Among all of God’s creations, the one differentiating and defining element between man and animal has been that he gave man (women included ) a far superior intelligence. Also, from time immemorial [the] humans have found a need to cover their genitals and most of their body from the eyes of others. Was it natural instinct or a basic form of intelligence towards a civilized life is something people will argue and discuss at length.
As far as I know, with this premise that humans have a superior intelligence, they started wearing leaves, animal skins and later unwoven and woven cloth to protect themselves from nature, be it the nail-biting chill of the arctic regions where furs and thick skins were needed to survive to light cotton clothes where there was extreme heat.
Also, the terrain or land demanded different types of clothing. In the deserts, because of the severity of the sand storms and the threat of hot sand piercing into your eyes and skin, men and women wore long robes which were of very light material which protected them from sand storms but were light enough to bear the heat. These robes were mostly worn in the desert regions of the Arab world and were worn by people of all religious affiliations and not by people of any particular religion. It basically was the expression of superior intelligence of mankind. But, even there God gave thick rugged skins to camels and horses which dominated the desert landscape.
Slowly, when religion started appearing into society also, the general perception of most religions was to love one another, be truthful and honest, have integrity and values and a broad perception of what is right and wrong and to tread the path of being righteous. Though the beliefs were more or less same, they were tweaked and twirled to differentiate between religions of different hues and colours. In between all this churn in the world, leaders emerged in the religious fiefdom and these broad concepts were further interpreted to have more say on each one’s perception of what is right and wrong, hence rules were formulated.
Also, ancient history suggests that the women were more or less confined to their homes and were supposed to take care of the cooking, do domestic chores and raise children, while the men were supposed to work outdoors and bring in the food. As a result, most societies became male dominated and he was the person who had the most say in the household fiefdoms. This same theory was adopted by religious heads, who were also mostly men, in dictating rules to the women of the world.
One of them was the Hijab, or a long flowing robe which initially was used to protect against the ravages of the sand storms and worn by both men and women and even today worn by both sexes in the Arab world. Other parts of the world had no reason to wear these robes and only had a need to cover themselves up in a decent manner (again, what is decent lies with various perceptions) and nothing more. But, as these custodians of religion needed to safeguard their interests, they imposed it upon their women and it became more of a law unto itself. Hence, today the Hijab is worn by most women across the world belonging to a certain faith not because it is left as a choice to them but because of the subjugation of women by their men folk.
Also, even if women want to wear them on their own accord, it should also be part of a nation or state which should also define what is decent and defining of clothes to be worn in a public place. Here, there is also a certain thing called as uniformity, from which the word uniform is defined. When a country, or a state or a school or college or office, defines uniformity and uniforms, it is your duty to follow the rules of that institution or else leave that institution and be part of an institution which recognizes whatever form of clothing you prefer to wear.
After all, the defining issue is that no institution or college or office has asked you to enroll in that institution. If the rules of that institution are not up to your liking, you are welcome not to join that institution and go to institutions which recognize the form of clothing that you wear. There is no room for discussion and no room for hatred or communal disharmony in these rules wherein you are welcome to wear those clothes where they welcome you wearing those clothes. No one can go to an institution with a particular set of rules and ask them to change it to your liking. In the same way that no one can ask you to change the way you prefer to be dressed in the confines of the four walls of your house.
It is very clear that when an institution has a set of rules they have to be abided, or else you need not join that institution. We have no need to further debate on this issue and the government of the land should follow these dictums of rules which are applicable in any institution and if you need to join those institutions you better follow them. As the old adage goes, “Be a Roman in Rome.” And that is what we need to do in loving humanity.
– Sumith S Rao
Free thinking individual
Writer, sometime philosopher and a good human being with no religion other than that of being a good person.