17 August 2011

Hijabi Beginner: Is The Hijab REALLY Required?

A non-hijabi Muslimah recently wrote to me because she is not convinced that the hijab is a requirement in Islam. She asked me to put forward the Islamic evidences of hijab. In this post I will try my best to do just that using Quranic iyas and authentic ahadith. 

1. Surat Al Nur: 

- Bism'Allah Al Rahmaan Al Raheem -
"And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be protect their private parts, and not to display of their zeenah except that which is apparent, and to draw their headcovers over their juyub, and not to reveal their zeenah save to their own husbands or fathers or husbands' fathers, or their sons or their husbands' sons, or their brothers or their brothers' sons or sisters' sons, or their women, or their slaves, or male attendants who lack vigour, or children who know naught of women's nakedness. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And turn unto Allah together, O believers, in order that ye may succeed." [24:31]
- "..and not to display of their zeenah except that which is apparent" i.e. they should not show anything of their zeenah to a non-Mahram man, except for whatever it is apparent (clear, impossible to hide..) - most scholars agree that this refers to the hands and face...

- ...however, slight differences have arisen amongst the scholars concerning the precise meaning of ...except only that which is apparent... from Surat Al Nur which according to Ibn `Abaas (RAA), includes "the face, the two hands, and rings. This view is shared by Ibn `Umar, `Ata'a, and others from the Tabi'een." [Tafseer Ibn Kathir]. Imam Ash-Showkani states that it includes: "The dress, the face, and the two hands"; Ibn `Abaas and Qatadah have stated: "The adornments include eye shadow (i.e., Kuhul), bracelets, hand dye, and rings, and it is permissible for women to (uncover) them." [Fateh Al-Qadeer]
- 'Zeenah' (adornment) means 2 things: natural beauty and physical adornments e.g. makeup, jewelry etc

- "..draw their headcovers over their juyub.." The women used to cover their hair but leave their necks and bosoms uncovered. This iya makes it clear that women should cover their 'juyub' - which most agree refers to the neck and chest area (and some say includes the ribs) - with a head covering. I know that some Muslims use this iya to back their opinion that Islam only requires women to cover their breasts, however, why would Allah (SWT) have mentioned the 'khimaar' (a headcover) when telling these women to cover? The Quran is timeless and applies to nations at any time, if the headcover was simply cultural it would not have been mentioned at all.

2. Surat Al Ahzaab:
"O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their outer garments about themselves (when they go out). That is better so that they may be recognised and not harassed. And Allah is Forgiving, Merciful." [Al-Ahzaab, 33:59]
- Abu Dawood related that Aishah (R) said: "After this Aayah was revealed the women of the Ansar appeared like crows." (because of the color and shape of the cloaks they wore).

- "..to be recognised.." i.e. as Muslim women (would modest clothing alone allow people to recognise you as a Muslim woman?)

3. Ahadith

There are other ahadith on the hijab but these are the ones I have picked to post:

- Aishah (R) said: "May Allah bestow His Mercy on the first Muhajirat (emigrants). When Allah revealed:...and draw their headcovers over their necks and bosoms... they tore material and covered themselves with it." [Al-Bukhari]

- Usamah ibn Zaid said: Allah's Messenger (S) gave me a gift of thick Coptic cloth he had received as a gift from Dahiah Al-Kalbi, and so I gave it to my wife. Thereafter the Prophet (S) asked me: Why didn't you wear the Coptic cloth? I replied: I gave it to my wife. The Prophet (S) then said: Tell her to wear a thick gown under it for I fear that it may describe the size of her limbs. [Narrated by Ahmad, Al-Bayhaqi, and Al-Haakim]

- Narrated by Aishah: Allah's Apostle used to offer the Fajr prayer and some believing women covered with their veiling sheets used to attend the Fajr prayer with him and then they would return to their homes unrecognized. [Bukhari]

- The Prophet (S) said: There will be in the last of my Ummah (nation of believers), scantily dressed women, the hair on the top of their heads like a camel's hump. Curse them, for verily they are cursed. In another version he said: ...scantily dressed women, who go astray and make others go astray; they will not enter Paradise nor smell its fragrance, although it can be smelled from afar. [At-Tabarani and Sahih Muslim]

Also keep in mind that the concept of 'hijab' is not an Islamic one but a command from Allah (SWT) to the Jews, Christians and the all of the monotheistic religions before that. It has only been recently that the question of the obligation of hijab has been risen amongst the Muslim ummah, before it was accepted and expected.

I hope that has cleared up your doubts, if not, perhaps you should focus on some other part of your religion and I am pretty sure you will want to adopt the hijab sooner or later, Insha'Allah :)


Anonymous said...

The last picture is worth a thousand words.



Gail said...

Assalaam waliekum.
Don't forget the tafsir on ayat 24:31.
The Rulings on Hijab.

Gail said...

Assalaam waliekum.
I hate to say this however you or anyone else can't convince another person of something that's as clear as the nose on their faces. You have pointed them to the information now they are held accountable for their actions.

Stylish Muslimah said...

Gail: Thanks for the link :)
She asked me to give her some evidence that indicates the hijab is a requirement in Islam so I have, it would have been wrong for me not to. I see what you mean but I think you can convince people who genuinely want to know the truth; you can't convince people who simply want to defend their preconceived opinions and have ruled out the possibility/don't care that they could be wrong.

Salam :D

Roha said...

MashAllah, may Allah reward you for all your efforts!

Gail said...

Stylish Muslimah:
True. It's cool that you gave her the proof yet it's still her choice to accept her obligations to her Creator . May Allah SWT Guide the Muslimahs to the Straight Path. Ameen.

Anonymous said...

i second gail . . . You have done your part and may Allah Paak bless you for that. . . Beyond this, there's not much you can do. . .

and . . Well. . I totally love the first pic :)

Anonymous said...

Salaam Zaenab, Thank you for that. Alhamdulillah it helped a great deal. Coming across what was written in the websites and such was confusing me, and you helped to put it all down in a meaningful way.

And Gail: Thank you for your rather harsh opinion! I have come across a hadith that says if you have nothing good to say then don't; if you wish i can find it and paste it here for you. I asked Zaenab to help me to decipher the messages i.e. to give me the evidence as i was not sure about it, and she did. People interpret things differently, and that is a well established fact. I did not ask Zaenab to come and tie the headscarf on me. And you rightly said, it is my choice and may Allah swt guide me..Iman is a personal thing and between a person and Allah swt...

May Allah swt reward Zaenab, as she inspires me like many others to realise the "place" of women in islam.

I think what people forget is that we all come from different walks of life and spirituality. I was born into a non-religious household, and had to teach namaaz etc to myself. Therefore i may be behind you in my practices, but Alhamdulillah my Imaan is strong an dinshAllah i pray Allah swt strengthens it further.

Please don't talk as if you're better than anyone because you may be wearing the full veil etc... Pride in islam is not a good thing...

And finally Allah swt knows best, and knows all...

JazakAllah Khayrun,

Stylish Muslimah said...

Nish: Salam! I'm so glad that you benefited from this post :) I really think YOU are the inspiration here, for wanting to follow the right path without being encouraged to do so by other people; Allah (SWT) sees everything and He will reward you insha'Allah.

If you would ever like me to write about anything else, please don't hesitate to ask and I shall try my best to answer.

Ramadan Kareem :D

Muslim Mommy said...

MashaAllah! A blog that is helping sisters understand this deen! And in a fun way, not imposing or overwhelming :))

When it comes to hijab, I have fallin in love with it... hey that's a good blog topic, check back with me tomorrow inshaAllah!


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Stylish Muslimah said...

islamic blogger: Nice blog :D I'm glad you like mine btw! You can repost if you like but please do link back when you do :)

Salam x

Liya said...


hello there, i recently came across ur blog and is inspired. i was just like u in your post of the hijabi beginner, now im a proud hijabi hopefully may allah guide us all :) salam

Anonymous said...

Good post indeed. I have a question slightly unrelated to the key issue here. You pointed out that
"The Quran is timeless and applies to nations at any time, if the headcover was simply cultural it would not have been mentioned at all."
If this were so, the Iya 24:31 also states that it is okay for a woman to be unveiled in front of a male attendant having no physical desire, I'm assuming this refers to a Eunuch. Now, Eunuchs were something acceptable in the culture at that time, "although Islam forbade Muslims to castrate young boys, they were not forbidden from owning them as slaves. They were considered prized possessions, and huge sums were paid for them. They supervised women’s quarters, and helped at mosques where they were assigned to separate women from men." but as humanity developed we realized that harm to fellow humans is wrong and unacceptable, and we turned away from holding castrated young boys as slaves. Same goes to slavery in general which is mentioned in the Quran, do we practice it today? no! why? because we have ruled it to be inhumane.
What I don't understand is why the Quran is not being evaluated by today's scholars to fit today's cultural norm? Truly we have to follow the Lord's word but wouldn't Allah (s.w.t) and the Prophet (s.a.w) be proud that we are sparing our fellow humans and leaving it up to the creator to be the judge of all evil? In the case of the Eunuchs there was not any evil involved at all, they were just young boys.
Please note: This is not an argument against the Hijab but to the statement about how the Quran is for all times and all nations.

Stylish Muslimah said...

Anon: Yes, you would be right if that iya just refers to eunuchs but it also refers to any men that lacks sexual vigour like the very old. Of course the Quran needs to be studied in context but it is essentially timeless.

Salam x