Hijab is Not to Protect Men, But to Honor Women


As we know, Islam provides a few guidelines on dress code for both men and women. They are designed to promote modesty while still allowing a functioning and healthy society. I’ve heard and read a number of stories and have observed the attitudes of many brothers: that Islamic guidelines for women’s clothing and modesty exist largely for the purpose of protecting men from fitnah (trial, spiritual test, calamity). If a Muslim woman does not dress in a way they deem appropriate in their vicinity, some people will denigrate them for dressing or acting un-Islamically and being a fitnah for them. Some of these comments highlight an understanding that is divorced from healthy Islamic principles:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/chicagobart/5153060145/in/photostream/

“Oh man, these girls are a fitnah!”

“If a guy looks at you more than once, you aren’t covering properly.”

“If a guy likes you, then you are a fitnah in the community.”

“If you’re causing fitnah at school, it is better for you to leave the school.”

“Cover properly, so that you aren’t a trial for the guys!”

Such comments strike at the insecurities, religious aspirations, and self-esteem of our sisters in a way Islam never ever meant. This environment can only result in a few endings. One, a person will decide that she wants nothing to do with a practicing version of Islam and will leave practicing circles, deciding to strike her own path. Why would anyone want to be in a judgmental environment? Second, she may buy into this version of “Islam” and develop insecurities and issues that a natural, Prophetically-guided, scholarly approach to Islam would never allow.

In Islam, hijab is not demanded of women by men. Hijab and modesty is ordered upon women by the Merciful Ever-Living, Ever-Watchful God, as a protection and a barrier. A means of interacting in society while holding the line against anyone who would seek to harass, hit on, annoy, or irritate them. It is an outward symbol of an inward spiritual reality and aspiration. It is not a political flag for the Islamic state, it is not a sign of women’s subjugation to men, it is not a litmus test for religiosity, and it is not a measure of a woman’s piety, family background, or sign of her upbringing.

It is one act, a result of one of God’s commands. Everyone tries to obey Him, all of us fall short. As one of the `ulama (scholars) in Chicago once taught: “A person’s public sin is no worse than your private sin.”

The attitude that hijab and Islamic dress codes exist to protect men are an utter and total fallacy.  How do we know that? Let us approach the Book of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He):

“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.” (Qur’an 33:59)

This verse comes with the cause or ‘illa behind the commandment: “so that they may be known and not abused.” Notice that the verse does not come with any mention of men. This is about the protection of women’s physical safety and presence from men, not the protection of men’s spiritual state from women. The fact that this protection may occur is a benefit of the Hijab for the community, not its purpose. From this, we can take four points that are critical to a healthy Islamic understanding of hijab.

  1. Hijab is not there to protect men. If you think it is there to protect you as a man, we have turned an act to be done for Allah (swt), into an act to be done for us. It is there to protect women, so do not pervert the purpose of this command of God (swt).  There is no doubt that we come across immodesty on TV, at school, work, and all over. We should not use the fact that a sister is dressed in a way that does not fit God’s commandments (or our personal interpretation of God’s commandments) into a reason for having bad manners, a lack of respect, and a lack of humility.

For brothers, we should lower our gazes and move on. We don’t need to comment about how this is such a fitnah or loudly say, “Astaghfirullah (I seek refuge in God),” so our boys can hear us and see how “pious” we are.

For sisters, if you want to advise someone about hijab, ask yourself, am I advising because it makes me feel pious? Or am I advising because I care about this person and want to be a good friend and sister in calling her towards the pleasure of Allah (swt)? Most of the sisters who decide to wear the hijab in adulthood don’t do it because someone yelled at them or taunted them. They do it because they were able to recognize its beauty after spending time with people who wore it with dignity and showed modesty not just in their clothing, but also in their character.

  1. Men should frame the issue of the fitnah of women in their environment as a factor of their own closeness to God. We know the society we live in and the schools we go to. That was never a surprise. Taqwa (God consciousness) is the key protecting us, so focus on that.

There are so many gender-relations talks and seminars in Muslim communities that it almost baffles the outsider. How can a group of people who claim to have the guidance and the path to Paradise laid out for them by the Best of Mankind ﷺ (peace be upon him), have trouble understanding the basics of how to interact with one another professionally and with respect?

The issue of struggling with the base desires, as mentioned in Imam al-Ghazali’s book, “Breaking the Two Desires,” is one that is closely tied to one’s relationship with God. The soul is something that was created by God, and in order to get it to grow and defeat the base desires of the body, it must be fed. As Shah Walilullah wrote, something that is created out of the spiritual world, cannot be fed with the material of the physical world. If we want to curtail the desires of our body (for sex, comfort, food), and increase the spiritual discipline and awareness of God in our own souls, the key is developing a relationship and connection to the Book of God, the houses of God, the people of God, and the remembrance of God. Complaining about how some women in our environment do not dress appropriately and so we are having spiritual struggles is a cop out.

As many of our spiritual masters have said over the centuries, the first step in gaining nearness to God, is to understand that one must blame his or her own soul, and acknowledge his or her own deficiencies, before seeking the One who is Free From Deficiencies. This is put into action through tawbah – turning towards God in repentance.

  1. Hijab is about the Fiqh (Law) for Women, not the Tazkiyyah (Spiritual Purification) of Men

We should make no mistake. The legal opinion of normative Islam, from the time of the Prophet ﷺ till today, is undivided in the view that women should cover their hair and dress modestly in the presence of non-familial men. The scholars are also undivided in the fact that you and I should not yell at our parents, swear at the weather, treat people harshly, drink alcohol, miss prayers, speak meanly to others, backbite, or judge other human beings without knowing their situations.

Muslim men should focus on their spirituality through good company, prayer, and all the other practices we are ordered to do, while allowing this to remain an issue’s of women’s fiqh (law), and not of men’s spirituality.

Because of the judgmental comments and harshness, and sometimes, sly, torpedo-in-the-water comments directed towards our sisters, many imams, da`ees (people who call others to Islam), teachers, and well-meaning advisors have trouble approaching the topic of hijab. Anyone even discussing it is often painted with the paintbrush that he is “judgmental.” This occurs even when the da`ee or teacher is doing so in the best of manners and with sound knowledge. This fault is on all involved of course – those of us responsible for spreading an environment of harshness, and those responsible for judging all religiously-oriented figures as being harsh and difficult to deal with.

The bad manners of some of us in “enjoining good” have made it impossible for our teachers and people of knowledge to enjoin it correctly, as people paint all of those who open their mouth on this and other issues with the same brush. This allows those who actually try to claim that the hijab is not a part of Islam to have their ignorance heard, while keeping the knowledgeable scholars from having their knowledge spread. 

  1. Men should advise the women of their family and encourage them on this topic in a way that befits the Prophetic character.

No one should take this to mean that hijab is not an important part of a Muslim’s woman’s obligations towards God. But that is the key. Towards God. Hijab should not become inflated as a symbol that boosts the religious standing of a woman’s family, nor a flag of political Islam, nor a tool to show off her piety, nor a cloth of guilt that makes her hate it.

It is instead, a command from God that comes in the most beautiful manner, for her own protection, her own elevation, and her own dignity.

Conclusion

As a closing note, we should remember that if we are doing something that is good, and are enabled to do it – we should not cast off that good deed just because we may have suddenly realized that our original intention was not solely for the sake of Allah (swt). Even if we are wearing the hijab, praying regularly, speaking well, giving charity, or doing any other good deed and originally began it with an intention that wasn’t healthy or focused on Allah (swt), we should not let Shaytaan (the Devil) trick us into ceasing the good deed. Instead, we can turn towards our Lord, ask him to purify our intention, and dedicate our deed towards Him.

This is a religion that is about community. As our Lord states in Surat al Hujurat (The Chapter of the Rooms, Qur’an 49), we are nothing but brothers and sisters to each other. We should advise each other towards good, but do it with a sound understanding of the legal basis of what we are calling to, as well as a sound understanding of the manners that befit our message.

 

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78 Comments

  1. Assalaamu alaikum :)

    And jazak Allah kheir dear Brother for this article!

    This is in particular was SO spot on:
    “It is not a political flag for the Islamic state, it is not a sign of women’s subjugation to men, it is not a litmus test for religiosity, and it is not a measure of a woman’s piety, family background, or sign of her upbringing.”

    And this too:
    “Muslim men should focus on their spirituality through good company, prayer, and all the other practices we are ordered to do, while allowing this to remain an issue’s of women’s fiqh (law), and not of men’s spirituality.”

    And really, that last one is sound advice for everyone, men, women, old, young….don’t let others’ issues be a cop out for your spiritual growth. I will have to remember that myself :)

  2. Tarek says:

    One thing I’m unsure about is how exactly the hijab “protects” women. I mean it’s obvious that many times men hit on women and harass them even if they’re wearing the most loose fitting ‘abaya possible. Could you explain that a bit more?

    • fadumo says:

      asalamu alaykum
      , first and for most lets clear up this misconception your’re having with hijab. hijab is just another word for modesty, and doesn’t only apply to women but also to men. second even if the hijab didn’t protect the women, they should still have the freedom to wear it. It’s better than going out in short shorts and a bikini top. Who’s more likely to get raped,and that wouldn’t symbolize protection; now would it? and lastly hijab isn’t just a type of clothing you wear, but also an action. like for instance lowering the gaze is a form of hijab(covering aka modesty) which applies to both men and women, and would definitively protect you not only from the way you see the opposite gender( more seductively) but also from the actions it would lead to which would lead one to the hell fire (god for bid) hope that helped

      • Yasmin AlAbukar says:

        I see where Tarek is coming from and I see where fadumo is coming from. But to be honest I don’t like the way Fadumo replied because it’s so typical and militant like. Though I’m not saying what I’m going to write is any better.

        We always forget that the kind of sexualization women face in this day and age is so much more different than what older generations faced. Men know what a woman looks like regardless of whether she covers herself. Now this is where I would like to blame the guy who after acquiring this knowledge misuses it. A man, especially a Muslim man, who still perverts the woman covering up herself (and she’s doing this with good intentions) and finds it normal to do such a thing… is a man with no shame.

        In my opinion, a man should honour a woman regardless of how she dresses. But if she shows her ideologies/thoughts are not worth honouring then don’t. But don’t disrespect her because of it. Hard to do, but easy to say lol I know.

        • Yasmin AlAbukar says:

          it’s always so funny lol…. we would look at the man who yells indecencies to our sister/cousin/close friend disgustingly and defend them … but we’re happy to do the same to others.

          haha this simple concept would save us so much more trouble if we actually understood it for what is was.

      • Ahmeda says:

        @Fadumo: I am sorry to say that your reasoning is that of ‘rape apologia’. Your perception that a girl who is not wearing is hijab is more likely to get raped that a girl wearing one is wrong.

        Studies and research on the subject have shown that motivation for rapist is the power over their victim. The RAPIST, sexual harasser abuser is the only person who is at fault. To claim that the victim of the crime should also share responsibility is very wrong.

        In the context of religion what is it that drives a supposedly person of Muslim faith to rape a woman irrespective of her clothing.

        There are sick men who rape their old children, wife’s, cousins and friends, studies show that large number of rapes of victims are by people they already know.

        Does the Muslim faith teach that it is okay to rape a woman or child who is not wearing a Hijab or a non-modest women (modesty being very subjective)?!! I honestly do not believe it does.

        If say a women according to your personal perception is not modest in the eyes of the islamic faith then let Allah judge her on the day of judgement. Why is it that I find so many Muslim men having a very misogynistic view of women, about how she deserves to be raped or not or was asking to be raped?

        That reasoning is just regressive and absurd.

        • hend says:

          u have a great point if view anf i totally agree with you.. rape dose not have to fo with what victims wear.. it is about the mentality of the rapeist.. people should not keep giving exceuses for sick men to hurt women by beating or raping or any act that hurt women physicaly or mentaly or emotionaly..also i want to say that the most important thing is that people should not judge a woman by what she wears.. whatever she wears ..hijab, niqab, shorts or dresses or bakinis..

    • Omar Ali Ibrahim says:

      Allahu A3lam. Allah protects who he wills.

      Everyone goes through tests and tribulations. If a woman goes through some harassment even though she’s fully covered, then may Allah keep her firm in her belief and her Sabr. More importantly I hope whoever does so is guided and if not, then he will surely be punished by Allah.

      I can probably make a small analogy that might make it a bit clear. Allah commands us to pray and that prayer will keep us away from the fa7sha’ (filthy things). How many times do we pray and then we still commit some form of Fa7sha’. Is it that Allah (a’udhu billah) didn’t really fulfill his promise, or is it that our Salat was not perfect. So in similar light, Allah says he will protect women with their Hijab, doesn’t mean that All those without aren’t protected at all and that if they get attacked, we shouldn’t really punish the attacker because “oh well, she wasn’t covered”.

      It’s for Allah to see in the hearts. And punish the wrongdoers and increase in patience and reward the oppressed.

    • Jafar says:

      Bismillahil Rahman Al Raheem

      As the title states, the hijab is to honor women, not just protect them. Allah (swt) knows His creation better than anyone. Having said that, take this analogy for understanding:

      If you saw a girl who wore less than modest clothing, we as men would be much more prone to look her way than a girl who is dressed with proper hijab. In that sense, we protect and honor them from guys ‘checking’ them out and disrespecting them, preserving their beauty.

      One sheikh made an interesting point: natural commodities like gold and diamonds are always hidden away and protected, aren’t our women worth more?

      Allah knows best.

    • Nancy Shehata says:

      Salaam Alaikum brother Tarek. This just goes to show how indecent our society has become, when men go after women who DO cover themselves. In the time of the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, it was normal for women of the pagans to go about with their bodies exposed in a manner similar to the habits of today among many non-Muslims. The women would attract the attention of men and many often welcomed it as a sign that they were desirable. When the verses of hijab were revealed and the Muslim women covered themselves, due to the culture of that time and place it was as if they were wearing a sign that said “off limits” and the men were much less likely to harass them.

      I have actually experienced this even living in the US. Before Allah guided me to Islam, I dressed in a typical western manner and at times I was whistled at or approached. Nowadays, I wear the abaya and hijab. No one says “hey baby!” to me, men hold the door for me. It does make a difference in how people treat me (and alhamdulillah I’ve never been abused due to wearing hijab).

      There are men who would hit on a nun or a woman wrapped up in ten layers of cement; that is always and forever a lack on the part of the man. Sad to say, in many “Muslim” countries the men are overtly flirtatious and follow women who cover completely. They toss their phone numbers into their cars, they try to grab them on buses and trains. This is a shame for the Ummah and the best way we can stop it is to teach our sons and daughters how to deal honorably with one another regardless of how we are dressed. It IS a protection for women – it might be much worse out there if we didn’t dress in a manner pleasing to Allah, and I’m sure it helps although if a man is determined to be a boor and an animal, there is not much anyone can do. Maybe hit him with a sandal :).

      • Assalammu alaikum,

        I love your comment—you totally summed it up, Nancy :)

      • الأمل لرحمته says:

        I greet you with the noble greeting of Islam, As-Salaamu Alaykum wa-Rahmatulllahi wa Barakatuh.

        If you may, I, as a person who simply writes ‘Male’ in the gender field of their forms, feel insulted and saddened by the generalisations of your comment. I will now ask you a question answering this bracketing of ‘the men in many Muslim countries’: ARE YOU MARRIED?

        If ‘yes’, then why are you married to a man? I say that with many meanings, which I will list:

        - Why would you be married to a man that is not attracted to you as his wife; illogical much? The leaning towards the opposite gender is natural and has its uses [P.130 Imam Al-Ghazzali’s ‘ Breaking of the Two Desires http://www.scribd.com/doc/21209661/The-Breaking-of-the-Two-Desires-Imam-Ghazali-Translated-by-T-J-Winter

        -The ideas behind the hijab apply more or less to everyone, and the exaggeration examples you have given actually extend across our Ummah; there is as much purpose in blaming men as blaming women and both are to blame, without restrictions for gender. I personally know quite a lot of practising males, not a lot of unpracticing males, and it would seem 50-50 in the case of women. But a woman might say the exact same thing vice-versa. It is true that nowadays, the behaviours of unpractising men are always noticed more than that of practising men.

        Carrying on, it is good to mention to all men reading this post that men have a cleary defined awrah and dress code as well, and the thawb/khamees is the perfect application of these rules. Men should not show anywhere from the navel to the bottom of the knee EVER in public, and also any parts of their body that show strength or can result in unwanted attention in front of non-mahram women (e.g. bared arms or neck collar). It would be good if a similar article was posted on this website for men, but i found a link.(http://southernmuslimah.wordpress.com/2007/08/30/the-muslim-mans-dress-code/)

        Overall, this is a reminder to all of us that ‘Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest’ 13:28. May Allah guide us and bless us with faith, virtue and steadfastedness. Ameen

        Kind regards and Salams,

        a college student in UK

        • الأمل لرحمته says:

          As-Salamu Alaykum

          Sorry for not completing my answer.

          If you are not married, then you should focus first upon your self and family. Then you should look outwards to our Ummah’s problems.

          ‘Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.’ [Quran 13:11]

          At least our Ummah is not nearly as bad as those of other religions and Western society.

          ”The religion is sincere advice” Hadith 07 of Imam Nawawi’s 40 Hadith

          I hope that you amend your comment and cleanse your heart of this honest mistake.

          May Allah guide us and bless us with faith, virtue and steadfastedness. Ameen

          Kind regards and Salams,

          the very same college student

    • Hussaina says:

      @ brother Tarek,
      I go to a mix raced school in the UK, I wear the abaya and sheila and am respected for it, the abaya (hijab) has protected me as boys know their limits when they talk to me, I do not get asked out and make sure I do not go into unappropriate places such as school socials no matter how badly I want to go. . . Anywhoo you’ve asked about how the hijab protects us women and too me (a 17 year old girl) the hijab has protected me in many ways. It has made me the person I am today and has gotten me out of many uncomfortable situations! The abaya protects women physically; astagfirullah, imagine a rapist trying to remove a sister’s abaya over her head or upto her waist; pretty hard right as for that he’d most likely need to bend; giving the fellow sister a chance to bust him up and escape!

    • Hedayah says:

      Statistically speaking, many women have issues with self-esteem and feeling judged by their appearance. Just read “the Cost of Competence” to get a glimpse at some of the internal conflicts women face with deciding what to wear and how to wear it. Even in Saudi, where it’s all black abayas, and still, the choice of what to wear is complicated. Hijab, when done for the right reasons, is a way for us to remind ourselves that we are more than just bodies. It is our minds that is important.

      As for men thinking that hijab is about them, by consensus of the 4 madhhabs, slave women didn’t have to wear it. Nor do non-Muslim women. If hijab were about men, then all women would be required and not just something for free Muslim women.

      As women, if we understand the hijab, we understand that we should be treated for what we bring to the table. In short, it is about a way of being in the world that reminds me that I’m not there to be exploited. That’s how it protects me: it protects my self-esteem and my understanding that I am more than just a sexualized body.

      • Hedayah says:

        p.s. “Cost of Competence” is about more than just clothes. It’s a study of why women starve themselves and what they do to their bodies, even harmful things, just to be taken seriously by the world and viewed as competent.

  3. Abd. Lateef says:

    Alhamdulillah… a fantastic article filled with so much wisdom and importance. Thank you brother for your insight, balance, knowledge and presentation of this important issue…

  4. Adnan says:

    Salam Alaikum,

    Thank you for the reminder. The verse you mention in Surah Ahzab is very important, and when reading that chapter, I’m struck by how its tone shifts between addressing the women of the society and addressing the men who may leer at them.

    As you had mentioned, verse 33:59 says, “O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and believing women to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And God is forgiving, compassionate.” That God mentions that He is “raheem” or “compassionate and loving” should remind us that despite our shortcomings, He is always there to turn back to.

    Compare that with the next three verses, 60-62, which strike me as references the lewd men of the society who do annoy and abuse women. “If the hypocrites and those whose hearts are diseased do not stop, We will incite you against them, and they will not remain your neighbors for long. Accursed! They will be seized wherever they are found and utterly massacred! This is God’s way from those before you, and you’ll never find any change in God’s way.”

    Such harsh words should remind us that the onus of responsibility to treat women well and speak well of women must be on the men themselves. It seems that God’s request that women dress modestly was not in response to the “faults of women” but rather the evil of lewd men, whom He threatens to eradicate.

    Just some reflections… Thanks again!
    Adnan

    • Amanda says:

      My sentiments EXACTLY!!! I rave about this at every gathering as the ladies tell me I have a “camel hump hijab”, (which is a perverse interpretation of an unclear hadith), etc. It is not really about a woman’s clothing as much as it is about sicko men and the sicko men and women who make up rumors. Note also how it refers to the jews who abused Musa. (the rumors they made about him and possibly, according to my own understanding, how they were trying to set him up to appear immodest.)

  5. Yasmin says:

    Jazakallah khair for covering this very important but often misunderstood topic!

  6. Inspirit says:

    Great post! I can’t express how grateful I am to see someone articulate what I have struggled to find the way to do. In thinking of giving Da’wah, I think this is one of the best explanations I’ve heard thus far!

  7. Nayaab says:

    Subhan’Allah… what a wonderful explanation especially this statement you have cleared-
    “It is not a political flag for the Islamic state, it is not a sign of women’s subjugation to men, it is not a litmus test for religiosity, and it is not a measure of a woman’s piety, family background, or sign of her upbringing.”

  8. Fadumo says:

    Sallam!

    Jazakallahu Khayr for the much needed article. It really puts everything back into perspective and clears up a lot of beliefs people have about the purpose of hijab.

  9. Abdul Karim says:

    This certainly is a command of Allah SWT ,
    all of which are instructed of Allah SWT definitely beneficial to us all …

  10. Shawnsharif says:

    Alhamdulillah i’ve never been more proud to have the hijab on me after i’ve read your article. This is the most liberating explanation that i have come across & i wish more men realize that the hijab is personal & it is part of a women’s way to please the Creator, not to care for men’s insecurities.

    Thank you so much.

    God bless.

  11. rUmA says:

    Alhamdulillah, loved the conclusion!

  12. Hal Rah says:

    JAk, this was a great article.

    One question though: can you please try to explain the fiqh of hair? I don’t see how or why it automatically becomes “3awrah” after puberty? I’ve read many fatwahs which compared showing one’s hair to showing one’s genitals and it caused me to stop covering my hair recently because I feel no shame with showing my hair. Furthermore, I’ve been told that I will be punished for showing it when I haven’t ever found any evidence of this. These things make it all seem so misogynistic. Please further explain this because it has been a burning question of mine for so long.

    • Aditya says:

      Hal Rah:
      I agree as well about not covering the hair. I believe as long as the body is properly covered, this satisfies modesty requirements based on the Quran. There are some Hadiths that mention hair should be covered but I believe their authenticity is disputed. I acknowledge that this is a matter of opinion and others may disagree with me. That’s OK. I don’t think I’m less of a Muslima because of it. I try my best to be a good Muslim, and covering the hair does not automatically mean that a woman is a good person.

    • Shazia Ahmad says:

      as salaamu alaykum,

      Generally speaking, when an individual has reached adolescence, is of sound mind and free will, they are considered an adult upon whom religious duties are obligatory. One of these obligations is modest dress for men and women, as outlined by the shar’.

      The obligation of hijab is not something that is a debated issue among scholars, but something on which there is ‘ijmaa – a scholarly consenus – because there are texts related to it that are unequivocal in their authenticity, and quite clear when their language is understood properly. For example, the word ‘khimar’ is used in the relevant verse in the Quran in Surah Nur, which clearly refers to something worn on the head, which the verse states women should draw down over their chests. (To interpret the text to mean something metaphorical, more general, etc would not really be truthful to the language of the verse and would not fall in line with any major or minor exegetist’s understanding of the text from among our scholarship.) I have found Sh. Abdallah Adhami’s explanations on this very clear and enlightening, and would suggest looking into some of his videos that are readily available online that discuss this further.

      It’s interesting that every individual has their own view about what they consider modest, shameful, honest, ethical, etc, but we are not left to our own devices but have been blessed with certain religious guidelines that anchor us in times where everything can seem subjective and relative.

      take care
      salaam
      Shazia

      • More confused says:

        As-salaamu ‘alaykum,

        I’ve watched Adhami’s interpretation of “khimar” and am left far more confused on the issue of Hijab than before. He argues that “khimar” according to Classical Arabic was so specific that most of Hijab-wearing women today are not wearing it because it does not come down up above the navel. But if the mention of “khimar” in passing in Surah Nur is enough to mandate women wearing it, as so many people seem to argue, doesn’t that mean most Hijab-wearing women today are disobeying the Quran for wearing other forms of head covering?

        Is his argument for the specificity of “khimar” correct? It doesn’t seem so. The verb “yakhmur” in Classical Arabic means to “cover” anything, not just the head. And in Lane’s Lexicon, although the derived noun “khimar” does mean a “woman’s head covering,” the Arabs are also cited for using the term for “any covering of a thing” and even a man’s turban. Interpreting “khumur” as generic “coverings” rather than a highly and overly-specific form of women’s clothing that extends to between the chest to the navel (something rarely worn today even among Hijabis) seems to be far more in line with the Classical Arabic.

        I understand that we may not simply be able to look to the Quran to have a clear command as to covering the hair – we can’t look to the Quran to teach us exactly how to pray either. In the case of salah, we turn to the Sunnah – that’s where we find explicit instructions. What bothers me is that there seems to be so few hadith on the matter of women covering their hair! Besides an explicit instruction to Asma bint Abi Bakr recorded in Abu Dawood that most scholars call “weak,” what other evidence is out there?

        In the absence of clear evidence, the most common argument I’ve heard is that covering the hair is the consensus (ijma) of the scholars before us, so we should accept it. But I wish those scholars would give more justification why.

        • Seeker says:

          Salam,

          I would just like to say that you were correct in pointing out that many times we have to go to the Sunnah; the Quran itself points to the Sunnah when Allah Says:
          And We appointed the qiblah which ye formerly observed only that We might know him who followeth the messenger, from him who turneth on his heels. (1:143)

          And “If you love Allah, follow the Prophet, Allah will love you.”

          And many other such ayahs.
          THe work of scholars and muhadditheen, fuqaha, mufassireen is immense… Immense too falls short. I will humbly say that three to four years of study of the work that they have done really opens ones eyes to the fact that words like IJMA and the like are taken lightly by most people. If you take a look at a little booklet that discusses the “istilah” of hadith, you will find hadith categorized into sooo many levels and not only that, there is a complete science of Narrators in itself. A narrator, who was witnessed, for example, not following one aspect of the sunnah was categorized one notch below… etc.. why? because naturally, being a transmitter of hadith the more a person themselves followed the sunnah entirely, completely, the more reliable they were.

          Now the words in the Quran that point towards hijab are: the word hijab itself, the word ‘zeenah’, the word jalabeeb, and the word khimar that you have spoken of. TO undersatnd these words, what better way to do it than go back and see what the sahaba have to say of them? Were they not the people who livd with the Prophet (s) and changed their emotions, thoughts, feelings and entire lives to become just like what the Prophet came to teach them.. So their sayings about these words take more weight than what I may have to say about them…

          As to your question of clear evidence, I can only say that the explanation of jilbaab is given by the Sahaba as a cloth that came down from the head (covering the head) and was brought down till the chest. It’s a complete cover. The ayah on hijab too talks of talking to women behind a screen- i.e they are not visible. I do not want to start a discussion on niqab, since we are discussing hijab here, but I hope that clarifies some of where this is coming from.

          At the same time, I urge you, to find scholars that you are hundred per cent comfortable with, who can inshaAllah address your concerns in more detail. Thats so your confusion can be removed inshaAllah

          Wassalam.

        • Hedayah says:

          I think you misunderstood what he was saying. He didn’t say women have to wear a khimar as in that specific length. What he was explaining is why we know from the Qur’an itself that the hair must be covered (because that was the original question), because the verse in Surat an-Nur addressed khimar wearing women and said they should take the tale ends of it and cover their chests with it. He said though specifically, when mentioning that most women today wear ghifaarah that that’s ok too. the point is to cover the appropriate extent. And Allah knows best.

        • More confused says:

          Wa’alaykumussalaam Seeker and Sr. Hedayah,

          Thank you for your responses. Sr. Hedayah, I did glean the same understanding from watching the video as you did, but what bothered me was how the sheikh’s argument of specificity seemed a bit arbitrary. He interprets “khimar” far beyond its basic meaning but rather as a highly specific form of clothing… but then he says that wearing a “ghifaarah” instead of his “khimar” is okay. Then why not wear a scarf around our necks, without covering our hair, and drawing that scarf over our chests. By the same line of reasoning, that too should be okay.

          Beloved Seeker, you mentioned the other important terms that are used such as zeenah, jilbab, and hijab, and I agree that we should look in part to the understanding of the Sahaba (ra) with regard to these. But one thing that Sheikh Adhami stressed when arguing against the niqab is that some Sahaba (ra) held on to their old pre-Islamic tribal understanding – saying that everything was zeenah except a single eye to see with. The very few statements I’ve heard attributed to the Sahaba (ra) on this matter have held this extreme position – that niqab is mandatory. Could you please point me to sahih traditions of Sahaba (ra) who have specified the opinion that most people say is correct today… that covering the hair is obligatory but uncovering the face is acceptable. Thank you.

          Concerning jilbab, I understand that the meaning could be very different from the jilbab of today, which does not cover the hair. Was it a specific form of clothing for women at that time – one we should all wear today? (I seem to remember a male Sahaba known as “julaibib” or “little jilbab” because he was a dwarf, radiallahu anhu, whom the Prophet (saws) loved. It was explained to me that was because he wore a little “gown” so I assumed that jilbab was a general term applicable to men’s clothing as well.) Could you point me to the Sahaba’s descriptions of that as well. Thank you again.

          With regards to “hijab,” this is the term that leaves me the most confused. It seems the meaning of “hijab” today is completely different from the meaning in the time of the Prophet (saws). It’s clear that “hijab” meant something like a “screen” or “curtain” in that society. “Hijab” would imply a COMPLETE visual barrier, as you say. But all the scholars seem to say that the “verse of Hijab” has a very specific meaning, applicable only to the wives of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family). To imply that this verse means all women should be screened from view, behind a “hijab”, seems clearly wrong.

          By the way, something most beautiful and amazing about this “verse of hijab” is that Allah (swt) made the use of the “hijab” obligatory on MEN when speaking to the Mothers of Believers (ra), rather than directing the commandment to women. “And when you (men) ask them of anything, ask them from behind a screen (hijab).”

          Why do we keep calling our headscarves “hijab” when that is clearly not how the Quran used the term? I am very uncomfortable saying my scarf is a “hijab” – it is NOT. Even when covering my hair, I can’t ever claim to be behind a “hijab” like the Prophet’s (saws) wives (ra).

          It may be a very righteous act for us to emulate the “ummahat al-mu’mineen” (ra) and never appear except behind a screen. But few people in our American Muslim societies say that it is a “fard” to do so.

          May Allah guide us and enter us into His Rahmah.

        • Iqra says:

          Salam Sister,

          Lane’s Lexicon is a summarized English version albeit incomplete of the major Classical Arabic lexicons translated into English. He is also missing many other lexicons from his work but only the scholar of Arabic knows this. When looking up a word, again, the scholar of Arabic will notice that Lane by no means exhausts the vast semantic field and the rhetorical nuances that come with each word in the Divine Language. You also need to have a command of pre-Islamic literature and culture(!) along with proficiency in both the major and minor sciences of the Arabic language before you can comment on The Book. I think it’s unfair of you to doubt Sidi Adhami’s remarks especially given his extensive command of the Language and Islam’s juridical tradition. A better question for you would be to ask what sources he is using when he compares and contrasts the various headgear in Islam i.e. hijab, khimar, nisaf, etc.

          I am impressed by your attempt to seek clarity. Keep at it. May Allah make it easy for you and may he protect you from any breaches of outer and inner etiquette.

          Peace.

        • Hedayah says:

          He’s not “interpreting”. Arabic can be very dense, and one word can have a depth of meaning, that in English we simply can’t convey with just one word. Khimar indeed means more than the basic meaning we assigned to it in English.

          Let me explain it like this. A friend I know of is a neuroscientist by day and was asked once about whether alcohol damages the brain. The answer was a simple yes, but the questioner asked for back up. My friend’s response was: “The NMDA receptors are activated by glutamate and membrane depolarization at the pre and post synaptic junctions. Ethanol acts to over-activate the NMDA receptors in particular, which results in excitotoxicity for the neurons. Not only that, but ethanol also serves to alter the molecular composition of the hippocampus as has been shown using FT-IR spectroscopy. In this study they showed that the protein and carbohydrate contents were reversibly changed, but the lipid structure endured irreversible structural changes. The effects of ethanol exposure have been shown to vary depending on whether intoxication was acute, short-term chronic, or long-term chronic. But in all cases the negative effect was significant enough to alter cognitive processes and memory performance in various learning tasks.”

          It’s definitely not rude or impermissible to ask a scholar to back up their opinion on any matter. The question is whether you’re equipped to understand the wealth of synthesis and study behind how they give a brief answer in a question and answer session that is then posted on youtube. It’s not as simple as just quoting a dictionary or something. Arabic is a tremendous language, for which one needs years of studying numerous references to explain how the scholars know that khimar is more than just covering “something”.

          I suggest a mastery of Arabic to understand how it means that.

        • also confused says:

          Salaam Alaikum,

          During discourse on hijab, it is often repeated that all 4 madhabs have deemed the hijab as a obligatory. I have a couple of questions about this.

          1. Would sisters that neglect the hijab be in the same state of sin as sisters who do not pray?

          2. Can anyone point me to specific documentation (primary sources) that illustrates that all four madhabs have in fact deemed the hijab as obligatory?

          JizakAllahKhair

          Wasalaam

        • Ali says:

          If you read Ibn Abbas’s commentary, he says a woman has to cover all except the hands and face. Ibn Abbas was the first commentator on the Quran, and a close companion of the Prophet. Head covering comes from him.

  13. Kelly says:

    Thank you so much for this rational, informative post.

  14. Noor says:

    Fairly explained. I have always thought that there were “something” which are not correctly addressed rgarding hijab & other women’s issues.Some opinions from knowledged male & even knowledged female teachers sounds weird and does not match with the purpose of the deen i.e. Rahmatallil ‘alamin . May Allah guide us all in understanding the deen. Alhamdulillah I
    am honoured to hear this.

  15. Ruru says:

    Mashallah, I really appreciated this article- absolutely well written!! Thanks.

  16. Rabia says:

    JazakAllah, JazaAllah, JazakAllahhhh for writing this article! May Allah SWT grant you continuous health, happiness and increasing knowledge and Iman to write more articles and to teach others more about Islam (and amazing topics like this one). Ameen.
    Indeed, Islam is a beautiful religion, with a beautiful Allah-to-individual relationship; whereas in the western standpoint, for example, it’s always about an individual in relation to another individual or a man in relation to a woman.

  17. Yaqub says:

    Many men are just as lackadaisical about guarding their hijab just as some women may be.

    Just for example; a guy wearing a super tight ed hardy shirt (or similar) to display his physique is as demeaning to him as an individual just as a woman who flaunts her body.

  18. Amy Hossain says:

    Well-written article ma sha’ Allah.

    If covering my hair creates an oppressive, stifling, demeaning internal feeling, than it is not protecting me, it is harming me. Some of us do not feel shame in leaving our hair exposed, nor do we flaunt our hair. We just have hair. For those sisters who have found that covering their hair released her from society’s victimization of her, or feels empowered, close to Allah, and protected, than I am very happy for them. There are so many improvements to continuously make in our own lives and in the world around us. Hijab is just one aspect.

  19. Hussaina says:

    Aslalamulaikum,

    To the writer of this article; mashallah!!
    I’m really grateful to have read this as it has made me learn more about the hijab; hopefully more sisters read your article.
    Would it be possible for you to right an article about how parents should persuade their daughters to wear the hijab. I ask this because more than 50% of hijabis in my year alone, I feel are setting bad exams to non-muslims and young Muslims; they wear tight-fitting clothing and remove their scarves when they go out of town with their friends & for Facebook pics. Because of these girls my non-Muslim friends have asked me to remove my scarf on non-uniform days. I feel that young Muslims are forced by their parents to wear the scarf.
    Being forced to wear the hijab leads to more Muslim women becoming naive and not really understanding the power the hijab has as it is more than just a fabric!!

    Jazakallah khair

  20. Ali says:

    People should be aware the primary reason to don the hijab is obedience to the creator, irrespective of whether or not covering one’s hair is not considered immodest in a particular society or a deterrent from potential sexual abuse. I think our students of knowledge need to make it crystal clear when they talk about the maqasid and ‘illah relevant to a particular ruling is that the most significant reason behind complying to the commandments of shari’ah is obedience to one’s Creater and preservation of deen.

    • Abdul Sattar says:

      salam Ali,

      This is an important point. Though the purpose of the article was to bring about a social correction, at the end of the day, the fact that certain things are ordered is reason enough for us to be obligated to do them.

      JazakAllahu khairan for the reminder.

  21. Amir says:

    Salaam brother and Jazakallahu khairan for the effort you have put forward for this informative article.

    One thing I would like to ask you is, This deriving of illa for the ayat of hijab that you have done, is this based on your own deriving or other scholars? This whole article is based on the “reason behind Hijab being a law” or the philosophy of it. Just because there is no mention of Men in the Ayah, that does not mean that there is a partial reason in which the Hijab protects the man too. Anything that is Haram comes with the attached benefit for all. The reasoning you gave seems more like a nice gesture for people to start wearing Hijab and purify their intentions. But does that entitle you delve in an area which you do not specialize in? I am not saying anything is right or wrong here. I am just looking for citations of this Shari’ah based extraction you wrote about.

    Salaam

    • Abdul Sattar says:

      ws Br. Amir,

      JazakAllahu khairan for the deep question and concern. I will try to answer to the best of my ability.

      1. The purpose of the article was not to restrict the Hijab to this ‘illa alone. The reasons, causes, and benefits behind rulings can come directly from the text of the ayah, the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw), the actions or speech of the companions, as well in integration with the striving to obtain the Maqasid.

      The purpose of pointing this out, was to show that the strongest cause was found in the ayah itself, and this should be the first focus. It does not mean other societal or personal benefits behind the ruling do not apply at all.

      We must however, differentiate between a cause, and an acknowledged benefit. This is beyond the realm of our discussion. The extraction of this cause can be found in any of the well known tafsir works.

      2. The reasoning we are trying to give, is that this act is done for God alone. It must be a personal decision based on a woman’s own spiritual state and her understanding of the Law.

      When this is combined with all other kinds of guilt about other men and society, it creates strange psychological and social effects. Hijab is for God. Period.

      Everything else is a benefit (whether we want to further classify each as an illa, a sabab, or an effort to maintain a qasd, and get into the usuli terminologies is outside the intended audience for the article)

      3. As for my qualifications, I have no reason to list them or the lack of them here. But suffice it to say, that I did run the article in its entirety by my teacher, who is an extremely qualified legal scholar in his own right. I submitted to the website team only after his explicit approval on each sentence.

      I hope inshAllah this answered your question.

      ws
      Abdul Sattar

  22. Sonia says:

    It appears as if there are two options for women in the world; the bikini (or as someone put it ‘short shorts and a bikini top’ and the burqa. If hijab means modesty, then its simpler to use the word modesty when referring to how a woman should dress. There are thousands of women all over the world who have been respecting their bodies and dressing modestly for ages without ever resorting to a headscarf or any sort of religious garb.

    Its not necessary to give justifications for wearing hijab. But please don’t lecture people on how modest and righteous it is and that it is the only way a woman should dress. Its disrespectful to those Muslim women as well as women of other faiths who do not cover their heads or wear abayas, but still dress most modestly.

    • Abdul Sattar says:

      Sister Sonia,

      If you read above, at no point do we insinuate that modesty is not possible without Hijab or is entirely dependent on it, nor do I believe this to be true.

      It is not disrespectful to anyone to say that Hijab is part of normative Islamic Law, and that is all we’ve stated, and given some wisdoms why it is a good thing. We have not said it is the only way to be modest, nor that those who don’t wear it are somehow bad.

      If someone wishes to accept or reject normative Islamic legal opinion, that is their own choice, between them and their own beliefs.

      We place no judgement on their piety and accept them as our brothers and sisters if they are Muslims, and accept them as our fellow human beings if they are not, worthy of respect just as anyone else.

      This is an issue of religious law, not judgement or disrespect.

      -AS

  23. aminah says:

    Salaam Br Abdul and Jazaak Allahu Khair for such a wonderful article. you have cleared a lot of misconceptions i had of hijab….a wonderful article.also always remember there are still some people who will try to twist words and dig and tear – try to get into arguments for the sake of sounding their voice into meanings that are plain to understand.to each his own and may Allah SWT guide each one of us to the true path. to sister Sonia the brother has cited the importance of obeying Allah’s command and if you still feel there is room for argument or dis satisfaction in obeying the commands then that is entirely the individuals decision no one can or should force another soul into submission.

    May Allah SWT have mercy on all of us

    • Khushboo says:

      There are many of Allah’s commands in the Quran which we all agree, pertain to a certain time and place in history such as those dealing with non-believers and slaves. How can a group of scholars decide which commands pertain to the time of the Prophet and which relate to all ages? The dress which the Quran and hadith speaks of is the prevailing dress of women at that time. This confusion of religion and culture somehow seems to evade even intelligent minds in the eagerness to appease a particular concept of Allah which scholars of then and now have conjured up. You can only know the true nature of Allah and what He really wants from you by looking within yourself. The soul or spirit which is an essence of Allah within us will always guide you and tell you when you are right and when you are wrong. And sisters and brothers please, if a command is truly from Allah, we would not feel the need to justify and convince ourselves of it repeatedly.

      • Maheen says:

        Sister Khushboo,

        Indeed there are commands which pertain to a certain time and place, and some which are universal and to be abided by, forever. And that is exactly the purpose of scholars – to distinguish between the two. For instance, how do we know the command to offer salah, or to not drink alcohol, still apply today? Early scholars went through the Islamic tradition, the sources of Islamic law, context of revelation and so much more before categorising them. Without thoroughly studying their methodology, it would be unfair for laymen like us to comment on any specific verse and say they interpreted it wrong.

        I wish it were that easy, that for a command from Allah we would not feel the need to convince ourselves and it would come from within – but we all know the majority of Muslims do not pray 5 times a day because they do not feel like it, a command there is absolutely no doubt about.

      • Ameenah says:

        Salaam alaykum, dear sister khusboo. As sister maheen has rightly said, there are commands that were meant for the people of the prophet’s time while there are those that are universal n for all times. Even at that, there are still some ‘all time commands’ such as our daily solawat that some people decide not to obey. But in Surat Ahzab verse 59, Allah commanded the Prophet(peace be upon him) to tell his wives, daughters and the WOMEN OF THE BELIEVERS to draw their jilbab over their bodies. Women of the believers in that sentence does not exclude us, the women of the believers created 1400 years later if we call ourselves believers. And as muslims, it is our collective duty to enjoin what is right n forbid what is wrong so I’m sure those scholars u talked about were only trying to carry out their religious duties n not forcing anythin on you.

  24. Sara says:

    Thanks for this article. It’s nice to see a man address this issue in such a fair and reasonable manner. I’m a brand new convert, and haven’t started wearing hijab head scarves yet, although I dress modestly and always have. But I’m already tired of khutbahs or youtube videos of men fairly screaming at the listeners that women must wear hijab to protect men from themselves.

    Like one of the previous posters on this thread, I’ve found that a lot of the men preaching hijab to (western) women tend to go to extremes and describe our options as “short shorts and bikini” versus jilbab, etc. To me, this is funny. Sure, there are some teenage girls who dress skimpily, but most of us western women dress reasonably. I have a mirror, and I happen to know that I don’t have *anything* worth showing off! So these extreme comparisons just make me laugh… as well as turning me off to the person yelling them at me.

    Anyway, again thank you for this article.

    • Aditya says:

      Sara I’m a convert too and agree that dressing modestly was something I did before and continue to do without covering my hair. It would be nice to see specific examples of authentic hadiths that state covering the hair is necessary. So far no one has shown me that. This could have been something women did in that time period, as we know some ayas were revealed for certain times. As a society we now have laws that protect women and we have progressed beyond the need for it. I do agree that it protects women more from being approached by unwanted men and cat called and grabbed. In that sense it is beneficial. But morally I think our actions and deeds will judge us in the end.

  25. Yasmine says:

    Salaam
    I have a question : what’s “political islam” ?

    • Abdul Sattar says:

      salam Sr. Yasmine,

      I am sure you may have your own understanding of the term but we are using it the following context:

      As we know, Islam is a comprehensive religion. It provides guidance for every aspect of our life – spiritual, financial, familial, educational, and public life as well.

      Political Islam is simply a term we are using to refer to the effort to frame every single Islamic issue, even those that have no inherent political meaning, into a political frame of reference. This is harmful to Muslims because it convolutes spritual and personal issues into public ones.

      Hijab is between a woman and God. When someone starts to frame hijab to be some kind of symbol of the community’s growth or representation of the Ummah’s greatness, it places a burden on the wearer of Hijab that she was never meant to bear.

      A woman should not be forced to feel that every time she wears hijab, she is a representing the entire Muslim Ummah as a flag bearer of the Deen. To have to deal with this everywhere you go is the responsibility of Prophets and Muslim leaders, not an everyday woman (or man with a beard) who simply wants to school, to work, or to get groceries. Making hijab so inflated as a symbol, makes it heavier upon a person than it should be. It is for God, and one effort towards modesty – that is it.

      The phrase “Political Islam” can be used in many other ways, but we only mean it in this article in the context mentioned above.

      ws
      AS

  26. Miriam says:

    #CORRECTION

    “2. Men should frame the issue of the fitnah of women in their environment as a factor of their own closeness to God.”

    The following paragraphs seem to make the case for the opposite of this declaration. If there was a “not” between “should” and “frame”, the whole passage would be in better agreement.

  27. Meliha says:

    Salam,
    I read your article with a vested interest. It´s very good an I belive the same.

    But I have a question, can I use your article for my own website? I would translate it into german and say that the original article where found on your webseite.

  28. marina says:

    Salam!
    I live in multicultural area. And I think hijab is not the criteria of modesty. I can see many non-muslim women wearing quite loose and not revealing clothes, because it is a decent way to dress. It is considered to be rude to ‘put all your goods on the shelf’ within many communities, and not necessary has to do anything with religion at all. And then i see plenty girls with heavy make up, skinny jeans and hijabs, and it feels so wrong. Yet they are recognized to be muslim. People do treat me more nicely if I wear hijab, and quite neglect me if I don’t. It feels more like respect for the cloth and not the person. And it really should be other way around.

    • anonymous says:

      yeah, this is totally weird. why do women wear hijab and skinny jeans? and make-up?
      can anyone explain that?

    • Gibran says:

      Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      You can’t let other peoples wrongdoing make you do wrong. Women in hijab and perhaps even in niqab can use tabarruj.

      However, that doesn’t give you the right to not wear the hijab. Are you going to tell Allah “I didn’t obey you because they didn’t obey you” when you meet them?

  29. Abbas says:

    I just wonder what protection can a piece of cloth give to anyone in societies where the hearts are diseased! In many societies (Muslim as well as non-Muslim)Muslim women are made to believe by Muslim men that everything in those societies will be ok if only they put on hijab. However, domestic violence angainst women, with or without hijab, continues unabated. Muslim women in Western societies are in fact better off in this regard compared to their sisters in the so-called Muslim countries where men can do to them WHATEVER they want with complete impunity. If hijab was so liberating and empowering as some will have us believe why don’t we talk about the injustices angaisnt women that are committed every single hour and minute by the very people hijab was supposed to shield them from, Muslim men? Yes, the so-called verse of hijab was addressed to Muslims, not non-Muslims! Does hijab empower us only in regard to Western political systems but not in regard to our own people? Can’t we, from our ‘safe heavens’ in the West widen our horizon a bit and be concerned about the daily lives of our sisters in some Muslim countries where neither dress (be it hijab, burqa niqab…) nor age can protect one from mens’ violence? Women are killed, raped, electrified, burnt, noses and ears cut off in the name of preserving ‘honour’. What morality does hijab lift if we can stay silent to those atrocities. Ironically it is people of other faiths that have at least tried to draw the world’s attention to these women’s plight. I am glad to hear that from some sisters that hijab has given them a feeling of safety and protection but looking at what is going on in the larger community, Iam affraid that that feeling is a false one.

  30. ahmed says:

    in case your wife take off the Hijab what can you do as a man?

  31. MdShafiqM says:

    ‘Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.’ [Quran 13:11]
    “By Time, Verily Man is in loss… except those who believe, do righteous deeds, exhort one another to truth and have patience.” [Surah Asr:103]
    “We hear and we obey.” (2:285)
    “By Time, Verily Man is in loss… except those who believe, do righteous deeds, exhort one another to truth and have patience.” [Surah Asr:103]
    “O Prophet (Mohammed,peace and blessings of Allah the Almighty be upon him), tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go out in public or outside the homes). That will be better, so that they may be recognized and not annoyed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.” (Quran 33:59)

  32. anonymous says:

    hijab does not mean headcovering. Hijab is a whole theme and spirit that involves many aspects which allow a human being to embody the spirit of hayaa. It also includes women not talking in too soft and sweet a voice with men (something MOST women do) – and if you need a reference for this you can find the Ayah in Quran.
    headcovering (khimar) is just one part of HIJAB.
    this basic misunderstanding – that hijab means headcovering, is what allows women to mix and match modesty with immodesty and think they are fulfilling God’s commands as long as their hair is not showing. it is much more than that – it is a comportment that says: don’t look at me.
    Today we find many women covering their hair but sending out vibes: look at me! like me! i’m cute! whether it be by updating their fb photos every few days with a new colored scarf and make-up on, or in the way they chat with men, using very sweet adn soft voices – come hear how they talk to their own Parents to realise that this sweetness is an act to attract….

    sad but true.

  33. MdShafiqM says:

    The most essential factor in the context of ‘hijab’, covering etc. is to note that there is no factor that lead to unhealthy forms of mutual sexual attractions where it is not justified, not justified, not encouraged, not safe, that could lead to degradation of ones own esteem or the respect and honor of the opposite sex; since that could amount to forms of masturbation; or seeking sensual satisfactions of various kinds; that could lead to forms of ‘zinah’; or leading to deviant, dangerous and sinful acts; which are not permitted under the Islamic jurisprudence. Hence in every known and accountable form, to our best of knowledge and wisdom; such acts must be denounced by the followers of Islam, in their own private lives as well as in social situations; that they are not acts of punishable by our One and Only Almighty Allah.

  34. MdShafiqM says:

    ‘Covered-WOMEN’ automatically ‘Protect-MEN’._A healthy body in a healthy mind! Women’s burqa, hijab or such coverings…. essentially is to protect men! Men are often weak and by nature, prone to consciously or unconsciously commit mistakes, gradually that could lead to an unhealthy, corrosive, filthy state of living conditions; beyond repairable. It is a universal fact that men are often inclined to and commit grave or sinful acts, by nature, being prone to be mislead or misguided by their underdeveloped instincts.

    The covering of women is essential also because it helps to prevent and protect men, too, from getting inclined towards unfair, distressing, humiliating, unnecessary, baseless, shameless, impure, ,sex oriented, in a way degrading or even sinful, foul, to a great extents giving clues to or inviting illegitimate thoughts in a normally clean, pure-holy-minds of such persons, otherwise. Therefore the blame partly or even wholly might tend to fall on the female person who by her unconscious, or unaware behaviorism or outlook, as might be said, from the other context, though not directly realizing the influence she is causing; who seems to have instigated such sinful thoughts arising in the minds of men; that are prone to; due to either their mind-set; ill-knowledge; uncultured; unethical; uneducated to respect the women’s prideful, respectable esteem. Also because such impact would lead the man towards an insane state of worldly living conditions; in which he get dragged into and would lose the sense of respecting women; day by day; making his own life miserable later along with his family; by increasing in the so developing mind that keeps heading towards criminality of various sorts; ultimately; of which we all are well aware of. The advantage or liability of not being responsible for the crimes in the society; committed by men; shall not fall on the responsibility of women; it is necessary for each individual women; as a contribution of well mannerism within the fore of the society; to maintain purity and tranquility. Thus the fact remains to be concluded; to keep the men-kind pure in our society it is the prime duty of the women at large to maintain her own dignity, honor, respect; which in turn makes it easier for the men folk too; to remain clean; and also assist the law enforcing agencies; for the crimes against women will keep shedding towards minimal; in our societies; that being their prime duty: to maintain a well balanced and harmonious, benevolent environmental for all; in all walks of healthy social living.

    ‘Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.’ [Quran 13:11]

    “By Time, Verily Man is in loss… except those who believe, do righteous deeds, exhort one another to truth and have patience.” [Surah Asr:103]

    “We hear and we obey.” (2:285)

    “O you Children of Adam! We have bestowed on you raiment to cover your shame as well as to be an adornment to you. But the raiment of righteousness, that is the best. Such are among the Signs of Allah, that they may receive admonition.” (Quran 7:26)

    “O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad). That will be better, so that they may be recognized and not annoyed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.” (Quran 33:59)

  35. Green says:

    Nice article, but once again it’s a man talking about womens hijab…..it seems that men are obsessed with telling/ explaining what women should and should not do. I hope this doesn’t offend, but where are the many articles on why men aren’t lowering their gaze and why don’t more men grow long beards or wear the topi (hat), then they can show people that they are openly Muslim. The Muslim men I know look no different to non Muslim men in the UK, yet men don’t like it if Muslim women aren’t dressing the way they think we should.

  36. Miryam Zakaria says:

    I would just like to say..that i agree with modesty and agree that a woman has the right to wear whatever she likes to wear…whether its hijab or a bikini…a woman owns her body..i often feel like the hijab is being used as an excuse..”cover up or you deserver what is coming to you..” as an arab american girl..i feel like there is no way out of how men mistreat you..and i feel like i am plagued with this constant fear that no matter what i wear and what i do..if something happens to me..than its my fault..and i hate that feeling.. a man who disrespects a woman..isn’t a man at all..and woman shouldn’t have to fear leaving her house everyday..thinking ohh gawwd who am i going to meet today..its soo painful..i hope one day men will change they view women entirely..I personally dont cover, because i feel that by wearing the cover i feel like i have lost my identity..i dont want to feel like i need to hide..if i wear a cover..thats how i feel that i am being dehumanized..but thats just me..women should have the right to wear what they feel is comfterable..to all my arab sisters who cover,i encourage you to continue doing what you’d like to do..however i dont like being told to cover by every arab person i meet..so i dont cover…its my way of rebelling against a patriartic society that wants to tell me what to do and how to live my life..thank you :)

    • الأمل لرحمته says:

      I disagree with your comment, for many reasons.

      I hope you take this back, truly. Whether you like to or not, you have accepted that Allah is your Lord.

      ”And obey Allah and obey the Messenger; but if you turn away – then upon Our Messenger is only [the duty of] clear notification.” Quran (64:12)

      Allah says in the Quran to cover. It is a command that all must accept. Both men and women should not flaunt themselves and be free in spreading this evil to others.

      How is covering your hair and wearing cloths that are not tight dehumanizing? Muslim men and women cannot wear tight clothes in public, or physically attempt to change their form (with operations, or surgery, makeup for womken and steroids for men).

      As the article says, women are in danger of being molested and harrassed in any corrupt society. At the end of the day, you have the freewill to ignore me and this article, but it will catch up to you…

  37. Ahmed says:

    Great article, but I feel like it could be used to exclude men completely from the discussion on hijab. The article is sufficient from a legal point of view, but I’d like to talk about what the author wrote in the conclusion that Islam is about “community”.

    I’m grateful to the author for explaining clearly that hijab is for Allah, not men. But in practicality, there’s no denying that hijab has a big impact on men. How men behave towards women who observe hijab and those who don’t is completely different. Men have a strange relationship with the hijab.

    The reason why hijab is a such a big issue is because (in my humble, uneducated opinion) women find it difficult to practice. If it was easy, we wouldn’t be talking about it. We know that humans are created weak. The weaknesses of women are often related to body image, beauty standards, and pride. The weaknesses of men in this context are often related to honor, jealousy, and protectiveness. If we’re acknowledging the weaknesses of one gender, let’s also do the same for the other. It’s not always about rape justification. There are very real but subtle psychological reasons why men do or say certain things, and it’s hard to get at because men don’t show much emotion. A lot of times it’s certainly wrong, no doubt. We’re all in different stages of learning and piety, so that’s going to create some friction. But it’s important to understand and listen to both men and women.

  38. Adam says:

    As-salaam-o-alaykum
    I can’t believe what Im hearing. We are discussing issues that somehow the woman is made to feel at fault??? Are we going to blame the women for all the fitnahs that have happened throughout the Islamic History?
    The hijab is a wondrous thing no doubt – indeed it has benefits on a spiritual level. Can one imagine how much rewards she is getting by wearing the hijab? Just by putting it on for the intention to please Allah SWT she is rolling in serious moolah (not mullah!) into her “account”! But to wear the hijab simply to show off how pious you are, or because you are forced to, just doesn’t seem right…it defeats the purpose of doing it out of her own will and doing it for Allah SWT. The concept of hijab existed with the Jews and Christians – thought for different reasons. In the days of of the Tanakh, it was the custom of the Jewish women to go out in public with a head covering, which sometimes even covered the whole face leaving one eye free (according to Rabbi Dr Manachem M Brayer in his book “The Jewish Woman in Rabbinic Literature”. Some ancient Jewish sayings regarding the head-covering:
    “It is not like the daughters of Israel, to walk out with heads uncovered”

    “Uncovering the hair is considered “nudity”. ”
    Though head covering in those days was due to modesty, people also considered the veil as a sign of luxury superiority and nobility. Those who were born in lower classes would try to wear veils just to appear they were of noble birth and of higher class. Goes to show that the Jewish tradition of wearing the veil was marred with materialistic reasons, and not spiritual reasons. How can one point fingers at someone who is wearing the hijab for the wrong reasons??
    Now the Christians wore the veil for a completely different reason! The one called “St Paul” stated that the veil was given to the woman as a way of showing man’s authority over them since man was the image and glory of God, and the woman was created from and for man. Quite a stark interest to the Jewish faith!
    The Islamic veil is yet different – unlike the Jewish veil, the Islamic veil is not a sign of luxury and distinction of noble married women, but of modesty and protection for ALL women. Unlike the Christian veil, the Islamic veil is not a sign of a man’s authority over a woman AND nor is it a sign of woman’s subjection to man!

    The amount of times I hear brothers go all militant about it just gets to me! I mean there is such a thing like speaking in a soft & gentle manner! But some of our brothers just have got “too much hormones in their hands”! Also I have noticed that those sisters who wear hijabs or niqabs are attacked on both fronts – from the typical Islamophobe who has no idea about their own lives let alone a Muslim’s; and then there are those whom one may say are the Far-left of Islam, who think the Hijabis/Niqabis have become extremists! The sisters don’t need to be criticised …also if one woman is not wearing a hijab/niqab one cannot assume they are weak in terms of faith. One can easily point fingers at someone’s outer-self inadequacies, but how many can point at someone’s inner-self inadequacies?? They’re probably much worse, as our hidden inadequacies are hidden from the public, from our families and friends – only Allah SWT looks at our hearts. The problem with our ummah is that we love to criticise one another – that is probably why some people leave Islam – it has nothing to do with Islam but it is due to the attitudes of the Muslims. One may say they have weak faiths, and I agree …they would let some fool get in the way between Allah and themselves and hence leave Islam. But if one rattles your cage for a long time, do you feel you will have the patience to carry on? Allah will ask those people why did they leave Islam on the Day, and if they say “its because this so-and-so Muslim made my life Hell for me, put me down, criticised me etc etc” then most likely that other Muslim is also going to be punished. We are one Ummah and rightfully i agree that we all need to help and support each other if we are facing problems – be there for when we need it. Only through such actions can we progress – if we become too judgemental we will end up fighting each other and at same time leave the ummah…not exactly the way of spreading the Message! We aren’t perfect which is why we need to be reminded and helped BUT not in a destructive manner! On top of that we all have different mindsets therefore there are those who prefer encouragement, whilst there are those who prefer a kick up the backside. But it is always safe to start off gently and not straight-to-the-kill.
    Furthermore, for the sisters who have felt harassed by those who have criticised them, ask them to remember the days when they didn’t wear a hijab/niqab…each of us will reach the same goal at different rates and routes. Don’t force to hasten their decisions after all forcing can create resentment and that is the last thing you want a Muslim/Muslimah to feel regarding Islam. Also if a brother says something, and he doesn’t have a beard, ask him why he doesn’t have one ;) lol…thatll shut them up! lol.

  39. Wendell says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about abdul sattar.
    Regards

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