Women’s dress code in Islam
Islam regards both men and women as equal in the sight of God from the spiritual side of view. According to (4:124):
"And whoever does good deeds whether male or female and he (or she) is a believer-- these shall enter the garden"
The Holy Quran repeatedly addresses those who believe and do good deeds regardless to sex (see as an example chapter 103). Both men and women are expected to do the same when it comes to the five pillars of Islam. Except for minute differences, the testimony of faith, ablution, prayers, fasting, giving zakat (donation) and performing the pilgrimage trip are the same for men and women. Since men and women are not identical when it comes to the physical or the biological sides for example. Islam, the practical religion that it is, addresses these differences in the most realistic and logical way. These differences are not simply ignored by Islam. Rather they are acknowledged, appreciated and protected.
It is strange, yet so real, for some, when they see that Muslim women usually observe modest standards in their clothing, they automatically equate Muslim women’s modesty with oppression. They appear to feel that freedom is in some way directly proportional to how little clothing one wears, and that oppression is directly proportional to the degree of modesty one exhibits in their clothing. Surprisingly, the western women who object to the modesty in the Islamic dress code, are the same women who object, protest and resent the misuse of woman's body as a sex object in advertisements and commercials.
There is another way in looking at the women's dress code. Do you remember any of the pictures of the Virgin Mary (pbuh) without any head-cover or a "veil"? Muslims believe that Mary and all the good women of the history were not just following other woman in their way of dressing at the time. Rather, they were the good example for all the other women to follow.
In most western people's minds, the "veil" is O.K in regards to Nuns and the Virgin Mary, but when a Muslim woman wears it, it is seen as "oppressive" and "degrading"! If Mary (pbuh) and all the wives of Abraham, Moses and other Messengers were to dress like that, then every woman, who wants to better her life, can't go wrong with such a good example to follow. It is every woman’s choice to perform her "religious duty" by wearing the veil. When she does, she has to be convinced with it, not doing so for her husband or father, but for her faith in Islam to be what is right.
Since Islam is a comprehensive system, nothing is left out, when it comes to women and men's clothing, it is not left blank nor that it is "just dress right". The "dress right" will not draw the line of "less than right". So Islam sets the standards for Muslims clothing, which is what you see usually when you see Muslims.
"Hijab" (woman’s veil) speaks loud for the Muslim women’s freedom of choice. It services first as a reminder for the soul, as an inner code and a standard, and only second as a physical statement, by keeping their bodies only for their husbands and not for others. Muslim women are commanded to wear their "hijab" in decency once they reach puberty and to walk firm and tall. They should not be jingling and advertising of their bodies, rather, they should hide their ornaments (see 24:31 and 33:59).
"Hijab" is also a reminder for the men around the Muslim women; it reminds them that the woman’s body is her business and that it is not a sex object, it does not carry on it a "for sale" sign, it demands respect.
When those who are around her happen to be Muslim men, they are reminded with God’s command: "That they (men) should lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things) and guard their modesty". (24:30)
A community with such standards can have very little or no sexual harassment cases, out of marriage children, misuse of women's body, mistress or adultery. Such community will be very hard to find outside of Islam, which is why Muslims try to do their part in establishing one everywhere they go.
Within the parameters of Islam is a code of behavior. A complete social pattern for men and women, which look out to the whole of life through the harmony of a balanced scale. In this system, the truth of equality between man and women is indisputable, in the spiritual side. However, the same truth does not shy away from our most basic, indisputable physical and biological differences, a truth which does not ignore the fact that we exist spiritually and physically. Male and female quite simply have distinct and complementary roles to fill, equally vital for the sustenance of life. These codes of behavior are described in the Quran and Sunna as commands, they may seem to be strange if you base what you see on your own previous experience. Yet if you try to find out why, by asking the person who gave you this paper, visiting your local Islamic center or e-mail us at our address at the end of this, you should find a convincing reason.
After learning about these teachings about women in Islam, do not be surprised when you visit your local Islamic center to find out that there are many western women who decided to accept Islam.
· Islam does not "force" neither women nor men to do anything. Rather, it grants everybody the freedom of choice, for: "there is no compulsion in religion" (2:256). Under Islam, one must choose to do what is right after being convinced with it. Because one has to choose what is right and freely choose to do it, this would be a reason to collect a reward in the hear after, otherwise, if one has no choice why should he/she collect a reward?
Sometimes, people do things that are against their own religion. For example, if we see or hear about somebody from a certain religion who killed somebody else because of race or color, then "claimed" that it was because of a religious teaching concerning race and color, we should wonder; "was he doing what his religion "really" teaches? Or was he doing exactly the opposite?"
· Just like it will not be fair to hold any religion responsible for anything that is done wrong in its name, it will not be fair as well to hold Islam responsible for what is wrongfully done in its name. Realistically, every religion is responsible only for what it teaches not what somebody or some government is doing in its name.