Women’s Dress Code from the Quran
Hijab in Islam
God’s commandments towards women’s dress code have been misunderstood and abused, forcing women to adhere to standards not instituted by God. The majority of so-called Islamic countries have misinterpreted these commandments while mixing them with cultural and traditional beliefs. Consequently, women are forced to cover themselves from head to toe. But is this really what God commands women to do? God has given us the Quran as our only source of religious law, and by examining the Quran, we see a completely different set of rules regarding women’s dress code. The guidelines set by God are perfect, reasonable and create no hardship or discomfort for women.
“And tell the believing women to subdue their eyes and maintain their chastity. They shall not reveal any parts of their bodies, except that which is necessary. They shall cover their chests, and shall not relax this dress in the presence of other than their husbands, their fathers, the fathers of their husbands, their sons, the sons of their husbands, their brothers, the sons of their brothers, the sons of their sisters, the other women, the male servant or other employee whose sexual drive has been nullified or the children who have not reached puberty. They shall not strike their feet when they walk in order to shake or reveal certain details of their bodies. All of you shall repent to God, O you believers, that you may succeed”.
- Quran 24:31
The women are told in 24:31 that they should cover their chests and not to reveal any part of their bodies “except that which is necessary” and that this dress code should not be relaxed except in the presence of the specific people listed within the verse. Some people have debated what would be “necessary” to be exposed. From a Quranic standpoint, a unanimous consensus of what qualifies as “necessary” cannot be drawn, and varies according to personal opinion. This does not mean that God forgot to give us details, instead it means God has left this judgment up to each woman to choose for herself, and though the majority of so-called Islamic countries would have you believe that God advocates the women cover their hair, or even every inch of themselves, there is no mention of this in the Quran.
Dress Code for Women
“O Prophet, tell your wives, your daughters, and the wives of the believers that they shall lengthen their garments. Thus, they will be recognized (as righteous women) and avoid being insulted. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.
- Quran 33:59
In the above verse God commands women to lengthen their garment. Again God does not specify the particular length of the garment. He leaves it to each woman to decide what length is appropriate for her to be recognized as a righteous woman and not to be insulted.
Additionally, the verse below is a rule that only applies to elderly women. In 24:60 God allows for the elderly women who do not expect to get married to relax their dress code within reasonable limits.
“The elderly women who do not expect to get married commit nothing wrong by relaxing their dress, provided they do not reveal too much of their bodies. To maintain modesty is better for them. God is hearer, knower”
- Quran 24:60
As was mentioned earlier, the Quran does not require women to cover their hair or every inch of their bodies, but rather to dress modestly and to cover their chests. Some so-called Islamic countries go as far as forcing women to cover their bodies completely, allowing them to only reveal their eyes and hands.
Again, the teachings from the Quran do not coincide with this enforced dress code.
Tell the believing men that they shall subdue their eyes (and not stare at the women), and to maintain their chastity. This is purer for them. GOD is fully Cognizant of everything they do.
- Quran 24:30
God encourages both men and women to subdue their eyes, not looking at each other lustfully. This allows for us to control our desires, resist temptation and ultimately maintain our chastity and behave righteously. The obvious question one must ask after reading this verse is:
If God forces women to cover from head to toe, why then are men told to subdue their eyes?
These verses teach us that the interactions between men and women during the revelations of the Quran were not as rigid as we see in so-called Islamic countries today. The following verse also supports this fact, and it teaches us that the beauty of a woman was not veiled and hidden from public view. During the time of revelation men were able to admire a woman's beauty, thus they had to maintain self-control and discipline, not allowing that admiration to cause them to be sinful.
Beyond the categories described to you, you are enjoined from marrying any other women, nor can you substitute a new wife (from the prohibited categories), no matter how much you admire their beauty. You must be content with those already made lawful to you. GOD is watchful over all things.
- Quran 33:52
When Religion, Tradition, and Human Law Collide
Humans have consistently repeated the same behavior in response the God’s revelations. Every time God has sent messengers to bring a purified religion, humans have distorted and destroyed it by convoluting it with human laws and traditional beliefs. Islam was no exception to this rule and was severely corrupted over the last 1400 years.
God teaches us to study the Quran carefully. Each and every one of us will be responsible for our actions in front of God as individuals. He has given us the scripture and has made it our responsibility to be absolutely sure we are following His laws. He has pointed out the destiny of both groups of people, those that add laws to His religion as well as those that uphold them.
Upholding the Teachings of Religious Leaders Instead of God's Teachings
They have set up their religious leaders and scholars as lords, instead of GOD. Others deified the Messiah, son of Mary. They were all commanded to worship only one god. There is no god except He. Be He glorified, high above having any partners.
- Quran 9:31
The Idols: Innovating New Religious Laws
They follow idols who decree for them religious laws never authorized by GOD. If it were not for the predetermined decision, they would have been judged immediately. Indeed, the transgressors have incurred a painful retribution.
- Quran 42:21
That being said, women of many cultures may feel comfortable with dressing in a manner that covers their hair or even every inch of their bodies. In terms of cultural or personal belief, this is not a problem. The problem occurs when people attribute these beliefs to the religion. Adding cultural traditions to the religion make the religion complicated and more difficult to practice. Even worse, these innovations make the religion less appealing and difficult to follow for other cultures, thus repelling others from the path of God.
Say, "O followers of the scripture, why do you repel from the path of GOD those who wish to believe, and seek to distort it, even though you are witnesses?" GOD is never unaware of anything you do.
- Quran 3:99
The Best Garment
O children of Adam, we have provided you with garments to cover your bodies, as well as for luxury. But the best garment is the garment of righteousness… [7:26]
- Quran 7:26
God tells us that the best garment with which we can dress ourselves is the garment of righteousness. God advises us to observe certain behaviors in order to help put on and display this garment.
God is the Omniscient, Most Wise. He does not wish to create hardship for us. Everything He asks of us, advises us, or commands of us is for the benefit of our souls. Our sole purpose in being in this world is to redeem our souls back into God’s kingdom by worshiping Him alone and living a righteous life. In the scripture He has blessed us with, He gives us clear guidelines for achieving righteousness, and part of that process is behaving and dressing righteously. To that purpose God tells us that women only need to cover their chest and dress modestly, exposing only what is necessary. Ultimately each woman has to decide for herself if she is dressing in a manner that is pleasing to God, for she will return to God as an individual, just as He created her.
All of them will come before Him on the Day of Resurrection as individuals.
- Quran 19:95