What is the concept of veil (hijab) in Islam?
Islam stresses the relationship between body and mind. In covering the body one shields the heart from impurities. Men are instructed to restrain or avert their eyes from women, and women are expected to wear loose outer garments and to cover their heads and bosoms.
The ultimate goal of veiling is righteousness of the heart.
The purpose of hijab (veiling) in Islam is primarily to inspire modesty in both men and women. Women are admonished in the Holy Qur’an to cover their heads and to pull their coverings over their bosoms. Men are instructed in the Holy Qur’an to lower their gazes.
In chapter 24, verse 32 Allah says:
‘And say to the believing women that they restrain their eyes and guard their private parts, and they display not their beauty and embellishments except that which is apparent thereof, and that they draw their head-covers over their bosoms, and they display not their beauty or their embellishment thereof save to their husbands, or to their fathers, or the fathers of their husbands, or their sons, or the sons of their husbands, or their brothers or the sons of their brothers, or the sons of their sisters, or their women, or what their right hands possess, or such of male attendants who have no wickedness in them, or young children who have not yet attained any concept of the private parts of women. And they walk not in a style that such of their beauty as they conceal is noticed. And turn you to Allah all together, O believers, that you may succeed.’
Muslim women wear hijabs and loose clothing to fulfil the above command of God. It encourages them to be modest and not to dress in a manner that attracts men. The hijab is a protection for Muslim women against the unwanted gaze of men.
A woman in hijab, is seen by onlookers to be guarding her modesty. Her message is clear – she does not want men to look at her.