According to rahyafte (the missionaries and converts website): “To me, hijab and chastity is far beyond the veil/clothing and physical guard of a Muslim. It is a spiritual guard as well as an obligation and a duty upon a believing person; a true indicator of submission and God consciousness,” Katherine Reyes said in an interview on the occasion of the World Hijab Day (February 1).
Following is the text of the interview:
Q: Would you introduce yourself and tell us when you became a Muslim and started wearing hijab?
A: Salam Alaykum. My name is Catherine from Los Angeles. I reverted to Islam on January 1st 2014 when I was 23 years old. I started wearing the hijab in early March of 2014.
Q: What is the definition of hijab and chastity in your view?
A: To me, hijab and chastity is far beyond the veil/clothing and physical guard of a Muslim. It is a spiritual guard as well as an obligation and a duty upon a believing person; a true indicator of submission and God consciousness. Hijab and chastity helps one withdraw from the world through caution and obedience.
“And clothes that guards [against evil]; that is best.” (Holy Quran 7:26)
Q: Is hijab just for women or is it also for men?
A: If you look at the Holy Quran, Chapter 24 verses 30-31, Allah is speaking about the “hijab” of both men and women.
Allah tells man specifically “Say to the believing men to lower their gaze and guard their private parts.” (Q 24:30)
Then Allah then goes on to address the women specifically by saying, “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and preserve their chastity (and one more thing) … and to draw their head-coverings over their bosoms, and to not reveal their adornments…” (Q 24:31)
Allah closes with the following verse “And turn to Allah, all of you, O believers, in order that you may be successful.” (Q 24:31)
The physical garment that protects a woman’s adornments, mentioned in the second verse, is specifically for women. One can’t deny that the anatomy of men and women are different from one another. Allah, in his infinite wisdom, has prescribed this for all women.
In my opinion, the verse of lowering the gaze is taken so lightly by Muslims because unlike the woman’s veil, it is not a physical covering. However, people don’t realize that it is much deeper than it seems. Looking at something forbidden can lead to Allah’s punishment in the hereafter.
Imam al Sadiq (AS) says, “Whenever the eye looks at something forbidden, a knot of desire is tied in the person’s heart, and that knot will only be untied by one of two conditions: either by weeping out of grief/regret in true repentance, or by taking possession of what one desired and looked at. And if a person takes possession unjustly, without repentance, then that will take him to the Fire.”
Q: Is hijab a religious value or a social behavior? Please explain.
A: Modesty is an honor from Allah bestowed on no other creature besides humans. Allah has blessed us to preserve our modesty and chastity through these physical garments just like through His mercy, he protects our inner parts, for example, veiling our sins, our bad character and faults.
Unfortunately these days the physical hijab has become a traditional piece of clothing worn without truly understanding its purpose. Many women wear it because they were told to wear it, others because they are afraid of dishonoring their families.
Imam al Sadiq (AS) says, “Your best garments are those which do not distract you from Allah, those garments, in fact, which bring you closer to Him, and gratitude and obedience to Him.”
Q: What is the effect of hijab on the strength of family?
A: Hijab has become a very controversial topic in many families and in all sorts of societies in the world. The problem arises when people lack knowledge and understanding of hijab. Sometimes it is the parents who are against it, sometimes the husband, other times it is the person who should be wearing it. Society can sometimes force someone to not wear or abandon it, or it can also force someone to wear it without cognizance.
Knowledge guides one’s action. God can never be truly obeyed if one has no knowledge of Him.
Q: Why do you think anti-Islamists have a problem with hijab, but are not as hostile to prayers or other religious duties?
A: Anti-Islamists have a problem with hijab because when they see a woman wearing it, they know it represents a religion which they fear. Fear is a trigger response. The media has really focused on bringing terror in the hearts of non-Muslims by spreading lies and deceit about Islam. They see it as a backwards practice and they also believe it oppresses women. Their intellects are incapable of grasping the meaning of hijab and what it truly represents because of their negative views towards the religion.
I think people struggle with all different religious duties, not just hijab. I have seen people who wear hijab but do not pray. Others who do not fast, year cover entirely. People pick and choose what suits them and their lifestyles. Again, it all comes down to knowledge and understanding.
Q: How can veiled women defend their right to wear Islamic clothing in non-Muslim societies?
A: Most people in the West are actually respectful. Every now and then you will get the occasional negative comment or stare but remember that people act this way out of fear and one must remember that this stems from lack of knowledge. The best way to defend your rights to wear Islamic clothing is by first understanding why it is your duty to wear it and secondly knowing your basic human rights in whatever country you live.