The Islamic Veil - Page 3

The answer is that according to the Holy Quran the natural state of man has a very strong relationship with his moral and spiritual states, so much so that even a person's manner of eating and drinking affects his moral and spiritual states. If the natural state of a person is subjected to the control of the directions of divine law it becomes his moral state and deeply affects his spirituality, as is said that whatever falls into a salt mine is converted into salt. That is why the Holy Quran has laid stress on physical cleanliness and postures, and their regulation in relation to all worship and inner purity and spiritual humility. Reflection confirms that physical conditions deeply affect the soul. For instance, when our eyes are filled with tears, even if the tears are artificially induced, the heart is immediately affected and becomes sorrowful. In the same way, when we begin to laugh, even if the laughter is artificially induced, the heart begins to feel cheerful. It has also been observed that physical prostration in prayer induces humility in the soul. As a contrast when we draw ourselves up physically and strut about with our neck raised and our breast pushed forward, this attitude induces a mood of arrogance and vain glory. These instances establish clearly that physical conditions certainly affect spiritual conditions. (The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, pp 3-4)

He also added:

As the soul is affected by physical conduct, in the same way sometimes the soul affects the body. For instance, when a person experiences sorrow his eyes become wet, and a person who feels happy, smiles. All our natural actions like eating, drinking, sleeping, waking, moving about, resting, bathing etc., affect our spiritual condition. Our physical structure is related intimately to our total humanity. If a certain part of the brain is injured memory is immediately lost. An injury to another part of the brain causes loss of consciousness. Poisonous air affects the body and through it the mind, and the whole inner system, to which the moral impulses are related, is impaired and the unfortunate victim passes out quickly like a madman.

Thus physical injuries disclose that there is a mysterious relationship between the soul and the body which is beyond the ken of man. Reflection shows that the body is the mother of the soul. (The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, p 4)

From the above we can see clearly that the body and soul are two interlinking things. Each one of them affects the other and the uplift of one will raise the other. We can understand the wisdom behind the teachings of Islam concerning the veil and the spiritual benefits which can be gained by both men and women if they follow them. It is also now very clear that observing the veil is not a duty for women alone but it is an injunction equally binding on men and women alike.

But God has prescribed these commandments to the believing men and the believing women separately and there must be great wisdom behind this. One of the obvious reasons behind this is to point out clearly that each of them is responsible for his or her own behaviour when carrying out and obeying these injunctions. So this proves that the Muslim man has nothing to do with forcing the woman to obey this order, out of any love for domination on his side.

Also comparing the two verses, emphasizes the fact that in this respect, due to the physical differences between men and women, the nature of the way it can be observed is different. The woman has an additional responsibility of hiding her beauty and embellishment.

Women are by nature the delicate sex, and they need special care and protection. Thus Islam treats women as a precious treasure that should be guarded and protected from being startled at or molested or inconvenienced by other people in any way. So, far from depriving women from their rights or freedom, these injunctions show the high status of the Muslim women. Islam is even protecting the inner feelings of women.

To understand the implication of this point fully we need to understand the true nature of the role of men and women in the society.

Man and woman differ physically in nature and capabilities. Man is physically stronger than woman and this is why his natural role in the family is to go out and provide the family with its means of sustenance. He is also the protector of the family from the outside dangers. But this does not in any way degrade the position of the woman because she has her own sphere of responsibilities as well. With her loving and caring nature she is more capable of looking after the members of the family. In this aspect she has more to offer than man. She acts as the protector of the family from the internal dangers and she is responsible for the education and training of the children. The combined efforts of both man and woman are needed to produce the perfect family. As the man needs the help of the woman to protect his house and look after it in his absence while he is away carrying out his duties, similarly the woman needs the protection of the man from the outside dangers to provide her with the peaceful atmosphere, that will enable her to perform her duties inside the house in the best possible way.

The Islamic society can be likened to one big family where women represent its spiritual body and the men represent its soul. As the Promised Messiah (may the peace and blessings of God be upon him) has explained, there is a deep relationship between the body and the soul and therefore, in a way similar to what was mentioned above, both the men and women depend on one another to produce a perfect society. The men are responsible for the outside affairs and the protection of the community from external dangers while the women are responsible for the internal welfare of the society and the education and training of the members of the community. The protection provided by men does not mean their superiority over women but on the other hand it emphasizes the importance of the role of women in the society. Women need to be fully protected from outside dangers so that they can give full attention to carrying out their sacred duties.

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