The need for the woman to cover in front of a male stranger (ghayri maḥram) is one of the important Islamic issues. In the Holy Qur’an itself, there has been an order in this regard. In essence, therefore, one cannot doubt about the Islamic dimension of the subject.
Woman’s covering of herself from a male stranger is one of the manifestations of the need for segregation between male and female strangers. In the same manner, the impermissibility of a private meeting between a male and a female stranger is also one of its manifestations. This subject must be discussed under five headings:
1. Is covering (ḥijāb) among the peculiarities of Islam and after the advent of Islam, has it been adopted by non-Muslims from the Muslims? Or, is it not among the peculiarities of Islam and the Muslims, and did it also exist among other nations prior to Islam?
2. What is the reason behind covering?
As we know, there is no such restriction between male and female animals, as they freely have intercourse with one another. The primordial law of nature dictates that human beings must also be like that. How comes that there is such restriction and segregation between man and woman that takes the form of woman’s covering and others?
It is not exclusive to covering, for there is also such question in sexual ethics. The same question is raised regarding the issue of modesty and chastity. On sexual matters, animals do not feel a sense of shame, but there is the issue of modesty and chastity among human beings, and among women in particular.
3. What is the philosophy behind covering from the Islamic point of view?
4. What are the questions and objections?
5. What are the parameters of the Islamic covering (ḥijab)?
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?
These are questions which this book addresses.
Obviously, this book is NOT the same, and MUCH THICKER than, the one by the same author, which has been published many years ago under the title ON THE ISLAMIC HIJAB or ISLAMIC MODEST DRESS.