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Importance of Hijab
There is a common misunderstanding among the people about things which are compulsory in Islam. Many believe that only the pillars are compulsory and rest of the things like hijab are not obligatory. This concept is wrong. There are things other than these pillars which are also obligatory. We need to understand that some of the things are more important than others and these should be done in sequence like Shahada comes before Salat. Today Muslims are divided on many issues and one issue is Hijab. Despite the clear rulings of Sharia on this, many people claim that the order for women to observe hijab is not found in Islam. Even those who accept this are also confused and are not observing it correctly It is emphasised in the Quran to wear dress and cover your body O children of Adam, We have bestowed upon you clothing to conceal your private parts and as adornment. But the clothing of righteousness – is best. That is from the signs of Allah that perhaps they will remember. (Surah Araaf 7 : verse 26) Observing Hijab is mentioned with the Salat and Zakath And abide in your houses and do not display yourselves as was the display of the times of ignorance. And establish prayer and give zakath and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah intends only to remove from you the impurity [of sin], O people of the Prophet's household, and to purify you with extensive purification. (Surah Ahzab 33 : verse 33)
2. Misconceptions about Hijab
(1). Some people believe that Hijab is only for women. This is not true as Hijab for men is that they should lower their gaze. Tell the believing men to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what they do. (Surah Noor 24 : verse 30) It is very clearly mentioned in the above verse that believing men are ordered to lower the gaze. (2). Some people believe that observing Hijab is a choice and depends on an individual. This is not a choice rather a direct command from Allah. O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.(Surah Ahzab 33 : verse 59) Some people believe that the order for Hijab is only for the wives of the Prophet (SAW). They need to read the above verse to clear their wrong concept.
And women of post-menstrual age who have no desire for marriage – there is no blame upon them for putting aside their outer garments [but] not displaying adornment. But to modestly refrain [from that] is better for them. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing. (Surah Noor 24 : verse 60) The above verse clearly states that there is no blame on older women if they don’t observe Hijab and this is another proof that there is blame on younger women if they don’t observe Hijab. And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision () and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment (b) except that which [necessarily] appears thereof (c) and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment [i.e., beauty]. (Surah Noor 24 : part of verse 31) (a) Looking only at what is lawful and averting their eyes from what is unlawful. (b) Both natural beauty, such as hair or body shape, and that with which a woman beautifies herself of clothing, jewelry, etc.(c) i.e., the outer garments or whatever might appear out of necessity, such as a part of the face or the hands. (3). Some observe hijab for the sake for humans while others don’t observe Hijab because their close relatives don’t want them to observe Hijab. This is again incorrect Some women don’t observe hijab because their father or husbands don’t like that. This is totally wrong as rights of Allah come first. Narrated Ali (RA), Prophet (SAW) said, “There is no obedience to creation in the disobedience of Allah”. (Musnad Ahmad) Some sisters observe Hijab because their father, mother or husband want them to observe Hijab. This is wrong since observing Hijhab is a direct message from Allah and it should be observed with the intention that this is done for the sake of Allah. (4). Some believe that Hijab means to cover head only. This is again incorrect. Narrated Abdullah bin Umar (RA): A person stood up and asked, “O Allah’s Apostle (SAW) What clothes may be worn in the state of Ahram?” The Prophet replied, “Do not wear a shirt or trousers, or any headgear (e.g. a turban), or a hooded cloak; but if somebody has no shoes he can wear leather socks provided they are cut short off the ankles, and also, do not wear anything perfumed with saffron, and a woman in the state of Ihram should not cover her face, or wear gloves.” (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 29, Number 64) It is clear from this Hadith that Prophet (SAW) specifically pointed out about the face and hands only and it is understood that rest of the body should be covered normally and also in the state of Ahram.
3. What is mentioned in the Hadith about Hijab
Muslim women used to observe Hijab during the time of Prophet (SAW) Narrated Aisha (RA) : Prophet (SAW) used to offer the Fajr prayer and some believing women covered with their veiling sheets used to attend the Fajr prayer with him and then they would return to their homes unrecognized. (Sahih Bukhari, Vol 1, Bk 8, Num 368) People on one extreme (the modernists) have this wrong concept that Scholars have come up with this ruling about Hijab and that the women were not observing Hijab during the time of Prophet (SAW). They need to look at the above Hadith to clear their wrong concept. Women are allowed to go out while observing proper Hijab
Narrated Aisha (RA) Whenever the Prophet (SAW) intended to proceed on a journey, he used to draw lots amongst his wives and would take the one upon whom the lot fell. Once, before setting out for Jihad, he drew lots amongst us and the lot came to me; so I went with the Prophet; and that happened after the revelation of the Verse of Hijab (Sahih Bukhari, Vol 4, Bk 52, Num 130) People on the other extreme say that women should not be allowed to go out at all. These people need to clear their concept by looking at the above Hadith. Hadith used by scholars to exclude face and hands from Hijab Narrated Aisha (RA): Asma, daughter of AbuBakr, entered upon the Prophet (SAW) wearing thin clothes. The Prophet (SAW) turned his attention from her and said: O Asma when a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it does not suit her that she displays her parts of body except this and this, and he pointed to her face and hands. (Sunan Abu Dawood, Book 32, Number 4092) (A weak Hadith according to Imam Abu Dawood) Narrated Sahl bin Sad (RA): A lady came to the Prophet (SAW) and said, "O Allah's Messenger! I have come to you to offer myself to you." He (SAW) raised his eyes and looked at her and then lowered his head. When the lady saw that he did not make any decision, she sat down. …..…(Sahih Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 61, part of Number 548) The scholars use the Ahadith above to prove that hands and face are excluded since Prophet (SAW) saw that woman (as mentioned in the second Hadith). According to the scholars who include face and hands in the hijab the incident mentioned in the second Hadith above was before the revelation of the verse about Hijab. Ahadith about covering face, hands and head. Narrated Safiya bint Shaiba (RA): Aisha used to say: When the Verse about hijab was revealed, the ladies cut their waist sheets at the edges and covered their faces with the cut pieces." (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 282) Narrated Aisha (RA), The Prophet (SAW) said: Allah does not accept the prayer of a woman who reached puberty unless she wears headcover. (Abu Dawood, Bk 2, Num 0641) The second Hadith above is conclusive and shows the importance of covering the head. Covering of the face and hands from Quran according to scholars Some scholars consider covering the face and hands as compulsory as according to them the word “Zeenatahunna” used in Surah Noor 24 verse 31 includes face and hands. As for the Hadith about not covering the face during Hajj according to them is a special case. Other scholars don’t include face and hands when describing the words “Zeenatahunna”
4. Rulings about Hijab
Requirements for Dress according to scholars The Muslim woman's dress should meet the following conditions: (1) It should cover the whole body. (2) It should be loose. (3) It should be thick enough and not see through. (4) It should not resemble the dress of men or the dress of unbelieving women. (5) It should not be a dress worn to seek fame or showoff. (6) It should not be decorated as to attract the eyes of men. (7) It should not be perfumed when going out. There is no mention of any particular colour of clothes or type i.e shirt, trouser, long skirt or any make cotton, wool etc. Any dress that is according to the above criteria can be used. According to scholars wearing a trouser is not suitable since it shows the figure even though it is loose.