An overwhelming majority of Muslim women nowadays believe that they must cover their ‘awrah but feels that they are not ready yet to do so. They feel that they will do so sometimes when they are fully prepared, normally when they are no longer young.
It is not an uncommon scene in Malaysia and almost all part of world that Muslim women with tight and transparent clothes enter the mosque and put on the “telekong/hijab” to pray. After prayer they went out to the streets showing their body parts for all to see. And they are doing this while they are still believed in Quran and Allah. The discussion of why it is happening is a very important topic since it shows that Muslim women themselves are confused. To cover or uncover? To veil or unveil? The more important discussion is what we as a Muslim brothers or sisters can do to confide them that it is actually not a matter of choice.
‘Awrah is an Arabic word which literally means private part or defect . Technically ‘awrah refer to the body part that must be covered and showing it is forbidden or haram. The Quran tells women to cover the whole body part exclusive of their face and hands in front of a non-mahram.
In front of other Muslim females, their awrah is between the navel and knee. ;Awrah in front of non-Muslim woman is a point of debate. According to some scholars they must cover all except face and hand. Some other scholars say that it is the same as when they are with other Muslim female.
The ‘awrah of a woman in front of her mahrams such as her father, brother and nephew is her entire body except that which usually appears such as the face, hair, neck, forearms and feet. Allah says in the Quran.
“and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent (like both eyes for necessity to see the way, or outer palms of hands or one eye or dress like veil, gloves, headcover, apron), and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms) and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers, or their sons, or their husband’s sons, or their brothers or their brother’s sons, or their sister’s sons, or their (Muslim) women”
For Muslim men however their ‘awrah is much simpler for their ‘awrah is from the navel to the knee. This difference does not mean inequality for reasons that I shall discuss later.
The Westerners always have a misconception that Islam discriminate women because they have to cover more than man. When Allah asks women to cover, it is a protection to her body and dignity. It is undoubted that woman is centre of attraction. Everything about her is appealing. The temptation posed by woman is bigger than temptation posed by man. The eyes, mouth and smile, hair, leg and everything in their body is a form of attraction to men. Man falls in love with woman for various and weird reason, even by looking at how she walks or eats! Thus it is reasonable that women are not allowed to show the body part as man is free to show.
This regulation does not mean to hide women’s beauty but it is to protect them from being regarded as sex symbol. In Western society for example, women are no less than a doll, they can be uncover anytime as men please for any reason. Their women are being mocked that beauty is measured by body shape and curve and how they sway it when they walk and the make-up they put on. And they must be proud to be blessed with this beauty by showing it! They then will be looked by men with lewdness and evil intention.
O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
Muslim women may find covering ‘awrah difficult is because of the often negative ideas surrounding propagated by the opponents of Islam. For instance, that wearing Hijab kills marriage and job prospects. We must dispel such myth. It is proven through history that many Muslim women succeed in their life while being observant to Islamic code of dress. Many Muslim women attain high status in life and career, leading big companies and institutions and even holding an important position in Ministries, making crucial decision everyday. What you wear does not really ensure you position in job. Employers rationally look at your ability and capability, knowledge and skills and your integrity.
This issue must be tackled with wisdom. All part of the society plays an important role in educating our Ummah. Parents must familiarize their daughters with the Islamic code of dress since they are small. When they attain the puberty and able to discern the Syariah, they must be acknowledge why they are obliged to do so.
Muslim activists on the other hand must take more proactive measures and think positively. Many of this women are believers, thus it shows that there is a seed of faith that need to be nurtured. We must not simply accuse them as ignorant or stubborn. They should be guided and shown the beauty of this regulation.
For Muslim women who are practicing what has been ordained upon us, congratulations! Praise be to Allah for we are guided to become obedient. However, please do not forget that it is not simply covering ‘awrah that make us true Muslimah. The condition is extended to how we bring ourselves, our conduct with others, the way we utter words and our sincerity. Let us pray that Allah guide us and our Muslim sisters all over the world that what makes us beauty is our modesty.