Is the Veil Islamic?
The Jaridah and the Sliaab of Cairo are now having a series of lively if lengthy controversial articles on the subject of the veil. The Jaridah favours the removal of the veil, while the Shaab prefers to remain conservative.
Writers in the first-mentioned journal declare that the veil is neither a Koranic nor Sunna institution, but an outgrowth of later times, and that the same may be said of the free relations between the sexes. It is true that some texts in the Koran mention the veil, but that happens only when referring to the wives of the Prophet, who were an exception to the rest of Womenkind. Moreover, legalists have always maintained that a woman's face and hands should not be covered, and that free contact between the sexes was not reprehensible. Some even have gone as far as allowing woman to dispense justice in court.
The veil, says the Jaridah, is neither a religious nor a racial institution. Observe how the fellah women go about uncovered and no adverse comment is passed on them. Why should the restriction be limited to women of the better classes? The veil grew out of men suspecting women, and out of jealousy.
The Shaab takes up the controversy and tries to prove that the veil is a divine institution. After quoting one or two Koranic texts in support of its arguments, it states that in early Islam women were obliged to cover their faces, with the exception of one eye, as was done by Obeidah. Others considered woman's hair an ornament, and ordered it to be hidden. As to mixing with the other sex, nothing could be more contrary to the mind of the Prophet, who even made it illegal for woman to attend mosques where men congregate, much less secular social gatherings.
The Almighty has forbidden woman to look at man's face as he has forbidden man to look at her face, for the Koran says "it is the eyes that lust." The Writer then quotes the following incident: "The Prophet one day had a lady visitor, when a blind man entered. "Hide your faces," called out the Prophet to his guest. The woman pleaded that the man was blind, whereupon the Prophet remarked, "He is blind, but you are not."
The Shaab concludes by saying that the above is the spirit of Islam which is contrary to the spirit of the age, that now tends to immorality and corruption.