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 []

221 Comments

  1. Reed says:

    “Such changes include: tighter clothing, lower necklines, shorter hemlines, and more lavish hair-do’s”

    Nowadays I see quite a few women who wear a hijab and also have very tight clothing in the U.S.

    • Annie says:

      I agree. Almost all my friends who wear hijab don’t care about the clothes they wear. And on top of that, they wear make up! The strange part is that they judge a sister who doesn’t wear a hijab although, is modest in her dressing with no use of makeup at all.

      • ROSE says:

        It doesn’t mean if a few aren’t doing appropriate things whilst wearing hijab then we shud all stop. Many dress very decently with hijab. i myself wear full covered but western clothes with a hijab. If its part of the religion then you shud try to follow it if you can. At least those few women who perhaps wear tight clothes they are proud to show they are muslim and have taken on this commitment.
        They may also think twice about any haram activity if wearing hijab. i never thought i would wear this and even had a bad opinion of those who did but today i am so happy to wear hijab and to be muslim.

    • faiza says:

      That is correct, for in England, I have seen nearly 90% of sisters wear hijab in such a fashionable way that they attract more attention then the plain sister who does not wear hijab but is very simple in her clothing and wears no makeup. The hijab sisters wear very fancy head coverings that only cover the hair, full makeup and the shortest and tightest blouses and tightest jeans!!!
      May Allah give my sisters the knowledge to wear the hijab in the way that it is meant to be worn, Ameen.

    • Golnar Atash says:

      Thank goodness that there’s somewhere we can only mention that fact! The other day I was talking to some folks about how we do wudhu with makeup, and I was told off and blamed for trying to shame women based on their choices. I was just talking about what we can observe in practice, I wasn’t ridiculing anyone and I certainly didn’t point fingers at anyone in specific. However, today we cannot talk about anything related to women because we will be blamed for taking away her full freedom and trying to control her. I never hear people blaming Islam for trying to control people’s time with fasting and prayer and hajj and so forth, but when it comes to certain taboo topics all of a sudden “control” is an issue – we cannot define what Islam’s rules are anymore.

      • umm ayub says:

        I had exactly the same discussion with some sisters yesterday. Sadly I was called a “wahabi” and was talking drivel when I said that Hijab was about covering the whole body and that makeup blocks water from reaching the skin, therefore not allowing one to complete their wudu. Sadly these are agreed upon issues by the majority of scholars in the sunnah. Alhamdulillah, I guess if people do not wish to read, to learn, to listen and to gather sound scientific islamic evidences then that is on them. Allah knows how they manage to pray if they go about that with the same theological approach!

  2. Saif says:

    Salaam

    Beautiful advice.

    May we, men and women, strive to have true hayaa in all we do and all we show for the love of our Creator.

  3. Yasmin says:

    Jazakallah khair for this very well written and persuasive post! The visuals are very helpful :)

  4. aisha says:

    I am a young high school student who just recently began wearing the hijab much to the chagrin of my father who views the hijab as a mere ornament. JazakumAllahu Khairun for this wonderful piece; it gives me strength to continue wearing the hijab:)

    • Ang says:

      I am proud of you Aisha, it’s not an easy thing to do on yur own, especially without the support of your father, but Allah will bless you even more for the difficulty you encounter my sister…

    • Samar says:

      Oh Aisha! MashaAllah May Allah keep you strong. I’m 30 and know that you’ve inspired me to keep strong.
      Really hope that you haven’t been facing problems with hijab and family.

  5. Hassen says:

    Masha’Allah, very beneficial explanation. I think this trend of Muslim women taking off the hijab in the US is ultimately a result of a lack of knowledge. I’m sure most of these women have good hearts and may have modest overall character, but without a solid foundation in basic aspects of Islam the pressure to conform to societal standards will naturally increase. Also, wearing hijab purely out of fear (and not balanced with the love of pleasing Allah) does not provide a solid foundation for taking on this challenge.

    May Allah give us the strength to uphold the dignified teachings of Islam in all aspects of our lives- ameen!

    • Hediyah says:

      Salammu 3alkyum wa ramthAllah

      Your statement about not wearing the hijab because of the lack of knowledge about Islam and the Sunnah is very true.

      I am a sister wearing the hijab for such a long time since I was 9, and when I turn 21, I had this feeling why I am wearing the hijab, should I take it off?, just to let you know I lacked a lot of Knowledge on Islam. Didn’t know much, since I did live in the America’s. But once I increased my knowledge on Islam and the Sunnah, It was a true honour of wearing the Hijab. Every day is Jihad for me to, but its an honourable Jihad, because its for the sake of Allah(SWT).

      So for any sister out there. If you don’t know enough about Islam, go seek some knowledge about it. If you enough, re-gain your knowledge about Islam in other halal means, because people who seek knowledge about the beautiful religion Islam, those are the people who will be closer and closer to Allah(SWT), stated by the Prophet Muhammed(SAW).

      Also one more thing, if you still struggling, just make duaa, make duaa all the time, Allah(SWT) is always listening. It will be a true Jihad keeping your Hijab on, don’t let the whispers of the shaytan get to you, be a true believer in Islam, and all fight these whispers and be confident as a TRUE Muslim women, because at the end of the day you are fighting these whispers for the sake of Allah(swt), and this by itself is Jihad. Don’t let modern society get through your head, these people will never be there for you, only Allah(SWT) will be there for you always through happy times and bad times. Al-Hamduillah!

  6. Muhammad Talut says:

    For all the ones, before thinking what people would think of them doing an act,just think what Allah will think.

    We are to obey Allah’s message the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) way. Then no matter wat ever happens,it is not on us,leave the matter on Allah.

    We have to do our homework and Inshallah Allah will grant us paradise. And this is what he needs basically,total submission.

  7. kanzah says:

    I wonder why ayah 33:59 is not quoted more often..

    To me it seems to clearly state covering ones head, specifically. I often questioned this practice carried out by my mother and all my aunts but then one day alhamdulillah, i came across it, and i never had a doubt about hijab again.

    • Golnar Atash says:

      Nowadays many women and men take issue with statements such as “. . . they will be known and not be abused”. The reason is because modern feminism tells us that asking women to be modest is victim-blaming. Islam always recognized, however, that men are responsible for lowering their gaze, respecting women’s space, behaving modestly, and so on no matter what. Additionally, it seems these people don’t recognize that women indeed do have some agency in what type of gazes they attract to themselves via their behavior and dress, just like men also have some agency in how other are attracted to them by how they behave and dress.

      Nonetheless, these people say that asking women to be modest in order that “they will be known and not be abused” is victim-blaming because women aren’t responsible for repelling abusers with their clothes. It’s wrong to ask women to try to prevent attention to themselves and the “coming on” of men by dressing conservatively.

      I don’t really understand how Muslims can simultaneously accept the feminist view and the Qur’anic view, but that’s the current trend anyhow.

      • kanzah says:

        I do agree with you. It really is with Allah swt whome he guides, till very recently i may have been classified amongst those feminists unfortunately.

  8. deen sisters says:

    Assalamu Alaykom Lobna,

    May Allah reward you with jannah for this article. The current debates among Muslims questioning that which has always been clear has been a worrying trend. May Allah bless you for the courage and sincerity to write in such a clear and straightforward, and yet kind and caring way. Beautiful advice, and very strengthening for all of us. mashallah.

    wassalaam

  9. Salam J says:

    I think this article was well written. However, I urge everyone to watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAGUkJTi9oU. If it doesn’t open—search on youtube: ‘Critical Issues: The Headscarf?’ – Professor Tariq Ramadan

    I think it’s very important that we consider that wearing hijab and being modest is a PRESCRIPTION by Allah.

    Just as a physician prescribes medication to his patients. It is up to them to decide on their own based on their own research of reputable sources and knowledge of the side effects. Just as a medication can have side effects, so can the decision to wear hijab. For example: challenges in the workplace, less social interaction with non-muslims, discrimination from others, etc. But just as medication can have therapeutic benefits, so can hijab: becoming more in-tune with your faith, improved awareness of issues of the muslim woman, praying more often, acting in a respectful manner, and making daa’wa to others.

    HIJAB IS A PERSONAL DECISION FOR EACH WOMAN. With that being said, yes it is optional. Because each person has the option to decide whether or not to do something which is FARD. There is no doubt in Islamic History that hijab is FARD. One should make a personal decision to dress modestly or not just like we decide whether to pray, whether to fast, whether to avoid alcohol or not. FACE IT PEOPLE, this whole idea of making EVERYTHING MANDATORY OR YOU GO TO HELL does not encourage the masses to practice Islam out of true belief…but out of fear/shame only. We must be an open-minded ummah to those non-Hijabi Muslim women, such as converts, who perhaps are struggling with their decision, or maybe need more support or knowledge. This should be more emphasized within our communities. Where are the hijabi support groups? Where are the educated muslim women who can take the role of advisors in the mosques? Just as Prof. Ramadan mentioned, why is it mostly men taking this role in communities to make decisions about matters that concern muslim women?

    Take for example, Salah, also a prescription by Allah. Allahu a’laam (ALLAH knows best), of course, but one’s prayers may be more heavily weighted on the day of judgement than one’s dress. I understand that many things are interrelated…but if people emphasized the importance of prayer more than quarreling about hijab all the time…or simply judging a women’s entire belief in faith based ONLY on if she wears Hijab or not…it would benefit the muslim community a lot more. Just being a ‘good person’ and saying the shehada is not enough, of course we should always be striving to improve ourselves. Being muslim means you must play and dress the part. ACTIONS are more important than simply the way one dresses. But also dressing modestly can lead to good actions. Therefore, the two are interrelated. But where are the in-person discussions/lectures about the status of muslim women when it comes to issues other than hijab? This website is extremely valuable in that aspect, but in the offline–real world–we don’t get many of those discussions in our mosques.

    I pray that someday hijab will no longer be a symbol of oppression to the world, but a symbol of freedom to decide to be close to God and obey his word. Right now, even many Muslim women are foolishly associating it with oppression. But can you blame them? The atmosphere for women in our muslim communities is mostly stagnant. Improving the status of muslim women in the East, in turn improves their image in the West, and that leads to increased confidence for muslim woman in predominantly non-muslim countries. Where are the muslim women scholars? Where is the unity, we need to stop questioning whether this or that is FARD and move past those arguments…We need to figure out a way to help our sisters and brothers work towards completing those actions that please Allah. Instead of leaving them in the dark to struggle on their own. Again, very thankful for this website. Just hoping to see more real life action and discussion in our communities.

    J.A.K

    • Isabella says:

      Thank you very much J A K, I fully agree with you!

    • ZAI says:

      Mashallah. Brilliant comment. Just brilliant.
      One of the best, if not the best, comments I’ve ever seen in any form of media. Your comment should itself be a main article and I can only wish the Suhaibwebb.com team would post it as a guest author opinion.

      • Salam J says:

        Thanks! I am not one to usually comment but sometimes you just have to speak your mind.

        • Colleen says:

          Masha’Allah! So well spoken. Jazakallahu Khaiyran, I’m so happy you spoke up.

          I particularly relate to these 2 statements of yours: “FACE IT PEOPLE, this whole idea of making EVERYTHING MANDATORY OR YOU GO TO HELL does not encourage the masses to practice Islam out of true belief…but out of fear/shame only. We must be an open-minded ummah to those non-Hijabi Muslim women, such as converts, who perhaps are struggling with their decision, or maybe need more support or knowledge.”

          As a convert, well meaning people who talk about the choice is between hijab or hellfire simply turn me off to the question altogether. Out of anger and frustration, rather than dealing with the question, these people make me want to shelve the debate in my head and save it for another day when I’m not fuming. I have had one person even compare a woman without hijab to a lollipop without a wrapper.. Sorry, but a woman is NOT a piece of candy without a mind, and hijab is a decision that comes after a period of inner jihad. Lollipops, on the other hand, do not have the luxury of making decisions.

    • Lobna Mulla says:

      Jazak Allahu Khair for your thoughtful comments. I completely agree with you regarding your thoughts on the importance of our inner characteristics vs. our outwardly appearance. Although there are many who have moved on beyond the question of whether or not hijab is fard, there are those still struggling with this basic piece of info due to the massive amount of stigma surrounding it. I felt compelled to write an article to help those wanting to know the truth.

      Rest assured that Muslim Women Scholars exist and are actively working towards the betterment of women and society as a whole. Support groups in the form of study circles,sisters’ groups, and open discussions in the masajid also exist. Many of the wonderful authors and guest authors from this website are actively involved in such efforts. May Allah spread these efforts all over the world and serve as sources of support and guidance for Muslims everywhere.

    • May says:

      Mashallah amazing piece!!

    • shahira says:

      MashaAllah! Your comment just made me cry. Thank you for you very much for your insight.

    • Abd says:

      Your comment is wonderful, and I will do my part to increase these conversations in my community.

      I was liking the prescription analogy, but I am often given prescriptions that I don’t go pick up from the pharmacy and never take. There is no harm to me (as far as I know). There is harm (sin) to me in not taking a prescription from Allah subhana wa t’Ala, given that this prescription is a fard.

  10. syukur says:

    Assalamualaykum,

    Thank you for this great article. It is often the case that many muslims believe that wearing the hijab is compulsory, but rather than focusing on the quranic texts and prophetic traditions, we often resort to mere ‘customary-practice’ and ‘you’ll go to hell if you let your hair free’ arguments.

    Having said that, it is of utmost importance to educate the public on the fard of hijab with humility, respect and tenderness (in contrast to ‘HELL YOU!’) without compromising a little bit of the real reason behind hijab.

    thanks again.

  11. Maz says:

    Salaams,

    Do you think its possible that the verse was purposely very vague in order to allow people to admit doubt and alternate explanations instead of simply for aesthetic purposes? Surely the Quran is not frivolous and vain.

    Also the two main threads of arguments you pointed to are that there is ijma, and that the khimar itself was a dress that covered the head and bosom.

    Regarding ijma this isn’t itself an argument just that there is “consensus”. Nothing inherently says a human consensus (especially of particularly likeminded people) can not be mistaken – unfortunately recent years of Islamic thought has conspicuously stultified and that is a function of the conservatism and fear of any change among its leaders. This is not a criticism of their every decision but there is a problem regarding overwhelmingly conservative and quiescent thought that is real.

    Regading khimar, why would the Quran refer crucial and specific details to a garment which has not been worn in centuries and is entirely alien to most peoples and cultures? If this is the crucial detail, why effectively hide it from anyone without very specific knowledge about ancient Arabian culture (pre-Islamic even)?

    The Quran is for all time and places, given that it is a perfect document perhaps its inherent vagueneess on this subject is a reflection of the fact that multiple opinions are permitted especially in different times in place; after all the Quran very clearly instructs us to use our reason and about this it is not vague.

    • Ameena says:

      Interesting points.

      To me (not an Islamic scholar, so take it for what it’s worth), the plain meaning of the verse is to cover one’s bosom, not to adopt wearing a khimar or head covering. Reference to a certain piece of clothing, the khimar, does not necessarily mean that one must wear it for all times. Following the line of reasoning of this article, it seems that fashion would never change and that women should be relegated to wearing exactly what was worn 1400 years ago while men get to frolic around in T-shirts and jeans–an unsupportable double standard.

      • Lobna Mulla says:

        Assalamu Alaikum Ameena,

        A commandment is for all times, however styles may change. The prescription for the head covering is not specified in color, material or manner. The images were provided to assist in understanding the areas to be covered. On a side note, jeans (not the skinny ones) are a great invention :)

      • Ahmed Khan says:

        Exactly right! Dress fashions change over time and cultures and that is why the Quran says that what is normally left uncovered should be left uncovered. In the view of the late great Islamic scholar Mohammed Asad, the Quran requires that women should be dressed “decently.” He states “my interpolation of the word “decently” reflects the interpretation of the phrase ‘illa ma zahara minha’ by several of the earliest Islamic scholars, particularly by Al-Qiffal (quoted by Al Razi) as “that which a human being may openly show in accordance with prevailing custom (al-’adah al-jarriyah).” We must remember that the rationality, the spirit and moderation of Islam was, to a great extent lost through the interpretations of some medieval scholars (11th an 12th century CE, who also injected the religion with misogyny, which is totally absent from the Quran and the very authentic hadith. The scholars of today, for want of any meaningful scholarship on Islamic issues for the last 1000 years, still accept the medeival scholars work as if it is from the Quran itself. Our basis for an understanding of Islam must, first and foremost, be the Quran and only then those sayings of the prophet that can be considered authentic and will be supplemental.

    • sarah says:

      Salam brother-

      I’m sure Sh Suhaib or Sr Lobna are far more qualified to answer, but, from my understanding:

      The question of ijma’ or consensus refers to the consensus of major scholars, and gets its authority from the many extremely sound ahadith supporting the statement of the Prophet (peace and prayers on him) that “My umma will never agree on error.”

      It’s true that any individual might be wrong, and we don’t think that any person is infallible. That’s why consensus is such an important “check” against individual error.

      It’s the overwhelming majority of scholars across the entirety of Islamic history who state that hijab is fard – not only based on this verse, but also from sound reports of how did the wives of the Prophet dress (may Allah be pleased with them) and the female companions and early Muslims.

      Re: changing interpretations — There are indeed things that change and can be interpreted according to time/place/condition, but there are also fundamentals that don’t.

      Allah swt has told us what our private parts are that need to be covered — and these parts don’t change just because it’s the style in our town to skinny dip…

      As far as Allah mandating an “alien” garment:
      A khimar (headcovering) is not at all an unusual or foreign concept. Not only Arab but also Jewish and Christian women also wore it, both before that time and throughout the centuries all around the world, up to today.

      http://www.virginmarymtl.org/images/Virgin_Mary.jpg
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/13/jerusalem-exhibition-hasidic-jewish-culture

      The truly “alien garment” is our modern state of undress, unimaginable and unheard of in Judeo-Christian-Muslim society for thousands of years.

      As far as interpretation and flexibility: Allah swt doesn’t specify a particular type of garment per se.

      His “vagueness” allows us to dress according to our time and our means, SO LONG AS WE DO COVER what needs to be covered.

      The Qur’an IS for all time and place, and subhanallah it IS a perfect document…

    • Matt says:

      While Ijma’ is capable of of being incorrect, this is considered extremely unlikely if the Ijma’ is of the Salaf and the Sahabah. This is especially so if the consensus contains no evidence to the contrary ie: the Prophet SAW never praised or made an action of approval or non-disapproval toward wearing less. What is most telling is that, despite some of the greatest minds of history existing within the historical context of revelation in the Salaf, and despite other scholars such as Al-Ghazali being 1,000 years closer to the context than us, we still insist on reinterpreting this today as if we somehow have a greater knowledge than they or any of the ‘Ulema of our time.

      Your statement about the khimar pointing to an “ancient” practice is one that abuses the Hadith and Sunnah and ignores their existence, as if Allah SWT had willed that the Qur’an alone be our guide. If this were the case, there are many things we should readily be able to ignore. Among key things not present in the Qur’an: the method of Salat, the full method of Wudu, the organizational structure around inheritance, the various humanitarian restrictions in Jihad, the clarification of the meaning of a number of unclear words such as Dharaba and the like, etc.

      We should be incredibly wary about clinging to the vagueness of verses for our refuge: to do so is one of the characteristics of the Hypocrites. When there is meant to be a variance of opinion in the revelation of our Lord, we do not find it in parsing the vagueness of the Qur’an, but rather in the intentional method of interpretation by our beloved Nabi. Anyhow, as much evidence has shown, these verses are only vague to those who have come to the Qur’an lacking the knowledge of the language used.

      I understand your concern, though. The hijab can seem controversial, especially in the modern era. This is the fault of the men of Islam, not the women. We have not treated our women as they deserve to be treated, and we have taken to tighter dress we should have shunned. When a clean-shaven, t-shirt wearing, tight-blue-jeaned Muslim man carts around his loose-fitting hijabi wife, the disbeliever gawks at his oppression, and the believer should feel sorry for his state. The true remaining communities of Islam, like the ones I had the pleasure to see in the mountains of Morocco, have men and women in such beautiful and modest attire that one would see them following the same dress code.

      • Maz says:

        While its true that the Hadith and Sunnah can be sources of additional guidance you seriously err in putting them on par with the Quran or basing your opinions as though they are a second Quran unto themselves. While the Quran is indisputably the word of God and is thus perfect, the hadith themselves (in their recording, transmission and lack thereof) are human creations and are subject to scrutiny and reasoning as the Quran itself advises in all matters. People with shallow knowledge of Islam and Islamic history often forget the Hadith we have today are mainly a reflection of what was chosen by certain scholars to write down; and they themselves were recorded in many cases hundreds of years after the Prophet(saw)’s passing. They are not infallible or exempt from rational critique, they are human creations.

        Your comment about my supposed abuse of the Hadith and Sunnah is redundant, but I’d advise one to be careful with their words when implying someone who puts forth an alternate opinion is a Munafiq; this reflexively hostility to any new thought is a leading reason for the Islamic world’s general backwardness and stagnation today.

        Contrary to what you said I am not “clinging to vagueness as a refuge”, you can read my post again if you desire clarification. If you take the logical conclusion of your point that there is no vagueness or room for interpretation, it would have to be decreed that all women today must wear the khimar specifically and no other type of clothing would suffice – this is the literal meaning if there is no vagueness.

        It is important to not force our own interpretations upon women or to monopolize the process of Ijtihad to exclude other historically acceptable forms of Islamic inference towards scripture (analogy, allegory). You’re welcome to your own opinion but I’d advise you to consider the possibility that other opinions may also be valid and not outsource your agency to scholars whom (if you study their documented positions) were themselves not hostile to inference in jurisprudence.

        • Anaya says:

          I agree with your comments. The word Khimar is used as a base here to cover the head. Its about drawing thier viels over their bossoms as most of the translators translated. I dont know from where the writer of the article confirmed that most scholors agreed on the the translation with head covering. It does not include head at all, i have read the ayah again and again with several translations and The only person who translated it as a head covering was maulana tahir lul qadri? Its about covering of your chest or wearing clothes that does not make your breast prominent. Its as simple as that, why complicating it with flase translations.

        • UmmMaryam says:

          This is quite a strange argument. We need to keep clear in our minds that what we are discussing are rules and injunctions of Allah – our God, our Creator. The opinion of the creation are not relevant.

          The primary issue is this: you have a preferred opinion and have formed your argument around that. There are two issues that are creating the vagueness you find yourself in — your failure to submit to the overwhelming body of evidence on this matter, and a fatal error in comprehending limits of applicability of analogy (qiyas).

          The companions of Rasoolullah (peace be upon him) have been meticulous about presereving the text and understanding of the hadith. There is tremendous methodological rigour in the process of collecting, verifying, and documenting the statements and practices of the Messenger of Allah (saw) used by the hadith scholars. This included the documentation supporting the credibility (sahih – rigorously verified, daif – weak, etc) that was accorded to any particular hadith – so it can be verified by other scholars. If you bother to check the text of the classical scholars on how they arrived at the conclusions we are talking about, you will find that all of the “concerns” and “vagueness” you allude to are addressed.

          Furthermore, the significant practices that were taught by the Messenger of Allah (saw) were firmly established in the Muslim state and society. These practices began in the lifetime of the Messenger (saw) and continued in the following generations. Among these practices was the wearing of the hijab and khimar by the Muslim ladies.

          And finally, analogy and allegory will come into play *only* if the text and meaning (in terms of its application) are not clear in regards to the issue under investigation. That is certainly not the case here. The text, its meaning, the practice based on the text are well-established. Ijtihad with the intent of re-opening this issue cannot be valid.

        • UmmMaryam says:

          I urge you to learn about the sciences of hadith collection and isnad (verifying the chain of narration). I urge you to study the lives of classical scholars, the way they collected the hadiths and the minute details which they consider when accepting a hadith for collection. The different levels of strength in hadiths are clearly stated from sahih (rigorously verified) to the daef (weak) and it is clearly stated.

          Actually I need not go further as your real thoughts on Islam and hijab shine through your reply regarding the Islamic world being stagnant and backward (have you considered any of the history of colonialism, destruction of the Caliphate state, deception and replacement of honest ruler with despots who have clear ties and benefits with powers outside the muslim lands?). Please do not hide behind your eloquence and bring forward your “other accepted” forms of “ijtihad” for all to see and scrutinize”. Whilst you argue about what is implied, what is supposed and what is reflexive, this issue on hijab is quite clear. And it is the hadith and the actions of the Prophet peace be upon him and the early sincere muslims who practiced them and abided by them (otherwise they would be corrected by the Prophet peace be upon him) that give the clarity. But you refuse to accept this fact, and this has left you in vagueness. And what you pass on as rational is merely your own opinion of following whatever you wish to follow, which likely is a result of the ideology that you have been fed.

          If the “how” of the hijab has its influences from the Arab culture so be it, and I wear it proudly as a non Arab, for Allah swt chose to make the greatest man that ever lived to be an Arab, born amongst Arabs, and raised amongst them. It was Allah swt in His divine wisdom who chose the circumstance and chose what would be the medium of Islam and what would not (secularism, ‘freedom’, and feminism were certainly not). My sincere advice to you is to leave behind your own cultural biases when studying Islam and Allah’s injunctions.

          We use rationality and reason to reach our belief in Allah swt – which makes sense. But once you accept Allah swt has supreme right over us, that He is The Legislator, and the evidences are clear – we are in no position to keep using our rationale to argue and place precursors

        • Asad says:

          I totally agreed with Maz. He said it all. Our muslim men and women should read his article with open mind.
          People in the muslim have been brain washed so much that we can not even ask question regarding some of the controversial issues.
          Quran is indisputably the word of God and is thus perfect, the hadith themselves (in their recording, transmission and lack thereof) are human creations and are subject to scrutiny and reasoning as the Quran itself advises in all matters. Jazak Allah

        • Abby says:

          Anya i do not wear hejab and i am looking into it presently. As we can barely trust those in power to give us the truth without their own bias and self interests embossed in their answers. What Lobna is saying is that at the time of the prophet that women had a Khimar which they already wore for cultural and possibly weather reasons such as detering heat. But their Khimar was opened (cape like) the verse then askes believing women to close the cape over their bossom and hence you have a modest khimar. AKA Hejab.

        • Abby says:

          Here here.. very nicely put.

      • Tina says:

        Well said Matt. Peace

    • Lobna Mulla says:

      Wa Alaikum Assalam Brother,

      I just saw a Catholic woman this past Sunday entering the church with a lace head covering. The thought that the khimar “has not been worn in centuries and is entirely alien to most peoples and cultures,” is quite mistaken. Please see the references cited at the end of the article to see current Christian debates over Biblical verses referring to covering women’s hair. I also urge you to review the books I cited showing the history of people’s dress from ancient to modern times. On the contrary, head coverings have been and continues to be part of world culture.

    • Umm Naadirah says:

      If the Sunnis and the Shia agree on something (and have agreed historically), you can bet that ijma right there is based on the original understanding.

      I agree that the larger emphasis of this verse is to cover the bosom, but if that were Allah SWT had intended to command, he could have commanded that women cover their bosom in a variety of ways, or even just said “Cover your juyub [bosoms] so that they are not displayed”.

      The fact that the command is so detailed about how to cover the bosom proves that covering of the head is required, but is lesser than covering the bosom.

    • r says:

      i agree with your comment,how can we be a hundred percent sure what ancient and pre islamic woman wore??.we werent there to see and then translate the quran verses to reflect that.its like saying this was the style back then,so obviously its a command to alter that already existant style,duh!.but who has the authority to make that claim?.it just doesnt hold up.observing modesty and covering the cleavage,as well as leaving out waht is necessary for the woman to function.is simple easy and adaptable to all times and places.may Allah guide and protect us all.

  12. sarah says:

    great article! I do feel that semantics matter. We should stop using the word “hijab” (conceal, veil, screen, etc.) used specifically for the Prophet pbuh’s wifes. Khimar is more appropriate no? Or in West we could just use scarf or head-scarf.

  13. WK says:

    Salaam,

    Thanks for shedding some light on the issue. However, one CRUCIAL aspect has been missed here. That is the FACT that wearing hijab is detrimental to people’s health. This is due to the fact that Vitamin D is needed by our bodies and this is usually absorbed by the skin. Vitamin D is needed by the body to absorb calcium and for other metabolic processes in the body. Lack of it can lead to osteomalacia, osteoporosis, some types of cancer and also mood changes and hair loss.

    I refuse to accept that Allah would ask his creation to do something detrimental to his or her health. That would be an ungodly request. There have been 100′s (maybe 1000′s) of audits and clinical studies across the world which have confirmed covering yourself up too much decreases vitamin D levels dangerously. I work in the pharmaceutical industry and have personally helped doctors perform audits in Asian areas.

    One of the audits done in Walsall, UK found at least 1in3 Asian women were at risk of osteoporosis due to lack of vitamin D, and an astounding 90% of hijabis had DANGEROUSLY low levels of vitamin D. Darker skinned people in general are more at risk as its harder for darker skinned people to convert sunlight to vitamin D. Covering up further exacerbates this almost 10x!

    Now, a common response is that women should sit by there windows for a few minutes to get the exposure they need. This is not enough! They need DIRECT sunlight. Windows filter UV rays.
    They could however just sit in the garden (if they have one), however this poses another critical question.

    Islam and the Quran have been sent for the whole mankind and for eternity. Therefore, if Allah was to ask women to adhere to wearing a headscarf, he would have stipulated in that above verse the importance of somehow getting sunlight. But this is NOT mentioned ANYWHERE!

    This is a serious health issue, and posting 2D fatwas like this is damaging Muslim women’s health across the world. Please look into the studies properly and THEN make these fatwas.

    Also, getting vitamin D from the diet is possible but VERY difficult… Not many foods contain it. Again, why has God not mentioned this in the verse?

    • Kinza says:

      How much of the vit D needed by the body is manufactured as a result of sunlight absorbed through the scalp (i.e. the skin under the hair on the head versus the rest of the body)? So, how does covering the head impede this process? Also, barring your spurious pharmaceutical industry findings (inspired by company interests in almost all cases) do large scale international statistics show that the countries with the highest rate and prevalence of Vit D deficiency are the ones where women wear hijab? If you don’t know then perhaps you need to review some statistics yourself – here is one place to start with (and there are plenty others) …. http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/mor_vit_d_def-mortality-vitamin-d-deficiency – By the way, undue exposure to the harmful rays of sun also has its downside (hint, hint skin cancers etc) but I am not going to use your line of reasoning – Numbers speak for themselves. Please take the time and trouble to investigate before you spread disinformation in haste.

      • WK says:

        The scalp itself doesn’t absorb as much light as the skin. I never claimed that. But the figures speak for themselves.
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/22415337/
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/11703889/?i=2&from=/22415337/related
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/22690323/?i=5&from=/22415337/related

        These are a few studies a quick search can find. A more thorough search on the Annals of Rheumatology, findings from British society of Rheumatolgy and European League Against Rheumatism back this up of you care to look into it.
        Also, speaking to GPs and rheumatologists in your own area will show the same thing.

        Also, I don’t recall saying anything about lack of Vitamin D causing direct mortality. I’m sorry of you misunderstood. I said caused osteomalacia, osteoporosis, some cancers, hair loss and mood changes. Osteoporosis later in life causes hip fractures. If you know much about mortality rates, you’d know that hip fractures one of the leading cause of death in the elderly. But you must know that seeing as you know so much about mortality rates?

        In a nutshell, hijabi women should be made aware of this, and take appropriate actions to counter it. Whether that be through supplementation, diet or lifestyle changes. Telling women they’re going to hell for damaging their bodies is not on.
        Brushing it under the carpet won’t help

      • WK says:

        Also, too much of anything is detrimental to a person. That includes the sun. In moderation, it won’t cause skin cancer. Being unsafe and sitting in the sun for too long will! 20-30 mins in direct sunlight at around zuhr time 3-4 times a week is sufficient. But if wearing a hijab was FARD, it would be stipulated in the Quran alongside the ‘command to wear a headscarf’

    • sarah says:

      Salam –

      1) It’s modern life, not hijab, that is causing our Vit D deficiency. We live, work, travel, and even play indoors for the most part. Even kids are just glued to the TV and we to our laptops.

      2) Exposing face and hands to full sun for an hour a day provides sufficient exposure for vitamin D production, on average.

      3) Most fabrics allow sunlight to penetrate to different degrees. Just hold your sleeve up to the sun and take a look. A white T-shirt has an SPF equivalent to 7. Very minimal. How about a chiffon hijab?…. If you’re outside, you’re getting sun.

      4) Traditional Muslim life included outdoor space that was private or women-only (eg open courtyards where women could sunbathe in privacy). Modern Muslim life only needs the political will to accomplish this: women-only beaches, sports clubs, etc!

      5) Alhamdolillah, vitamin D is super easy to supplement, cheap, and well-absorbed.

      • WK says:

        Thanks for the polite and eloquent reply. I agree, it is very easy to get vitamin D from the sun. There needs to be more education for women who wear hijab on the importance of going outdoors and getting some sun. There should be a lot less of this ‘if you don’t wear a headscarf you go to hell attitude’. If as much effort was made on educating people on the dangers of lack of vit d than is made on telling people they’ll go to hell, a lot of people will lead more healthy lives.
        Hijab is a choice, not an obligation. If they choose to cover up they should be given ways to improve their intake of vit D.

    • Anaya says:

      Quran emphasize on reaearch for the benifit of hamanity and eveything that has been researched as a goodwill to human should be implimented. Its so sad that at all times every latest research has been marked as Haram without identifying its good. Camera, tv are the biggest example. The Quran is book for all times and whereever Quran remain silent is because in that area things can be used in the most effective manner keeping humanity benifits in mind. I am not talking about hijab as hijab might not come in way of vitamin d if properly implemented in Quranic way. And if science proof its not good for human Quran can’t go against it because its word of Allah.

    • jane says:

      Salaam
      You mention that you work in the pharmasutical industry as if this gives you some sort of undeniable credit.
      Pharmasutical companies have done much research just to prove what ever they want. So you prove people are low in vitamine d you get to sell more vitamine d etc.
      Yes, skin needs sun.
      But i put it to you that many asian women, and afircan women may be vitamine d deficient because for thousands of years their boddies have developed to cope with much more sun than we get in the west. So they probably still react as if their body will receive alot of sun when indeed it wont.
      How many of them feel alot better if they are able to travel back to a sunny climate and avoid the winter for example.
      Also many asian women for cultural or finantial reasons are vegan or vegetarian meaning they don’t eat eggs, chese fish or meat this also limits how much vitamine d they are able to have access too. Essentially humans need balance at all times. You can have your arguement, and on the same page have some one telling you how hijab will prevent skin cancer, heat rash, dust getting in to the eyes and causing blindness as happens in some deserts etc.

      • WK says:

        Yes I mention I work for the pharma industry because I was mentioning about helping doctors do audits for vitamin D. Not for the pharma company itself. I’m not saying it gives me undeniable credit, but it puts me in a place to help doctors do their job. That’s quite a presumptuous comment there. You’ve got quite a narrow minded view of the pharma industry. If (God willing it won’t happen to u) you end up ill and in hospital, where does the medicine come from to treat you? The medicine fairies?

        We’ve already clarified above about skin cancer, etc. it’s all about moderation. That can be said of anything. If you’ve got a headache, do you go and take a whole box of paracetamol? No! You take 1-2 otherwise that’s the last headache you’ll ever have. MODERATION AND BALANCE.

        I’ve clarified that ALL dark skinned women are more at risk of deficiency, but people who cover up too much are MORE at risk. Youre preaching to the choir. Please read comments properly before going into automatic defence mode.

      • WK says:

        PS haven’t met many Muslims who are vegan or vege. Could have an impact on vit d though, I agree. However 90% of our vit d comes from the sun…

    • Umm Naadirah says:

      I wear hijab and I have had a dangerously low level of Vitamin D. However, this had little to do with hijab and more to do with living in an apartment and working in an office. The only sun exposure I had was walking to and from my car.

      So even if I hadn’t worn hijab, my Vitamin D would have been low, it just wouldn’t have been critically low.

      Now that I’m married and have a private garden with a high wall, my Vitamin D levels are fine, alhamdulillah.

      So I agree, the problem isn’t with hijab so much as it is with living in the “modern” world, a place where wisdom of our ancestors has been complicated significantly. The hijab does complicate things but you can’t blame hijab.

      And, by the way, the hair does not absorb Vitamin D at all. In fact, it has been known for decades now that the sun actually damages the hair (it is dead, after all), and no one has been able to devise a real SPF product for hair other than clothing (unless something new has slipped in past my radar).

  14. Mariam says:

    Salaam,

    Could the author please respond to the hadith quoted by the questioner regarding punishment for women who do not wear hijab? Is this valid?

    Secondly, is it still fardh for older women past the age of menstruation to wear hijab? I was under the impression that it is okay for them to remove it if they wish but better if they do not. Thus not making it an obligation. I am referring to the ayah in Quran 24:60 http://quran.com/24/60. So if the questioner is in fact past the age of menstruation (which may be true given that she has a 23 year old), is it not halal for her to remove her outer clothing if she wishes? May Allah forgive us all for that which we do not know.

    • Umm Naadirah says:

      wa alaikum us salaam,

      That command is for women who no longer desire marriage. The questioner appears to still be married, which means she is still obligated to wear hijab.

  15. Farzana says:

    Assalamualaikum,

    JazakaAllah khayr for this article. Very well written and the evidence and explanations make it very clear that the hijab is obligatory and not optional.

    May Allah SWT help us to follow his deen in the best way possible, like our Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. Ameen.

  16. Carisha says:

    While I am torn between thoughts of it being Fard and optional (I wear it and Insha’ALLAH I will continue to wear it correctly) I would say comparing its abandonment, among some Muslims, could result in further questioning of the obligation of prayer and fasting isn’t the same. It isn’t comparable. We all know the 5 pillars of Islam. Prayer and Fasting is two of them. Abandoning the pillars is abandoning faith. Hijab isn’t a pillar, it is Sunnah. Whether the debate on obligation or not.

    • Golnar Atash says:

      It is comparable, because there is little specifics in the Qur’an about prayer and fasting, and the vast majority of what we know about it’s various steps and obligations comes from the sunnah.

  17. Ameena says:

    This is the second article on the fard of hijab I’ve recieved from Suhaibwebb.com in the past few months. Why the preoccupation on dictating what women should be wearing? Where are the articles discussing men’s clothing? The fard of a hat or turban, perhaps?

    • Lobna Mulla says:

      I understand your frustration with the recent emphasis on women’s dress. I too feel frustrated, especially when shame, oppression, and ambiguity surrounds Allah swt commandments. Unfortunately, there is so much talk regarding this subject, not because of an obsession with the surpression of women, but instead due to the misguided attack on one of Allah’s -exalted is He- merciful prescription for the honor of women.

      • Abby says:

        There is a dangerous dynamic that is placing women as soul bearers of fitna in the world this i believe is due to hadith and other extra religious text etc… Lets face it as Muslims we are not exempt from male dominant culture and this dangerous trend is really costing us our own demise. The fact that you state in your work that Allah swt ASKS men first the very same thing that he ask of women. We are equal in the eyes of God and that needs to be emphasised. Further more i want to add that men can be fitna for god knows how many times me and many sisters have lusted over a gorgeous man.

  18. Bintun Nahl says:

    Salaam. Thank you for such coherent, concise information based on Qur’anic verses and factual arguments, ya ukhti. And I think most of us Muslims should together learn more on how to be modest, like lowering our gaze whenever we encounter non-Halal sights outside home. Because I think one of the root causes of zina is this, unwillingness to behave Islamic, act Islamic and read Islamic things. An advice for myself, too. :-)

  19. ZAI says:

    Ok, so there’s ‘ijma that hijab is fard, and it’s been the ‘ijma for 1400 years.

    I think there is a more relevant question given the tensions one see’s in the Muslim world nowadays though:

    IS HIJAB TO BE ENFORCED?

    Yes…does a government, a group of gun totaing psychos, overzealous brothers and sisters…whomever…do they have the right to ENFORCE the hijab on a woman?

    Where is the Quranic ayah or hadith saying so. If not that, is there an ayah or hadith where it can be assumed because there is a hadd punishment perscribed? If not, then why this obsession amongst Muslims? MOST things in Islam are not enforced…so why is this one thing such a huge issue?

    Sorry, but I think it would be disingenuous to deny that the fact that this affects women and a lot of men desire that control over women’s decisions or are insecure about women plays a HUGE role in the absolute obsession over this issue as opposed to thousands of other things in Quran and hadith which do not have presecribed hadd punishments or governmental mandates…

    I think there is great wisdom in what the Quran says, but there is ALSO great wisdom in what the Quran DOESN’T SAY. If the Quran has left certain issues up to individual choice, we should leave well enough alone.

    There is a REASON the HADD are called the HADD…because they are the absolute LIMITS of what can be deemed acceptable and transgressing them cannot be allowed…but those things can be counted on the fingers of the hand. God has allowed us free will with most other things…

    We really need to get out of this harassment mindset people. We are losing Muslims day and night, including the younger generations because they are SICK of being harassed about this or that issue…that is a REALITY.

    Yeah, some people might be held to account because they are doing this or that wrong on yawm ul qiyyamah…but some of the overzealous brothers and sisters should realize that THEY might also have to answer for harassing and chasing a person out of IMAN over these issues. Doesn’t the Quran also say “make us not a trial for others”?

    It is great to be educated on and know the opinions on these issues..but frankly our community needs to learn a lot of humility and reacquaint ourselves with gentleness and the other great characteristics of our Messenger (s)…which we seem to always overlook, preferring to measure beard & pant lengths, discuss zabiha halaal or mandate the hijab…

    • Lobna Mulla says:

      Your points are valid regarding the enforcement of hijab. As with all other prescribed matters in Islam, it is up to the individual to carry out what Allah swt has commanded. May Allah swt grant all of us gentleness and good character…Ameen.

    • Salam J says:

      You make many excellent points!

      Yes most things in Islam are not enforced by the community. Unless you live in Saudi or Afghanistan with fanatics trying to tell people how to live their lives. But for the average Jo—or Yosef…we can pretty much decide on our own how to live our lives. Whether to pray, fast, etc.

      The two reasons many people are pushing to enforce that all muslim women wear hijab otherwise denounce their faith:
      1) control (we think if she dresses this way she will automatically be protected from harm or haram, also protecting the reputation of our family…community…etc)
      2) cultural (we want our women respectable, marriage type, no skin)

      We have seen that those who are forced to wear hijab when they are young, immature, or strongly opposed to it tend to rebel and get into trouble. Others grow-into their image as a hijabi by actually putting effort to be modest. But forcing something, instead of guiding one to the straight path…seems to be problematic. And by forcing, I mean putting a lot of social pressure…

      Frankly, most people practice based on what they hear growing up is halal and haram. I wish every Muslim would study their religion using reputable sources…or at least read the Quran from front to back slowly to analyze the verses and read the explanation or historical references at the bottom. Take notes, think about what is being said and how it applies to your life today. That way people can make informed decisions on how to practice their faith. Hearing that, this is right and this is wrong, goes in one ear and out the other. But reflecting on the words of Allah leaves one with a deep notion of how it applies to them and what they must do accordingly.

      Allah knows best.

      • Golnar Atash says:

        What are parents supposed to do? I’d be really interested if Lobna or Sh. Suhaib Webb could write another article about this very topic.

        Why do we so badly hate to hear about the boundaries set by Islam regarding our dress and behavior? Is it because of our contemporary culture which takes offense to restrictions set on people based on gender, especially women? I know it is sadly very true that some families think that their sons and male relatives can do whatever they want but women must always be restricted (even from things which are technically perfectly fine). We see this with how some choose to raise their daughters extremely strictly while not even caring half as much about what their sons are doing. But have we ever stopped to think that one of the reasons we don’t talk about men’s dress as often is because most men automatically follow (and even exceed) the requirements of covering their awrah? How often do you see Muslim men in short shorts or with their navel showing? It happens sometimes, but it’s much more rare than the attempts to rationalize neglecting hijab. Hijab is understandably not an easy thing to uphold. We have weak self-esteem and many pressures from cultures and society to be and look a certain way, and we don’t like to be restricted, and we’re even afraid of prejudice. Sometimes life isn’t supposed to be easy.

        I never hear Muslims complaining that their parents forced them to pray, even though it’s more than likely that Muslim parents actually do instruct their children to pray. The Prophet said to start instructing kids at a certain age then enforce it with reprehension (even “punishment”) at a later age (I believe 10), just like how parents raise many other qualities within their kids by urging, encouraging, teaching, boundary setting, and the occasional grounding. Parenting requires a certain level of instructing, does it not? Similarly, God and His religion contain instructions for people to follow. We – human beings – are the children in the situation, God is above us. Why don’t we start complaining about being “forced” to go to jummah prayers and fast by our parents when we’re 10, 14, and 16? You know, kind of like how people complain about being taken to Church by force by their parents, only now it seems we may start to consider this an infringement of the person’s rights.

        If we’re so concerned about controlling behaviors, why don’t we all start an opposition to parents who teach and raise their kids to pray and fast? Isn’t this infringing on the rights of an individual who should him/herself have the sole discretion of deciding what he/she should or shouldn’t do in terms of faith? Actually, I even hear some atheists say that it’s an infringement of an individual’s rights to raise kids to believe in and practice any religion at all. They say raising children to believe in God is an evil act of control and infringement. So should we start to raise children completely blank of any religious instruction because of the fear of being controlling? Why do we think that pressuring people into waking up for fajr, doing the rakat of salah correctly, making wudhu, abstain from food and drink for up to 17 hours daily for 30 days in a row, etc. is all fine but pressuring them in terms of social behavior or dress is not? Aren’t they all faith-related pressures/teachings and aren’t they are, to a certain degree, imposed?

        Technically hijab becomes mandatory at puberty, but just a small and decreasing percentage of Muslims follow this anymore (let alone adults). So how are parents supposed to deal with this if everyone, Muslim and non-Muslim, is hurling the word “controlling” and “shaming” in their face? Of course, there are some who are so harsh and demeaning that they truly are a cause of repulsion when they teach Islamic principles. But it seems to me like we’re all just looking for the best excuse to justify our desire for the total freedom to be our own sole influence. God’s law and parents and scholars don’t really mean anything to us. I’m beginning to wonder what the role of parents and religion even is. Parenting and religion will soon become or already are the new guidance/career counselors whom we go to on the one or two occasions that we feel totally lost in order to get ideas about our future, then we mix and match and dump what we want, in the end pursuing what’s most convenient or most lucrative to us.

        There needs to be a balance struck somewhere. I think part of the requirement of a system like religion, which inherently has boundaries and obligations set, must also be that it’s taught and instructed without us always feeling entitled. Otherwise, even when the rules and reasoning are known, many, if not most, choose to rationalize their way out of it or ignore it. I’ve actually witnessed this spill over into the basic pillars – fasting and praying, for instance. I’ve literally seen people who consider themselves Muslims rationalize why it’s okay that they don’t pray and fast, and how it’s an intrusion of others’ rights to emphasize that Islam considers these to be mandatory rather than unimportant or occasional practices.

        So where do we draw the line and why? To what extent do parents have the right to teach their sons and daughters to follow Islam? To what extent do scholars have the right to speak about men and women’s obligations in Islam in front of audiences at mosque, on websites, in books, etc.? I really don’t know. All I know is it all makes no sense to me. Theory and practice in religion never seem to match in a logically consistent fashion. Ever.

      • lutfi says:

        Sister,

        What do you mean calling Muslims in Saudi Arabia & Afghanistan fanatics. Is the western world so enlightened beacause of rejecting the truth of Islam? You should know that islam is Deen wa Daula (roughly religion & state).

        Zai,

        Yes indeed. the hudood are countable(6 to be precise). But there is something in sharia called ta’azir; whereous the muslim state can implement that which is of benefit to the community. That & ALLAH knows best.

  20. Su says:

    I must say, on the issue of vit D, I find there are deeper cultural issues that need to be addressed here. Here in the West, there is nothing to stop women from going out when the sun is out but the love of ‘lighter’ or ‘fairer’ complexions amongst many Muslim communities shows a culture that is adverse to sun exposure. This is reflected in the availability of 100s of creams for lightening one’s skin in Asian, Middle Eastern, and African countries that have large Muslim populations. Furthermore, vit D deficiency is not something that is exclusive to women who cover, rather it is prominent in fair skinned people who have been bombarded with messages about the risk of skin cancer, also black people in the West, and office workers and the elderly who spend most of their time indoors may also suffer from vit D deficiency. You also forget that lifestyle has changed over the last century, more people are doing office based jobs, environments have become more urban and often socialising takes place indoors. Many of us go to work in the dark in the winter months and return home in the dark. Similarly, in places like the UK where it is cloudy for most of the year and summers are unreliable, over half of the population are believed to be vit D deficient (who most certainly are not all Muslim women). Thus simply relying on sun for vit D is not an option.

    I think public health campaigns encouraging and informing people about the necessity of sun exposure sun would be more beneficial rather than blaming those of faith alone. The UK is beginning to catch up with this with the Chief Medicial Officer writing to all health professionals earlier this year, identifying groups at risk (women who cover, the elderly,black women, pregnant women etc.) so that health professionals are aware and trained in responding to this.

    Also, taking vit D supplements and having practical lifestyle changes, such as being out of the house when it’s sunny, even during winter, finding a quiet spot in the park to expose arms and legs for half an hour in summer months, even the face and hands can be enough if you intentionally go out to sunbathe. The amount of sun exposure also depends on your skin type. Going on holidays where you have access to a private villa rather than a hotel…I appreciate not everyone can afford this, can help. The bottom line is if individuals prioritize their health they will most likely find solutions that work for them.

    So as someone with a public health background, who is a Muslim woman who covers and who has been vit D deficient, I strongly believe through supplements, life style changes, if you can afford it holidaying in the winter months, low vit D can be addressed. Vit D is not a life threatening disease when it can be fixed by simple lifestyle, diet and vit D supplements but lack of knowledge, lack of adherence to medical advice, and lack of diet and lifestyle changes can most definitely make women who cover ill, like everyone else.

  21. Anon says:

    how did the prophet’s wives dress? did they wear hijab? of course. they covered their heads and bodies with abayas. so even if the quran had nothing on hijab, why wouldn’t you follow the prophet’s wives? if the prophet looked at you without hijab, would you be ashamed? if you’re praying namaz in front of god with hijab, why don’t you do every part of your life that way?

    • Ahmed Khan says:

      The prophet’s wives were not like other women and this is clearly stated in the Quran. After all the prophet’s wives were prohibited from remarrying and this certainly does not apply to Muslim women. So I do not think that Muslim women need to or should follow the example of the prophet’s wives. The Quran is clear enough of what Muslim men and women should or should not do!

      • lutfi says:

        Ahmed, in that case, it will be impossible for muslims to follow the Prophet (peace be upon him) as he is like nobody else in rank and greatness. The wives of the prophet (peace be upon him) were elevated in rank & were specifically forbidden to re-marry after his death. But concerning the dress code, all muslim women have been addressed in the Qur’an. So we should differentiate between specifics & generalities (muqayyad & mutlaq)

        • Ahmed Khan says:

          Lutfi,

          We should differentiate between the important and the unimportant. Allah has given us a mind and an ability to think. There are many ways that we can emulate the character of the prophet as he was the best amongst all humans. But to emulate him in whether he had a beard and if so of what length it was is bordering on the ridiculous, but this is where some muslims seem to attach the greatest importance. Let us emulate him in his honesty, his courtesy, his kindness and generosity, in his sense of justice and fairness, in his concern for the poor, his opposition against oppression and injustice, his sense of mercy and magnanimity. Let us not be focused on whether women should cover their head or not, whether only one eye should be visible or that hands and face should be covered (even in hot countries at the height of summer). What is important is that both men and women should behave and dress modestly and with humility. The great Islamic scholar Mohammed Asad understood that what Quran requires is that women should be dressed decently. He states “My interpretation of the word “decently” reflects the interpretation of the phrase ‘illa ma zahar minha’ by several of the earliest Islamic scholars, and particularly by Al Qiffal as “that which a human being may openly show in accordance with prevailing custom.”” Prevailing custom means customs prevailing in that society at that time where the person lives. A standard of clothing considered modest in Saudi Arabia may not be considered modest in India or what is considered modest in the 18th century may not be considered modest in the 21st century.

  22. mohammed says:

    the ayeah does not say wrap their khomir over their juyub,
    it says hit their khumur over their juyub which means to cover the face also.
    all four mathahbs agreed that the women must cover her face if it cause a (fettnah) in the society. right now we see some sister( may allah guides all) ware tied cloth and colorful dresses that make them notable, allah’s religion is not pick and choose, it is our way of life and we Moslems must pure from all these misunderstood or doubts.

    • Umm Naadirah says:

      No, all four madhabs do not say that.

      In fact, the Grand Mufti of Egypt (a Shafi’i jurist) recently posted a fatwa that says niqab is permissible and even desirable until it becomes something that fractures the Muslim community or until it becomes a standard for something that doesn’t exist.

      Furthermore, there are significant number of fatawa from the Shafi’i madhhab that removes their traditional position of niqab as fard on women living on traveling in the West.

      In addition, Shaykh al Albanee even stated niqab is not fard, so there are minority positions even in the Salafee manhaj that it is not fard.

      Stop oversimplifying our deen.

  23. Farzana says:

    SubhnaAllah, I am reading through some of the posts, and it’s always the same issue, people trying to form an argument based on a preference they already have, overlooking the commandment of Allah SWT.

    Brothers and sisters, the hijab is fardh, and there is overwhelming evidences for this. So please don’t try and twist the rulings to fit your ideas and beliefs. Just accept it, that is what Islam is about, accepting and submitting to Allah’s commandments.

    Yes, in some countries, women are forced to wear the hijab against their will, yes we do tend to focus too much on women’s dress code rather than the men’s…etc, etc. But all these issues are besides the point. I admit, some of these things are wrong, and it is not Islamic.

    First we need to focus on our relationship with Allah SWT, and then try and tackle and discuss all the world problems. If all the Muslims in the world were able to practice the deen, like our Prophet, peace be upon him, then these problems wouldn’t exist in the first place.

    It is what it is, hijab is fardh, if you find it hard to accept or understand this or any other rulings in Islam, then pray to Allah SWT, that Allah SWT makes it easier for you to understand and accept it and to submit to His will. Don’t bend the rules, and bring up other comments in relation to the topic or rule at hand.

    O ye who believe! Enter into Islam whole-heartedly; and follow not the footsteps of the evil one; for he is to you an avowed enemy. Quran 2: 208

    • lutfi says:

      Sister,

      May Allah brighten your face.You ahve hit the nail on the head. Indeed, I often wonder why this issue (the dress code)was never so contetious in the past. Why has it appeared so strongly and vigorously in contemporary times. I dont know; does it have to do with the dominant non-islamic culture (western, to be precise), which has wrecked havoc to our ways of life. If it just to fit in & not stick out of the crowd? Why do non-muslims never try to fit in and conform to our ways when coming to our countries?

      When the Prophet (peace be upon Him)said that the best generations ever are the three generations/centuries after him, he knew that they will never question Allah laws.

      Therefore, my advice is for us all to strive towards ALLAH
      Azza wa Jalla & not be intimidated by loneliness/strangeness (ghurba)which honest muslims are destined to face in this times of fitna.

    • Ahmed Khan says:

      Sister Farzana, Firstly, whether the hijab is fardh or not is a debatable matter. There is no unanimity on this. Secondly, Islam is not a religion that requires taqlid, in fact it requires the muslim to use the mind that Allah has given to her/him and use that to draw conclusions on duties and responsibilities on the basis of the Quran and the authentic hadith (all hadith in Bukhari are not necessarily authentic). It is clear that Islam liberated women and gave them rights, but what is not commonly realized is that in the 11th and 12th century CE (300-400 hijri) there was a push back by misogynistic Islamic scholars to put women in their “place” (that is take away the rights given by Islam). It was during this time that forged anti -women hadiths made their appearance in total contradiction to the Quran. Unfortunately, some of these have been accepted by Imam Bukhari in his collection of authentic hadiths. The science of hadith verification is not as scientific as people have been led to believe. The Quran says in 9:31 “rabbis and monks determined what was lawful and what was not instead of Allah. ” In Islam there are no Rabbis and monks but Islamic scholars have given themselves the authority to act in such a manner. Let us keep in mind that the ultimate and completely truthful authority on Allah’s commands is the Quran and only the Quran. The hadiths that are in keeping with what is in the Quran and that show the prophet’s character as of the highest standard are the only ones that I would consider as authentic.

  24. Reader says:

    Assalamu Alaikum,

    Sister Lobna, you gave clear explanations and support from the quran about hijab. we can call it khimar, hijab, or headscarf, as the ayats revealed, we are instructed to cover ourselves. Thanks sister for the explanations!

    My story with the hijab is this one. I did not wear it but I knew I should. Then I started wearing it for almost one year. Then I had my husband who said I should just be like everyone. Well, I also lectured myself that it is okay to remove it because I did not like the stares from my coworkers and other people. Deep inside when I took it off, I knew it was wrong but I did it. I was just rationalizing my action!I was weak. I thought about the stares and forgot about Allah’s command. That was bad.

    This past ramadhan, I started wearing hijab again. This time, I do not care about the stares and I am very open to why I wear hijab. Whoever asks me, I say I am a muslim and it’s Allah’s command for me as a muslim woman to wear it. My attitude changed, now I do not see hijab as a burden, I wear it with pride. I am a muslim and I have nothing to hide.

    As someone said, when you take medicine even if it has benefits you can get side effects. Same thing with hijab. In my job, besides the curiosity about why I observed hijab, I do not think people treat me any different than before. I am still getting some stares from my neighbors, but they will get over it. My hijab, I love it and I am proud to wear it and be noticed as a muslim in the US.

    Finally, we do not need to have a hijab police. If a woman wants to wear it may Allah reward her for doing it. If a woman chooses to not wear it, it is her choice, and may Allah help her see the truth. Allah is the Only judge and may He guide everyone of us to obey Him.

    I pray to Allah to keep me in the right path wa salam,

    Reader

  25. Rose says:

    As salami Alaikum.I had some misconception about hijab n now clear for ur post.thank u n may ALLAH(SWT) reward u.many ppl say applying makeup is haram except infront of husband.I know we shouldn’t put e cessively that grabs attention.but we can hide some flaws via makeup n some say make up totally I infra t of non mahram is haram by referring that is translated in Englishof Quran in surah Nur- and do not show ur adornment except ur husband,father,…
    Adornment meaning in English dictionary is decorating with colours.but zeenatahunna is the word that has been translated which means beautiful body parts.my question us is makeup zeenatahunna?is a beautiful body part?how come it’s haram?plz justify.I’m here to kno plz correct me sister if I’m wrong

    • Salam J says:

      I am not an Islamic scholar so I advise you to seek advice from someone who has more information for you. But I do know that eyeliner (kohl) was encouraged by the prophet. In my opinion, you must look at your intentions before asking yourself these two questions:

      Will you be putting on excessive makeup to attract attention by men? Or will the makeup be just a normal part of your daily routine? With anything, one must analyze their (neeyaah)– intention…and you will feel if it’s the right or wrong thing to do. Also it is good to consider your husband’s wishes out of respect.

  26. athirah says:

    Assalamualaikum wbt.
    thank you very much for this post. i have never doubted that it was mandatory for women to cover their hair, Alhamdulillah, Allah SWT has made my heart firm on the subject. sadly, i am very confused weather if my feet is part of my aurah.. i am well aware that 3 out of 4 imams states that women’s feet is part of her aurah, where as imam hanafi states that it isn’t. how is this possible? if i were to live before the times of the imams, according to the Quran and hadith, are my feet part of my aurah? please help me. I find it really hard to cover my feet at all times in front of non-mahrams, but if it really is mandatory for me to do so, i would really make a bigger effort to do so. i have been lost and confused on the matter for so long.. thank you..

  27. Hma says:

    Assalamu Alaikum. I am always surprised by all of the comments about hijab, woman covering their awra, etc. it is Fard, no doubt about it. And, yes one could argue that it is a personal choice. But, why would someone make a personal choice to disobey Allah SWT each and every day? To me it seems like an issue of Eeman.

  28. Abu Zejd says:

    Assalamu Alaikum

    May Allah safeguard everyone here and increase us in sincerity and Iman. In regards to why this issue is important I have a few comments. There is an attack on Islam and the culture of Islam and this is leading to liberalism in regards to matters in which it has no room. Also it is important to focus on that which Allah has made an obligation upon. So just like we discuss the Salah, and the Saum we must discuss things such as the Hijab because it IS an obligation ( there is no room here for any other interpretation or position because it is vague and has no basis in Usool ul Fiqh) and after establishing that it is obligatory then it becomes a position of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil. Also, when we understand the punishment for leaving an obligation we must consider as well that it is a point of loving for our fellow muslim what we love for our self when we talk about these issues such as Hijab. May Allah strengthen the sisters and the brothers who follow the obligations decreed upon them in regards to their appearance.
    Now in regards to those who say “It is not right to enforce upon women to dress this way even though Allah has not prescribed punishment” etc….(Meanwhile back biting our brothers and sisters who enforce the Law of Allah across diff parts of the world). Your wrong in your accusation based on a few different principles.
    1) The ruler of the muslim country is responsible for those who are under his rule and will answer to Allah for the way he ruled over those who were under his care. It is narrated by Ibn Umar in Bukhari and Muslim that The Prophet S.A.W sayd “Everyone of you is a protector and guardian. A Ruler is also a steward, a man is a steward in respect of his family members of his house, a woman is a steward in respect of her husband’s house and his children. In short everyone of you is a steward and is accountable for those who are placed under his care.” Based on this principle we see that the ruler has an OBLIGATION to take care of those under his charge and due his utmost to encourage and uphold that which Allah has made an obligation upon the Muslims.
    2) He has the absolute right to impose laws upon those living under his rule in order to protect the muslims from SIN and IMMORALITY (Just like here in America we may not walk around naked because we will be fined, and we cant run red lights or stop signs and so forth because we may harm others) In a country where Allahs laws are enforced the men and women must be protected from Haram, indecency, immorality and so forth because we put as much emphasis on that as we do upon physical harm. We see here based upon these principles that the Ruler has the right to impose upon the Muslims even though they may not like it as long as he of course stays within the confines of that which Allah has ordained and does not commit dhulm because he will answer for this in the next life.
    I encourage our muslim brothers and sisters who grew up here in this country to keep from imposing American values on Islam, we are not American muslims rather we are Muslim Americans and there is a huge difference between the two.
    May Allah safeguard and protect the people in this country and grant them the greatest of blessings. May Allah bring us all closer to truth. May Allah keep us from poverty and enrich us. May blessings and salutations be upon our beloved Prophet Mohammed and his companions and all those who follow them in righteousness.

    Abu Zejd

    • Ahmed Khan says:

      Your kind of thinking has brought the Islamic world to the crisis it faces today. You are concerned about the dress of the Muslim women but are you concerned about the injustices, the honor killings, the subjugation and exploitation of Muslim women? You may think that your understanding of Islam is correct but many others would disagree. Ultimately, neither you nor I are the judge of who practices Islam correctly, only Allah will judge us. So show some humility and let us agree that only Allah knows who is in the right and who is in the wrong. Be compassionate and remember that ultimately we alone are responsible for our actions before Allah.

      • lutfi says:

        Nowhere in the Qur’an did Allah command injustice. So any injustice or oppression committed by muslims then the sinis on them.

        Secondly,the predicaments we are in know is not associated with Abu Zedj; rather, it is the secularists and the so-called muslim liberals who have eroded the islamic values.

        Lastly, Allah is the final judge. That does not mean we dont have a right to enjoin what is good & what is evil. This mandate has clearly been bestowed on us Allah.

        • Ahmed Khan says:

          Lutfi, The Quran is very clear on injustice and oppression and anyone who has read the Quran can see that clearly. My point is that the problem is with the religious scholars, who, instead of standing up for the Quranic values, are more concerned with playing power politics. In the Islamic world I hardly ever see these so called scholars speaking out against the grave injustices that occur in muslim lands. In their understanding the root of all problems seems to be that Muslim women are not covering their heads! Presumably only if the women would stay in their houses and not venture out then all the problems will be solved! Let us as muslims stand up against poverty, injustice, oppression, killing of innocents, tyranny and authoritarianism. Let us also remember that in the Islamic world we seem to have forgotten the concepts of humanity and mercy, very prominently in evidence in the Quran. Human rights is not a western concept, it is originally an Islamic concept now accepted by the world. Allah is the final judge and you have no right to tell me that my understanding of Islam is wrong because how can you know that only your understanding of Islam is correct. Every muslim will answer to Allah and he/she will be responsible for their actions. So let us focus on our deeds and try to act in the best way possible as muslims according to our understandings and not call any muslim whose views are different as kafir. Incidentally, it is not the “liberal” muslims who have eroded islamic values , rather it is the conservatives who have divided the muslim ummah creating fitna.

  29. faiza says:

    Assalamu alaikum sisters and brothers. I have a question. All these issues people are worried about with regards to hijab seems to blind a person towards the actual sunnah of our beloved Nabi SAW and his wives as well as his companions wives.. What did they do? Did they argue about Vitamin D deficiencies? Did they have intelectual battles about the semantics used in the quraan? Or did they willingly, completely, unfalteringly abide to the instructions of Nabi SAW (and by direct association Allah Himself) whether it made sense to them or not? There are so many authentic narrations about ladies covering up,about what the sahabi RA women did when the verses of hijab were revealed etc. Are we at all interested in the lives of these queens of jannah or are we so hell bent on rationalising every aspect of the deen that we miss the boat to piety. One thing the sahabi women never had to tell each other was “if you don’t wear the hijab you will go to hell” because Allah blessed them with such love and obedience to Him that someone Not wearing the hijab was a foreign concept. How far the ummah has drifted from those days of obedience. Our love for our Creator should spur us onto searching for reliable, authentic knowledge from scholars who are well versed in the sciences of hadeeth and quraan and follow that. “hold onto the rope of Allah” Find your love for Him and you”l see how easy it is to follow His way. Really there is no benefit in giving our own opinions if we do not have that deep knowledge of quraan and hadeeth. There are two types of people…the learned, who in all right have to do the instructing, and the “mainstream ummah” who follow the advise of the learned who I remind you do not advise out of their own pockets..but out of quraan and hadeeth. Please lets find our love of Allah through His obedience, make use of the scholars that Allah has blessed us with and unite in the obedience of Allah. For if we all do the right thing, and live according to sunnah, who can even find room for difference of opinion and way, since we’l all be the same- doing the same thing and living life as Allah willed us to, by following the perfect example He gave us. I hope all us,including me, use our noodles in the right way, and not as a waste by arguing things that are set and settled a long time ago. Wear the hijab ladies…and do it for the love of Allah cos thats what He wants and at the end of it that’s what a muslim is “submitting to the will of Allah!”

    • WK says:

      Walaykum salaam. Thanks for your view.
      My point was that Allah would not ask us to do something if it were bad for us… Hence the face veil would definitely not have been encouraged by God, and to an extent, He would not ask us to cover up excessively. Lack of vitamin D causes many problems with a persons health. So it can’t be a command from Allah. It must be a misinterpretation. Blindly following things which man has interpreted will lead us to be the same as the ahle-jahiliya. We need to open our minds and use the brains The Almighty has given us.

    • WK says:

      Also, the reason women wore a headscarf was purely cultural at the time. Women would use the headscarf to protect themselves from excessive sun. The same way Arab men cover their heads nowadays. The ayah in the Quran referring to covering the junoobiya came about because women started to wear the scarf like a bandana and leave their breast area exposed. The ayah says to use the scarf (which they already culturally wore) to cover their chest area. So it’s more to do with covering the chest area than the actual hair itself. It’s common sense really.

      • Umm Naadirah says:

        Why this emphasis on the khimar as being cultural prior to Islam?

        You cannot separate culture and Islam. Islam is not a culture and it will not replace culture. Islam is meant to balance out culture and rid societies of negative cultural practices, such as burying infant girls alive.

        If wearing the khimar were negative, Allah would have banned that as well. But it wasn’t seen as negative. Rather, they just needed a slight change as to how to wear the khimar properly, so that it wasn’t creating too much focus on the breasts. (Which is juyoob, junoob means crazy. But perhaps covering crazy people has some merit. Allahu alem.)

        In short, and I say this again, if Allah had intended to only command women to cover their breasts then the command would not have spoken about the khimar. The Arabs were simple people and they would have accepted a simple command. They didn’t need elaborate instructions except when it was necessary.

        I do agree with you that the way the ayah is worded it is obvious there is a larger emphasis on covering the breasts than the hair, but they are both part of the same command and cannot be separated from one another.

        • RED says:

          LOL The arabs were simple people and would have accepted a simple command? Shows how much you know. Disregarding the fact that you are insulting the prophet (SAW’s) followers by calling them unintelligent, what about the staunch resistance given by the Quraish until the very end? I daresay a simple command wasn’t enough

      • AA says:

        this comment make sense

        • AA says:

          I am refering to this comment from WK:

          Also, the reason women wore a headscarf was purely cultural at the time. Women would use the headscarf to protect themselves from excessive sun. The same way Arab men cover their heads nowadays. The ayah in the Quran referring to covering the junoobiya came about because women started to wear the scarf like a bandana and leave their breast area exposed. The ayah says to use the scarf (which they already culturally wore) to cover their chest area. So it’s more to do with covering the chest area than the actual hair itself. It’s common sense really.

    • Ahmed Khan says:

      Sister do not be so keen to follow the example of the Islamic scholars as the following verse from the Quran warns. “Rabbis and monks determined what was lawful and what was not instead of God (9:31).” Our rabbis and monks are our Islamic scholars who keep to themselves the right to tell Muslims what Allah had made lawful. In Islam there is no concept of a religious hierarchy to tell us how religion is to be practiced. Allah has given us the Quran and as He says should Muslims “then seek a judge other than Allah? When it is He who has fully revealed the book to you fully detailed? (6:114).” The Quran is there for all of us to read and understand. The Quran is a complete book as Allah says.

  30. Abu Zejd says:

    May Allah protect us from ahlul Hawa……its very sad to see people who simply cannot cope with hardship for the sake of Allah. So far to the extent that they will look for loopholes and change rulings which have been applied from Mecca to Andalus and never changed until they reached the land of the free………May Allah safeguard and protect us.

    Abu Zejd

    • Umm Naadirah says:

      as salaam alaikum Abu Zejd,

      Your comment isn’t fair at all. The Orientalists’ war against hijab began actually in Egypt and other North African states, and expanded from there.

      You will find many Muslims living in America who are originally from Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, etc., who all argue that hijab is not fard because that is what their Western-backed regimes taught them. This is also common with Pakistanis and Indians for the same reason.

      Part of the way the British generated support for their Imperalistic actions was to argue that women were being mistreated. Whether it was the fact that Hindoo women were under-dressed by exposing their abdomen, or Mahomedan women were over-dressed by covering their hair and faces, the fact remains that their battle-cry to take over countries was one of “protecting brown women from brown men”. And they did this while denying basic human rights to their own women!

      So no, it is rather ignorant to blame this on the US and the Muslims living there. The problem is actually much deeper than that.

  31. Mai says:

    Dear Sister Lobna,

    Assalaamu’alaykum. Firstly, thank you so much for trying to clear up this matter, which has come more and more to the fore of the international community.
    I would like to make one thing clear before I ask my question (more for the sake of others who may read this than yourself, you seem very humble masha Allah). I like wearing the khimar. I was very blessed in that no-one ever tried to make me feel bad for wearing it England, and it’s even easier now I’m in the Gulf. Furthermore, I found once I started that (as well as helping others not see me as an object) it served as a constant reminder not to see MYSELF as an object, and as such I have been wearing this cloth on my head joyfully for almost 10 years, and God willing I plan to continue doing so.
    Having made this clear, I do want to say that I am not, nor have I ever been, convinced that the hair, ears, and possibly even neck covering are fard. I understand that all reputable scholars (a reputable scholar being defined by more than their position on the Khimar!) say that it is, which is why I started wearing it in the very beginning. I figured it was better to be safe then sorry. But I felt (and still feel) that when talking to people and more importantly when I imagine talking to my daughter later on, I won’t be able to give a clear, confident answer on this increasingly divisive issue. I won’t be able to say “yes, it is definitely necessary” or “no, I and many others have found it helpful, but it’s definitely a choice.” If such ambiguity is acceptable then that’s all well and good and I can deal with the issue as such. But it appears not to be the case to most people, and I know I’m not competent to make the final decision. The most convincing worldly reason I’ve ever found for wearing the khimar came from reading an extensive and somewhat lingering description of hair as a secondary sexual characteristic I came across in an otherwise unrelated (non-Islamic) text, but just because I think its a good idea is no excuse for me to enforce it as an absolute truth when I have never seen (or at least, understood) any convincing, non-circumstantial evidence.
    So, if you are still with me, I hope you’ll answer my plea and let me get down to the nitty-gritty. Your point about it being necessary to cover the chest I certainly take from the context you’ve given and like many others have known it for quite some time. The doubtful issue appears to me to come from, as you said, “the women at the time of jahiliya (pre-Islamic times) were already covering their hair, as was customary throughout history in various cultures and religions.” What is there to suggest that the cultural norm of covering the hair referenced in the ayah was then transmuted into a religious obligation? Even the sahih ahadith on the matter fail to be really convincing on this matter, in translation at least. Is it simply a matter of further implications than those discussed being clear in the original Arabic? Is there any really convincing, black and white evidence on this matter? or do we simply have to resign ourselves that this issue will continue to divide Muslims along the lines of “You’ll do anything to weasel out of an obligation to God!” and “You can’t get your head out of the single-digit centuries!”
    Thank you for your time.

    Mai

  32. Zeeshan says:

    I think, the best thing, I can summon from this post and subsequent comments is that hijab is a way of life and not just a garment. Wearing tight clothes with Hijab simply killd the purpose. Ladies need to be careful.

  33. Where exactly did u actually end up getting the recommendations to write ““Hijab: Fard
    (Obligation) or Fiction?”? Thanks for your time
    -Elbert

  34. Parisa says:

    ASA Sr. Lobna. I miss our conversations about this topic. One thing I would like to also add to your discussion about the hijab is that like all things in Islam, when we practice it with good intentions, it actually beautifies us more. I put on the hijab not so much because people kept telling me it was fard, but because of the noor I saw emanating from the sisters who did wear the hijab. They were literally glowing and I wanted to be like that. While some ignorant people may mock the hijab, I experienced that regular non-Muslims actually find it intriguing and are more respectful of it, especially men of all people! One of my friends became Muslim just because she saw some sisters in Hijab waiting for the bus and felt they had knowledge of something that she also wanted to know about. I think she also saw the noor around those women. If non-Muslim women understood the power and secret of the Hijab as a way to attract men’s respect rather than their desire, perhaps it would be the latest fashion trend around the world.

    Secondly if we look at our practicing brothers, they are covered from head to toe, even their face is covered with their beards and their short hair is covered with a Kufi. We rarely see our brothers walking around with tank tops and short shorts. Men really have no desire to walk around naked, hence Allah didn’t need to remind them to cover up. But many women for some reason think freezing in a skimpy dress makes them more attractive and valuable. Hence Allah reminds women not to fall for that trap and cover up so that we are “known” for respecting ourselves and will not accept being used and abused by those men who have a “diseased” heart.

    The Hijab/ Khimar is thus a mercy and protection from our Creator most High, who is Wise and all-knowing.

  35. Abby says:

    This is by far the most compelling arguement for hejab i must say. Very well written and full bodied with historical accuracy. But this article also shows that their is no prescription for nikab and that this practice is truely alien. Even with the hadith that nikab advocators bring its always a reason for the covering of the face and has nothing to do with what Allah swt prescribe or the prophet. If our prophet prescribed it it would be all over the hadith you would think. Another thing is also shows that Allah swt book is sufficient alone to answer crucial questions.

    • Salah says:

      Wearing of the Khimar on the head is more cultural than Islamic. The verse quote above clearly tells the women to take their khimar and cover their bosom. The Asbab Nuzul of the above verse is not address the issue of wearing the khimar on the head because it was a custom already that arabs cover the heads. Both arab men and women. The issue was for women to cover their breast. Because their breast were being exposed. If you study the context of the verse you realize that cover the head is not what this verse is addressing because the arab women already covered their heads. Hijab is not Fard! We have to be careful call things Fard. It might be recommended! The cover of the head was not establish by the Qur’an and not by the hadith. Because the hadith that relate the issue of cover the head are all Ahad. And you knew about ahad hadiths. Cover the head became a Fard, by the vehicle of Ijma. Not by the Qur’an or Hadith.

      • Abby says:

        There is no command to wear the Jilbab nor is there a command to cover the hair. The commands were lower your gaze, protect your private parts, cover your bosoms. What if someone had no hair or their hair was blantantly unattractive would this be valid reason to uncover the hair.

  36. Amira says:

    I am completely in agreement with Salah here…. I do not beleive it is obligatiory here….in your photos demonstrating the hijab you have done what is asked on picture 1 and 2. However it was your choice to go from 2 – 3 i.e cover other previously exposed areas. The only mention was to cover the breasts. Remember the Quran is for all ages and all times…so I think if Allah made it obligation for us to cover our hair her would have said…put on your headscarves and cover your breasts…..not take your existing clothing and cover your breasts…this surely would have fit in with the verse style. Cover your ornaments is open to interpretation…..but cover your breasts is clear. I think as long as we are modest that is the main thing……….. Yes I do wear hijab….but as a muslim identity not because I beleive it is obligatiory. Allah knows best.

    • amani says:

      How can you dispute in this way sister? If we are to use this logic then we can change everything about islam and say where does Allah say dont do this? Why should we pray if we are out shopping, Allah only says we should leave our jobs to pray but not our shopping….. silly example but this is how this type of reasoning is.

  37. Heather says:

    I agree with Amira above, the verse would not apply to women who did not already wear a khimar.

    I also have to ask, if it is fardh why did Umar Ibn Al-Khattabb prevent slaves who were Muslim from wearing hijab.

    If it were obligatory on all women would it not also be obligatory on the slaves who converted?

  38. Suman Mukherjee says:

    This is a very weak explanation and gives out nothing except some forced arguments of covering the hair.

    This has not convinced me.

    • FZ says:

      I agree, the point that everyone was already covering their hair so there was not need to specifically say this is very presumptuous. The Quran was sent to all of humanity and I am sure that there are many parts of the world at the time where women didn’t cover their hair.

  39. Azdi says:

    Could you please explain why slave women were prevented by Umar AlKhattab from covering their head.

    • amani says:

      This is the first time i hear this. Where does it say he forbade slave women from covering their hair? What is the source of this claim?

  40. Completely detailed book says:

    So question arises:
    If someone orders you to tuck your shirt into your pants, is the command here to wear a shirt or tucking it into the pants?

    And Prophet Muhammad’s mission was only to relay the message, to warn and give glad tidings ( as part of his divine mission) and NOT to give specifics of prayers etc. Since Allah calls Quran a Complete and Fully detailed book.
    PEACE

  41. Abby says:

    Firstly i want to say that its very easy to understand why many scholars come to the common consensus that hijab is fard most if not all scholars are males. Although it is true this verse paints the picture of women wearing a julbab(head covering) but up til now there is absolutely no scholar, or person that has been able to prove that the head covering is in fact mandated and fard obligation on all women. It is even difficult to find any ahadith that can support this view.

  42. michelle says:

    According to the Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World, modesty in the Qur’an concerns both men’s and women’s gaze, gait, garments, and genitalia.”[6] Although the Qur’an stresses modesty, it does not specifically require women to keep their heads or faces covered. In fact, the Qur’an never explicitly uses the term hijab in reference to body veiling in any context, instead utilizing the words khimār (خمار) and jilbāb (جلباب), not hijab. Hijab or Hejab refers to The Rules of covering up. It never references the specific item or items of clothing used to cover up. a woman must cover her bosom which means being modest only, remember in the old days everyone covered their head even men!

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  45. soumia says:

    If you can read arabic, then please download and read this book: http://ahewar.org/rate/bindex.asp?yid=3108
    It will answer all your questions about Hijab, and tell you whether it’s really fard or not.

  46. Josh says:

    You’d think if a god wrote a book it would have done so clearly so people do not have to have arguments about it’s meaning.

    I mean deosn’t the fact that it takes so much effort to decipher a something so unbelievably simple give anyone pause that perhaps the creator of the universe did not write this book?

    • Umm Zaheen says:

      The vagueness of the verses proves precisely that the Quran is Divine. It covers all points of view, cultures and ideology. The verses do emphasize modesty and covering the body over the hair. Yet, the hair is included for those sisters who truly are ready to express their love for their Creator and show the world that they are conscious of their own behavior and actions according to His will similar to Mary, mother of Jesus (peace be upon him). While those who wear the hijab earn the full rewards from their Creator, the sisters who cannot make that commitment are not shunned. They are also rewarded for every effort they make towards modesty, which includes wearing lose fitting clothes, hiding the body parts and acting in a modest fashion. Our Creator knows about each of our struggles and the place we are in our faith and never shuts the door. The more our faith increases, the more beautiful the hijab becomes and the answer becomes more apparent about the benefits of hijab. Thus the vagueness pushes a woman to investigate more, read more, learn more about her religion and make that choice for herself without any coercion.

  47. Ka says:

    Islam is easy… people make it hard to the people…

  48. Sister B says:

    What about men who consider women without hijab to be of loose character and openly stare at them? And women who feel that they should wear hijab to avoid these issues?

    Of course, we must follow the directives of Allah regardless of what the social environment is like. But I find it worrisome that there is no criticism of the behavior of men and it is always women who have to protect themselves. In some societies and communities, it is getting to a point where a woman will be blamed for being harassed because she was not covering her head. This is very scary.

    I am not sure but I think Allah might require women to cover so that they are not harassed. But doesn’t this make women who are not covered targets? Moreover, there are non-Muslims living in Muslim majority countries who do not cover. Should they be targets for lustful Muslim men?

    A minister in Turkey said a few years ago that a woman without hijab is like a house without curtains. She is either for rent or for sale. Isn’t it sad that men use Allah’s decree to label and torment women?

  49. A Muslim Woman says:

    I am a Muslim woman who DON’T believe in Hijab, even after reading this article. The Quran is enough to confirm that hijab isn’t required so stop going here and there to make sense. Don’t tell me Allah didn’t make it clear to cover the head because women already wore it before Islam ummm again Islam was made to last forever and I’m sure Allah SWT knows the people don’t stay the same and traditions often change. To all the Muslim women who think what I’m saying is taboo and that I’m going to hell well think again. I am a proud Muslim woman, you have no right to point fingers at me, you are not a better/more Muslima than me nor am I a better/more Muslima than you.

    • lutfi says:

      It is not a matter if we dont believe in hijab or not. It wasn’t & never will be a matter of opinion. One of the most dangerous thing a Muslim can do is to speak about Islam or Qur’an without knowledge. Please read the following translated verse: {And pursue not that of which thou hast no knowledge; for every act of hearing, or of seeing or of (feeling in) the heart will be enquired into (on the Day of Reckoning)}al-Isra` 17:36. We should all strive to seek knowledge without bias with the soul intention of pleasing ALLAH Subhana Wa Taala. I do agree with your last sentence though, as it is in line with the Qur’an: {Therefore justify not yourselves: He knows best who it is that guards against evil}an-Najm 53:32.

      • A Muslim woman Manas H says:

        How did you assume that I’m speaking without knowledge? Allah told us to follow the Quran and not those crazy people who consider themselves “knowledgable” on tv whom ignore everything thats going on in the world and only emphasize on Hijab, something that they have created. Allah didn’t say one have to get a degree from Al azhar to know right from wrong. There are many Muslim scholars nowadays that often differ with their fatwa “opinion” so which one are we suppose to listen to?

        Shall I seek other than Allah for judge, when He it is Who hath revealed unto you (this) Scripture, fully explained? Those unto whom We gave the Scripture (aforetime) know that it is revealed from thy Lord in truth. So be not thou (O Muhammad) of the waverers. S. 6:114

        • lutfi says:

          I dont know where Azhar comes in. Neither do i know who those presumebly”crazy” people on TV.My assumptions comes from your statements which you stated. This matter has been discussed in-depth by the great scholars of Islam of the past to this day. I know the word ”scholars”carries a baggage of cynicism knowadays but as the Prophet told us, they are the heirs of the Prophets.

          Finally, knowledge is religion; see from who you acquire it.

  50. Alaa says:

    This was perfect. Just what I was looking for. Jazzaki Allah Khair sis

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