The desire to shut women and their bodies away
For whatever reason, under the influence of fabricated hadiths the fanatics’ interpretations have always been along the lines of shutting women away indoors or covering their bodies up. The main justification they cite is their arousing nature; yet the fact remains that the male body is just as attractive to women as the female body is to men. Since, according to the Qur’an, there is no distinction between the genders, there is no logic to trying to cover up women out of a fear that men might be aroused by them. If the problem is the arousal of men, then would it not be far more logical for men to shut themselves up indoors or to go out wearing a covering that prevented them from seeing what was around them? Given the probabilities of their own arousal, they should elect to eliminate the risk entirely rather than covering women up.
All kinds of detail could be applied on this subject. For example, if some people will think that a woman’s voice is arousing and that she should be prevented from speaking, the same should apply to men. If a woman’s voice or the songs she sings should not be listened to, then bearing in mind that women can be excited by a man’s voice, that restriction should also apply to men. If the fanatic mentality wishes to declare that its false rules are valid, and if it insists on trying to convince people of them, then it should impose the same measures on men.
However, the logic that applies in Islam is that of the Qur’an of course, and there are no such restrictions in the logic of the Qur’an. These restrictions that the fanatics wish to enforce have doubtlessly been fabricated for the purpose of imposing controls and limiting freedoms, and simply serve to create enormous troubles for communities, and ultimately lead to disaster in the societies in which they themselves live.
As in all matters, men and women are equal in terms of chastity. Adultery is forbidden for women and for men. As God reveals in verse 35 of Surat al-Ahzab, “... men and women who guard their chastity,” men have the same obligation to be chaste and pure as women do. However, the way to achieve this is not by shutting people up, not letting them out, and not letting them meet or speak. The way to do it is for them to adopt the moral values of the Qur’an. Human beings are not wild creatures that act out of instinct and go where their desires lead them; human beings are entities with the capacity to distinguish right from wrong through their intelligence, their awareness and, most important of all, the moral values taught them by God and their love and fear of Him.
Therefore, what determines whether a person will behave in a chaste manner is not how much someone else reveals of their body or how much he can see of their hair, but his fear of God and moral values. God reveals in a verse, “… so that God will know those who fear Him in the Unseen” (Surat al-Ma’ida, 94) that He will test people even where nobody can see them. Therefore, using compulsion, shutting people away indoors and generally using violence will not ensure that. Faith, moral values and worship are matters of the heart alone.
Men and women are equal in terms of chastity in the Qur'an, as in all other matters. The criterion for chaste behavior is not how loosely one dresses or how much hair can be seen, but rather fear of God and moral virtue.