Every single thing about a woman is beautiful.

Her feminine facial features, small shoulders, and waist line. Her hands and fingers. Her legs and feet. Her smooth skin and shiny hair. Even her voice has a softer inflection. All these features of a woman are created by Allah SWT with such beauty that when only just one part is seen in isolation she can be admired.

Allah SWT created women as part of half of humanity and not as a trial for men or as an object for his enjoyment. But women have been reduced to this level. We are bombarded by giant sized bill-boards, countless magazines and a thriving industry called Hollywood advertising a woman’s beauty without restraint.

So much so that even Muslim women are trying to fit a skeletal, painted face and air-brushed mould sacrificing their Islamic dress code. Some women have adapted wearing a head scarf with modern fashion pieces and dubbing themselves “hijabis”, compartmentalising Muslim women into categories of dress – niqabi, hijabi, abaya sister and Muslim fashionista.

In order to fit in, Muslim women have neglected to observe the Islamic dress code ordained by Allah SWT. Cii Radio spoke to Mufti Ismail Menk about what constitutes modest dress for Muslims.

“The Shariah has placed a guideline or framework within which we should find ourselves covering. It is important for us to note before we even say what the general framework is that clothing is so important that it actually attracts us to the opposite sex when we are clothed properly,  in the correct way.”

The concept of Hijab makes us attracted to the opposite sex in the correct way allowing one to seek the permissible means of being in the company of the opposite sex. Whereas abandoning this Hijab, allows us to be attracted to each other in the wrong way explained Mufti.

“Allah SWT enhances the beauty of an individual when they are covered in a specific way… This is the strength or power of clothing.”

A woman’s entire body,with few exceptions, must be covered. The nature of the material and the dress fit must be considered when covering oneself. Fabric which is not too thin such that it is see through and not too thin that it depicts the precise shape of the body and reveals “the organs of the body” must be used.  Clothing must be of a fit that is loose bearing the same objective in mind.

Women should make an effort to cover the face. It is a religious injunction and something that a woman should aspire to do. “… but the bare minimum would be the satr of Salaah. A woman is not allowed to fulfil Salaah if her hair is showing or her legs are showing,” said Mufti, “When we do this for the sake of our Maker we will find so much of social bliss, marital bliss, goodness within the home and we will automatically become role models for our children without even uttering a single word.”

Right at the beginning when Allah SWT created Adam AS and Hawa AS they were not in need of clothing because Allah SWT created them in a way where their “shame” – private areas, was covered. After their mistake was committed they found themselves exposed and immediately they drew from whatever they could from around them to cover themselves as best as they could.

“It is part of human nature and the plan of Allah SWT that we cover ourselves to cover the private areas and for beautification.”

Funerals are rapidly becoming the only place where women observe modest dress, ironically as a sign of respect for the dead.

“It is important for us to know and understand that it is our Maker, Allah SWT who has ordained it [hijab] and He does not ordain things for nothing. Everything He has sent down, if we follow it we will receive fruits in return, we will taste and feel and benefit from the fruits of following the instructions of Allah SWT.”

Similarly, explained the Mufti, discarding Allah’s SWT instructions has consequences. “We will definitely have to taste the bitterness of having allowed the fruit to rot or of having discarded that entire gift of Allah SWT. The gifts of Allah SWT are not there to benefit Allah but in fact are there to benefit us.”

A woman’s hijab extends from her dress code, her speech (the way she speaks and what she speaks about), and her gaze being governed. The Shariah places a lot of importance on lowering the gaze and has been mentioned specifically in the Quran because the eyes can be guilty of instigating the inner self to pursue something that is impermissible.

There is a misguided notion that lowering the gaze was something perfected by saints of the past. Another misplaced notion is that lowering the gaze gives a free pass to being in places where Haraam is condoned.

“If we are to control our eyes for the sake of Allah do you know the amount of coolness we feel within our own homes, with our own spouses, with our families, we feel so comfortable, so much appreciation with the spouse that we have whereas if we allow our eyes to wander we become people who are never ever satisfied and this is the beauty of lowering the gaze, the person will become satisfied with what they have.”

The world is run by a capitalist system which has over time built and normalised a culture where a woman’s body is the product and a man’s desire the buyer. The advertising, entertainment and sex industry have cheapened a woman’s status to the point that Muslim women have allowed themselves to use its tools as a means of “catching a man” or being accepted in society.

While women fight for equality they have allowed themselves to become pawns to a system created by men at the expense of their self esteem, dignity and actual rights, chasing unrealistic images of what constitutes beauty. The absurdity that a woman who is barely clad is exercising a freedom of choice has become so normal that it is taboo to utter otherwise.

Husbands, fathers and brothers have become afraid to exercise their duty of insisting that the women in their trust dress decently because women have forgotten the laws of Allah SWT and are choosing to live by those driven by the morally corrupt. Such that comical images of bearded Muslim men, donning a thaub, walking hand in hand with their cleavage bearing wives are the norm.

There is also negligence in the clothing worn while performing Salaah. It is taken very lightly that women don’t think twice about standing before Allah SWT during Salaah wearing a skinny jeans and tight fitting top. Another common “malpractice” is that a dua is being delivered by respected moulanas at weddings to women – and men – dressed to the immodest nines with their coiffed hair on display.

It has become commonplace for a Muslim woman to dress in anything but Islamic attire and she appeases herself with the slogan that “what really matters lies on the inside”. Allah SWT says in the Quran, “the clothing of piety, that is the best”.

Mufti explains this as, “The clothing of piety refers to many things, one’s character and conduct. That is an extension of your clothing.” A woman who is dressed well Islamically and is vulgar or her character is questionable is defeating the purpose. The outer garment must make apparent what is on the inside.

“In the type of clothing that we wear there is a constant upward movement in terms of earning closeness to Allah throughout our lives. Where I am today should be better than where I was yesterday, no matter who I am because I can still improve.”

The body is a trust from Allah SWT, how we cover this amaanah is determined by Allah SWT. A woman’s sincere acceptance and practice of Allah SWT instructions is a mark of faithfulness, a symbol of her identity as a Muslim woman and protection of her dignity.

S Suliman – Cii Radio | 10 February 2014/09 Rabu ul Akhir 1435