Rowan University
Ellen Miller, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Department of Philosophy & Religion
Rowan University
Glassboro, NJ 08028
Office: 117 Linden Hall

Office Phone:  856-256-4835
E-mail:  millere@rowan.edu

Dr. Ellen Miller
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Islam and the Veil (hijab)

Surah XXXIII, Verse 59 of the Qur'an is most often cited in support of veiling. It states

"O Prophet! Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close around them. that will be better, so that they may be recognized and not annoyed. Allah is ever forgiving, merciful...." (from A.Yusef Ali's translation of the Qur'an)

 Judeo-Christian tradition: I Corinthians 11 (3-10):

But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying having his head covered, dishonoreth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoreth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn or shaven; but if it be a hame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.

 In Islam there is absolutely no difference between men and women as far as their relationship to Allah is concerned, as both are promised the same reward for good conduct and the same punishment for evil conduct. The Qur'an says:

And for women are rights over men similar to those of men over women. (2:226)

The Qur'an, in addressing the believers, often uses the expression,'believing men and women' to emphasize the equality of men and women in regard to their respective duties, rights, virtues and merits. It says:

For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast, for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah's praise, for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward. (33:35)

The word "hijab" comes from the Arabic word "hajaba" meaning to hide from view or conceal. In the present time, the context of hijab is the modest covering of a Muslim woman. The question now is what is the extent of the covering? The Qur'an says:

"Say to the believing man that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that will make for greater purity for them; and Allah is well acquainted with all that they do. And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; and that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands..." (Qur'an 24:30-31)

"O Prophet, tell your wives and daughters and the believing women to draw their outer garments around them (when they go out or are among men). That is better in order that they may be known (to be Muslims) and not annoyed..." (Qur'an 33:59)

Information on hijab can be found in Brochures published by The Institute of Islamic Information and Education (III&E)—Links on our course website

 

 

 

 
 
Copyright 2001 Dr. Ellen Miller. All rights reserved. Document last modified