Hijab: A Global Need


A lot has been said about hijab and its importance, how it is a necessary part of Islam and what's the definition of proper hijab, how women must be modest and how men must also observe the hijab of sight. There are a number of points readily stated in support of hijab such as it keeps a woman safe from lustful sights, it acts as an armour, it stops men from harassing them and so on. All of them are true, no doubt. But there are women who despite observing hijab are harassed. There are women who despite hijab are victims of lustful men. There are girls, so young that they are not even obliged to do hijab but they as well become victims of mild harassment to more severe forms. There are elderly women, so old that they hardly have any feminine attraction left in them, they too become victims. So how do we explain these things that go on.. despite hijab ?

All of these examples exist in our societies and people who are anti-hijab actually cite such things when questioning the purpose of hijab and whether or not is it of any good to us. According to them, whether you observe hijab or not, the chances for you or any other girl to fall victim of any type of sexual assault are the same. Given cases of modest Muslim women who become rape victims, what are we to conclude ?
Is there something missing in our understanding of the philosophy of Hijab ? 
How is hijab supposed to act as an armour ?

Perhaps the problem is that even though we understand the importance of hijab for an individual, yet we do not realize its overall importance for a society. We limit doing hijab and not doing hijab to an individual, its consequences and effects are all concerned with that individual; we tell a woman to cover herself because it will protect her, so consequentially if she doesn't cover herself she wont be protected. This is pretty much it and so a woman who doesn't care about such a protection wouldn't go for it. So we have in a way limited the scope of hijab by portraying it as a matter of a woman's security. Now, it is a matter of a woman's security but it is so much more than just that. We fully understand that hijab protects the woman observing it but what we don't understand is that one woman's hijab also protects other women who are not observing it. And in the same way, one woman's hijablessness or immodesty jeopardizes other women's security too.

On small-scale, hijab has its' benefits for the individual, but its true potential can only be seen on the large scale. In fact, individual benefits are to an extent dependent upon the large scale observance of hijab. You can think of hijab like one of those global causes which require the participation of all individuals to attain the required outcome, like Polio eradication, like Global warming, like saving wildlife and forests... Dressing modestly is such a global cause. As long as there is a single case of Polio virus living on Earth, the whole population is in danger, every person must resort to recycling and use ozone-friendly products in order to prevent global warming, similarly if you don't cut trees but I constantly do then its not going to help the forests survive. This is how global causes work. This is why Islam requires all women in an Islamic society to cover themselves, and it is made an obligation, and a strict one, only because the answer lies in all of them adhering to hijab.  Because even if a small minority remains hijabless and exposes themselves to men, the chances of other hijab-observing women for getting sexually harassed remain open. This is what brings us to the real philosophy of hijab that you do it because it is a social good; you do hijab not because you yourself won't be sexually harassed but also because due to your immodesty someone else may fall victim to sexual harassment.

Now, I do understand that when we talk of the whole society, it is not just women, but men as well who have their part to play. Hijab is for both men and women, but somehow the responsibility at the women's end is by far larger.

But why does this responsibility lies on women's shoulder? Why aren't men required to cover themselves? To understand this, we'll have to consider these basic facts:
#1 Women have more physical appeal and
#2 Men have more physical desire.
Women hardly loose their senses at the sight of a half clothed man, in fact they feel ridiculed by such sights most of the time. One reason why women have little to no addiction with pornography is that women don't fancy men the way men fancy women. If we could only be in a man's brain for a moment, we'll see how powerfully attractive is the image of a woman's body in there.

Even scientifically speaking, male and female brains work differently, think differently. Where a male brain seeks to mate and reproduce, the female brain is more about emotions and romance. According to a study published by Hannah Hoag in New Scientist, the parietal cortex, which is involved in space perception, and the amygdala, which regulates sexual and social behavior, is larger in men.  

Anne Moir and David Jessel, in their book Brain Sex: The Real Difference Between Men and Women, write:
Men want sex, and women want relationships. Men want flesh and women want love. Just as boys wanted balloons, toys, and carburetors, the girls have always wanted contact, and communion, and company. 
The female mind is organized to place priority on relationship, the male on achievement. Men keep a tally of their sexual conquests. The female brain is not organized to keep sex in a separate compartment. This is a male model - as if his brain has a specific filing cabinet for sex, completely unrelated to emotion.
Women are generally more interested in making relationships, maintaining them, they are the home-makers, they are mothers, to them sex is part of a good relationship which they look forward to, or at least this is how it is supposed to be naturally (since the growing influence of nudity and internet pornography is radically affecting our brains and bodies hence shifting our natural tendencies). On the other hand, a man is naturally more focused on sex. Men have as much as 20 times more testosterone in their systems than do women. This makes men typically more aggressive, dominant and more narrowly focused on the physical aspects of sex. Thus, these differences of our minds and bodies speaks for the differences in our attitudes and actions and as such come along with different responsibilities; men should control their desires and women should conceal their beauty. But since that doesn't happen, we are facing consequences.

Globally, more than 250,000 rape cases are recorded by the police. Out of these an estimated 75 to 95 percent cases are never reported. I am presenting statistics just to highlight the fact that rape is not a rare crime but a pretty common one. And rape being an extreme crime is reported and has some statistical data, whereas other minor assaults and harassments go unnoticed but we're pretty sure they're ten times more common. Apart from this, there are more severe crimes such as human trafficking for the purpose of sexual slavery, commercial sexual exploitation and forced prostitution - which are also much more common than we know of and most often do not get reported.
In her book, Sex, Art and American Culture, Camille Paglia calls these 'somber truths' women must accept. "Feminism keeps saying the sexes are the same," she writes. "It keeps telling women they can do anything, go anywhere, say anything, wear anything. No, they can't. Women will always be in sexual danger"
Some people like to think that sexual desires are natural and suppressing them means loss of freedom. I do agree that these desires are natural, however, freedom lies in not becoming slaves to these desires. You don't want to suppress these desires, fine, but then do not even go about enhancing them. When a woman wears clothes that reveal her feminine attraction or resort to such ways and adornments that are bound to catch men's attention - then it enhances the natural desires in all men who see her. Now, depending on how vulnerable she is, she may or may not become a target of sexual assault herself but she unconsciously becomes an indirect source of promoting lust in the society, which may result in a sexual assault on a weak and vulnerable person somewhere else.

A society whose women are dressed as sex objects promotes vulgarity - this in turn promotes abnormally high sexual desires in men. What was before a natural desire, becomes superimposed with constant arousal. Think about how you get hungrier at the sight of delicious food ? Hunger is also natural and you can resist it easily until its time to eat - but when you're presented with delicious looking food it gets all the more harder to resist, and some not all would try to get it this way or that. Same is with lust, when you see sexually attractive woman, you want to have them, if you can't have them you would have what you can have, legally or otherwise.

Most men who commit sex crimes are often found justifying themselves because they thought women with their acts and ways invite them, tempt them. However there is no justification for crimes as horrid as these, but still, even though the direct victims of these criminals are most of the times free of fault but I do believe that the invitation was sent out, though not by the victim, but by the other women; who dress to kill, who dress to tempt - Yes, its indeed an invitation and one that is often paid for by a totally innocent woman somewhere out there. The fact is that most victims of such crimes are plain looking and plain dressed, they aren't daringly attractive or unbelievably beautiful to become a walking invitation, the only reason they become victims is because they are easy-targets, someone who's weak, who wont fight back, who wont tell anyone. These easy-targets pay the price of all those tempting invitations sent by women on billboards, in casinos, in movies and elsewhere.

In a society where vulgarity and nudity is promoted in the name of freedom, its members then 'feel free' to follow it despite consequences. This false freedom reflects its hues in adultery, relationship disasters, divorces, separations, single parenting, teenage pregnancies, elective abortions, STDs, and of course, sex crimes.

However, most feminists surprisingly do not like to attach sex crimes with sex. Yes, you read right. According to them and other modern psychologists, rape and other sexual crimes are a way of violent and criminal minded men to display and exert their power, to take and maintain the control of power to which they have been entitled to traditionally and throughout history. This view though true to some extent happens to cast a shadow on the real motive of such a crime. And when you ignore the real motive, you are less prepared.
 "That whole power and control thing as an end in itself is a myth. Power and control is used as an instrument to accomplish a sexual event with an unwilling victim. And to leave out that sexual event is to completely forget what the crime was.. To take the motive out of the actual definition is crazy. It essentially places women in a place where they no longer understand the motive. It's an immense disservice to women." - Michael Ghiglieri
a little temptation
Michael Kimmel is a sociologist at the State University of New York who has received international recognition for his work on men and masculinity. He says violent men often view their actions as revenge or retaliation. "They say, women have power over me because they're beautiful and sexual and I want them and they elicit that and I feel powerless," he says. "Just listen for a minute to the way in which we describe women's beauty and sexuality. We describe it as a violence against us. She is a knock-out, a bomb-shell, dressed to kill, a femme fatale, stunning, ravishing. I mean all of these are words of violence against us. It's like, wow, she knocked me out. So the violence then, or the aggression or the sexual violence is often a way to retaliate."

Though such retaliation is a criminal's way of doing things, but we must ponder on the factors that help crimes look justified in their eyes - or the factors that become their excuse to crime. We began with immodest clothes and moved on further, with each decade stripping more piece of clothing.. and finally from bikini and mini-skirts culture a greater monster was evolved, namely porn. Pornography is nothing but the end result of total lack of modesty. Not that its recently made, it has been around since centuries in the form of nude drawings and sculptures but never was it as extreme, as popular and as common. So common that when researchers decided to study the effects of porn on teenagers they were stuck because they couldn't find any one for the control group since almost every teenager was a fan of porn! Porn industry is the highest growing industry in this era. It's gifts are a host of sexual perversions, several 'philias' and certain 'isms' that I surely do not want to name and neither do I know all of them as the list is practically endless. Early onset of puberty is also a gift of it. So in all likelihood by the will of Satan we will soon have kindergarteners fantasizing about 'the act' and as we have managed to legalize prostitution, gay and lesbian marriages, nudity and are actually on our way to put ban on veils and scarves - Hell, I ask you if this is the world we want to live in? Where scarves are a threat and naked females aren't. Where people are just dying to get the bullets out of their shells, destroying everything in the process. Destroying values, destroying morality.

Women are beautiful, they have always been. They never needed petty adornments and stripping in order to feel wanted. They ARE wanted... there's no denying that, but the question more important is 'for what' are they wanted - you want to feel wanted because you're a bombshell or because you're are a pearl in a shell? It is all about what we value and what we want others to place value on... If your face and your voice, your ideas and opinions, your skills and demeanour are not enough to make a beauty statement then you're indeed justified in exposing your body. Its a race, right? Some are going to win, yet others will set standards.

Modesty is our standard. In a world that has been deteriorated and eroded by corrupt models and practices. Modesty is what our world desperately needs, so that tomorrow's kids can have a world free of sexual evils. Like all global causes, this is achievable too... with right practices and sufficient awareness.

Make your contribution, be fair to hijab. Hijab is modesty, hijab is sublime beauty. Hijab... is being humble, hijab is both a right and a duty, it is your contribution to society, the part you have to play in building a better world. Hijab is not just in scarf, it is a whole lifestyle which values simplicity and morality expressed through your acts and appearance. Having said that, it may exist outside of scarf too.. I have seen people without scarves who wear loose shirts, who avoid deep necks, their clothes don't shout for attention and their attire is simple. It concerns them where the world is going... it concerns them that kids have such easy access to the forbidden. A lot of things concern them just the way they concern me. Once in this agreement of thoughts, it is not such a big leap.. to come forward and open your hearts and minds towards "Hijab".