The Islamic Hijab Cover for Muslim Woman
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
(Friday speech delivered by Imam Mohamed Baianonie at the Islamic Center of Raleigh, NC on January 15, 1988)
Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat Al-Ahzab, (verse 59), what can be translated as, "O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the woman of the believers to draw their Jalalib all over their bodies. That will be better. That they should be known so not to be annoyed. And Allah is ever oft-forgiving, most merciful."
In this verse, Allah (S.W.T.) orders his prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) to order his wives, his daughters and all believing women that when they want to go out, they should cover, with a full veil, their bodies, their heads and their necks.
The verse fragment, " To draw their Jalalib " talks about the Jilbab. So, what is a Jilbab? It is a dress that covers the whole body of a woman from the top to the bottom. It is worn over the normal clothes. This is clear from the report of Imam Muslim saying that Um Atyyah (R.A) said, "Oh messenger of Allah, one of us may not have a Jilbab." The prophet (S.A.W.) said, "Let her sister lend her one of her Jilbabs to wear."
What does "to draw their Jalalib" mean? The scholars among the companions and others had different opinions. Imam Al-Hasan said, to cover half her face, Ibn Abbas and Qatadah said, to put it over her forehead and turn it around to cover her nose even if she still shows her eyes, but it covers the chest and the majority of the face. Others said, to cover all her head and her face except for one eye.
The Hijab, being obligatory, upon the Muslim women came in two places in the Qur'an: The one that we just talked about from surat Al-Ahzab, and in another place Allah (S.W.T.) says in surat An-Nour, (verse 31), what can be translated as, "And tell the believing woman to lower their gaze, and protect their private parts, and do not show off their adornment except only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils all over Juyubihinna, and not to reveals their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husband’s sons, their brothers or their brother’s sons, or their sister’s sons, or their woman, or the female slaves whom their right hands possess, or old male servants who lack vigor, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful."
This verse came with many details that are related to the Muslim Woman and in what situation she has to wear Hijab and what situations she does not have to wear it and other issues that we will clarify:
First, this verse orders the believing women to lower their gaze; it is not allowed for them to look at men with a look of desire, and if it happens that she sees what is not allowed for her to see, then she should not keep looking. The first look, which is unintentional and completely casual, does not carry any sin. This applies to men also because Allah (S.W.T.) orders men in the verse before this verse, what can be translated as, "(O’ Mohammed ) Tell the believing men to lower their gaze…" Imam Muslim reported that Jareer (R.A.) said, "I asked the prophet (S.A.W.) about the unintentional casual look, he ordered me to look away."
Second, this verse also ordered the believing women to protect their private parts from Zina and nakedness.
Third, this verse also ordered the believing women not to show their Zeenah, adornments except for what naturally may be shown. The scholars among the companions and other differed about what is meant in this exception. Ibn Mas'oud said that it is the outside clothes. Imams Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Ibn Seereen, and Ibrahim An-Nakha'i adopted the same opinion as Ibn Mas'oud. Sa'eed Ibn Jubair said that it is the outside clothes and the face. Ibn Abbas, Ibn Omar, Ae'shah, Ata', Al-Awza'i said, it is the face and the two hands. Ibn Abbas and Qatadah said it is the eye outline, the coloring of the hands and the ring. Ibn Atiah said it is what shows up in necessity.
The majority of scholars Imams Abu Hanifah, Malik, Ash-shafi'i and Al-Awza'i said that what is meant with the exception is the face and the hands. They based their opinion on the evidence like the one reported by Imam Abu Dawud on the authority of Ae'ishah (R.A.) that said, "Asma', the daughter of ABu Bakr, came to the prophet (S.A.W.) wearing thin clothes. When the prophet (S.A.W.) saw that, he looked away and said, "Oh Asma’, if a woman reaches puberty, she should not show anything from her except this and he pointed to his face and his hand." Imam Abu Hanifah added the feet to this exception because it is more difficult to cover the feet than the hands, and many of the women of At-Tabe'een did not cover their feet when they worked in the country.
Fourth, this verse also ordered the believing women to place their head cover on their necks. Ibn Jubair said, Allah ordered them to cover their necks and their chest so that nothing will be shown. The women in those days used to cover their heads and let the cover go down on their backs like they used to do during the days of Al-Jahiliah, this way their necks and some of their chests used to be shown.
Imam Bukhari and others reported that Aisha (R.A.) said, "May Allah bestow His mercy on early emigrant woman when Allah reveled: "And to draw their veils all over Juyubihinna," They tore their woolen dress and they used it as Khimar."
Fifth, this verse forbade the believing women not to stomp with their feet on the ground when they walk so that they do not sound off their bracelets if they wear them.
Sixth, this verse finished with an order to the believers men and women to repent to Allah (S.W.T.) that leads to success and happiness in this life and the Hereafter.
The conditions required to fulfill in the Hijab of a Muslim woman:
- The Hijab must cover her body completely from the top to the bottom, except what was mentioned above i.e. face and hands.
- The Hijab itself must not be a Zeenah an adornment, otherwise, it would need another Hijab on top of it.
- The Hijab must be opaque or non-transparent so that nothing shows through from underneath it.
- The Hijab must be wide and big so that it does not outline the body of the woman and does not profile her body parts.
It is allowed for a woman to go out in her Hijab for her need:
Imams Bukhari, Muslim, and others reported that Ae'shah (R.A.) said, "A woman called Sawdah went out for her needs after the Hijab had been made obligatory and she was a heavyset woman recognizable to anyone who knows her. When Omar saw her, he said, "Oh Sawdah, by Allah, you can not hide yourself from us, look how you walk out! So, she went back to the messenger of Allah (S.W.T.) and he was in my home (Ae'shah's home) and was having dinner and there was a little palm fruit bunch in his hand. Sawdah walked in and said: "Oh messenger of Allah, I walked out for some of my needs and Omar said to me such and such. Then, the prophet (S.W.T.) received a revelation to him at that moment, then when the revelation was finished, the little bunch was still in his hand, he said, "You had been given permission (Oh’ women) to go out for your needs."
Why Allah (S.W.T.) ordered Muslim women to wear Hijab?
This question comes many times from Muslims and Non-Muslims alike. Allah (S.W.T.) is the Creator, the One who created men and women. He is the One who knows what’s good or bad for His creation in this life and the Hereafter.
We believe Allah (S.W.T.) is the most wise and behind all of his commands there are much great wisdom. The human mind may reach some of this wisdom and others times may not reach it. Regardless of whether or not a Muslim reaches this wisdom, the Muslim must follow and obey the commands of Allah (S.W.T.). This is the true meaning of Ibadah, which is total submission to Allah (S.W.T.)’s commands in all aspects of our lives, big or small.
This answer can be used to answer other similar questions about the commands of Allah (S.W.T) in our life.