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    What is "Hijab" ?

    Hijab

    III&E Brochure Series
    (published by The Institute of Islamic Information and Education (III&E) and reproduced in electronic form by Islamic Academy for Scientific Research with permission)

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    THE QUESTION OF HIJAB: SUPPRESSION OR LIBERATION?

    "Why do Muslim women have to cover their heads?" This question is one which is asked by Muslim and non-Muslim alike. For many women it is the truest test of being a Muslim.

    The answer to the question is very simple - Muslim women observe HIJAB (covering the head and the body) because Allah has told them to do so.



    "O Prophet, tell your wives and daughters and the believing women to draw their outer garments around them (when they go out or are among men). That is better in order that they may be known (to be Muslims) and not annoyed..." (Qur'an 33:59)

    Other secondary reasons include the requirement for modesty in both men and women. Both will then be evaluated for intelligence and skills instead of looks and sexuality. An Iranian school girl is quoted as saying, "We want to stop men from treating us like sex objects, as they have always done. We want them to ignore our appearance and to be attentive to our personalities and mind. We want them to take us seriously and treat us as equals and not just chase us around for our bodies and physical looks." A Muslim woman who covers her head is making a statement about her identity. Anyone who sees her will know that she is a Muslim and has a good moral character. Many Muslim women who cover are filled with dignity and self esteem; they are pleased to be identified as a Muslim woman. As a chaste, modest, pure woman, she does not want her sexuality to enter into interactions with men in the smallest degree. A woman who covers herself is concealing her sexuality but allowing her femininity to be brought out.

    The question of hijab for Muslim women has been a controversy for centuries and will probably continue for many more. Some learned people do not consider the subject open to discussion and consider that covering the face is required, while a majority are of the opinion that it is not required. A middle line position is taken by some who claim that the instructions are vague and open to individual discretion depending on the situation. The wives of the Prophet (S) were required to cover their faces so that men would not think of them in sexual terms since they were the "Mothers of the Believers," but this requirement was not extended to other women.

    The word "hijab" comes from the Arabic word "hajaba" meaning to hide from view or conceal. In the present time, the context of hijab is the modest covering of a Muslim woman. The question now is what is the extent of the covering? The Qur'an says:


    "Say to the believing man that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that will make for greater purity for them; and Allah is well acquainted with all that they do. And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; and 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..." (Qur'an 24:30-31)

    These verses from the Qur'an contain two main injunctions:


    1.A woman should not show her beauty or adornments except what appears by uncontrolled factors such as the wind blowing her clothes, and 2.the head covers should be drawn so as to cover the hair, the neck and the bosom.

    Islam has no fixed standard as to the style of dress or type of clothing that Muslims must wear. However, some requirements must be met. The first of these requirements is the parts of the body which must be covered. Islam has two sources for guidance and rulings: first, the Qur'an, the revealed word of Allah and secondly, the Hadith or the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (S) who was chosen by Allah to be the role model for mankind. The following is a Tradition of the Prophet:

    "Ayesha (R) reported that Asmaa the daughter of Abu Bakr (R) came to the Messenger of Allah (S) while wearing thin clothing. He approached her and said: 'O Asmaa! When a girl reaches the menstrual age, it is not proper that anything should remain exposed except this and this. He pointed to the face and hands." (Abu Dawood)

    The second requirement is looseness. The clothing must be loose enough so as not to describe the shape of the woman's body. One desirable way to hide the shape of the body is to wear a cloak over other clothes. However, if the clothing is loose enough, an outer garment is not necessary. Thickness is the third requirement. The clothing must be thick enough so as not to show the color of the skin it covers or the shape of the body. The Prophet Muhammad (S) stated that in later generations of his ummah there would be "women who would be dressed but naked and on top of their heads (what looks like) camel humps. Curse them for they are truly cursed." (Muslim) Another requirement is an over-all dignified appearance. The clothing should not attract men's attention to the woman. It should not be shiny and flashy so that everyone notices the dress and the woman. In addition there are other requirements:

    1.Women must not dress so as to appear as men.
    "Ibn Abbas narrated: 'The Prophet (S) cursed the men who appear like women and the women who appear like men.'" (Bukhari) 2.Women should not dress in a way similar to the unbelievers. 3.The clothing should be modest, not excessively fancy and also not excessively ragged to gain others admiration or sympathy.

    Often forgotten is the fact that modern Western dress is a new invention. Looking at the clothing of women as recently as seventy years ago, we see clothing similar to hijab. These active and hard-working women of the West were not inhibited by their clothing which consisted of long, full dresses and various types of head covering. Muslim women who wear hijab do not find it impractical or interfering with their activities in all levels and walks of life. Hijab is not merely a covering dress but more importantly, it is behavior, manners, speech and appearance in public. Dress is only one facet of the total being. The basic requirement of the Muslim woman's dress apply to the Muslim man's clothing with the difference being mainly in degree. Modesty requires that the area between the navel and the knee be covered in front of all people except the wife. The clothing of men should not be like the dress of women, nor should it be tight or provocative. A Muslim should dress to show his identity as a Muslim. Men are not allowed to wear gold or silk. However, both are allowed for women.

    For both men and women, clothing requirements are not meant to be a restriction but rather a way in which society will function in a proper, Islamic manner.

    Mary C. Ali


    ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    INTRODUCTION OF III&E

    The Institute of Islamic Information and Education (III&E) is dedicated to the cause of Islam in North America through striving to elevate the image of Islam and Muslims by providing the correct information about Islamic beliefs, history and civilizations from the authentic sources. Enquiries are welcome.

    For more information please contact:

    The Institute of Islamic Information and Education
    P.O. Box 41129
    Chicago, Illinois 60641-0129 U.S.A.
    Tel. (312) 777-7443
    Fax. (312) 777-7199

    Reprinted with the permission of World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), P.O. Box 10845, Riyadh 11443, Saudi Arabia


    #2
    As a hijabi....I find that that the hijab is not an act of oppression as many think. It is a way of showing your true Iman.
    Here is an essay written by a friend of mine wrote about Women and The Hijab that was published in IINN (Islamic Info & News Network)

    Hijab (Veil) and Muslim Women

    By: Ms.Naheed Mustafa
    "My body is my own business."


    "A Canadian-born Muslim woman has taken to wearing the traditional hijab scarf. It tends to make people see her as either a terrorist or a symbol of oppressed womanhood, but she finds the experience liberating."
    ***********************************************
    I often wonder whether people see me as a radical, fundamentalist Muslim terrorist packing an AK-47 assault rifle inside my jean jacket. Or may be they see me as the poster girl for oppressed womanhood everywhere. I'm not sure which it is.

    I get the whole gamut of strange looks, stares, and covert glances. You see, I wear the hijab, a scarf that covers my head, neck, and throat. I do this because I am a Muslim woman who believes her body is her own private concern.

    Young Muslim women are reclaiming the hijab, reinterpreting it in light of its original purpose -- to give back to women ultimate control of their own bodies.

    The Qur'an teaches us that men and women are equal, that individuals should not be judged according to gender, beauty, wealth, or privilege. The only thing that makes one person better than another is her or his character.

    Nonetheless, people have a difficult time relating to me. After all, I'm young, Canadian born and raised, university-educated -- why would I do this to myself, they ask.

    Strangers speak to me in loud, slow English and often appear to be playing charades. They politely inquire how I like living in Canada and whether or not the cold bothers me. If I'm in the right mood, it can be very amusing.

    But, why would I, a woman with all the advantages of a North American upbringing, suddenly, at 21, want to cover myself so that with the hijab and the other clothes I choose to wear, only my face and hands show?

    Because it gives me freedom.

    WOMEN are taught from early childhood that their worth is proportional to their attractiveness. We feel compelled to pursue abstract notions of beauty, half realizing that such a pursuit is futile.

    When women reject this form of oppression, they face ridicule and contempt. Whether it's women who refuse to wear makeup or to shave their legs, or to expose their bodies, society, both men and women, have trouble dealing with them.

    In the Western world, the hijab has come to symbolize either forced silence or radical, unconscionable militancy. Actually, it's neither. It is simply a woman's assertion that judgment of her physical person is to play no role whatsoever in social interaction.

    Wearing the hijab has given me freedom from constant attention to my physical self. Because my appearance is not subjected to public scrutiny, my beauty, or perhaps lack of it, has been removed from the realm of what can legitimately be discussed.

    No one knows whether my hair looks as if I just stepped out of a salon, whether or not I can pinch an inch, or even if I have unsightly stretch marks. And because no one knows, no one cares.

    Feeling that one has to meet the impossible male standards of beauty is tiring and often humiliating. I should know, I spent my entire teen-age years trying to do it. It was a borderline bulimic and spent a lot of money I didn't have on potions and lotions in hopes of becoming the next Cindy Crawford.

    The definition of beauty is ever-changing; waifish is good, waifish is bad, athletic is good -- sorry, athletic is bad. Narrow hips? Great. Narrow hips? Too bad.

    Women are not going to achieve equality with the right to bear their breasts in public, as some people would like to have you believe. That would only make us party to our own objectification. True equality will be had only when women don't need to display themselves to get attention and won't need to defend their decision to keep their bodies to themselves.
    ***************************************
    22.1 . O mankind! Fear your Lord . Lo! the earthquake of the Hour ( of Doom ) is a tremendous thing .

    Comment


      #3
      As a reminder there are many points of benefit to be extracted from this thread, particularly in light of certain and more recent events, where the Muslim woman who observes the Islamic dress code is being alienated in various regions of the world.

      May Allah reward the brother who initiated this thread and the sister who contributed above, and may He - the Most Merciful -favour them in the Hereafter.

      Sentinel.

      Comment


        #4
        THE WORD "HIJAB" in the QURAN

        The Arabic word "Hijab" is translated into veil. Other meanings for the word "Hijab" include, screen, cover(ing), mantle, curtain, drapes, partition, division, divider.

        The word "Hijab" appeared in the Quran 7 times, five of them as "Hijab" and two times as "Hijaban".

        The verses in which "Hijab" appears are: 7:46, 33:53, 38:32, 41:5, 42:51, 17:45 & 19:17.

        ALL the times the word "Hijab" in the Qur'an has been used as a screen, or barrier.

        Hijab in the Quran has nothing to do with the Muslim Women dress code.

        In reality "Hijab" is an old Jewish tradition that infiltrated into the Hadith books like many innovations that contaminated Islam through alleged Hadiths and accounts of Sunnah. These in reality, came from Jewish origin.

        Rabbis and religious leaders in Jewish tradition and religious books encourage "head cover" for the Jewish woman.
        Religious Jewish women still cover their heads most of the time and specially in the synagogues, weddings, and religious festivities.

        Christian women cover their heads in many religious occasions while the nuns cover their heads all the time. This religious practice of covering the head was established from traditions thousands of years before the Muslim 'scholars' claimed the Hijab as a Muslim dress code.

        The traditional Arabs, of all religions, Jews, Christians and Muslims used to wear "Hijab," not because of Islam, but because of tradition. Men in Saudi Arabia still today, cover their head because of tradition.

        If wearing 'Hijab' is the sign of the pious and righteous Muslim woman, Mother Teresa would have been the first woman to be counted.

        Now let's take a look at what word ALLAH uses to prescribe a dress code for Muslim Women.

        (al-Ahzab 33:59)O Prophet! Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad). That will be better, so that they may be recognised and not annoyed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.

        yudneena alayhinna min jalabeebehinna

        No 'Hijab'.

        Now take a look at the other verse.

        [an-Nur 24:31] And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and zeenatahunna except what appear thereof; that they should draw bekhumurehinna 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 those 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 zeenatehinna. And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards God, that ye may attain Bliss.

        And what is khumurehinna?

        It's from the Arabic word "Khimar" meaning cover; any cover.

        A curtain is a Khimar, a dress is a Khimar, a Table Cloth that covers the top of a table is a Khimar, a blanket can be used as a Khimar..etc.

        The word KHAMRA used for intoxicant in Arabic has the same root with Khimar, because both cover; the Khimar covers (a window, a body, a table . etc. while KHAMRA covers the state of mind.

        In (24:31) Allah is asking the women to use their 'khimar' (khimar, being a dress, a coat, a shawl or anything else that covers) to cover their bosoms,(not their heads or their hair).

        If Allah so willed to order women to cover their heads or their hair, nothing would have prevented Him from doing so. Allah does not run out of words. Allah does not forget.

        The Arabic word for CHEST, gayb is in the verse (24:31), but the Arabic words for HEAD, raas or HAIR, shaar are NOT in the verse. The commandment in the verse is clear - COVER YOUR CHEST/BOSOMS.

        The last part of the verse (24:31) translates as, "They shall not strike their feet when they walk in order to shake and reveal certain details of their bodies."

        The details of the body can be revealed or not revealed by the dress you wear, not by your head cover.

        The best rule for dress code as given by ALLAH is:

        (al-A`raf 7:26) O ye Children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover your shame, as well as to be an adornment to you. But the raiment of righteousness,- that is the best. Such are among the Signs of God, that they may receive admonition!

        Laws are made by ALLAH and he's instructed us to judge ONLY by HIS laws.

        (al-An`am 6:114) Say: "Shall I seek for judge other than God? - when He it is Who hath sent unto you the Book, explained in detail. They know full well, to whom We have given the Book, that it hath been sent down from thy Lord in truth. Never be then of those who doubt.

        Accepting orders from anybody but God, means idol-worship. That is how serious the matter of Hijab/Khimar is.

        Women who wear Hijab because of tradition or because they like it for personal reasons commit no sin, as long as they know that it is not part of this perfect religion.

        Those who are wearing it because they think God ordered it are committing idol-worship, as God did not order it, the scholars did.

        Idol-worship is the only unforgivable sin, if maintained till death:

        (an-Nisa' 4:48) God forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgiveth anything else, to whom He pleaseth; to set up partners with God is to devise a sin Most heinous indeed.

        May Allah give us the wisdom and fortitude to seek ONLY HIM as judge.

        Allah Knows Best

        -------------------------------------------
        These are GOD's revelations that we recite to you truthfully. In which Hadith other than GOD and His revelations do they believe?(45:6)

        [This message has been edited by PakistaniAbroad (edited November 27, 2001).]
        JaddoN kaddya jaloos ghareeba tay shehr ich choatalee lug gayee

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