they are created equals. With this distinction in mind, There is no problem. It is almost impossible to find even two identical men or women.
This distinction between equality and sameness is of paramount importance. Equality is desirable, just, fair; but sameness is not. People are not created identical but they are created equals. With this distinction in mind, there is no room to imagine that woman is inferior to man. There is no ground to assume that she is less important than he just because her rights are not identically the same as his. Had her status been identical with his, she would have been simply a duplicate of him, which she is not. The fact that Islam gives her equal rights - but not identical - shows that it takes her into due consideration, acknowledges her, and recognizes her independent personality

The status of woman in Islam is something unique, something novel, something that has no similarity in any other system. If we look to the Eastern Communist world or to the democratic nations, we find that woman is not really in a happy position. Her status is not enviable. She has to work so hard to live, and sometimes she may be doing the same job that a man does but her wage is less than his. She enjoys a kind of liberty which in some cases amounts to libertinism. To get to where she is nowadays, woman struggled hard for decades and centuries. To gain the right of learning and the freedom of work and earning, she had to offer painful sacrifices and give up many of her natural rights. To establish her status as a human being possessing a soul, she paid heavily. Yet in spite of all these costly sacrificeqs and painful struggles, she has not acquired what Islam has established by a Divine decree for the Muslim woman.

The rights of woman of modern times were not granted voluntarily or out of kindness to the female. Modern woman reached her present position by force, and not through natural processes or mutual consent or Divine teachings. She had to force her way, and various circumstances came to her aid. Shortage of manpower during wars, pressure of economic needs and requirements of industrial developments forced woman to get out of her home - to work, to learn, to struggle for her livelihood, to appear as an equal to man, to run her race in the course of life side by side with him. She was forced by circumstances and in turn she forced herself through and acquired her new status. Whether all women were pleased with these circumstances being on their side, and whether they are happy and satisfied with the results of this course is a different matter. But the fact remains that whatever rights modern woman enjoys fall short of those of her Muslim counterpart. What Islam has established for woman is that which suits her nature, gives her full security and protects her against disgraceful circumstances and uncertain channels of life. We do not need here to elaborate on the status of modern woman and the risks she runs to make her living or establish herself. We do not even need to explore the miseries and setbacks that encircle her as a result of the so-called rights of woman. Nor do we intend to manipulate the situation of many unhappy homes which break because of the very "freedom" and "rights" of which modern woman is proud. Most women today exercise the right of freedom to go out independently, to work and earn, to pretend to be equal to man, but this, sadly enough, is at the expense of their families. This all known and obvious. What is not known is the status of woman in Islam. An attempt will be made in the following passages to sum up the attitude of Islam with regard to woman

1. Woman is recognized by Islam as a full and equal partner of man in the procreation of humankind. He is the father; she is the mother, and both are essential for life. Her role is not less vital than his. By this partnership she has an equal share in every aspect; she is entitled to equal rights; she undertakes equal responsibilities, and in her there are as many qualities and as much humanity as there are in her partner. To this equal partner- ship in the reproduction of human kind God says:

O mankind! Verily We have created your from a single (pair) of a male and a female,m and made you into nations and tribes that you may know each other... (Qur'an, 49:13; cf. 4:1).

2. She is equal to man in bearing personal and common responsibilities and in receiving rewards for her deeds. She is acknowledged as an independent personality, in possession of human qualities and worthy of spiritual aspirations. Her human nature is neither inferior to nor deviant from that of man. Both are members of one another. God says:
And their Lord has accepted (their prayers) and answered them (saying): 'Never will I cause to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female; you are members, one of another... (3:195; cf 9:71;33:35-36;66:19-21).

3. She is equal to man in the pursuit of education and knowledge. When Islam enjoins the seeking of knowledge upon Muslims, it makes no distinction between man and woman. Almost fourteen centuries ago, Muhammad declared that the pursuit of knowledge is incumbent on every Muslim male and female. This declaration was very clear and was implemented by Muslims throughout history.
4. She is entitled to freedom of expression as much as man is. Her sound opinions are taken into consideration and cannot be disregarded just because she happen to belong to the female sex. It is reported in the Qur'an and history that woman not only expressed her opinion freely but also argued and participated in serious discussions with the Prophet himself as well as with other Muslim leaders (Qur'an, 58:1-4; 60:10-12). Besides there were occasions when Muslim women expressed their views on legislative matters of public interest, and stood in opposition to the Caliphs, who then accepted the sound arguments of these women. A specific example took place during the Califate of Umar Ibn al-Khattab.
5. Historical records show that women participated in public life with the early Muslims, especially in times of emergencies. Women used to accompany the Muslim armies engaged in battles to nurse the wounded, prepare supplies, serve the warriors, and so on. They were not shut behind iron bars or considered worthless creatures and deprived of souls.
6. Islam grants woman equal rights to contract, to enterprise, to earn and possess independently. Her life, her property, her honor are as sacred as those of man. If she commits any offense, her penalty is no less or more than of man's in a similar case. If she is wronged or harmed, she gets due compensations equal to what a man in her position would get (2:178;4:45, 92-93).
7. Islam does not state these rights in a statistical form and then relax. It has taken all measures to safeguard them and put them into practice as integral articles of Faith. It never tolerates those who are inclined to prejudice against woman or discrimination between man and woman. Time and again, the Qur'an reproaches those who used to believe woman to be inferior to man (16:57-59, 62; 42:47-59; 43:15-19; 53:21-23).
8. Apart from recognition of woman as an independent human being acknowledged as equally essential for the survival of humanity, Islam has given her a share of inheritance. Before Islam, she was not only deprived of that share but was herself considered as property to be inherited by man. Out of that transferable property Islam made an heir, acknowledging the inherent human qualifies in woman. Whether she is a wife or mother, a sister or daughter, she receives a certain share of the deceased kin's property, a share which depends on her degree of relationship to the deceased and the number of heirs. This share is hers, and no one can take it away or disinherit her. Even if the deceased wishes to deprive her by making a will to other relations or in favor of any other cause, the Law will not allow him to do so. Any proprietor is permitted to make his will within the limit of one-third of his property, so he may not affect the rights of his heirs, men and women. In the case of inheritance, the question of quality and sameness is fully applicable. In principle, both man and woman are equally entitled to inherit the property of the deceased relations but the portions they get may vary. In some instances man receives two shares whereas woman gets one only. This no sign of giving preference or supremacy to man over woman.The reasons why man gets more in these particular instances may be classified as follows: First man, is the person solely responsible for the complete maintenance of his wife, his family and any other needy relations. It is his duty by Law to assume all financial responsibilities and maintain his dependents adequately. It is also his duty to contribute financially to all good causes in his society. All financial burdens are borne by him alone.

Secondly, in contrast, woman has no financial responsibilities whatsoever except very little of her personal expenses, the high luxurious things that she likes to have. She is financially secure and provided for. If she is a wife, her husband is the provider; if she is a mother, it is the son; if she is a daughter, it is the father; if she is a sister; it is the brother, and so on. If she has no relations on whom she can depend, then there is no question of inheritance because there is nothing to inherit and there is no one to bequeath anything to her. However, she will not be left to starve, maintenance of such a woman is the responsibility of the society as a whole, the state. She may be given aid or a job to earn her living, and whatever money she makes will be hers. She is not responsible for the maintenance of anybody else besides herself. If there is a man in her position, he would still be responsible for his family and possibly any of his relations who need his help. So, in the hardest situation her financial responsibility is limited, while his is unlimited.

Thirdly, when a woman gets less than a man does, she is not actually deprived of anything that she has worked for. The property inherited is not the result of her earning or her endeavors. It is something coming to them from a neutral source, something additional or extra. It is something that neither man or woman struggled for. It is a sort of aid, and any aid has to be distributed according to the urgent needs and responsibilities especially when the distribution is regulated by the Law of God.

Now, we have a male heir, on one side, burdened with all kinds of financial responsibilities and liabilities. We have, on the other side, a female heir with no financial responsibilities at all or at most with very little of it. In between we have some property and aid to redistribute by way of inheritance. If we deprive the female completely, it would be unjust to her because she is related to the deceased. Likewise, if we always give her a share equal to the man's, it would be unjust to him. So, instead of doing injustice to either side, Islam gives the man a larger portion of the inherited property to help him to meet his family needs and social responsibilities. At the same time, Islam has not forgotten her altogether, but has given her a portion to satisfy her very personal needs. In fact, Islam in this respect is being more kind to her than to him. Here we can say that when taken as a whole the rights of woman are equal to those of man although not necessarily identical (see Qur'an, 4:11-14, 176).

9. In some instances of bearing witness to certain civil contracts, two men are required or one man and two women. Again, this is no indication of the woman being inferior to man. It is a measure of securing the rights of the contracting parties, because woman as a rule, is not so experienced in practical life as man. This lack of experience may cause a loss to any party in a given contract. So the Law requires that at least two women should bear witness with one man. if a woman of the witness forgets something, the other one would remind her. Or if she makes an error, due to lack of experience, the other would help to correct her. This is a precautionary measure to guarantee honest transactions and proper dealings between people. In fact, it gives woman a role to play in civil life and helps to establish justice. At any rate, lack of experience in civil life does not necessarily mean that women is inferior to man in her status. Every human being lacks one thing or another, yet no one questions their human status (2:282).
10. Woman enjoys certain privileges of which man is deprived. She is exempt from some religious duties, i.e., prayers and fasting, in her regular periods and at times of confinement. She is exempt from all financial liabilities. As a mother, she enjoys more recognition and higher honor in the sight of God (31:14-15;46:15). The Prophet acknowledged this honor when he declared that Paradise is under the feet of the mothers. She is entitled to three-fourths of the son's love and kindness with one-fourth left for their father. As a wife she is entitled to demand of her prospective husband a suitable dowry that will be her own. She is entitled to complete provision and total maintenance by the husband. She does not have to work or share with her husband the family expenses. She is free to retain, after marriage, whatever she possessed before it, and the husband has no right whatsoever to any of her belongings. As a daughter or sister she is entitled to security and provision by the father and brother respectively. That is her privilege. If she wishes to work or be self-supporting and participate in handling the family responsibilities, she is quite free to do so, provided her integrity and honor are safeguarded.
11. The standing of woman in prayers behind man does not indicate in any sense that she is inferior to him. Woman, as already mentioned, is exempt from attending congregational prayers which are obligatory on man. But if she does attend she stands in separate lines made up of women exclusively . This is a regulation of discipline in prayers, and not a classification of importance. In men's rows the head of state stands shoulder to shoulder to the pauper. Men of the highest ranks in society stand in prayer side by side with other men of the lowest ranks. The order of lines in prayers is introduced to help every one to concentrate in his meditation. It is very important because Muslim prayers are not simply chanting or the sing-a-song type. They involve actions, motions, standing, bowing, prostration, etc. So if men mix with women in the same lines, it is possible that something disturbing or distracting may happen. The mind will become occupied by something alien to prayer and derailed from the clear path of mediation. The result will be a loss of the purpose of prayers, besides an offense of adultery committed by the eye, because the eye-by looking at forbidden things - can be guilty of adultery as much as the heart itself. Moreover, no Muslim man or woman is allowed during prayers to touch the body of another person of the opposite sex. If men and women stand side by side in prayer they cannot avoid touching each other. Furthermore, when a woman is praying in front of a man or beside him, it is very likely that any part of her dressed body may become uncovered after a certain motion of bowing or prostrating. The man's eye may happen to be looking at the uncovered part, with the result that she will be embarrassed and he will be exposed to distraction or possibly evil thoughts. So, to avoid any embarrassment and distraction to help concentrate on mediation and pure thoughts, to maintain harmony and order among worshippers, to fulfill the true purposes of prayers, Islam has ordained the organization of rows, whereby men stand in front lines, and women behind the children.Anyone with some knowledge of the nature and purpose of Muslim prayerscan readily understand the wisdom of organizing the lines of worshippers in this manner.
12. The Muslim woman is always associated with an old tradition known as the "veil". It is Islamic that the woman should beautify herself with the veil of honor, dignity, chastity, purity and integrity. She should refrain from all deeds and gestures that might stir the passions of people other than her legitimate husband or cause evil suspicion of her morality. She is warned not to display her charms or expose her physical attractions before strangers. The veil which she must put on is one that can save her soul from weakness, her mind from indulgence, her eyes from lustful looks, and her personality from demoralization. Islam is most concerned with the integrity of woman, with the safeguarding of her morals and morale and with the protection of her character and personality (cf. Qur'an, 24:30-31).
13. By now it is clear that the status of woman in Islam is unprecedentedly high and realistically suitable to her nature. Her rights and duties are equal to those of man but not necessarily or absolutely identical with them. If she is deprived of one thing in some aspect, she is fully compensated for it with more things in many other aspects. The fact that she belongs to the female sex has no bearing on her human status or independent personality, and it is no basis for justification of prejudice against her or injustice to her person. Islam gives her as much as is required of her. Her rights match beautifully with her duties. The balance between rights and duties is maintained, and no side overweighs the other. The whole status of woman is given clearly in the Qur'anic verse which may be translated as follows:
And women shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable; but man have a degree (of advantage as in some cases of inheritance) over them (2:228).

This degree is not a title of supremacy or an authorization of dominance over her. It is to correspond with the extra responsibilities of man and give him some compensation for his unlimited liabilities. The above mentioned verse is always interpreted in the light of another (4:34).

It is these extra responsibilities that give man a degree over woman in some economic aspects. It is not a higher degree in humanity or in character. Nor is it a dominance of one over the other or suppression of one by the other. It is a distribution of God's abundance according to the needs of the nature of which God is the Maker. And He knows best what is good for woman and what is good for man.

The Hijab, the veil of the muslim woman...

HIJAB IN THE WORKPLACE Q&A Q. What are the requirements for Muslim women's dress?

A: Rules regarding Muslim women's (and men's) attire are derived from
the Quran, Islam's revealed text, and the traditions (hadith) of the
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). In the Quran, God states: "Say to
the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their
modesty...And say to the believing women that they should lower their
gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty
and adornments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they
should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty
except to their husbands, their fathers...(a list of exceptions)"
[Chapter 24, verses 30-31] Also, "O Prophet! Tell thy wives and
daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer
garments over their persons...that they should be known and not
molested." [Chapter 33, verse 59]

In one tradition, the Prophet Muhammad is quoted as saying: "...If the
woman reaches the age of puberty, no part of her body should be seen but
this --- and he pointed to his face and hands."

From these and other references, the vast majority of Muslim scholars
and jurists, past and present, have determined the minimum requirements
for Muslim women's dress: 1) Clothing must cover the entire body, with
the exception of the face and the hands. 2) The attire should not be
form fitting, sheer or so eye-catching as to attract undue attention or
reveal the shape of the body.

There are similar, yet less obvious requirements for a Muslim male's
attire. 1) A Muslim man must always be covered from the navel to the
knees. 2) A Muslim man should similarly not wear tight, sheer,
revealing, or eye-catching clothing. In addition, a Muslim man is
prohibited from wearing silk clothing (except for medical reasons) or
gold jewelry. A Muslim woman may wear silk or gold.

(References: "The Muslim Woman's Dress," Dr. Jamal Badawi, Ta-Ha
Publishers; "Hijab in Islam," Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, Al-Risala Books;
"The Islamic Ruling Regarding Women's Dress," Abu Bilal Mustafa
Al-Kanadi, Abul-Qasim Publishing; "Islamic Dress," Muslim Women of
Minnesota; "Your Hijab and U.S. Law," North American Council for Muslim

Q. Is Islamic dress appropriate for modern times?

A: Islamic dress is modern and practical. Muslim women wearing Islamic
dress work and study without any problems or constraints.

Q. Does Islamic dress imply that women are submissive or inferior to men?

A: Islamic dress is one of many rights granted to Islamic women. Modest
clothing is worn in obedience to God and has nothing to do with
submissiveness to men. Muslim men and women have similar rights and
obligations and both submit to God.

Q. But aren't there Muslim women who do not wear Islamic Dress, or hijab?

A: Some Muslim women choose not to wear hijab. Some may want to wear it
but believe they cannot get a job wearing a head scarf. Others may not
be aware of the requirement or are under the mistaken impression that
wearing hijab is an indication of inferior status.

Q. Why is Islamic dress becoming an issue for personnel managers and

A: The Muslim community in American is growing rapidly. Growth factors
include conversions to Islam, immigration from Muslim countries and high
birth rates for Muslim families. As the community grows, more Muslim
women will enter the work force. In many cases, these women wish both to
work and to maintain their religious convictions. It should be possible
to fulfill both goals.

Q. What issues do Muslim women face in the workplace?

A: Muslim women report that the issue of attire comes up most often in
the initial interview for a job. Some interviewers will ask if the
prospective employee plans to wear the scarf to work. Others may
inappropriately inquire about religious practices or beliefs. Sometimes
the prospective employee, feeling pressure to earn a living, will take
off the scarf for the interview and then put it on when hired for the
job. Modest dress should not be equated with incompetence.

Other issues include unwanted touching or pulling on scarves by other
employees, verbal harassment or subtle ostracism and denial of
promotion. Many Muslims also object to being pressured to attend
celebrations of other religious traditions or to attend
employer-sponsored celebrations at which alcohol is served.

Q. What can an employer reasonably require of a woman wearing hijab?

A: An employer can ask that an employee's attire not pose a danger to
that employee or to others. For example, a Muslim woman who wears her
head scarf so that loose ends are exposed should not be operating a
drill press or similar machinery. That employee could be asked to
arrange her hijab so that the loose ends are tucked in. An employer can
ask that the hijab be neat and clean and in a color that does not clash
with a company uniform.

Q. What are the legal precedents on this issue?

A: Many cases have demonstrated an employee's legal right to reasonable
accommodation in matters of faith. Examples: 1) The failure of other
Muslim employees to wear headscarves is legally irrelevant. The employee
need only show sincerely-held religious beliefs. (E.E.O.C. v. Reads,
Inc., 1991) 2) There are no health or safety concerns at issue. (Cf.
E.E.O.C. Dec. No. 82-1, 1982, also E.E.O.C. Dec. No. 81-20, 1981) 3)
Companies cannot give effect to private biases. In other words, just
because an employer believes customers will be prejudiced against a
woman in a scarf, that does not mean the employee can be fired. (Palmer
v. Sidoti, 1984, also Cf. Sprogis v. United Air Lines, Inc., 1971) 4) An
employer must demonstrate "undue hardship" caused by the wearing of
religious attire. (TWA v. Hardison, 1977) Hardships recognized by the
courts include cost to the employer or effect on co-workers. 5) Dress
codes can have disproportionate impact on certain faiths


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