A non-hijabi Muslimah recently wrote to me because she is not convinced that the hijab is a requirement in Islam. She asked me to put forward the Islamic evidences of hijab. In this post I will try my best to do just that using Quranic iyas and authentic ahadith.
1. Surat Al Nur:
– Bism’Allah Al Rahmaan Al Raheem –
“And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be protect their private parts, and not to display of their zeenah except that which is apparent, and to draw their headcovers over their juyub, and not to reveal their zeenah save to their own husbands or fathers or husbands’ fathers, or their sons or their husbands’ sons, or their brothers or their brothers’ sons or sisters’ sons, or their women, or their slaves, or male attendants who lack vigour, or children who know naught of women’s nakedness. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And turn unto Allah together, O believers, in order that ye may succeed.” [24:31]
– “..and not to display of their zeenah except that which is apparent”
i.e. they should not show anything of their zeenah to a non-Mahram man, except for whatever it is apparent (clear, impossible to hide..) – most scholars agree that this refers to the hands and face…- …however, slight differences have arisen amongst the scholars concerning the precise meaning of …except only that which is apparent… from Surat Al Nur which according to Ibn `Abaas (RAA), includes “the face, the two hands, and rings. This view is shared by Ibn `Umar, `Ata’a, and others from the Tabi’een.” [Tafseer Ibn Kathir]. Imam Ash-Showkani states that it includes: “The dress, the face, and the two hands”; Ibn `Abaas and Qatadah have stated: “The adornments include eye shadow (i.e., Kuhul), bracelets, hand dye, and rings, and it is permissible for women to (uncover) them.” [Fateh Al-Qadeer]
– ‘Zeenah‘ (adornment) means 2 things: natural beauty and physical adornments e.g. makeup, jewelry etc
– “..draw their headcovers over their juyub..” The women used to cover their hair but leave their necks and bosoms uncovered. This iya makes it clear that women should cover their ‘juyub’ – which most agree refers to the neck and chest area (and some say includes the ribs) – with a head covering. I know that some Muslims use this iya to back their opinion that Islam only requires women to cover their breasts, however, why would Allah (SWT) have mentioned the ‘khimaar’ (a headcover) when telling these women to cover? The Quran is timeless and applies to nations at any time, if the headcover was simply cultural it would not have been mentioned at all.
2. Surat Al Ahzaab:
“O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their outer garments about themselves (when they go out). That is better so that they may be recognised and not harassed. And Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” [Al-Ahzaab, 33:59]
– Abu Dawood related that Aishah (R) said: “After this Aayah was revealed the women of the Ansar appeared like crows.” (because of the color and shape of the cloaks they wore).
– “..to be recognised..” i.e. as Muslim women (would modest clothing alone allow people to recognise you as a Muslim woman?)
There are other ahadith on the hijab but these are the ones I have picked to post:
– Aishah (R) said: “May Allah bestow His Mercy on the first Muhajirat (emigrants). When Allah revealed:…and draw their headcovers over their necks and bosoms… they tore material and covered themselves with it.” [Al-Bukhari]
– Usamah ibn Zaid said: Allah’s Messenger (S) gave me a gift of thick Coptic cloth he had received as a gift from Dahiah Al-Kalbi, and so I gave it to my wife. Thereafter the Prophet (S) asked me: Why didn’t you wear the Coptic cloth? I replied: I gave it to my wife. The Prophet (S) then said: Tell her to wear a thick gown under it for I fear that it may describe the size of her limbs. [Narrated by Ahmad, Al-Bayhaqi, and Al-Haakim]
– Narrated by Aishah: Allah’s Apostle used to offer the Fajr prayer and some believing women covered with their veiling sheets used to attend the Fajr prayer with him and then they would return to their homes unrecognized. [Bukhari]
– The Prophet (S) said: There will be in the last of my Ummah (nation of believers), scantily dressed women, the hair on the top of their heads like a camel’s hump. Curse them, for verily they are cursed. In another version he said: …scantily dressed women, who go astray and make others go astray; they will not enter Paradise nor smell its fragrance, although it can be smelled from afar. [At-Tabarani and Sahih Muslim]
Also keep in mind that the concept of ‘hijab’ is not an Islamic one but a command from Allah (SWT) to the Jews, Christians and the all of the monotheistic religions before that. It has only been recently that the question of the obligation of hijab has been risen amongst the Muslim ummah, before it was accepted and expected.
I hope that has cleared up your doubts, if not, perhaps you should focus on some other part of your religion and I am pretty sure you will want to adopt the hijab sooner or later, Insha’Allah 🙂