Does the Hijab Oppress Women? – Ask A Muslim

Does the Hijab Oppress Women?

The hijab is the veil Muslim women wear over their heads to cover themselves. Allah gives the reason a woman should wear the hijab in the Quran: “O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful” (Quran 33:59). What may be surprising to some is that, in Christianity, women also have to wear the hijab. In the Bible, it says, “For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head” (1 Corinthians 11:6). This is why nuns dress the way they dress. Yet no one ever says that nuns are oppressed, rather, it is only against Muslim women.

Allah, our Creator, knows what is best for us, and that includes how humans should dress as well. Allah tells us in the Quran that wearing the hijab will not only make the believing women be recognized and seen as righteous, but it will help prevent them from being harassed. And this is not to say that it is a woman’s fault if she gets harassed. Of course not, but there are preventative measures that both men and women should take. If someone goes to a high crime neighborhood waving around hundred dollar bills, it’s not their fault if they get robbed, but it was still a bad decision and they could have taken preventative measures. When a woman puts on her hijab and modest clothing, this is actually a way of liberating herself. She is setting herself free from the shackles of society that would have otherwise valued her based on the wrong things and only looked at her in an objectifying manner. Society is what truly oppresses women; why does a woman feel the need to spend hours putting on makeup before she goes outside? Why does a woman feel the need to fix her nose, her eyebrows, her breasts, her backside, etc? Why does a woman feel the need to wear high heels which are so uncomfortable that by the end of the night her feet are bruised and she has the heels in her hands? Why does a woman feel the need to go on such a harmful and dangerous diet where she essentially doesn’t eat anything in order to stay fit? No women wants to do any of these things, but the way society has made women feel ugly the way they are is why they do these things, and this is the true oppression that Islam came to liberate. At the end of the day, it is the men who run the fashion industry and are telling women what to do to be more beautiful, so a woman can either listen to what the men of their society says, or a woman can less to what her Creator says. There is a book, which I recommend reading, called Beauty Sick and it talks about this exact problem. Renee Engeln is not a Muslim, but she wrote this book about how our societies obsessions with women’s appearances is actually hurting women in many ways. It makes women feel that if they are not beautiful, then they are less in some way. She even talks about a story of a woman in her book who would sleep with guys day and night just to feel more beautiful, just to give herself a sense of reassurance. Islam liberates the women and does not give them importance based on their beauty, unlike the degrading societies seen today. On top of that, Islam also takes measures to protect women from being harassed or abused by disgusting men. Allah tells the believing men in the Quran to lower their gaze before he tells the women to do anything. So in Islam, a man can’t just walk around and look at a bunch of women as he pleases. He also can’t touch them either, unless they are his close family members or his wife. There are many other rulings that can’t all be noted here, but one can quickly see that the value that Allah gave women is truly uplifting and honoring, while the value that societies give women today is downright objectifying.

One might now ask, “Why don’t men have the same dress code as women do?” If one is realistic and honest with themselves, the answer to this question is fairly clear. Even from a biological standpoint, men get attracted visually while women are not exactly the same. You’ll never see women constantly staring at guys as they walk by, but there are a multitude of men who do that. But this is not to say that men don’t have a dress code in Islam. Men do have an obligatory dress code where they have to cover from the knees to the naval with cloth that is not tight or revealing. This is only the bare minimum, but one would get rewarded if they attempted to dress more modestly.

To conclude, it should be noted that in Pre-Islamic Arabia, they used to bury their daughters alive, as having a daughter was seen as a disgrace. Women were treated as property with no rights at all. Even in the western world, women were deprived of many of their rights until recently, such as voting. Islam liberated the women, gave them honor, dignity, and their due rights. This is why, despite all of these outrageous, ongoing allegations against the way Islam treats women, most people who convert to Islam are in fact women!

And Allah knows best.