Veiling In Islam

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Significant majority of the modern society strongly connects the practice of veiling with the patriarchal system established soon after the death of Muhammad, as a result of a set of gradual social changes. However, while looking from the perspective of the first Muslim women who wore them, namely Muhammad’s wives, one could argue that at the very core the reasons for veiling were highly political. Most importantly, the time when Muhammad gave the instructions in veiling was itself, to some extent, political. As Ahmed suggests, the regulation was most likely to be introduced after Khadija’s death, when Muhammad had been married to several wives.1 This could suggest that Muhammad believed that his position is strong enough to sustain newly…show more content…
Had the reasons for veiling were purely religious, Muhammad, liberal towards both Christianity and Judaism, would not force his foreign bride to veil as his other Muslim wives3. However, his marriage to Safiyyah bint Huyayy proves otherwise. Not only was she of Jewish descent, but also a war prize, making it controversial whether Muhammad take her as a slave or marry her4. Marriage, which ended the speculations of the society, was actually confirmed by Muhammad “making her [Safiyyah] observe the veil.”5 The obvious tone of the hadith in determining the meaning of the act of veiling suggests an extent of how well-known was this practice among the Muslim society – everybody knew that the veiled woman could only be Muhammad’s wife. Such use of veil could serve as sociopolitical statement, as it was not only dutifully observed, but also, to some extent, remained within its ancient meaning for a symbol of a pure, respectable women, present across the Mediterranean region6.This way, Muhammad’s wives were considered ‘pure’ even by their clothing, increasing their reputability and, and at the same time, providing social and political respect towards their…show more content…
Its political character, somehow inevitable due to a character of Muhammad’s position, did remain strong until the wives’ determination to preserve it gradually diminished. Therefore, I think that, at its core, old Mediterranean habit of veiling inspired the Muslim tradition, which reshaped it in a more political manner. Simultaneously, I believe that veils gained its negative connotations after Muhammad’s death, as their visual and symbolic power during his life was far too important to be

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