The Prophet said: ‘The most perfect of the believers in faith are the best of them in moral excellence, and the best of you are the kindest to their wives. (Sunan At-Tirmidhi)
There are many temptations and sins, but in men’s interactions with women and wives are the greatest temptations to sin. Men are stronger than women so have a responsibility according to the Qu’ran and the Bible to protect women. However, it is oftentimes the opposite behavior from men that occurs towards women. Many men, because they are stronger take advantage of their strength and authority over women and become abusive.
The Muslim woman pictured above is dressed modestly according to Islam’s teachings, and yet she is constantly sexually harassed by men. So much focus in Islam is on the woman’s outward expression of modesty, without addressing a man’s need to behave respectfully towards women and have self-control.
Jesus teaches, “If your right eye makes you sin, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you sin, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell. Matthew 5:29-30
It doesn’t matter whether a woman is dressed modestly according to Islam or not, men are not to look at women with lust and sin against Allah by their behavior against women. Furthermore, there are many weak hadiths relating to women that don’t align with the Prophet Muhammad’s teachings. Raymond William Baker writing in One Islam, Many Muslim Worlds (2015), relates a story about the beloved daughter of a close Muslim friend:
“Samar [the friend Kamel’s daughter] was used to my involvement in her life in those early years, so she wasn’t really too surprised when I asked her bluntly why she was adopting “Saudi” manners and dress [At this time, Raymond’s friend, Kamel had passed away]. I knew the comment would displease her, as Egyptians hardly view the Saudis as mentors in matters of faith, fashion, or lifestyle. I also knew that she would reject any attribution to Saudia Arabia for the adoption of what she took to be proper Islamic dress and behavior. She pointed out that modest dress was an Islamic obligation. I asked her how she knew that modesty meant gloves. She said that Islam enjoins modest dress for women, nothing that the gloves were perhaps not obligatory but nevertheless pleasing to God. I asked her how she knew what was pleasing to God. She told me about her shaikh, who conveyed this wisdom. How did her know? I inquired. Samar didn’t hesitate to say, from the Qur’an.
Kamel had give me my opening. Never resisting the opportunity to remind me that his familiarity with the Bible exceeded mine, Kamel had for years encouraged my reading of the Qur’an. I had frequently discussed particular verses with him, most often in his living room with TV blasting and the children playing between our legs. More often than not, we would turn to Islamic scholars like Yusuf al Qaradawi or Muhammad al Ghazzali for help when understanding of a particular verse or concept eluded us. So, there was nothing unusual in my suggestion to Samar that we first check the actual texts. Samar couldn’t remember the precise verse her shaikh had alluded to, but from the description it seemed to me it might be in the Surah of Women. We searched but, to Samar’s disappointment, she could not find the verse that matched the description that the shaikh had given in his loose Qur’anic reference. She resolved to ask him for the particular text. The next time we met, Samar announced that the verse was indeed in the Surah of Women, but Samar had discovered that neither the face not the hands were mentioned explicitly as requiring covering. The verse called instead for modesty in dress of both men and women, indicating that the area above the knees to the waist. It took a considerable imaginative leap to relocate either the hands or the face to those areas. Samar then learned that the shaikh had relied on his interpretation of the verse on certain hadiths, or traditions of the Prophet. Hadiths can be verified and evaluated as to their reliability, and it turned out that these hadiths cited were weak ones.”
Raymond referred Samar to read Muhammad al Ghazzali’s books on the role of women in Islam which supports the headscarf but not the face veil. Unfortunately, just like the Bible, the many interpretations of the Qur’an by men can be used as a tool of oppression against women.
Does covering the head and body denote a pure spirit and/or righteousness? Not in the least. A woman may be harboring sin in her heart, but still dress modestly. Just as many Muslim men lust after Muslim women who are dressed modestly. Recently, I was at a shopping mall, and as I got in my car to leave, I observed a Muslim family with the mother wearing the hijab, a little boy and his father coming out of the door of the mall. The father was on his cell phone talking, and coming out of the door behind them was an attractive non-Muslim woman. The man stared at the woman, looking at her butt as she passed him, and then he motioned his wife and son to go along without him seemingly telling her he needed to continue his phone call. The wife and son went the other direction while he stood outside of the mall with his phone staring at the attractive woman the entire time. Of course he didn’t know he was being observed by a Christian woman. Think of the example of Islam he was presenting to non-Muslims. And I am certainly not inferring that some Christian men don’t do the same thing. But sin is sin. But why is the sin of men so easily dismissed? And why should women completely cover themselves so that men won’t be tempted? Because the sin of immorality is scapegoated on women if a man becomes tempted because she is attractive.
After committing my life to Christ by the rite of baptism, I had a teaching experience with God’s Holy Spirit that taught me the importance of not judging. I was working at a Press Clipping service, and watching a televised talk show. The program’s guests were a high end fashion model that had converted to Christianity, and a young black man who had recently converted. The young man was wearing an enormous amount of gold jewelry. The model spoke of how she wanted to be a witness to Christ by her behavior. In other words, not drinking, snorting cocaine, etc that she had observed at parties by other models. As she and the young man were talking I felt judgement, especially towards the young man because of his jewelry. Obviously, gold jewelry is a status symbol, which I didn’t feel aligned with the teachings of Christ. I then felt the Holy Spirit come over me with such incredible love and compassion, and immediately understood God was revealing to me that these were His followers who loved Him. That it didn’t matter how they dressed, because they both were witnessing to what their belief in Christ had done in their lives. Their outward appearance didn’t matter at all to God, only their hearts in service and love to Him.
Of course, modesty in any religion for women relates to keeping their breasts covered, etc but more importantly it is the state of their hearts and minds. What this means, if they dress provocatively with the intent to gain men’s attention, then that is dressing immodestly. If they are dressing with the intent to please God, then that is modesty. However, covering their heads and bodies in both Judaism and Islam is easily used as a tool against Christian women by determining they are immodest because they don’t cover themselves the same way. Based upon my experience with God’s teaching, this is not true. God sees the true nature of our hearts and our intentions. It is not our place to judge anyone based on their outward appearance. Also, sometimes it is Christian, Jew or Muslim men who shout the loudest about the way women dress, who have the most sin in their hearts.
Most importantly, anytime we sin, then Satan (Shaitan) begins to use us against other believers. In other words, he jumps on our backs, and begins directing us with a firm hold, because we have allowed him to gain control over lives by falling into temptation.