Why is hijab compulsory in Iranian society? Imam Khamenei answers

In the West, unbound [sexual] relations between men and women are common. Absence of modest clothing, a mediator, or a distance is normal. I don't mean to say that in Western countries all men and women are corrupt. I won't make such accusations, and this is not true. Surely, there are also chaste, good men and women among them (righteous people with virtues). However, sexual freedom dominates Western societies: this is a major part of Western culture. In Western culture, freedom of sexual desires is permitted and in some cases unlimited.

Some Western countries are deeply submerged in this area (of sexual freedom and deviance), and some people have transformed their lives in such embarrassing ways; and, of course, they later regret it. This is something that Western thinkers, politicians, and policymakers cannot resolve, and it has become a big problem for them.

The West also exported this culture behaviour and harmful habit to all other countries. This corruption did not exist in other countries. In Muslim countries, even in non-Muslim Eastern countries, such things (sexual freedom) did not exist; this was imported from the West.

The Islamic Revolution resisted this corruption and announced from its beginnings that it did not accept unbound (sexual) relations between men and women. It believes in the necessity of modest appearances (hijab) and Islamic based relations between men and women: the Islamic Republic insisted on this way of life. Some people think that this is an unimportant, trivial issue. But they are at best wrong; this is an extremely important matter.

I should tell you, here, that one of the main reasons for Western animosity towards the Islamic Revolution has to do with this matter (of unlimited sexual behaviour). They are extremely defensive over the issue. If the Islamic Republic had been less strict, solely on this matter, and had allowed the Western culture of unbound immorality, regarding unhealthy relations of men and women, to appear in our society, much opposition from political and non-political spheres in the West would have diminished, or they would have been totally obliterated.
You see, in our own country, once the removal of headscarves became obligatory; but, no one in the world objected the compulsory removal of hijab! In our neighbouring country, Turkey, removal of hijab became compulsory; and even until recently, some Turkish governments continued this obligation -- as we witnessed examples during the recent years-- but, nobody on the planet ever objected this move.

More striking than that is what happens in some European countries, which consider themselves as advanced. Though, human rights and public opinion are presented as important in their propagations and claims, in France girls are not allowed to go to school while wearing headscarves!

In this case, compulsion [force] is permissible for them; and they see nothing wrong with it. However, they object the fact that the Islamic Republic has made a modest dress (hijab) compulsory in society! If there is a problem with forcing women to appear in society with a specific type of clothing, it is worse than compulsory hijab; because wearing hijab is closer to well-being. At least, these two obligations must be viewed with equal judgment; but the West does not present this perspective.

The West criticizes the Islamic Republic of Iran as a country in which clothing of women has a compulsory form. However, those governments that make nudity and removal of hijab among men and women compulsory, are never criticized! Why is that? This is because it is against the accepted culture of the West. They are extremely defensive in this area.

The West considers promoting the use of alcoholic drinks as a positive feature of a nation, its customs or traditions. If alcoholic drinks are forbidden in a country, and its use is punished, the West will react and call it close-mindedness. But, if in a country alcoholic drinks are allowed and the government promotes its use, they admire it!

Obligating or forcing the people into various lifestyle habits, as far as it's in line with the Western culture, is permissible for the West; and there is nothing wrong with it [in the west]. Then, as I have frequently mentioned earlier, the West has good relations with some countries and governments which are deprived of even the most primitive forms of democracy! If you consider the Persian Gulf region, you will see some countries there with no elections, no legislative assemblies--where the head of the country is not selected by the people, but appointed through hereditary monarchy--like very ancient times! In these countries, the rules are not enacted by a parliament and representatives of the people but the king, the sultan, chooses them. Meanwhile, neither the Western governments nor the so-called human rights institutions, which are formed to defend human rights and freedoms, show the slightest reaction to these countries.

Free elections for selecting the president of a country is rare. [In Iran] people go to vote, without being biased by partisan propaganda.
They elect one president for a certain period of time after knowing him. Where else do we have such a thing in the world?
In some countries where presidential elections happen through political parties, people don't even know the presidential candidate. The party introduces a candidate, and the people vote for this candidate to be elected president because they believe in the party, or because they admire it, or accept it, or for some other motivation. But it is not like this here. So the elections with the highest degree of freedom, the most independent parliament [assembly], the most people-oriented government, is in the Islamic Republic.
Here, the administration is in close and warm contact with the people; they believe themselves to be serving the people, and the people like them, too. The life of the country’s officials, is at a normal, average level and not an extravagant lifestyle, like the officials of some other countries around the world.
Despite Iran being a popular country, with such a people-oriented government, with such free elections, the democracy advocating West does not want to accept these strengths in the Islamic Republic because of Iran’s cultural opposition to the West. This is all because the Islamic Republic announced from the beginning that it will not accept foreign and Western culture.

Ayatollah Khamenei, March 30, 1990


  • Freedom
  • Hijab
  • Hijab in Iran
  • Iran
  • Islam


  • 2018-05-21 11:52
    as a woman of african roots I think US best not meddle in what Iran does with their women. they like to meddle in what we do with our own bodies in US and we hate that. Iran and their women are not the business of the west especially when they messing with our lives here and we are not even respected!