Hijab: Fard (Obligation) or Fiction?


http://www.flickr.com/photos/colinsd40/7846793818/in/photostream/I am in a dilemma and need you to help me put things into perspective. It’s the age-old question of whether hijab is fard (mandatory) or not! I have been wearing hijab for many years now. I always believed that the ayah (verse) in Surat An-Nissa (Qur’an 4) is a personal choice that women make and can be interpreted in several ways but I was always afraid of dying without wearing hijab. Basically an old Egyptian shaykh (scholar) scared the heck out of me in my younger days, saying that women will hang in hell fire from their hair, and that’s how I decided to wear hijab. We have raised 3 boys in the process, ages 23, 21 and 14.

Within the last couple of years, my husband started commenting on why I am wearing hijab, if it’s attracting more attention through racism, etc. Why not just put my hair up in a bun so I’m not lavishly displaying my hair and Allah wants to make things easy for us not hard—especially in the society that we live in. He’s trying to convince me that if it was clear-cut like prayers and fasting, God wouldn’t have left it up to our interpretation. Lately, he has been increasing this rhetoric.

I am struggling with this! But on the other hand, I’ve been doing it for so long. I know many ladies that have taken off their hijab and the majority have no regrets and are okay with their decision. So a part of me is okay with taking it off and another part is not! Please help!

Indeed this is an increasingly common question for an age-old practice.  When I saw this question from one of our dear readers, it hit home.  Born to Egyptian parents who immigrated to the United States over 40 years ago in the midst of the Islamic Re-Awakening in Egypt, I too grew up with the notion that hijab was something commendable, yet optional.

I was content with my views regarding hijab until I was 20 years old.  I often looked at Muslim women observing the headscarf with a bit of confusion and pity combined. “Why would someone go through so much trouble? Why are they making it difficult for themselves?”

My belief was challenged, however, when unsuspectingly a relative of mine began wearing the hijab and gave a presentation about it at our masjid’s youth group.  Ironically, the masjid we attended was one of the rare few which did not propagate hijab, and depending upon the leader asked, the idea of its optionality was reinforced. I was shocked when I heard the clear evidence from Qur’an and Sunnah that hijab is fard.

I give some personal background to this question only to help readers who are struggling with this practice to understand that I am sensitive to misconceptions and public pressures surrounding the hijab. In this article, I wish to present clear evidence regarding the commandment of the headscarf and to provide rebuttals for the very common arguments Muslims raise concerning its status.

Evidence

In the Qur’an, the direct commandment for post-pubescent women to cover their hair and neck is in Surat An-Noor, ayah 31 (Chapter of the Light, verse 31).

“And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their khumur over their juyub and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, [...]” (Qur’an 24:31)

After reading this ayah, one may notice that there is no mention of hair per se.  This is where many of those who question the obligation of hijab, stop and say, “But where does the Qur’an say to cover the hair?” This is an example of how understanding a verse based on the English translation alone and without historical context results in confusion.  Let’s back up and understand this ayah, phrase by phrase.

The Believing Women

The very first directive from Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) in this ayah is aimed at Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (peace be upon him) to “tell the believing women” to lower their gaze, etc.  There are those who claim that the commandments in this verse apply only to the Prophet’s ﷺ wives or only at the time of the Prophet ﷺ.  Yet the address is for the “believing women”—an all-encompassing phrase.  Remember the ayah:

“And We have not sent you [O Muhammad] except as a mercy to the worlds,” (Qur’an 21:107).

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was sent as a mercy to all of humanity—not just to the people of Mecca and Medina.

Lowering One’s Gaze and Guarding One’s Private Parts

Note that the first injunction described here is for the believing women to “lower their gaze” which is to avoid looking at anything haram (unlawful). Secondly, they are commanded to “guard their private parts,” (which in the previous ayah, verse 30, Allah (swt) addresses the believing men and commands them first to do the exact same—who said protecting one’s body from haram is only for women?).

An important point to mention in this part of the ayah is the various English translations found to explain the phrase “yahfadthna furujahunna”. In Arabic, the literal meaning for this phrase is to guard their private parts. This is specific and strong language to forbid the believing women (and in verse 30, the believing men) from engaging in illegal intercourse. Interestingly enough, in Pickthall’s translation of the Holy Qur’an, “yahfadthna furujahunna” is translated as “to be modest” and in Yusuf Ali’s translation, we find “to guard their modesty.”

For years, I wondered why some Muslims have the notion that hijab is not fard, but that we are required, instead, to only “be modest.”  I believe I found the source in these English translations.   According to many ahadith (narrations of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ), we are required to be modest (which in Arabic, is “hayaa’”).  However, this verse, in particular, is not commanding the women to have “hayaa’” in the general sense.  Here they are commanded, specifically, to “guard their private parts.”

An explanation of how guarding one’s privates can be successfully accomplished begins with lowering the gaze and continues with the commandments outlined in the rest of the ayah as related to dress.

Women Are Not to Display Their Beauty

Next, the verse reads, “and not to display their beauty, except what ordinarily appears thereof.”  In Arabic, zeenatahunna refers to the women’s natural beauty or adornments (here, the scholars of Qur’an understood adornments to refer to the hidden places of the body where adornments are worn1 ) Therefore, the scholars of Qur’an agree by ijma’ (consensus) that “wa la yubdeena zeenatahunna” refers to covering everything, “illa ma dhahara minha”—except for what ordinarily must appear to carry out daily affairs in public, which is the face and the hands2 .  Interestingly enough, the scholarly debate has always been between whether the face and hands are to be shown, or if they too, should be covered3 .  Until very recent times, this commandment from Allah (swt) to cover the hair was never debated by the common Muslim.  And this certainly was never up for debate amongst the scholars throughout history.

Sheikh Yusuf Al Qaradawi resonates with this very concept when he responds to the same question regarding the obligation of hijab in his book—Contemporary Fatwas4 . He states, “One of the great fitnas (trials) and intellectual conspiracies that has been introduced into the Muslim world is the alteration of matters of certainty to matters of doubt and debate.” He also states that all of the scholars throughout history from various groups such as the Sufis, the Dhahiris (the Literalists), the fuqahaa’ (jurists), and the scholars of hadith unanimously agree that it is fard for the believing woman to cover her hair.

Some discount the commandment of hijab altogether due to the weakness of a commonly cited hadith (narration) found in Sunan Abu Dawood where Aisha radi Allahu ‘anha (may Allah be pleased with her) relates that the Prophet ﷺ, who upon seeing Asma bint Abi Bakr wearing thin clothes said, “O Asma, when a women reaches the age of menstruation, nothing should appear from her except for this,” and the Prophet ﷺ pointed to his hands and face.  This reasoning is faulty because even if we were to entirely dismiss this hadith, the clarity of the various segments of the ayah are enough to prove the commandment of hijab by itself.  In addition, there are other authentic narrations from the Prophet ﷺ outlining how thick the woman’s outer garment should be, how loose, how long, etc. These descriptions of the woman’s dress, coupled with the injunction to cover the hair, and to not display their beauty, collectively emphasize the injunction to cover all but the face and hands.

Covering the Hair, Ears, Neck and Chest

The injunction for covering the hair is evidenced by “and to strike their khumur over their juyub.” In Arabic, the word khumur is the plural of khimar, which is a cloth that is draped over the top of the head and hangs downward.  This definition is unanimously agreed upon by all of the scholars5 . Juyub is the plural for jayb which is the opening in the front of the dress that allows the head to fit through.  The key is to note that the women at the time of jahiliya (pre-Islamic times) were already covering their hair, as was customary throughout history in various cultures6 and religions7 .  However, by letting the ends of their khimar hang down behind their back; their ears, neck, and chest were exposed89 .  This style can be seen in the image below10 .

Then came the commandment to take the khimar and “cover their juyub.” By doing so, the women would now be covering their previously exposed areas.

The photo above depicts again how the head cover was worn.  The next photo explains the action of “walyadribna” which literally means to strike, “bikhumurihinna” with their head covers, “ala juyubihinna” over the front openings in their garments.  Ar-Razi, explains that “walyadribna“—to strike—is used to emphasize the importance of covering this area11 .

Finally, the last photo reflects how the khimar (head covering) is used to cover the previously exposed ears, neck, and chest.

Summary of Verse 31

Let’s take a moment to reflect upon what the believing women are commanded to do:

  1. Lower their gaze
  2. Guard their private parts
  3. Not display their beauty and ornaments except what (ordinarily) appears thereof
  4. Take their khimar (head cover) and cover their chest (and other previously exposed areas)
  5. Not to display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers…etc.

It is very difficult to see how an ayah with so many specific, step-by-step commandments can be written off as someone’s “interpretation.”

Hijab, Khimar, Veil, Head Scarf…

Some say hijab is not fard based on the use of the word “hijab” itself.   Some argue that verses containing the word “hijab” in the Qur’an (which means to conceal, veil, screen, etc.) do not refer to covering the hair, so why do we use hijab to mean headscarf?  Let’s not get caught up in the semantics of the word hijab.  Suffice it to say that this word has become commonplace in the Muslim vocabulary to mean a head cover despite the fact that Allah (swt) uses the word khimar in the Qur’an. Yet the two terms are related in meaning. What matters is that we cover our hair, not the way in which we name the covering.

The Style of Qur’an

The Qur’anic style is not like our municipal codes of law that provide lists of rules and injunctions. Instead, the Holy Qur’an has a beautiful literary style in which Allah (swt) opens our hearts through stories, warnings, reflections, and direct commandments, all intertwined.

Imagine if instead of the ayah above regarding hijab, we were told to cover our hair, neck, shoulders, upper and lower arms, chest, abdomen and thighs, etc.?  How dry would that sound?  That is not the style of the Glorious Qur’an.

Take the obligation of prayer.  Can anyone deny the duty to pray Fajr, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, and ‘Ishaa? The answer is no, yet nowhere in the Qur’an are these prayers listed together as part of the commandment to pray. Furthermore, a closer look will reveal that nowhere in the Qur’an are the number of raka’at (units) for each prayer described.  It is not necessary, since Allah (swt) sent His Messenger to teach us the specifics.

And although the issue of covering the woman’s hair has been submerged into a sea of heated debate, there is no hesitation to fully cover the hair and body for prayer. Again, the question is raised: where is this mentioned in the Qur’an? Why are we so resentful and phobic when we hear that women need to cover their beauty outside the home, yet we peacefully submit when it comes to matters of worship? Are we not trying to please the same Merciful Lord both in and outside of prayer?

Finally, some mistakenly look for exact words in the Qur’an to validate certain obligations such as hijab. “If there was an ayah in the Qur’an which read, ‘All women must cover their hair’,” I would have done so in a minute!” claim some who challenge the concept. Take a step back and remember that the command is to take the headscarf that covers the hair (khimar) and to modify how it was being worn. If there was a room full of women wearing head scarves, and you wanted them to cover their ears, neck and chest; how would you phrase the request? Would you ask them to put on a headscarf that they are already wearing, and then to cover the exposed areas or would you simply ask them to cover their exposed areas?

Conclusion

Referring back to our dear sister who submitted this question, the arguments you’ve heard to take off the hijab may seem convincing, however they are wholly unsound. To attract attention to yourself because you look different with the hijab is not the same as attracting sexual attention. And to refer to the verses and ahadith relating to hijab as interpretation is unfounded (there are many more ahadith not included in this article for the sake of brevity).  Finally, some use the ayah, “[…] Allah intends for you ease, and does not intend for you hardship […]” (2:185) to argue that hijab is not compulsory. If we had such license to rationalize away other injunctions when faced with any level of difficulty, what would happen to praying five times a day and to fasting?

While others around you were comfortable in taking off their hijab, I urge you not to do the same! From my experiences with sisters who have followed the same path, I have invariably seen unfortunate subsequent changes. Such changes include: tighter clothing, lower necklines, shorter hemlines, and more lavish hair-do’s, despite the intention not to. I know some sisters have had bad situations in which they were forcefully coerced into removing their hijab, may Allah make it easy for you. But for those sisters who contemplate this action by their own choice, I urge you and all of our readers to seek the pleasure of Allah and not the pleasure of His creation.


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  1. Ruh Al Ma’ani by Shihaab Adeen Abi Athanaa’, vol. 18, pp. 309, 313 []
  2. Al Mufassal fi Ahkam Al Mar’a wa Bayt Al Muslim by Abd Al Kareem Zaydaan, vol. 3, pp. 317-320 []
  3. See Shuroot Al Hijab Al Islamiyya by Dr. Fouad Al Baraazi []
  4. Contemporary Fatwas by Sheik Yusuf Al Qaradawi, vol. 1, pp. 453-455 []
  5. Contemporary Fatwas by Sheik Yusuf Al Qaradawi, vol. 1, pp. 453-455 []
  6. See What People Wore When: A Complete Illustrated History of Costume, St. Martin’s Griffin, New York, 2008 []
  7. See www.Catholicplanet.com/veil/index.htm []
  8. Ruh Al Ma’ani by Shihaab Adeen Abi Athanaa’, vol. 18, pp. 309, 313 []
  9. See “The Bible on Women and Their Hair” http://www.therefiner’sfire.org/women’s_hair.htm []
  10. History of Costume, by Braun and Schneider []
  11. Al Mufassal fi Ahkam Al Mar’a wa Bayt Al Muslim by Abd Al Kareem Zaydaan, vol. 3, pp. 317-320 []

229 Comments

  1. Junaid abbaxi says:

    Im the summary of verse, the 5th point u mentioned is
    Not to display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers…etc.
    I think the most beautiful part from which a man can get attracted is the face, and this verse tells that a women should cover her face also. Not only head and the othe parrs only.

    • A Woman says:

      In short, you are left to choose what you think is modest enough according to the Quaran’s teachings. To cover yourself completely will help lessen your beauty, I suppose, but to cover the face as well? To be blunt, I find it odd that a woman must go through all this trouble of covering herself just because of the disrespectful behaviour of other men. It is the man that is at fault, not the woman (in general). Mutual respect and modesty between the two genders is what’s needed, not a simple veil, hijab or burka.

      • A Woman says:

        (I’ll have to correct myself: in that particular situation, it is the man at fault, not the woman.)

        In short, I believe the Quran wishes for women and men to be modest and respectful towards each other, and that the hijab is a personal choice.

        • Muna Ahmad says:

          Trust me sister, you would not be giving that excuse on the day of judgment for not covering yourself up or question Allah’s decision to order women to cover themselves up. We are helpless and we are all ashamed of ourselves when we stand in the day of judgment so it is best to trust what the Quran says and just cover up, its a little sacrifice to please Allah. In addition, Allah says: “Whoever is guided is only guided for [the benefit of] his soul. And whoever errs only errs against it. And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. And never would We punish until We sent a messenger.” (sura al-Isra 17:15) so don’t go on misleading others. Ma’asalam.

        • MAS says:

          Dear sister (A Woman),

          You’ve raised some very logical points which I’d like to try and answer.

          The Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallim said that for the believers this life is like a prison and that it’s like paradise for the non-beleivers. This life is a test for the Hereafter and it isn’t meant to be easy. So yes, men and women who worship Allah truly go through a lot in this world, and it’s avoiding hell-fire and earning Paradise that makes it all that worhtwhile.

          You yourself admit that a woman who covers her beauty lessens it in doing so and you are right. But I’d like to point out something when you ask ‘why go to all this trouble just cos of the disrespectful behaviour of some men’. Do you know what Allah says about veiling the body? See this verse chapter 33 “O you who believe! Enter not the Prophet’s houses, unless permission is given to you for a meal, (and then) not (so early as) to wait for its preparation. But when you are invited, enter, and when you have taken your meal, disperse, without sitting for a talk. Verily, such (behaviour) annoys the Prophet, and he is shy of (asking) you (to go), but Allâh is not shy of (telling you) the truth. And when you ask (his wives) for anything you want, ask them from behind a screen, that is purer for your hearts and for their hearts. And it is not (right) for you that you should annoy Allâh’s Messenger, nor that you should ever marry his wives after him (his death). Verily! With Allâh that shall be an enormity (53)”
          See how Allah tells us that by veiling you first are protecting your own heart or self , not just of men. Not all men are bad, most men could control themselves but some may not, in fact Allah even uses a term for such men who could be moved by a woman’s soft tintillating voice – those in whose hearts are a disease. Allah knows us better than we do ourselves as we are ultimately HIS creation! Mutual respect and modesty may work for you, me and some men, but would it work for all? Our creator knows us and therefore commands us to cover up, for HE knows it is best for us!

          So sis, if you veil for Allah’s sake, always bear in mind that not only are you contributing to the modesty of men it’s making you a more modest person too :)

          Covering the face is recommended not mandatory as per the majority opinion, I too agree with it. Yes, it is difficult and that’s why it is even more rewarding, but ultimately that is your choice.

    • Ali says:

      No, a woman’s face is not awrah.

    • Abdul sadiq says:

      true said the most attractive part of the body is the face from which one gets attracted. Displaying of beauty to husbands, fathers etc. in the verse denotes only the face.
      Hadith – Bukhari 6:282:’Aisha used to say: “When (the Verse): ‘They should draw their veils over their necks and bosoms,’ was revealed, (the ladies) cut their waist sheets at the edges and covered their faces with the cut pieces.”

      • Muslim woman says:

        The verse doesn’t mention “women necks” at all, only bossoms. You shouldn’t alter Allah’s words just to prove a point.

        • A man says:

          I agree the point the ayath is talking about is cover your bosom. Now with the cloth worn over the head (kimar) which according to the meaning is customary for the region ( desert sandy) at that time . Because kimar is used women understood giving them easy way to cover the bosom. As per my understanding cover your bosom with cloth is the point. Or else God would have explicitly said cover your ears if he wanted to.

        • MAS says:

          Some translators have used the word bosoms, some necks and bosoms and some others left it as juyubihinna and then bracketed all that they believed was juyub. Anyway since the verse discusses a khimar to cover their juyub, a khimar is a head-covering which when pulled down over the bosoms would naturally also conceal the necks and shoulders in the process all the to below the chest. This is just one verse in Chapter 24.

          There’s the body veiling verse in chapter 33 that was revealed after this verse revealed to all female believers commanding woman to wear jalabeeb (plural of jilbaab – a long loose garment) over their bodies when stepping out.

          There are some other verses about dressing and manner of speech etc and some specifically for the prophet’s wives. In addition to all these, there are saheeh narrations of the Prophet sallallahu which shows us how the women in the prophet’s household and wives and daughters of the Sahabah used to dress and conduct themselves and they are whom we should follow as examples.

    • Danial says:

      if that were true, then we shouldn’t see women performing the hajj with their face covered…

  2. A Muslim Woman says:

    Oh Allah, I can’t believe this! Its not about what you think, the Quran isn’t based on your thoughts of what beauty is, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Didn’t the prophet say the face was okay to show including the hands? Pardon me, I forgot its all about what you think. Why would Allah tell men to lower their gaze if women are suppose to be covered from head to toe? A woman covered from head to toe doesn’t attract attention and doesn’t freak anyone out, you’re right (in your imaginary world). This is why people should follow the holy Quran because everyone have their own opinion. Again, Allah SWT made it clear to us and didn’t mention hair or covering it in the holy Quran, let alone face covering none sense and that’s a fact!

    • Muna Ahmad says:

      oh sister, you are confused in your own reasoning to question that hijab is an obligation. Allah clearly states in sura Al-ahzab chapter 33 verse 59: “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.(sūrat al-aḥzāb 33:59)
      What more do you need? cover your hair and wear loose cloth.

      • A Muslim Woman says:

        I will say this over and over the verse doesn’t state anything about covering the hair and its clear, there’s no doubt about it. In your other comment you told me to trust you, why would I trust a stranger, I’m not suppose trust you over God’s word. How could you demand that I wear hijab and loose cloths. I don’t wear hijab, but I dress modernly and that’s only because its written in the Quran, not because I trust you. Would you be offended if I tell you take off your Hijab because God didn’t mention it in the Quran?

        • Ali says:

          But it is in Ibn Abbas’s commentary. He was the first to comment on the Quran, and he was a sahaba. In the verses regarding women’s clothing, he said it refers to everything except the hands and face. Ibn Abbas cannot be wrong.

        • MAS says:

          My goodness, why all this anger and harshness in your words? How can you emphatically claim that the word hair ins’t mentioned in the Qur’an and hence infer that a Muslim women doesn’t need to cover herself? Are you denying the importance of the Propeht’s saheeh narrations and Sunnah? If you are then, how do you know when and how many rak’ah to pray? If you do offer the five daily prayers do you cover your body and hair? If you do cover, why do you do so?
          Why did Allah say over and over in the Quran, Oh those who believe in me obey the Prophet? Obey what? what did Allah mean by that?
          When Muslims are doing good for other Muslims and spreading Allah’s word and the prophet’s work in this age of misguidance and fitnah, have the courtesy to appreciate their work and be good in your speech and conduct.

    • WK says:

      Finally, someone speaking some sense! The burkah especially is dangerous… Dangerous for security and also dangerous for women’s health if not worn responsibly (lack of sunlight to the skin causes severe vitamin D deficiency. Why would God ask a human being to do something which is bad for them?

      • WK says:

        Sorry, this was a reply to “A Muslim woman”

      • A Muslim Woman says:

        I agree with you WK, why would Allah stop them from enjoying life, from seeing the sunlight, and from living a natural life. All because of men sake? It doesn’t make sense. Allah told men to lower their gaze for a reason. He didn’t say if you see a woman that’s not covered , you’re allowed to look at her because you can’t control yourself.

        • WK says:

          Exactly, it’s a two-way deal. Modesty is dependant on where you live and what the norm is where one is. Men need to make more of an effort too.

      • MAS says:

        How is it dangerous for security WK could you offer some more insight maybe with some data? I’m sure your local judicial body would help with the numbers. Do you know that most of those who live in the Middle-east in the scorching heat are Vt D deficient, where by the way the local Muslim population is a minority? My orthopedic doctor from India who himself confessed to be dangerously deficient of Vt D? Did I mention he was a man and not a Muslim?

        • MA says:

          Actually, Vit D deficiency is common amongst women throughout the world and even more so Asian and Middle Eastern women. Furthermore, doctors claim the face and hands receiving sunlight is enough to receive vitamin D. Also, too much exposure to sunlight can lead to skin cancer due to the sun’s harsh rays. Make sure science works in your favor before using scientific proof.

          Oh, and modesty and lowering of the gaze is MANDATORY for both males and females.

    • Paul Bartlett says:

      I live in a large metropolitan area with a significant international population. From time to time I go to a shopping mall for coffee and to walk around. Sometimes I will pass a young, presumably Muslim, woman with a hijab, tasteful in appearance, and loose fitting but otherwise stylish clothes. I notice her, appreciate, and walk on. Within a few steps I have nearly forgotten her and go on about my business, because her attire, while modest, does not stand out and does not attract attention.

      Then I pass a woman draped from the crown of her head to the soles of her feet (hem dragging on the ground) in stark black with a face covering just barely showing her eyes. (An attire that might literally be against the law here forbidding concealing the face in public.) She is so out of the ordinary in a western country, it is almost as if she is screaming, “Look at me! Look at me! See how different I am! See what I look like!” She attracts attention in a way that the other does not.

      Is wearing an attire that is so out of the ordinary that it attracts stares and attention really modest? As I mentioned, the first young woman I forget about in a few steps. The second almost shrieks for attention. Who is more modest?

      • WK says:

        I agree Paul. It defeats the purpose of detracting attention when an attire is completely out of the ordinary. In a country where wearing such things is the norm, maybe it would be inconspicuous. As a Muslim myself, I think wearing a burqah is neither purposeful or useful. Especially in the west. Modesty is subjective, and not as black and white as some people make it.

      • Abdul sadiq says:

        Paul Bartlett the attraction which u took is not the one Quran implies.. the attraction here means sexual, lustful and desired attraction.. u are mixing Attraction and attention.. the covered woman which u tried ur best to see her face clearly shows hat attraction means!!!

        • Paul Bartlett says:

          Salaam. I am sorry, but I do not entirely understand the point you are trying to make here. As I wrote, the one young woman in hijab and modest but otherwise fully tasteful attire I forget about in a few steps, because she does not attract attention. The other woman (especially if she is with her presumed husband, himself in common western attire) almost shrieks for attention. It is not merely a matter of wondering “what is under that tent?” but of attracting attention. Is it truly modest to be so out of the ordinary in a society that a woman literally attracts attention to herself by the way she dresses when other women, while still modest, do not do so?

      • Abdul Sadiq says:

        walaikum salam.. what is attracting attention!!! these are two separate words and have separate meanings. I am not arguing that other women who don’t dress like these are immodest perhaps may be more modest but the issue here is about Quranic injunctions and we should follow them without the reason that such and such is attracting and such and such is modest or not..

      • MAS says:

        Dear Mr Bartlett

        If the blessed virgin mother of Jesus, Mary (peace be upon her) who is always covered from head to toe in every and any picture you might have seen of her, yes not in black, yet covered completely in an unflattering way nonetheless were to pass by you, would you make the same judgement you made above about pious Muslim women covering themselves for the sake of God?

        What about the nuns in your country, do they dress in modest yet fashionable attire or do they wear plain, dull-colored thick long-flowing garb and does that irritate you too simply because they are different? Do they seem to you to be shrieking for attention?

        More importantly, have these nuns or Muslim women in body cloaks whether black, blue or white ever directly offended you in any way?

      • MAS says:

        One more query for you, forgive me.

        You feel that dressing in a way that is out of the ordinary is actually not very modest because it makes people look and attracts attention and so wrong? On that same note, if the norm in a society is skimpy clothing (think underwear) or nudity (some societies are actually getting there) it would be immodest to go dressed in jeans and T-shirt cos it actually only helps ‘attract attention’ and so the wise thing to do would just be to blend in and follow their dress sense so that you’re just another face that will be forgotten.

        So who gets to decide what’s normal and what isn’t? I’m not trying to offend you brother, just using your same logic :)

  3. Muna Ahmad says:

    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.(sūrat l-aḥzāb 33:59)

    • WK says:

      Muna, this verse is debatable. Arabian women were already wearing loose a covering over their heads culturally before Islam. Just as some Arabian men do. This is to cover them from the suns heat. Women of that time started using their head scarves in such a way as to expose their necks and cleavage (as I’ve seen some Muslim women do nowadays too!). This verse was basically to say “cover up your cleavage with the scarves you wear on your heads”. Not “cover your heads”. It’s asking women to cover their cleavage that’s all!

      • MAS says:

        Hmmm. So what is a khimar then MK? Why does Allah say bring down your khimars over your juyoob? So are Muslim womens’ daily prayers accepted if their heads are uncovered as long as their cleavages aren’t showing? Why do all major religions including Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism call for covering the heads?

  4. Muna Ahmad says:

    The prophet(s.a.w.) said “The halal is clear and the haram is clear. Between the two there are doubtful matters concerning which people do not know whether they are halal or haram. One who avoids them in order to safeguard his religion and his honor is safe, while if someone engages in a part of them he may be doing something haram..”

    Allah has explicitly mentioned for the women to cover themselves with hijab and to wear loose closing so that they do not their shape. So there is no negotiation about ‘oh men should do this because this is their problem…’ Everyone should focus on what is expected of them and how can they do it best, because in the day of judgment you will be asked about your obedience not others. Ma’asalam

    • Ali says:

      Why are you saying tight and revealing clothing is the only alternate to burka (which is NOT necessary at all in islam)?

      • MAS says:

        Ali, you simply cannot say ‘which is not necesary at all in Islam’ and not back-up what you’re stating. If you want to be taken seriously, please explain why the burqa (if by that you mean body-cloak similar to the abaya or purdah or chador and the like)according to YOU is not necessary in Islam.
        You might also want to explain the verse Allah revealed in Chapter 33 instructing all women to cover themselves with ‘jalaabeebs’ when stepping out, yeah what’s that all about?

        I would also really appreciate it if you could inform us how the prophet’s wives and the women of the Sahabah dressed following the holy revelations on clothing. Thanks in advance.

  5. Musa says:

    Muna, are you a scholar?

    Because your responses are very inappropriate. Everyone should disregard your statement, and listen to Sh. Webb’s research, and advice.

    Salaams to everyone elese

  6. Sister B says:

    If the verses from the Qur’an are debatable, then what about the hadith of the Prophet where he tells a young girl that only her face and hands should be seen?

    Doesn’t this clarify what is meant in the Qur’an?

    I hope Allah will show all of us what is correct and help us to live, speak and think in a way that will please Him.

    • WK says:

      I think the Hadith you’re referring to is the one where the Prophet (saw) pointed to the face and hands to say they can be visible. He didn’t verbalise it. If it was so important to cover the hair, it would have been explicitly said. The pointing to around the face area could be interpreted to mean either the face or the whole head. I think the most important thing is to dress modestly. As is pretty apparent, modesty is subjective to where and when you live. Sometimes excessively covering up attracts more attention, which defeats the purpose. It’s purely about using common sense. Allah has separated us from other creation by giving us intelligence. We don’t need to be scholars to use our brains.

      • Sister B says:

        Thank you for your response.

        I don’t think that how Allah would like us to dress is subjective on where we live, but I agree that modesty in behavior and dress are key.

        Unfortunately, head covering has taken on many different meanings in today’s age. I think this issue was less complex during the time of the Prophet. In some countries, head covering has even been politicized and has become a political symbol or a political identity. Can you believe it?

        Some people where I live (I live in a Muslim country) cover their heads for various different reasons– some out of pressure, some because they want to fit in, some to avoid being harassed by men, some because they want to show the world which political leader they support and some to please God. But it should only be done to please God in my opinion.

        Unfortunately, these additional social meanings of covering one’s head confuses people and misguides them. So this is the time when we need to go back to the Qur’an and rediscover what Allah expects of us. Because our faith and the right way is becoming muddy in more ways than one. Head covering is only one such issue. People use religion to achieve different goals, I meet many people who pray five times a day but are total hypocrites who do not follow the teachings of Allah in most aspects of their lives.

        So there is no harm in these discussions, there can only be benefit. We Muslims need to find the right way and remove all these taints and confusions from our faith.

        • Muna Ahmad says:

          We muslims rely completely on the Quran and the prophets teachings and the lives of the prophet. If you think for a moment that you can fool anyone by creating comments that have no base, then don’t waste your time. Allah said: “It is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter, that they should [thereafter] have any choice about their affair. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger has certainly strayed into clear error.” (Surat Al-Ahzab 33:36)
          For the person that said ‘a women who is wearing burka is attracts more attention’ my answer is you are laughable, ofcourse something you haven’t seen before will attract your attention but attracting wasn’t said in that sense, if you compare a women who is showing most of her chest and the rest of her body with a tight cloth, then you know who will arouse you than the women who is completely covered.

  7. Shazeen says:

    The Quran is a complete book easy to read and without flaw if the hijan was mandatory Allah would have told woman to hide their privates and cover their head but since hi jab is mentioned 7 times in the Quran and none pertaining to headscarf then who are we to argue that? The hair is not awrah and perhaps the last thing a man is attracted to. Today woman wear hijab with skin tight jeans and tight tops why insult Islam in that way? Why brand yourself as a Muslim by wearing the help hijab and being like the kuffar? There’s no such thing as a modern hijab…girls love to later and style their hijab and add jewels this draws even more attention is that allowed? The hijab has become a joke and defeats the purpose of modesty. If one argues this fact then your arguing the Qur’an and the word of Allah. The Qur’an is complete and is not a puzzle where you interpret meanings its clear and consise please don’t imitate the Jews and Christians as they wear scarfs. If you choose to for modesty then go ahead but don’t force others to you have no power over Allah’s commands…

    • Ali says:

      I’m guessing you didn’t read the article.

    • Abdul sadiq says:

      Shazeen if face hair is not necessary and non attractive the why poets praise eyes, eye brows, hair and lips in their poetries.. Quran teachings are meant to be general not individual.. and as far as imitating is concerned then having two witness for marriage is also Jewish tradition then what does it imply!! just by saying that others wear such and such attractive veils doesn’t make it a choice for us that as others are mocking veil so we have a choice .. simply follow the best and teach others.. Quran never said pray five times a day the can u say I will pray two times or one time as its not mentioned clearly.. do u think that Muhammad P.B.U.H came just to read Quran verses and that’s all. It was narrated that ‘Aa’ishah said: The riders used to pass by us when we were with the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) in ihraam. When they came near us we would lower our jilbaabs from our heads over our faces, and when they had passed by we would uncover our faces. Narrated by Abu Dawood, 1562

      • A Muslim Woman says:

        Poets also find Abaya’s attractive. Women also find men eyes, lips, etc… attractive. Therefore, both men and women are asked to dress modernly and both were asked to lower their gaze. Please don’t compare prayer (one of the 5 pillars) to hijab, your statement is invalid. We are suppose to blend in with the community we live in and not scare them away by imitating death angels. The other day I was out with my 4 year old niece when she suddenly panicked and wouldn’t let go of me as she was terrified of a woman who was wearing Niqab. And one time, me and my sister were at the food court where we spotted a woman wearing a colorful hijab that she also made into a veil by covering her mouth and nose with it. We were curious of how she’ll be eating her food, to our surprise she just took it off and started eating. I’m sure we weren’t the only curious ones that day.

        • Abdul Sadiq says:

          A Muslim Woman therefore Quran also says to lower your gaze for both men and women apart from being dressed up so that evil looks lustful looks are dealt in the initial stage.. u are making arguments that one did this other did that , one ate after removing veil other freaked out my child..i am not comparing prayer with veil I am giving example that nowhere in Quran u find to pray 5 times a day so where we learnt from that 5 times a day we have to pray..so that’s the point that Quranic injunctions were taught by the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, if we argue that my child freaked out and one female ate in such a way doesn’t make an excuse that we don’t be dressed like that.. the thing which we are forgetting is that the purpose of veil.. suppose hen a five times praying person does sins , drinks alcohol, gambles and heats does that mean that he should stop praying!!!!!what u mean by ” We are suppose to blend in with the community we live in and not scare them away by imitating death angels” do u think we can eat pork when the community does so, we can drink alcohol when the community does, we can do same sex marriage if the whole community does. Islam has never come to be driven what the people desire and think what’s right and what’s easy for them.. Islam has come to mold the society into noble, model, peaceful and prosperous society.. and it can be done if we abide by all the principles, rulings and commands of the Creator of the whole Universe Allah Who knows what’s best for the human beings as He knows our nature above all. and if we follow our own desires, likes dislikes and social norms and customs which keep on changing then we will de deviating from Quran and Sunna

      • A Muslim Woman says:

        For some reason, I’m not able to reply to your last comment so I’ll reply here.
        Its sad how you describe women who don’t wear hijab as ‘evil’, something you find evil is totally normal to most people. However, non-normal people with sexual mindset have a different view. Whats the purpose of veil? Other than Vitamin D deficiency, scaring people away, getting away with crimes and attracting attention? We’re arguing about hijab here, not veil. Veil & hijab don’t exist in Islam (especially veil) , but people like yourself insist and forge Allah (SWT) word and make it a fard and unfortunately they are successful at brain washing most people to think that way. I had a feeling a person will twist my words about the statement I made (blending in with community). Not eating pork isn’t noticeable. You don’t have to eat pork to fit in! Not all westerns are gay, the majority are straight. I never said we need to do these things in order to fit in because you don’t need to do them to fit in. Those examples are pointless and don’t make any sense, how is that even comparable to what I said.

    • Noor says:

      If you think hair is the last thing that attracts attention, you are sadly mistaken.
      Nobody can advocate tight clothing.
      Even other religious & non-religious people around the world wore coverings as required till the middle of last century; I don’t understand what has gone wrong with the world now? just because of media onslaught.

  8. aroosh says:

    Hello to be honest rather than arguing and fighting over how to wear the hijab and how to dress modestly(not saying ypu are) I think everyone should read the Quran and interpret it themselves becuase we are individuals and we will by ourselves on judgement day what will we say to Allah if we didn’t follow his command? We should all follow our idea of modesty and halal rather than everyone elses and we should all accept everyones idea of modesty if its niqab or just dress modest but also if someone isn’t covering up it doesn’t have to be an excuse for not controlling yourself. Eg a women not coverimg up is not the reason for her rape. We should bring peace and be nice as muslims not mean

  9. Muna Ahmed says:

    There is a great difference between someone who argues Hijab is not mandatory and someone who doesn’t want to wear hijab for whatever reason. For those who are making excuses not to wear it even to the point of arguing that it is not mentioned in the Quran (May Allah protect us) are not going to wear it even if its made clear to them that it is mandatory. Even for somethings that are not so clear the prophet (s.a.w) said “The halal is clear and the haram is clear, and between them are matters unclear that are unknown to most people. Whoever is wary of these unclear matters has absolved his religion and honor. And whoever indulges in them has indulged in the haram.” So if Allah opens you eyes to at least help you see that this is debatable, then it is better to be on the clear.

    • WK says:

      Also, it’s haraam to make something haraam which is actually halal, and vice versa. If you choose to wear hijab, that’s up to you. But you can’t denounce others for not wearing it, just because you’re of the opinion that it’s obligatory. Each to their own. Head scarves are a beautiful concept, but it’s not something which has been specifically ordered. Hijab has, but what constitutes hijab is debatable. Hijab is NOT the word for head scarf. It obviously just means covering.

    • zaki. says:

      Signs of the end times bro. They might “reinterpret” islam one day to mean that Thowheed refers to shirk and vice versa. can you believe this trend of “reinterpreting” ?? even when the ijma has been reached? even when the companions themselves who were taught by the prophet give their opinion people want to put their 2 cents worth into the religion. Even when there was no difference of opinion in certain issues for over 1400 years…its a trend bro, its like, “i dont like this rule in islam, what should i do? i know, i will ‘reinterpret’ it” they reinterpreted hijab to mean modesty (which is subjective it seems, so tomorrow if showing your Thighs is modesty there will be a group to argue even that is halal), the hur to mean white grapes, and the prohibition of homosexuality into prohibition of rape only so even that became halal. Only allah can protect us.. we must be careful and advise them and also warn against them.

      • WK says:

        I like your enthusiasm Zaki, it’s good to see. However, as Muslims it’s important to differentiate between culture and religion. The word ‘Hijab’ literally means ‘covering’. Not head scarf. It’s people today that have misinterpreted it to mean head scarf. As has already been said, a head covering was already a part of culture at that time to protect people from the suns heat. Not just by women, but also men.
        If it was as important as people are saying nowadays, it would have been stipulated. The whole concept is based on modesty. There’s no argument that alcohol is haraam etc is haraam, as it’s been completely forbidden.

        • zaki. says:

          The hijab for men and women is not cultural, it is a religious obligation. Hijab does not mean headscarf,it is so much more than that, but khimar, means head cover. the word khimar is used in the quran and scholars and companions of the prophet alaihis salam said it means so and women cannot expose anything but their face and their hands.(some scholars said to cover even this, but that is the only disagreement.) this was said by people, who were taught personally by the prophet alaihis salam. Hence no one, not one person in the world can come and “reinterpret” these things. This is a major innovation. Akhi we are men, we would like nothing more than to be immodest with women and see them without the hijab, this is part of man’s evil nature, but the fact that we are calling against it says that we are afraid of allah azza wajal and we only want to follow him. We have many many rules specific to men also, but none of us denies these. I advise you as a brother in deen to abandon the ignorant people and their ilm ul kalam, theological rhetoric and approach the quran and sunnah and strictly abide by it.

        • zaki says:

          allah mentioned the word “head cover” crystal clear in the quran and asked to lower the head cover. Even this is not enough for you? why? even the quran is not enough for you to accept to cover your head when allah is asking you to lower your head cover over your chests? i dont understand. muslims immediately accept anything if it is in the quran. what happened that the ummah came to such a sad state? one side is worshiping graves, another side is worshiping fulan,another side is beating itself during festivals, another side is saying the religion of allah approved of homosexuality, yah allah, we ask you to preserve ahlus sunnah from such deviance of not following your words when it is revealed to them and to protect them from being attracted to the ways of the kuffar so that they dont feel they must abandon their religion and try and change it to fit desires. we ask you in this ramadhan to make us of those who do not just pay lip service to your religion, but follow its every command and be among the strangers.

      • Muslim Woman says:

        Zaki, You claim that the word ‘khimar” is in the Quran, why didn’t you provide us with a verse? You are saying that no one can reinterpret God’s word, but you’re doing the exact opposite. Don’t you think Allah would’ve made it clear to us and said ‘cover your hair’ but fortunately the word hair nor head covering was mentioned in the Quran. Simply its just hijab, no one said or will ever say showing your thighs is acceptable in Islam, its obviously clear that its not MODEST to do such thing. Did you know before the 60s women did not wear hijab and suddenly The Muslim Brotherhood made a fatwa stating that its an “obligation” to cover the hair and thats when the brain washing started in the Arab world. A lot of Al Azhar scholars tried to stop this from happening like shiekh Mustafa Mohamad Rashed and other scholars, but it was too late. The Muslim Brotherhood kept raising the bar, rape & ignorance increased and they turned what was once considered one of the greatest countries to the Egypt that we now know. Just search Politics Behind the Hijab.

        • zaki says:

          This is very funny. i am reinterpreting the quran? so ibn abbas did not say this? nor ibn kathir? im the one who came up with this opinion in islam the first time in 1400 years of this ummah? You are excused sister, you will be guided if you read surat an nur, verse number 31 that is quran 24:31. the words “bi khumurihinna” are present. The khimar, is a veil that people wear on their heads.

        • WK says:

          I think the verse he’s referring to is the one that says “…and not display their beauty except what is apparent, and they should place their khumur over their bosoms…” (Ch 24 V 30 onwards). However, I agree, the verse is more to do with women covering their bosoms more than their heads. Their heads were already covered, and the women of the time started tying their khimars in such a way that they exposed their bosoms. The word is mentioned but in a different context. Hope that helps.

  10. JimmyTheIgnorant says:

    I wonder why people were asked to cover up in the first place. Were they all running around with nothing on, uncovered? And who is to say that was wrong? I wouldn’t wander around undressed. Not in this day and age. It would look rediculous to people and make me feel uncomfortable. But, apparantly, we all used to. If you believe the history books. We were not born with clothes on, y’know. I’m not even sure what wearing clothes does for us, other than stop the sun burning. Now, do the people who say we should all cover up think that westerners all go around rudely gawping at each other because we aren’t covered from head to foot? That’s nonsense. We wear what we like because we have freed ourselves from rediculous attempts at control and subjugation by clerics.

  11. Muna Ahmed says:

    Jazakumullah Ajmaeen to all the Muslim brothers and sisters who contributed their beautiful insights to affirm that Hijab is an obligation for women to wear. Now there is no question that Allah has ordered women to cover their heads in the Quran.(For some commenters here, The question deviated to the reasoning of putting the head cover on, but the original question was did Allah ordered it or not for whatever reason.) Now that it is clear, the question comes down to do you obey Allah or not. That obviously will be a personal decision. Good luck to everyone and may Allah make it easy for all Muslim sisters to put their hijab on solely for the pleasure of Allah, Amin! May Allah let us reach the blessed month of Ramadan, Amin! wa asalamualykum w.w.

    • Muslim Woman says:

      Really, Allah ordered women to cover their hair? Hmmmm still looking to see where it says that. So because few commenters states its clear, the decision is now made up and we’re not even allowed to ask questions, does anyone else find this comment amusing? Some people are only good with giving demands even if its proven that Allah didn’t mention such things, perhaps they don’t want their illusions destroyed.

    • Muslim Woman says:

      I would also like to thank my Muslim brothers and sisters who contributed their insight to confirm that hijab is NOT an obligation for women to wear, wether their comments got deleted or not. Now that its clear that Allah didn’t mention covering the hair in the Quran, its up to you wether you want to wear it or not. Just know that its not mandatory and you will not go to hellfire for not wearing it despite what you were told.

      • zaki says:

        Sister, Allah azza wa jal clearly told you “bi khumurihinnah” in the quran. What does khimar mean? it means a headcover. All scholars, even the women with who were there at the time of the prophet and the companions of the prophet said it means to cover the head. Who are we to now “reinterpret” this while the people who sat and learnt when the prophet was alive, ibn abbas for example, said that it is obligatory to cover this way? How can we decide from our own desires to reinterpret quran to suit our own desires? you and i must not do this, but follow quran and sunnah properly. Any other reinterpretation is a deliberate attempt to follow desires and a rejection of the quran’s command. Dont be the cause of misguidance sister. You have zero evidence that its not obligatory, while we have the statements of ibn abbas, the prophets relative, ibn kathir a great mufasir, safiya bint shaiba and many many more. The only difference of opinion is whether the face is to be covered as an obligation. The rest of it is not a debate and anyone who interprets this way is either erring due to lack of knowledge, or innovating, dont follow such people sister, unless it is an honest mistake on their part and they would correct themselves if evidence is presented.

        • Rizwan says:

          Can anyone give me Quran reference about not to cover face?
          or Quran is silent on covering of face?

  12. LAH says:

    Has anyone come across this page: http://www.quran-islam.org/articles/women_dress_code_(P1150).html

    It claims to be a reading of the scriptures without any influence from culture or tradition. It aligns with what WA was saying about how the key point seems to be to cover the bosom. If women in pre-Islamic times were already wearing Khimar for practical reasons, it makes sense that Allah would instruct them to use this garment to cover their bosoms.

    Interestingly, Khimar does not necessarily refer to head-covering, as this explanation suggests: http://quransmessage.com/articles/a%20deeper%20look%20at%20the%20word%20khimar%20FM3.htm

    So it could be that Allah was in fact referring to any outer/covering garment, like a shawl or cloak or coat…but the point was to make sure they covered the bosom. Because that is an area of a woman’s body commonly considered to be sexualised.

    • LAH says:

      By the way the first link, if you click the hyperlink, will just take you to the homepage of that site, but if you copy and paste it into web-browser (including the html bit that didn’t get included in the hyperlink for some reason!) then it takes you to the exact page. The second link works fine by clicking it…

  13. Bintou says:

    Amazing how ppl want to actually debate back and forth on the issue of hijab khimar, smh sad. reinterpretation is all they know how to do to conform to society and conceptualize what is wrong and right. KHIMAR is head covering. Please go read over the verse again sheesh. No one is forcing anyone to cover their heads. ALLAH SWT will def be the judge alone.

  14. Parvez Khan says:

    For a woman to cover her hair and neck infront of non-mahrams is certainly fard as based upon Quran and Prophetic Hadith.

    “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze, and protect their private parts and not to show off their adornment except that which is apparent, and to draw their veils all over their Juyub (bosoms) ……..” [Quran 24:31]

    Hadith 1:

    It was narrated that Umm Salamah said: When the words ‘draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies’ were revealed, the women of the Ansaar went out as if there were crows on their heads because of the way they covered themselves.

    (Narrated by Abu Dawood)

    Hadith 2:

    It was narrated that ‘Aa’ishah said: The riders used to pass by us when we were with the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) in ihraam. When they came near us we would lower our jilbaabs from our heads over our faces, and when they had passed by we would uncover our faces. (Narrated by Abu Dawood)

    Hadith 3:

    When Allaah revealed the words (interpretation of the meaning) –
    “…and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms)…” [al-Noor24:31] – they tore the edges of their aprons and covered their heads with them.’ [narrated by abu dawud)

    After prophet Muhammad (SAW) issued the command (Qur'an 24:31) for women to cover themselves, the women responded by covering their hair and bosoms. [bukhari]

  15. TheOtherSide says:

    Qur’an Sura 24:30 “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them. Lo! Allah is Aware of what they do.” Qur’an 24:31 “Tell the believing women to lower their gazes and be modest, to display of their adornments only that which is apparent and to draw their veils over their BOSOMS. I add the emphasis, because the verse then goes on to say that the adornments “that are NOT apparent” should not be displayed save to husbands, fathers and other MALE family members that the Books of the Jews forbid.. BUT I believe that 24:30 requires men to wear a hijab or burka as much as a woman. For while men may behave as they desire, the price for sin in the eyes of Allah can be very costly.

    But what does this reader understand?

  16. Sis. Angela says:

    1) What is the spiritual ‘feeling’ that a female has when being covered verse when she is not covered. (does she feel protected, modest, or has she lost her since of shame, feel pride in her shape or hair-style… 2) What is the spiritual ‘feeling’ that a natural man has when seeing a woman or interacting with a female that is covered vs a women who is not covered? (how did Allah make men to ‘feel’?) (and what if no man was attracted to women? we’d have a big problem) I also think of what is the purpose of why Allah would want us covered (body and hair). What would be the effect on society? What does covering produce in society? Also, what is the universal outcome, if we cover or if we choice not to cover? Meaning what if every women in the world submitted a was covered verse if every women in the world was uncovered? Also, when Muslim women are not covered, we look like every other woman, and we subject ourselves to be treated as such. Hopefully, not by Muslim men, but by non-Muslim men? But, the fact that Islamic societies we have the women covered, this said to me that even Muslim men need our/women’s help to control their ‘feelings’. It is not about our individual ideals, it’s more about what Allah wants, to create in His people. To create the Kingdom of Allah on earth. The Holy Quran is a book of guidance for us to help us get closer to Allah and be more like Him. So, when He gives us instructions, we should strive our best to follow them first, then, ask for more guidance for the ‘why’ after we have followed the guidance. And not ‘ask why’ first and don’t follow His guidance until we understand. Remember, a Nation/world can rise no higher than it’s woman.’

    • TheOtherSide says:

      To Sis. Angela:

      The feeling a woman gets is her’s to decide. I have asked for a citation form the Qur’an to prove that a woman MUST wear a hajib and was referred to Sura 24:31. Yet I have to read the whole Sura to reach 24:31 and find 24:30. Reading this verse, I would expect a man has to wear a hajib and full body and facial cover as well as a woman does.

      If men cannot control themselves, they have been taught poorly. Even in the decadent West, there is no public fondling or fornication. And the women do not cover themselves from head to toe. I fear that the men cannot trust their women. Otherwise there should be no requirement (citation please) as to why a woman must be chaperoned everywhere she goes.

      • Irené says:

        Exactly. I even believe there are more sex crimes commited in predominantly Muslim cultures. In the decandent West men and women can get their sexual relief freely, safely, without guilt or fear of punishment, so the need to abuse and rape is lower. And even when that happens, and it happens, the victim is seen as a victim not as a criminal.

        • MAS says:

          Nope. Statistics prove that Western and other nations have higher crime rates against women than Islamic countries such as those in the MiddleEast. Women in these countries aren’t objectified as they are in the West, they have rights and privileges and are honored. But then again no country follows the Islamic Shariah 100%. If men take away their rights or abuse them don’t blame God, blame the sinners!

  17. sana zahid says:

    Assalaam o alaikum!! Brothers n sisters alhamdulillah i already wear a jilbab and cover my head most of the time even at home around my kids n husband.now i want to know whether it is mandatory to cover the face at all times? Like even uf im in the car with my husband ?? Or can i just cover it if i go to the mall to avoid fitnah? Also what is the ruling for showing the face to devars jaiths and nandois? (Husbands married brothers, husbands brother in laws, and even my own brother inlaws? Can i just dress modestly with a good head scarf n no makeup??? Plz reply with proof from hadith.

    • MAS says:

      Mashallah, its good that you are seeking knowledge sister, may Allah help you find the right answers. I’m not a scholar but I can share what little wisdom I’ve gained over the subject and from my own life.

      I agree with the majority opinion that veiling (covering the face) is mustahabb (recommended) and not fard (mandatory). So I veil, alhamdulillah. When men aren’t around I lift my veil ofcourse, like when in car with my husband or in rest-rooms or any place I know where aren’t men around.

      According to ruling on showing your face to non-mehrem men, if you practise veiling then it applies to all non-mehrem men. Refer Quran and tafseer and saheeh ahadeeth on verse 24:30. It’s clear that your bro-in-laws and husband’s bro-in-laws are non-mehrem for you, so doesn’t make sense showing face to some men and not to others. I use a custom small face veil for when I’m home and have my bro-in-laws over, I behave with them like I would to any other non-Mehrem men.

      keep searching for more knowledge, dont stop! All the best:) may ALLAH guide us both and all others struggling in His path and make it easy for us..

  18. Aisha says:

    Assalaam,

    the argumentation of our brother sounds convincing, beside one small flaw:
    it is based on the assumption that the hair in contrast to the face is already part if the “sexual stimulating” features of women. Now he is a man and might know better then me, but in my opinion the hair is part of the “by itself beautiful features” of women. Covering it might look convincing to Middle Eastern people but I still believe it is the women choice.
    Modesty in thought, behavior and every aspect in life is important, overstepping the subject here somewhat: I would wish all sisters and brothers would rather think about what can be done to transform our societies to be successful (see Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, …..) then getting lost in academic debates about something which will not secure the future of our faith, children and our way of life.

    Aisha

    • TheOtherSide says:

      If men were to take the same care in bodily cleanliness as a woman, he could also consider his hair as point of vanity and then it MUST be covered. What I pointed out, is that the verse used to require women to wear a hijab starts the exact same way as the prior verse that refers to men, that they must narrow their vision.

      If as the prophet said that if it is not in the Qur’an it is idolatry to observe it, how is the use of electricity and the car or airplane justified? Soaps? To advance a religion is a nob;e quest, but when religion is drawn to maintain the certain outmoded practices and the clergy refuse to modernize, what can the people do? If there is but one understanding of the way, then all must abide. If there are varying expressions of the way, then something needs to be canted.

      If seekers come to find out about the religion, why are their girlfriends murdered to force them to convert? Tis makes more enemies than it creates. It creates the seeds of apostasy even if the person were to convert.

      Practices must change. Certainly not basic change that updates what others see as outmoded.

    • Irené says:

      “what can be done to transform our societies to be successful (see Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, …..)”

      It’s not a coincidence that the the most politically and economically stable and rich societies are the ones with the highest level of:
      1.gender equality
      2.personal freedom
      3.separation of church and state

      Just saying.

  19. Umm Yusuf says:

    If the Quran is for all peoples and all times the verse about taking a head over not all peoples wear and SPECIFICALLY being told to cover your chest would make sense to every culture. If you don’t already have a scarf as many cultures don’t then the obvious command is cover your chest. “That which is normally apparent” is not universal. The Quran is supposed to be, since Allah knows we are different he knows well that these words mean differently culture to culture. I’m not Arab, I have no khimar. I will cover my chest as I have been specifically commanded though.

  20. Shep says:

    “Imagine if instead of the ayah above regarding hijab, we were told to cover our hair, neck, shoulders, upper and lower arms, chest, abdomen and thighs, etc.? How dry would that sound? That is not the style of the Glorious Qur’an. ”

    I disagree because the Qur’an does list things- it lists all the people to give charity to, they list Prophets, they list all the details of Hajj, and more. The Quran has details where it wants to have details. If it leaves out details, then we can say that is intentional. Does Allah not say the Qur’an is “fully detailed”?

    • MAS says:

      Mmm..,where does the Qur’an say it is fully detailed? Could you give me the verse please? I don’t think it lists all the details of Hajj and Umrah.

      Qur’an doesn’t and cannot have all the details as 6000plus verses aren’t enough to cover all the aspects of life, which is why Allah selects Propehts and Messengers to show and lead by example, which explains the importance of saheeh Sunnah (authentic narrations) of prophet Mohammed sallallahu alaihi wa sallam which all Muslims are to follow in their lives.

      • Shep says:

        [Quran 6:38] We did not leave anything out of this book.

        [Quran 7:52] We have given them a scripture that is fully detailed, with knowledge, guidance, and mercy for the people who believe.

        [Quran 10:37] This Quran could not possibly be authored by other than God. It confirms all previous messages, and provides a fully detailed scripture. It is infallible, for it comes from the Lord of the universe.

        [Quran 12:111] In their history, there is a lesson for those who possess intelligence. This is not fabricated Hadith; this (Quran) confirms all previous scriptures, provides the details of everything, and is a beacon and mercy for those who believe.

        The Qur’an cannot cover all aspects of life, that is why it tells us to use our reason, our fitra’s Al-Hekmah, which lets us know the difference between right and wrong. The Prophet’s Sunnah is beautiful as “His character was the Qur’an.” We all need to live up his character of compassion and justice, cleanliness and wisdom. However he is no longer alive (except in our hearts) and we cannot obey him any more since we cannot walk up to him and ask him to check to see if his hadiths are authentic.

        Some so-called sahih hadiths baffle me. For instance:
        Muslim, Book 4, Number 1515:

        “Ibn ‘Abbas reported: The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) observed the noon and afternoon prayers together, and the sunset and Isha’ prayers together without being in a state of fear or in a state of journey.”

        Muslim, Book 4, Number 1516:

        “Ibn ‘Abbas reported: The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) observed the noon and afternoon prayers together in Medina without being in a state of fear or in a state of journey. (Abu Zubair said: I asked Sa’id [one of the narrators] why he did that. He said: I asked Ibn ‘Abbas as you have asked me, and he replied that he [the Holy Prophet] wanted that no one among his Ummah should be put to [unnecessary] hardship.)”

        this seems to contradict:
        Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 10, Number 571:
        “Narrated Anas: The Prophet said, “If anyone forgets a prayer he should pray that prayer when he remembers it. There is no expiation except to pray the same.” Then he recited: “Establish prayer for My (i.e. Allah’s) remembrance.” (20.14).

        also there is a bunch of “sahih” hadiths about the prophet stoning people for adultery and fornication, but in each one the punishment is different in how it is enacted on the man and woman.

        There is one hadith(sahih) where Aisha says the Qur’an talks about a rule for suckling babies. That is nowhere to be found in the Qur’an.

        So sahih hadiths contradict each other and the Qur’an. We need to use our wisdom to discern which to follow, and how to live our lives, as long as the Qur’an and the principles of the Prophet’s life- love and justice – are not contradicted, I believe.

      • Shep says:

        I respectfully point out that you missed my point. In Surah 2 on the Hajj, Allah goes into great detail, listing what to do if you are sick or poor, it sounds like a policy manual, or “dry” as you put it. Indeed, if someone who never read the full Qur’an just saw that part, they would think Islam is a list of do’s and don’ts.

        [33.59] O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

        In order to understand this verse you need some background study.

        The IRFI – Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.:

        “According to the Quran, the reason why Muslim women should wear an outer garment when going out of their homes is that they may be recognized as “Believing” women and differentiated from streetwalkers for whom sexual harassment is an occupational hazard. The purpose of this verse was not to confine women to their homes, but to make it safe for them to go about their daily business without attracting unsavory attention.”

        “The Quran does not suggest that women should be veiled or they should be kept apart from the world of men. On the contrary, the Quran is insistent on the full participation of women in society and in the religious practices.

        Morality of the self and cleanliness of conscience are far better than the morality of the purdah. No goodness can come from pretense.”

        Indeed, if you look at the context of that ayat, you see that this was a time in Medina when Muhammad’s (S) home/mosque was constantly bombarded with visitors asking to see him and ask him and his wives for things. In the busy streets around his house, his wives were harassed sexually, under the pretense that they were confused with slaves and prostitutes. The outer garments of 33:59 were the conservative clothings of its day and time.

        [24.31] And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty

        “As you see about clothing, Islam doesn’t really say how to dress. Only that you should guard your modesty, cover your breasts and yours sexual attributes.

        So everyone specify that Muslims should not display between the belly until the knees (special if you’re a women) and your breasts.

        Why cover the hair? Is it a sexual attribute? Since when you feel attracted by someone’s hair? If yes I recommend that you should go to the medic.”

        Women wore khimar at the time. The injunction is not to wear a khimar, but to use their khimmer because it was handy. If the Qur’an were to applied to modern culture, it would be to button your top buttons! and don’t buy shirts that expose your cleavage, or use a summer scarf to cover it up. Notice how the Qur’an says to use what you already have, it does not say “Wear a khimar to drape over your hair,” it says “Use your khimar to drape over your bosom.”

        ^ everything I said above is not just coming from me. Why do you think the Prophet’s great-granddaughter Lady Sakeynah refused to wear the veil? She knew these things to be true.

        Arguing that other religions had women who covered their hair is arguing from the culture and tradition of the peoples who had the religion, not from Allah. If Allah ordered it, through a prophet, produce your witnesses, your evidence.

        Respectfully, why do you argue that the Qur’an says what it does not say? Hair is not in there.

  21. TheOtherSide says:

    After all is said and done, and I have been following the conversations closely, I believe that the hijab as currently used is a Fard. Many ancient cultures have had the custom of women covering their heads. But so did the men. The verses for men and women start the same, but whereas men USED to cover their heads and even faces when not at home has fallen by the wayside. Something I am not sure is supported by the text or the tradition. Even Ayatollah Khomeini covered his face when on long trips and misused the texts to obtain conditions counter to what is allowed by the texts. Until a more broad based council of elders, NOT scholars study and critique this habit through time from about 4000 years ago to present, i do not believe WE will come to a true understanding of the problem or the solution. I believe these two citations are over-looked in the argument.

    Qur’an Sura 24:30 “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest.
    Qur’an Sura 24:31 “Tell the believing women to lower their gazes and be modest,

    WHY are the MEN mentioned first? Probably because they have a weaker moral fiber than women. A man has only one gaze that of lust for a woman. A woman has many gazes. She has the welfare of her children to be wary for. The faithfulness of her husband, two wives per more is not important. Each watches that while he is with her he is faithful to her. The running of the house. Ibrahim and Ishmael were able to run the house in emergencies, but counted on Sara and Hagar to do so on a daily basis. A women watches and keeps other women in the house in their place, watches to keep peace in the family and with guests. Only when a woman is done with all her gazes can the men relax to discuss sheep and camel prices, oil futures and other business that they are involved in. Applying 24:30 as strictly as 24:31, Men should only be allowed to uncover their eyes and raise their gaze at home where their women can keep a sharp eye out for upcoming trouble and problems with the guests.

  22. Abdullah says:

    Put simply there are so many posts on here because according to the values of secularism, i.e. freedom, the woman must undress for the general public in order to get valued by society as a free woman.
    muslims must reject it because it’s source is not Qur’an or Sunnah. Rather Islam gave the woman much more honour and dignity than freedom ever did or could, and by ordering her to cover, was increasing her honour and dignity, not reducing it !
    Finally, aside from the clear evidences, there are no reports of women at the time of RasoolAllah (saw) who did not wear the proper prescribed dress code, so is our interpretations of Qur’an or Sunnah to be rivalled against their understanding?

    • Shep says:

      “the woman must undress” Nobody here arguing against the hijab is telling anyone what to do, we are just saying it should be optional, so please get that straight. Nobody except the uluma that is telling anyone what to do, they are saying a woman must cover herself in order to get valued by the ummah as a real Muslim. That is the big lie we are against. Without any reference to Western secular culture, I will show you a logical argument against fard hijab based on jurisprudence:

      Does this quote sound secular to you? “to such an extent that we should look at the verses of the Quran which are based on the culture of the Arabs, and if it’s clear that those verses are not universal in their orders and prohibitions, but that those verses are based on urf (customs and traditions) we have the ability to reinterpret them according to the urf we live in and the culture we live in”. This was the saying of Abu Yusuf, the great scholar.

      Abu Yusuf, the great student of Abu Hanifa who later became a chief judge, is asking us to look at the asbab al-nuzul. Al-Shatibi asks us to look at the higher objectives of the law (maqasid al-shari’ah). Put these two jurists’ ideas together and you get:

      asbab al-nuzul: Notice how the Qur’an says to use what you already have, it does not say “Wear a khimar to drape over your hair,” it says “Use your khimar to drape over your bosom.” The circumstances of revelation (asbab al-nuzul) say that it was already part of Arab culture to wear khimar and the Qur’an asked women to use what was already there to cover the bosom. Abu Yusuf would say do not tell women to wear the khimar if it is not part of the culture.

      maqasid al-shari’ah: Women must be modest. Perhaps they have a scarf around their neck or a button-down shirt and they can cover it with their scarf or their top buttons. In any case, to be a Muslim who follows the Shari’ah, they must cover their bosoms.

  23. Sithy Hussain says:

    I think perhaps we should stop and appreciate Allah’s stupendous use of language. Allahu Akbar! The Quran is for all time & all cultures. The women during the time of the Rasool(sal) had to answer the call of nature outside the house and since there were no shrubs in the desert – it was usually a hole in the ground or maybe just the ground itself. Urine was collected in a bowl in the house with no doors. (There are hadith which describe how they collect the blood from menses – in a bowl!). Now place that same woman in all the paraphernalia that constitutes our current day hijabs and niqabs & socks & gloves etc etc and see how she would have handled it.
    Zeenathuthuhunna means adornment – either what one is endowed with by Allah’s Grace or what one adds on to adorn oneself. Adornment is fundamentally that which attracts and even a head cover can attract another person because it emphasizes the face. I know women who look better with a head cover than without.Even a woman’s speech – not just the tone but the quality can attract. So Allah in His wisdom have left it open-ended for each one of us to decide what we need to do to NOT ATTRACT unwarranted attention and therefore it really comes down to intention as with all things measured by Allah.
    Another point to note is that most probably women did not use bras during the time of the Rasool(sal) and the home-spun fabric they used in all probability outlined not just the shape of their breasts but did not provide adequate support. Hence the specific mention of chest/bosom.
    And even in today’s cultures – it is indeed the woman’s breast that command a lot of attention.
    Different cultures value different aspects of a woman – for example some cultures like their women fat and girls are force-fed during their growing years to reach target weights. No hijab or burka will ever cover that adequately. Some cultures value fair skin – hence the proliferation of whitening creams. So it is a personal choice as we will be judged individually by Allah on the state of our hearts.
    Hence the beautiful use of language – the justification for the use of Arabic for the text of the Quran – each word speaks volumes. May Allah guide us in realizing His words and using our intellect as commanded by Him.

    • Shep says:

      This is beautiful. Not only are you following asbab al-nuzul, “circumstances of revelation,” you are also using your reason. I have always considered how some women’s hijabs are beautifully ornamented with color arrangements that attract, and thus draw attention to the face, where a beautiful face often is. But you went a step further, many steps further actually. I hope you realize that such logic will get you copied and pasted by me for future debates! lol if you don’t mind :)

      • Sithy Hussain says:

        You are quite welcome. I hope it inspires others to not be afraid to open one’s mind and use the intellect as Allah exhorts so many times in the Quran. We take the easy way out and follow others.
        We need to understand the fundamentals first – we get so bogged down by perceived rituals that we don’t stop to think.
        Another example – since we are talking of modesty & dress. I find so many Muslim women not just adopting the abaya etc but adopting black as their preferred color. Now if one sees what Allah says about black clothes in the Quran:

        14:48 [His promise will be fulfilled] on the Day when the earth shall be changed into another earth, as shall be the heavens and when [all men] shall appear before God, the One who holds absolute sway over all that exists. –
        14:49 For on that Day thou wilt see all who were lost in sin linked together in fetters, –
        14:50 clothed in garments of black pitch, with fire veiling their faces.

        Would you want to wear a black abaya?

    • Tina says:

      Peace, I agree that we need to appreciate Allah’s choice of words and formulations, and the wisdom that he teaches us thereby. Very well written, praise be to Allah. May Allah guide us

  24. Sithy Hussain says:

    You are quite welcome. I hope it inspires others to not be afraid to open one’s mind and use the intellect as Allah exhorts so many times in the Quran. We take the easy way out and follow others.
    We need to understand the fundamentals first – we get so bogged down by perceived rituals that we don’t stop to think.

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