The concept of hijab or modesty as per Quran goes far beyond the bodily covering of a woman. More interestingly, Quran has ordained modesty for men as well in the same tone as it has for women. Yet there is no dearth of Muslim names in the list of accused and convicts of sexual molestation and rape
AAZEEN F KIRMANI | Caravan Daily
Few topics have taken up as much space in public debate as the Islamic Hijab. And yet the discussion has almost always remained incomplete, limiting itself to the analysis of a mere piece of cloth on a Muslim woman’s head.
It is understandable that the mainstream debate tilting against Hijab has to remain limited to the bodily covering of a woman for the west’s generous attempts at liberating a covered woman have political and economic undertones which will become duly ineffective once the complete and broader concept of Islamic hijab comes in view.
Interestingly, the concept of hijab or modesty as per Quran goes far beyond the bodily covering of a woman. More interestingly, Quran has ordained modesty for men as well in the same tone as it has for women. In fact in Surah Nur, the verse instructing men to lower their gaze and guard themselves precedes the verse instructing women to lower their gaze and guard their modesty.
Kul lil mu’mineena yaaguddoo min absearihim va yaahfazoo furoocahum, zealika azkea lahum, innalleaha haabeerun bimea yaasnaoon (yaasnaoona).
Say to the believing men that they cast down their looks (they keep away from prohibited), guard their chastity; that is purer for them. Surely Allah is All-Aware of what they do.
It is clear from the above verse that Hijab and modesty are as much mental states as they are physical and the physical state of being covered up further complements the mental state.
The above verse is explicit in its instruction to men to keep their gaze low and guard their private parts. Apart from prohibiting consensual illicit sexual relationship, the verse dispels the chauvinist notion entertained by male apologists across class and cultures that a provocatively dressed woman or a woman present at a wrong place or in a wrong time not only invites sexual molestation but even deserves it!
In the following verse, women are instructed to dress modestly but the Quran does not absolve men of their responsibility towards maintaining a sexually clean and safe society. How many women would not have become victims of sexual violence and how many men would not have been disgraced and convicted of sexual offense if only they had followed this simple injunction!
Last week, a bunch of fourteen men in Uttar Pradesh’s Rampur district not just molested two women in broad daylight but also made the video of their shenanigans and circulated it on social media.
While the guarding of one’s gaze and modesty is applicable to one and all, those who have been given explicit instructions to the effect in their religious book carry a lot more responsibility. And yet there is no dearth of Muslim names in the list of accused and convicts of sexual molestation and rape.
While the identification and arrest in Rampur incident is going on, some of the men identified/arrested so far are Shahnawaz, Fazil, Qasim, Farman, Saddam and Jahan-e-Alam.
How much better would it have been for these men and for society at large, if they had been taught the true concept of and spirit of hijab, modesty and chastity for both men and women laid out in the Quran!