Mutahhari’s Replies to 5 Critiques on ‘The Issue of Hijab’

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest

Text, page 382

Does Islam advocate women behind the veil, just as the word ḥijāb means “covering”? Or, does Islam advocate woman to cover her body in front of a stranger man without forcing her not to attend a gathering? And concerning the second case, what is the extent of the covering? Should the face and two hands up to the wrist be covered as well? Or, is it that the head and the two arms must be covered while there is no such need for the face and the two hands up to the wrist? At any rate, does the issue called “privacy chastity” exist in Islam, or not? That is to say, does a third issue which is neither confinement behind the veil nor mixture of male and female exist, or not? In other words, does Islam advocate total segregation of men and women, or not?

[Critique:

Islam, as the author has admitted in the chapter on moral admonitions, is not only a supporter of covering (satr), but at least in the form of a moral admonition, it has also ordered staying behind the veil (pardehnishīnī), and the author has stated in the discussion here that Islam is only a supporter of covering and nothing else.]

Reply:

What has been said in the discussion on moral admonitions, and which we have inferred from all the arguments, is segregation and non-mixing, and not staying behind the veil, “and there is a long distance between them” (wa baynahumā būnun ba‘īdun).

***

Text, page 383:

History of Ḥijāb

  • Was There Covering (ḥijāb) in Other Nations Prior to the Advent of Islam?
  • The State of Ḥijāb during the Age of Ignorance in Arabia
  • Ḥijāb in the Jewish Community
  • Ḥijāb in Ancient Persia
  • Ḥijāb in India

[Critique:

This section is devoid of any utility. Inaccuracies have been quoted by several historians and then it has been pointed out that they are incorrect. This creates suspicion for the masses, and the discussion about them is not useful for those who have not read the writings of Russell,[1] Will Durant,[2] and the like, and may [even] be harmful. Such discussions only benefit those who have already encountered or are exposed to misgivings, such as the Society of Engineers, and therefore their publication to the public is wrong.]

Reply:

The objection is not justifiable. Only the likes of us who have hidden our heads under the snow so that we do not have to worry about a responsibility. These words are abhorrently quoted in hundreds of thousands of copies of magazines and newspapers every day (in addition to the books themselves). Khwājah Ḥāfiẓ has also heard them. A certain number of people in whom the situation cannot be changed whatever direction it turns cannot be the criterion.

***

Text, page 385:

From historical perceptive, my information is not complete. Our historical information is complete when we could be able to express a view about all the religious communities prior to the advent of Islam. What is somewhat obvious is that there was covering (ijāb) in some religious communities prior to the advent of Islam.

[Critique:

The truth is that historical debates on such issues are not firmly grounded, because historians have usually mixed their own conjectures into such issues, and therefore these debates, in addition to being of little value, are not firmly grounded.]

Reply:

Lack of attention to historical trends diminishes the value of subsequent arguments, and judgments are considered a product of ignorance. History also is not that invalid.

***

Text, page 386

As such, the usual covering among the Jewish Community – as we will explain later – is much stricter and harder than the Islamic covering.

[Critique:

This tone makes it clear that the order of Islam is strict, but the order of other religions is stricter; in other words, there is opposition to all religions but less to Islam.]

Reply:

Can an order be an order and be free of difficulty?! The word taklīf (duty or responsibility) is derived from the article kalfat which has the meaning of mushaqqat (hardship). What should not be is araj (impediment), which does not exist in Islam; Islam also speaks about lā araj (no impediment), and not lā kalafah (no difficulty), and [the word] ‘usr (difficulty) is also above kalfat.

***

Text, page 387:

He does say in volume 11, page 112 (Persian translation):

“The Arabs’ interaction with Persia was among the causes behind the prevalence of ijāb and sodomy in the Muslim territory. The Arabs were afraid of woman’s allurement and they always succumbed to it, reciprocating her natural influence with men’s typical doubt about her chastity and virtue. ‘Umar told his people to consult with women and act against their view. During the first century AH, the Muslims did not impose ijāb upon women. Men and women used to meet each other, walk side by side each other in the alleys, and pray in the mosque together. Ḥijāb and segregation became widespread during the period of Walid II[3] (126-127 AH).  Women’s seclusion started there such that men were prohibited from having sexual intercourse with them during their menstrual and post-natal bleeding periods.”

[Critique:

ijāb in these words of Will Durant means the same confinement behind the curtain (pardehnishīnī), and not [just] covering (satr), and it is not clear whether the author’s opinion here is a rejection or confirmation of Durant’s words. If it means rejection, then why does he himself say in some places that ijāb in Islam does not mean confinement behind the curtain, and if it means confirmation, mentioning it in this context is not correct.]

Reply:

Will Durant is the target; the subsequent sentences are very clear.


[1] Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970): a British philosopher, mathematician, and man of letters. [Trans.]

[2] Will(iam James) Durant (1885-1981): American educator and popular historian. He wrote the bestseller The Story of Philosophy (1926) and, with his wife Ariel (1898-1981) the 11-volume Story of Civilization. [Trans.]

[3] It refers to Walīd ibn Yazīd (709 – 744 CE), an Umayyad caliph who ruled from 743 until his assassination in 744, and succeeded his uncle, Hishām ibn ‘Abd al-Malik. [Trans.]


(An excerpt from Murtada Mutahhari, REPLIES TO CRITIQUES OF THE BOOK ‘THE ISSUE OF HIJAB’, trans. Mansoor Limba (ElziStyle.com), pp. 5-9.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *