By Dr. Farrukh Anwar

The most appalling fact the current controversy over Hijab has brought to light is the level of ignorance and unfounded opinions passed off as knowledge, especially among Muslims, regarding the teachings of the Qur’ān and the hadith. We really need to educate ourselves before making any theological claim. 

I do not wish to argue on the topics being debated everywhere (even by those who are not qualified to do so). I request those speaking ill about Hijab and many teachings of the Qur’ān to at least study the noble book before commenting on it. The Qur’ān is a book for all of humanity, not just for Muslims. This was revealed in exactly the same words that we find in the Qur’ān; Allah has addressed readers/listeners of the Qur’ān as “Ya ayyuhan naas” (O People!) in several verses of the Qur’ān. 

I quote two verses of the Qur’ān and a few ahadith which speak about Hijab or veil. First of all let us see what hijab means. In the Quran, Surah Ahzab verse 59, the word “Jilabeeb” has been used; it is plural of “Jilbab” which means “a sheet or covering for the whole body especially the head, neck and chest”. In this verse women have been commanded to use it when leaving their homes. After the revelation of this verse the believing women while leaving their homes covered themselves in such a manner that only one eye was left uncovered. In another verse in Surah Noor, verse 31, Allah even provides a list of steps that a believing woman should take to conceal her beauty and also a list of those people in front of whom she need not adhere to veiling.

Now moving on to the ahadith, the word “veil” appears 62 times in 39 ahadith in Sahih Al Bukhari translation. I would like to mention a few here.

  1. Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Hadith No. 130.

Narrated Aisha: Whenever the Prophet ﷺ intended to proceed on a journey, he used to draw lots among his wives and would take the one upon whom the lot fell. Once, before setting out for Jihad, he drew lots amongst us and the lot came to me, so I went with the Prophet; and that happened after the revelation of the verse on Hijab (i.e. veiling). Now from this hadith we understand that hijab was not made obligatory in the nascent phase of Islam. The order or “wahi” regarding this was sent down at a later period in Madinah.

  • Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 8, Hadith No. 368:

Narrated Aisha: 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 unrecognised.

3. Sahih Bukhari, Book 15, Hadith No. 96

Narrated Aiyub: Hafsa bint Sirin said, “On Eid we used to forbid our girls to go out for Eid prayer. A lady came and stayed at the palace of Bani Khalaf and I went to her. She said, ‘The husband of my sister took part in twelve holy battles along with the Prophet and my sister was with her husband in six of them. My sister said that they used to nurse the sick and treat the wounded. Once she asked, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! If a woman has no veil, is there any harm if she does not come out (on Eid day)? The Prophet said, ‘Her companion should let her share her veil with her, and the women should participate in the good deeds and in the religious gatherings of the believers.” The point to be appreciated in this hadith is that if required women may leave their homes but with a veil.

4. Sunan Abu Dawood, Hadith No. 5272

Narrated Abu Usayd al-Ansari: Abu Usayd heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ say when he was coming out of the mosque, and men and women were mingled in the road, “Move back, for you must not walk in the middle of the road, keep to the sides of the road.” Then the women kept so close to the wall that their garments rubbed against it. (classified as Hasan by Allama Albani)  From the above discussion it is quite clear that Hijab is very much an essential and integral part of Islam.

Many medicine bottles have the instruction “Shake well before use” printed on them. Now if the user does not follow the instruction, it does not mean that the instruction was not given. If the person using this medicine unwisely does not benefit from it, the fault lies with him.

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