THE HIJAB Q&A

Common Questions and Answers about the Muslim Woman‟s Dress

Da‟wah Institute of Nigeria Islamic Education Trust

THE HIJAB Q&A
Common Questions and Answers about the Muslim Woman‟s Dress

Da‟wah Institute of Nigeria Islamic Education Trust

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©Islamic Education Trust, 1429/2009 ISBN 978 - 2159 - 55 - 7

All rights reserved: No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner except with written permission from the publisher. Da‟wah Institute of Nigeria Islamic Education Trust Headquarters PMB 229, Ilmi Avenue, Minna, Niger State, Nigeria. Phone: +234-803-600-5535 Email: dawahinstitute@yahoo.com Website: www.ietonline.org

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CONTENTS
Foreword Acknowledgments Notes on Terminology and Transliteration Preface Main Question: “Is the Islamic dress code for women (hijab) not oppressive to them? Should Muslim men not also have a dress code? And should there be a dress code in the first place?” 1. The concept of dress-code in Islam 2. Is the veil not restrictive to women? 3. Is it true that the ideal „hijab‟ is more like the black chadors that present Iranian women wear or the black face-veils of present Saudi Arabian women or the burqas which are worn by Afghani women? 4. Why do Muslim women insist on wearing hijab when times have changed and many may live in cultures where most people do not wear it? 5. If the hijab has so many benefits, why do people of other faiths not also wear it? 6. Do Muslim women have to wear hijab all the time? 7. Is hijab not a repression of a woman‟s natural sexual powers?

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8. Is the responsibility of dress code for Muslim women only? 9. Is it true that the command in the Qur‟an specifies covering the bosoms only, and not the hair? 10. Are the face and hands „awrah? 11. Are the feet „awrah? 12. Is the hijab about women having respect for others? 13. Do women wearing hijab not feel very hot? 14. Why do some Muslim women not wear the hijab? 15. Is a woman who doesn‟t wear the hijab considered a bad or weak Muslim, deserving of condemnation? 16. Can the hijab be forced upon women? 17. Some say the hijab is a tool for men to rid themselves of the public presence of women and all the troubles that such presence causes. Is this true? Bibliography Recommended Websites

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FOREWORD TO THE SERIES
Islam is considered by many observers to be the fastest growing religion in the world, yet it is the most misunderstood of the world‟s major faiths. Some misconceptions about Islam stem from calculated propaganda against Islam, but a good amount of it is attributable to the ignorance of many Muslims whose limited knowledge and practice of Islam perpetuates these misconceptions. Due to the deficiencies of the common, restricted way of teaching Islam to children, many Muslims grow up believing that Islam requires only blind faith and invites no intellectual challenges. Often such Muslims manage with minimal knowledge of their faith until they interact with larger circles of people, in higher institutions or the work place, where they are confronted with many misconceptions about Islam, and face questions they cannot answer. It is in response to the need for empowering Muslims to know their religion, and to share its beautiful message with the rest of humanity, that this work was begun. This effort is part of a wider project of intellectual empowerment of the global Muslim world. Among the programs designed by the Islamic Education Trust over the past decade and a half is the Train the Trainers Course (TTC) in Islam and Dialogue. As its name indicates, the course is designed to train da‟wah volunteers in clarifying misconceptions about Islam, handling differences of opinion among Muslim scholars, and extending personal leadership training to others. The contents of this series of books evolved from teaching manuals from the TTC.

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It is hoped that this publication will serve as intellectual resource material for Muslims of different backgrounds. Justice Sheikh Ahmed Lemu, OFR National President Islamic Education Trust November 2008/Dhul-Qa‟dah, 1429 AH

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
All praise and gratitude is due to Allah Who has made this work possible. And may the peace and blessings of Allah be in His last messenger, Prophet Muhammad. The Prophet () said: “Whoever does not show gratitude to people does not show gratitude to Allah”. It is therefore with great pleasure that the Da‟wah Institute of Nigeria (DIN) takes this opportunity to express its sincere gratitude to all the brothers and sisters from all over the world, who have in various ways contributed to the development of the Train the Trainers Course in Islam and Dialogue (TTC) and its study material of which this book is a part. The material has evolved into its present form over a long period before and after the TTC became an organized course in 1994. The contributions to the course and its material have come in many ways, through numerous channels, both formally and informally, and from all over the world. They have come from contributors of various backgrounds, age-groups, organizations, and specializations. It has unfortunately become practically impossible to cite all who deserve mention - but Allah has counted them all, and we continue to pray Allah to bless them with the best in this life and the next. We will however mention at least the countries where the major contributors have come from, and may Allah forgive us for any omissions. Contributions to the development of the course have come from Australia, Bahrain, Burundi, Cameroun, Egypt, the Gambia, Ghana, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Niger, the

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Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, U.K., U.S.A., and most importantly, Nigeria. In Nigeria, we would like to acknowledge the following organizations for their key support in the development of the TTC material. They include the Da‟wah Coordination Council of Nigeria (DCCN), the Federation of Muslim Women‟s Associations in Nigeria (FOMWAN), the Movement for Islamic Culture and Awareness (MICA), the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN), the Muslim Corpers Association of Nigeria (MCAN), and the Nasirul Fatih Society of Nigeria (NASFAT). Others include numerous University departments, Colleges of Education, Colleges of Arts and Islamic Legal Studies, etc. We wish to acknowledge those who, to the best of our knowledge, had the greatest input to the TTC 101 Series. The chief editor of the material was Asiya Rodrigo, who also located most of the references and citations in this work. Others who greatly assisted in important capacities such as structure, content, clarity, style and preparation of the materials for printing include Justice Sheikh Ahmed Lemu, B. Aisha Lemu, Abdullahi Orire, Isa Friday Okonkwo, Muhammad Dukuly, Salatu Sule, Bashir Mundi, Nuruddeen Lemu, and Aliyu Badeggi. Finally, and on behalf of all the research team and staff of the Da‟wah Institute of Nigeria (DIN), I would like to pray for the Trustees and minds behind the Islamic Education Trust (IET), and the DIN in particular, Justice Sheikh Ahmed Lemu and B. Aisha Lemu, whose wisdom, support, encouragement and leadership have helped bring the DIN to where it is today alhamdulillah and jazākum Allahu khair.

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As only the Qur‟an is perfect, this material will by Allah‟s leave continue to evolve through revisions and improvements with better contributions from people like you, the reader, inshā Allah. May the reward for whatever benefit comes from this material go to those who have in any way contributed to it. The Da'wah Institute of Nigeria (DIN) takes full responsibility for any imperfection in this work, and we pray that such will be forgiven by Allah and you the reader. Alhaji Ibrahim Yahya Director Da‟wah Institute of Nigeria January, 2009 Muharram, 1430 A.H.

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NOTES ON TERMINOLOGY AND TRANSLITERATION
 Use of “” It is a time-honored and cherished tradition among Muslims that whenever the name of any of the numerous Prophets of God is mentioned, peace and blessings of God are invoked upon him. In line with this tradition and the injunction in Qur‟an 33:56, wherever the title “the Prophet,” “Messenger of Allah,” “Apostle of Allah,” or the Prophet's name, “Muhammad,” appears in this text, the blessing in Arabic () appears next to it. It means “may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.” Contemporary writings on Islam by Muslims use many variations and abbreviations of this benediction in Arabic or English or other languages such as “S.A.W.”, “s.a.s.”, “s”, “p”, “pbuh” and others. In deciding which customary symbol to use, it is worth mentioning that in manuscripts belonging to the first two centuries of Islam‟s intellectual heritage the writers did not rigidly adhere to the custom of writing a benediction after the Prophet‟s name1, and hence, there is no „best‟ way of representing it.  References to ahadith2 and commentaries drawn from computer software Efforts have been made to ensure that all ahadith (narrations or reported actions of Prophet Muhammad ()) in this material
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Jeffrey Lang, Struggling to Surrender: Some Impressions of an American Convert to Islam (Beltsville, USA: Amana Publications, 1994), p. ix. 2 Plural of hadith, i.e., a report about the actions and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad ().

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are drawn from reliable and well-respected collections. Reservations expressed by respected authorities about the authenticity of any hadith have been indicated in footnotes, even as its presence in this text indicates that it is considered authentic by other scholars of repute. An abundance of Islamic classical texts and some of their translations now exist on CD-ROMs.3 The present material has made use of some of these CD-ROMs for obtaining ahadith and their commentaries (tafasir). The most commonly utilized CD-ROM database of hadith in English has been the Alim Version 6.0 software. Hence, references to hadith collections that end with the phrase “in Alim 6.0” throughout this material refer to those obtained from the Alim Version 6.0 database (ISL Software Corporation, 1986-2000). References to collections of hadith commentaries which have been drawn from other CD-ROMs have been noted in footnotes throughout the text.  Transliteration of Arabic words Modern Islamic literature in English utilizes a number of transliteration systems for Arabic words. With a few exceptions, this material has followed the system used by the majority, the details of which may be found in the International Journal of Middle East Studies.4 However, for our ease and simplicity, we have omitted the diacritical dots and dashes which facilitate exact pronunciations. It is expected that this should not render the words unreadable.

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Database software for viewing information on computers. With a few exceptions.

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PREFACE
The conventional dress of Muslim women has become symbolic with Islam‟s presence in a society. Much has been publicized about the role of the hijab in the lives of Muslim women, and yet its significance to women and Islamic society remains clouded. Ignorance, stereotypes, and misconceptions significantly contribute to the inferiority complex, alienation, and rebellion experienced among some Muslims. Hence, the questions that are addressed in this book may stem from either a Muslim or non-Muslim presently struggling with the issue. Islam is considered by many observers to be the fastest growing religion, yet it is the most misunderstood of the world‟s major faiths. Misconceptions about Islam stem from calculated propaganda against Islam, but a good amount of it is attributable to the ignorance of many Muslims whose limited knowledge and practice of Islam perpetuates these misconceptions. Many Muslims grow up believing that Islam requires only blind faith and invites no intellectual challenges. Such people are often able to minimally manage their faith until they interact with larger circles of people, such as in school, the work place, or the internet. These interactions expose them to misconceptions about Islam that may be serious enough to shake their faith. It is in response to the need for empowering Muslims to, not only preserve their religion, but to share its beautiful message with the rest of humanity that this work was begun.

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THE HIJAB Q&A
Main Question: “Is the Islamic dress code for women (hijab) not oppressive to them? Should Muslim men not also have a dress code? And should there even be a dress code in the first place?” 1. The concept of dress-code in Islam Nearly all societies and Nearly all societies and cultures, cultures, both past and present, both past and present, have had have had implicitly-known or implicitly-known or explicitlyexplicitly-stated minimum stated minimum dress codes for dress codes for both its men both its men and women. With and women. With these these written or unwritten codes written or unwritten codes in in the collective consciousness the collective consciousness of of a society, wearing anything a society, wearing anything less less is considered “indecent is considered “indecent exposure” which is a moral or exposure” which is a moral or legal offence. legal offence. This minimum dress code has often changed with time and place. Islam, like traditional Judaism and Christianity, requires its adherents to observe a minimum dress code in accordance with some of the universal guidelines from its religious sources - the Qur‟an and Sunnah. Contemporary Muslims call their dress code the hijab (literally, a screen, barrier, cover or veil, etc.), and (though a dress code is applicable to men as well) the term often refers to a Muslim woman‟s dress. The minimum requirements of hijab are that it be loose, opaque (not transparent), and cover the parts of the body that are considered not for public viewing by Muslims (i.e., the “awrah”, which is everything except the face and hands for women, while some scholars also make an exception for the feet.

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Men‟s “awrah” – their minimum requirement for covering – is the area between their navels and their knees). The hijab also plays the role of a

Apart from the outer „privatization‟ of physical charms functions of a dress, the hijab and bodily attractions that are of helps to safeguard the no positive moral or societal value modesty and dignity of a in public or outside one‟s private person, as well as the gender- quarters. moral ideals of a society. The hijab also plays the role of a „privatization‟ of physical charms and bodily attractions that are of no positive moral or societal value in public or outside one‟s private quarters. In this sense, Muslim women are identified as believers and acknowledged for their spiritual status and social priorities (Q.33:59). The hijab therefore has moral-religious and practical functions and must be accompanied by good behavior befitting public interactions. Unfortunately, when it comes to the question of attire, sometimes the impression propagated by the media and other political vocalists is that the Muslim women who observe proper “hijab” are being oppressed, forced to be non-entities, or relegated to the background of society. Yet, anybody who is familiar with the Qur‟an5 and committed Muslim women knows that they do not dress as they do just because somebody else is telling them to dress such, or because they believe they have no value or contributions to make in society. Rather, they are committed to Almighty Allah and believe that hijab is part of the wisdom He gave to Muslims to keep society functional and Muslim women dignified.

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See Q.33:59, 24:30-31, and 24:60

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Most religions have a What Islam prescribes as male notion or concept of what is or female minimum dress is their minimum acceptable within the spectrum of dressing. To cover more than permissible dressing in most the minimum is usually religions. permissible and even encouraged. Most religions do not have a maximum dress code, and allow people to cover more of their bodies if they so wish. In the absence of an explicit maximum dress code for either men or women, what Islam prescribes as a minimum dress code is not something any religious text usually has a problem with. In other words, what Islam prescribes as male or female minimum dress is within the spectrum of permissibility of most religions. Consequently, though a Non-Muslim may want to criticize a Muslim woman‟s dress (or hijab), it is likely to be the case that their religion or religious text has no problem regarding what she is wearing. Such criticisms (as opposed to enquiries) are therefore more cultural, political, ethnocentric or xenophobic, than religious in origin. Let us examine the issue of hijab in detail, question by question:

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2. “Is the veil not restrictive to women?” The “veil” is a word which in many societies conjures up images of many things which have less to do with Islam than they have to do with cultural traditions. Due to these cultural connotations and their implications of restriction, the word “veil” may indeed be a misnomer for the type of dress that Muslim women wear. The more appropriate Islamic term would be “hijab” - meaning a „screen‟, the conditions of which are described in the Holy Qur‟an (verses 33:59, 24:30-31, and 24:60) and Sunnah. What is „screened out‟ (as opposed to the more prison-like „screened in‟) is neither the mind, the voice, nor the spirit, but simply certain physical elements unnecessary for public interaction (i.e. their “„awrah”, in Arabic). In other words, the Muslim woman‟s dress does not restrict any necessary aspects of interaction, as demonstrated by the great roles Muslim women have played in society, both past and present, in virtually all fields of human endeavor.

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3. “Is it true that the ideal „hijab‟ is more like the black chadors that present Iranian women wear, or the black faceveils of present Saudi Arabian women, or the burqas which are worn by Afghan women, with just a mesh over the eyes?” No specific color or style is prescribed in Islamic texts. Hijab is merely a prerequisite of everyday clothing worn in public; a comfortable outer garment or overcoat. Wearing veiling one‟s face. No specific color or style is prescribed in Islamic source texts. the hijab does not necessitate

Historically, the hijab was an additional amendment to the existing female dress6; the prescription in the Qur‟an refers women to cover their chests (“juyubihinna”) with the same cloth which used to be drawn over the head (the “khimar”), and to wear their overgarments (“jalabibihinna”) when in public.

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The dress which was worn by women prior to the revelation of verse Q.24:31

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4. “Why do Muslim women insist on wearing hijab when times have changed and many may live in cultures where most people do not wear it?” There are many any other Islamic individual reasons why Muslim Like women decide to wear a hijab. injunction, the ideal basis for Some are very personal and adopting the hijab is to seek the pleasure and blessings of Allah emotionally-motivated, complying with His involving a sense of by prescription. psychological security or spirituality, while other reasons are more rationally-thought out, while still others have social and political origins. Like any other Islamic injunction, the ideal basis for adopting the hijab is to seek the pleasure and blessings of Allah by complying with His prescription. This ideal is universal for all Muslims, irrespective of time and place, and the majority of It is a symbol of personal women who wear the hijab do so space/ownership – a personal for this very reason. The statement that a woman‟s following points enumerate body is her own business, and additional primary motivations that no-one should be given behind the wearing of hijab by an automatic entitlement to contemporary Muslim women in gaze at it except those that she legitimately invites (i.e. those most societies: whom she agrees to marry). a. As Islam is a holistic way of life designed for individuals and entire societies to function in a healthy manner, the hijab is not just a religious custom but a functional instrument, just as business-personnel have an executive wardrobe to foster a more professional atmosphere. Muslim women wear the hijab to create an atmosphere where those who interact with them do so at a level that is beyond physicality.

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b. The hijab facilitates the expression of a woman‟s fitrah (innate dispositions) and individual personality. It is psychological liberation in that she is no longer chained by society's unrealistic expectations of her as a female, and no longer needs to pretend to be something she is not naturally in order to win the approval of an ever-demanding society. Hence, without the pressure of society‟s bodily expectations, she is free to express her true self. c. It is a symbol of personal By making the decision to space/ownership – a wear the hijab, one‟s concern personal statement that a is no longer with the woman‟s body is her own judgment of “men” but with business, and that no-one the judgment of God alone. should be given an automatic entitlement to gaze at it except those that she legitimately invites (i.e. those whom she agrees to marry). d. Muslims are more concerned with their social and intellectual development in public than with attaining recognition for, or having any influence by their appearance. Wearing hijab fosters more social, spiritual, and intellectual public interaction between women and the men they come across in public. In this way, the hijab empowers a woman to take control over her public interactions and the dignified impressions she leaves on others, without having to become more masculine domineering. In other words, it is self-empowerment without the arrogance or any pretence! e. A woman is not an object/doll/merely a work of art. She is one with foremost a mind and a heart. Thus, wearing hijab asserts one‟s resistance to being reduced to anything less, either consciously or unconsciously. It also gives the immediate impression that one is not to be toyed with in a

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flirtatious or objectifying manner7, and prevents women from being used as beauty trophies in the games of sexist men. f. It also reduces selfconscious anxiety due to It preserves female dignity – what one looks like, and one‟s worth is not measured by increases God- „how much body‟ or „bodily consciousness and commodities‟ one has. One is consciousness of the more respected and known purely for important aspects of life. one‟s less superficial features. By making the decision to wear the hijab, one‟s concern is no longer with the judgment of “men” but with the judgment of God alone. g. It preserves female dignity – one‟s worth is not measured by „how much body‟ or „bodily commodities‟ one has. One is respected and known purely for one‟s less superficial features. It thus diminishes insecurity in the company of men that they are comparing a woman‟s attractiveness to that of other women, or labeling and analyzing her under a category of appearance, such as “blond”, “brunette”, “36-24-36”8 or “size 14”. h. Hijab diminishes the competition between women on temporary and artificial characteristics and draws their focus to co-operation and noticing (and being inspired by) each others‟ goodness and strength of character. This decreases depression and harmful behavior in women and girls who are not socially perceived as beautiful; and decreases pride in those who are.

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This significant reason is mentioned explicitly in the Qur’an in verse 33:59. A code sometimes used for the figure of a woman, whose measures include a 36-inch bust and hips, and a 24-inch waist. This sort of figure is fantasized by some men but highly unnatural in reality.

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i.

It helps society operate “...any woman who prays or better in accordance with prophesies with her head unveiled the commandments of dishonors her head. It is the same as Allah regarding sex and if her head were shaved...let her wear physical admiration a veil...” between the sexes when 1 Corinthians 11:3-13 these are confined to marriage. Bodily charms and sexual attraction are the right of those who are committed to each other before Allah. Such attractions are special and valued within marriage, and are not to be interfered with by enticements from anywhere else. It is a form of bonding in sisterhood as well as brotherhood. Muslim women in hijab recognize each other and bless each other with greetings of Salaam (Peace) from the identifier they wear.

j.

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5. “If hijab has so many benefits, why do people of other faiths not also wear it?” Modest dressing is regarded as a sign of virtue in all religions. Images of Mary, mother of Jesus (peace be upon them both), for example, would be reduced from nobility if her head were ever without its blue veil. The Bible in 1 Corinthians 11:3-13 says “...any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head. It is the same as if her head were shaved...let her wear a veil...” Some Christian women today wear hats or scarves when they go to Church purely because of this injunction. Though the reasons given in the Bible for veiling are different to those for a Muslim woman‟s hijab, it would be a mistake for Christians to condemn the practice of head-covering by Muslims since the practice is also spoken of in their own Sacred Scriptures, and has been the traditional dress (or uniform) of Christian nuns (such as late Mother Teresa). a. Orthodox Jewish women also cover their hair, though in modern times may do so with a beret (a broad and flattish hat) or even a wig. It would be a mistake for b. As a sign of respect, Hindu Christians to condemn the women in traditional practice of head-covering by societies also wear the scarf Muslims since the practice is when attending their also spoken of in their own Sacred Scriptures, and has temples. been the traditional dress (or c. It is compulsory for Sikh uniform) of Christian nuns women to also cover their (such as late Mother Teresa). hair, and traditionally most wear scarves that are no different from what Muslim women wear. Some modern Sikh women still retain the spirit of this injunction by not wearing their hair loose or unbraided in public.

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d. Buddhist monks (male and female) are also required to wear simple non-figure-revealing robes and shave their heads - to detach themselves from worldly adornments to be able to concentrate fully on mental and spiritual development. This mental and spiritual benefit parallels those benefits provided by the hijab in Islam, though Islam also accords an alternative context for such adornments. e. In many cultures, classes of women such as nuns, female priests, monks, virgins9, or the married10 are identified by unique apparel. Women belonging to each of these categories are treated, in such cultures, with consideration for their special status. However, in Islam, all women are equal and are deserving of the same immediate deference in interaction, not just the religious clergy or sexual „off-limits.‟ All Muslim women, are therefore, prescribed the same degree of dressing.

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The blue veil was traditionally a symbol of a virgin e.g. Mary, mother of Jesus (p). 10 The married are distinguished among Hindu women by the wearing of a red ‘bindi’ on their foreheads.

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6.

“Do Muslim women have to wear hijab all the time?” No. A hijab is not Sexual attraction and usually worn in the company beautification are in fact of one‟s immediate family, considered natural and spiritually husband, children, servants, rewarding in Islam, provided they elderly people no longer are done in the appropriate having sexual desire, and environment, for the healthy other women. For a Muslim, functioning of the society as an the public domain (where interconnected whole. one cannot control what type of people enter the environment) is one for social, intellectual, economic and spiritual development. Other luxuries of selfadornment and sexual interchange are left for the equally valued private domain. In most religions, spirituality cannot co-exist with worldly matters and so one is often abandoned for the other. Beautification, pampering, and sexual pleasures are usually considered not spiritually rewarding or even counter-spiritual in other religions. In Islam, however, the universal solution is to incorporate all needs into one‟s daily life but in a functional and conscious manner, carefully taking into account the welfare of everyone in society. Sexual attraction and beautification are in fact considered natural and spiritually rewarding in Islam, provided they are done in the appropriate environment, for the healthy functioning of the society as an interconnected whole.

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7. “Is the hijab not a repression of a woman‟s natural sexual powers?” Not exercising ones A woman who leaves parts of sexual power in the public her body exposed is usually sphere does not mean that it defended as having every right has been taken away or that to do so without question and one has no right to it. without having assumptions

a. A woman who leaves made about her parts of her body exposed is usually defended as having every right to do so without question and without having assumptions made about her. However, when a woman chooses not to leave parts of her body exposed, she is often not obliged the same right to do so without question and without having assumptions made about her. This is a double standard. c. It is almost automatically assumed that any woman in hijab is either foreign or not b. Many women are possessing the same perfectly happy without capacity to think for sexual attention from herself, make anyone other than her reasonable decisions husband. and live happily. It is superficial to associate such things with a piece of material worn externally. Many women are perfectly happy without sexual attention from anyone other than her husband. d. While to some women, the idea of being protective over their bodies means repressing one‟s sexual powers, to the vast majority of women who wear the hijab it means nothing of the sort. Indeed, for such women, it only consolidates their sexual powers and places it at a degree of such honor that only the men of a woman‟s marital choice have any right to experience them physically. Just as

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wearing „Jeans‟ may seem restrictive to those not used to wearing trousers, the reasons Jeans-wearers ascribe to their choice have nothing to do with restriction. It is only fair that one judges a choice of clothing by what meaning the wearers themselves ascribe to the clothing. e. Unrestrained expressions of women‟s sexuality have also led to certain problems for women and society in general which many Muslims wish to avoid.

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8. “Is the responsibility of dress code for Muslim women only?” No. Muslim men also have modest dress requirements for public functioning: loose clothing, covering at least the navel to the knees (inclusive); and no silk and no gold at all times.11 Across the Muslim world, men also customarily wear round caps or turbans to distinguish themselves as dignified Muslims. Many bedouin men from North Africa to the Middle East regularly wear headdress or even face Unfortunately, though Islam coverings. requires both men and women to The minimum basic utilize a dress code, very little requirement for Muslim men attention is placed in Muslim differs from that of Muslim communities on the compliance women because women are of men to these standards. less likely to achieve the objectives of hijab if her requirement was any less. The physical attributes of a woman are more likely to be objectified by men than the objectification and harassment men would receive if they had some of the same parts of their body exposed. For example, a man with his chest exposed is less likely to receive the same gaze and sexual taunting than a woman with her chest exposed. This does not mean however that men have no responsibility as the Qur‟an enjoins men to also cover themselves and “lower their gaze”. Allah says in Qur‟an 24:30, “Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty …” This relates to both physical and behavioral modesty. Unfortunately, though Islam requires both men and women to utilize a dress code, very
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For discussion on the length of clothing for men, see the relevant topics in the Training The Trainers Course in Islam and Dialogue of the Da‘wah Institute of Nigeria.

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little attention is placed in Muslim communities on the compliance of men to these standards. This demonstrates not the injustice of Islam but rather the shortcomings of some of its followers.

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9. “Is it true that the command in the Qur‟an specifies covering the bosoms, not the hair? What about the face, hands and feet?” Although the Qur‟an does not explicitly use the words “cover your hair”, it is however implied. It directed women who already wore such coverings over their hair, to use the same garment to cover their bosoms so that they may be known as respectable Muslim women. This also minimized sexual harassment by troublesome men. In addition, the Prophet () once advised Asmā‟, a young woman who appeared before him in transparent clothing, that once a woman reaches the age of puberty, nothing of her body should be visible to men except her face and hands (see references below). This injunction has provided more evidence for the understanding that a woman‟s hair is also included in those parts of the body that are to be out of public view. Since the days of the Prophet (), Muslim women have continued to wear the hijab in the manner worn by women of his time (who did cover their hair), as a form of solidarity and desire to emulate the pious. Older women who are no longer interested in marriage are not required to wear hijab to the extent of younger women (Q.24:60). However, across the Muslim world, older women too have retained a headscarf as a symbol of their unique Muslim identity and expression of dignity. A minority group of scholars argue that the meaning of the verses in the Qur‟an which refer to hijab relate to covering whatever may draw unnecessary sexual attention to oneself, according to time and place. This location-based interpretation of hijab leads to rulings of complete veiling in some societies, and relaxation in others. This is however a minority perspective. Whatever one‟s opinion is on which body parts of a woman the public has a right to view, it may be argued that a hijab which

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entails covering of the hair offers diverse and highly beneficial mechanisms for the protection of a woman‟s dignity and spiritual self, regardless of era or society.

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10. Are the face and hands ‘awrah? Though very few scholars “When a young lady begins to view the face and hands of a menstruate, it is not proper that woman as also being part of anything should be seen of her her „awrah (body parts to be except her face and hands.” kept private), the - Abu Dawood overwhelming majority of scholars do not. Among the evidence they cite in support of their stance are the following hadith: Narrated „Aisha: “Asmā‟, daughter of Abubakr, entered upon the Apostle of Allah () wearing thin clothes. The Apostle of Allah () turned his attention away from her. He said, „O Asmā‟, 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 his face and hands.”12 This hadith has been criticized as being mursal (missing a narrator in the chain of narrators) but is strengthened in its meaning by other sahih chains of narration. Asmā‟ bint „Umays narrated that, “The Messenger of Allah “Since the showing of the face () entered the house of and hands is necessary, the „Aisha bint Abubakr while her jurists had no choice but to sister, Asmā‟ bint Abubakr, agree that they are not „awrah, was with her. She was wearing and since the showing of the a dress from al-Sham (a region feet is not necessary, they have covering the Lebanon and differed concerning whether or Syria of today) with wide not they are „awrah.” sleeves. When the Messenger of Allah () saw her, he got up and went out. „Aisha said, „Leave the room for the Messenger of Allah has seen something he does not like.‟ So she withdrew. The Messenger of Allah () re-entered
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Abu Dawood, no.1902 in Alim 6.0

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and Aisha inquired as to why he stood to leave. He said, „Did you not see what she was wearing? It is not permitted for anything to be seen of a Muslim woman except this and this‟ and he took his sleeves and covered the upper part of his hands until nothing could be seen of his hands except his fingers. Then he lifted his hands to his temples until only the face could be seen.”13 Qatadah narrated that the Prophet () said, “When a young lady begins to menstruate, it is not proper that anything should be seen of her except her face and hands.”14 Al-Albani notes that these two other authentic chains (one from Asmā‟ bint „Umays and the other from Qatadah, in abbreviated format)15 explain why he authenticated „Aisha‟s hadith about Asmā‟ as hasan in his books Jilbab al-Mar‟ah al-Muslimah, Al-Irwah, Sahih Jami‟ as-Sagheer, and Takhreej al-Halal wal-Haram. Other scholars who have also strengthened it include al-Baihaqi, alThalabi, al-Mundhiri, al-Zayla„i, Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani and alShawkani.16

13 14

Al-Baihaqi Abu Dawood 15 Also found in Nasiruddeen al-Albani, Jilbab Al-Mar’ah Al-Muslimah fil Kitab was-Sunnah (Beirut: Al-Maktab al-Islamiyyah, 1994), and pp.57-59). 16 Jilbab al-Mar’ah al-Muslimah 3rd edition (Al-Maktabah al-Islamiyyah, 1996)

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11.

Are the feet ‘awrah:

While the majority of scholars view only the face and hands as not „awrah, other scholars view the feet as not part of the „awrah either. Imam Al-Razi (d. 606 A.H.) states that, “Since the showing of the face and hands is necessary, the jurists had no choice but to agree that they are not „awrah, and since the showing of the feet is not necessary, they have differed concerning whether or not they are „awrah.”17 Imam Abu Hanifa for example states that the feet are also not „awrah as they are naturally seen when walking. Furthermore, the face and hands are more attractive. Therefore, if the face and hands may be seen, so may the feet.18 Imam AnNawawi also stated that some jurists such as Al-Thawri also shared Abu Hanifa and Al-Muzani‟s view that the feet are not „awrah.19 In his commentary (tafsir) of “illa maa dhahara minha” (“except that which may be apparent”) in Q.24:31 regarding what need not be covered in a woman‟s dressing, Imam Al-Nasafi (d. 710A.H.) says, “„Except what is apparent thereof‟ means „except what has become customary and is the nature to show‟, and that is the face, the hands and the feet, for in covering them is clear difficulty, as the woman has no way of getting around and doing
17
18

Tafsir of Fakhr al-Deen al-Razi, vol.20, pp.205-206 This view of Abu Hanifa’s that the face, hands and feet may be visible, is cited by Ibn Taymiyyah in Fatawa al-Nisa’, p.36; Ibn Rushd in Bidayat alMujtahid wa Nihayat al-Muqtasid; Al-Kasani in Badi’ al-Sana’i fi Tartib alShara’i vol.5, and Burhan al-Din Abul-Hasan ‘Ali ibn `Abdul-Jalil Abubakr al-Marghinani al-Rushdani al-Hanafi in Al-Hidayah al-Muhtadi Sharh Bidayat al-Mubtadi. The face-and-hands-alone opinion has also been attributed to Imam Abu Hanifa by Ahmad ibn Naqib in his Shafi‘i text, Umdat as-Salik 19 Al-Nawawi, Al-Majmu’: Sharh al-Muhadhdhab, vol.3, pp.167-169

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things with her hands. Also, there is the necessity of uncovering the face, particularly in the issue of witnessing, or trials, or marriage. It is also inevitable when walking the streets, as well as the showing of the feet, and particularly for poor women.”20

20

Al-Nasafi, Madarik al-Tanzil, vol.2 (Dar Ibn Kathir, 1998), p.500

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12.

“Is the hijab about women having respect for others?” Some women wear the hijab at certain religious functions, upon the appearance of certain people, after marriage, or This fact that long loose clothes during certain situations only. protect one from the sun‟s This may lead to the intensity has been recognized by assumption that the hijab is many Cancer Advisory Councils worn out of respect for certain around the world, who also wearing long people and events and that it recommend and has no value or objective sleeves dresses/skirts/trousers when otherwise. outside. Modest dressing does convey respect for others. However, since most women have an intrinsic sense of self-respect, the hijab is an expression of this. It is also an expression of the respect Muslim women have for the guidance of Allah.

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13. “Do women wearing hijab not feel very hot?” A: How hot one feels depends on the material/fabric one wears, how one wears it, and one‟s adaptation to a particular climate or dress. Cotton or lightweight fabrics, as well as lighter shades/colors are usually rather cooling, and loose dress provides a lot of ventilation. In humid climates, it is usually tight-fitting clothes that make a person feel hot. Women in hijab usually tie their hair up into a bun, braids or ponytail (unless they have short hair) or keep it up inside a small cap, with their scarves hanging down over the top. This can in fact be cooler than having long hair draped over one‟s neck and back, since hair tends to absorb heat while light cloth tends to deflect heat. Like the back flap of a sun-hat, a scarf and long clothing provide a lot of shade and protection from sunburn. This fact that long loose clothes protect one from the sun‟s intensity has been recognized by many Cancer Advisory Councils around the world, who also recommend wearing long sleeves and dresses/skirts/trousers when outside. It is furthermore very common nowadays for cosmetics companies and dermatologists to advise women that visible signs of aging on the skin may be curtailed or slowed down dramatically by protecting one‟s skin from over-exposure to sun and wind. Covering up, therefore, is not just advised by Islamic texts and seems hardly punishing in the light of all its benefits. Women who are used to wearing long clothing also generally do not feel as disturbed by heat as those who are not used to it.

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14. “Why do some Muslim women then not wear the hijab?” Some women are not Wearing hijab in a disapproving aware that the Qur‟an and society takes a great deal of Sunnah contain any internal strength, and the injunctions on the wearing of company of those who are hijab, while others have not yet appreciative of its many understood the true function, benefits. Women who are significance and benefits of struggling with the issue may hijab. Many have been raised take inspiration from others have successfully in cultural environments where who the hijab is viewed as being overcome these hurdles outdated, or only for the most pious, elderly, lower or upper classes. Some view the hijab as only a cultural dress. Yet others feel they are not ready to make such a bold statement, either because they still wish to appear attractive to others or because they fear discrimination, prejudice or a barrage of questions about Islam which they are not yet knowledgeable enough to answer. And still others need only the encouragement and support of more Muslim brothers and sisters. Wearing hijab in a disapproving society takes a great deal of internal strength, and the company of those who are appreciative of its many benefits. Women who are struggling with the issue may take inspiration from others who have successfully overcome these hurdles.

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15. “Is a woman who doesn‟t wear the hijab considered a bad or weak Muslim, deserving of condemnation?” Allah judges a person‟s It is not a Muslim‟s role sincerity and application of to judge a person‟s heart, in faith based on His full order to state whether he or she awareness of their intentions, personal is good or bad. Allah knows best circumstances, why a particular person does not struggles, knowledge and wear a hijab, and whether this is understanding. due to weakness in faith or otherwise. The role of fellow Muslims is not to condemn but to try and advise and enjoin guidance where we can, “with wisdom and goodly exhortation” (Qur‟an 16:125). Allah judges a person‟s sincerity and application of faith based on His full awareness of their intentions, circumstances, personal struggles, knowledge and understanding. Courtesy and fair behavior is an obligation of Muslims to all mankind, regardless of Besides these natural their religion or how they consequences, there is no known appear. In fact, one of the record of the Prophet () ever greatest sins in Islam is to applying a state punishment upon belittle the honor of a good men or women who were not in woman, whether she wears a full hijab. scarf or not. However, hijab is a merciful provision from Allah and is therefore worn by Muslim women in respect to Allah‟s authority and eagerness to benefit from its practical purposes.

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16.

“Can the hijab be forced upon women?” It is compulsory for a Muslim woman to wear the hijab. It is, however, up to the state (or parents) to decide how to encourage or enforce a dress code, and whether to consider noncompliance a legal or only moral offence. Islamic sources are guidance for one‟s life in order to make us fulfill our purpose and maximize true inner peace and contentment. The Qur‟an states that humans have been given freewill, that this life is a learning opportunity and a test of faith.21 A doctor may provide a prescription for certain problems that a person may face, but it is the choice of the patient whether to accept the prescription or whether to even search for a doctor at all. While the prescription of hijab is the will of Allah, a Muslim is someone who voluntarily and wholeheartedly submits his/her will to that will of Allah, and strives for the peace that results through that submission. Freewill or freedom of Most women who choose to conscience implies that humans study Islam deeply for have a choice in whether to place themselves inevitably come to their trust in Allah and His the conclusion that hijab is wisdom, and how they are going necessary for their own sense to apply Allah‟s guidance to their of personal identity, privacy, public or private lives. Islam modesty, resistance, peace, teaches that an incorrect choice and liberation. is to the detriment of the individual who decides upon that particular course (Q.33:36). Besides these natural consequences, there is no known record of the Prophet () ever applying a state punishment upon men or women who were not properly dressed. However, an Islamic state has the right to enforce a minimum dress code, just as
21

Q.21:35; 90:4; 20:131; 47:31

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most societies do. This, however, requires careful thought and wisdom as regards the most effective holistic means for promoting better modesty in dress and behavior. Islam‟s guidance for gender A purely legal approach may not be the interactions seeks to promote most effective. Most women who positive and beneficial relations choose to study Islam deeply for while reducing negative themselves inevitably come to the consequences. conclusion that hijab is compulsory for their own sense of personal identity, privacy, modesty, resistance, peace, and liberation.

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17. “Some say the hijab is a tool for men to rid themselves of the public presence women and all the troubles that such presence causes. Is this true?” The assumption of this question is that the hijab eliminates the presence of women in society, and thus that men no longer need to be concerned about their own self-control. The reality is that women do not disappear from existence when they wear the hijab, nor is their role in society hampered by it. In fact, the hijab facilitates their participation in the public domain even more, as they do not feel as self-conscious about their bodies being objectified. Muslims believe that it is not a “man‟s world” but that Allah is the Owner and Sustainer of all worlds, and that Allah has created both men and women for this world. Hence, Islam has provided guidance for men and women to interact in this world for maximum benefit and minimal problems. This guidance includes the injunction for both men and women to lower their gaze and guard their modesty, as well as an encouragement to get married to satisfy sexual desires, and to avoid physical contact and privacy with members of the opposite sex whom one is not married to. For the God-fearing, these injunctions are sufficient to minimize trials that arise from the presence of the opposite sex. Committed and free Muslim women know that they wear hijab not to reduce the obligations of men‟s self-control or because anyone is telling them to do so, but because of their regard for Allah. Moreover, they take pride in knowing they are implementing something from His Almighty Wisdom for the benefit of themselves and society as a whole.

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IBN QUTAYBAH, ABU MUHAMMAD ABDALLAH B. MUSLIM AL-DAYNURI. Ta'wil Mushkilat Al-Qur'an. Cairo: Dar al-Turath, 1973. Kitab Ta'wil Mukhtalaf Al-Hadith. Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al'Arabi, n.d. IBN RUSHD (AL-HAFID), ABU AL-WALID MUHAMMAD B. AHMAD B. MUHAMMAD B. AHMAD AL-QURTUBI. Bidayat al-Mujtahid wa Nihayat al-Muqtasid. Beirut: Dar alKutub al-'Ilmiyyah, 1997 IBN TAYMIYYAH, TAQI AL-DIN AHMAD B. 'ABD ALHALIM. Majmu' al-Fatawa. Ed. 'Abd al-Rahman b. Muhammad b. Qasim. Cairo: Maktabat Ibn Taymiyyah, n.d. SABIQ, AL-SAYYID. Fiqh al-Sunnah. 13th edn. Cairo: al-Fath li alA'lam al 'Arabi, 1996 WIZARAT AL AWQAF, KUWAIT, Mawsu'at al-Fiqhiyyah, Wizarat al-Awqaf, Kuwait, 2004 ZAYDAN, 'ABD AL-KARIM. Al-Mufassal fi Ahkam al-Mar'ah. Beirut, Lebanon: Mu'assasat al-Risalah, 1993

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RECOMMENDED WEBSITES22
www.altafsir.com www.discoverislam.net www.ietonline.org www.irf.net www.islam.about.com www.islam-guide.com www.islamic-awareness.org www.islamicgarden.com www.islamicity.com www.islamicweb.com www.islamonline.net www.islamunveiled.com www.jannah.com www.jannah.org www.masud.co.uk www.muhaddith.com/index.html www.muslimtube.blogspot.com www.renaissance.com.pk www.shamela.ws (Arabic) www.soundvision.com/info www.sunnipath.com www.uga.edu/islam www.witness-pioneer.org/ www.zaytuna.org
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These online resources have very useful information and products on Islam. This list is, however, far from being exhaustive, as new websites debut on the internet daily. Other Islamic websites may be even more informative than the above listed, and whereas these websites are recommended, not all the views and opinions expressed in them necessarily reflect those of DIN or the IET.

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PUBLICATIONS OF THE DA‟WAH INSTITUTE OF NIGERIA (DIN) Basic Module 101 Series
1. Understanding Misconceptions about Islam 2. Diversity in Muslim Scholarship 3. The Authenticity of the Qur‟an 4. What is “Islamic” Culture? 5. The Hijab Q&A 6. Should Muslim Women Speak? 7. Is Polygamy Fair to Women? 8. Muslim Women in the Public Space 9. Relations with non-Muslims 10. Jihad and the Spread of Islam 11. Sharing Islam through Dialogue

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“Is the Islamic dress code for women (hijab) not restrictive and oppressive to them? Should Muslim men not also have a dress code? And should there be a dress code in the first place? Why do Muslim women insist on wearing hijab when times have changed and many may live in cultures where most people do not wear it? If hijab has so many benefits, why do people of other faiths not also wear it? Is it true that the command in the Qur‟an specifies covering the bosoms only, and not the hair? What about the face, hands and feet?” etc. These questions often stem from the struggles of either Muslims or non-Muslims with the issue of the hijab. They have also contributed to the inferiority complex, alienation, and rebellion experienced among some Muslims. Hijab Q&A deals with some of the most common questions that arise from the misconceptions, stereotypes, and ignorance surrounding the role and significance of hijab in the lives of Muslim women.
The Da‟wah Institute of Nigeria (DIN) is the research and Islamic propagation department of the Islamic Education Trust (IET). The DIN partners with other organizations for comprehensive capacity building and improved da‟wah effectiveness. It conducts training programs on Islam and Dialogue for Peaceful Coexistence, as well as Personal Development and Leadership, Business and Financial Literacy, Pre-marital and Marital Counseling, Da‟wah Resource Management, and other courses. DIN also organizes a rural Da‟wah Grassroots Program, Imam training courses, and produces audiovisual and other multimedia content. In addition DIN partners with other organizations, Muslim or non-Muslim, governmental or NGO, in furthering its objectives and the strategic good of society at large. DIN‟s partners have bee organizations based in Nigeria as well as other countries in Africa, North America, Australia, South Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Da‟wah Institute of Nigeria Islamic Education Trust Headquarters PMB 229, Ilmi Avenue, Minna, Niger State, Nigeria. Phone: +234-803-600-5535 Email: dawahinstitute@yahoo.com Website: www.ietonline.org

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