By Zeeshan Rasool Khan
January 17, 2019
I may be labelled as an orthodox, extremist, parochial, and even archaic, but for the sake of Islamic principles, such critical language is acceptable to me. Although the point that I want to make makes no sense for other religions but in our religion Islam, it has credibility. And, that point of discussion is ‘modesty’. In fact, there is a reason behind writing this article and that is the New Year Eve.
One of my friends contacted me and after sending, some salacious pictures that circulated on social sites asked me to come up with writing. It was not only my friend who was stunned but I too felt that there is something wrong. What added gravity to this problem is the place? It did not happen in India or any other western part of the world but in the country, which is prefixed ‘Islamic’ and whose incumbent Prime Minister substitutes ‘State of Madina’ for its actual name with religious orators terming it as ‘Country based on Quran & Sunnah’. And, public calling it the land of pure (Pakistan).
Islam has stressed upon modesty and repeatedly has urged its followers to be modest because modesty forms virtue of this religion. Modesty, the comprehensive term derived from the Latin word modestus meaning ‘keeping within measure’ implies the mode of dress and deportment of a person, which can avert and discourage sexual stimulation and activity. Here In this write-up, I would restrict myself to the mode of dressing because pictures that made rounds on social media were related to the immodest dressing of females.
Our religion Islam is a complete code of life. It guides a person in all his aspects. The religion that teaches minor and trivial thing like the ‘way of looking into the mirror’ hardly would miss the topic like clothing. Truly Islam instructs us on dressing as well.
"O children of Adam (which includes both males and female), we have bestowed upon you clothing to cover your private parts and as adornment. But the clothing of righteousness - that is best. That is from the signs of Allah that perhaps they will take heed" (7:26).
At next place, Quran elaborates with a great deal of exposition the ruling as to how women must be dressed up, and where she should reveal her ornamentation. Quran says;
“And tell the believing women to cast down their looks and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their head covers over their chests. And not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers, their brothers' sons, their sisters' sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And nor should they stamp their feet on the ground so that their concealed ornaments becomes revealed. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, which you might succeed” (24:31).
After merging the inferences from the above-mentioned Quranic verses we find that the Quran candidly explains the utility of clothing (for both men and women) that is to hide the (sexual) body parts in particular. Thus, the costly dress, not sufficient to hide the body or revealing, cannot be termed as the best garment. However, if a simple and inexpensive cloth will serve the purpose of concealing the body and upholding your virtue, it is fair than that of so-called ‘branded and expensive dress’.
It is important to mention, that Islam does not limit our freedom and does not press us to be old-fashioned. Instead, Islam has given us freedom in this regard as is evident from a word like ‘Adornment’. Moreover, Holy Prophet (PBUH) said, "Allah is beautiful and loves beauty" (Sahih Muslim). Thus, in the view of Quran & Hadith, we can legitimately conclude that Allah wants us to be beautified, but this beautification must maintain our status in society and must not lead anyone of us to debauchery.
Precisely, Islam does not proscribe fashion, it has not urged us to be antique rather it wants us to be chaste. It commands us not to blur the line between adornment and obscenity. The objective of Islam, in fact, is to see its followers progressing with esteem. It does not want its men and women to bypass ethics.
Also, it does not prefer the women to be called sex-object; the term that provocative dress-up may engender. It aims at protecting our chastity. Islam teaches us to purify self, family, and society of moral evils. That is key to a progressive and flawless, community, society, and nation. Both men and women need to follow teachings, however, a woman with a central role in society has much responsibility. A woman is undoubtedly a natural teacher and guide of a child. When guide would be free of imperfection, chances of having perfect students, thus citizens are more, which eventually can affect our society positively.
Some may express disagreement with the opinion that dress code influences people and society. However, psychological studies carried out by Edmond and Cahoon supports the view that clothes matter and make a huge difference. Their studies indicate that those women who wear revealing clothes are more prone to be either robbed or raped and more likely to provoke such attack – heinous acts that are detrimental to all and sundry. Other studies carried by a psychologist under the supervision of Ben Fletcher revealed that people often rate a person less favourably when a person’s dress style is revealing or provocative while for people wearing modest clothes reverse is true, thus impinging upon one’s reputation. Hence exercising modesty especially with regard to outfit is important. Really, modesty is itself a beauty, plus guard to virtue.
To conclude, all the Muslim countries need to incorporate the teachings of Islam in their policies and countries/states boasting of their religion and Islamic system of governance need to abide by the rules of Islam, which are beautiful and favorable by their nature. However, it is not possible without our joint efforts, starting from a personal level.