There is perhaps no piece of clothing in history that has caused more controversy than the veil. Currently, protests to raise awareness of the tragic death of Mahsa Amini, a lady who died after being arrested by Iran’s morality police for allegedly breaking hijab laws. Meanwhile, in India, female Muslim students are suing the Indian government in order to secure being able to wear the veil to class. So while in some ways a veil can be seen as a symbol of oppression, others see it as a symbol of freedom of choice.
While the veil today is most commonly associated with Islam, this has not always been the case. The wearing of veils pre-dates Islam by quite some time. Early evidence of the wearing of the face veil can be found in ancient Europe. Furthermore, the veil is not unique to just one religion, it was once commonplace in several belief systems.
The Origins of the Veil in Ancient Assyria
The earliest source we have that refers to the wearing of the veil is a Middle Assyrian law code that dates back to somewhere between 1400-1100 BC. These laws went into strict detail as to who was allowed to wear the veil and who could not.
The laws depended on a woman’s social class, rank, and occupation. Slaves and prostitutes, for example, were banned from wearing any kind of veil and faced stiff punishments if they did. Any prostitute found to be wearing a veil faced fifty blows from a rod and would then have hot pitch poured over her head.
Any man who failed to report a woman without a veil…