Syed MA Rahman discusses how a Muslimah meets the requirements of Islamic modesty in dress and sets out their Quranic background.
Hijab is a word that indicates not just the headscarf but clothing in its entirety which meets the following conditions :
1. Clothing must cover the entire body, only the hands and face may remain visible (According to some Fiqh Schools) .
2. The material must not be so thin that one can see through it.
3. The clothing must hang loose so that the shape / form of the body is not apparent.
4. The female clothing must not resemble the man's clothing.
5. The design of the clothing must not resemble the clothing of the non believing women.
6. The design must not consist of bold designs which attract attention.
7. Clothing should not be worn for the sole purpose of gaining reputation or increasing one's status in society.
The reason for this strictness is so that the woman is protected from the lustful gaze of men. She should not attract attention to herself in any way. It is permissible for a man to catch the eye of a woman , however it is haram (unlawful) for a man to look twice as this encourages lustful thoughts.
Islam protects the woman. It is for this reason that Allah gave these laws. In today's society womankind is being exploited, female sexuality is being openly used in advertising, mainly to attract the desires of men and therefore sell the product. Is the woman really free in today's society ? The answer is obviously no, the constant bombardment by the media as to how the ideal woman should look and dress testifies to this.
Islam liberated woman over 1400 years ago. Is it better to dress according to man or God ?
Allah has stated in the Quran that women must guard their modesty.
" Say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty ; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof. " [Quran : 24.31]
" Say to the believing man that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty ; that will make for greater purity for them, and God is well acquainted with all they do. " [Quran : 24.30]
" And O ye believers turn ye all together toward God, so that ye may attain bliss." [Quran : 24.31]
With this I should conclude that Allah has given us guidance through the Quran and Sunnah, He also given us the logic and commonsense to apply these in our everyday life. However, Allah is not unreasonable and understands the mankind’s weakness and to this I will refer you to the hadith in Sahih Al-Bukhari.
Narrated (Abu Huraira):
The Prophet said, "Religion (Islam) is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded; and gain strength by offering the prayers in the mornings, afternoons and during the last hour of the night." [1:38-O.B.]
In the link below you will find a book written on this issue: The debate on Muslim women's dress is endless. The sisters who opt for niqab (face veil) may appear to be brave, but we need to dispel the notion that niqab is what is originally required by the Qur'an, and the hijab is a later modified version of the original. In fact the other way round is true. The sisters who don the ordinary hijab can rest assured that they are following the injunctions of the Qur'an and Sunnah to the letter, and in their true spirit. In these essays, Dr. Syed Mutawalli ad-Darsh examines the subject from the point of view of the Qur'an, Sunnah, and Ijma. Dr. ad-Darsh, who recently passed away, was an eminent 'alim living in UK. His deep Islamic knowledge combined with years of experience in the west, make him particularly qualified to relate the teachings of Islam to modern societies.
Link: Hijab or Niqab (Muslim Women's' Dress)
Source : www.talkislam.co.uk @ http://www.islamfortoday.com/7conditions.htm