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Koranic Modesty

Modesty is a girl’s best dress. — Welsh proverb

I want to talk about the subject of modesty today from what I think is the perspective given in the Koran. I will not use any hadiths, because, in my opinion, the hadiths are nothing more than hearsay. I will provide in this blog post some videos made my Muslims on this subject. They do not agree with each other totally. One of them takes a completely opposing view to the other two. I will also provide a video from a young Muslim journalist. She is in favor of wearing the hijab and makes some very good points for wearing it. I intend also to provide my own interpretation of the verses from the Koran pertaining to modesty and some passages from the Bible, the Church Fathers, and ancient Christian writers. I think that many Christians will be shocked to learn what the Church Fathers and ancient Christian writers say.

First of all, we need to know some terminology. Here is an illustration of various types of Islamic apparel.

Types of Islamic Veils

I will refer to these by their Islamic names in this blog post.

In the Koran, it says:

O children of Adam, We have bestowed upon you clothing to conceal your private parts and as adornment. But the clothing of righteousness — that is best. That is from the signs of Allah that perhaps they will remember. (Koran 7:26, Sahih International)

According to the story in Genesis, man was created naked.

And the two were naked, both Adam and his wife, and were not ashamed. (Genesis 3:1, LXX; Genesis 2:25, Hebrew)

God created man to be immortal.

For God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity. (Wisdom 2:23, KJV)

He had the right to eat from the Tree of Life in the midst of the Garden of Eden, but he never ate from it. Instead, he ate from the forbidden tree — the only tree that God forbade him to eat from. (Genesis 2:8,9,15-17; 3:2,3) After his wife and he ate from this tree, they realized that they were naked and covered themselves with tree leaves. God, later, provided them with garments of skin to cover themselves.

And the Lord God made for Adam and his wife garments of skin, and clothed them. (Genesis 3:22, LXX; Genesis 3:21, Hebrew)

The Koran says:

The (human) soul is certainly prone to evil, unless my Lord do bestow His Mercy. (Koran 12:53, Yusuf Ali)

St. Paul said similarly:

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. (Romans 7:14-21, NKJV)

In Ecclesiastes, it says:

For there is not a righteous man in the earth, who will do good, and not sin. (Ecclesiastes 7:20, LXX)

Because there is no contradiction made on the part of those who do evil quickly, therefore the heart of the children of men is fully determined in them to do evil. (Ecclesiastes 8:11, LXX)

People sin. Even good people sin. King David committed adultery with Bathsheba after he saw her bathing. (II Samuel 11:2-5) Therefore, ever since the fall of man, people should wear clothes. Public nudity was all right before the Fall, but not after the Fall.

In Koran 7:26, it says that God created clothing so that people may cover their private parts, that is, their genitals. Someone who displays his or her genitals publicly is therefore immodest according to this verse from the Koran. The Koran says:

Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them. Lo! Allah is aware of what they do. (Koran 24:30, Pickthall)

In the 70th Surah, it says:

And those who guard their private parts except from their wives or those their right hands possess, for indeed, they are not to be blamed.  (Koran 70:29,30, Sahih International)

Men can display their genitals to their wives or to “those their right hands possess,” that is, to their slaves.

In the verse 24:31, it says:

And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save to their own husbands or fathers or husbands’ fathers, or their sons or their husbands’ sons, or their brothers or their brothers’ sons or sisters’ sons, or their women, or their slaves, or male attendants who lack vigour, or children who know naught of women’s nakedness. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And turn unto Allah together, O believers, in order that ye may succeed. (Koran 24:31, Pickthall)

A woman must cover her genitals like a man is required to do. (Koran 7:26) She must also cover her adornment except that which is apparent and her bosom, that is, her breasts. She should not stamp her feet “so as to reveal what she hides of her adornment.” “What she hides of her adornment” must include her genitals and her buttocks. It is unclear in this passage just how much of her legs must be covered. It also does not mention anything about wearing a head-scarf.

Another verse in the Koran pertaining to modesty is in the 33rd Surah.

O Prophet! Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad). That will be better, so that they may be recognised and not annoyed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful. (Koran 33:59, Pickthall)

Whenever a woman leaves her home, she should be wearing a cloak which I should think would cover a significant portion of her body. She was supposed to wear the cloak in order to be recognized and not annoyed. I think that this means that she would be recognized by others in the community as a pious woman. In her home among her family, she is not required to wear such a garment. This probably explains why Muhammad’s wives had to speak to people within their home from behind a curtain. In the home they were not wearing the cloak.

O Ye who believe! Enter not the dwellings of the Prophet for a meal without waiting for the proper time, unless permission be granted you. But if ye are invited, enter, and, when your meal is ended, then disperse. Linger not for conversation. Lo! that would cause annoyance to the Prophet, and he would be shy of (asking) you (to go); but Allah is not shy of the truth. And when ye ask of them (the wives of the Prophet) anything, ask it of them from behind a curtain. That is purer for your hearts and for their hearts. And it is not for you to cause annoyance to the messenger of Allah, nor that ye should ever marry his wives after him. Lo! that in Allah’s sight would be an enormity. (Koran 33:53, Pickthall)

One other verse pertaining to modesty is in the 24th Surah. It says that women post-menopausal women may discard their outer clothing, but not reveal their adornment.

As for women past child-bearing, who have no hope of marriage, it is no sin for them if they discard their (outer) clothing in such a way as not to show adornment. But to refrain is better for them. Allah is Hearer, Knower. (Koran 24:60, Pickthall)

These women can reveal more of their bodies than the young women. So, young women obviously are supposed to wear more clothing.

Before I go any further in my discourse on this subject of modesty, it would be good for my readers to see some videos that some Muslims have made explaining these verses from the Koran. The first one was made by a Muslim woman who uses the Koran to defend the Islamic dress code which requires women to wear the hijab.

Now, look at this video done by a Muslim man. He argues that nowhere in the Koran does it say that a woman must cover her head.

Here is another video by another Muslim who also says that the Koran does not require that a woman wear a hijab.

Well, in the Arabic version of the Koran the word, hijab, occurs only seven times and nowhere in the Koran is this word used to refer to an article of clothing such as a head-scarf. (Koran 7:46; 17:45; 19:17; 33:53; 38:32; 41:5; 42:51)

Well, if we stop here at analyzing only these six passages from the Koran (Koran 7:26; 24:30,31,60; 33:53,59; 70:29,30), we will not get a complete picture. The Koran also gives other instructions which I regret to say that many Muslims ignore.

The messenger believeth in that which hath been revealed unto him from his Lord and (so do) believers. Each one believeth in Allah and His angels and His Scriptures and His messengers — We make no distinction between any of His messengers – and they say: We hear, and we obey. (Grant us) Thy forgiveness, our Lord. Unto Thee is the journeying. (Koran 2:285, Pickthall)

And argue not with the People of the Scripture unless it be in (a way) that is better, save with such of them as do wrong; and say: We believe in that which hath been revealed unto us and revealed unto you; our God and your God is One, and unto Him we surrender. (Koran 29:46, Pickthall)

Unto this, then, summon (O Muhammad). And be thou upright as thou art commanded, and follow not their lusts, but say: I believe in whatever Scripture Allah hath sent down, and I am commanded to be just among you. Allah is our Lord and your Lord. Unto us our works and unto you your works; no argument between us and you. Allah will bring us together, and unto Him is the journeying. (Koran 42:15, Pickthall)

Muhammad and the first generation Muslims accepted the Bible that Orthodox Christians used. There was no Protestant Reformation in the seventh century. Therefore, they accepted the larger canon used by the Orthodox Church today.

In the Koran, it also says:

Verily in the messenger of Allah ye have a good example for him who looketh unto Allah and the Last Day, and remembereth Allah much. (Koran 33:21, Pickthall)

So, if Muhammad accepted the Bible, Muslims should accept the Bible, too, in order to be following Muhammad’s example.

The Koran also says:

O ye who believe! Believe in Allah and His messenger and the Scripture which He hath revealed unto His messenger, and the Scripture which He revealed aforetime. Whoso disbelieveth in Allah and His angels and His Scriptures and His messengers and the Last Day, he verily hath wandered far astray. (Koran 4:136, Pickthall)

Lo! those who disbelieve in Allah and His messengers, and seek to make distinction between Allah and His messengers, and say: We believe in some and disbelieve in others, and seek to choose a way in between; such are disbelievers in truth; and for disbelievers We prepare a shameful doom. (Koran 4:150,151, Pickthall)

The Scripture which God has “revealed aforetime” is the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Muslims are required to accept the Bible and even study it. (Koran 3:79) Islam without the Bible is not genuine Islam.

The Koran says furthermore:

Allah would explain to you and guide you by the examples of those who were before you, and would turn to you in mercy. Allah is Knower, Wise. (Koran 4:26, Pickthall)

Some of “the examples of those who were before you” were mentioned in the Bible. So, Muslims are supposed to look at the examples of godly men and women in the Bible. Christians are supposed to do the same.

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4, NKJV)

Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. (I Corinthians 10:11, NKJV)

Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. (Philippians 3:17, NKJV)

Well, if those Muslims who had made the three videos posted earlier in this blog post had studied the Bible on this subject and the Church Fathers, they would all agree on this subject about the hijab and the niqab. (The niqab is the face veil.)

Let us first look at the example of Rebecca in Genesis. Abraham sent his servant back to his father’s country to find a wife for his son, Isaac. Abraham did not want him to marry any of the Canaanite women probably because they were polytheists and also immoral. Abraham was a monotheist. When Abraham’s servant met Rebecca for the first time, he noticed that she was very beautiful. Apparently, he could see her face.

And it came to pass before he had done speaking in his mind, that behold, Rebecca the daughter of Bathuel, the son of Melcha, the wife of Nachor, and the same the brother of Abraam, came forth, having a water-pot on her shoulders. And the virgin was very beautiful in appearance, she was a virgin, a man had not known her; and she went down to the well, and filled her water-pot, and came up. (Genesis 24:15,16, LXX)

It is unclear in this passage whether or not she wore a hijab, but it is reasonable to assume that she did not wear a niqab at the time.

Later, when she finds out that her fiancé, Isaac, was walking toward her, she covered herself with a veil. This is probably the niqab.

And Rebecca lifted up her eyes, and saw Isaac; and she alighted briskly from the camel, and said to the servant, Who is that man that walks in the plain to meet us? And the servant said, This is my master; and she took her veil and covered herself. (Genesis 24:64,65, LXX)

So, we can learn from Genesis 24 that it was the custom for women who were about to be married to wear a niqab when they were in the presence of their fiancés.

The next passage to look at is also in Genesis. Thamar was Judah’s daughter-in-law. Her first two husbands who were brothers had died not leaving a child to be their heirs. According to the levirate marriage custom, the brother of a deceased brother who had died childless was supposed to marry his brother’s widow. The first child that he had by her would be the heir of his deceased brother’s estate and have his brother’s name. Er had married Thamar and died childless. Onan married her and died childless. Judah had one other son, Shelah. He told Thamar that she could have him as her husband after he was grown up. Well, Judah did not keep his promise to Thamar. So, here is what happened.

And it was told Thamar his daughter-in-law, saying, Behold, thy father-in-law goeth up to Thamna, to shear his sheep. And having taken off the garments of her widowhood from her, she put on a veil, and ornamented her face, and sat by the gates of Ænan, which is in the way to Thamna, for she saw that Selom was grown; but he gave her not to him for a wife. And when Judas saw her, he thought her to be a harlot; for she covered her face, and he knew her not. And he went out of his way to her, and said to her, Let me come in to thee; for he knew not that she was his daughter-inlaw; and she said, What wilt thou give me if thou shouldest come in to me? And he said, I will send thee a kid of the goats from my flock; and she said, Well, if thou wilt give me an earnest, until thou send it. And he said, What is the earnest that I shall give thee? and she said, Thy ring, and thy bracelet, and the staff in thy hand; and he gave them to her, and went in to her, and she conceived by him. And she arose and departed, and took her veil from off her, and put on the garments of her widowhood. (Genesis 38:13-19, LXX)

Judah had sexual relations with his daughter-in-law. He did not know that she was Thamar because her face was veiled. He thought that she was a prostitute. It was apparently the custom of prostitutes to wear a niqab.

Another instance where a woman wore a niqab is found in the Septuagint version of the Book of Daniel.

And it came to pass the next day, when the people were assembled to her husband Joacim, the two elders came also full of mischievous imagination against Susanna to put her to death; and said before the people, Send for Susanna, the daughter of Chelcias, Joacim’s wife. And so they sent. So she came with her father and mother, her children, and all her kindred. Now Susanna was a very delicate woman, and beauteous to behold. And these wicked men commanded to uncover her face, (for she was covered) that they might be filled with her beauty. Therefore her friends and all that saw her wept. (Daniel 1:28-33, LXX; History of Susanna 28-33)

Susanna was a very beautiful married woman. She wore the niqab in order to obscure her beauty. Tertullian lived in the second and third centuries. He wrote:

Let a holy woman, if naturally beautiful, give none so great occasion (for carnal appetite). Certainly, if even she be so, she ought not to set off (her beauty), but even to obscure it. (On the Apparel of Women, Book II, chapter III, by Tertullian, vol. 4, p. 20, Ante-Nicene Fathers)

In the Book of Judith, one of the Ecclesiastical Books of the Old Testament, there is the example of Judith.

Judith remained a widow in her house for three years and four months, setting up a tent for herself on the rooftop of her house, and she wrapped sackcloth around her waist and wore the garments of her widowhood. (Judith 8:4,5, SAAS)

Beautiful in stature, she was very lovely to look upon. Manasseh, her husband, left her gold and silver, men and women servants, and livestock and fields. She kept up this property, and no one spoke ill of her, for she feared God and was devoted to Him. (Judith 8:7,8, SAAS)

SAAS stands for St. Athanasius Academy Septuagint. Judith “was very lovely to look upon” and she was a widow. Apparently, beautiful widows did not always wear a niqab. In the next chapter of this book we learn something else pertaining to modesty.

“O Lord God of my father Simeon, to whom You gave a sword for vengeance against the foreigners who loosened the girdle of the virgin to defile her, and disgracefully exposed her thighs, and violated her body to humiliate her, for You had said, ‘It shall not be done,’ and yet they did it.” (Judith 9:2, SAAS)

Judith is talking about the incident in Genesis 34. The polytheists “disgracefully exposed” the thighs of Dinah, Simeon’s sister. So, a woman should keep her thighs covered.

In chapter 10, it tells about how Judith beautified herself. She was going to seduce Holofernes with her beauty so that she could deliver her people from him.

There she took off the sackcloth she was wearing and removed her widow’s garments. She washed her body with water and anointed herself with precious ointment. She braided her hair and put a headdress on her head, and put on festive attire she had worn when her husband Manasseh was alive. She placed sandals on her feet, and put on her bracelets, her anklets, her rings, earrings, and all her jewelry. She made herself very beautiful, inviting to the eyes of all the men who might look on her. (Judith 10:3,4, SAAS)

In this passage we learn that she wore festive attire while her husband was alive and sackcloth and widow’s garments after he had died. She braided her hair. Apparently, she did not usually braid it. If she braided her hair, then people could see it. However, she did have a headdress on her head. So, her head was covered to some extent.

In II Samuel, we can learn that the buttocks should be covered.

And Annon took the servants of David, and shaved their beards, and cut off their garments in the midst as far as their haunches, and sent them away. And they brought David word concerning the men; and he sent to meet them, for the men were greatly dishonoured: and the king said, Remain in Jericho till your beards have grown, and then ye shall return. (II Samuel 10:4,5 LXX)

The men that David sent to Annon were dishonored after their garments were cut off in the midst as far as their haunches. Since women are required to cover more of their bodies than men, it is reasonable to assume that a woman should cover her buttocks, too.

In Isaiah, it says:

Come down, sit on the ground, O virgin daughter of Babylon: sit on the ground, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and luxurious. Take a millstone, grind meal: remove thy veil, uncover thy white hairs, make bare the leg, pass through the rivers.  Thy shame shall be uncovered, thy reproaches shall be brought to light: I will exact of thee due vengeance, I will no longer deliver thee to men. (Isaiah 47:1-3, LXX)

This passage is a metaphor speaking about the Babylonian Empire. Nonetheless, it is still possible to learn something about how virgins dressed. They wore veils and covered their hair. They, therefore, wore a face veil and a head-scarf. They also covered their legs.

Now, let us look at the New Testament.

In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. (I Timothy 2:9,10, NKJV)

If a woman is wearing modest apparel, she should be wearing something that covers most of her body. Her breasts, buttocks, genitals, and legs should be covered. If she is exceptionally beautiful, she should wear the niqab, like Susanna.

In I Peter, it says:

Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. Do not let your adornment be merely outward — arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel — rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror. (I Peter 3:1-6, NKJV)

Both St. Paul and St. Peter say that pious women should not wear expensive clothes, gold, and jewelry. The Koran says:

But the clothing of righteousness — that is best. (Koran 7:26, Sahih International)

This clothing of righteousness consists of “the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” (I Peter 3:4, NKJV)

The Koran confirms the Bible. It does not contradict it.

And this is a Book which We have sent down, blessed and confirming what was before it, that you may warn the Mother of Cities and those around it. Those who believe in the Hereafter believe in it, and they are maintaining their prayers. (Koran 6:92, Sahih International)

See also Koran 3:3,4; 5:48; 10:37; 21:24; 41:43.

As for the hijab, the commandment for women to wear this article of clothing is in I Corinthians.

Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you. But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God. Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering. But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God. (I Corinthians 11:2-16, NKJV)

One of the principles for interpreting the Bible is found in one of St. Peter’s Epistles.

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, (II Peter 1:20, NKJV)

Another principle is found in St. Paul’s First Epistle to Timothy.

But if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (I Timothy 3:15, NKJV)

The Church is “the pillar and ground of the truth.” In order to hear the voice of the Church, one must look at the writings of the Church Fathers and the Ecumenical Church Councils. In the Koran, it says:

So if you are in doubt, [O Muhammad], about that which We have revealed to you, then ask those who have been reading the Scripture before you. The truth has certainly come to you from your Lord, so never be among the doubters. (Koran 10:94, Sahih International)

If Muhammad needed to ask Christians and Jews about God’s revelations, his followers should need to do the same thing. They should follow his example. (Koran 33:21)

There is one way a Muslim can find out what Orthodox Christians think about a passage of Scripture. They can read the Church Fathers and the writings of the Ecumenical Church Councils.

St. Paul also said:

Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. (II Thessalonians 2:15, NKJV)

One can learn from the Church Fathers and ancient Christian writers what is Apostolic tradition.

Here is what Blessed Augustine wrote regarding the hijab. He lived in the fourth and early fifth centuries.

But those who belong to the world have also to consider how they may in these things please their wives if they be husbands, their husbands if they be wives (1 Corinthians 7:32-34); with this limitation, that it is not becoming even in married women to uncover their hair, since the apostle commands women to keep their heads covered. (1 Corinthians 11:5-13) (Letter CCXLV, by Blessed Augustine, vol. 1, p. 588, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series)

In his 15th Homily on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, St. John Chrysostom wrote:

Now, however, some have come to such a height of indecency as to uncover the head, and to drag their maid-servants by the hair. — Why do ye all blush? I am not addressing myself to all, but to those who are carried away into such brutal conduct. Paul says, “Let not a woman be uncovered.” (1 Corinthians 11:5-15) And do you then entirely strip off her headdress? Do you see how you are doing outrage to yourself? If indeed she makes her appearance to you with her head bare, you call it an insult. And do you say that there is nothing shocking when you bare it yourself? (Homily XV on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, by St. John Chrysostom, vol. 13, p. 124, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series)

In his 26th Homily on St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians, St. John Chrysostom wrote:

   Well then: the man he compels not to be always uncovered, but only when he prays. “For every man,” says he, “praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head.” (I Corintians 11:4) But the woman he commands to be at all times covered. Wherefore also having said, “Every woman that prays or prophesies with her head unveiled, dishonors her head,” he stayed not at this point only, but also proceeded to say, “for it is one and the same thing as if she were shaven.” (I Corinthians 11:5) But if to be shaven is always dishonorable, it is plain too that being uncovered is always a reproach. And not even with this only was he content, but added again, saying, “The woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels.” (I Corinthians 11:10) He signifies that not at the time of prayer only but also continually, she ought to be covered. But with regard to the man, it is no longer about covering but about wearing long hair, that he so forms his discourse. To be covered he then only forbids, when a man is praying; but the wearing long hair he discourages at all times. Wherefore, as touching the woman, he said, “But if she be not veiled, let her also be shorn” (I Corinthians 11:6); so likewise touching the man, “If he have long hair, it is a dishonor unto him.” (I Corinthians 11:14) He said not, “if he be covered” but, “if he have long hair.” Wherefore also he said at the beginning, “Every man praying or prophesying, having any thing on his head, dishonors his head.” (I Corinthians 11:4) He said not, “covered,” but “having any thing on his head;” signifying that even though he pray with the head bare, yet if he have long hair, he is like to one covered. “For the hair,” says he, “is given for a covering.” (I Corinthians 11:15)
“But if a woman is not veiled, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be veiled.” (I Corinthians 11:6)
Thus, in the beginning he simply requires that the head be not bare: but as he proceeds he intimates both the continuance of the rule, saying, “for it is one and the same thing as if she were shaven” (I Corinthians 11:5), and the keeping of it with all care and diligence. For he said not merely covered, but “covered over,” meaning that she be carefully wrapped up on every side. And by reducing it to an absurdity, he appeals to their shame, saying by way of severe reprimand, “but if she be not covered, let her also be shorn.” (I Corinthians 11:6) As if he had said, “If you cast away the covering appointed by the law of God, cast away likewise that appointed by nature.”
But if any say, “Nay, how can this be a shame to the woman, if she mount up to the glory of the man?” we might make this answer; “She does not mount up, but rather falls from her own proper honor.” Since not to abide within our own limits and the laws ordained of God, but to go beyond, is not an addition but a diminuation. For as he that desires other men’s goods and seizes what is not his own, has not gained any thing more, but is diminished, having lost even that which he had, (which kind of thing also happened in Paradise) so likewise the woman acquires not the man’s dignity, but loses even the woman’s decency which she had. And not from hence only is her shame and reproach, but also on account of her covetousness.
Having taken then what was confessedly shameful, and having said, “but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven,” he states in what follows his own conclusion, saying, “let her be covered.” (I Corinthians 11:6) And he said not, “let her have long hair,” but, “let her be covered,” ordaining both these to be one, and establishing them both ways, from what was customary and from their contraries: in that he both affirms the covering and the hair to be one, and also that she again who is shaven is the same with her whose head is bare. “For it is one and the same thing,” says he, “as if she were shaven.” But if any say, “And how is it one, if this woman have the covering of nature, but the other who is shaven have not even this?” we answer, that as far as her will goes, she threw that off likewise by having the head bare. And if it be not bare of tresses, that is nature’s doing, not her own. So that as she who is shaven has her head bare, so this woman in like manner. For this cause He left it to nature to provide her with a covering, that even of it she might learn this lesson and veil herself. (Homily XXVI on I Corinthians, by St. John Chrysostom, vol. 12, pp. 152-153, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series)

Clement of Alexandria lived in the second century. He wrote:

   Woman and man are to go to church decently attired, with natural step, embracing silence, possessing unfeigned love, pure in body, pure in heart, fit to pray to God. Let the woman observe this, further. Let her be entirely covered, unless she happen to be at home. For that style of dress is grave, and protects from being gazed at. And she will never fall, who puts before her eyes modesty, and her shawl: nor will she invite another to fall into sin by uncovering her face. For this is the wish of the Word, since it is becoming for her to pray veiled. (I Corinthians 11:10)
They say that the wife of Æneas, through excess of propriety, did not, even in her terror at the capture of Troy, uncover herself; but, though fleeing from the conflagration, remained veiled. (The Instructor, Book III, chapter 11, by Clement of Alexandria, vol. 2, p. 290, Ante-Nicene Fathers)

Christian women in the second century wore hijabs and niqabs. Remember in the Koran, that a woman has to put on extra clothing before leaving her house. (Koran 33:53) “Let her be entirely covered, unless she happen to be at home.”

In another place in Clement’s writings, it says:

“Because of the angels.” By the angels he means righteous and virtuous men. Let her be veiled then, that she may not lead them to stumble into fornication. For the real angels in heaven see her though veiled. (From the Books of the Hypotyposes, Oecumenius from Book III on I Corinthians 11:10, by Clement of Alexandria, vol. 2, p. 578, Ante-Nicene Fathers)

In the Old Testament, there is a story about angels marrying human women and having children by them.

And it came to pass when men began to be numerous upon the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the angels of God having seen the daughters of men that they were beautiful, took to themselves wives of all whom they chose. (Genesis 6:2,3, LXX, Codex Alexandrinus; Genesis 6:1,2, Hebrew)

Most manuscripts of the Septuagint say “angels of God” and not “sons of God.” Here is what Tertullian, an ancient Christian writer who lived in the second century and early third century, said:

But wherefore “ought the woman to have power over her head, because of the angels?” (1 Corinthians 11:10) If it is because “she was created for the man” (1 Corinthians 11:9), and taken out of the man, according to the Creator’s purpose, then in this way too has the apostle maintained the discipline of that God from whose institution he explains the reasons of His discipline. He adds: “Because of the angels.” (1 Corinthians 11:10) What angels? In other words, whose angels? If he means the fallen angels of the Creator, there is great propriety in his meaning. It is right that that face which was a snare to them should wear some mark of a humble guise and obscured beauty. (Genesis 6:1-4; I Corinthians 11:10) (Five Books Against Marcion, Book V, chapter 8, by Tertullian, vol. 3, p. 445, Ante-Nicene Fathers)

For they, withal, who instituted them are assigned, under condemnation, to the penalty of death — those angels, to wit, who rushed from heaven on the daughters of men; so that this ignominy also attaches to woman. For when to an age much more ignorant (than ours) they had disclosed certain well-concealed material substances, and several not well-revealed scientific arts — if it is true that they had laid bare the operations of metallurgy, and had divulged the natural properties of herbs, and had promulgated the powers of enchantments, and had traced out every curious art, even to the interpretation of the stars —  they conferred properly and as it were peculiarly upon women that instrumental mean of womanly ostentation, the radiances of jewels wherewith necklaces are variegated, and the circlets of gold wherewith the arms are compressed, and the medicaments of orchil with which wools are coloured, and that black powder itself wherewith the eyelids and eyelashes are made prominent. What is the quality of these things may be declared meantime, even at this point, from the quality and condition of their teachers: in that sinners could never have either shown or supplied anything conducive to integrity, unlawful lovers anything conducive to chastity, renegade spirits anything conducive to the fear of God. If (these things) are to be called teachings, ill masters must of necessity have taught ill; if as wages of lust, there is nothing base of which the wages are honourable. But why was it of so much importance to show these things as well as to confer them? Was it that women, without material causes of splendour, and without ingenious contrivances of grace, could not please men, who, while still unadorned, and uncouth and — so to say — crude and rude, had moved (the mind of) angels? Or was it that the lovers would appear sordid and — through gratuitous use — contumelious, if they had conferred no (compensating) gift on the women who had been enticed into connubial connection with them? But these questions admit of no calculation. Women who possessed angels (as husbands) could desire nothing more; they had, forsooth, made a grand match! Assuredly they who, of course, did sometimes think whence they had fallen, and, after the heated impulses of their lusts, looked up toward heaven, thus requited that very excellence of women, natural beauty, as (having proved) a cause of evil, in order that their good fortune might profit them nothing; but that, being turned from simplicity and sincerity, they, together with (the angels) themselves, might become offensive to God. Sure they were that all ostentation, and ambition, and love of pleasing by carnal means, was displeasing to God. And these are the angels whom we are destined to judge: these are the angels whom in baptism we renounce: these, of course, are the reasons why they have deserved to be judged by man. What business, then, have their things with their judges? What commerce have they who are to condemn with them who are to be condemned? The same, I take it, as Christ has with Belial. With what consistency do we mount that (future) judgment-seat to pronounce sentence against those whose gifts we (now) seek after? For you too, (women as you are,) have the self-same angelic nature promised as your reward, the self-same sex as men: the self-same advancement to the dignity of judging, does (the Lord) promise you. Unless, then, we begin even here to pre-judge, by pre-condemning their things, which we are hereafter to condemn in themselves, they will rather judge and condemn us. (On the Apparel of Women, Book I, chapter II, by Tertullian, vol. 4, pp. 14,15, Ante-Nicene Fathers)

   Turn we next to the examination of the reasons themselves which lead the apostle to teach that the female ought to be veiled, (to see) whether the self-same (reasons) apply to virgins likewise; so that hence also the community of the name between virgins and not-virgins may be established, while the self-same causes which necessitate the veil are found to exist in each case.
If “the man is head of the woman,” of course (he is) of the virgin too, from whom comes the woman who has married; unless the virgin is a third generic class, some monstrosity with a head of its own. If “it is shameful for a woman to be shaven or shorn” (I Corinthians 11:6) of course it is so for a virgin. (Hence let the world, the rival of God, see to it, if it asserts that close-cut hair is graceful to a virgin in like manner as that flowing hair is to a boy.) To her, then, to whom it is equally unbecoming to be shaven or shorn, it is equally becoming to be covered. If “the woman is the glory of the man,” how much more the virgin, who is a glory withal to herself! If “the woman is of the man,” and “for the sake of the man” (I Corinthians 11:8,9), that rib of Adam was first a virgin. (Genesis 2:22) If “the woman ought to have power upon the head,” all the more justly ought the virgin, to whom pertains the essence of the cause (assigned for this assertion). For if (it is) on account of the angels — those, to wit, whom we read of as having fallen from God and heaven on account of concupiscence after females —  who can presume that it was bodies already defiled, and relics of human lust, which such angels yearned after, so as not rather to have been inflamed for virgins, whose bloom pleads an excuse for human lust likewise? For thus does Scripture withal suggest: “And it came to pass,” it says, “when men had begun to grow more numerous upon the earth, there were withal daughters born them; but the sons of God, having descried the daughters of men, that they were fair, took to themselves wives of all whom they elected.” (Genesis 6:1,2) For here the Greek name of women does seem to have the sense ” wives,” inasmuch as mention is made of marriage. When, then, it says “the daughters of men,” it manifestly purports virgins, who would be still reckoned as belonging to their parents — for wedded women are called their husbands’ — whereas it could have said “the wives of men:” in like manner not naming the angels adulterers, but husbands, while they take unwedded “daughters of men,” who it has above said were “born,” thus also signifying their virginity: first, “born;” but here, wedded to angels. Anything else I know not that they were except “born” and subsequently wedded. So perilous a face, then, ought to be shaded, which has cast stumbling-stones even so far as heaven: that, when standing in the presence of God, at whose bar it stands accused of the driving of the angels from their (native) confines, it may blush before the other angels as well; and may repress that former evil liberty of its head — (a liberty) now to be exhibited not even before human eyes. But even if they were females already contaminated whom those angels had desired, so much the more “on account of the angels” would it have been the duty of virgins to be veiled, as it would have been the more possible for virgins to have been the cause of the angels’ sinning. (I Corinthians 11:10; Genesis 6:1-4) If, moreover, the apostle further adds the prejudgment of “nature,” that redundancy of locks is an honour to a woman, because hair serves for a covering, of course it is most of all to a virgin that this is a distinction; for their very adornment properly consists in this, that, by being massed together upon the crown, it wholly covers the very citadel of the head with an encirclement of hair. (On the Veiling of Virgins, chapter VII, by Tertullian, vol. 4, pp. 31,32, Ante-Nicene Fathers)

Maybe this what St. Jude was talking about in his epistle when he said that the angels did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode.

And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day. (Jude 6, NKJV)

Here are some more passages from Tertullian’s writings about the hijab and the niqab.

Much less may the Christian put the service of idolatry on his own head — nay, I might have said, upon Christ, since Christ is the Head of the Christian man — (for his head) is as free as even Christ is, under no obligation to wear a covering, not to say a band. But even the head which is bound to have the veil, I mean woman’s, as already taken possession of by this very thing, is not open also to a band. She has the burden of her own humility to bear. If she ought not to appear with her head uncovered on account of the angels (I Corinthians 11:10), much more with a crown on it will she offend those (elders) who perhaps are then wearing crowns above. (Revelation 4:4) For what is a crown on the head of a woman, but beauty made seductive, but mark of utter wantonness, — a notable casting away of modesty, a setting temptation on fire? Therefore a woman, taking counsel from the apostles’ foresight, will not too elaborately adorn herself, that she may not either be crowned with any exquisite arrangement of her hair. (The Chaplet, chapter 14, by Tertullian, vol. 3, p. 102, Ante-Nicene Fathers)

   So far, however, as regards the dress of women, the variety of observance compels us — men of no consideration whatever — to treat, presumptuously indeed, after the most holy apostle, except in so far as it will not be presumptuously if we treat the subject in accordance with the apostle. (I Corinthians 11:1-16; I Timothy 2:9,10) Touching modesty of dress and ornamentation, indeed, the prescription of Peter (1 Peter 3:1-6) likewise is plain, checking as he does with the same mouth, because with the same Spirit, as Paul, the glory of garments, and the pride of gold, and the meretricious elaboration of the hair.
But that point which is promiscuously observed throughout the churches, whether virgins ought to be veiled or no, must be treated of. For they who allow to virgins immunity from head-covering, appear to rest on this; that the apostle has not defined “virgins” by name, but “women,” (1 Corinthians 11:5) as “to be veiled;” nor the sex generally, so as to say “females,” but a class of the sex, by saying “women:” for if he had named the sex by saying “females,” he would have made his limit absolute for every woman; but while he names one class of the sex, he separates another class by being silent. For, they say, he might either have named “virgins” specially; or generally, by a compendious term, “females.” (On Prayer, chapters XX and XXI, by Tertullian, vol. 3, p. 687, Ante-Nicene Fathers)

Finally, there is one more video about this subject. It was produced by a Muslim journalist who happens to be a woman. She has given some excellent reasons for the hijab in my opinion.

In conclusion, the Koran by itself does not have any commandments regarding a woman wearing a hijab and/or niqab. The hijab and the niqab are mentioned in the Bible. The Koran commands Muslims to believe and obey the Bible. The Church Fathers and ancient Christian writers taught that a woman should wear a hijab. Some even said that women should wear a niqab. One of the reasons for wearing the hijab, the niqab, and clothing that covers most of the body is to prevent men from lusting after them. Another reason for wearing the hijab is to have a symbol of authority on her head and not upset the angels. We Christians should not criticize Muslim women for obeying our Scriptures.


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