"And say to the believing women that they lower their gaze and guard their modesty."
(Sura Nur. Ayat 31)
It should be clear to see that the way we Muslimah behave and the way we dress are inexplicably linked, in the same way that 'modern' girls display their intentions by their clothing.
A girl wearing a low cut dress or a skimpy bikini will probably be 'hunting for men', while a sister covered up from head to toe will be trying her best not to attract their attention.
The majority of men will recognize those intentions and will act on the signals given out by the clothing worn by a woman.
In most cases they will either accept the 'invitation' issued by the bikini clad girl or they will fantasize about doing so, while in general they will ignore the decently veiled sister.
What is less evident is the way in which our clothing affects our behavior,It is true that Muslimahs wearing full veils behave discreetly in public,After all, it is not much good veiling fully and then talking in a loud voice to every man we meet, or to go skipping down the street, veils blowing in the breeze, in a way that is sure to draw attentions to ourselves.
If we wanted to draw men's attention to us, we'd have gone out wearing the modern girl's low cut dress or skimpy bikini,So just by putting on our veils and concealing ourselves from the view of non Mahram, we are also changing how will behave.
At home I am known as something of a chatterer - I always have something to say on most subjects when I am with my sisters or my immediate family, I love to laugh and I am a hopeless giggler, someone who loves corny jokes.
I play noisily with my daughter, I often tease my sisters and generally fail to act my age at times.
When I dress myself to go outside, to leave the protective environment of my home, I alter my behavior radically,As I have said in another article ("My Voice Is Awrah."), I will hold my tongue away from my home, I won't laugh or giggle, and I will do my best to move about in a manner that does not draw attention to myself.
In that I am only doing what tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of proper hijaabi sisters are doing everyday all round the world , What is more individual to me is how I have found wearing full veiling has really helped me with one problem that has troubled me since childhood. But simply, I am hopelessly inquisitive and I can spend hours just standing around looking at people and places.
My parents recognized this part of my character when I was young, and I can remember my mother saying to me on many occasions, "Sameera, DON'T stare at that man; it's very rude." When I grew up and developed into a young woman, my long suffering mother took to quote the verse from the Holy Qur'an with which I started this article.
I DID try to stop staring at people and things, but my curiosity nearly Always meant that, sooner or later, the words of Sura Nur, Ayat 31, faded from my mind and I was back gazing about me, When I started wearing proper hijaab, I promised myself that I would try harder to keep my gaze lowered in public.
At times, I succeeded, but there were many times I failed so that the whole matter of 'Hijaab of the Eyes' became a personal jihad for me,And one that I frequently lost, as I am not too good at keeping my gaze lowered and not staring around me when I am out in public.
Then just before I married, I started to wear what I now like to call 'full hijaab' which is simply my normal outdoor attire but also with me wearing long socks under my skirts, gloves, long khimar and proper hijaab with a two layered eye veil,Almost immediately I realized that this new way of concealing myself from the sight of non-mahram had a totally unexpected benefit; it made me observe Hijaab of the Eyes whenever I had both veils lowered , When I realized this I very nearly disgraced myself and whooped with joy in public.
I am glad to say that I didn't quite go that far, but I was grinning broadly (but unseen!) when I made this discovery. ,I should explain that I had been advised by a sister who had worn full hijaab for many years that it was going to be necessary to wear two layers of gauze as eye veils ,As I was to find out, with just a single layer lowered to cover the narrow gap between my proper hijaab and head veil, I was able to see with little impairment of vision. I could read fairly small type,see and read street signs and recognize people quite distinctly.
But, as I mentioned in another article, a single layer of the type of material I had been advised to use did reveal the gap between the veils beneath it, and in bright light my eyes were partly visible. So, outside my house or when with non mahram, unless I really DID need sharp vision, I kept both veils lowered over my eyes all the time, It was when my eyes were properly concealed by both layers of over veils that I discovered how easy it now was to observe hijaab of the eyes. As I have said, with just one layer in place, I could see fairly clearly and the temptation to stare around me as I had always done was still there.
But with both layers lowered, my vision was darkened and, although I could move around in perfect safety, my view of the world was muted and indistinct enough to make gazing around me a worthless task,For the first time in my life I was not tempted to stare at all the 'exciting' things or people around me.
I could observe hijaab of the eyes with ease and, at long last, the words of that Sura could be obeyed with little effort on my part, When some time ago, I was discussing full veiling with a sister who is happy with 'normal' hijaab (no proper hijaab), she said that it must be awful not to be able to see properly because of the layers of veiling material in front of my eyes. "You must miss so much if you can't even see properly," she said to me. "And you must feel terribly cut off from everything like that." I had to smile at her words and then I quoted back the words of Sura Nur to her. I said to her that, as a Muslimah, there were many things on the streets I was happy to be cut off from - billboards with pictures of naked or semi naked men and women, near obscene advertisements and pictures, even people dressed in ways that emphasized what should be hidden.
As for being 'cut off'...... From what? I still have 20/20 vision when I need it for worthwhile things. All I have been cut off from by my lowered veils is the temptation to forget the words of that Sura,Now I can truly 'guard my modesty' without it being a jihad. Alhamdulillah, just by adding eye veils to my hijaab I have won a battle that I have been fighting for years, and one which up to the time I started veiling fully, I used to lose on almost a daily basis.
As a final note. The sister who thought it must be awful to wear eye veils, started to wear proper hijaab about a year after our conversation. Shortly after that, she began wearing eye veils as well. And she has done so ever since.