Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Covering head, is it only in Islam?

I remember once when I attend an interfaith forum, there's 3 speakers, represent Islam, Christian and Buddha. This forum is basically about whats approach by the religion towards a social crisis nowadays. So the three speakers gave their points. After 2 hours, it come to question and answer session. One of the student raised and threw a question about Christian  nuns that wearing a scarf, why just the Christian nuns wearing the scarf and not all Christian women? He also quoted whats bible mentioned about covered head for women in Corinthians chapter 11:6; If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. 

So the speaker said that was because the nuns had dedicated themselves to God and they need to be modest and for the public women, why they should cover their heads? Hairs is a women's crown, its should be shown. Erk well, I am not going to discuss about that  Christian's speaker statement, I just wanna say that covering head is actually not just for Muslim women but even for Christian women. A common misconception is that Muslim women are the only who cover their hair. It's obviously because Islam is the only religion in which most women follow its directive to cover the hair, but it is not the only religion to have such directives.

It is interesting to look at the case of Christianity, since Christianity is the predominant religion in the West, and it is Westerners, including observant Christians, who are often the first to criticize Islam because of the hijab (modest dress, including head covering). Additionally the idea behind modest dress does not only for females, but to males also. Modesty is encouraged for both genders in Islam and is seen as a sign of piety. Indeed, even Mary, the mother of Jesus wore the hijab. Also, today nuns virtually practice hijab for the same fundamental reason as the devout Muslim woman; to express piety as an individual who chooses to surrender their will to God and God’s Sacred Law.

Have you ever wondered why Catholic nuns dress like they're wearing hijab (Muslim hijabi women, have you ever been mistaken for a nun?).Have you ever wondered why Mary the mother of Jesus (peace be upon them both) is always depicted in Christian art with her hair covered? Did you know that until the 1960s, it was obligatory for Catholic women to cover their heads in church (then they "modernized" the service)? It is true that most Christian women do not cover their heads, and many don't take other teachings of the Bible (against pre-marital sex, adultery, etc) literally either.

The Holy Qur'an says:

:"And say to the faithful women to lower their gazes, and to guard their private parts, and not to display their beauty except what is apparent of it, and to extend their head coverings (khimars) to cover their bosoms , and not to display their beauty except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband's fathers, or their sons, or their husband's sons, or their brothers, or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their womenfolk, or what their right hands rule (slaves), or the followers from the men who do not feel sexual desire, or the small children to whom the nakedness of women is not apparent, and not to strike their feet (on the ground) so as to make known what they hide of their adornments. And turn in repentance to Allah together, O you the faithful, in order that you are successful." - the Holy Qur'an [24:31]

:"O Prophet! Say to your wives and your daughters and the women of the faithful to draw their outer garments close around themselves; that is better that they will be recognized and not annoyed. And God is ever Forgiving, Gentle.” - the Holy Qur'an [33:59]
Men are also encouraged to be modest. modesty is not only a call to women, but to men too.

:"Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: And Allah is well acquainted with all that they do." - the Holy Qur'an [24:30]

So according to Matthew's account what did Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) have to say about men "lowering their gaze" for greater purity? Let’s take a look at the Bible’s account of his Sermon on the Mount:

"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. - New Testament (Matthew 5:27-28)

Jesus' statement is very clear about why men should lower their gaze. He even equates the mere act of looking in lust with committing adultery. So what does Jesus recommend to do if a man can’t control himself from visually lusting after women? Well his following statement seems to really underline the importance of not committing these acts in which we often write off as minor sins.

"If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. - New Testament (Matthew 5:29)

Now we don't know for certain that Prophet Jesus -peace be upon him- really recommended gouging one's eyes out but we can conclude with relative certainty that this is a warning to the believers to first save their soul, rather then succumbing to the temptations of mundane desires. Often people follow their own passions and lusts to a detriment, further straying from the straight path of understanding and guidance.

:"Have you seen the one who takes as his god his own desire? Then would you be responsible for him? - Or do you think that most of them hear or reason? They are not except like livestock. Rather, they are [even] more astray in [their] way." the Holy Qur'an [25:43-44]

:"But if they do not respond to you - then know that they only follow their [own] desires. And who is more astray than one who follows his desire without guidance from God ? Indeed, God does not guide the wrongdoing people." the Holy Qur'an [28:50]

Now let’s be reasonable here, God knows man and woman’s natural inclinations and desires. So these rules of modesty are not to take away from our individual freedom but rather they serve as loving guidance for us to avoid self destruction. Furthermore, what kind of society fosters a more conducive moral environment to avoid such sins? A society where men and women guard their modesty and lower their gaze as such in a true Islamic society or of that from which we see in many countries today where men and women walk around practically nude?

Obviously God is all loving and wouldn’t make a law for man to follow without facilitating the proper environment to help him/her follow those laws with comfort. Remember, God is All-Loving and does not want to see man destroy himself. So in conclusion, the moral environment of the ideal Islamic society described in the Qur’an is the same exact model society that Jesus professed. Indeed, God knows man's nature can often be weak, therefore we are not expected to be perfect all the time. In light of this reality, God shows us an immeasurable amount of mercy towards anyone whom is willing to humbly turn to Him in sincere repentance:

"God wishes to lighten (the burden) for you; and man was created weak" the Holy Qur'an [4:28]

:"And We charge no soul except [with that within] its capacity, and with Us is a record which speaks with truth; and they will not be wronged." the Holy Qur'an [4:28].

Allahua'lam..Allah knows best

Reference: Holy Quran, Bible,


  1. Salam alaikum sister Zahra,
    I am awarding your blog with Stylish Blogger Award.
    If you are not too busy,please visit my blog for more details.
    Much Love!


We are not just selling a product, we are promoting a healthier lifestyle :)

Our Long Journey

Daisypath Anniversary tickers


Need He