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“Hi. I just wanted to know why does women has to wear a kind of towel on their face. (sorry i dont remember the name) don't you think that women has the same right than men?” Islam and its laws are based upon the texts of the Qur'aan and the hadeeth which are respectively believed by all Muslims to be the Word of God (Allah) and the words, deeds, tacit approvals, and character of the Prophet Muhammad. This belief is not merely based upon an arbitrary choice or blind faith but upon meticulous documentation of what was said by the Prophet Muhammad during his lifetime and a rigorous process of verification thereafter. Scholars then look to these sources and determine what is imperative, recommended or forbidden in Islam as well as the specific manner in which acts of worship and other deeds are to be performed and most importantly what constitutes correct belief. The entire character of a Muslim and his life in all areas, fundamentally revolves around Islam and its tenets. The degree to which any individual, group, or society adheres to the religion of course varies, being human beings with all the strengths and weakness that entails. Having stated that, it should next be understood that the most faithful Muslims are those who understand and fully accept that Allah, as the Creator and designer of all things, has the right to be obeyed, loved, and worshipped and none other than He has that complete right. They also understand that He is fundamentally Just, Merciful, and Most Wise so they fully submit to His orders when they are made clear to them. We understand that as the Creator and Most Wise, Allah has the exclusive right to legislate, forbid, and make permissible as He wills and as His creation we understand and trust in His decisions. We term all this as Islam, shar' or shariah as you may be more familiar with. Allah has vested authority in His final Prophet and Messenger Muhammad (may Allah exalt his mention), therefore there is no contradiction in the decrees or instructions that he gave fulfilling the role of personification of Allah's law in his character, obedience and devotion. So no matter what the ruling may be, as Muslims we submit to the final authority of Allah and His messenger regardless of whether all the underlying reasons for it are readily understood by us or not. This is acknowledging our limitations as human beings and subjects of the Most High Creator. We are not forbidden however, to contemplate or speculate on the wisdom, or benefits or effects of any particular order or prohibition if such has not been explicitly clarified by Allah, the Prophet or his closest and most knowledgeable companions. With that, we hope you can understand the basis upon which we try to answer all inquiries to us to the best of our ability and if we fall short then it is only due to shortcomings in our knowledge. Your question about women is a common one. Many incorrect ideas are spread with regards to Islam and women and one of them is that because of the practice of women covering their bodies (including at times their faces), the separation or lack of free mingling between the sexes, separate areas for worship etc. that Islam views women as inferior or having fewer rights than men. This is a misconception. Islam recognizes the very real differences between men and women as well as their equality before Allah in responsibility towards Him. It however defines clear roles for men and women due to their differences psychologically and physically. One of the chief areas where differences are recognized in the area of relationships between the sexes is that women have traditionally been far more exploited and abused because of their physical beauty than men. The same is true today if not more so. Never before have so many
women been exploited for their bodies or their beauty. This can be seen in magazines, films, advertising, fashion and other forms of entertainment where emphasis is placed upon the woman's body and her beauty which is indeed most represented in her face. Not to mention the proliferation of pornography and the sex trade. Women are undoubtedly more adversely affected as a direct result of sexual exploitation by men. We even see where systematic rape is used as a form of physical punishment, psychological warfare and genocide by invading armed forces. This barbaric tactic is being employed even today in Kosova, Chechnya and elsewhere. They suffer more poverty, unwanted pregnancy, depression and disease. They are targeted by sexual predators, abused and are harassed to the point where studies have shown that most American women can expect an unwanted sexual encounter in their lives, even from other family members! The distorted view of women as merely vehicles for sexual gratification is still widely held even where they are supposedly "liberated". In fact women have been so exploited that they accept it, enjoy it and believe it is a part of their so-called liberation and therefore willing participants. Whereas many women enjoy and seek being admired mainly for their beauty, believing and practicing Muslim women are free from such a view and are unwilling to expose themselves to that which would be an infringement upon their rights. They seek to develop humility and modesty as opposed to arrogance and uninhibited exhibitionism. Bashfulness and chastity and virginity until marriage are considered virtues not something to be ridiculed. Islam teaches that there is a greater purpose in life than the pursuit of physical gratification or becoming overly caught up in one's own degree of attractiveness. Islam recognizes the natural and healthy attraction between men and women but has defined the moral limits of behavior with the aim of protecting their dignity, honor and lineage. It does not advocate celibacy but it forbids promiscuity or illicit sexual relations outside of the marital bond. Sexual satisfaction within the confines of marriage is considered desirable and healthy and building of strong families is emphasized. The heart will not desire what the eye cannot see, so when men are prevented from indulging in the attractiveness of a woman they are more able to control desires and lusts which may urge them to pursue their gratification through immoral means. The concept of covering is neither strange nor new, and a similar view is held for example by orthodox nuns in the Catholic Church some of whom to this day cover their entire bodies and their hair. No man with any sense would approach such a woman for even a date, much less any improper proposition because they recognize that she is a religious woman. One finds this concept of modesty in many other cultures and traditions but that has been overshadowed in recent times by a culture of self-indulgence that calls for total freedom. Therefore although some people's perspective is a woman covering her body or her face is some sort of suppression or repression that infringes upon her rights and inhibits her freedom, the believing Muslim woman views covering her body and often her face, as a form of freedom and protection from exploitation. By covering herself, the Muslim woman is automatically stating to the world that she wants to be looked upon and respected for something more than her physical beauty. She wants to be recognized as a human being with an intellect and a spirit and a believer in a higher order and not merely a means for sexual gratification. She respects herself and views her body as precious and her greatest beauty as not only in her face but within. Abdul-Qaadir Abdul-Khaaliq
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