Hijab, Nikab and Modesty of Women in Islam
The article "Choice, Not Compulsion" by Kajalie Shehreen Islam published in The Star, the weekly publication of the Daily Star on Volume 9 Issue 17, April 23, 2010 got my attention when I received the copy of it in my email box sent for my comments by someone. The story is available online at http://www.thedailystar.net/magazine/2010/04/04/perspective.htm .
Quite frankly, the whole of Muslim world is in a very sorry state when it comes to Islamic knowledge. There are Muslims all around the world practicing Islam as a ‘personal’ religion, but there is no Islamic State so to speak anymore. The concept of the rule of the Caliph what was earlier known as Caliphate or Khilafah is no longer seen in today’s world. The psuedo Caliphate ended officially in 1924 in Turkey by fall of the Ottoman Empire while actual Caliphate disappeared long time ago before the invasion of Ghengis Khan. Since then the concept of Khilafah is lost and forgotten and buried underground. As a result, Islam has now become a ‘personalized’ religion and lost its dynamism as a ‘way of life’ as it once was.
The Caliphate is lost with a purpose. It has been ‘lifted’ to give mankind a chance to experiment with their own petty ideas of governance until they come to a realization that Islam is the best. Caliphate will return again once all the man-made systems would fail. Here is the prediction we find in one of the sayings of our Prophet (SM) –
"There will be Prophethood for as long as Allah wills it to be, then He will remove it when He wills, then there will be Khilafah on the Prophetic method and it will be for as long as Allah wills, then He will remove it when He wills, then there will be biting Kingship for as long as Allah Wills, then He will remove it when He wills, then there will be oppressive kingship for as long as Allah wills, then he will remove it when He wills, and then there will be Khilafah upon the Prophetic method" and then he remained silent.” (Ahmed).
The beauty of Islam would never be fully realized without an
Islamic State. Islam itself as well as mankind as a single nation flourished
under the rule of the first Islamic State established in
What we have today with us is a customized and personalized corrupted versions of “Islam” privately practiced at an individual level belonging to different sects or divisions, each rejoicing with their own groups. There is however some rules and regulations in some countries that can find the roots to the Khilafah that are still in use and practice at the state level in some Muslim majority countries. But in most cases, it is mix-match of the Western and Islamic systems. Therefore, those who are born after 1924 grew up in a hybrid system of secularized Islam. So, none of us have never seen an actual Islamic State and its functionalities to appreciate or fully understand the consequences.
Hijab (meaning veil or cover) and Nikab (means veil covering lower face up to the eyes) is one such ‘way of life in Islam’ that is held by the practicing Muslim women for centuries. There are many different kinds of coverings that the Muslim women use in different Muslim majority countries. Here are some links that one could explore to see the variations:
What's the difference between a hijab, niqab and burka?
At-a-glance: Burqa, Niqab and Hijab
Burqa / Niqab / Hijab Style
There has always been an attempt to denounce it by the
hypocritical Muslims along with their non-believing counterparts to play down
the importance of this concept of modesty of women in Islam. Recently we are
witnessing much higher international pressure against this concept once again.
European nations are banning hijab and nikab use it their countries and the
wave of ban is now entering other countries. Soon it would be difficult for the
practicing Muslims to live in those countries as ‘Muslims’. Thus many would
prefer to leave those countries for the sake of their religious freedom and
“When comes the Help of God, and Victory, And thou dost see the people enter God's Religion in crowds, Celebrate the praises of thy Lord, and pray for His Forgiveness: For He is Oft-Returning (in Grace and Mercy).” (110:1-3).
Watch the videos following the links below:
Thousands of European Embraced Islam in
Priest Jesus Lead Me to Islam, all Christian Must See !!!
American Woman Scientist converted to Islam
British Judge converts to Islam
Michael Jackson convert or revert to Islam
An American actress converts to Islam
Nicole Queen Converts after seeing Youtube videos on Islam
Many Latinos Convert Daily To ISLAM - Live From Venezuela
Islam will enter every house in America
Queen Elizabeth II listening to a recitation of the Quran
Unfortunately, we are witnessing the same scenario in the
Muslims majority countries as well. The so called Muslim leaders with their
poor level of understanding of Islam are ending up taking wrong decisions for
the state and misinterpreting Islam in a negative way.
Many Muslims today do not even know that the Muslim women have been ordered in the Qur’an by Allah Himself to maintain modesty and decency through veil. Here is the verse from the Qur'an:
"And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! Turn ye all together towards God, that ye may attain Bliss." (24:31).
The following verse particularly came for the wives of the Prophet (SM):
“O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (33:59).
It should be mentioned here that use of veils by women was in practice in pre-Islamic times in Judaism and Christianity and as well as in some other parts of the world. It became compulsory in Islam following an incident related to one of the wives of our Prophet (SM) that has been recorded in one of the hadiths that goes as follows:
Narrated by `Aisha (RA):
"The wives of the Prophet used to go to Al−Manasi, a vast open place
(near Baqi` at
Narrated by Anas (RA): "`Umar said, "I agreed with Allah in three things," or said, "My Lord agreed with me in three things. I said, 'O Allah's Apostle! Would that you took the station of Abraham as a place of prayer.' I also said, 'O Allah's Apostle! Good and bad persons visit you! Would that you ordered the Mothers of the believers to cover themselves with veils.' So the Divine Verses of Al−Hijab (i.e. veiling of the women) were revealed. I came to know that the Prophet had blamed some of his wives so I entered upon them and said, 'You should either stop (troubling the Prophet ) or else Allah will give His Apostle better wives than you.' When I came to one of his wives, she said to me, 'O `Umar! Does Allah's Apostle haven't what he could advise his wives with, that you try to advise them?'"Thereupon Allah revealed:−− "It may be, if he divorced you (all) his Lord will give him instead of you, wives better than you Muslims (who submit to Allah).." (66.5)" (Bukhari 6.10).
The verse in question that is referred to in the hadith above is this –
“It may be, if he divorced you (all), that God will give him in exchange consorts better than you,- who submit (their wills), who believe, who are devout, who turn to God in repentance, who worship (in humility), who travel (for Faith) and fast,- previously married or virgins.” (66:5).
Above two hadiths are referring to the following verses in the Qur’an where the wives of the prophet (SM) are referred to as ‘mothers’ of the believers. Therefore, to protect their status among the believers and to place them in the highest level of honor as an example for the whole of Muslim world a strict order came directly from Allah in regards to modesty and veil (i.e., hijab and nikab). Interestingly though, even the wives of the Prophet (SM) did not like the revelation regarding veiling. They were hesitant to comply with this new divine order and showed some reluctance! As a result, the following verse was revealed -
“The Prophet is closer to the Believers than their own selves, and his wives are their mothers…O Prophet! Say to thy Consorts: "If it be that ye desire the life of this World, and its glitter,- then come! I will provide for your enjoyment and set you free in a handsome manner. But if ye seek God and His Apostle, and the Home of the Hereafter, verily God has prepared for the well-doers amongst you a great reward. O Consorts of the Prophet! If any of you were guilty of evident unseemly conduct, the Punishment would be doubled to her, and that is easy for God. But any of you that is devout in the service of God and His Apostle, and works righteousness,- to her shall We grant her reward twice: and We have prepared for her a generous Sustenance. O Consorts of the Prophet! Ye are not like any of the (other) women: if ye do fear (God), be not too complacent of speech, lest one in whose heart is a disease should be moved with desire: but speak ye a speech (that is) just. And stay quietly in your houses, and make not a dazzling display, like that of the former Times of Ignorance; and establish regular Prayer, and give regular Charity; and obey God and His Apostle. And God only wishes to remove all abomination from you, ye members of the Family, and to make you pure and spotless.” (33:6, 28-33).
After this revelation of the Qur’anic verse, an ultimate choice was given to them and they remained in their position obeying the commandment.
A complete chapter (i.e., the 4th Chapter) called “Women” in the holy Qur’an has been dedicated on issues related to women. A great deal of issues has been discussed in the verses in this chapter. While discussing our current topic, I find it necessary to discuss some of the verses from this chapter to understand how Islam sees or view women. Let’s discuss some of them below -
“O mankind! Reverence your Guardian-Lord, who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, His mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women;- reverence God, through whom ye demand your mutual (rights), and (reverence) the wombs (That bore you): for God ever watches over you.” (4:1).
The verse here is addressing mankind as a whole telling us about the creation of the first human being Prophet Adam (AS) and his mate Eve or Hawa (RA). From them, a common root, all of mankind came into existence today.
“…And women shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable; but men have a degree (of advantage) over them. And God is Exalted in Power, Wise.”” (2:228).
This verse is not a part of the chapter 4, but I brought this us to clarify a point. This verse talks about the equality of men and women before the law, but when it comes to fulfilling responsibility, men have been given more responsibility and as such they have been given a ‘degree’ of advantage over the opposite sex. Now why this extra degree and what is the responsibility? The following verse explains it -
“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because God has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband's) absence what God would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means (of annoyance): For God is Most High, great (above you all).”” ().
Coincidently, there is a “Muslim Law” that is in effect in Bangladesh. Although I am neither a lawyer nor an expert in law matters, but I can clearly see that some of the Islamic laws have been modified in secular terms compromising Islamic practices. One such example is on polygamy. In Islam, a Muslim man is allowed to take up to four wives under fulfillment of some conditions, which are as follows:
“If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice.”” (4:3).
Having multiple wives must have a genuine reason. Taking care of orphans is mentioned here as well as ‘dealing justly with the wives’. No other conditions are mentioned, not in the Qur’an not even in the hadith. Now the question is, how and where did our Muslim Law come up with the idea that permission from the first wife is required in order to have a second wife? Is it not like twisting the arm of Islam on a matter that has already been settled? Again we find,
“And give the women (on marriage) their dower as a free gift; but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, Take it and enjoy it with right good cheer.”” (4:4).
There is a common belief and practice among the Muslims in
“From what is left by parents and those nearest related there is a share for men and a share for women, whether the property be small or large,-a determinate share.”” (4:7).
Then from where does our Muslim Law advocate laws contrary to Qur’an and Sunnah? Who drafted those laws? All the laws related to Islam and Muslims should be in full coherence with the Qur’an and Sunnah. If they are not, then they are not Islamic and ought to be rejected.
Our secular law that is in practice in
In this situation and condition, we would not fully understand Islam and would not know fully how to implement an Islamic principle in a secular system. Even we can manage to find a place then the real benefit would not be realized. What we really have is a hocus pocus system deceiving ourselves believing that we have Islam in place and practice where as in reality we don’t.
I have picked up some such dissimilarity and contradictions from the above mentioned article that prompted me to write this article, which is discussed below.
This segment of the quote has some key words that could be analyzed. The high court (i.e., the secular court) is drawing a conclusion in regards to ‘veil’, which is an Islamic mandate. Wearing a veil is a compulsory matter for a Muslim woman to adhere. A practicing Muslim woman is expected to wear a veil willingly without being forced. If she doesn’t then her faith in Islam would become questionable. The sentence is stressing on the importance of the Constitution when it comes to ‘fundamental rights as enshrined in the Constitution’, but at the same time paying a blind eye, when the same constitution is declaring that –
“2A. The state religion.
The state religion of the Republic is Islam, but other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony in the Republic…
8. Fundamental principles.
(1) The principles of absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah, nationalism, democracy and socialism meaning economic and social justice, together with the principles derived from them as set out in this Part, shall constitute the fundamental principles of state policy.
(1A). Absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah shall be the basis of all actions…”
Pay a close attention to this when it says, “Absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah shall be the basis of all actions…”. But in reality we do not see this to be the case. Therefore, we have all the right to ask who are these policy makers in the judiciary that are making the laws for the republic where 90% citizens are Muslims? Are they familiar with the Islamic laws and principles? From their activities it is clear that their knowledge in Islam is not well founded.
“…The Court also directed the Ministry of Education to take immediate steps to implement the Guidelines on Sexual Harassment. (The education officer was made to apologise to the headmistress during the hearing and it was also ordered by the Court that he may be transferred from his current area of operations)…”
“Sexual Harassment” is a new buzz word that is also heard in developed countries. In Bangladesh, as we are shying away from Islam adopting more an more Western culture and systems we are witnessing more and more of male-female conflicts in the society. It is bound to happen as we are acting against the basic principles of Islam and adopting more of secular thoughts and practices in the name of feminism and women empowerment. Islam advocates Muslim women to stay in veils inside their homes and now we are trying to bring them out in the society and arrange a free mixing society totally against the Islamic teaching. Therefore, problems are bound to occur. Even in the so called developed Western societies we see a struggle between male-female interactions. They too have not yet reached the ultimate equilibrium as they think achievable. Thus the struggle continues.
During my undergraduate years in the United States a teacher
in one of my liberal arts course explained what ‘promiscuity’ meant. Without
any hesitation she mentioned that promiscuity allows men to be sexually
involved with the woman he picks and vice-versa without any emotional
attachments or commitments. This explains why the non-believers are so much
against the concept of veil in Islam where women are protected preserving their
modesty and virginity. Therefore, the real intention behind empowerment of
women is to open doors to a promiscuous society in order to destroy families,
marriages, etc. I think we are already witnessing the ill effects of free
mixing of our young generation in the English medium schools and private
Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Two are the types amongst the denizens of Hell, the one possessing whips like the tail of an ox and they flog people with their help. (The second one) the women who would be naked in spite of their being dressed, who are seduced (to wrong paths) and seduce others with their hair high like humps. These women would not get into Paradise and they would not perceive the odour of Paradise, although its frag- rance can be perceived from such and such distance (from great distance). (Muslim, Book #040, Hadith #6840)
We see the so called stars and celebrities of the disbelieving world (including our neighboring India’s Bollywood) acting, singing and dancing wearing only undergarments or bikinis or a blouse and petticots making sexy moves and gestures as a gesture of seduction. These are the women the above hadith is talking about; and our Muslim women are blindly imitating them thinking of them modern and liberated copying those bhavior in Dhalywood. In other owrds, sexual liberation is considered as modernity.
Yahya related to me from Malik from Muslim ibn Abi Maryam from Abu Salih that Abu Hurayra said, "women who are naked even though they are wearing clothes, go astray and make others go astray, and they will not enter the Garden and they will not find its scent, and its scent is experienced from as far as the distance travelled in five hundred years." (Malik Muwatta, Book #48, Hadith #48.4.7)
Our Muslim women should understand clearly that if they follow the footsteps of the disbelieving women in this world blindly then they would end up in hell fire in the afterlife. And what is the punishment like in hell for promiscuity and lewdness? See the following hadith (extracted only the relevant detail):
Narrated Samura bin Jundub: Allah's Apostle very often used to ask his companions, "Did anyone of you see a dream?" So dreams would be narrated to him by those whom Allah wished to tell. One morning the Prophet said, "Last night two persons came to me (in a dream) and woke me up and said to me, 'Proceed!' I set out with them…So we proceeded and came across something like a Tannur (a kind of baking oven, a pit usually clay-lined for baking bread)." I think the Prophet said, "In that oven t here was much noise and voices." The Prophet added, "We looked into it and found naked men and women, and behold, a flame of fire was reaching to them from underneath, and when it reached them, they cried loudly. I asked them, 'Who are these?'… They replied, 'We will inform you:… And those naked men and women whom you saw in a construction resembling an oven, they are the adulterers and the adulteresses;…(Bukahri, Book #87, Hadith #171)
Free mixing of males and females leads to promiscuity in a society. The feminists call for a promiscius society when they call for women empowerment. Their secret agenda is to gain sexual freedom. Hence, the following warning from our Prophet (s):
Yahya related to me from Malik from Yahya ibn Said from Ibn Shihab that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, stood up in the night and looked at the horizon of the sky. He said, "What treasures has the night opened? What trials have occurred? How many are dressed in this world and will be naked on the Day of Rising. Warn the women in their rooms." (Malik Muwatta, Book #48, Hadith #48.4.8)
In a society where men have been predominantly the heads of household running the family affairs, suddenly an attempt is made to bypass them and make women independent disrupting the traditional setup and mindset in open competition with men in all affairs. I do not understand how can there ever be a truce when jobs are scarce and women are not competent enough to beat men in general. Therefore, in my assumption, we are basically looking at more problems down the road that would eventually disrupt family lives in a gross scale affecting peace and harmony in the society.
“…The petitioners also claimed that the imposition of a dress code on women is a violation of fundamental rights to equality, to be treated in accordance with the law, and to personal liberty, freedom of expression and freedom of religion...”
Imposition of dress code is not possible in a secular system. It maybe possible in an Islamic State environment where majority of the citizens are Islamically motivated and there is a willingness to adopt Islamic principles and practices. However, if we apply the ‘freedom of religion’ concept as mentioned above, then the Western world should not ban the veil as they are doing today.
“…Not only was the headmistress on the receiving end of comments with sexual overtones, but the comments were made due to her choice of dress and based on the assumption that, as a woman, she should dress in a certain manner…The issue is really one of choice…”
It is clear that the headmistress in question is not aware as a Muslim that she is required to wear a veil when she is outside her home. On the other hand the commenter was not decent enough to control himself from criticizing her openly and in a harsh manner. A Muslim woman must understand clearly that in Islam, there is no ‘choice’ on the matter of wearing a veil. They ‘must’ wear it if they claim to be a Muslim as we have discussed above.
“…However, women who choose to cover their heads of their own will or from their own beliefs, should not be treated as victims of male domination or religious oppression. It is about the right to personal liberty and the freedoms of expression as well as religion, regardless of sex, gender, class, etc...”
Muslims women who are not obeying the divine order of wearing the veil in public are risking the wrath of Allah. There is no ‘personal liberty and freedom’ on this matter in Islam. If there were, then we surely would have found some indications in the scriptures.
“…This is what the verdict
issued by the
Again the High Court is bluffing us in the name of Constitution by totally ignoring the mandate of the constitution that all actions should be on the basis of Islam, while they are not.
The hypocrites dare even going further in trying to teach human rights to Muslims. Islam was the first religion to introduce the concepts of human rights by introducing women’s rights and gradually abolishing slavery. Here is an example of such a laws that ensures protection and right of a woman in a Islamic society -
“And those who launch a charge against chaste women, and produce not four witnesses (to support their allegations),- flog them with eighty stripes; and reject their evidence ever after: for such men are wicked transgressors;- Unless they repent thereafter and mend (their conduct); for God is Oft- Forgiving, Most Merciful.” Those who slander chaste women, indiscreet but believing, are cursed in this life and in the Hereafter: for them is a grievous Penalty,- On the Day when their tongues, their hands, and their feet will bear witness against them as to their actions.” (24:4-5, 23-24).
Our law makers and judges in the High Court need to understand that they have no right to make any laws on a matter that has already been ordained by Allah and his Prophet (SM). Here is a warning -
“It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by God and His Apostle to have any option about their decision: if any one disobeys God and His Apostle, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path.” (33:36).
The decision on the matter of veiling of women has also been decided in Islam, and there is no option for a ‘choice’ on this matter anymore. If they continue to argue and play games on this matter then it will only make clear that they are intentionally doing it are transgressing the limits and preparing themselves to face a severe punishment in the here after.
“The Hypocrites, men and women, (have an understanding) with each other: They enjoin evil, and forbid what is just, and are close with their hands. They have forgotten God; so He hath forgotten them. Verily the Hypocrites are rebellious and perverse.” (9:67).
“The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practise regular charity, and obey God and His Apostle. On them will God pour His mercy: for God is Exalted in power, Wise.” (9:71).
As a practicing Muslim it was my duty to communicate the actual message of Islam to you as correctly as possible. Please do some homework before addressing any Islamic matters with evidences from the Qur’an and Sunnah to prove your point. Because it is the same Qur’an that demands "Produce your proof if ye are truthful." (2:111).
As representatives of Allah on Earth it is our duty to keep a watchful eye on matter that hurts Islam and Muslim interests. Someone from somewhere would notice any tampering and would object to it, unless the matter skips their eyes and observation. This is an ongoing jihad (struggle) to enjoin good and forbid evil for us.
“They believe in God and the Last Day; they enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong; and they hasten (in emulation) in (all) good works: They are in the ranks of the righteous.” (3:114).
If you are a Muslim lacking Islamic knowledge, find time to read the Qur’an and Sunnah in your own language. Those books are translated in many different languages for our easy understanding including English and Bangla. Therefore, they are no longer just in Arabic.
As a Muslim it is also your duty and responsibility to ensure that Islam is established in all aspect of our lives, not block it or go against it. If you are not sure about your faith and do not like Islam the way it is, then you are free to leave Islam and adopt any other religion of your liking or be non-religious if you like. But please don’t pretend to be a Muslim while disbelieving Islam and remain confused and confuse others at the same time.
“Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in God hath grasped the most trustworthy hand- hold, that never breaks. And God heareth and knoweth all things.” (2:256).
You do have a ‘choice’ in regards to choosing a religion. But when you chose to be a Muslim then you are expected be in full compliance with it. If you are woman and a Muslim, then hijab and nikab is not a ‘choice’ rather a compulsion. Even the women in heaven (Huris) live under veil! See the following hadith:
Narrated Anas: Um (the mother of) Haritha came to Allah's Apostle after Haritha had been martyred on the Day (of the battle) of Badr by an arrow thrown by an unknown person. She said, "O Allah's Apostle! You know the position of Haritha in my heart (i.e. how dear to me he was), so if he is in Paradise, I will not weep for him, or otherwise, you will see what I will do." The Prophet said, "Are you mad? Is there only one Paradise? There are many Paradises, and he is in the highest Paradise of Firdaus." The Prophet added, "A forenoon journey or an after noon journey in Allah's Cause is better than the whole world and whatever is in it; and a place equal to an arrow bow of anyone of you, or a place equal to a foot in Paradise is better than the whole world and whatever is in it; and if one of the women of Paradise looked at the earth, she would fill the whole space between them (the earth and the heaven) with light, and would fill whatever is in between them, with perfume, and the veil of her face is better than the whole world and whatever is in it." (Bukahri, Book #76, Hadith #572)
So you see, a Muslima who is defying this instruction is actually defying a heavenly law. Hope I have been able to clarify the matter. May Allah forgive us and grant us the wisdom to be, remain and die as Muslims. Ameen.