My husbad is Muslim and has talked frequently about me becoming Muslim myself. I just have one concern... the women being covered. Why do they need to cover themselves and only reveal what is odinarily revealed. I am American, we reveal almost the entire body here. I just want to get an understanding.
There can be no doubt that Allaah only enjoins that in which there is wisdom, but in some cases the wisdom behind some rulings may be hidden from people, and in some cases it may be quite obvious – such as the prohibition on alcohol which clouds the mind and hinders people from the remembrance of Allaah and from prayer [cf. al-Maa'idah 5:91].
The wisdom behind the prescription of hijab is one of the most clear, because it is a covering for woman and guards their chastity, and it prevents the foolish from making approaches and harassing them. How often has a woman’s hijab prevented the devils among mankind from harrassing her? How often have unveiled women made a display of their beauty and charms, which has led to their being harrassed by the foolish? Concerning this, Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“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 Allaah is Ever Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful”
This verse gives the complete answer to your question, because Allaah mentions here the command to His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to tell his wives and daughters and the believing women to wear hijab, and it mentions the wisdom behind that, which is so that they may be protected and not exposed to annoyance.
When women go out showing most of their bodies – as the questioner mentions – this is one of the greatest causes of crime and corruption of men’s morals, and of the spread of immorality. It is also degrading for woman, as we see women becoming cheap products for business-owners and advertisers, who show woman half-naked and devoid of modesty in order to attract customers and market their products.
A woman’s body belongs to her and is not to be shared with people. When she gets married it belongs to her husband and she should not let anyone else have a share in it. What does a woman want when she shows her body and exposes her charms to onlookers? Does she just want them to look and stare, and what is the affect of that on rapists and the foolish? How are you going to stop them from getting what they want by attacking you and trying to rape you. Are you going to show some meat to the hungry and then try to stop them from eating it?
In a modern study it was shown that:
65% of female workers are exposed to sexual harassment in their place of work in some European countries.
18% of women in America have been raped or been subjected to attempted rape at some stage in their lives.
More than half of victims were under the age of 17.
Kitaab Ihsaa’aat, Diraasaat, Arqaam (p. 140).
Islamic sharee’ah brought that which is best for men and for women, and for the family and society. It does not impose restrictions on women as some enemies of Islam claim. Islam allows women to work, seek knowledge, engage in business, testify in court, uphold the ties of kinship, visit the sick, and so on, but it has set limits regarding her going out in order to protect her and to prevent the foolish from harassing her.
We say to the questioner:
Many western women, when they think about it and come to know the reality of Allaah’s laws concerning women, do not hesitate to declare their Islam and enter into the religion of the Prophets and the righteous.
In Islam, women are protected and looked after. That is not in return for her staying in the home only, rather that is because she plays a great role, which is taking care of her husband and raising and caring for children. This is an important role, because the soundness or corruption of society depends on the extent to which mothers are successful in their raising and teaching of their children.
One of the largest British insurance companies carried out a study on one million housewives, which produced amazing results. This study showed that the average full-time housewife spends 19 hours per day meeting the needs of her family, because she is the one who is raising the children, teaching them, looking after family members when they fall sick, and is responsible for the household budget.
In addition to that – looking at what the houswife’s value from a purely materialistic point of view, far removed from any emotional criteria – a woman who stays at home is the most valuable thing the family can have.
Op. cit., p. 118, 119
It has become clear to many wise women the serious danger posed by the false freedom that they are enjoying and they have finally realized where this path will lead them. It is stated in another study that:
80% of American women think that the freedom that women have gained in the last 30 years is the reason for the promiscuity and violence that are prevalent nowadays.
75% feel worried about the loss of values and the disintegration of the family.
80% have great difficulty in combining their responsibilities at work with their responsibilities towards their husbands and children.
87% said that if the clock was turned back they would consider the demands for equality as a social conspiracy against the United States and they would resist those who raise the banner of equality.
op. cit., p. 147
All it needs is for you to think about the matter a little, and look at real life, and you will see that hijab spares women from evil, harm and crimes. Islam has closed the door to such evils with its laws, including the requirement for women past the age of puberty to wear hijab.
Finally we would like to congratulate you on the fact that Allaah has granted you a Muslim husband, so that you will be able to see Islam in practice from him and his Muslim relatives, which may encourage you to enter Islam and which may remove the barrier of fear about entering this great and purely monotheistic religion. Also note that entering this final religion, which Allaah wants for all people, is a great honour of which you may be deprived if you delay and death then overtakes you. So hasten to enter Islam, with submission to the will of Allaah, with eagerness and delighting in this blessing of Allaah.
You should note that if you fall short in your observance of hijab because your human weakness or you feel embarrassed in front of your people, this is regarded as a sin. That should not prevent you from doing the great good deed which will lead you to Paradise and save you from Hell, namely embracing Islam. You should also note that the Shaytaan (Satan) is the enemy of all the sons of Adam, and he is the one who is stirring up these doubts in order to prevent you from entering this religion, so that he can increase the number of those who will follow him to Hell. So be strong and courageous in making the decision that will lead to eternal happiness, by Allaah’s leave. We ask Allaah to help you and to give you the will power to enter Islam as our sister in Islam, and to share this blessing. We thank you for your confidence in us.
And Allaah is the Guide to the Straight path.