Re-Opening A Wound: Hijab and Practical Issues Part 4

Figure 1A: An example of intolerance and violence sometimes shown towards Muslims wearing their clothing.

Figure 1A: An example of the strong feelings that covering can provoke in seemingly law abiding individuals. It is due to images like these that we would like the reader to have a greater understanding of hijab, excluding whether or not he or she agrees with the doctrine of Hijab as mentioned in the Revelation.

PRACTICAL ISSUES

Definition of Hijab

The chest, cleavage, back, neck and locks of hair from the sides are covered along with the forehead. Allah has said,

And say to the believing women that they lower their sight and that they preserve their private parts and that they do not reveal their beauty except what is apparent thereof from it and that they bring their khimars over themselves and that they do not reveal their beauty and ornaments except to their husbands or their fathers or their husbands’ fathers or their brothers or their brothers’ sons or their sisters’ sons or their women or their servants or attendant men or children who know nothing of women’s nakedness.

And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal their adornments that are hidden. And believers! Turn to Allah together in repentance so that you might succeed.[1]

It should also, in the most recent revelation, cover everything with the exception of both eyes to see the way. Allah has said,

Prophet! Tell your wives, your daughters and the women of the believers to let down some of their jilbabs over themselves; that is better, so that they will be recognised and not harassed. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.[2]

Imam Muhammad ibn Sirin, may Allah have mercy on him, once asked his teacher `Ubaidah ibn as-Salamani about the commentary on the passage. He was told that the meaning is when the women go out that they cover everything except for one eye to see the way.[3]

`Ali ibn Abi Talhah, may Allah be pleased with him, a student of Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said that when the women go out they should cover themselves, showing nothing but the eyes.[4]

Imam al-Hasan al-Basri, may Allah be pleased with him, a direct student of `Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “Half of the face should then be covered.”[5]

Qatadah added: “The veil should be brought down over the forehead and over the nose, leaving both eyes exposed to see the way.”[6]

Articles of clothing

The following articles of clothing are mentioned for the benefit of the reader.

Jilbab (covering sheet, blanket): Imam al-Qurtubi has said, “The word jalabib is the plural of jilbab and it is a garment that is bigger than the khimar. Ibn `Abbas and Ibn Mas`ud both have reported that it is the loose outer garment. The correct view is that it is a garment that covers the entire body.”[7]

The Companions, Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas, Umm `Atiyyah all described the jilbab as being bigger than the khimar, enveloping it, going over it and covering the woman completely. And this expression appears in Surat ul-Ahzab.[8]

Khimar (head garment): Imam Ibn Mandhur describes the khimar as a garment that covers the head of a woman completely, including the face, or all of the head but the face. This word is used in Surat un-Nur.[9]

Rida’ (large cloak): Imam Ibn Mandhur described it as the large overhanging veil or sheet.[10]

Niqab (mask; face veil): Imam Ibn Mandhur said, “The niqab is a veil that goes over the face by way of the nose, women wear the niqab. But the niqab goes over the face. Originally, people would most often wear the Wahswahsah or the Burqa`, but the niqab exposes both eyes and not one as the others.”[11]

And this expression was used in the hadith where Umm Khallad, may Allah be pleased with her, was mentioned.

Quffaz (gloves): The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The female on hajj should neither wear niqab, nor gloves.”[12]

Zinah Zahirah (external beauty): In the last revelation on Hijab, the companion Ibn Mas`ud, may Allah be pleased with him said that the external beauty allowed to be seen outdoors was the clothing. But for the woman past child bearing age, the external beauty goes back to Surat un-Nur (24), ayah 31 for her.[13]

Zinah Batinah (internal beauty): This is what is under the external beauty.

Colours

As for the clothes of the hijab, we do not have a specific designation of what colour they must be at all. We know the function that the hijab must do, but we find there is permissibility with regard to colours.

Some of the female companions wore black.

The Companion, Safiyyah bint Shaibah and Umm Salamah, may Allah be pleased with both of them, said that when the ayah was revealed, the Ansar women came out draped in all black, resembling crows with their tranquility and grace and blackness of clothing.[14]

But then we also find some female companions wearing other colours.

The companion `Ikrimah ibn Abi Jahl, may Allah be pleased with him, narrates that Rifa`ah divorced his wife, whereupon `Abdur Rahman ibn Az-Zubair Al-Qurazi married her. `Aishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said that the lady arrived while wearing a green veil.[15]

When is one required to take this on?

If one should look at the order of revelation, they can see the process that was began. It may be a good idea to begin in that fashion and to continue further. Thus if one begins to cover their hair, chest, neck, back and everything as a beginning measure between 10-14, by the time that full hijab comes, they will have little difficulty. This is the time when women become adults.

The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, stated, “When one of you has reached the age of fifteen, the wealth and rights are fully conferred to them and the judicial punishments can be implemented.”[16]

There may be some who are not wearing complete hijab yet and may want to know when to make the move. Perhaps they should prepare by reading over all of the ayat, the ahadith, the understanding of the scholars and numerous other texts. This will give them the necessary grounding and gradually the individual will want to bring into effect the full hijab.

This revelation, much like some other revelations, was gradual and believers have to be given sufficient preparation. Much of the fighting and applying of pressure upon female Slaves of Allah has been wrong as they did not realise what was being done and why.

SOCIAL INTERACTION

The next question is who a woman may show her face, hands and other internal finery to when indoors. We have already seen once passage in the Book of Allah that discusses this is Surat un-Nur (24), ayah 31. But there may be more questions about other people such as uncles, cousins, grandfathers, great uncles and so forth. Allah has actually given us a wonderful criterion when He said,

And do not marry women that your fathers had married in the past except what has already happened. That was lewd and an abomination. And you have been forbidden your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your father’s sisters, your mother’s sisters, your brother’s daughters, your sister’s daughters, your mothers by milk, your sisters by milk, your mother in laws, your step daughters born under your protection of the women you have married and consummated with now. But if you have not consummated the marriage, then there is no sin in marrying. Also forbidden are the wives of your sons who are from your offspring.[17]

Near relatives

These may see the internal beauty or finery as covered in a previous lesson. Allah has told us,

And say to the believing women that they lower their sight and that they preserve their private parts and that they do not reveal their beauty except what is apparent thereof from it and that they bring their khimars over themselves and that they do not reveal their beauty and ornaments except to their husbands or their fathers or their husbands’ fathers or their brothers or their brothers’ sons or their sisters’ sons or their women or their servants or attendant men or children who know nothing of women’s nakedness.

And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal their adornments that are hidden. And believers! Turn to Allah together in repentance so that you might succeed.[18]

The full commentary on this is in previous lessons for the one who would like further details.

Mahram vs. non-Mahram

There is sometimes a great deal of confusion in this area as it is not known who the mahram is at all. Shaikh ul-Islam Muwaffaq ud-Din defined the mahram as, “The near relative whom it is always impermissible to marry, whether they are single or not when you have one person as a man and another a woman.” He then quoted the ayat we mentioned above. [19]

So, whoever it is impermissible to marry, those are our mahrams. A good and simple way to know this is to take Surat un-Nisa’ (4), ayat 22-23 and reverse the gender for our sisters. So if we read the text as, do not marry men whom your mothers had married in the past except what has already happened.

That was an evil way and an abomination. You are forbidden to marry your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your father’s sons, your father’s brothers, your mother’s brothers, your brother’s sons, your sister’s sons, your fathers by milk, your brothers by milk, your father in laws, your step sons born under your protection from the men you have married and consummated with now.

But if you have not consummated, then there is no sin in marrying. Also you are forbidden the husbands of your daughters who are from your offspring.

Hopefully, this will make matters more easy for the believer. And we pray that some ease has come from this for every one.

Cousins/in-laws

Cousins and in-laws, if they are single and you are single, are permissible to marry. This would make it impermissible to expose your finery to them. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The in laws are death,” when he was asked about going into their presence in dubious situations. Collected by Imam Muslim in his Al-Jami` us-Sahih and classed by him as authentic. Also, if we look in the ayah under near relatives, neither they nor cousins are listed as forbidden for marriage, so it is indeed permissible.

Brothers by kin/milk

These hold the same ruling as any other siblings and as one has been forbidden marriage to them, then they are mahram.

Kafir women/men

Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, wrote a letter to Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah, may Allah be pleased with him, “It has come to my attention that the women of the Jews and Christians go into the bath houses with the Muslim women. This practice must be stopped. It is not right that the Jewish or Christian women should see the body of the Muslim woman or her nakedness.”[20]

Safiyyah bint Huyai, may Allah be pleased with her, mother of the believers, used to allow her brother to visit her and she revealed her internal beauty to him. And her brother was still involved in Judaism.[21]

School/teaching

The Mother of the Believers, `A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, was a scholar of fiqh and taught large groups of companions and other students from her home or their house from a partition. As she was a wife, this was the necessary rule, but other women may teach without partition but must still observe all the rules of the revelation.[22]

Sports/outings

It is collected in the Jami` us-Sahih of Imam Muslim that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, used to race with `A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, in open spaces and they would do this more than twice. Thus if there are only mahram people present, the sister is not bound to take full hijab.

But if there is danger or concern that others may be present, then full hijab is necessary. There have been many advances made such as at the women’s Olympics, where only females are allowed and it is taped by female camera operators and only broadcast in the stadium.

Some gyms have a female only section and access, the same with swimming pools. But as with any outing, care must be exercised, just as in the example given in the bath houses.

Old age

The one who has reached menopause or is past child bearing age, Allah says the following:

As for women past child bearing age who have no hope of marriage, there is no harm for them if they discard their outer clothing in such a way as to not show adornment. But to refrain is better for them and Allah is the All Knowing, the All Hearing.[23]

We have already studied the commentary on this ayah, thus one can refer to previous lessons for further details.

DISPENSATIONS

Hajj/Umrah

If one has finished the rights of Hajj or Umrah (they are no longer in Ihram), they resume the niqab and gloves, but if not, they will have to wear an unattached hanging veil. When they see men coming close or passing by, they will have to veil. We will take that from the following text,

There is the hadith: Yahya related to me from Malik from Hisham ibn Urwa that Fatima bint al-Mundhir, may Allah be pleased with her, said, “We used to veil our faces when we were in Ihram in the company of Asma bint Abi Bakr As-Siddiq, may Allah be pleased with her.” [24]

As for the veiling while not in Ihram, Imam Ahmad mentioned the hadith from al-Hasan ibn Muslim from Safiyyah bint Shaibah that `A’ishah made tawaf while she was in niqab.[25]

Hospital

Imam Ahmad mentioned that it is permissible for a woman/man to reveal themselves to a doctor during emergency situations when needed.[26]

Identification/Testimony/transactions

Imam Muwaffaq ud-Din Ibn Qudamah, may Allah be pleased with him, explained in great depth,

“Imam Ahmad mentioned the same thing about this area as well. The basis of his understanding was the first three generations, which had taken two historical incidents into consideration. One was in the time of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, when he asked Sa`d, may Allah be pleased with him, to judge in the matter of a tribe. He testified against them by looking at them and they looked at him, face to face.

There was also an incident during the khilafah of `Uthman, may Allah be pleased with him, when a man was accused of theft. He was made to come to court and look at the people and they him. The same ruling applies for buying and selling when a man looks to the face and hands of a woman for identification, transactions or testimony as what happened with the woman in the case of Rifa`ah who came wearing green clothes as mentioned in the collection of Imam Abu Dawud.” [27]

Life/death

When the mother of the believers, `A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her and separated from her camp and lost in the desert, she lifted her niqab as no one was around and she was searching for the way back to Madinah. Due to exhaustion, she fell asleep. When the companion Safwan adh-Dhakwani, who was sent to find her, found her sleeping and called her name, she woke up and lowered the niqab again to cover her face.[28]

Marriage proposals

The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, once married a companion to a woman and he did not look at her face or hands before they were married. He asked the companion, “Have you seen her?” He replied no. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Go look in her face, for indeed the women of Quraish have something in their eyes.” Collected by Imam Muslim in his Al Jami` us-Sahih and classified as authentic. We can see from this that it is permissible to show the face but not compulsory, as the companion had trust and married without evening seeing the bride.

And we ask that Allah makes it easy for us to understand his commands and implement them with goodness.


[1] Surat un-Nur (24), ayat 31

[2] Surat ul-Ahzab (33), ayah 59

[3] Tafsir ul-Qur’an il-`Azim, pp. 1137-1138.

[4] Tafsir ul-Qur’an il-`Azim ,pp. 1137-1138.

[5] Fath ul-Qadir, vol. 4, pp. 303-304.

[6] Fath ul-Qadir, vol. 4, pp. 303-304.

[7] Jami` Li-Ahkam il-Qur’an, vol. 15, pp. 165-166

[8] Lisan ul-Arab, vol. 1, pp. 322-323.

[9] Lisan ul-`Arab, vol. 4, pp. 298-300.

[10] Lisan ul-Arab, vol. 14, pp. 389-390

[11] Lisan ul-`Arab, vol. 1, pp. 904-905.

[12] Collected by Imams al-Bukhari and Muslim and classed by them as authentic.

[13] Ma`alam ut-Tanzil, pp. 903-904.

[14] Tafsir ul-Qur’an il-`Azim ,pp. 1137-1138.

[15] Al Jami` us-Sahih of Imam Muhammad ibn Isma`il Al-Bukhari and classed by him as authentic (English copy: vol. 7, Book 72, Hadith # 715

[16] Narrated by Imam Muwaffaq ud-Din in al-Mughni, vol. 4, mas’alah #3471

[17] Surat un-Nisa’ (4), ayat 22-23.

[18] Surat un-Nur (24), ayat 31

[19] Al-Mughni, vol. 7, mas’alah #5329

[20] Muharrar ul-Wajiz fi Tafsir il-Kitab il-Aziz, pp. 1357-1358.

[21] Safat us-Safwah, vol. 1, pp. 506-507

[22] Safat us-Safwah, vol. 1, pp. 264-268.

[23] Surat un-Nur (24), ayah 60.

[24] Imam Malik’s Muwatta Book 20 Hadith # 20.5.16.

[25] Al-Mughni, vol. 3, mas’alah 2371.

[26] Al-Mughni, vol. 7, mas’alah #5335.

[27] Also see Al-Mughni, vol. 7, mas’alah #5335.

[28] Safwat us-Safwah, vol. 1. pp. 261-262

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