Historically speaking, the present style of clothing or Hijab adopted by Muslim women goes back to the early centuries after the advent of Islam. Yet, we can say that Hijab, as a particular way of clothing for women, was founded neither by Islam nor any other particular religion. Clothing is one of natural human needs. It is especially important for women because they can protect themselves from social problems through Hijab.
Covering body by clothing is peculiar to man. Some scientists believe that only human beings and particularly women are equipped with an instinctive inclination to natural modesty and chastity manifested in behavior. They hold that this characteristic is vital for collective life in human society. Appropriate clothing is necessary for human beings for several reasons. Among them are the following.
1. Among all the species of animal, only human body is straight and vertical. Therefore, human beings lack any natural covering. So, they need artificial cover in order to protect the body from natural dangers such as cold.
2. Sexual faculty is ever active in human species unlike other species of animal the sexual faculty of which is activated periodically in special seasons or epochs of their life.
3. Human sexual faculty is so structured that human beings tend to derive pleasure in womanizing and is not instinctively satisfied by one sexual partner. This faculty is stimulated by a glance at the opposite sex. It never seizes working unless at the stage of utter impotency.
4. Besides sexual need, there is a particular force attracting women to men and vice versa. We may call this force emotional thirst. It is far more difficult to meet this need than to meet the sexual. Hijab helps control this factor.
5. Throughout history, nakedness has always been considered as a sort of abnormality. It has been against the natural human disposition. The only exception to this fact is some of the present westernized societies. According to the Quran, nakedness constitutes one of the snares of the Satan . Since clothing is a human natural instinctive need, all divine religions and the majority of non-divine ones have incorporated Hijab as a prominent principle in their precepts.
There are other reasons why proper clothing is necessary for human beings in order to control sexual drive. Based on this fact, we see that hardly can any creed or religion be found that overlooks a particular clothing pattern especially for women. The Quran describes clothing as a sort of ornamentation and a sign of His in Sura Aaraf verse 26. All religions have attended to the issue of clothing to different degrees.
In modern age, religious style of life requires a deep study of the question of Hijab. It should be explained that Hijab is not only a cliché or some secondhand traditional habit. It is essential to show that Hijab’s role is indispensable in safeguarding women’s chastity and men’s tranquility. In recent decades, much effort has been put into highlighting the negative aspects of this religious subject and undermining its positive role. We can even claim that Muslim and non-Muslim women informed of the benefits of Hijab would take a far different and positively biased attitude to it. After decades of tremendous pressure on Hijab and negative propaganda against it, it is now high time women realized that the only way to secure their rights is to tread a path entirely different from what they have so far trodden. In fact, Hijab is the best if not the only means to protect women and safeguard their chastity.
A recent Study conducted by two anthropologists about the history of clothing of men and women in 5000 years indicates that until early 19th century, women used to wear a long dress that completely covered their body. During this long period, the only changes seen in the way of clothing relate to the outer shape, color, and decoration of the dresses made of textile that covered the whole body throughout. These changes are in proportion to varying cultural, social, and geographical parameters affecting civilization features of different nations. It is only after French revolution and the British Industrial Revolution that substantial changes in women’s style of clothing are observed. Not only various new ornaments and shapes are introduced, but the degree of covering the body drastically alters. The new clothes no more cover the legs, the hands, and the upper chest above the breast .