In every tradition and culture, there is a concept of “appropriate dress.” Within the Islamic tradition, one essential principle regarding dress is that it not be indecent. Muslim men have a responsibility to dress modestly just as much as Muslim woman. In fact, “modesty” is not limited to clothing either. Muslim men are obligated to treat women with respect, dignity and honor. Ogling or leering at women is forbidden. Inappropriate touching or remarks are also forbidden. Making a woman feel that she is being objectified or harassed in any way is not only against Islamic principles and values, it is considered a serious character flaw.
“And tell the believing women that they should lower their gaze, guard their private parts, and not display their beauty except for what normally shows; and to draw their veils over their bosoms.” (Quran 24:31)
Modest dress and behavior is a divinely prescribed responsibility for Muslims of both genders. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) described modesty as the distinctive quality of Islam. And yet the hijab did not bar women from being prominent and active participants in the Prophet’s community. Whether it was in the field of worship, business, education, charitable work, community and even military service, women were acclaimed for their notable roles in the Prophetic era.
The hijab involves wearing clothing that is not tight fitting and that covers a woman’s body with the exception of her face, hands and feet. This is required when a woman would be in the presence of men who are not closely related to her. The hijab is not required in front of a woman’s father, husband, brothers, sons, grandfathers, grandsons, father-in-law, sons-in-law, nephews, minor male children or elderly men.
Men, whether they confess it or not, are slaves of lust and desire.
• Hijab protects women from such men; it symbolizes that she has been sanctified to one man only and is off-limit to all others.
• Hijab contributes to the stability and preservation of marriage and family by eliminating the chances of extramarital affairs.
• Finally, it compels men to focus on the real personality of the woman and de-emphasizes her physical beauty. It puts the woman in control of strangers’ reaction to her.
Not too long ago there used to be a very sexist saying that “Women should be seen and not heard.” At one time in the west the notion that women should be valued for their bodies but not valued for their minds was acceptable. A very similar sort of misogyny existed at the time of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, in 7th century Arabia. With the advent of Islam, the modest dress of a Muslim woman (hijab in Arabic) became a barrier to treating women as sexual objects. Interestingly enough, one of the meanings of the word hijab is barrier. The hijab not only forced men to think of women in different terms, it allowed women to understand that their true worth was far more than physical beauty. The Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him taught his followers “God does not look upon your bodies and wealth rather He looks toward your hearts and deeds.”
ref: http: www.al-islam.org