The history of the hijab

Drawings on cave walls, on stone rocks and other places preserved from the past tell about how the first people covered their nudity. Regarding the clothing of primitive people, Ruth Whitehouse writes in her book “The First Cities” – Men wore something like a woolen skirt and a vest made of trampled wool, and women wore a long shawl that covered their entire body, except for the right shoulder.

The American historian Will Durant writes about clothing: “Women wore a veil diagonally on their shoulders, and men tied a veil around the waist.”

Hijab is a kind of covering for the body. This word means “covering agent” in Arabic. Professor Motahari in his book “Hijab” considers this word to be synonymous with the word “to cover”, which is also used in the sense of “veil” or “that which covers”. One way or another, the hijab has a long history. A study of the history of the hijab reveals that even before Islam, the hijab was common among some peoples. Fried Wajda writes in the “Encyclopedia of the 20th Century” – Women’s hijab has a long history. Ancient Greek writers talked about the hijab, Greek women covered their heads, but left their faces uncovered, except when they were going to the bazaar. Then they were obliged to cover the person.

It is not difficult to understand from the historical literature that the hijab is not inherent in a particular religion and existed long before the appearance of Islam. Professor Morteza Motahari writes about this: “In ancient Iran, among the Jews, and quite probably in India, the hijab was observed, and in a more strict form than in Islam.”

Will Durant writes about the Jews and the laws of the Talmud in “History of Civilization” – If a woman violated Jewish laws, for example, appeared in public without a veil on her head, talked to a stranger, or spoke so loudly in her home that the neighbors could hear her , then her husband had the right to divorce her without even paying her the agreed-upon kalimah.

According to historical literature, the hijab was a part of women’s clothing in ancient Rome and ancient Greece and was considered a kind of adornment for women. The late Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru believes that the Romans also observed the hijab under Jewish influence. Greeks mainly wore the hijab in religious ceremonies and rituals. In medieval Europe, the hijab was also considered part of a woman’s adornment.

In India, as in ancient Iran, the hijab was fully observed. Professor Motahari writes: “If it is acceptable that asceticism and rejection of worldly pleasures was one of the reasons for the appearance of the hijab, then it should be recognized that India has adopted the hijab since ancient times, because India was one of the centers of agitation for asceticism and the rejection of material pleasures.”

In pre-Islamic Iran, women also wore the hijab. Regarding the ancient Iranians, Will Durant writes: “Under Zoroaster, women were held in high esteem, they communicated quite freely and decently with the people. After Darius, the communication of women with society, especially among the rich class, was taken under control. Low-income women were forced to work and naturally communicate with the people. Therefore, they were more free. But among other women, especially taking into account the fact that they were isolated during menstruation, the observance of the veil spread.” The American historian writes: “Women from the upper classes of society did not dare to leave the house, except in a covered palanquin. Married women had to hide even from their father and brothers.”

Count Gobineau writes in his book “Three Years in Iran” – Under the Sassanids in Iran, it was accepted not only to observe veils for women, but also to keep women secret, so that they would be protected from princes and priests, who often encroached on beautiful women.

After Iranians embraced Islam, Iranian women began to respect the hijab as an Islamic value and to be proud of it. They appeared in public wearing a full hijab, believing that the Islamic hijab adds value and sanctity to a woman and brings her out of isolation.

Before the Renaissance, most women in Europe wore the hijab, but with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, as well as after World War II, the women’s emancipation movement and other feminist organizations were formed. This movement rejected the hijab and, promoting the idea of equality between women and men, removed the woman from her spiritual and family values. Big capitalists, encouraging women to active social activities, began to use her as a tool and imposed a new form of oppression on her. In general, the study of the historical development of the hijab reveals that the veil has ancient roots and, of course, in the process of the development and evolution of the hijab, religions played a special role.