The Muslim woman was given a role, duties and rights 1400 years ago that most women do not enjoy today, even in the West
Islam declared women and men equal.
Islam condemned pre-Islamic practices degrading and oppressing women.
Islam does not require woman to change her name at marriage.
Islam protects the family and condemns the betrayal of marital fidelity. It recognizes only one type of family: husband and wife united by authentic marriage contract.
"Heaven is at the feet of mothers", is a basic Islamic teaching.
"The best of you are the kindest to their wives and I am your best to mine", is a teaching by prophet Mohammad.
Islam enjoins sounds morality in thinking, behavior and appearance. Dress fashions and social patterns that reduce woman to a sex object and exploit her as such are not acceptable to Islam.
The observance of chastity and moral standards is equally demanded by Islam from both men and women. "Women are the siblings of men", is a saying of prophet Mohammad.
The same injunctions and prohibitions of Islam equally apply to both sexes.
Islam gave woman the right of inheritance and the right of individual independent ownership unhampered by father, husband, brother, son or anyone else.
Islam gave women the right to accept or reject a marriage proposal free from pressure, and by mutual agreement to specify in the marriage contract that she has the right to divorce (if she misses that option she has the right to seek court divorce if she deems the marriage to have failed beyond repair).
Men and women though equal are not identical, and eachcompliments the other in the different roles and functions that they are responsible to. " From an Islamic perspective, to view a woman as a sex symbol is to denigrate her. Islam believes that a woman is to be judged by her [virtuous] character and actions rather than by her looks or physical features" (Takim, 22). In the article, "My Body Is My Own Business", Ms. Naheed Mustafa , a young Canadian born and raised, university-educated Muslim woman writes, "The Quran [ which is the Holy Book for Muslims] teaches us that men and women are equal, that individuals should not be judged according to gender, beauty, wealth or privilege. The only thing that makes one person better than another is his or her character." She goes on to say, "In the Western world, the hijab has come to symbolize either forced silence or radical, unconscionable militancy. Actually, its neither. It is simply a woman's assertion that judgement of her physical person is to play no role whatsoever in social interaction."
Muslims believe that God gave beauty to all women, but that her beauty is not be seen by the world, as if the women are meat on the shelf to be picked and looked over. When she covers herself she puts herself on a higher level and men will look at her with respect and she is noticed for her intellect , faith ,and personality, not for her beauty. In many societies, especially in the West, women are taught from early childhood that their worth is proportional to their attractiveness and are compelled to follow the male standards of beauty and abstract notions of what is attractive, half realizing that such pursuit is futile and often humiliating (Mustafa). Chastity , modesty, and piety are promoted by the institution of veiling. The hijab in no way prevents a woman from playing her role as an important individual in a society nor does it make her inferior." (Takim,22)
A Muslim woman may wear whatever she pleases in the presence of her husband and family or among women friends. But when she goes out or when men other than her husband or close family are present she is expected to wear a dress which will cover [her hair and] all parts of her body , and not reveal her figure. What a contrast with Western fashions which every year concentrate quite intentionally on exposing yet another erogenous zone to the public gaze! The intention of Western dress is to reveal the figure, while the intention of Muslim dress is to conceal [and cover] it, at least in public (Lemu,25).
The Muslim woman does not feel the pressures to be beautiful or attractive, which is so apparent in the Western and Eastern cultures. She does not have to live up to expectations of what is desirable and what is not. Superficial beauty is not the Muslim woman's concern, her main goal is inner spiritual beauty. She does not have to use her body and charms to get recognition or acceptance in society. It is very different from the cruel methods that other societies subject women, in that their worth is always judged by their physical appearance. The are numerous examples of discrimination at the workplace where women are either accepted or rejected, because of their attractiveness and sex appeal.
Another benefit of adorning the veil is that it is a protection for women. Muslims believe that when women display their beauty to everybody, they degrade themselves by becoming objects of sexual desire and become vulnerable to men, who look at them as " gratification for the sexual urge"(Nadvi,8). The Hijab makes them out as women belonging to the class of modest chaste women, so that transgressors and sensual men may recognize them as such and dare not tease them out of mischief" (Nadvi, 20). Hijab solves the problem of sexual harrassment and unwanted sexual advances, which is so demeaning for women, when men get mixed signals and believe that women want their advances by the way they reveal their bodies.
The western idiology of, 'if you have it, you should flash it!' is quite opposite to the Islamic principle,where the purpose is not to bring attention to ones self, but to be modest. Women in so many societies are just treated as s ex symbols and nothing more than just a body who "display themselves to get attent ion" (Mustafa). A good example is in advertising, where a woman's body is used to sell products. Women are constantly degraded, and subjected to reveal more and more of themselves. .