Importance of Hijab and Gender Segregation.
Khalid sat at his desk in great concern and worry. His friend, Salih, noticed signs of grief on his face. He arose from his desk, walked over and addressed Khalid, “We have been friends for a long time. For over a week now, I have been noticing that you are in deep contemplation and seem very distracted. The signs of grief and worry are apparent on you. It seems as though you are carrying the problems of the entire world on your shoulders. Don’t you know that all matters lie in Allah’s control?” Khalid kept quiet for a while and then said, “Salih, I commend you on your excellent perception. At the moment, I am in need of someone to communicate my problems and worries. Perhaps you can assist me in solving them.”
Khalid straightened up in his chair, poured a cup of tea for his friend Salih and then said, “The problem, O Salih, is that, as you know, I have been married for approximately eight months. My wife and I are living alone in our house. My younger brother, Hamd, who is twenty years of age, has just completed high school and he has been accepted in the university here. He will be arriving in a week or two to commence his lessons. My parents are persistently commanding me to allow him to live with me in my house, instead of living with friends in some bachelor flat. They are afraid that he should not deviate. These apartments have a lot of different people living there, who might influence him. I refused this offer most vehemently since he is a young man. His being in my house could lead to great danger. We have passed that age of adolescence and we know what our condition was at that time. I will at times have to leave my home whilst he will still be asleep. Sometimes for work, I will have to be away from home for a couple of days. I informed one of the Ulema of my dilemma. He cautioned me from allowing any person, even my brother, to stay with my wife and me in one house. He mentioned to me the statement of Rasulullah , “The in-law is death” (Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim) i.e. the most dangerous thing for a woman is her husband’s family – his brothers, uncles and cousins. They enter the house quite freely and nobody has any doubt regarding them. Thus the harm and trouble caused by them is much more severe and grave. Another thing is that a man likes solitude with his wife so that he can enjoy her to the maximum. This will not be possible if my brother, Hamd, is also residing in our house.” Khalid kept quiet for a while, sipped his tea, and continued, “When I explained my situation to my parents, gave them my reasons and took an oath that I only desire good for my brother, they became very angry with me. They complained about me to our relatives, accused me of disobedience to parents, and depicted me to be sick hearted, evil minded and full of evil intentions, since I had such evil thoughts regarding my brother, whereas he regards my wife as his elder sister. They then portrayed me to be jealous and full of malice, disliking goodness for my brother and not desiring him to complete his university studies. The worst was when my father threatened me saying, “This is a great embarrassment. How can your brother live with strangers, when your house is available? By Allah, if you do not allow Hamd to stay with you, your mother and I will never speak to you for the rest of our lives. We will have nothing to do with you after this day and we exonerate ourselves from you in this worldly life and the hereafter.”
Khalid lowered his head and then said, “Now I am in great confusion. On the one hand, I want to please my parents, and on the other hand, I don’t want to sacrifice my family happiness. What is your opinion and solution to this taxing and complex problem?” Salih sat up and answered, “You want my clear and open opinion in this matter! O Khalid, it seems that you are a person of great misgiving and suspicion. Otherwise, why would you create problems with your parents? Don’t you know that the pleasure of Allah lies in pleasing your parents and the displeasure of Allah is in displeasing them? If your brother lives in your house, he will take care of the needs and duties of the house in your absence. He will be the man of the house in your absence.” Salih kept quiet for awhile so that he could see the effects of his speech sink into Khalid. He then continued, “Why are you harbouring evil thoughts about your brother? Why are you being suspicious regarding an innocent person without proof? Have you forgotten the command of Allah, “O believers, abstain greatly from thoughts. Verily some thoughts are sin.”(Surah Hujurat) Don’t you trust your wife and your brother?”
Khalid interrupted, “I trust them both, but……” Immediately, Salih cut him, saying, “You are returning to suspicion, thoughts and delusions. Trust me, Khalid. Your brother, Hamd, will be the guardian of your house in your presence and absence. He will never think of approaching his brother’s wife with evil intentions, since he will regard her as his elder sister. Ask yourself, if your brother was married, would you have held any evil thoughts regarding her, or would you have interfered with her? I think the answer is quite clear, Khalid. Why are you causing anxiety to your parents and your brother, why are you breaking family unity and why are you causing a split due to your suspicions, doubts and misgivings which possess no solid basis. Be intelligent and please your parents so that Allah may be pleased with you. To eliminate any doubts, why don’t you place Hamd in the front portion of your house and lock the door separating the front portion from the remaining section of the house.” Khalid was satisfied with the advice of his friend and could not find any reason to now refuse the request. After a few days, Hamd arrived by plane. Khalid welcomed him and took him home where he began residing in the front section of the house. Days passed. Four years later, Khalid had just reached the age of thirty. He was now the proud father of three beautiful children. Hamd was in the final year of his studies. Khalid had promised to get him a good job at the university. Until that time, Khalid mused, Hamd could remain living with him until he married and acquired his own home.
One night, Khalid, driving his car, was returning home quite late. On the street adjoining his house, he saw from a distance two forms on the side of the road. As he drew closer, he saw an old woman positioned over a young woman lying flat, outstretched on the ground, screeching in pain and turning from side to side. The old woman, on seeing him, started shouted and wailing, “Young man, please assist us.” Khalid, on seeing this, became curious. He proceeded closer to them and enquired regarding their situation. The old woman informed him that they were not originally from this city. They had just moved in a couple of weeks before and they did not know anybody in the area. This woman was her daughter. Her husband had gone on journey out of the city for some work and her labour pains had begun well before her due date. She was in severe pain and they could not find anyone to transport her to hospital, to deliver the baby. Tears flowing from her eyes, the old lady pleaded, “I beg you, come forward. Do me a favour. Transport my daughter and myself to the nearest hospital. May Allah protect yourself, your wife and your children from all types of difficulties!” The flowing tears of the old lady as well as the screeching cries of the young lady lying on the floor affected the heart of Khalid. Compassion overcame him. Motivated by self-honour, noble-mindedness, gallantry and the desire to aid a distressed person, he agreed to transport them. Facilitated by the old woman, they carried the expectant mother to his car, and they proceeded to the nearest hospital. The old woman continued to supplicate for his well-being the whole way. Khalid’s self-honour and noble-mindedness did not allow him to return home and leave this destitute lady and her feeble daughter alone before ascertaining a successful operation and the birth of healthy child. He informed the old lady that he would wait for her in the men’s waiting room. As soon as the child was born, she should inform him of the good news. He then phoned home and informed them of the situation, stating that he would arrive late, so that all at home would be at ease.
Khalid seated himself in the waiting room. He reclined on the wall. His eyes drooped and soon he fell into a deep slumber. He could not recall how much time had passed. All he remembered well was the scene, which will never be erased from his mind, when he awoke to the shout of the doctor-on- call. Two police men and the doctor walked towards him, followed by the old lady wailing and lamenting, “This is the one. This is the one.” Khalid was taken aback by this scene. He awoke and hastened towards the old woman soliciting her, “Was the birth successful?” Before the old lady could answer, the police officer asked, “Are you Khalid?” He replied in the affirmative. The officer then remarked, “We have to speak to you for a few minutes in the office.” They all entered the office, locking the door. The old woman then began wailing, slapping her face and cheeks, and pulling her hair, “This is the evildoer. I hope you never set him free. O sorrow and grief is the lot of my daughter.” Khalid was shocked and dumbfounded, not understanding at all what was transpiring. He had not fully regained his senses from his shock, when he heard the doctor saying, “She claims that you raped her daughter. Due to this, she bore this illegitimate child. When she threatened to expose and disgrace you, and to report you to the police, you promised to marry her. Now you want to take this child, place it by the door of one masjid so that some good Samaritan will take it to some welfare organization.”
Khalid was absolutely dumbfounded by these accusations. Life appeared bleak to him. He could not see what was occurring around him. Words seemed to be stuck in his throat. He fell to the ground, unconscious. A while later, he regained consciousness. He found himself in a room with two officers. One of them spoke out, “Khalid, tell me the truth. Your countenance portrays you to be a man of honour and your actions show that it is quite unlikely that you would have committed such a monstrous crime.” Khalid responded with pain penetrating his heart, “O people, is this the recompense of good? Is this how kindness is repaid? I am an honourable, chaste man. I am married, have 2 sons and 1 daughter. I reside in a good neighbourhood.” Khalid could not control himself. Tears flowed from his eyes, tears of oppression and injustice, tears portraying his innocence and purity. When he regained his composure, Khalid narrated the whole incident which had occurred. After narrating his side of the story, the officer said to him, “Do not worry. I believe that you are innocent. However we have to follow legal proceedings to prove your innocence. The matter is very simple in this case. We will have to conduct some medical tests which will expose the truth.” Khalid interrupted, “What truth? The truth is that I am innocent, honourable and chaste! Don’t you believe me? Even dogs show kindness to those who are kind to them. However there are so many people who cause harm and deceive those who do good to them.”
In the morning, samples of Khalid’s sperm were taken and sent to the laboratory for testing. Khalid sat with the officer in another room, making dua and beseeching Allah to expose the reality. Approximately two hours later, the results returned. The medical tests proved Khalid to be innocent of those accusations. Khalid could not control himself with joy. He fell down in sajdah (prostration), praising Allah for having made apparent his innocence. The officer apologized for the inconvenience caused to him. The old lady and her daughter were handed over to the police for investigation and so that they could be punished accordingly.
Before leaving the hospital, Khalid decided to bid farewell and thank the doctor who had presided over the case. He proceeded to his office and thanked him for his effort. The doctor unexpectedly remarked, “If you don’t mind, I would like to speak to you for a few minutes.” The doctor then began discussing some side issues before he gathered courage and said, “In reality, Khalid, I think that you suffer from some kind of illness, which I noticed after studying your samples. However, I am not certain. I would therefore like to test your wife and children so that I could be certain.” Fear appeared on the face of Khalid. He remarked, “O doctor, please tell me what is wrong with me? I am happy with the decree of Allah. My concern is my small children. I am prepared to sacrifice for them.” He then burst out crying. The doctor soothed and calmed him, and then said, “I cannot tell you anything until I am convinced. It could happen that my doubts are incorrect. Please bring your wife and children without any delay.” A few hours later, Khalid returned with his wife and children. Tests were carried out on them. After completion, he left them in the car and returned to talk to the doctor. Whilst speaking to him, Khalid’s phone rang. He answered and spoke for a short while. After ending the conversation, he turned to the doctor, who enquired, “Who were you telling not to break the door of the room?” Khalid answered, “That was my brother, Hamd. He lives with me in my apartment. He has misplaced his key. He asked me to return quickly to open the door.” The doctor asked, surprised, “And for how long has he been living with you?” Khalid answered, “For the last four years. He is now in the final year of his studies.” The doctor enquired, “Is it possible for him to come so that we can see whether this sickness is hereditary or not?” Khalid replied happily, “I will bring him tomorrow.”
At the appointed time, Khalid and Hamd came to the hospital. Necessary samples which were required were taken. The doctor requested Khalid to return a week later so that he could show him the final analysis after being certain. Khalid remained perturbed and worried the whole week. The following week, he returned to the doctor, who welcomed him with open arms. He served him some lemon juice to soothe his nerves. He then narrated the virtues of patience in difficulties and problems, explaining that this was the system of this worldly life. Khalid interrupted him saying, “Please doctor, do not wreck my nerves any longer. I am ready to accept whatever sickness I have. This is the decision and judgement of Allah. What is the problem?” The doctor lowered his head and then said, “Many times the truth is bitter and painful. However it has to be known. Running away from problems will not solve them, nor change the reality.” The doctor kept quiet for a moment and then dropped the bombshell saying, “Khalid, you are sterile. It is impossible for you to beget children. Those three children are not yours. They are actually from your brother, Hamd.” Khalid did not possess the capacity to hear such startling news. He screamed out loudly, which reverberated in the whole hospital, and then fell down unconscious. After two weeks, Khalid regained consciousness to find that his whole life had been shattered and destroyed. He had become partially paralyzed. He had lost his mind due to the shock. He had already been transported to the mad hospital, where he would be spending the rest of his life. His wife was handed to the Shariah court so that she could confess and thereafter be stoned to death for committing the heinous act of adultery. His brother, Hamd was placed behind bars, waiting for the shar’i punishment of 100 lashes to be meted out to him. The three beautiful children were taken and placed in an orphanage, to live with other unwanted and orphaned children. This is the system of Allah. ‘The brother-in- law is death.’ “And you will never find in the system of Allah any change.” 3 وَلَن تَجِدَ لِسُنَّةِ الله تَبْدِیلًا
In every command of Allah are immense wisdoms. Man’s intelligence is short-sighted and weak. He cannot fathom the deep secrets and wisdoms underlying Divine commands. The object of the servant should only be to adhere to the commands of Allah since He knows what is most beneficial for us. At times, certain commands go completely against our bestial desires and the norms of society. One will thus have to go against the customs of society and fulfil this command of Allah, since this is an immense trial for which we will be recompensed in the hereafter. Nabi said, “Whoever holds firmly onto my Sunnah (way) at the time of the corruption of my ummah will receive the reward of 100 martyrs.” (Mishkat) The reason for this great reward is that when a person will practise on these actions, he will be criticized, rebuked and mocked. He will have to bear these remarks and insults with tolerance and patience. One such command is observing hijab from one’s brother-in- laws, cousins, husband’s uncles, husband’s nephews, and other such male relatives which Islam regards to be strangers to a woman. Rasulullah was asked regarding the brother-in- law. He replied that the brother-in- law is death. (Bukhari, Muslim)
This incident has been narrated in an Arabic booklet entitled قصص موثرة للشباب (Effective incidents for the youth).
In other words, such harm can be caused in the family due to intermingling with them that the sorrow experienced thereafter will be equivalent to a death in the house. Generally, women are simple-minded and chaste. Men, on the other hand, love to flirt and strike up relations with women. The Quran refers to this as a sickness in man’s heart. Women generally feel that men have innocent intentions. If the woman exhibits a bit of her beauty and gives a man the slightest opportunity, he will easily become inclined towards her. Shaytan, at such a juncture, makes them completely oblivious of their honour, decency, shame, responsibilities, status in society and the resultant harms of a small bit of enjoyment. For a few moments of pleasure, they destroy themselves and their families. Even some intelligent non-muslims have understood this reality.
Doctor Steven Klark, a psychologist of Sicily has published his observations; “The intermingling of males and females, unrestricted visiting of cousins and family members, staying and dining at each other’s homes- are according to me very harmful and its effects last for generations. By this socializing, I have seen women inclined to other men. Due to this intermingling, I have witnessed divorces and an increase in immodesty and adultery. I have observed breaking up of homes, suicide and people ending up in jail. The underlying cause is this free access into one another’s homes.” 4
Above, a true heart-rending incident was quoted to illustrate the gravity of non-observance of hijab and segregation of sexes within family circles which had lead to such grief, loss and sorrow, not only in the hereafter, but in this worldly life also. This is only one of the multitudes of such incidents which have and are still occurring. May Allah save us!
Note: This is the disastrous consequence of disobeying the commands of Allah. Enjoining of family ties is undoubtedly a noble action and an important command in our religion. However, the commands of Allah must be adhered to. Most people object to observing hijab in family circles and segregation of non-mahram family relatives, citing the reason that it is too difficult or that one is breaking family ties. The answer to this is that it is better to bear a slight amount of difficulty and inconvenience than to face the serious repercussions thereafter. Family ties should definitely be maintained, but only with those whom Allah has ordained and to the level which He has allowed. Even if one has to disobey one’s parents in these matters, there is no harm as Rasulullah has stated, “There is no obedience to the creation when it entails disobedience to the Creator Allah.