What modesty really means in Islam (1400 years later)

Islam is one of the youngest religions practiced on the face of earth till this date and on wards.  I live in an Islamic country (or so it was supposed to be) where most women do cover. If not a face veil, an headscarf. If not with friends and family, definitely in public markets. I mean a casual dupatta on head is quite common a scene here in Pakistan. The only difference is, Pakistan is a secular state. It doesn’t impose Pardah on its women. Rest aside, whatever happens behind closed doors; happens behind closed doors.

Lately, not just a headscarf or niqab( face veil) but most of the Islamic teachings have been moulded to suit each’s convenience and desires, to fit in the comfort zone most others live in. Shockingly, but the victims are the Muslims and so are the culprits. I won’t go down the road talking about what’s obligatory and what isn’t. To you your version, to me mine. Yes, sadly and deeply grieving but yes there are versions of Islam now.

Islam isn’t as strict as some of us make it seem. Our society is knee deep involved in disgusting issues for the sole reason of us forgetting about Allah’s commandments but even more because we forgot about the right intention. In the struggle of restoring something that has been lost down the road of modernization and advancement, Islamic scholars or your average Islamic aunty next door come out to look as extremists and “Strange” looking people. Feminists talk about the freedom the “oppressed” women must have and the so assumed “oppressed” women feel like it’s their fundamental right to cover what is, by all means, their body, their face and their hair. Contradiction, hmmm. A word not at all Alien in Islamic history.

For most young girls, head scarf is a normal thing they take on from their mothers who took on from their’s. The purpose may or may not be told to them but the basic definitely isn’t. This gives rise to certain diverse characters in our society. Which is why you’d observe how non Islamic these same women turn out to be later in life(i.e they don’t divert from the habitual head cover but dress/act immodestly) or take off the piece of clothing on their head from scratch, at every and any opportunity they find. This is because the same women who wore something under the label of Islamic obligation at an age where obedience is not rare and looking yourself in the mirror is, found herself less appealing and “oppressed” in her own eyes later on. Clearly, she has to do something which most others, even most other Muslim women don’t choose to do. That’s one part of the big population. The other are women who are baffled about the purpose because they were told it will not attract bad eyes but it still does, and it won’t get you raped, but it still does. The product of such confusion is a woman who’s fearful of what she wants to do, but is too oppressed with what society would think or if she will indeed end up upsetting her God. Then there are women who have due to whatever circumstances or exposure developed an ideology that this is in fact an act of misogyny. Lastly, but most importantly are those who most feminists ignore(because they have no bones to chase here) and most Muslims misunderstand. These are women who never covered. Never have and probably never will. Like i said, going down the slippery road of telling you what’s obligatory and what isn’t, is a mistake i don’t plan on doing today.

The idea of feminism most women raise the flag in support of has interfered with the basic teachings of Islam. I strongly believe that Islamic patriarchy is not Islamic patriarchy but instead the wrong understanding of Islamic teachings. Whilst i rant about what’s head on colliding with something it shouldn’t, i can’t help but mention the apparent dooming fate most women fall under. The reason isn’t ISLAM or PATRIARCHAL ISLAM. The cause is the weak personality building of our young girls and sadly, the society we find ourselves living in, is very helpful to add to the problem. Are we sure that the daughters we are trying to protect aren’t instead at a higher risk of falling under the label of oppressed? Not because you told them to cover, but because you didn’t tell them to do it to please God but instead to not avert bad eyes to them. Not because you didn’t let them study in co education, but because you didn’t talk to them  either. Not because their interaction with non mehrams(men besides your father, brother and immediate uncles etc) was limited, but because you made them curious of how it would be otherwise. Hands down, women turn out fine as hell without male interaction or any interaction at all, given that you built them up. Same goes for the men. Islam is all about submission. To Allah. AND NOT TO THE SOCIETAL STANDARDS.

I don’t mind thinking men are superior than women. They are the protectors of women in the society that has sadly given rise to certain men who prioritize their desires and are mislead by the first sentence of this paragraph. God knows, and God knows well, that a woman can protect herself in ways men can not imagine. But in a men dominated society which hasn’t developed in the recent years but is like so since the start of time, a woman not only feels safe but has a backup strength by her side. Physically, men are the protectors of women. At this point on wards, many a roads open up. Men think to themselves; “PROTECTORS? sure, let’s hit her because she is amongst the weaker lot to show supremacy” or “Let’s hit her so she shuts up” Do you see what fans the fire? A woman is always told to compromise unless she wants a divorce and never get married again because society deems so. It strengthens the marriage they say, but shatters the women, they never mention. Where Islam says men are the protectors of women, Allah taala  also deems the separation permissible under mental and physical abuse on both ends. Why do we take that freedom away? It must be celebrated as one celebrates when you remove a cancer from the body. It is also grieving to see that fellow women play a significant part in all of this.

This is where you give the stage to the so called feminists. This is where you ruined Islam. This is your version and your devil. Don’t pour your acts in the bucket of Islamic teachings. Islam is beautiful. It glorifies women. It strengthens her. The woman who is taught Quran in her mother language knows her rights before you can fool her. Whether you’re her husband, father or brother, you don’t dictate what she wears and what she doesn’t. Whether she must laugh in the public or she mustn’t. What was in your hands was her brought up, the thoughts you feed them will show when he/she grows up. A Muslim who loves ALLAH, will abide by all His commandments. Notice how i mentioned love and not fear. Love makes you do things out of your will and satisfaction. Fear only helps you not deviate from the path. Are our teachings really on track to give rise to good Muslim women or are we just creating more ways for men to feel more superior in ways they aren’t? How come our society came to a point where a woman’s life is over when she has premarital sex, intentionally or unintentionally, but a man can get out of it like a hair in oil? How come a woman who dresses up modestly is still looked at with the same lust if that was the purpose it was supposed to serve? Must we go back to the age where not women, but men were taught the right conduct. The Quranic verse where a woman is told to cover(24:31) follows by the commandment to a man who must lower his eyes(24:30). THAT IS, A MAN WAS COMMANDED TO OBSERVE THE PARDAH BEFORE A WOMAN WAS. By all means, interpret the verses with your wisdom. But let us for once, look at our sons and then our daughters. Or at least, look at them both!!! Let us for once, see if we are saving our own women but destroying the women of other houses. Let us build a society that roots for equality of gender in terms of conduct.

I aver that a woman cover when she wants to. A man has nothing to do with it. She covers for Allah and in love for Allah, not for a man. And that is the only way she will do it by her own will. I aver that a man guards his modesty the way he wants to, he does it for Allah and in love for Allah, not out of respect for a woman. Before you think of the purpose the commandments will serve, and the consequence of not following them, think and ponder upon why you were born a Muslim and what does it really mean to be a Muslim.
At the end of all, realize that Islamic teachings are supposed to make your life easier on a whole. If they aren’t, you aren’t a)taught the right Islam b)taught the right Islam from the right age and thereby find it difficult to divert from what has now become normal to you. Remember that the best of Judges is Allah taala, and remember that He Judges you on your right intention before you even act on them.

-Fi Aman Allah


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