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HIJAAB IN ISLAM

Sent by: Umme Ismail

The Islamic System of Hijaab is amongst the unequivocal Ahkaam (Commandments) of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa) which has been decreed upon us Muslims whom have testified their obedience, bondage and servitude to Him -- the Controller and Regulator of every atom in this universe. It is exceedingly incorrect for any true believer to succumb the Decree of his Master to the dictates of his indoctrinated, proselytized and propagandized mode of thinking. The article below will appropriately reconcile and mend any new-fangled uncertainties and reservations which have been recently endured by the public. Islam is the natural true way of life chosen for us by our Creator. For a true believer no amount of publicized misinformation and distortion can ever be able to waver his heart after taking heed to the Divine Inspiration (Wahi) of our Creator. The Divine Speech will always reign supreme and Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa) has taken it upon Himself to protect the Quraan to such magnitudes that no Baatil (False) speech can ever deform its true meaning.

The Purpose of Hijaab
The aim of Hijaab with its restrictions, prohibitions and exhortations is the preservation and the development of the morality and spirituality of mankind. Without a high degree of moral and spiritual development, Muslims have no hope of success. Intermingling of sexes brings in its wake the worst of immorality and corruption which wreck nations and lay them to waste and ruin.

The First Category of Hijaab
The normal and general rule of Hijaab to be observed for non-Mahrams is total seclusion or segregation between the sexes. In this category of Hijaab the woman has necessarily to remain within the home environment and expose nothing of herself, not even her garments. In other words, she is not permitted to emerge from the home environment unnecessarily even clad in a Jilbaab with her face concealed. In this highest category of Hijaab commanded by the Quraan, she has to speak from behind a screen if need compels her to speak to a Ghair-Mahram male. In the following Aayaat (Verses) the Quraan commands this high degree of Hijaab: 

وَقَرْنَ فِي بُيُوتِكُنَّ وَلَا تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ الْأُولَىٰ

“(O Women)! Remain in your homes, and do not display (your) beauty as it used to be displayed in the days of earlier ignorance” (al-Ahzaab 33:33)

وَإِذَا سَأَلْتُمُوهُنَّ مَتَاعًا فَاسْأَلُوهُنَّ مِن وَرَاءِ حِجَابٍ  ذَٰلِكُمْ أَطْهَرُ لِقُلُوبِكُمْ وَقُلُوبِهِنَّ

“And when you (men) ask anything from them, ask them from behind a curtain. That is better for the purity of your hearts and their hearts.” (al-Ahzaab 33:53)

The highest category of Hijaab – the total separation between the sexes – is also established by the Ahaadeeth of Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam). Some of these Ahaadith are:
1) “Woman is an object of concealment. Thus, when she emerges (from her abode of concealment) Shaitaan (Satan) surreptitiously pursues her (and lies in wait to create his Fitnah of immorality)”. (at-Tirmizi)

2) “Allah curses the one who looks (at females) and the one to whom the gaze was directed (i.e. the woman who emerged unnecessarily from her home and thus caused men to glance at her.)” (Baihaqi)

3) “Beware of mingling with women”.
A man from the Ansaar asked: “What do you (O Prophet!) say about the brother of husband”.

The Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) replied: “The brother of husband is the death (of his brother’s wife).” (Bukhari)

4) the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said: “Women have no share in emerging (from their homes) except in cases of need”. (Tabaraani)

5) Hadhrat Ali reports that he was with Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) when he said: “What is best for woman?”

Hadhrat Ali said: “All the Sahaabah (Companions) remained silent. Then I went to Hadhrat Faatimah (my wife). I said to her: ‘What is best for woman?’

She replied: “They should not look at men nor should men look at them.’

I (says Hadhrat Ali) mentioned this to the Prophet who then exclaimed: ‘Fatimah is part of me.” (Daar-e-Qutni)

6) Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa)'s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said: “Women should not (unnecessarily) converse with men other than a Mahram” (Ibne Sa’ad)

Free, unrestricted and unnecessary conversation is not permissible between men and women.

7) Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa)'s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said: “A man who casts a gaze at a woman, looks at her garments and discerns her bodily shape, will not smell the fragrance of Jannah (Paradise).” (Shaami)

On the basis of this Hadeeth, the following Shara’i decree is recorded in the authoritative book of Islamic Law, Shaami: "The import of this statement of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa)'s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) is that it is prohibited for a man to view garments of a woman in a way which reveals to him her bodily shape even if the garments are of heavy cloth which is not transparent.

8) In a Hadeeth which appears in Abu Dawood, Nasaaee, Mishkaat, etc., “a woman handed a letter to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa)'s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) from behind a screen.” This establishes that Hijaab was observed for even Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa)'s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam).

9) Hadhrat Umme Humaid, the wife of Hadhrat Abu Humaid Saa’idi came to the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) and said: “O Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa)'s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam)! Verily, I love to perform Salaah with you”. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa)'s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said: “Verily, I know that you love to perform Salaah with me, but your Salaah in your little room is superior to your Salaah in your big room…”

Thus, a room for Salaah was erected for her in the remotest corner of her house and she remained performing Salaah therein until she met (i.e. died) Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa) (Ahmad, Ibne Khuzaimah, Ibne Habbaan)

10) Hadhrat Abdullah Ibn Umme Maktoom was an elderly and blind Sahaabi of Prophet Muhammad. Once when he came to visit Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa)'s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) whilst he was sitting with two of his wives, Hadhrat Umme Salamah and Hadhrat Maimoonah. The Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said to his wives: “Adopt Hijaab for him” (Withdraw from the place and go into seclusion).

Hadhrat Umme Salmah said: “O Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa)'s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam)! He is blind and cannot see us”. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa)'s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said: “What! Are both of you also blind? Can you not see him?” (Ahmad, Tirmizi)

If such noble women as the Holy Mothers of the Mo’mineen had to observe Hijaab for even a blind Sahaabi, to what degree will Hijaab then be applicable to people of our lowly caliber dominated by evil and the Nafs (desires)?

Besides afore going Quraanic and Hadeeth narrations there are numerous other Shara’i narrations which prohibit the unnecessary emergence of females from the home environment. The Wasiyyah (last wish) of Hadhrat Faatimah is most significant in demonstrating the Islamic emphasis on the concealment of women. When Hadhrat Faatimah was on her death-bed she made Wasiyyah that her Shrouded dead body should be again totally covered with a screening outer-covering so that nothing whatsoever of her body and even Shroud (Kafan) be seen by men.

Hadhrat Faatimah expressed this wish despite the fact that:
a) A dead body is not an object of sexual desire
b) The dead female body is wrapped so thoroughly in large sheets that it is impossible to discern any shape of the body. Nevertheless, this Wasiyyah was the last wish of the Leader of Womankind in Jannah, and to this day the Ummah is adhering to this Sunnah which will endure until the Day of Qiyaamah. This Sunnah of Hadhrat Faatimah is a wonderful Tafseer and insight into the Islamic meaning of Hijaab. After all, Hadhrat Faatimah, in the words of Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) “is part of me”.

The Deen (Islam) thus demands Hijaab for even the dead. But, in these times of Kufr (Infidel) modernity, Muslim ladies have totally abandoned Hijaab at the behest of the libertine culture of the West. Let them take lesson from the Wasiyyah of Hadhrat Faatimah. In contrast to a dead body, Hijaab is applicable in far greater measure to those who are alive. But, those who are alive, in spite of professing Islam, have sacrificed their bodies at the altar of immodesty which brings them within the scope of the Quraanic description of “exhibitions of the former times of Jaahiliyyah (the days of pre-Islamic ignorance)”.

Islam permits its females to emerge from the home when need and circumstances dictate such emergence. When a need which is recognized by the Shari’ah as a true need exists, the second category of Hijaab will come into operation. This second category is inferior to the first category of Hijaab in which total concealment of the woman including her garments has to be practiced. In the second category of Hijaab emergence will be permissible with certain restrictions being observed.

The Second Category of Hijaab
When circumstances of real need arise women are allowed to emerge from their homes. When circumstances compel her to leave the precincts of her home, she has to compulsorily observe the conditions explained hereunder. She must be properly and thoroughly covered in a loose outer-cloak which totally conceals her entire body including her face. In the following Aayaat, the Quraan commands this Hijaab:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ قُل لِّأَزْوَاجِكَ وَبَنَاتِكَ وَنِسَاءِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ يُدْنِينَ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِن جَلَابِيبِهِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ أَدْنَىٰ أَن يُعْرَفْنَ فَلَا يُؤْذَيْنَ

“O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers that they should draw down their shawls over them. That will make it more likely that they are recognized, hence not teased.” (al-Ahzaab 33:59)

A jilbaab is an outer sheet or cloak which during the time of the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) was large enough to conceal two women. The way in which the ladies during the time of the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) and the Sahaabah wore the jilbaab was such that it covered them from head to feet including the face. The termيدنين (yudneena – they should lower or draw down) appearing in the above Aayah orders that the cloak be drawn over from above and lowered in such a way as to conceal the face as well. Covering the face outside the home precincts was the standard and normal practice of the womenfolk during the time of the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam). In this regard Hadhrat ‘Aaishah narrates: “During the occasion of Hajjatul Widaa’ when people passed near to us, we (the ladies) would draw the jilbaab over the head and the face. When they (the people) departed from us, we would open our faces (because of Ihraam condition)”. (Abu Daawood)

Imam Ghazaali mentions in Ihyaaul Uloom: “Women emerged (during the time of the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) with Niqaabs on their faces”.

Niqaab is a cloth which conceals the face and not a transparent veil. In a Hadeeth in Abu Daawood an incident is described in which a young man was martyred. His mother, wearing a jilbaab fully covering her face came into the battlefield to enquire about her son. With face fully covered she appeared in the presence of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa)'s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam). Some people were surprised to observe that the lady donned the face-covering even during an emergency and on such a grave occasion. When she learnt of their surprise, the mother of the martyred Sahaabi said: “My son is lost, but my shame and modesty are not lost”.

In Durrul Mukhtaar, the authoritative Islamic Law Book, the following verdict of the Shari’ah is recorded: “Young women are compulsorily prohibited from revealing their faces in the presence of men”.

These narrations are sufficient to indicate that it is an Islamic demand of compulsion for women to conceal their faces when circumstances compel them to leave the home boundaries. This practice of concealing the face was not a later introduction, but existed from the very time of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa)'s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam). Certain narrations which indicate that women appeared in the presence of the Prophet should not be misconstrued and understood to have been the normal practice. Such narrations pertain to either incidents prior to the revelation of the Law of Hijaab or to special circumstances which were exceptional cases and not the normal rule.

It has already been mentioned that this category of Hijaab in which women are allowed to emerge from the home apply to cases of necessity. Such emergence, i.e. even with proper jilbaab covering, is not permissible for trivialities and for participation in events and gatherings which the Shari’ah does not impose on women nor considers meritorious for women. Among unnecessary gatherings and emerging in relation to women are universities, weddings, child-naming ceremonies, funerals, Jamaa’h (Congregation) of Salaat (Prayers), visiting the market or other public places, schools, visiting friends, etc. The Ahaadeeth mentioning the merits of visiting the sick and rendering services to others outside the home apply in general to men. Special cases will also apply to women. But, in general, such Ahaadeeth do not apply to women.

It devolves upon men as an obligation – a compulsory demand of the Shari’ah – to prevent their womenfolk from emerging unnecessarily from their homes and taking to the streets, markets and public-places where they are intentionally or unintentionally making themselves objects of exhibition for all and sundry. If men fail in discharging their obligation and permit their women folk free and unrestricted movement outside the home environment, they will be regarded as sinners along with their womenfolk. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa) commands Muslim men in the Quraan:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ وَأَهْلِيكُمْ نَارًا

“O you who believe, save yourselves and your families from a fire”(at-Tahreem 66:6)

The following appears in Shaami: “The husband should forbid his wife from visiting strangers (i.e. ghair mahaarim) and attending wedding feasts. If he permits her, both of them will be sinners”.

When circumstances compel her to leave the boundaries of the home, she is not allowed to apply perfume. This has been expressly forbidden by Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa)'s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) who said: “Verily, a woman who applies perfume and passes by a gathering is like an adulteress”. (Tirmizi)

What then is Islam’s view of women who emerge from the home scantily dressed, adorned and decorated with perfume and jewels, showing off their bodies and charms to every Tom, Dick and Harry on the public roads? Such women are constantly under the La’nat (Curse) of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa), curse of the Malaaikah (Angels) and the curses of all creation. This has also been unambiguously stated by the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam).

She must not emerge in attractive garments. According to Islam, the dress of women also has to be concealed by an outer-cloak which is not of attractive design. The aim of Hijaab is to make woman as inconspicuous as possible. Attractive garments have the opposite effect. Attractive garments for women are confined to the home environment and for the pleasure of their husbands. Besides her home, all other places in relation to adornment are described by the Hadeeth as inappropriate places. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa)'s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) criticizing women who adorn themselves for purposes and motives other than their husbands, said: “The likeness of a woman who is in adornment in a place other than her husband’s is that of the darkness which will prevail on the Day of Qiyaamah. There is no Noor for her”. (Mishkaat)

Negating attractive dress and exhibition by women outside the home, the Quraan states:

وَلَا تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ الْأُولَىٰ

“…..and do not display (your) beauty as it used to be displayed in the days of earlier ignorance;” (al-Ahzaab 33:33)

During the age of jaahiliyyah prior to Islam, immoral and lewd women paraded the streets displaying their adornment and finery.

When Muslim women are obliged by circumstances to leave the home precincts, they should not imitate such evil ways of the Kuffaar (Infidels). The Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) ordered: “But, they should emerge in unattractive garments (should need force them to emerge)”. (Abu Daawood)

When they emerge on account of necessity, they must cast down their gaze and not stare audaciously nor cast surreptitious glances from behind the Niqaab (face-covering veil). A Niqaab is not a license nor a cover for unlawful glances. The Quraan commands:

وَقُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِنَّ

“And tell the believing women that they must lower their gazes……” (al-Noor 24:31)

In this dignified and honorable manner Muslim women are permitted to emerge from their houses on account of necessity.

The Third Category of Hijaab
In this category of Hijaab, besides the face and palms of the hands, the entire body has to be concealed. Permission is granted to set aside the jilbaab and emerge from the home unveiled. This degree of veiling or Hijaab applies to only much elderly women beyond the age of marriage. Granting these concessions, the Quraan says: 

وَالْقَوَاعِدُ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ اللَّاتِي لَا يَرْجُونَ نِكَاحًا فَلَيْسَ عَلَيْهِنَّ جُنَاحٌ أَن يَضَعْنَ ثِيَابَهُنَّ غَيْرَ مُتَبَرِّجَاتٍ بِزِينَةٍ وَأَن يَسْتَعْفِفْنَ خَيْرٌ لَّهُنَّ

“Old women who have no longer hope of marriage (being beyond the age of marriage) – there is no sin on them if they put aside their (excess) garments (i.e. their jilbaabs) without exhibiting their zeenat (their bodies besides their faces and hands). And, if they refrain (from this concession), it is best for them.” (al-Noor 24: 60)

It is clear from this Quraanic Aayat that although a concession is granted for elderly ladies, it is best and Mustahab for them to retain the second category of Hijaab when they emerge. They too like young women should preferably don the jilbaab when they have to leave the home confines. However, it is permissible for them to set aside the jilbaab and leave the face open provided that they do not adorn themselves when they have to emerge from their homes. All other restrictions applicable to young women apply to them as well. They too are not allowed to emerge unnecessarily, with perfume and with finery decorated in the styles of the Kuffaar and Jaahiliyyah.

Thus, in essence, if a believing woman worships Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa) as He Alone deserves to be worshipped, preserves her chastity, and strives to the best of her ability to please her husband, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa)'s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) declared that she will be given the honor to enter the Eternal Gardens of Jannah by the gates of her choice! 

Narrated by Hadhrat Anas bin Malik that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa)'s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said: "When a woman offers the five times Salaah, observe Sawm (Fasts) during Ramadhaan, preserves her chastity and obeys her husband, she may enter by any of the gates of Jannah she wishes." (at-Tirmizi)

Many women from all walks of life and from different religions have found harmony and contentment in the way of life called Islam. After much abuse, mishandling, exploitation, indoctrination, manipulation, strife and searching they have ultimately realized that their lofty status and fundamental peace in this World and the Aakhirah (Hereafter) lies in the true unadulterated ethically moral Islamic System of Hijab. (Adapted from “Islamic Hijaab”)
 

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