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West London Islamic Centre & Jamia Masjid

Islamic Articles::Sisters & Family

Hijab: Elegance in Modesty

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, the Most Merciful, the Beneficent, and the Master of the Day of Judgment. O Allah, Grant Your Peace and Blessing upon Your slave and Messenger Muhammad, his family and upon all of his companions.

Particular consideration has been given by Islam to women's affairs. Such heed is intended to protect her chastity, to honor her and to secure her position in life. What is sometimes considered a 'circumscription' placed upon her regarding her dress and display of her beauty and ornaments is not in fact a restriction on her being, rights or freedoms, but a protection for her and a recognition of her uniqueness.

Significantly, the decision to wear this noble garment must be an individual and independent resolution, though friendly nurture, persuasion and discussion by loved ones is understandable, coercion is not.

With full references from the Qur'an and authentic narrations of the Prophet (pbuh), the article will discuss the Islamic basis of the Hijab, and bring glad tidings promised by Allah (swt) to women who choose to observe this special bond between them and the Divine. It will also highlight the hazards and vulnerabilities of displaying the physical ornaments, grace and beauty endowed upon womankind.

Today more and more Muslim women are reclaiming thier identity and modesty by embracing the wearing of Hijab, at a time when this chaste attire is often ridiculed and viewed as some type of confinement. A Muslim women should face such trials and challanges with courage and dignity, safe in the knowledge that she fulfils this obligation for God's pleasure alone and that the path of the Prophets entails perserverance and patience. Allah (swt) knows our intentions and He is Sufficient for Us and He is the Best Guardian.

The Virtues of Hijab

(1) An Act of Obedience

The Hijab is an act of obedience to Allah (swt) and to His Messenger Muhammad (pbuh). He (swt) says:

'It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have an option in their decision.  And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, has indeed strayed in a plain error.' [Al Qur'an 33:36]

Allah (swt) also says:

'But no by your Lord, they can have no Faith, until they make you Muhammad (pbuh) a judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission.' [Al Qur'an 4:65]

Indeed, Allah (swt) ordered that women must put on the Hijab. He (swt) says:

'And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things) and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts, etc.) and not to show off their adornment except what must (ordinarily) appear thereof, that they should draw their veils over
their Juyubihinna.' [Al Qur'an 24:31].

'O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the
believers to draw their cloaks (veils) over their bodies (when outdoors). That is most convenient that they should be known and not molested.' [Al Qur'an 33:59] 

'Ayesha (ra) reported that Asmaa the daughter of Abu Bakr (ra) came to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) 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.' He pointed to the face and hands.' [Abu Dawood]

The Hijab is not something cultural, it is Allah's command. Its conditions are not Arabian, Egyptian, Pakistani, Somali, black or white American, etc. Its conditions are specified in the Qur'an and Sunnah to provide a protection and safeguarding of women. No one is better informed to what is good for men and women more so than their Creator, Allah (swt). His laws are Wise as it is the case with all of His actions.

We can not deny the harrassment of women that exists in societies. The question is, why does it occur? The answer begins to shape up when we think about the purpose behind creation. Allah(swt) created us for the single purpose of worshipping Him alone. He detailed all the ways to fulfill this purpose in the Last Revelation to all mankind, the Qur'an.

In it we can find how women and men can safeguard their dignity, honor, and morality. The worship of Allah (swt) is manifested in the following orders. Allah (swt) orders that men and women must avoid all avenues that lead to dissolute and indulgent ways of living. The Hijab is one such command. It is an honor and protection for women as well as a true freedom for her body from the hands and eyes of aggressors or from the unwelcome gaze.

(2) The Hijab is Iffah (modesty)
Allah (swt) made the adherence to the Hijab a manifestation for chastity and modesty:

'O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the
believers to draw their cloaks (veils) over their bodies (when outdoors). That is most convenient that they should be known and not molested.' [Al Qur'an 33: 59]

In the above Ayah (verse) there is an evidence that the recognition of the apparent beauty of the woman is harmful to her. When the cause of attraction ends, the restriction is removed. This is illustrated in the case of elderly women who may have lost most aspects of attraction. Allah (swt) made it permissible for them to lay aside their outer garments reminding, however, that it is still better for them to keep their modesty:

'And as for women past child-bearing who do not expect wed-lock, it is no sin for them if they discard their (outer) in such a way as not to show their adornment; but it is best to be modest and Allah knows and sees all things provided they do not make a display of their beauty; but it is best to be modest and Allah knows and sees all things.' [Al Qur'an 24:60]

(3) The Hijab is Tahra (purity)

Allah (swt) has shown us the Hikma (wisdom) behind the legislation of the Hijab:

'And when you ask them (the Prophet's wives) for anything you want, ask them from behind a screen, that is purer for your hearts and their hearts.' [Al Qur'an  33:53]

The Hijab makes for greater purity for the hearts of believing men and women because it screens against the desire of the self and heart. Without the Hijab, the heart may or may not desire. That is why the heart is more pure when the sight is blocked (by Hijab) and thus fitna (impiety) is prevented. The Hijab acts as a barrier for both men and women, against undesired gazes and ill thoughts.

(4) The Hijab is a Sheild

The Prophet (pbuh) stated:
'Allah, Most High, is Ha'yeii, Sit'teer, He loves Haya' (Bashfulness) and Sitr (Shielding; Covering)'. [An-Nissa'ee & Ahmed]

The Prophet (pbuh) also said:

'Any woman who takes off her clothes in other than her husband's home (to show off for unlawful purposes). has broken Allah's shield upon her' [Abu Dawoud & At-Tirmidhi]

(5) The Hijab is Taqwah (Righteousness)

Allah (swt) says:

'O Children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover yourselves (screen your private parts,etc.) and as an adornment. But the raiment of righteousness, that is better.' [Al Qur'an 7:26]

Some forms of dress worn by woman today can be revealing and exhibitionist in nature and do not qualify as a shield of the woman's body. To the believing women, however, the purpose is to safeguard their bodies and cover their beauty as a manifestation of the order of Allah. It is an act of Taqwah (righteousness).

(6) The Hijab is Emaan (Faith)

A'isha (ra) the wife of the Prophet (pbuh) and mother of the believers, addressed some women from the tribe of Banu Tameem who came visiting her and had light clothes on them: 'If indeed you are believing women, then truly this is not the dress of the believing women, and if you are not believing women, then enjoy it.'[Reported in 'Ma'alim As-Sunnan']

(7) The Hijab is Haya (Bashfulness)

The Prophet (pbuh) said:

'Each religion has a morality and the morality of Islam is haya' (bashfulness).' [Related by Imam Malik]

The Prophet (pbuh) also stated:

'Bashfulness is from belief and belief is in Al-Jannah (Paradise).' [At-Tirmidhi]

Bashfulness and belief are fully associated together if one is lifted the other follows suit.

The Prophet said: “If you have no shame, then do as you please.” [Sahih Bukhari]

Shame, the highest level being shameful in front of God from committing sins, is a key factor is avoiding sin, and this standard may also be used to judge whether or not an act is a sin. These sentiments of conscience and shame are a natural consequence to true belief and faith, and this is what  Islam seeks to create within an individual, an Islamic conscience which guides us through life. This inner conscience is what tells the state of the heart of the individual, whether it is alive seeking the truth, or dead, filled with the desires of this worldly life.  Lack of religiosity and indulging in sin causes a person to lose one’s conscience, and it can no longer be used as a source of guidance.


(8) The Hijab is Geerah (Respect & Dignity)

The Hijab fits the natural feeling of Gheerah which is intrinsic in the man who does not like people to look at his wife, sisters, mother or daughters. Gheerah is a driving emotion that drives a man to safeguard women who are related to him from strangers. The Muslim man has Gheerah for all women. Islam considers Gherrah an integral part of faith .The dignity of the wife or daughter or any other woman must be highly respected and defended.

A wonderful illustration of this tenet can be drawn from the paternal conversation that took place between Muhammed Ali (the greatest boxer of all time) and his daughter Hana described in an antidote in her book ‘More than a Hero’. She says he sat her down on his lap and began to explain that everything precious and valuable in this world, has by God’s decree been concealed, conserved and sheltered deep in the earth, whether it is gold, diamonds, rubies or pearls and that they take, time, effort and exertion to attain.  He also explained that if you were to have guests or visitors you would not leave your most sentimental and expensive personal items on display out in the open, you would ensure such things were secure and protected.

This wise, gracious and legendary figure then told his daughter, that you are more precious, beloved and treasured to me than any worldly article and as such it is instinctual for me to desire your protection at all times whether you are far or near and that the clothing of Islam, the Hijab affords such safety and defence.

Tabar'roj (Displaying Ones Charms)
(1) Tabar'roj is a disobedience to Allah (swt) & His Messenger

The one who disobeys Allah (swt) and his Messenger (pbuh) can only harm himself and cannot in any way harm Allah. The Messenger of Allah (swt) said:

'All of my followers will enter Al-Jannah except those who refuse.' They said, 'O Allah's Messenger! Who will refuse? ' He said, 'Whoever obeys me will enter Al-Jannah, and whoever disobeys me is the one who refuses (to enter it).' [Sahih Al-Bukhari]

It is reported that Mu'awiyah (RAA) gave a sermon in Humss (Syria) and mentioned that the Prophet (pbuh) prohibited seven things and that he (pbuh) named Tabar'roj as one of them [Related by Imam Ahmed].  

Abdullah bin Mas'oud (RAA) reported that the Prophet (pbuh) 'used to dislike ten kinds of behavior and he (Abdullah) mentioned amongst them: 'Tabar'roj by means of displaying beautification in an improper place.' [An-Nissa'ee]

Imam As-Siyouti, may Allah's mercy be upon him said: 'Tabar'roj by displaying beautification is showing off to strangers and this is disliked. This is the explanation of 'an improper place.' It is not so if the beautification is done for the husband and family.

(2) Tabar'roj is Nifaq (Hypocrisy)

The Prophet (pbuh) said:

'The best of your women is the affectionate, the fertile (in productivity), the propitious (favorable), the consultative if they fear Allah. The most iniquitous of your women are the Mutabar'rijat (those who do Tabar'roj), the Mutakhayelat (who strut/swagger), and they are the hypocrite ones.'

To wear the clothes that show off the shapes of her her bodily features is demeaning to one's self and Allah (swt) orders His slaves to stay away from sins that disgrace and demeane:

'When they commit a Fahisha (evil) deed, going round the Ka'ba in naked state as in the times of Jahilyeeyah, every kind of unlawful sexual intercourse etc.), they say: 'We found our fathers doing it and Allah has commanded us of it.' Say: 'Nay, Allah never commands of Fahisha. Do you say of Allah what you know not?' [Al Qur'an 7:28]

It is Shaytan (Satan) who orders such sins. Allah (swt) says:

'Shaytan threatens you with poverty and orders you to commit sins. '[Al Qur'an 2:268]

The Mutabar'rigah is a sinful virus that spreads sins amongst society. Allah, the Most High, says:

'Verily, those who like, that illegal sexual intercourse should be propagated among those who believe, they will have a painful torment in this world and in the Hereafter. And Allah knows and you know not.' [Al Qur'an 24:19]

Tabar'roj is a leading cause for the spread of Zina (unlawful sexual intercourse).

The story of Adam and his wife demonstrates how the enemy of God, Satan, was so covetous to incite them to show their private parts in order to spread evil and disgraceful sins. It also shows that the Tabar'roj of women is a primary goal for Shaytan to achieve. Allah (swt) says:

'O children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover yourselves (screen your private parts etc.)  and as an adornment. But the raiment of righteousness, that ismbetter.' [Al Qur'an 7:26]

It is clear that Satan is the one who established the call for Tabar'roj and vanity and showing off. He is the Cheif Executive Officer of those who facilitate and call for the exploitation of women. Satan is the 'Imam' of everyone who obeys and follows him in disobedience to Allah (The Most Merciful).

The Prophet (pbuh) said:

'I have not left after me any (chance) of turmoil more harmful to men than the test of women.[Sahih Muslim]
Adam (pbuh) forgot, made a mistake, repented and asked forgiveness from Allah and Allah the Oft-Forgiving accepted Adam's repentance. The struggle between Adam's off-springs and Shaytan continues. The devil still whispers to drive us, men and women, to disobey God and follow sin. There is no safeguard except returning to God in good faith and repentance, remembering God and asking His help us to overcome lust and desire. For Allah (swt) says:

'And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger after the right path has been shown clearly to him, and follows other than the this, We shall keep him in the path he has chosen and burn him in Hell; what an evil destination!' [Al Qur'an 4:115]

(3) Tabar'roj is a Trait from the Times of Jahileeyah (Ignorance)

The call to bring about the times of Jahilyeeyah were the pre-Islamic arab community would even circumvent the Kabbah (House of God) naked are similar to the call for Tabar'roj, both of which are adverse and destructive, the reason why they made unlawful by the Messenger (pbuh) who said:

'Verily! every matter of Jahilyeeyah is beneath me!' [At-Tirmidhi]

Tabar'roj and all forms of Jahilyeeyah such as false pride and haughtiness, ill thoughts about God, calling for falsehood, setting up rivals with God, usury, severing of the ties of kinship, consuming intoxicants and decadence of all natures is inlcuded.

(4) Tabar'roj is antethical to the Human Condition

To reveal and expose are natural behaviors from the realm of the animal kingdom. Whenever man inclines towards such behaviors he starts his decline to a level lower than the level of vicegerency of the earth which Allah (swt) had bestowed upon him. Allah bestowed a natural inclination or disposition known as the Fitrah in Islam, towards covering, preservation, and safeguarding modesty. To consider the acts of display, exposition, and uncovering as acts of beauty reflects a defilement to the Fitrah and a decline of morality.

The progress of man's civility is linked to his/her covering of the body. The Hijab cover is fitting to the instinct of Gheerah (respect/dignity)which draws its strength from the soul. The so called 'liberation from the chains of covering' is an instinct that draws its strength from lust which incites Tabar'roj and inappropriate free mixing of the sexes. The one who is satisfied with this latter instinct must sacrifice the first one in order to silence the voice of the innate Gheerah in his heart and concious in return for the'enjoyment' of Tabar'roj and free mixing. From this we understand that the Tabar'roj is a sign of corruption of the Fitrah, lack of bashfulness, Gheerah, and insensitivity.

(5) Tabar'roj is One of the Doors to the Spreading of Disobedience

Anyone who carefully examines the Islamic Texts (Qur'an and Sunnah) and lessons from history, can quickley deduce the evils of Tabar'roj and its harm, both in religious and worldly matters, especially when it is associated with the mixing of sexes. Some of its underlying consequences are:
-The competition amongst women in showing off their beauty. This is seduction, and it  can lead to the spoiling of morality and leaves women as articles exhibited for all to view.

-The corruption of the morality of men and women, especially the youth and those in adolescence. Causing many to commit various kinds of sins.

-Adultry and the breaking of family ties and causing a lack of trust between family members resulting in the spread of divorce.

-The commercial abuse and exploitation of women in the world of advertisement and entertainment
- The spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

The Prophet (pbuh) said:

'Sins didn't spread in any particular nation until the people openly indulged in it and as a result, plague and other illnesses that were not present among their predecessors became widespread amongst them.' [Sahih Muslim]

The Conditions for Islamic Hijab

The Hijab Musn't be an Apparent Source of Display

The Hijab itself must not be a display. Allah ordained it so as to cover the beauty of women and not to exhibit. He (swt) says:

'And not to show of their adornment except only that which is apparent.' [Qur'an 24:31]

It is not logical that the Hijab itself be a source of display. Some sisters wear overly attractive covers on their heads. This is contrary to the purity of the Hijab and its essence.

The Hijab Musn't be Transparent

In order for the Hijab to be a cover, it must not be made of transparent material making the woman covered only by name while in reality she is technically uncovered.

The Prophet (pbuh) said:

'In the latest part of my Ummah (nation of Muslims) there shall be women who would be naked in spite of being dressed, they have hair high like the humps of the Bukht camel, they are cursed' [At-Tabarani]

He (pbuh) added in another hadith:

'They will not enter Al-Jannah and would not perceive its odour, although its fragrance can be perceived from such and such distance.(Sahih Muslim]

The Hijab should be Flowing and not Tight

The Hijab is a safeguard against Fitna. If tight, it will be descriptive of the woman's body and this violates the purpose of Hijab. Usamma Bin Zaid (ra) said:

'The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) dressed me with a thick Qubtyeeyah (cotton dress from Egypt) which was a gift that he received from Duhia Al-Kalbi. So I gave it to my wife to wear. He (pbuh) said : 'What made you not to wear the Qubtyeeyah?'  I  said: 'I dressed my wife with it. ' He (pbuh) said: ' Order her to put an undergarment (or gown) under it,because I am afraid it may describe the size of her bones.[Ahmed, At-Tabarani]

The Hijab shouldn't be used to Seek Fame

The Messenger (pbuh) said:

'The one who wears a garment designed for a worldly fame, Allah will make him wear a garment of humility on the Day of Resurrection then it will be set ablaze.' [Abu Dawoud]

The garment of fame is any garment a person wears to make them look famous. This applies whether the garment is highly precious and shows admiration to the life of this world or if it is chosen of a low quality to show lack of interest to this worldly life. The person may put on clothes with distinct colors so as to draw attention, act proudly and/or arrogantly. So the intention behind the hijab should be pure and clear and further one should not become haughty and proud because they fulfil this Islamic directive and begin to look down upon others who do not, for indeed judgement and the secret of hearts are Allah's (swt) domain alone.

My dear sisters, be mindful to Allah (swt) and His Messenger (pbuh) and do not be deceived by those who may 'bless' this action of yours and conceal their true intentions. Do not be deceived and let your response be: ' I am better than those who are in a complete state of display!' There is no excuse to follow this distortion. Know that the fire of Hell has different lower levels while Paradise has different higher levels. So it is proper to follow your sisters who truly adhere to the Islamic Hijab and its conditions. Aim high towards the highest levels of Al-Jannah. It has been related that the Prophet (pbuh) said:

'Look at those who stand at lower levels than you (regarding worldly wealth) and those who stand at higher levels than you in religion (adherence to faith). for this would not make the favors (conferred upon you by Allah) insignificant (in your eyes).'

'Verily those who say: 'Our Lord is Allah (Alone), and then they stood
straight (i.e. they believed in the Oneness of Allah and worshipped none but Him (Alone) and obeyed Him for all that He ordered them) on them the angels will descend (at the time of their death) (saying ); 'Fear you not, nor grieve! But receive the glad tidings of Al-Jannah which you have been promised' [Qur'an 41:30].

Al-Hassan Al Basri, may Allah's Mercy be upon him, said: ' If Shaytan (the devil) looks and finds you continuously adhering to the obedience of Allah he will seek you (i.e. check you) one time after the other. If he finds that you are still holding, he becomes weary of you and rejects you. But if you adhere one time and you do not another, then he becomes covetous: he wants to have you for himself.'

We Hear and We Obey 

The sincere and honest Muslim receives the order of Allah (swt) and hastens to manifest his love for Islam into action and listens to and obeys the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh). He does not give attention to the  misleading ways of the masses of human beings who do not realise their inevitable meeting with Allah (swt), for Allah (swt) negated the existence of belief in those who turn away from Him and from His Messenger (pbuh) saying:

'The saying of the faithful believers when they are called to Allah (His
Words-the Qur'an) and His Messenger (pbuh) to judge between them is only that they say: 'We hear and we obey.'And such are the successful.' [Al Qur'an  24:51-52]

Therefore, there is no choice but to submit to the order of Allah (swt) and no hesitation should exist in following the ruling of Allah (swt). So come for repentance, O my Muslim sister, and watch for words like 'I will repent, I will pray, I will cover with Hijab',because delaying the repentance is a sin that you must repent from and who is to say that you will get that chance! Say as Allah (swt) said on the tongue of Musa (May Allah's peace be upon him):

'I hasten to you, O my Lord, to please You' [Al Qur'an 20:84]

And say as the believing men and women said:

We hear and we obey, we seek your forgiveness, our Lord and to you is the return' [Al Qur'an 2:285]

The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said 'I have not left anything that will bring you closer to Allah and distance you from the Hellfire, except that I have commanded you with it. And I have not left anything that will bring you closer to the Hellfire and distance you from Allah except that I have forbade you from it.' (Sahih Bukhari)