Q. I am Vimla Dalal, Advocate – I would like to ask… that Islam preaches women’s rights, are equal to men. Why women should be in ‘Pardah’, and why there should be a segregation of men and women, in this sort of meeting also?

A. (Dr. Zakir): Sister has asked a very good question, that when Islam believes in ‘Women’s Rights’, that men and women should be equal… then why does Islam believe in ‘Pardah’– and why should there be segregation of sexes, like the one we are having just now? As I mentioned earlier, Islam does not believe in intermingling of the sexes.           Why Islam specifies ‘Pardah’?… I will answer in a short time. And I would like to thank the sister, because I did not have time to speak on the ‘Hijab’ of the women. If you read the Qur’an – before the mentioning of the ‘Hijab’ for the women, the Qur’an mentioned the ‘Hijab’, for the man. It is mentioned in Surah Nur, Ch. No. 24, Verse No. 30, it says to the believing man, that… ‘He should lower his gaze and guard his modesty’. The next Verse… Surah Nur, Ch. 24, Verse No. 31, says… ‘Say to the believing woman, that she should lower her gaze and guard her modesty and display not her beauty, except what is that necessary of, and to draw a head covering over her bosom, except in front of her father, her son, her husband’, and a big list of ‘Na-Mahram’, the close relatives which she can marry is given, and but natural, in front of the chaste women – Besides these, she should maintain the Hijab. The criteria for Hijab in Islam, can be found in the Qur’an, and the Sahih Hadith. There are six criteria – 1st is extent, which is the only difference between a man and a woman. For the man, he has to be covered from the naval to the knee. For the woman, her complete body should be covered – the only part that can be seen, should not be seen, is the face and the hands up to the wrist. If she wishes to cover them, she is most welcome, but it is not compulsory that she should cover it – Otherwise the full body should be covered. The only part that can been seen… not should not be seen, is the wrist, face and the hands, up to the wrist. This is the only criteria which differs, between the man and the woman. The second criteria is that, the clothes she wears, should not be so tight, that it reveals the figure. The clothes she wears… third point – it should not be so transparent, so that you can see through. And the fourth point – she should not wear glamorous clothes, or he should not wear glamorous clothes, which attracts the opposite sex. The fifth point is that a person should not wear cloth, which resembles that of the opposite sex – like you find men wearing earnings. If you wear one earring, it signifies something else – if you wear two earrings, it signifies something else. It is prohibited in Islam. And the last criteria is, you should not wear clothes which… that resemble of an unbeliever. These are the six basic criteria of Hijab, in Islam. Now coming to the question – why then Islam believe in ‘Pardah’, and why are there segregation of sexes?  If let us analyse the society in which there is ‘Pardah ’, and society in which there is, ‘No Pardah ’. The maximum number of crime that takes place in any country… it is in America. According to a report by the FBI in 1990, in the year 1990… ‘One thousand, two hundred & fifty five women were raped’. These are only the reported cases – And the report says… ‘Only 16% of the cases were reported’. If you want those exact figure, multiply 1,02,555 with 6.25, and you get the answer – more than 6,40,000 ladies were raped in America only in 1990. And if you divide this… by the number of days, divide by 365, you get a figure of One thousand, seven hundred and fifty six women are raped every day, in America, in the year 1990. And the report says… ‘Every day… One thousand, nine hundred ladies are raped’ – May be it is the report of 1991… the Americans got more bold. And the last report which came in Autumn, in 1993, it says… ‘Every 1.3 minute, one woman is raped’ – you know why? America has given the women, more rights, and more women are being raped.         Only 10 were arrested, 16% are reported – Only 10% are arrested – means only 1.6% of the cases, are arrested. Out of that, 50% are let free before the trial – Means, only 0.8% of the rape cases, are held. Means, if a man rapes One hundred & twenty five ladies, the chances of his being caught, is one. Who would not like to try – One hundred & twenty five ladies you rape, and you get caught only once. Out of that, 50% time you get a punishment of less than 1 year… though the USA law tells you that… ‘For rape, you have got a punishment of life imprisonment’. But they say… ‘It is happened only the first time… he is caught the first time – Let him give him a chance, and a punishment of less than 1year’. Even in India, according to the National Crime Bureau report, which was… which had come in the papers, in the 1 of December 1992, it said that… ‘Every 54 minutes, one case of rape is reported in India… reported ha. Every 26 minutes, one case of molestation – every 1 hour 43 minutes, one case of dowry death. If you analyse the total number of cases of rape that are taking in our country, it will be… every couple of minutes, one case of rape. I am asking a simple question – if you ask every lady to do Hijab, will the rape case in USA remain the same, will it decrease, or will it increase?. If you apply the Hijab for every lady in India, will the rate of rape decrease, will it remain the same, or will it increase? You should understand Islam, as a whole. Even suppose, after that even, after a lady does Hijab, irrespective a lady does Hijab, or not, a man is commanded… ‘He should lower his gaze’ – and if suppose after that, if a man commits rape… in Islam, he receives capital punishment – you call it a barbaric law? I have asked this question to several people – Suppose… I have asked this question to many of the gents. Suppose your sister is raped, and if you are made the judge – leave aside what Islam tells you, leave aside what Indian law tells you, leave aside what American law tells you – If you are made the judge, what punishment will you give to the rapist of your sister? And all have said… ‘Death sentence’ – Few went to the extreme of saying… ‘I will torture him to death’. Want to ask you a question… ‘If you apply the Islamic Shariah law in America, will the rape case decrease, will it remain the same, or will it in­crease? If you apply the Shariah law in India, will the rape case decrease, will it remain the same, or will it increase? So but natural, let us analyse practically. You say you have given women rights theoretically… but practically, you are degrading her to a status of a concubine and a mistress. I would like to… I mean only speak­ing on ‘Pardah ’… you can talk for days – Just I would like to… and my answer, by giving a small example. Suppose two ladies… two twin sisters were equally beautiful – if they are walking down the street, and if round the corner there is a hooligan, who is waiting for a catch… who is waiting to tease a girl. Both twin sisters are walking, both are equally beautiful – one is in the Hijab… Islamic Hijab – one is wearing a mini or a skirt. Which girl will that hooligan tease? … Which girl will he tease? But natural, the one in the short or the mini girl. If a girl is wearing a normal salwar kameez, with her head open… may be the salwar kameez tight, and the other girl is wearing a Islamic Hijab – Which girl will he tease? But natural, the girl who is not in Hijab. It is practical proof, that Hijab is been ordained in Islam… not to degrade the woman, but to protect her modesty.

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