Freedom of Religions Purdah and Veiling Women and Islam

Essence of Islam: The Veil

The Promised Messiahas wrote over 80 books in Arabic, Urdu, and Persian. Excerpts of his collected works have been translated into English and organized by topic. The Review of Religions is pleased to present these excerpts as part of a monthly feature. This month’s topic, on the much-misunderstood veil, explores the meaning and significance behind the controversial fabric.

Extracts from the Writings, Speeches, Announcements and Discourses of the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas

The Philosophy Behind the Veil

A fair-minded person will appreciate that the free mixing of men and women and their going about together would expose them to the risk of succumbing to the flare of their emotions. It has been observed that some people see no harm in a man and woman being alone together behind closed doors. This is considered civilized behaviour. To avoid such untoward situations from arising, the Law-Giver of Islam has forbidden all such acts as might prove to be a temptation for anyone.

In a situation of this kind where a man and a woman, whom the law does not allow to meet thus, happen to meet privately, Satan becomes the third member of this party. Imagine the harm that is being done in Europe in consequence of such reckless freedom. In certain parts of Europe a life of shameless promiscuity is being led which is the end product of such thinking. If you want to save a trust, you have to stand guard over it. But if you are not watchful, then remember that despite the people being ostensibly nice, the trust will definitely be violated. Islamic teaching in this behalf safeguards social life against unlawful indulgence by keeping men and women apart. Free mixing leads to the kind of destruction of family life and frequent suicides that have become common in Europe. That some women, who otherwise belong to noble families adopt the ways of prostitutes, is the direct result of the prevailing freedom.

Malfuzat, vol. 5, p. 33

The Islamic system of the veil does not at all require women to be shut up as in a prison. What the Holy Qur’an directs is that women should avoid displaying their beauty and should not look at strange men. Those women who have to go out in order to fulfil their responsibilities may do so, but they must guard their glances.

Malfuzat, vol. 1, p. 430

However much the Aryas may dislike the Muslims and be averse to Islamic teachings, I would earnestly request them not to do away with the veil completely, as the resulting evils will make themselves felt sooner or later. Any intelligent person will appreciate that a large portion of humanity is governed by natural desires and, under the sway of the baser self, pays no heed to Divine chastisement. At the sight of young and beautiful women most men cannot help but stare. Women too do not hesitate to stare at strangers. Such unrestricted freedom will result in the kind of situation prevalent in Europe today. When people become truly purified and shed their baser appetites, and get rid of the Satanic spirit and when they have the fear of God in their eyes, and when they become fully conscious of the majesty of God, and they bring about a transformation and adorn the robes of Taqwa, only then will they have the right to do what they like; for then they will be like pawns in God’s hands and, in a manner of speaking, they will cease to be males, their eyes will become oblivious to the sight of women and to such evil thoughts. But dear ones, may God direct your hearts, the time is not right for this. If you usher in freedom today, you will sow a poisonous seed in your culture. These are difficult times. Even if it was not needed before, the veil is essential now, because this is the last era of mankind, and the earth is full of vice, debauchery and drunkenness. Hearts are filled with atheism and are devoid of respect for Divine commandments. Tongues are so loquacious and lectures are loaded with logic and philosophy, but the hearts are empty of spirituality. At such a time it would be a folly to expose your helpless sheep to the mercy of wolves.

Lecture Lahore, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 20, pp. 173-174