In many countries across the world, the concept of hijab is unwelcome, thought in vain and as a sign of oppression in the religion. People often believe that muslim women who wear the hijab are powerless, voiceless and oppressed people who scream to be liberated. The worse part about this, many Muslim women too support this ideology and be a part of those who neglect this sensible act of worship. In this article we shall find out more about why the practice of hijab is stressed upon in Islam.
First Revelation Regarding Hijab
It was narrated by Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her) that, May Allah have mercy on the early immigrant women. When the verse “That they should draw their veils over their bosoms” was revealed, they tore their thick outer garments and made veils from them. [Sunan Abi Dawud 4102]
The verse from the above hadith found in the Qur’an was the first revelation regarding hijab for women, which states,
‘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 to expose their adornment [i.e., beauty]…’ [Surah An-Noor 24:31]
The women of the Mujahirin and Ansar obeyed this command of Allah ﷻ as soon as it was revealed.
Is Hijab Obligatory for Women?
Hijab is enjoined as an obligatory act for women which is often mistook for a choice or pressure. Hijab is a primary armour of protection for women against abuse and temptation. Without hijab, women become an object of desire and temptation. Not following proper hijab is the cause of many immoral activities such as adultery and other actions that lead to it. This is why hijab is prescribed for women so that nobody treats them as playthings.
Allah ﷻ says in the Qur’an,
‘O Prophet, tell your wives and 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.’ [Surah Al-Ahzab 33:59]
The evidence of women practicing hijab during the time of the Prophet ﷺ is found in the following hadith,
‘Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The believing women used to pray the morning prayer with the Messenger of Allah and then return wrapped in their mantles. No one could recognise them.’ [Muslim 645]
To Cover the Face or Not?
This debate always arises- should a woman cover her face with a niqab or not? Women are obliged to cover themselves in front of non-mahram men (blood relative to whom marriage is forbidden) and the scholars have stated that as per sharee ‘a, a woman should cover everything that is harmful for her to show, first and foremost being the face, which is the focus of temptation and desires. Hence, we learn that the face is essential to be covered.
Secondly, there is evidence for this in the Qur’an and sunnah. It is mentioned in Ibn Majah and Sunan Abi Dawud, in a hadeeth narrated by Aysha (May Allah be pleased with her) who said: “We were with the Prophet ﷺ in ihraam, and when men passed by us, we would lower the khimaar on our heads over our faces, and when they moved on, we would lift it again.”
From this it is perfectly evident that women during the time of the Prophet ﷺ covered their faces. Allah ﷻ, Al-Hakeem, The Most Wise, knows what is better for his slaves. Women in ihram and otherwise are obliged to cover their faces in front of non-mahram men because the face is the centre of beauty and most attractive.
What is the correct hijab?
On knowing that it is essential for a woman to practice hijab, we shall now look into the conditions of wearing proper hijab.
- It should cover all parts of the body apart from what has been exempted
As was stated in Surah Al-Ahzab, women should not display any part of their beauty and adornment except for whatever appears unintentionally.
- It should not be an adornment in and of itself
It is supported by the hadeeth in which the Prophet ﷺ said:
‘There are three, do not ask me about them: a man who leaves the jamaaah, disobeys his leader and dies disobedient; a female or male slave who runs away then dies; and a woman whose husband is absent and left her with everything she needs, and after he left she made a wanton display of herself. Do not ask about them.’
[Narrated by al-Haakim, 1/119; Ahmad, 6/19; from the hadeeth of Faddaalah bint Ubayd. Its isnaad is saheeh and it is in al-Adab al-Mufrad]
- It should be thick and not transparent or see through
Concerning this, the Prophet ﷺ said, ‘During the last days of my ummah there will be women who are clothed but naked…they will not enter paradise or even smell its fragrance from such and such a distance.’ [Muslim]
- It should be loose, not tight so that it describes any part of the body
Usaamah ibn Zayd said: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ gave me a thick Egyptian garment that was one of the gifts given to him by Duhyat al-Kalbi, and I gave it to my wife to wear. He said, Why do I not see you wearing that Egyptian garment? I said, I gave it to my wife to wear. He said, Tell her to wear a gown underneath it, for I am afraid that it may describe the size of her bones.
[Narrated by al-Diyaa al-Maqdisi in al-Ahaadeeth al-Mukhtaarah, 1/442, and by Ahmad and al-Bayhaqi, with a hasan isnad].
- It should not be perfumed with bakhoor or fragrance
Abu Moosa al-Ashari said: the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: Any woman who puts on perfume then passes by people so that they can smell her fragrance, is an adulteress.
- It should not resemble the clothing of men
Abu Hurayrah said: ‘The Messenger of Allah ﷺ cursed the man who wears womens clothes, and the woman who wears mens clothes.’
- It should not resemble the dress of kaafir women
It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar said: The Prophet ﷺ said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” [Abu Dawood, 3512]
- It should not be a garment of fame and vanity
Ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allaah ﷺ said: Whoever wears a garment of fame and vanity in this world, Allaah will clothe him in a garment of humiliation on the Day of Resurrection, then He will cause Fire to flame up around him.
[Hijaab al-Marah al-Muslimah, p. 54-67]
May Allah ﷻ make us among those who practice hijab. Aameen.