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THE SIGNIFICANCE AND RATIONALE
BEHIND HIJAB IN ISLAM
By Hossam Ed-Deen Allam
At the outset, it is vital to be heedful of the fact that the teachings of Islam aim to establish a society that is permeated by decency, modesty, nobility, respectability, dignity, purity, courtesy, and thoughtfulness. Clearly, the establishment of such an ethical environment leads to the rise of a compassionate and productive society. A society where the dignity of all individuals, especially women and children, is maintained as well as highly protected. A society that is not overtaken nor overridden by lusts and carnality. In this connection, the Noble Qur'an provides several vital teachings.
كُنْتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ﴾ [آل عمران: 110].
You have been the most charitable community brought out for humanity: you urge beneficence, and forbid evil, and believe in Allah. al-Imran (The Family of Imran) 3:110
That is since you have been empowered by the Noble Qur'an, you are the best-suited community that has been raised up for the good of humanity. It is your duty to Enjoin the Right and Forbid the Wrong since you accept the Final Word of Allah as the Criterion (Qur'an 3:4). The Noble Qur'an clearly educates Muslims on the Permanent Moral Value System and provides a clear and objective criterion of morality.
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُحِبُّونَ أَن تَشِيعَ الْفَاحِشَةُ فِي الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُون﴾ [النور: 19].
Indeed, those who love to see indecency spread among the believers will suffer a painful punishment in this life and the Hereafter. Allah knows and you do not know. an-Nur (The Light) 24:19
Hijab signifies the proper Islamic dress that aims first and foremost to maintain decency, modesty, and the dignity of men and women. Allah - The One and Only Creator - knows our nature better than ourselves, and He has stipulated appropriate standards of behavior and appearance to be implemented when men and women interact with one another in a social setting. Moreover, such rules of interaction encompass a prescription for a modest code of dressing that applies to males and females.
Noteworthy, when we look into the Quranic context that comprises the verse of ‘hijab’ (veiling) one can see that it commences with drawing a distinction between the purity or impurity of men and women. Furthermore, it points out the right approach to enter the homes of other people in case they are inhabited and not. Additionally, it underscores the importance of lowering the gaze, chastity and the abstention of all faithful men and women from any unlawful relation. Eventually, it remarks the obligation of veiling so that the adornments and beauty of woman do not appear except to her unmarriageable male relatives that are detailed in the verse. Accordingly, is evident that the verses aim to promulgate decency and righteousness.
الْخَبِيثَاتُ لِلْخَبِيثِينَ وَالْخَبِيثُونَ لِلْخَبِيثَاتِ ۖ وَالطَّيِّبَاتُ لِلطَّيِّبِينَ وَالطَّيِّبُونَ لِلطَّيِّبَاتِ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ مُبَرَّءُونَ مِمَّا يَقُولُونَ ۖ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌ وَرِزْقٌ كَرِيمٌ (26) يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَدْخُلُوا بُيُوتًا غَيْرَ بُيُوتِكُمْ حَتَّىٰ تَسْتَأْنِسُوا وَتُسَلِّمُوا عَلَىٰ أَهْلِهَا ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ(27) فَإِن لَّمْ تَجِدُوا فِيهَا أَحَدًا فَلَا تَدْخُلُوهَا حَتَّىٰ يُؤْذَنَ لَكُمْ ۖ وَإِن قِيلَ لَكُمُ ارْجِعُوا فَارْجِعُوا ۖ هُوَ أَزْكَىٰ لَكُمْ ۚ وَاللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ عَلِيمٌ (28) لَّيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ أَن تَدْخُلُوا بُيُوتًا غَيْرَ مَسْكُونَةٍ فِيهَا مَتَاعٌ لَّكُمْ ۚ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تُبْدُونَ وَمَا تَكْتُمُونَ (29) قُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَغُضُّوا مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِمْ وَيَحْفَظُوا فُرُوجَهُمْ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ أَزْكَىٰ لَهُمْ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا يَصْنَعُونَ (30) وَقُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِنَّ وَيَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا ۖ وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَىٰ جُيُوبِهِنَّ ۖ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا لِبُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ آبَائِهِنَّ أَوْ آبَاءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَائِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَاءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِي إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِي أَخَوَاتِهِنَّ أَوْ نِسَائِهِنَّ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُنَّ أَوِ التَّابِعِينَ غَيْرِ أُولِي الْإِرْبَةِ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ أَوِ الطِّفْلِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يَظْهَرُوا عَلَىٰ عَوْرَاتِ النِّسَاءِ ۖ وَلَا يَضْرِبْنَ بِأَرْجُلِهِنَّ لِيُعْلَمَ مَا يُخْفِينَ مِن زِينَتِهِنَّ ۚ وَتُوبُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا أَيُّهَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ (31) [النور: 26-31]
Bad words are for bad people; [Disbelieving (or impure) women for disbelieving (or impure) men], bad people are for bad words; [Disbelieving (or impure) men for disbelieving (or impure) women], good words are for good people; [Also implied is that good women are for good men;] good people are for good words; [Also implied is that good men are for good women;] such are the (truly) innocent of the bad words they say: For them, there is forgiveness and an honoured provision. O, believers! Do not enter any house other than your own until you have asked for permission and greeted its occupants. This is best for you, so perhaps you will be mindful. If you find no one at home, do not enter it until you have been given permission. And if you are asked to leave, then leave. That is purer for you. And Allah has ˹perfect˺ knowledge of what you do. There is no blame on you if you enter public places where there is something of benefit for you. And Allah knows what you reveal and what you conceal. ˹O Prophet!˺ Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and guard their chastity. That is purer for them. Surely Allah is All-Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their chastity, and
not to reveal their adornments except what normally appears. Let them draw their veils over their chests, and not reveal their ˹hidden˺ adornments except to their husbands, their fathers, their fathers-in-law, their sons, their stepsons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons or sisters’ sons, their fellow women, those ˹bondwomen˺ in their possession, male attendants with no desire, or children who are still unaware of women’s nakedness. Let them not stomp their feet, drawing attention to their hidden adornments. Turn to Allah in repentance all together, O believers, so that you may be successful. an-Nur (The Light) 24:26-31
In terms of the phrase, ‘what normally appears’, the great companion, Ibn ‘Abbas, commented, ‘It refers to the face and the hands.’ This means that, as reported by Ibn ‘Abbas, a woman must cover her entire body except for her face and hands while in the presence of men who are not related to her directly. The enumeration of those in whose presence a woman needs not to cover is explicitly outlined in verse number 31 of Chapter An-Nur.
Furthermore, the Noble Qur'an states:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ قُل لِّأَزْوَاجِكَ وَبَنَاتِكَ وَنِسَاءِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ يُدْنِينَ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِن جَلَابِيبِهِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ أَدْنَىٰ أَن يُعْرَفْنَ فَلَا يُؤْذَيْنَ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا [الأحزاب: 59]
"O Prophet! Ask your wives, daughters, and believing women to draw their cloaks over their bodies. In this way it is more likely that they will be recognized ˹as virtuous˺ and not be harassed. And Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful" al-Ahzab (The Coalition) 33:59.
The aforementioned verse clearly shows that Allah has prescribed wearing Hijab for women.
Accordingly, there are certain requirements for a woman’s dress in Islam:
It must cover the whole body except for the face and hands.
It must not be tight or transparent.
It must not delineate the parts of the body.
In the same manner, a Muslim man should not wear tight, sheer, revealing, or eye-catching clothing. In addition, a Muslim man is prohibited from wearing silk clothing [except for medical reasons] or golden jewelry. A Muslim woman may wear both silk and gold.
Consequently, a Muslim woman is permitted to wear whatever she likes as long as her dress has all the legal requirements of a woman’s Islamic dress code, and it covers the ‘awrah [sensitive
parts of the body that a woman must cover in front of her marriageable family members [non-mahrams]. All Muslim scholars and jurists agree on this.
THE STORY OF HIJAB
WHAT IS THE HIJAB?
By Shahzalina Ghazali
Based on Al-Quran, hijab is what we would refer to a partition in both literal or metaphorical sense. It acts as a screen of a sort that partitions an individual from another. Hijab or the Islamic modest dressing is a way of covering the body according to certain principles in order to make Muslim women identifiable in society and to minimize the social influence of sexual stimuli. Whereas people from all over the world nowadays refer to the hijab as a scarf Muslim women wear around their heads and will usually end up covering themselves up until the chest.
There are three references from the Holy Quran that discuss the ruling of hijab which is compulsory to all Muslim females along with appropriate hijab styling.
The first reference in Surah An-Nur (24) ayah 31, the Quran uses the Arabic word khimar to refer to women’s headscarves says that:
“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 headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers, their brothers' sons, their sisters' sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers that you might succeed.”
The second reference states the outer garment or in Arabic known as jilbab must be loose-fitting and non-transparent clothing that covers the whole body, maybe with the exception of the hands and face as mention in Surah Al-Ahzab (33) ayah 59,
“O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.”
While the third reference mentions, women are not to vaunt their accessory as stated in the Quran using the Arabic word zinah to refer to their “finery,” Surah Al-Ahzab (33) ayah 33 says that,
“..stay at home, and do not flaunt your finery as they used to in the pagan past; keep up the prayer, give the prescribed alms, and obey God and His Messenger. God wishes to keep uncleanness away from you, people of the [Prophet’s] House, and to purify you thoroughly.”
From these references, we can clearly see that the Holy Quran promotes the wearing of the hijab as a form of honouring and protecting women’s beauty instead of oppression or suppression. In the modern world full of hedonism ideology where women should flaunt it all in order to look and feel attractive, Al-Quran highlights several verses on the importance of hijab-wearing for Muslim women.
The first benefit that Al-Quran highlights is modest and respect. Hijab signifies an expression of chastity and modesty. In that sense, the hijab wearer will be recognized as a respectable woman when she covers herself. The next benefit is purity, as hijab becomes a tool to protect the heart from vices and to protect women from world’s evil (Mahfoodh, 2008, p.42). Hijab is also a part of a woman’s voice therefore her attitude should match her chosen attire. She should observe honorable behaviour, manner and speech. Woman humbleness is portrayed via her etiquette and moral value which complete the importance of hijab-wearing. Becoming an honorable woman via wearing hijab is indicated in Surah al-Ahzab ayah 32, “Be not soft in speech, lest he in whose