The purpose of this study is to highlight the causes of veiling among females. In this regard, a review of literature is conducted where many causes have been evaluated and found less research work on causes of veiling among females. This study suggested that the patterns of veiling among females are likely to result in causes of veiling among females. To explore the causes of veiling so as to be proposed, suggesting further research to learn about the different patterns of veiling articles. This study highlights the causes of veiling including religious obligation, cultural practice, Socio-economic perspectives and increasing trend of fashion. This conceptual paper contributes to the existing patterns of veiling articles literature by suggesting a combination of causes of veiling that provides theoretical arguments.
Keywords: Patterns of Veiling, Causes, Religious obligation, Cultural practice, Socio-economic perspectives, Increasing trend of fashion,
The veil refers to the clothing which covers and conceals the body from head to ankles, with the exception of the face, hands, and feet (Hoodfar, 1991, p. 7). The veil can be a simple headscarf or a fabric that hides much of the face, hair, and neck, or it can be part of a larger cloak that shields the body and face, and mesh over the eyes (Hochel, 2013, p. 41). The veil is a Muslim head covering. The veil can take any form of veiling (i.e. burqa, niqab, chador, and headscarf) as long as the hair is completely covered (Nayebzadah, 2010, p.56). The word hijab as synonymous to veil (Droogsma, 2007, cited in Farhatullah, Ahmed, Sajjad, Ali, & Shah, 2014, p. 106). Hijab is Islamic head covering (Farhatullah, Ahmed, Sajjad, Ali, & Shah, 2014, p. 105). Hijab is traditional Muslim women’s head, face, or body covering, of numerous varieties across time and space, often referred to as the “veil” (Human Rights Commission, 2005, p.8). Hijab actually means covering your private parts and adornments in order to maintain modesty in all respects of life (Latiff and Alam, 2013, p. 51). The practice of veiling is a form of religious piety for (Muslim) women (Doblado, n.d.: p.6). Its main purposes, as enjoined in the Qoran, are to cover the woman from the glance of strange men and to ensure modesty and chastity (Beck, 1977, p.195). The niqab was a tradition, not an Islamic obligation (Mr. Tantawi in Dawn, 2009). In Literature, It (veil) may be worn to beautify the wearer (Wikan, 1982) much the same way western women wear make-up, to demonstrate respect for conventional values (Hoodfar, 1991: Abu Lughod, 1986), or to hide the wearer’s identity (Farnea, 1965)” (Hoodfar, 1991, p. 7). The veil is also influenced by fashion and currently, media is also taking women towards new trends of the veil. In Literature, Media somehow give pressure to them to have a perfect look wearing hijab….Muslim designers started to mix the hijab with the latest fashion (Latiff, Alam, 2013,p. 50). Thus there is more need to know the patterns to understand the causes of using veil among females. In the literature, different patterns of using veil are burqa, abaya, niqab, chador, jilbab, khimar and headscarf. The causes of using veil are religious obligation, cultural practice, Socio-economic perspective and increasing trend of fashion. In literature, women wear the hijab as a way of symbolically gaining freedom (Doblado, n.d.: p.7). Following to the topic, this study focuses on the causes of veiling among females. Of great importance is that conceptual paper supports to researchers and field experts to look at the main causes of veiling by knowing the patterns of veiling articles among females.
Aim and Objective of the Study
The aim of the study is to explore the causes of veiling among females. The researcher has proposed following objective with the support of above aim of the study.
To know the causes of using veil among females.
Literature Review and Hypotheses Development
Veil is of two types as discussed in Maarof-ul-Qur’an (1993) that sitr and hijab literally means curtain but the sitr is the covering of those body parts which are different in two sex (man and woman,) whereas hijab is a curtain which covers whole body of woman from hair to ankle (Mollana Shafi 1993:211) with the exception of the face, hands, and feet (Hoodfar 1991:7). There are many different types of veiling (but not limited to) include burqa, niqab, chador, abaya, and headscarf (Nayebzadah, 2010, p.1). The burqa is a full-length garment covering a woman from head to foot, typically black in color (Human Rights Commission, 2005, p.8). A Burqa is an enveloping outer garment worn by women in some Islamic traditions for the purpose of cloaking the entire body. It is worn over the usual daily clothing. The burqa covers the wearer’s entire body and face except for a small region about the eyes which is covered by a concealing net (Nayebzadah, 2010, p.55). Niqab “Face veil” (Human Rights Commission, 2005, p.8). The niqab is the Arabic term for veils which cloak the totality of the hair, neck, shoulders, and face, except for the eyes (Hochel, 2013, p.41). A Chador is a full-length semicircle of fabric open down the front, which is thrown over the head and held closed in front. It has no hand openings or closures but is held shut by the hands or by wrapping the ends around the waist (Nayebzadah, 2010, p.55). An Abaya is a robe-like dress which covers the whole body except the face, feet, and hands. It can be worn with the niqab. Also, some women choose to wear long black gloves underneath their abaya so their arms are fully covered (Nayebzadah, 2010, p.1). A headscarf covers the hair and neck, leaving the entire face exposed” (Nayebzadah, 2010, p.1). The veil that covers “the head and torso” or the hijab “headscarf” (Mahmood, 2005, p.43). The Arabic term hijab has come to refer to the many varieties of headscarves which cover all of the hair, neck, and ears but leave the entire face exposed” (Hochel, 2013, p. 41).
In Qur’an the two items of clothing mentioned for women are khimar (the head-veil) and jilbab (a long gown) (El Guindi, 1991, cited in Boulanouar, 2006, p.140). In Surah Noor verse 31, “The chest veil is called Khimar” (Berger, 1998, p. 103). The headscarf (Khimar), which is a veil covering the hair and the neck or long enough to cover the bosom (Farhatullah, Ahmed, Sajjad, Ali, & Shah, 2014, p. 107). Khimar means any cover that meets the requirements of fastened, loose, large and covering the head, neck, and chest (Boulanouar, 2006, p.142). The word khimar refers to all such pieces of cloth which are used to cover the head. It is a piece of cloth which is used by a woman to cover her head” (Dictionary of Classical Arabic, cited in Farhatullah, Ahmed, Sajjad, Ali, & Shah, 2014, p. 120). The Jilbab which is a loose robe, the head-to-toe garment that hides all parts of the body except hands and eyes (Farhatullah, Ahmed, Sajjad, Ali, & Shah, 2014, p. 108). In Surah Ehzab verse 59, “The face veil is called Jilbab” (Berger, 1998, p.103). Jilbab refers to any long and loose-fit coat or garment worn by some Muslim women (Farhatullah, Ahmed, Sajjad, Ali, & Shah, 2014, p. 120). The over-garment (jilbab) must be long covering and should fulfill the clothing requirements (non-transparent, loose etc.) (Boulanouar, 2006, p.143).
Wearing the hijab is both a religious and a cultural practice (Chen, Akat, Xen, and Song, 2014 p.208). Though the hijab to many Muslims is considered a concept of modesty, as opposed to the visual covering of the hair, the hijab is also used to refer to the Muslim veil” (Nayebzadah, 2010, p.55).
There are seven verses revealed on the veil in Qur’an. The first verse 53 of sura 33 (Sura Ehzab), dating back to an event of the marriage of Hazrat Muhammad (P.B.U.H) with Zainab Bint Jahsh, which was revealed during the year 5 of the Heijra: “O ye who believe! Enter not the dwellings of the Prophet for a meal without waiting for the proper time, unless permission be granted you. But if ye are invited, enter, and, when your meal is ended, then disperse. Linger not for conversation. Lo! that would cause annoyance to the Prophet, and he would be shy of (asking) you (to go), but Allah is not shy of the truth. And when ye ask of them (the wives of the Prophet) anything, ask it of them from behind a curtain. That is purer for your hearts and for their hearts” (Mernissi 1991:85).
The verse 59 of sura 33 was revealed to identify between believing women and slaves. The meaning of the verse can be translated as “O Prophet! Tell your wives, and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allah is ever Oft-Forgiving, Most, Merciful” (Addwesh: 18-19).
In the Qur’an verse 31 of sura 24 (Sura Noor), in which three times Allah obligated of the veil (covering the women’s face) which was revealed in the year 6 of the Heijra. Allah says “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things) and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts) and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent (like both eyes for necessity to see the way, or outer palms of hands or one eye or dress like veil, gloves, head cover, apron, etc) and to draw their veils (Khimar) all over Juyubihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks, and bosoms, etc) and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s sons, or their sister’s sons, their (Muslim) women (i.e. their sisters in Islam) or the (female) slaves whom their right hands posses, or old male servants who lack vigour, or small children who have no sense of feminine sex. And let them not stamp their feet as so to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers that may be successful” (Addwesh: 14-15). Saffiya Bint Sahiba narrated that when the above verse was revealed Aisha used to say “the ladies cut their waist sheets at the edges and covered their heads and faces with those cut pieces of cloth” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Abu-Dawud).
Elderly women are not bound to cover their selves with veil as Allah has removed sin and declared in Qur’an verse 60 of sura 24 (Sura Noor), which is translated as “And as for women past child-bearing who do not except wed-lock, it is no sin on them if they discard their (outer) clothing in such a way as not to show their adornment. But to refrain (i.e. not to discard their outer clothing) is better for them. And Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower” (Addwesh: 23-24). Hijab is indeed a religious duty that Allah has enjoined to the believing women for their protection and success” (Addwesh: 50).
Wearing veil is also a social practice, veil socially provides protection to women’s in public domain but at the same time veil also change her social and personal identity discussed by Suzanne Brenner (1996), as she said in her study of Java that donning jilbab often leads to a marked change in a young woman’s social and personal identity as well as to potential disruption of the social ties on which she has hitherto relied (Brenner 1996:675). Hoodfar in her studies discussed that the veil allows Muslim women to participate in public life and the wider community on their own, without compromising their own cultural and religious values (Hoodfar 1991:15). The veil is not just a concrete thing, a piece of cloth. It is indeed the attempt to reduce the attractions of any woman to the lowest possible degree in her behavior, conversation, and in ways of sitting and standing (Gole 1996:93).
The veil offers many advantages but Zenie-Ziegler discussed the economic benefit. As he said, the veil is that it can be a means of disguising poverty and of overcoming shame (Zenie-Ziegler 1988 cited in Mule and Barthel 1992:329). Many scholars also said veil offers a practical solution to their inability to purchase better clothing. It overcomes feelings of inferiority in an urban world of fashion (Hatem 1986; Moshen 1985; Ibrahim 1982). The veil can serve women as a form of symbolic shelter that, as a portable extension of the secluded space of the home, enables them to enter public, space without being subjected to criticism or harassment (Brenner 1996:674). The veil is also influenced by fashion and currently, media is also taking women towards new trends of the veil as it is said in following lines that “Media somehow give pressure to them to have a perfect look wearing hijab….Muslim designers started to mix the hijab with the latest fashion” (Latiff, Alam, 2013,p. 50). The Islamic fashion industry created a „modern? but „religious? veiled woman image through new consumption practices and commercial products (Deniz, 2014, p.244). Scholar explained that women wear the hijab as a way of symbolically gaining freedom from capitalism (Doblado, n.d.: p.7).
Accordingly, this study proposed following variables of using veil such that religious obligation, cultural practice, Socio-economic perspective and increasing trend of fashion. Researcher proposed the following hypotheses on the basis of above discussed variables.
H1. The religious obligation is likely to result in veiling among females.
H2. Cultural practices are likely to result in veiling among females.
H3. Socio-economic perspective is likely to result in veiling among females.
H4. Increasing trend of fashion is likely to result in veiling among females.
Discussion and Conclusion
The veiling is one of the increasing trends in this modern world. The veil is a type of clothing which is used to wrap the body of a female from head to ankle. The word veiling originally means hijab and the Islamic dressing style of women is called as ‘veiling’ (Deniz, 2014, p. 240). According to Qur’an (24:31), this word refers to “… to wrap their head-covers over their chests (Qur’an cited in Chen, Akat, Xen, and Song, 2014 p.208). It (veil) turns into a religious order and practice based on Islamic decretals for Muslims (Deniz, 2014, p. 240).
There are different patterns of veiling articles used among females such as burqa, Niqab, chador, abaya, and headscarf. ). The burqa is a full-length garment covering a woman from head to foot, typically black in color (Human Rights Commission, 2005, p.8). The niqab is a veil that covers the face but leaves the eyes uncovered. Unlike the burqa, the Niqab does not have a concealing net for the eye region” (Nayebzadah, 2010, p.56). A Chador is a large piece of cloth that is wrapped around the head and upper body leaving only the face exposed, worn especially by Muslim women (Online oxford living dictionary). An Abaya is a robe-like dress which covers the whole body except the face, feet, and hands. A headscarf is a square of fabric worn by women as a covering for the head, often folded into a triangle and knotted under the chin (Online oxford living dictionary).
Wearing hijab is also the most visible difference between Muslim women and western women. Therefore, hijab is a symbol of Muslim women (Chen, Akat, Xen, and Song, 2014 p.208). The veil is considered as the symbol of modesty and protection from strange man’s glance in society. The significance of the veil is to be modest, as modesty ostensibly helps guard women against sexual abuse in the public arena (Saeed, Marouan, 2013, p.105). Women wearing hijab have expressed that dressing modestly and covering their hair, minimize sexual harassment in the workplace (Arshad, Basar, Zafar and Ahmad, 2012, p.62).
Nowadays, the use of the veil (hijab) as a custom (ada) rather than a religious duty (fard)…these people are in fact no different than those who argue against the hijab and who say that the hijab is (an expression of) culture (and therefore a matter of personal choices), rather than a religious command” (Nur and Fatima cited in Mahmood 2005:50). The veil as a symbol of, among other things, an Islamic identity, culture, and civilization (Hussain cited in Mahmood 2005:52). The veil provides change to females in their social and personal identity as well as make them more confident to participate in public life. Wearing the veil is seen as a coping strategy women use to gain or maintain societal esteem (Mule and Barthel 1992:323).
In this global world, the veil has also been associated with fashion. Although veil is considered as the symbol of religious piety whereas fashion is concerned veil is emerging in the fashion industry and it tends to look for attractiveness (Chen, Akat, Xen, and Song, 2014 p.213). Islamic fashion or veiling fashion is getting more and more attention (Deniz, 2014, p. 243). Fashion shows and talk shows are being organized to explore the new and latest ways of wearing a trendy veil to beautify the wearer and look attractive to others. The trendy veil helps women to look much prettier, attractive and fashionable. By attiring veil woman’s look for freedom of choice and self-identity (Chen, Akat, Xen, and Song, 2014 p.209).
Muslim women considered veil as the religious obligation because it is directed into seven verses of Qur’an to cover your body. However, this bodily practice is not only influenced by the religious orders but it is also affected by the cultural practices, socio-economic perspectives and increasing trend of fashion. The researcher has developed and conceptualization to know the main causes of veiling. This conceptual paper contributes to the existing causes and patterns of veiling literature by suggesting a combination of causes of veiling that provides theoretical arguments.