The two genders of mankind, male and female, at least I hope these are the only two genders, are dissimilar in all ways. God has created the female body different than the male's. Since there is a major difference in shape, there has to be a difference of how each is presented.
Let’s say you got to the gym in the West, like the UK or the US, it’s normal to see a shirtless young man lifting weights. But we never see a shirtless (topless) woman doing dumbbell curls cuz she knows that if she does that, one she’ll get arrested for public nudity, with the exception of a few countries, and two it’s very likely that she’ll get sexually harassed. Now, obviously a woman doesn’t have to be topless to be subjected to sexual harassment but whatever she chooses to wear and however much she decides to cover of her body, plays a huge role.
Now you ask why the double standards? Well we have to go back to what we mentioned earlier about how God created the two sexes differently. God also imposed a covering for all women called the Hijab?
But what exactly is a hijab and more importantly what is a proper hijab?
Let’s go way back in history and check out the origin of hijab.
Sources mention that the first recorded instance of veiling or covering the hair for women is recorded in Assyrian legal texts from the 13th century BCE. Its use was restricted to noble women. Slaves and poor women were forbidden to cover their hair/heads. In both the ancient empires of Greece and Rome there is evidence that points to various degrees of head coverings worn by females. Particularly in Rome it seems that head coverings were associated with prayer and devotion.
While many Muslims call 'hijab' an Islamic dress code, they are in fact unaware of the fact that the concept of 'hijab' is not just for Muslims.
Interestingly the Bible verses to which Christians refer to when explaining why women should cover their bodies and heads, especially in prayer or in church come to us from Saint Paul in his letters to the Corinthians.
Corinthians 11:5, says that “Every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved.”
The early Christian women veiled their heads in church and anytime they were in public and Christian women continued to maintain this practice to some degree throughout the centuries until the 19th and 20th centuries when the practice rapidly declined.
Any student of Jewish traditions would know that the head cover for the Jewish woman is encouraged by the Rabbis and religious leaders.
Religious Jewish women still cover their heads most of the time, especially in the synagogues, at weddings and religious festivities. This Jewish tradition is a cultural not a religious one. Hijab was observed by women of the civilizations that preceded the Jews and was passed down to the Jewish culture.
Some Christian women cover their heads on many religious occasions while the nuns cover their heads all the time. The tradition of covering the head was practiced thousands of years before Muslim scholars claimed the 'hijab' as a Muslim dress code.
Now just to throw that out there, hijab isn’t only for women, it’s for men too. Men too must cover their bodies and stay away from silk fabric.
Now, wearing the Hijab for women isn't just a matter of simply putting a piece of cloth on your head, and this is a misunderstanding of a lot of people. The Hijab is a way of thinking and behaving, and accepting yourself for who and what you are. Basically it constitutes an Islamic way of life, it is a statement which indeed should portray a certain attitude.
Now the hijab, even the term itself, which means barrier in Arabic, has turned global. Even if you type it in Microsoft Word, the red line underneath the word doesn’t show up. So the whole, for the most part, is aware of the hijab and what it is used for.
But for the last few years, the hijab has been somewhat associated with fashion, you know with the different colors, styles and wraps.
Nowadays, especially in the West, the boundaries of Islamic modest clothing have become blurred over the past few decades, due to the controversial ideology of modest hijab fashion input in our daily lives.
The hijab is seen as a type of fashion, though it is very far from it. Western companies and businesses are exploiting the Hijab to their advantage and we shouldn’t let them happen.
We must adhere to what the Holy Quran and the Ahlulbayt have said in regards to hijab.
In the Holy Quran, Allah says in Chapter 33 verse 59: “O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.”
The Messenger of Allah says: Whoever wears a garment of fame (and vanity), Allah will robe him in a garment like it on the Day of Resurrection.
Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq said: "Modesty is a part of Iman.” Hijab is a great example of modesty.
Now what is a proper hijab?
Hijab means covering as in covering the woman’s body and hair.
The proper covering should include the following:
1. Not to be rousing.
2. Not too tight to be showing the shape of the body.
3. Not see-through or thin material
4. Must be covering the entire body except the face and hands
5. The hijab should not be an adornment in itself.
Reality Of Islam