In many western nations there is a big debate on Hijab. In some countries like in France and Belgium Hijab is banned .Non-Muslims and Hypocrites amongst the Ummah always ask same old question that as to Why in Islam Women have to wear Hijab and Men don’t? This has led me to write this article.
Why don’t men wear the hijab? Why is it that men are not required to cover themselves as extensively as women have to in Islam? Women have to cover from head to foot; men have to cover only from the navel to the knee. Why does this disparity exist? What is the difference between a man’s hair and a woman’s hair? Why do only women have to cover their hair? Why don’t men cover their hair and their faces?’ These are some of the questions that modern Westerners and Non-Muslims ask and sometimes Muslims do not know how to answer or fail to give logical answer.
Interestingly, Christians,Jews or any other Non-Muslims never asked Muslims such questions a few hundred years ago.They criticized every aspect of Islam that they could think of; but they never criticized Muslim women for covering their hair and wearing Hijab. Because in the past, modest dress was the norm. Anyway, we do not live in the Middle Ages anymore and there are people – both Muslims and non-Muslims – who ask: ‘Why do only women have to wear the hijab and Men don’t? Why do women have to cover their hair and not men?
First of all, for a Muslim, it is enough to know that the Qur’an commands women to wear the hijab. Men are told to ‘Lower their gaze and guard their private parts.’ (Qur’an 24:30) whereas women are also told to: to lower their gaze and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment (Qur’an 24:31) and also ‘to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments’[Qur’an 33:59]. For a Muslim, no other reason or explanation is needed. We have to obey Allah, even if we do not comprehend the reasons behind His commandments. This answer satisfies many Muslims; but it is not likely to convince non-Muslims who do not accept the authority of the Qur’an in the first place.
The question ‘Why don’t men wear the hijab?’ is based on the false assumption that men and women are equal. Western World often mix Equality with Similarity. Men and women are not equal. No two things are equal in every respect. If two things were equal in every way, there would be one thing and not two things. If man and woman were equal in every way, they would be identical; there would be one sex and not two sexes. Men and women are equal in that they are both humans. They are equal in many things, unequal in many other things.Muslim men do not cover themselves in the same manner because men and women do not have identical bodies. In Islam a men’s clothing shouldn’t be like women’s clothing and vice-versa. A woman’s nakedness covers a greater area of her body than a man’s nakedness covers his body. A man and a woman can never be the same entity despite being equal in status. We look different, think in different ways, and respond differently to the same situation. Allah has made men and women strikingly different. A woman’s hair is not like a man’s hair. Even in a country such as the United States or Australia, a woman’s haircut costs four of five times more than a man’s haircut. Why this inequality? Why this discrimination based on gender? It’s not because women have longer hair or cutting women’s hair takes longer or anything like that. These are excuses. It’s because women, as a rule, are willing to pay more for their haircuts. Women are more concerned with their appearances than men. Women spend much more time in front of the mirror. Whether we like it or not, this is the case. Women all over the world are more interested in jewellery, ornaments, cosmetics and beautiful clothes than men. Naturally, we pay more attention to our bodies. Men also pay more attention to women’s bodies. An Arab poet describes this difference very beautifully:
Woman is a hunter, and man too is a hunter,
Woman is prey, and man too is a prey,
She uses her body to captivate his heart;
He uses his heart to captivate her body,
To an Arab man, feminine beauty is like wine,
He who drinks but once will never be satiated;
Whereas the beauty of men, in the eyes of women
Is sweet and pleasant like milk and dates.
I think what this poem is trying to say is that there is a difference between the way men look at women and the way women look at men. Woman seeks to rule over man’s heart, whereas man wants to dominate woman’s body. Man seeks woman actively whereas woman wants to be loved and sought after. Woman wants the protection of man, whereas man wants the company of woman. Also, women are stronger than men in controlling their desires. A woman can control her desires more easily than a man.
One of the major differences is how we physically look and what we are attracted to. Numerous studies have shown that men are attracted to visuals, while women are more attracted to audio. Naturally, the pupil will expand when it sees something pleasurable and contract when it sees something that is not pleasurable. Often, the pupils of men will dilate, while the pupils of women do not dilate in reaction to the same pleasurable image. This inherent difference articulates that men are pulled more towards visuals than women are and it follows that men find it more difficult to remove themselves from such an attraction.
Men are programmed by nature to respond sexually to the visual. Today we see Men spend billions of dollar to look at women with li’l clothing on. Like women in swimsuit or with no clothing on such as internet sites and men’s magazines. Women on the other hand spend virtually nothing to see unclothed men. I am not saying that women don’t get attracted to Men. Of course women find some men attractive. Of course women may have intense reaction in seeing appealing men. But there’s still no comparison to that with Male. If women usually and naturally get excited sexually by merely seeing Male then most husbands will roam around naked at home whenever possible or at least every time they wanted sex. But that is not the case.The visual alone arouses men sexually and it takes far more to arouse a women than seeing naked men.Average heterosexual men are excited countless times a day simply by seeing a women in television, billboards, magazines and even in his imagination. This is not the case for women.Let alone in real life even in Hollywood and Bollywood movies we see Men gets sexually excited when they see Cleavage of women, when they see Bra through transparent tops,when they see the curves of women’s bum,or Curves of any of the women’s body parts, and even Men get sexually excited if they see any women statue that is wearing lingeries and bra-panties in any shopping mall.We also see Men get sexually excited even if they see coloured lips of any women. But this is not the case for women. These are facts.Now, I am not saying that a woman doesn’t get turned on by merely looking at some men. Of course they do but only some men on rare occasion a stranger and more usually a celebrity. But men get turned on by any sight of female flesh on almost any female.The effect of visual of men is so powerful that even amazes men. That’s how instinctive is for men to look at female flesh. It is perfectly understandable that women cannot fully relate to this. If women want to understand Male sexuality the first thing she has to understand is the power of the visual. That’s why we see the ads on billboards and TVs and magazines for every sort of product that a man might buy, the company buys a scantily clad women or sometimes just part of her like showing legs or Lower part of the body to get more Male customers. None of this is meant to excuse inappropriate male behaviour. Men must always control themselves. But to deny the power of visual of men is like denying that the earth is round. So, I urge Women to understand Male Sexuality as much as they want Men to understand Women’s Sexuality. And also I request all those who ask this sort of question, to understand and accept Biology and Nature. Men have been commanded to lower the gaze and to cover that which is between the navel and knee but women have been commanded to cover much more. Why? Because they are physiologically and physically different and so the legislation, logically, encapsulates these differences.
Islam does not simply enjoin one part of society, whether a sex such as the male or the female or an individual, to do its utmost to refrain from harming others, but Islam also ordain that the individual does their utmost to protect themselves and protect others. That is why Men were ordered in Qur’an first to lower their gaze and guard their private parts(Qur’an 24:30) and then Women were ordered to lower their gaze, guard their private parts ,not to expose their adornments and beauty to other Men except their Husbands , and to wear Hijab (Qur’an 24:31 & 33:59). Islam teaches that a woman should share her external beauty only with her husband and not with every man on the street. Muslims have not only an individual responsibility, which is to refrain from harming others, but also a responsibility to others which is to prevent others from falling into sin. So both Muslim women and Men are helping each other.
Unfortunately, there are some brothers who expect their wives to wear the abâya and the niqāb; while they themselves wear short-sleeved T-shirts and shorts. If you expect your wife to dress like the wives of the Prophet, you should also try to dress like the Prophet – peace be upon him-. If you expect your wife to dress like the female companions of the Messenger of Allah, try to wear clothes that resemble those of the male companions – May Allah be pleased with them all-. Even though men were not told to wear the hijab or to veil their faces, they were told to dress modestly and to behave modestly.As,Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) said:“Every faith has an innate character.The character of Islam is modesty.”[ Al Muwatta, Vol 47, Hadees 9]
May Allah – Glory be to Him – help us to acquire modesty and humility, which are the characteristics of this religion. Aameen!!