By Tawfik Hamid (h/t Clare Lopez)
- The Hijab is a dress code in Islam that was designed to distinguish “free” from “slave” women. According to Ibn Kathir (one of the most reputable interpretations of the Quran), and according to almost all authentic and approved Islamic theology and Sharia legal texts, the hijab exists to differentiate between free women and concubines so that free Muslim women will not be accidentally molested. Slaves and concubines (actual modern classes of human beings in Islam) enjoy no such protections.
- Only “free” women are allowed to wear the hijab and cover their bodies. For example, Tafseer Ibn Kathir (again, one of the most reputable authorities in explaining the Quran) discusses the context (Asbab al-nuzil) of hijab verse Quran 33:59. According to this Tafseer and to most authoritative Islamic books men in Medina (the first capital of the Islamic Caliphate) would look at a Muslim woman, and if she was fully covered in the hijab they understood that she was a free woman and therefore refrained from sexually molesting her. On the other hand, if a woman was without a hijab, they marked her as a slave girl and [direct quote] “jumped on her to have sex.” In other words, according to traditional Islamic teaching, the command of the hijab was specifically to distinguish between slave and free women so that the early Muslims would not mistakenly rape the latter.
3. A slave woman is not allowed to imitate free women in wearing the hijab. If she dares to do so, she must be punished (“because her body is cheaper than and inferior to that of a free woman”). For example, Umar Ibn Al-khatab (one of the foremost disciples of prophet Mohamed) used to beat any slave girl who dared to cover her body as the free Muslim women did. Thus free Muslim women became distinctive from the slave girls. “When Umar Ibn Al-khatab travelled in Medina … If he saw “Ama” or a slave girl, he would beat her with his Durra [a special type of stick] until the hijab fell off and he would say: ‘How come the ‘slave girls are trying to emulate the free women by wearing the Hijab!'” Tabakat Ibn Saad.
4. Free women must wear the Hijab when they reach puberty to decrease their sexual allure. According to Hadith of prophet Mohamed: “The Messenger of Allah turned away from his daughter Asma and said, ‘O Asma’, when a woman reaches the age of puberty (i.e. to become sexually attractive) , nothing should be seen of her except this and this’ and he pointed to his face and hands.”
5. Free women who are supposed to wear the hijab will go to hell if they do not cover up with this dress. “Narrated by Abu Huraira that Prophet Muhammad said: women who are covered and naked at the same time [Kasiat Areat: does not cover their body completely] … will never go to paradise or even smell it.” Sahih Muslim