Why do women cover their hair?
Allah says in the Quran:
“And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts) and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils all over Juyobihinna (i.e. the their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms) and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers, or their sons, or their husband’s sons, or their brothers or their brother’s sons, or their sister’s sons, or their (Muslim) women (i.e. their sisters in Islam), or the (female) slaves whom their right hands possess, or old male servants who lack vigour, or small children who have no sense of feminine sex. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful” [al-Noor 24:31]
Contrary to popular belief, this is not limited to women only. Preceding the verse in the Qur’an about women lowering their gaze comes the following verse,
"Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them. Lo! Allah is Aware of what they do." [al-Noor 24:30].
In addition, on the authority of Sahl ibn Sa’d, may Allah be pleased with him, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Whoever can guarantee (the chastity of) what is between his two jaw-bones (the tongue) and what is between his two legs (the private parts), I guarantee Paradise for him." (Bukhari).
Hijab is not worn for men, to keep their illicit desires in check. Rather, Muslim women wear it for God and their own selves. Islam is a religion of moderation, of balance between extremes. Therefore, it does not expect women alone to uphold the society’s morality and uprightness. Rather, Islam asks men and women to mutually strive to create a healthy social environment where children may grow with positive, beautiful, constructive and practical values and concepts. Men are equally required to be modest and to conduct themselves responsibly in every sphere of their lives.
According to Jabir ibn Abdullah, when he asked the Prophet, peace be upon him, about a man’s gaze falling inadvertently on a strange woman, the Prophet replied, "Turn your eyes away." (Muslim) In another tradition, the Prophet, on whom be peace, chided Ali for looking again at a woman – he said, the second glance is from Shaitan.
The concept of modesty and hijab in Islam is holistic, and encompasses both men and women. The ultimate goal is to maintain societal stability and to please God.
Since Muslim women are more conspicuous because of their appearance, it is easier for people to associate them with the warped images they see in the print and broadcast media. Hence, stereotypes are perpetuated and often sisters seem "mysterious" to those not acquainted with Muslim women who dress according to Divine instructions. This aura of "mystery" cannot be removed until their lifestyles, beliefs and thought-systems are genuinely explored. And, frankly, this cannot be achieved until one is not afraid to respectfully approach Muslim women – or any Muslim for that matter.
So, the next time you see a Muslim, stop and talk to him or her – you’ll feel, God-Willing, as if you’re entering a different world, the world of Islam: full of humility, piety, and of course, modesty!
Courtesy of Islam Q&A and Islamway