Bint Ahmad Sulaymaan | 17 October 2014/22 Dhul Hijjah 1435
“The headscarf is my choice and I wasn’t forced to wear it,” we hear this often, “I choose to wear the niqab. My husband doesn’t force me to.” It’s excellent that women choose it. Except, most times it’s said to soothe non-Muslims rampaging against our imaginary suppression, demanding our freedom to “bear all”.
The fact is we are compelled to wear it. Allah SWT has made Hijab – in its entirety – obligatory upon us. Yes, “there is no compulsion in religion” so women who don’t don any aspect of Hijab are in truth saying, “I choose not to wear it.” It may be masked as, “I’m not ready”, or “Islam is in my heart.” But this is also a conscious choice. It is a choice not to uphold a clear obligation.
Yet we focus on the women who choose it, ensuring they aren’t forced to meet the obligation, when it is actually those who choose not to, who are being “forced, be it by peer pressure, social stigmas and fashion slavery. There are those who outright spurn the obligation. Their predicament is worse.[In Surah al-Ahzaab: 59] Allah SWT says, “O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allah is Ever Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was directed to “tell” his wives, daughters and believing women (the Sahaabiyaat and then us) to don Hijab and not told to ask us. The word “tell” says it was a command. Men are the caretakers of their wives and children and meant to encourage this obligation.
If a woman’s husband or father tells her to don the Hijab, she should oblige. Not only will she be meeting the obligations placed upon her by Allah SWT but also obeying her father or husband and in turn easing the questions he will be met with on the Day of Qiyamah. A man beating his wife or daughter to force them to fulfil this obligation is committing a sin. Rarely do we speak of this because the reasons are so misunderstood, people shy away from it.
Islam has gifted women with dignity and honour incomparable to any other system or religion. The purpose of commanding women to don Hijab is to shut the doors to unrestricted intimacy and to prohibit shamelessness. It is to protect the moral fibre of mankind. Western civilisation, so devoid of shame and morality has sadly captivated the hearts and minds of Muslim women. Muslims have the highest and most pristine laws to live by yet our women – and men – are disregarding them, chasing a way of life which goes against the fundamentals of Islam and openly rebels against it.
The women who will undoubtedly turn their noses to this article and take refuge in their hearts being enough must question, if Deen was only about what is in the heart, why then have we been given this vessel, this body as a means to express the heart’s devotion. In the same breath we should write the system of examinations off because it’s what is in the brain that counts. Obligatory and voluntary acts of worship, along with the heart’s sincerity are all part of the test. The more the heart feels closer to Allah SWT and His beloved Rasool (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), the further the body goes – by sacrificing sleep, food, luxury, the world – to express it.
“Radi Allahu ‘anhum waradu ‘anh” is a beautiful verse from the Noble Quraan which means “Allah is well-pleased with them as they are well pleased with Him”. This verse appears in a few Surahs in the Quraan Kareem.
“And the first to embrace Islam of the Muhajiroon (the Emigrants from Makkah) and the Ansar (the citizens of Al-Madeenah who helped the Muhajiroon) and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allah is well-pleased with them as they are well pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success.” [Surah Tawbah: 100]
Here, Allah SWT speaks of the Sahaabah (radiallahu anhum) when He says He is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him. When an obligation was sent down to Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) they immediately upheld it. These are the excellent people strong of heart, strong in Imaan, strong in love and devotion.
There is no question of their hearts devotion, yet Allah SWT told Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) to command them to don the Hijab and they hastily fulfilled. Yet we audaciously claim our hearts are enough to see us through our disobedience.
Fashionable Islamic wear is not a means of empowering women. Muslim women and men gain their identity from their Deen. Is there a better identity than this, I cannot imagine.
A reader wrote on a previous publication, “Islamic fashion only rose after the negativity associated with it when the focus was on Afghan women and the ‘oppression’ of their dress that seemed cruel and the era of when we were bombarded with negativity of the hijab… I do see muslim women … changing the negative ideas associated with the form of dress. The muslim women have quite single handedly reclaimed Islamic wear for themselves and should be admired for that because no man was going to do it for them. [sic]”
Why change the negative perception to one that suited the troublemakers, why not stand firmly and promote the true essence of Hijab? “I fear the day when the disbelievers are proud of their falsehood and the Muslims are shy of their faith,” said Amir ul Mu’mineen, Umar ibn Khattab (radiallahu anhu).
There aren’t “negative ideas” associated with Hijab as the reader suggests that necessitates change. What is negative is the level of understanding about the reasons and rules regarding Hijab. We are in need of change. Our hearts need to be redirected towards the Quraan and Sunnah.
The reader goes further to write, “At the end of the day it is choice on how women want to carry this through and what hijab means for themselves, so you will always see women from fashionable to conservatively dressed (in only black) – the point is whether fashionable or conservative, a CHOICE was made by a muslim women and that is the importance.”
Nobody denies that Muslim women have the freedom of choice. Modest fashion is a contradiction. There is no modesty in adornment and capturing attention. There are consequences to every choice. Scholars have likened rejecting Islam’s codes of modesty to rejecting Islam. Westernism/modernism has worked hard to destroy Hijaab. Though initiated by the West, it has been left in the hands of “modern Muslims” who have eagerly and ignorantly used Western slogans to continue its ruin.
Our beloved Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said, “Every religion has an innate character. The character of Islam is modesty.” [Ibn Majah]
❝In the west, where there is freedom and pressure to remove the Hijāb, more women have in fact chosen to embrace it and wear it. Far from being oppressed, veiled women are part of the mainstream society in almost all democratic nations. No doubt, countries with Muslim leaders today operate an oppressive regime, and the primary victims in such countries are women. Hijāb was not mandated to remove oppression, or to instil it. It was mandated to protect women and dignify their status.❞
[Imām Afroz Ali, Unveiling Hijab – An Explanation of the Head Veil of the Muslim Woman]
As for those who say “…nowhere in the Quran or Hadith is there a single, unequivocal passage that imposes the veil on Muslim women.”
Here’s a response to that:
Bottom line answer is – there is a physical pardah and an emotional pardah. They are both important. The guys would know what I’m talking about.
The thing is that co-education is haram. 100%, that’s the fatwah. But your society is co-ed. It’s not just education. Hospitals are like that. So lack of gender segregation is a society-wide problem. Even if our society is not structured that way, it is still possible to function in different domains. Men and women should by and large function is different domains. If you have to be in an interaction where you should not be in, then to keep that interaction minimal is your emotional parda. Don’t be long in your speech. Don’t go beyond the professional attitude. Don’t be rude, just be professional and to the point. Be curt.
Physical pardah is: there is one thing scholarly tradition agrees upon. Cover up till ankle and wrist. Then you must have another article called khimar it is the head covering. But some people say where is the word hair in Quran? If you go by that philosophy there are so many parts that are not mentioned in Quran, and you will end up exposing them.
Khimar means to draw a head-covering over the chests, It does not mean to draw dupatta over the chest. jis tarha sardi mein chadar orhtay hein.
Another item of clothing is Jilbab. What is it? Even Christian dictionaries agree it’s an outer garment. You can call it a robe, cloak, coat. Jilbab means what it means and khimar means what it means.
Another thing is in Quran women are told to hide your zeenat. Is it separate from this or within this? So this is the question:
Where does the beauty of the woman lie?
Let’s ask the experts of beauty: actress industries, fashion industries they buy and sell women’s beauty. Kehte hein na dunya k ulema ko kuch nahi pata hota. Ask the vogue magazine what will you put on a cover magazine? Will you put the face of a woman or her elbow? Zeenat means face that is absolutely incontestable. What does Allah mean by except for what is apparent? What is apparent are hands and feet. Do you put face under zeenat or the exception? If the woman is wearing khimar and jilbab then what else is left there to hide? Just feet hands and face. Which one of these is zeenat? One or two of these must fall under zeenat. This is barely a linguistic analysis. You tell me, are feet more important or face? Or are hands are more important than face?
If anyone say if all 3 are exception then ask them what is the zeenat that is being covered? Ask them. I have explained you in a completely logical way.