Behind the Veil: Inner Meanings of Women’s Islamic Dress Code
The Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Vol. 6, No. 11, pp. 115-125, 2012
11 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2012 Last revised: 18 Dec 2013
Date Written: October 9, 2012
The Islamic dress code for women has been a highly debated topic in both the Islamic world and Europe. Women wear a headscarf (hijab) and cover their bodies, with the exception of the face, hands, and feet. Culturally, some women may also cover their faces behind a veil and wear a cloak (‘abaya) covering their bodies. Several secular laws have been introduced in parts of Europe to make it illegal to wear the veil in public for security reasons. Secular countries, such as Turkey, with a majority Muslim population, have also made it illegal to wear the headscarf by any woman in public offices or universities. Prior to their later repeal, similar laws also existed in Iran, during the reign of Shah Reza Pahlavi, and Tunisia. Most research on reasons behind the Islamic dress code discuss modesty issues. However, this paper looks deep into the inner meanings of women’s Islamic dress code. It analyses the linguistic meanings of the terms used within the dress code and their usage in the Qur’an. The term for women is (nisa’), which is the feminine term for people, and its root meaning is forgetful. The Qur’an portrays souls, which is a feminine term in Arabic, that forget G-d as (nisa’). By linking the many terms used in Qur’anic passages, it becomes clear that the physical law is only mirroring the reality of a spiritual truth. The souls of people, who forget G-d, are veiled from G-d. In many parts of the Qur’an, it shows how G-d puts veils in people’s hearts from understanding the Qur’an and the message. In reality, souls are veiled from G-d. The Islamic dress code tries to teach this spiritual truth through physical portrayal.
Keywords: Abaya, cloak, dress, Hijab, interpretation, Islam, marriage, Niqab, Qur’an, religion, soul, spirituality, veil, women
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