Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
Hijab is the proper Islamic dress code, which is primarily intended to safeguard the modesty, dignity, and honor of men and women. Whereas a Muslim woman is required to wear hijab, a Muslim male is required to dress modestly and to lower his gaze and maintain Islamic decorum in relations with all women — and not just Muslim women.
In his response to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
You are right in stating that often there is a disproportionate emphasis on hijab and on how women should dress. It is true that there are issues of greater priority which must occupy our attention as men and women.
Having said this, however, it is also important for us to point out that proper modest attire for both men and women is part of the Qur’anic prescriptions; in the case of woman, it is often referred to as hijab.
Men have an equal responsibility to dress modestly and appropriately and to manifest Islamic qualities of chastity and proper decorum when interacting with members of the opposite sex.
Hijab, when understood in the proper Islamic context, can never be associated with oppression of women, for women during the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) never stayed behind anyone; they were assertive and participated fully in society.
It is true that that is not the case with Muslim women today, as they have been left behind; it is therefore the duty of all conscientious Muslims to restore women their God-given rights as revealed in the Qur’an.
Let us work together for achieving this noble goal. In this alone lies the progress of the Muslim Ummah.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.