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The Veil in Islam: Origins and Reasons
Ayoub Abdullah - 27 / 9 / 2010 - 9:40 am

Before we dive into explaining why Muslim woman wear the veil, let us discover the reasons gradually. First of all, having understood Adam’s story is a fundamental base to approach the Islamic perspective. So, what is Adam’s story in Islam?

Answer: The answer we can find it in Surat ALaraaf from Aya 10 to Aya 25.

And We have given you (mankind) power in the earth, and appointed for you therein livelihood. Little give ye thanks! (10) And We created you, then fashioned you, then told the angels: Fall ye prostrate before Adam! And they fell prostrate, all save Iblis, who was not of those who make prostration. (11) He said: What hindered thee that thou didst not fall prostrate when I bade thee? (Iblis) said: I am better than him. Thou createdst me of fire while him Thou didst create of mud. (12) He said: Then go down hence! It is not for thee to show pride here, so go forth! Lo! thou art of those degraded. (13) He said: Reprieve me till the day when they are raised (from the dead). (14) He said: Lo! thou art of those reprieved. (15) He said: Now, because Thou hast sent me astray, verily I shall lurk in ambush for them on Thy Right Path. (16) Then I shall come upon them from before them and from behind them and from their right hands and from their left hands, and Thou wilt not find most of them beholden (unto Thee). (17) He said: Go forth from hence, degraded, banished. As for such of them as follow thee, surely I will fill hell with all of you. (18) And (unto man): O Adam! Dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden and eat from whence ye will, but come not nigh this tree lest ye become wrong-doers. (19) Then Satan whispered to them that he might manifest unto them that which was hidden from them of their shame, and he said: Your Lord forbade you from this tree only lest ye should become angels or become of the immortals. (20) And he swore unto them (saying): Lo! I am a sincere adviser unto you. (21) Thus did he lead them on with guile. And when they tasted of the tree their shame was manifest to them and they began to hide (by heaping) on themselves some of the leaves of the Garden. And their Lord called them, (saying): Did I not forbid you from that tree and tell you: Lo! Satan is an open enemy to you? (22) They said: Our Lord! We have wronged ourselves. If thou forgive us not and have not mercy on us, surely we are of the lost! (23) He said: Go down (from hence), one of you a foe unto the other. There will be for you on earth a habitation and provision for a while. (24) He said: There shall ye live, and there shall ye die, and thence shall ye be brought forth(25) O Children of Adam! We have revealed unto you raiment to conceal your shame, and splendid vesture, but the raiment of restraint from evil, that is best. This is of the revelations of Allah, that they may remember (26) O Children of Adam! Let not Satan seduce you as he caused your (first) parents to go forth from the Garden and tore off from them their robe (of innocence) that he might manifest their shame to them. Lo! he seeth you, he and his tribe, from whence ye see him not. Lo! We have made the devils protecting friends for those who believe not. (27)

When Adam and Eva ate the forbidden apple, they recognize that they became naked,which means that they had been body-covered. And then they started to re-cover their bodies with what they found at that time, either leaves or feather. Thus, Muslims believe that we, as sons of Adam and Eva, have to cover our bodies since our “Father Adam” did so. In addition, God has promised Adam that in heaven he will not be naked nor hungry:

It is (vouchsafed) unto thee that thou hungerest not therein nor art naked [Chapter :Ta-ha 118]

From this verse we deduce that nudity is not the normal situation of Adam and that opposes other views saying that human beings are like animals and they should be naked.

Thus, wearing and covering the body modestly is a main instruction of Islam.

Second OK, if the veil is considered as a mean to cover the body. Where did we deduce this concept from?

Let us discover how many times the veil is mentioned in the Quran?

Answer: It has been mentioned in the following verses (Ayas):

• Sad 32

• Alaraf 46

• Alshoora 51

• Almutaffiffin 15

• Mariam 17

• Al-Ahzab 53

The literal meaning of Hijab (veil) in Arabic is "a veil", "curtain", "partition" or "separation. Muslims consider the hijab as a sign modesty, privacy and morality.

The original order of Hijab was first given to the Mothers’ of believers:

O Prophet! Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad). That will be better, so that they may be recognised and not annoyed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful. (59) If the hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is a disease, and the alarmists in the city do not cease, We verily shall urge thee on against them, then they will be your neighbours in it but a little while. [Al-ahzab 59]

Another order was given to the female believers:

Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them. Lo! Allah is aware of what they do. (30) And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save to their own husbands or fathers or husbands' fathers, or their sons or their husbands' sons, or their brothers or their brothers' sons or sisters' sons, or their women, or their slaves, or male attendants who lack vigour, or children who know naught of women's nakedness. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And turn unto Allah together, O believers, in order that ye may succeed. (31) And marry such of you as are solitary and the pious of your slaves and maid-servants. If they be poor, Allah will enrich them of His bounty. Allah is of ample means, Aware. (32 )[Surat ALnoor]

The order was exclusive to the Mothers’ of believers and then to the others. Thus, the Muslim women follow the mothers of believers and the order to them was strict and not to others. That is why in the daily Muslims life we see huge differences in the practice of applying the Hijab due to the variety of social norms. It has been a crystal clear difference from Saudi Arabia to Morocco, for instance.

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