The Islamic Religion And Culture

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Throughout the Islamic religion and culture, the Muslim veil has developed into a symbolic concept that cannot be easily contained under one meaning. The veil, which is also referred to as the “hijab,” is both material and conceptual. Depending on the person’s cultural beliefs and practices, the veil is a fabric which comes in multiple forms. Despite these variations, the concept of modesty and veil is holistic. This concept has evolved into a significant hallmark of many Muslim women. However, the veiling and seclusion of women did not arise with the advent of Islam. These institutions were practiced as early as the existence of Roman and Byzantine societies. They were not simply used to mark aristocracy, but served to also distinguish…show more content…
However, the tradition of veiling and seclusion was introduced into Arabia long before the time of Muhammad. As far back as 2500 BCE, statuettes have depicted veiled priestesses preceding Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Some scholars have even claimed that the customs of veiling of women in early Islam were assimilated from conquered Byzantine and Persian societies, which eventually evolved as expressions of Quranic norms and values (Ahmed, 1992). In addition, the practice of veiling was described as reserved for elite, respectable women in which prostitutes and lower-class women were forbidden from veiling (Hoodfar, 2003). Elite women in ancient Mesopotamian, Byzantine, and Persian empires wore the veil as a sign of high status and respectability. These ancient empires also implemented sumptuary laws detailing which women must veil, depending upon her class and occupation in society. As a result, veiling in ancient society was primarily used to “differentiate between respectable women and those who were publicly available (Ahmed, 1992).” Thus, veiling in ancient society symbolized rank and societal class, illustrating upper-class women’s privilege over that of lower-class women. Even prior to Christianity, women in Greek society were also expected to seclude themselves and wear articles of clothing that concealed the female human body, which later influenced the Byzantine empire. It was until successive invasions during the Muslim conquest that led to the
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