Eyes, Mind and Burqa: Modesty in British Summer


Last week BBC reported that nearly 7,000 rape cases were under investigation in schools. “School abuse: ‘Rape culture’ allegations are shocking” said Williamson the Education secretary. If British schools are regarded as the bastion of morality and decency, then this is a shocking indictment. So, what is causing this troublesome hypersexual activity in teenagers? What can be done to curb this dangerous trend? Can moral and spiritual teachings prevent this perversion? Here are some nuggets from traditional wisdom.

You will say we’ve been here before, the Weinstein saga, and the “me too” movement. Sadly, what the liberal, immoral, self-centred and individualistic society has unleashed, is a monster that has gone wild. Sara a school pupil who was a victim of this culture said “sexual harassment has been ‘normalised’.”

No matter how many government inquiries are conducted it will get worse, why? Because society doesn’t accept the real cause, it doesn’t believe in chastity nor in modesty and despises shame and shyness. So, is it any wonder we have a culture that has no shame and no respect for girls and women? This society has lost the relationships of mother, sister and daughter. So, you cannot have a cultural change in schools and in young people until they recognise these fundamental human relationships. Islamic teachings are an important deterrent and guide to respectful sexual behaviour. Since it obliges faithful Muslims to do the right thing with their bodies.

Chastity, an effective way of safeguarding yourself

Islamic teachings are clear that sexual relationships should only happen in marriage. This is chastity, sexual relationships outside of marriage are forbidden, it’s a major sin with a harsh penalty. Surat Al-Nur deals with the relationship of men and women, with the purpose of creating a social environment that promotes modesty and respect. It opens with declaring the severe penalties for sexual crimes of adultery and slandering innocent people. It then recommends rules for the mixing of men and women, Hijab and personal privacy inside and outside the home. I recommend you study it. The purpose of these rules is to develop a decent environment, free from sexual exploitation. If it is not properly controlled, then there will be disorder in family life that will break up society. These rules are powerful preventative measures that restrict shameful behaviour. Ignoring these rules leads to the spread of sexual exploitation, harassment, indecency, pornography and prostitution (taken from The Majestic Quran).

Four effective means to stop sexual promiscuity

The Surah has four recommendations to prevent sexual exploitation, and to preserve chastity and promote modesty:

  1. Lowering of the eyes.
  2. Dressing modestly, Allah says “Tell the believing men; they should lower their gaze and protect their chastity; this will make their lives purer. Allah is fully aware of what they do. And tell the believing women; they too should lower their gaze, protect their chastity and not expose their beauty except what is visible, and their head covers should be stretched over their breasts” (Al-Nur: 30). The principle is that men and women’s dress should not attract undue attention, which highlights physical appearance in a sexual way. How should Muslims dress? Modestly, beautifully, it mustn’t be tightly taut to the body revealing the contours, nor so bright that dazzles the onlooker, nor scant and short showing off the midriff, the legs or the breasts. Clothes shouldn’t scream, “Look at me!” The Hijab on the other hand shows control over the body and mind; it lowers the eyes, cultivates a sound mind and develops a sense of spirituality. It’s regulating the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pleasures of life. This way of dressing reflects a person’s sense of shame, purity and godliness. When individuals and society lack this, inevitably sexual crimes will increase. When sexual crimes come into our schools then we really must worry.
  3. Restrictions on the intermixing of women and men. Restraint in getting dressed is an important way of warding off sexual harassment, but the restraint in the interactions between opposite sexes is just as important to prevent over-familiarity, flirting and physical closeness. That is frowned on in Islamic teachings. Mixed gatherings are considered immodest.
  4. Get married. “Help to marry off the singles among you … if they are poor then Allah will provide for them from His grace, Allah’s grace is vast, and He is all-knowing. Those who are unable to marry should keep themselves chaste until Allah gracefully provides them with someone” (Al-Nur:32). The beloved messenger (peace be upon him) advised, “young people, get married it is a shield that will protect you from lewdness and sexual perversity.”


Sexuality is an Allah-given gift to be harnessed and to be enjoyed, without reins it will be like riding a wild stallion, dangerous and perilous. Most of our society’s ills can be traced to unrestricted, misguided social practices. The four Quranic formulae are the best solution to this endemic and widespread behaviour. The messenger (peace be upon him) gave glad tidings to those who are modest and said they will have ‘peace of mind.’ So, lower your eyes, control your thoughts and your behaviour will be good. The burqa in British summer is not a bad idea, just the colour could be lighter!