When something is not understood clearly and is approached with a stance that is personal and emotional then it is indeed a matter of doubt and uncertainty. But, when you intend to understand something sincerely and try to find out its origin and meaning from the most authentic sources then there remains no doubt and hesitation and you tend to accept it readily with ease.
The same goes for the topic of Hijab. Most of the people think that Hijab is a choice and not a command by Allah in the Noble Quran and they present various points to prove it.
I am just a student of Al Quran and I myself did not wear Hijab till I entered University. But one fine day, by the Will of Allah, I was reading the Chapter 24 The Light (An Noor) in the Quran. I came across the famous verses on Hijab and I felt something inside my heart. I realized that these are the true words of Allah and every Muslim should try to obey whatever Allah commands the believers to do. I realized that when these verses clearly state that the Muslim women should cover themselves up then there remains no issue!
It is indeed in our benefit that we be recognized as women of honour, dignity and noblility by just being the believing women who follow what Allah has commanded.
I will present the verses as they are and the readers are requested to ponder over them and decide for themselves whether wearing Hijab or covering up of women in Islam is a commandment or a matter of choice.
When the chapter An Noor begins Allah says:
[This is] a surah which We have sent down and made [that within it] obligatory and revealed therein verses of clear evidence that you might remember. (Verse 1)
What do you think this translation from Arabic to English means?
Wa Faradhna in Arabic comes from the root word
Fa Ra Dha which makes up Fardh. Also in urdu the word Fardh means something which is obligatory, enjoined or ordained to be implemented. For example the five daily prayers are Fardh or obligatory on every Muslim man and Muslim woman.
Therefore, Allah says in the very first verse that whatever we have revealed in this surah is Fardh, we have made it obligatory.
Further this verse tells us that this surah contains clear verses so that we take heed or remember. The verses are clear enough to understand and apply. There is no ambiguity or doubt about them.
Why I am taking up the first verse before presenting the verse on Hijab is because Allah has given the introduction to this Surah in which He has given many commandments including the rulings on Adultery, privacy, domenstic manners and slanderers etc which are clearly explained in this chapter.
Now come the verses on Hijab which are both for men and women and interestingly Allah commands the men first to lower their gaze!
30-Tell the believing men to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what they do.
31-And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers, their brothers' sons, their sisters' sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.
I would prefer to take these verses as they are because they are clear enough for any person to understand. I humbly request all the male and female Muslim or non Muslim readers to ponder over these commandments of Allah and decide for themselves the wisdom behind being modest, restricted in mingling with the strangers, casting down the gazes, wearing the proper dress and not showing off.
I was a student of co-education till my university days and I can tell you that after wearing Hijab I felt more dignified, safe and confident as compared to the days when I used to wear proper dresses but did not cover myself up as my God commnaded me to.
This is not just for the women to take care of but it is equally important for the men in the society to purify their gaze, respect the women and not to resort to ways of the animals in treating them.
Islam has these and many other guidelines on the peaceful and safe working of the society and if followed properly there will be harmony in the world.
There is a misconception about Islam that only women are told to do this and that and only they are asked to keep a low profile or wear Hijab. This is absolutely not the case. If we read the Quran and if we go through Islamic history we will find numerous, infact more cases where we see that men are given instructions to treat women kindly and wisely and to allow them to go to masjid and the take care of them in the best manner, to give their dower on time etc etc. Also there are so many examples of Muslim women in Islamic history who were independently working, running businesses and aquiring knowledge.
Islam treats men and women equally based on their natural differences and capabilities. It will be unwise and absolutely not right to say that men and women are alike in all matters but yes when the matter of justice comes they indeed are alike in the eyes of Allah!