In the Quran the word hijab occurs seven times, which means shroud, shawl, curtain, veil, robe, etc.:
Between them shall be a veil, and on the heights will be men who would know everyone by his marks: they will call out to the Companions of the Garden, "peace on you": they will not have entered, but they will have an assurance (thereof). (Quran 7:46)
This is a difficult passage, and Commentators have interpreted it in different ways. Three distinct schools of thought may be discerned in the interpretation. 1. One school thinks that the men on the Heights are angels, or such men of exalted spiritual dignity (e.g., the great prophets), as will be able to know the souls at sight as regards their real worth: the Heights will be their exalted stations, from which they will welcome the righteous with a salutation of peace, even before the righteous have entered heaven; the salutation of peace being itself an assurance of salvation to those whom they salute. 2. Another school of thought thinks that the men on the Heights are such souls as are not decidedly on the side of merit or decidedly on the side of sin, but evenly balanced on a partition between heaven and hell. Their case is yet to be decided, but their salutation to the righteous is a wistful salutation, because they hope for Allah's Mercy. 3. The third line of interpretation, with which I agree, is close to the first, with this exception, that the partition and the Heights are figurative. The higher souls will rejoice at the approaching salvation of the righteous.
When thou dost recite the Qur'an, We put, between thee and those who believe not in the Hereafter, a veil invisible: (Quran 17:45)
If all nature, external and within ourselves, declares Allah's glory, those unfortunate who cut themselves off from their better nature are isolated from the true servants of Allah and the revelation of Allah, because; - they are unfit for being in their company, and - because the servants of Allah and the revelation of Allah must be protected from the pain which blasphemy or rebellion must cause to their unsullied nature. The veil is none the less real even though it is invisible.
Relate in the Book (the story of) Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East. (Quran 19:17)
The story of Mary as related in 3:42-51. Here the whole theme is different: it is the personal side of the experiences of the worshippers of Allah in relation to their families or environment. To a private eastern chamber, perhaps in the Temple. She went into privacy, from her people and from people in general, for prayer and devotion. It was in this state of purity that the angel appeared to her in the shape of a man. She thought it was a man. She was frightened, and she adjured him not to invade her privacy.
She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them; then We sent her our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects. (Quran 19:17)
O ye who believe! Enter not the Prophet's houses,- until leave is given you,- for a meal, (and then) not (so early as) to wait for its preparation: but when ye are invited, enter; and when ye have taken your meal, disperse, without seeking familiar talk. Such (behavior) annoys the Prophet: he is ashamed to dismiss you, but Allah is not ashamed (to tell you) the truth. And when ye ask (his ladies) for anything ye want, ask them from before a screen: that makes for greater purity for your hearts and for theirs. Nor is it right for you that ye should annoy Allah's Messenger, or that ye should marry his widows after him at any time. Truly such a thing is in Allah's sight an enormity. (Quran 33:53)
The rules of refined social ethics is as necessary to teach to-day as it was with the rude Arabs whom the holy Prophet had to teach in his day. Those mentioned in this verse may be briefly recapitulated thus: 1. Enter not a friend's house without permission; 2. if invited to dine, don't go too early; you are asked to dine, not to wait for the preparation of the food; 3. be there at the time appointed, so that you enter when you are expected and invited; 4. after the meal, don't get familiar with your host, especially if there is a great distance between him and you; 5. don't waste time in tittle-tattle, causing inconvenience and perhaps annoyance to your host; 6. understand what is proper behavior for you: he may be too polite to ask to depart. All this has a spiritual as well as social beating: respect and delicate consideration for others are among the highest virtues. The actual manner of showing respect to ladies may be different in different circumstances. But it is an essential principle of good society to show the greatest deference to them. To the "Mothers of the Believers" this respect was due in an exceptional degree.
And he said, "Truly do I love the love of good, with a view to the glory of my Lord,"- until (the sun) was hidden in the veil (of night): (Quran 38:32)
I interpret it to mean that, like his father David, Solomon was also most meticulous in not allowing the least motive of self to be mixed up with his spiritual virtues. He was fond of horses; he had great armies and wealth; but he used them all in Allah's service. Cf. 27:19. 27:40, etc. His battles were not fought for lust of blood, but as Jihad in the cause of righteousness. His love of horses was not like that of a mere race-goer or of a warrior: there was a spiritual element in it. He loved by a kind of love which was spiritual,-the love of the highest Good.
They say: "Our hearts are under veils, (concealed) from that to which thou dost invite us, and in our ears in a deafness, and between us and thee is a screen: so do thou (what thou wilt); for us, we shall do (what we will!) " (Quran 41:5)
The consequence of their willful rejection is that a distance is created between Revelation and those for whom it is meant; their ears become deaf, so that the voice falls fainter and fainter on their ears: they feel a bar between themselves and the Messenger who comes to teach them. Cf. 7:25.
It is not fitting for a man that Allah should speak to him except by inspiration, or from behind a veil, or by the sending of a messenger to reveal, with Allah's permission, what Allah wills: for He is Most High, Most Wise. (Quran 42:51)
How can man be fit to speak to Allah? He is not fit. But there are three ways in which Allah, in His infinite Mercy, communicates with man. Three ways are mentioned: - Wahyun, Inspiration; - from behind a veil; and - by the sending of a Messenger.
See the notes following, Wahyun. Inspiration, is interpreted to be of two kinds: 1. a suggestion thrown by Allah into the heart or mind of man, by which man understands the substance of the Message, whether it is a command or prohibition, or an explanation of a great truth; and 2. verbal or literal inspiration, by which the actual words of Allah are conveyed in human language.
Behind a veil: not of course a material veil, but the veil of Light.
Messenger: Rasul: the angel Gabriel, through whom the revelations were given to the Holy Prophet. These spiritual visions, conveying the message of Revelation, are the basis of the Quran.
It is evident that mainly the transmitted intellect is emphasized, that is a veil that separates the visible world from the invisible, or which provides security from sin and temptation. Putting on a hijab is recommended due to the events detailed in Surah No. 24 and 33. When state of Medina could not be defeated on the battlefield, the defilement of Prophet (peace upon him) began with slander warfare, which by the way continues to this day. His intimacy and the virtue of his wives was attacked. First Zainab than Aisha were the targets. In response, the following aya was revealed:
And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss. (Quran 24:31)
The need for modesty is the same in both men and women. But on account of the differentiation of the sexes in nature, temperaments, and social life, a greater amount of privacy is required for women than for men, especially in the matter of dress and the uncovering of the bosom.
Well, the Quran says nothing extreme. It does not specify the size, color, fragrance, etc. of a piece of textile. It is code of conduct what is perfectly normal. Of course, this can change in ages and places, or can become tradition or fashion. Now, I don't want to go into Sunnah which is the tradition of our prophet (peace be upon him) concerning of that time and place, because I don't want to open an impassioned debate. I remain with the Quran, which is eternal.
It is not necessary to argue about Hijab what women wear in general, but we have to understand the reason why do they wear Hijab? Whether they are forced to wear it or they do it voluntarily? If they wear it voluntarily and with conviction, what's wrong with that? The nuns too, wear their own attire voluntarily with conviction and they get respect rather than contempt.
Too much condemnation, criticism, however, provokes reverse reactions. As a result, many women are being dressed Hijab who have never come to their mind to wear it before. And this is not radicalization! It's a natural reaction. Anyway, everyone wears what they want. It is not the dress that matters, but the transmitted intelligence what is in the Quran.