Ideal Article

keep goingThis article was originally published in Al-Talib, the newsmagazine of the Muslim Students' Association of the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) in October 1994. At the time of its publication, Kathy Chin was a senior at UCLA majoring in Psychobiology and Women's Studies.

I walked down the street in my long white dress and inch-long, black hair one afternoon, and truck drivers whistled and shouted obscenities at me. I felt defeated. I had just stepped out of a hair salon. I had cut my hairshort, telling the hairdresser to trim it as she would a guy's. I sat numbly as my hairdresser skillfully sheared into my shoulder-length hair with her scissors, asking me with every inch she cut off if I was freaking out yet. I wasn't freaking out, but I felt self-mutilated.

I WAS OBLITERATING MY FEMININITY

It wasn't just another haircut. It meant so much more. I was trying to appear androgynous by cutting my hair. I wanted to obliterate by femininity. Yet that did not prevent some men from treating me as a sex object. I was mistaken. It was not my femininity that was problematic, but my sexuality, or rather the sexuality that some men had ascribed to me based on my biological sex. They reacted to me as they saw me and not as I truly am. Why should it even matter how they see me, as long as I know who I am? But it does.

I believe that men who see women as only sexual beings often commit violence against them, such as rape and battery. Sexual abuse and assault are not only my fears, but my reality. I was molested and raped. My experiences with men who violated me have made me angry and frustrated. How do I stop the violence? How do I prevent men from seeing me as an object rather than a female? How do I stop them from equating the two? How do I proceed with life after experiencing what others only dread?

The experiences have left me with questions about my identity. Am I just another Chinese-American female? I used to think that I have to arrive at a conclusion about who I am, but now I realize that my identity is constantly evolving.

MY EXPERIENCE OF BEING "HIJABED"

One experience that was particularly educational was when I "dressed up" as a Muslim woman for a drive along Crenshaw Boulevard with three Musim men as part of a news magazine project. I wore a white, long-sleeved cottonshirt, jeans, tennis shoes, and a flowery silk scarf that covered my head, which I borrowed from a Muslim woman. Not only did I look the part, I believed I felt the part. Of course, I wouldn't really know what it feels like to be Hijabed - I coined this word for the lack of a better term everyday, because I was not raised with Islamic teachings.

However, people perceived me as a Muslim woman and did not treat me as a sexual being by making cruel remarks. I noticed that men's eyes did not glide over my body as has happened when I wasn't Hijabed. I was fully clothed, exposing only my face. I remembered walking into an Islamic center and an African-American gentleman inside addressed me as "sister" and asked where I came from. I told him I was originally from China. That didn't seem to matter. There was a sense of closeness between us because he assumed I was Muslim. I didn't know how to break the news to him because I wasn't sure if I was or not. I walked into the store that sold African jewelry and furniture and another gentleman asked me as I was walking out if I was Muslim. I looked at him and smiled, not knowing how to respond. I chose not to answer.

BEING HIJABED CHANGED OTHERS' PERCEPTION OF ME

Outside the store, I asked one of the Muslim men I was with, "Am I Muslim?" He explained that everything that breathes and submits is. I have concluded that I may be and just don't know it. I haven't labeled myself as such yet. I don't know enough about Islam to assert that I am Muslim. Though I don't pray five times a day, go to a mosque, fast, nor cover my head with a scarf daily, this does not mean that I am not Muslim. These seem to be the natural manifestations of what is within. How I am inside does not directly change whether I am Hijabed or not. It is others' perception of me that was changed. Repeated experiences with others in turn creates a self-image.

HIJAB AS OPPRESSION: A SUPERFICIAL AND MISGUIDED VIEW

I consciously chose to be Hijabed because I was searching for respect from men. Initially, as both a Women's Studies major and a thinking female, I bought into the Western view that the wearing of a scarf is oppressive. After this experience and much reflection, I have arrived at the conclusion that such a view is superficial and misguided: It is not if the act is motivated by conviction and understanding.

THE MOST LIBERATING EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE

I covered up that day out of choice, and it was the most liberating experience of my life. I now see alternatives to being a woman. I discovered that the way I dress dictated others' reaction towards me. It saddens me that this is a reality. It is a reality that I have accepted, and chose to conquer rather than be conquered by it. It was my sexuality that I covered, not my femininity. The covering of the former allowed the liberation of the latter.

It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: "The Messenger of Allah (p) said:

 الْمُؤْمِنُ الْقَوِيُّ خَيْرٌ وَأَحَبُّ إِلَى اللَّهِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِ الضَّعِيفِ وَفِي كُلٍّ خَيْرٌ احْرِصْ عَلَى مَا يَنْفَعُكَ وَاسْتَعِنْ بِاللَّهِ وَلاَ تَعْجِزْ فَإِنْ أَصَابَكَ شَىْءٌ فَلاَ تَقُلْ لَوْ أَنِّي فَعَلْتُ كَذَا وَكَذَا ‏.‏ وَلَكِنْ قُلْ قَدَّرَ اللَّهُ وَمَا شَاءَ فَعَلَ فَإِنَّ ‏"‏ لَوْ ‏"‏ تَفْتَحُ عَمَلَ الشَّيْطَانِ ‏"‏ ‏.‏

'The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, although both are good. Strive for that which will benefit you, seek the help of Allah, and do not feel helpless. If anything befalls you, do not say, "if only I had done such and such" rather say "Qaddara Allahu wa ma sha'a fa'ala (Allah has decreed and whatever he wills, He does)." For (saying) 'If' opens (the door) to the deeds of Satan.'" (Sunan Ibn Majah, The Book of the Sunnah, Sahih)

sisterwalkingpath34On the morning of Thursday, November 6, 1997 my identity became clear not only to me, but to every person I would encounter from that day forward. I decided to wear the hijab and begin to develop myself as a more conscientious Muslim woman. It was on that very day that I revealed to the world that I am a Muslim and that I was no longer afraid to be who I was.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, hijab, it literally means 'barrier' or 'something that covers or conceals completely'. In today's non-Islamic societies, the true meaning of the hijab is often replaced with such notions as scarves, kerchiefs, or 'head-pieces' - as one of my co-workers eloquently put it. Many people are simply uneducated about the why Muslims must dress modestly and because of this profound lack of knowledge and understanding many stereotypes and misconceptions arise.

I am not going to go into the intricate details about the purpose of the hijab or submerse myself in the ongoing debate as to whether or not the hijab is an obligatory practice for Muslim men and women. There are many fabulous books available that go through the ins-and-outs of appropriate Muslim dress. Better yet, I implore all of you to pick up a Qur'an, and read over the verses concerning modesty and dress.

In Surah 24: An-Nur (or The Light), verses 30-31 it says:

"Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity of 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: they should not display their ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty ... "

Today, I am simply here to share with you my personal experiences in hope that you may find some meaning and sense of inspiration in what I have to say.

Raised in a Muslim family, I was brought up with the basic, fundamental principles and values that Islam instills. I was taught to pray, to fast, to be kind-hearted, generous and to share the Deen of Allah graciously with those around me. The thought of one day 'covering my head' occasionally popped into my mind, but the thought that almost always followed was - "Not until I'm ready!" I never really understood what hijab meant. I often thought that it was man's clever way of keeping woman under his control.

I soon came to realize that I very wrong. In fact, the hijab was the perfect outlet for women to seek liberation, respect and ultimate freedom from sexual harassment and the liking. For years and years I would wake up extra early to style my hair according to what was 'in' at the time. I would spend over an hour caking make-up onto my face, trying to look beautiful - but never quite sure for who? Each morning I would eventually make my way out into the world - not really prepared to be judged, solely on my physical appearance, by every person I was to encounter along my path.

Now that I look back at who I was then, it makes me grateful to Allah to see how far he has brought me. For a time, I was confused and somewhat lost, as are many young women in non-Islamic nations - trying desperately to fit in to a society that dictates that beauty is naked, emaciated teenagers on a billboards selling perfume and underwear. I recently read that some of those models and actors that I once adored, practically have to kill themselves to look the way they do. From face-lifts to lipo-suction. Some even go as far as having their ribs removed so they can have tiny waists!

The harder I tried to fit in, the more frustrated I became. It finally dawned on me that the images being flashed in front of me 24 hours a day could not possibly be true representations women's liberation. I was convinced that there had to be a simpler answer somewhere.

It was at this point that I decided it was time to put some more thought into this whole 'hijab' issue. And I did. For 3.5 years I contemplated the thought of wearing hijab, but the fear inside of me was overwhelming. I was afraid of what my friends would say. I was afraid of what my professors and colleagues might think. I was terrified that I would be harassed at work, or even worse - fired! All of these thoughts raced through my mind, day in and day out. Each time I seriously thought about doing it I would say, "But, I'm not ready yet!" A very convenient excuse I must say!

I finally said to myself, "Jennifer, look at the big picture!" Now, when I say big picture, I don't mean next week, or in a few months or even 25 years down the road. I mean the Aakhirah - the Hereafter. I asked myself a very straightforward question: "Who am I going to fear? These strangers who I know not or Allah?" I finally convinced myself that it was time for me to take this step closer to Allah, as difficult as it may have seemed at the time.

As I was having my very last doubt the verse in Surah Al-Baqarah (verse 286, I believe), continued to penetrate my heart: "La yukalif Allah nafsin ila wus'aha". "On no soul doth Allah place a burden greater than it can bear". These are the very words that gave me the courage to finally make the right choice. It was at that very moment that I said,

"Allah, I will wear this hijab because I believe in my heart that you have asked me to do so. Please guide me and give me the strength to do this."

Just over a year has gone by now and I can honesty tell you that I have never felt more free or more at peace with myself and the world around me. In all fairness I will be honest and tell you that it wasn't an easy thing to do. Quite frankly, it was probably the most difficult challenge I've had to face in my life. Isn't it ironic how that works? The things that will benefit us most and that make the most sense are often those we fail to realize or have difficulty accepting.

I've had to deal with a variety of off-the-wall comments. But what it all boils down to is me making a personal decision to increase my faith and become what I believe to be a better Muslim. To me the hijab not only represents modesty, purity, righteousness and protection but truly is the ultimate state of respect and liberation. Alhamdulillah, I am free!

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lightofdawnblueskyLiving in the west, the hijab has become a potent indicator of identity with many non-Muslims viewing it as a political statement. However, it is pertinent to note that the hijab is, first and foremost, an act of worship that women engage in, and an act undertaken to seek the pleasure of one’s Lord.

The definition of a hijab is fiercely contested by many Muslims, and unfortunately most of those who engage in the topic are unaware that it is very much defined by Islamic law, the Shari’ah, and not cultural habits or one’s idea of what modesty is, or should be.

In discussing the hijab, Islamic jurists have stipulated a number of conditions for it to be a hijab in the Islamic sense. In brief, these conditions are that one’s clothing must cover the entire body in a way that the shape of the body is not apparent and the material must not be so thin that one can see through it. Clothing should not resemble that which is specific to men nor the disbelievers. It should not be attractive to men, nor should women be perfumed in public. The main aim of hijab is to stop fitnah; females who are attractive by nature attract the gaze of males which then leads to other greater sins such as fornication and adultery. Allah commanded women neither to display their adornment nor to display any form of behaviour that might attract the attention of men. Allah says,

“And tell the believing women to lower their gaze, and protect their private parts and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils all over Juyubihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms, etc.) and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands fathers, their sons, their husbands sons, their brothers or their brothers sons, or their sisters sons, or their women, or the female slaves whom their right hands possess, or old male servants who lack vigour, 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 all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.”[1]

The Shari’ah also prohibits women from speaking softly for essentially the same reason – to prevent fitnah. Allah says,

“O wives of the Prophet! You are not like any other women. If you keep your duty (to Allah), then be not soft in speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease (of hypocrisy, or evil desire for adultery, etc.) should be moved with desire, but speak in an honourable manner. And stay in your houses, and do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance, and perform As-Salat, and give Zakat, and obey Allah and His Messenger.”[2]

As the verse states, Allah forbids the wives of the Prophet to incite the desires of weak men, and given that this effective cause (illah) is to do with desire which is found everywhere, then this command should certainly be applied to all other women as well.

In fact, scholars from various schools of thought prohibit women from raising their voices in public, even if it be the utterance of the talbiyah during hajj or the adhan (call to prayer) between females. The Shari’ah also prohibits men to visit lonely women and to stay alone with them. It also prohibited men to look at women. Allah says,

“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts, etc.). That is purer for them. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what they do.”[3]

On the streets of London, Amsterdam and other big cities in Europe we witness various types of un-Islamic hijabs. Tight Jeans (also known as ‘skinny jeans’), long leather high heeled boots and tight shirts with a head scarf are all typical representations of the kind of hijab that is now being promoted by many young and middle aged Muslim women. Fancy scarves are also a form of covering that is seen as a ‘Shari’ah compliant hijab’. Indeed, the way many Muslim women adorn the hijab defeats the whole purpose of hijab itself. Furthermore, western women are very fond of attracting the interest and attention of men. It seems that many of our Muslims sisters have been influenced by this and have started to wear clothes to attract the admiration of “brothers” in an enticing way.

One of the main problems is limiting the hijab as being a manifestation of female Muslim identity. When France banned the hijab they looked at it as a religious symbol unable to understand the meaning of ibaadah (worship). However, it is unfortunate to see many Muslims treating it as merely a form of identity, and once the symbolic representation has been accomplished the necessity to perform it in a way that meets its conditions laid down by Allah is overlooked. This is one of subtly reprehensible values that many western Muslims have unknowingly adopted. We have to understand that Islamic practices including observing the hijab are actions of ibaadah. They are meant to please Allah, avoid being disobedient, and earn hasanaat in order to attain a high rank in paradise. Allah says,

And (remember) when it was said to them: "Dwell in this town (Jerusalem) and eat therefrom wherever you wish, and say, (O Allah) forgive our sins; and enter the gate prostrate (bowing with humility). We shall forgive you your wrong-doings. We shall increase (the reward) for the good-doers."[4]

In misunderstanding the fundamental aim of entering paradise, we lose in this life and the hereafter as any other aim is considered by Shari’ah as a worldly one. The reward of worldly aims is given in this life and no reward will be given after death. Allah says,

{Whosoever desires the life of the world and its glitter; to them We shall pay in full (the wages of) their deeds therein, and they will have no diminution therein.} [5]

This is a major mistake that many Muslims fall into when undertaking many Islamic practices. Having the correct aim in wearing the hijab is the first and main step towards a solution for this problem. It should be noted that projecting concerns about this non-shar’ii form of hijab does not imply discouraging Muslim women from observing a limited form of hijab which they have chosen, but instead it serves to encourage Muslim women to progress to observe the correct method of hijab. The intention of this article is driven by the desire for improvement and progress and not to incite women to withdraw from the hijab completely.

Some Muslims posit that we should not be strict in calling for the proper observance of many Islamic practices in the west, and as such, we should encourage Muslim women to do as much as they are, without criticism, even if some do not complete such observance. Undoubtedly we agree to encouraging Muslim women to do as much as they can, but correcting wrong or incomplete Islamic practices is an obligation upon those who know.

It is indeed the case that many sisters are completely ignorant about the conditions of the legally valid hijab, and hence it is incumbent upon us to raise awareness of the legal conditions and features of a correct hijab. Knowledge is the cure for many of our mistakes. Advising sisters who undoubtedly wear the hijab out of good intentions as well as educating their parents is another way towards solving this issue. It might be a good idea to print and distribute some leaflets that describe the authentic hijab in a way that goes beyond merely a head covering.

____________________

References:

[1] 24:31
[2] 33:32-33
[3] 24:30
[4] 7:161
[5] 11:15
 
pearl

One day, a brilliantly beautiful and fragrant flower with attractive colors met a pearl that lives far in the bottom of the sea and has none of these characteristics. Both became acquainted with each other.

The flower said,

"Our family is large; roses and daisies are members of the family. And there are many other species that are various and countless; each has a distinctive scent, appearance .etc."

Suddenly, a tinge of distress appeared on the  flower.

"Nothing accounts for sorrow in your talk; so why are depressed?"

The pearl asked.

"Human beings deal with us carelessly; they slight us. They don't grow us for our sake but to get pleasure from our fragrance and beautiful appearance. They throw us on the street or in the garbage can after we are dispossessed of the most valuable properties; brilliance and fragrance."

The flower sighed. And then the flower said to the pearl,

"Speak to me about your life! How do you live? How do you feel it? You are buried in the bottom of the sea."

The pearl answered,

"Although I have none of your distinctive colors and sweet scents, humans think I am precious. They do the impossible to procure me. They go on long journeys, dive deep in the seas searching for me. You might be astounded to know that the further I lay, the more beautiful and brilliant I become. That's what upraises my value in their thought. I live in a thick shell isolated in the dark seas. However, I'm happy and proud to be in a safe zone far from wanton and mischievous hands and still the humans consider me highly valuable."

Do you know what the flower and the pearl symbolize?

The Flower is the unveiled woman (who shows her charms)

...and the Pearl is the veiled woman (who conceals her beauties).

 

pinkgreenAn insightful and personal account of why a Western teenage girl would reject the 'wonders' of fashion, and want to cover herself in the Hijab (veil).

I probably do not fit into the preconceived notion of a “rebel”. I have no visible tattoos and minimal piercing. I do not possess a leather jacket. In fact, when most people look at me, their first thought usually is something along the lines of “oppressed female”. The brave individuals who have mustered the courage to ask me about the way I dress usually have questions like, “Do your parents make you wear that?” or, “Don’t you find that really unfair?”

A while back, a couple of girls in Montreal were kicked out of school for dressing like I do. It seems strange that a little piece of cloth would make for such a controversy. Perhaps the fear is that I am harboring an Uzi machine gun underneath it! Of course, the issue at hand is more than a mere piece of cloth. I am a Muslim woman who, like millions of other Muslim women across the globe, chooses to wear a Hijab. And the concept of the Hijab, contrary to popular opinion, is actually one of the most fundamental aspects of female empowerment. When I cover myself, I make it virtually impossible for people to judge me according to the way I look. I cannot be categorized because of my attractiveness or lack thereof. Compare this to life in today’s society: We are constantly sizing one another up on the basis of our clothing, jewelry, hair and makeup. What kind of depth can there be in a world like this?

Yes, I have a body, a physical manifestation upon this Earth. But it is the vessel of an intelligent mind and a strong spirit. It is not for the beholder to leer at or to use in advertisements to sell everything from beer to cars. Because of the superficiality of the world in which we live, external appearances are so stressed that the value of the individual counts for almost nothing. It is a myth that women in today’s society are liberated. What kind of freedom can there be when a woman cannot walk down the street without every aspect of her physical self being “checked out”? When I wear the Hijab I feel safe from all of this. I can rest assured that no one is looking at me and making assumptions about my character from the length of my skirt. There is a barrier between me and those who would exploit me.

I am first and foremost a human being, one of the saddest truths of our time is the question of the beauty myth and female self-image. Reading popular teenage magazines, you can instantly find out what kind of body image is “in” or “out”. And if you have the “wrong” body type, well, then, you’re just going to change it, aren’t you? After all, there is no way you can be overweight and still be beautiful. Look at any advertisement. Is a woman being used to sell the product? How old is she? How attractive is she? What is she wearing? More often than not, that woman will be no older than her early 20s, taller, slimmer, and more attractive than average, and dressed in skimpy clothing. Why do we allow ourselves to be manipulated like this? Whether women today wish to believe it or not, they are trying to be forced into a mould. The woman today is being coerced into selling herself, into compromising herself. This is why we have 13-year-old girls sticking their fingers down their throats to vomit and overweight adolescents hanging themselves.

When people ask me if I feel oppressed, I can honestly say no. I made this decision of my own free will. I like the fact that I am taking control of the way other people perceive me. I enjoy the fact that I don’t give anyone anything to look at and that I have released myself from the bondage of the swinging pendulum of the fashion industry and other institutions that exploit females. My body is my own business. Nobody can tell me how I should look or whether or not I am beautiful. I know that there is more to me than that. I am also able to say no comfortably when people ask me if I feel as if my sexuality is being repressed. I have taken control of my sexuality. I am thankful I will never have to suffer the fate of trying to lose/ gain weight or trying to find the exact lipstick shade that will go with my skin color - just to show the public at large. I have made choices about what my priorities are and these are not among them.

So next time you see me, don’t look at me sympathetically. I am not under duress or a male-worshiping female captive from those barbarous Arab deserts. I follow the Law of God, I’ve been liberated!

 

"Why do Muslim women have to cover their heads?"

beautiful-infrared-photographyThis question is one which is asked by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. For many women it is the truest test of being a Muslim.

The answer to the question is very simple - Muslim women observe Hijaab (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)

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. A school girl was  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. 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. Those 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.

Even more so, 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 requirements for a Muslim woman's dress also apply to the Muslim man's clothing with the difference being mainly in degree. For men, 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.

 

beautiful flowerNine years ago, I danced my newborn daughter around my North Carolina living room to the music of "Free to Be...You and Me", the '70s children's classic whose every lyric about tolerance and gender equality I had memorized as a girl growing up in California.

My Libyan-born husband, Ismail, sat with her for hours on our screened porch, swaying back and forth on a creaky metal rocker and singing old Arabic folk songs, and took her to a Muslim sheikh who chanted a prayer for long life into her tiny, velvety ear.

She had espresso eyes and lush black lashes like her father's, and her milky-brown skin darkened quickly in the summer sun. We named her Aliya, which means "exalted" in Arabic, and agreed we would raise her to choose what she identified with most from our dramatically different backgrounds.

I secretly felt smug about this agreement -- confident that she would favor my comfortable American lifestyle over his modest Muslim upbringing. Ismail's parents live in a squat stone house down a winding dirt alley outside Tripoli. Its walls are bare except for passages from the Quran engraved onto wood, its floors empty but for thin cushions that double as bedding at night.

My parents live in a sprawling home in Santa Fe with a three-car garage, hundreds of channels on the flat-screen TV, organic food in the refrigerator, and a closetful of toys for the grandchildren.

I imagined Aliya embracing shopping trips to Whole Foods and the stack of presents under the Christmas tree, while still fully appreciating the melodic sound of Arabic, the honey-soaked baklava Ismail makes from scratch, the intricate henna tattoos her aunt drew on her feet when we visited Libya. Not once did I imagine her falling for the head covering worn by Muslim girls as an expression of modesty.

Last summer we were celebrating the end of Ramadan with our Muslim community at a festival in the parking lot behind our local mosque. Children bounced in inflatable fun houses while their parents sat beneath a plastic tarp nearby, shooing flies from plates of curried chicken, golden rice, and baklava.

Aliya and I wandered past rows of vendors selling prayer mats, henna tattoos, and Muslim clothing. When we reached a table displaying head coverings, Aliya turned to me and pleaded, "Please, Mom -- can I have one?"

She riffled through neatly folded stacks of headscarves while the vendor, an African-American woman shrouded in black, beamed at her. I had recently seen Aliya cast admiring glances at Muslim girls her age.

I quietly pitied them, covered in floor-length skirts and long sleeves on even the hottest summer days, as my best childhood memories were of my skin laid bare to the sun: feeling the grass between my toes as I ran through the sprinkler on my front lawn; wading into an icy river in Idaho, my shorts hitched up my thighs, to catch my first rainbow trout; surfing a rolling emerald wave off the coast of Hawaii. But Aliya envied these girls and had asked me to buy her clothes like theirs. And now a headscarf.

In the past, my excuse was that they were hard to find at our local mall, but here she was, offering to spend ten dollars from her own allowance to buy the forest green rayon one she clutched in her hand. I started to shake my head emphatically "no," but caught myself, remembering my commitment to Ismail. So I gritted my teeth and bought it, assuming it would soon be forgotten.

That afternoon, as I was leaving for the grocery store, Aliya called out from her room that she wanted to come.

A moment later she appeared at the top of the stairs -- or more accurately, half of her did. From the waist down, she was my daughter: sneakers, bright socks, jeans a little threadbare at the knees. But from the waist up, this girl was a stranger. Her bright, round face was suspended in a tent of dark cloth like a moon in a starless sky.

"Are you going to wear that?" I asked.

"Yeah," she said slowly, in that tone she had recently begun to use with me when I state the obvious.

On the way to the store, I stole glances at her in my rearview mirror. She stared out the window in silence, appearing as aloof and unconcerned as a Muslim dignitary visiting our small Southern town -- I, merely her chauffeur.

I bit my lip. I wanted to ask her to remove her head covering before she got out of the car, but I couldn't think of a single logical reason why, except that the sight of it made my blood pressure rise. I'd always encouraged her to express her individuality and to resist peer pressure, but now I felt as self-conscious and claustrophobic as if I were wearing that headscarf myself.

In the Food Lion parking lot, the heavy summer air smothered my skin. I gathered the damp hair on my neck into a ponytail, but Aliya seemed unfazed by the heat. We must have looked like an odd pair: a tall blonde woman in a tank top and jeans cupping the hand of a four-foot-tall Muslim. I drew my daughter closer and the skin on my bare arms prickled -- as much from protective instinct as from the blast of refrigerated air that hit me as I entered the store.

As we maneuvered our cart down the aisles, shoppers glanced at us like we were a riddle they couldn't quite solve, quickly dropping their gaze when I caught their eye.

In the produce aisle, a woman reaching for an apple fixed me with an overly bright, solicitous smile that said "I embrace diversity and I am perfectly fine with your child." She looked so earnest, so painfully eager to put me at ease, that I suddenly understood how it must feel to have a child with an obvious disability, and all the curiosity or unwelcome sympathies from strangers it evokes.

At the checkout line, an elderly Southern woman clasped her bony hands together and bent slowly down toward Aliya. "My, my," she drawled, wobbling her head in disbelief. "Don't you look absolutely precious!" My daughter smiled politely, then turned to ask me for a pack of gum.

In the following days, Aliya wore her headscarf to the breakfast table over her pajamas, to a Muslim gathering where she was showered with compliments, and to the park, where the moms with whom I chatted on the bench studiously avoided mentioning it altogether.

Later that week, at our local pool, I watched a girl only a few years older than Aliya play Ping-Pong with a boy her age. She was caught in that awkward territory between childhood and adolescence -- narrow hips, skinny legs, the slightest swelling of new breasts -- and she wore a string bikini.

Her opponent wore an oversize T-shirt and baggy trunks that fell below his knees, and when he slammed the ball at her, she lunged for it while trying with one hand to keep the slippery strips of spandex in place. I wanted to offer her a towel to wrap around her hips, so she could lose herself in the contest and feel the exhilaration of making a perfect shot.

It was easy to see why she was getting demolished at this game: Her near-naked body was consuming her focus. And in her pained expression I recognized the familiar mix of shame and excitement I felt when I first wore a bikini.

At 14, I skittered down the halls of high school like a squirrel in traffic: hugging the walls, changing direction in midstream, darting for cover. Then I went to Los Angeles to visit my aunt Mary during winter break. Mary collected mermaids, kept a black-and-white photo of her long-haired Indian guru on her dresser, and shopped at a tiny health food store that smelled of patchouli and peanut butter. She took me to Venice Beach, where I bought a cheap bikini from a street vendor.

Dizzy with the promise of an impossibly bright afternoon, I thought I could be someone else -- glistening and proud like the greased-up bodybuilders on the lawn, relaxed and unself-conscious as the hippies who lounged on the pavement with lit incense tucked behind their ears. In a beachside bathroom with gritty cement floors, I changed into my new two-piece suit.

Goose bumps spread across my chubby white tummy and the downy white hairs on my thighs stood on end -- I felt as raw and exposed as a turtle stripped of its shell. And when I left the bathroom, the stares of men seemed to pin me in one spot even as I walked by.

In spite of a strange and mounting sense of shame, I was riveted by their smirking faces; in their suggestive expressions I thought I glimpsed some vital clue to the mystery of myself. What did these men see in me -- what was this strange power surging between us, this rapidly shifting current that one moment made me feel powerful and the next unspeakably vulnerable?

I imagined Aliya in a string bikini in a few years. Then I imagined her draped in Muslim attire. It was hard to say which image was more unsettling. I thought then of something a Sufi Muslim friend had told me: that Sufis believe our essence radiates beyond our physical bodies -- that we have a sort of energetic second skin, which is extremely sensitive and permeable to everyone we encounter. Muslim men and women wear modest clothing, she said, to protect this charged space between them and the world.

Growing up in the '70s in Southern California, I had learned that freedom for women meant, among other things, fewer clothes, and that women could be anything -- and still look good in a bikini. Exploring my physical freedom had been an important part of my process of self-discovery, but the exposure had come at a price.

Since that day in Venice Beach, I'd spent years learning to swim in the turbulent currents of attraction -- wanting to be desired, resisting others' unwelcome advances, plumbing the mysterious depths of my own longing.

I'd spent countless hours studying my reflection in the mirror -- admiring it, hating it, wondering what others thought of it -- and it sometimes seemed to me that if I had applied the same relentless scrutiny to another subject I could have become enlightened, written a novel, or at least figured out how to grow an organic vegetable garden.

On a recent Saturday morning, in the crowded dressing room of a large department store, I tried on designer jeans alongside college girls in stiletto heels, young mothers with babies fussing in their strollers, and middle-aged women with glossed lips pursed into frowns. One by one we filed into changing rooms, then lined up to take our turn on a brightly lit pedestal surrounded by mirrors, cocking our hips and sucking in our tummies and craning our necks to stare at our rear ends.

When it was my turn, my heart felt as tight in my chest as my legs did in the jeans. My face looked drawn under the fluorescent lights, and suddenly I was exhausted by all the years I'd spent doggedly chasing the carrot of self-improvement, while dragging behind me a heavy cart of self-criticism.

At this stage in her life, Aliya is captivated by the world around her -- not by what she sees in the mirror. Last summer she stood at the edge of the Blue Ridge Parkway, stared at the blue-black outline of the mountains in the distance, their tips swaddled by cottony clouds, and gasped. "This is the most beautiful thing I ever saw," she whispered. Her wide-open eyes were a mirror of all that beauty, and she stood so still that she blended into the lush landscape, until finally we broke her reverie by tugging at her arm and pulling her back to the car.

At school it's different. In her fourth-grade class, girls already draw a connection between clothing and popularity. A few weeks ago, her voice rose in anger as she told me about a classmate who had ranked all the girls in class according to how stylish they were.

I understood then that while physical exposure had liberated me in some ways, Aliya could discover an entirely different type of freedom by choosing to cover herself.

I have no idea how long Aliya's interest in Muslim clothing will last. If she chooses to embrace Islam, I trust the faith will bring her tolerance, humility, and a sense of justice -- the way it has done for her father. And because I have a strong desire to protect her, I will also worry that her choice could make life in her own country difficult. She has recently memorized the fatiha, the opening verse of the Quran, and she is pressing her father to teach her Arabic. She's also becoming an agile mountain biker who rides with me on wooded trails, mud spraying her calves as she navigates the swollen creek.

The other day, when I dropped her off at school, instead of driving away from the curb in a rush as I usually do, I watched her walk into a crowd of kids, bent forward under the weight of her backpack as if she were bracing against a storm. She moved purposefully, in such a solitary way -- so different from the way I was at her age, and I realized once again how mysterious she is to me.

It's not just her head covering that makes her so: It's her lack of concern for what others think about her. It's finding her stash of Halloween candy untouched in her drawer, while I was a child obsessed with sweets. It's the fact that she would rather dive into a book than into the ocean -- that she gets so consumed with her reading that she can't hear me calling her from the next room.

I watched her kneel at the entryway to her school and pull a neatly folded cloth from the front of her pack, where other kids stash bubble gum or lip gloss. Then she slipped it over her head, and her shoulders disappeared beneath it like the cape her younger brother wears when he pretends to be a superhero.

As I pulled away from the curb, I imagined that headscarf having magical powers to protect her boundless imagination, her keen perception, and her unself-conscious goodness. I imagined it shielding her as she journeys through that house of mirrors where so many young women get trapped in adolescence, buffering her from the dissatisfaction that clings in spite of the growing number of choices at our fingertips, providing safe cover as she takes flight into a future I can only imagine.

Source: CNN.

 

sisterparkMost Muslims are familiar with the various reasons that Allaah has required women to wear Hijab: The Hijab reflects modesty, purity and respect; it lessens temptation so that more serious sins will be avoided; it protects women from the harm and molestation of evil men; a woman who wears hijab will be evaluated for her intelligence and skills rather than her appearance.

One important aspect that is often overlooked, however, is that the Hijab is a symbol of Muslim identity. A woman who covers her head is making a statement that she is a member of the Muslim community and that she follows a particular code of moral conduct.

Allaah says, "O Prophet, tell your wives and daughters and the believing women to draw their outer garments around them. That is more suitable that they will be known (as Muslims and chaste believing women) and not be abused." [Qur'an, 33:59]

***
"...that they will be known..."
 
In the west, where Islam is the fastest growing religion (alhumdullilah), many people are coming to know what this head-covering really signifies and to understand the religion that mandates it. The Hijab, in effect, is an amazingly powerful tool for Da'wah; one that Muslims themselves are probably not even aware of. As with any tool, the key for effectiveness is appropriate and knowledgeable use.
 
The most obvious first step would be for Muslim women to actually wear the Hijab. It is a tragic and upsetting phenomenon to see so many Muslims dressing in the manner of the disbelievers (blue jeans, T-shirts, short skirts, even shorts). The Prophet, sallAllaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said; "Whoever resembles a people is one of them." (Abu Dawood). This is not only happening in America and other Western countries as people attempt to assimilate and adopt the practices of the prevailing culture, but it is also occurring in Muslim countries at an alarming rate.
 
A woman who refuses to wear the Hijab is disobeying Allaah and committing a serious sin, putting worldly pleasures above spiritual attainment, and neglecting her duty to the religion of Islam. Many scholars agree that the only reason a Muslim may live in a non-Muslim country is to conduct Da'wah and bring people to the true religion. How can a woman perform Da'wah for Islam when she is not even practicing it herself? To do this would be a form of hypocrisy and it will not be successful.
 
Once a woman begins to wear Hijab she completes a large portion of her responsibility for Da'wah with very little effort. Each time that she goes to the grocery store, the library, to work, to school, or to any other public place, she is spreading the magnificent message of Islam. This is not only because of the outer Hijab that she wears, but more importantly, the modesty of her behavior that accompanies it. When a woman refrains from flirting with men, limits physical contact, and is reserved and respectful, people may become curious and want to learn more about this intriguing faith. It may just sow the seeds of something wonderful.
 
At the University where I teach (which happens to be a private, Catholic school), women are often interested in my manner of dress and demeanor. Each semester I have at least one student who requests my involvement in a project for another class, usually comparative religions. They are surprised when they learn the rationale for this injunction and the fact that it was part of their religious heritage as well. If I chose not to wear Hijab, I would miss these wonderful opportunities to share the beauty, peace and universality of my faith.
 
When there is the possibility for further discussion with those who are interested, knowledge and understanding of the topic are imperative. A very effective technique is to relate the concept to something that is familiar to the other person. Some examples of questions that could be posed include:
  • "Did you every wonder why Mary, the mother Jesus (peace be upon him) wore clothing very similar to that of Muslims?"
  • "Why do Catholic nuns dress the way they do?"
  • "Did you know that in the Canon laws of the Catholic church today there is a law that requires women to cover their heads in church?"
  • "Have you read in I Corinthians (Bible, 11:3-10) the verses that Paul wrote,
'Every man who prays of prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. And evey woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head - it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman doesn't cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or shaved off, she should cover her head."
  • "Did you know that there are some Christian denominations, namely the Amish and the Mennonites, who still require women to wear the head covering?"
  • "Were you aware that is was the custom of Jewish women to go out in public with a head covering and that some denominations still practice this today?"

These discussion points demonstrate the obvious fact that the head cover was not introduced by Islam, but rather that this requirement has been in place for thousands of years. This can also be a cogent segue to more crucial topics such as the fact that Moses, peace be upon him, Jesus, peace be upon him and Muhammad, sallAllaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, were all Prophets of the same God and that they each carried the same basic message. Islam corrected the errors that had been introduced into previous revelations by humans and completed the process that was planned by Allaah, the Almighty.

We should be proud to be Muslim. We should also be grateful for the gift that Allaah has given to each one of us: The perfect truth of Islam that is our key to paradise. All others are being deluded by Satan and following paths to destruction. With our gift comes the responsibility to share the truth with those who are less fortunate. We are all responsible to carry the light of Islam. The proper Hijab is an outward manifestation of this light that burns within, and it can be an effective tool for fulfillment of our obligation. We choose whether to develop this light into a bright, radiant star or let it be extinguished by foolish and selfish desires.

May Allaah guide each of us to the true path. Aameen.

 

question23This is a good question and there is a beautiful answer! Allaah, the Almighty, has commanded us with actions that are good for us and prohibited us from performing actions that are bad for us. Allaah, the Almighty, orders the Muslim woman to wear the Hijaab when she steps out of the security of her home or when in the presence of strange men.

Therefore, my dear Sister, to wear the Hijaab is a source of great good for you – the Muslim woman - for many reasons. Among them are:

1. In Pursuit of Allah's Pleasure.

You are obeying the commands of your Lord when you wear the Hijaab and you can expect great rewards in return.

2. It is Allaah’s protection of your natural beauty.

You are too precious to be "on display" for each man to see.

3. It is Allaah’s preservation of your chastity.

4. Allaah purifies your heart and mind through the Hijaab.

5. Allaah beautifies your inner and outer countenance with Hijaab.

Outwardly your Hijaab reflects innocence, purity, modesty, shyness, serenity, contentment and obedience to your Lord. Inwardly you must try your best to cultivate the same.

6. Allaah defines your femininity through the Hijaab.

You are a woman who respects her womanhood. Allaah, the Almighty, wants you to be respected by others, and for you to respect yourself.

7. Allaah raises your dignity through the Hijaab. When a strange man looks at you, he respects you because he sees that you respect yourself.

8. Allaah protects your honour through your Hijaab.

Most men will not gaze at you in a sensual way, they won't approach you in a sensual way, and neither will they speak to you in a sensual way. Rather, many men will hold you in high esteem and that is just by one glance at you!

9. Allaah gives you nobility through the Hijaab.

You are noble not degraded because you covered not naked.

10. Allaah demonstrates your equality as a Muslim woman through the Hijaab.

Your Lord bestows upon you equal worth as your male counterpart, and gives you a host of beautiful rights and liberties. You express your acceptance of these unique rights by putting on the Hijaab.

11. Allaah defines your role as a Muslim woman through the Hijaab.

You are someone with important duties. You are a reflection of a woman of action not idle pursuits. You display your sense of direction and purpose through your Hijaab. You are someone that people take seriously.

12. Allaah expresses your independence through the Hijaab.

You are stating clearly that you are an obedient servant of the Greatest Master. You will obey no one else and follow no other way. You are not a slave to any man, nor a slave to any nation. You are free and independent from all man-made systems.

13. Allaah gives you the freedom of movement and expression through the Hijaab.

You are able to move about and communicate with less fear of harassment, in comparison to other women. Infact, your Hijaab gives you a unique confidence.

14. Allaah wants others to treat you – a Muslim woman - with kindness.

The Hijaab will bring about the best treatment of many men towards you.

15. Allaah wants your beauty to be preserved and saved for just one man to enjoy – your husband.

16. Allaah helps you to enjoy a successful marriage through wearing Hijaab.

Because you reserve your beauty for one man alone, your husband’s love for you, Allah Willing, will increase. He will cherish you more, respect you more and honour you more. Therefore, your Hijaab will contribute towards a successful and lasting marriage relationship.

17. Allaah brings about peace and stability in the society through the Hijaab!

Yes, this is true! Men will not cause corruption by forming illegal relationships because you - the Muslim woman - calm their passions. When a man looks at you, he feels at ease, not tempted to fornicate and date.

***

Therefore, a Muslim woman in Hijaab is dignified, not dishonoured, noble, not degraded, liberated, not subjugated, purified, not sullied, independent, not a slave, protected, not exposed, respected, not laughed at, confident, not insecure, obedient, not a sinner, rather: a guarded pearl.

Dear Muslim sister! Come towards the gates of Paradise with us! Fulfil your duties towards Allaah ('azza wa jall), put on your Hijaab, and race towards Paradise by doing this good actions. You should agree by now that wearing Hijaab is extremely beneficial – it must be - because Allaah only commands what is good.

{Their reward is with their Lord: Gardens of Eden underneath which rivers flow wherein they will dwell for ever; Allaah is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Him; this is (in store) for whoever fears his Lord.}

(Sooratul-Bayyinah, [98]:8)

 

path1One of the most difficult decisions many Muslim sisters face is the decision to start wearing Hijab. This is certainly true for reverts, but may also be true for sisters whose families or even whose cultures are not particularly observant.

As a revert myself, I have been through the same thing. I would like to offer some advice that I hope will be helpful to sisters who are considering to wear the Hijab but find that something is holding them back. Here is some advice based on my own experiences:

  • Deciding to wear Hijab

This is where the difficulties usually come in. For many sisters, it truly is a Jihad (struggle). I remember very vividly how scared I was the first day I put on the headscarf and went out into public. As long as you are just wearing the modest clothes, nobody has to know that you are a Muslim. Once you complete your Hijab with the headscarf, you are suddenly announcing to everyone who sees you that "I am a Muslim".

  • Wear it for the sake of Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala)

Various statements are made about why you should wear Hijab, such as for modesty or for protection, but the real reason that we wear Hijab is because Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'ala) has commanded it. Whenever anyone asks you, why do you dress like that? That's the first answer you need to give them.

Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) is the source of everything we have, our existence, our life, our capability, even our goodness. If He ever stopped sustaining us, we would vanish in that instant. If He ever took away what he gives us, we would never have even a speck of it. If we worked for millions of years, we could never repay Him for all that He has given us. And yet He does give it to us, and all He asks in return is that we do our best to obey what He has commanded us, and even that is for the good of our own soul.

Surely wearing Hijab is a very small thing that you can do out of obedience to Allah, compared to what He does for you!

  • Wear it for the hope of Jannah

Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) makes tests for us in this world. He makes things difficult for us. He wants to see if we will remember Him, if we will have faith in Him, and if we will trust in Him. These qualities are what is meant by true sabr (patience).

Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) does not lose the work of anyone, ever (see: Surah Aal 'Imraan, chapter 3, verse 195). Even if it seems like nobody is paying attention to you, notices or appreciates good things that you do, Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) has seen them, and He will never forget them. Even when it seems like the whole world is against you, Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) is always there for you when you turn to Him. Remember this.

Allah ('azza wa jall) always wants the best for us and in His wisdom He knows why each thing that happens to us is in fact best for us. When it seems like everything is going wrong and life is just one disaster after another, it is easy to forget this and to become bitter and sceptical. Yet we must remember always to have faith that Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) knows best why He has willed this for us, and we must always ask Him only, “Make me pleased with what You have willed for me".

This world we live in, although it seems at times to be the only real thing, is actually fleeting compared to the Hereafter, which is better and more abiding. The trials of this world will seem as fleeting as a nightmare when seen from the Hereafter, and the pleasures of this world will also seem as fleeting as a dream when seen from the Hereafter. It's our happiness in the Hereafter that we should be most worried about attaining, because it is what will last forever. It's our suffering in the Hereafter that we should be most worried about avoiding, because it also will last forever.

Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) has promised Jannah to those who remain steadfast in their faith in Him and who trust in Him. The more difficult it is for you to have Sabr (patience), the greater the reward for it. So what will it be? Ease in this world, and perhaps the eternal sufferings in Hell? Or difficulty in this world, and Inshaa’ Allah (Allah Willing) the eternal bliss of Jannah? Let's face it, the old clichés are true,

‘There's no such thing as a free lunch and you can almost never have your cake and eat it too’.

We've all got to face difficulties some time. Better by far that they be in the world than in the Hereafter.

So that's what you should set your mind to. Yes, it's difficult to wear Hijab. You may be rejected by your family or your friends, you may face harassment and persecution or be fired from your job. These are very scary thoughts. But if you have Sabr (patience) and keep trusting in Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala), I promise you Sister, this is the path towards Jannah, and when you look back on the Day of Qiyaamah you will know that it was worth it and truly, you will have no regrets.

  • Wear it today and trust in Allah ('azza wa jall) for tomorrow

photos-of-Lenticular-Clouds-Over-Mount-Drum-Alaska-picturesWhat do I mean by that? What I mean is that you should take it one day at a time, or even one outing at a time. Sometimes the future seems to stretch on forever and ever and you don't think you can make it that long. You want to give up before you even begin.

So sometimes the best thing to do is to keep you mind focused on what is immediately at hand. Allah ('azza wa jall) will take care of the future. If you have to go out to the market, then concentrate on being able to wear Hijab just for this activity and on getting through it. If you do get through it and nothing bad happened, then give thanks to Allah ('azza wa jall) for making it easy for you, and turn your mind to your next outing.

Or if you have to go out to school or work, then concentrate on being able to wear Hijab just for this one day and on getting through it. And give thanks to Allah ('azza wa jall) when you have made it, and turn your mind to the next day.

Eventually the outings will turn into days and the days into weeks, and the weeks into months. One day you will realize that you have been wearing Hijab for quite a long time and it isn't really as bad as you feared, and that Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) helped you get through it.

Don't be ashamed. The most important thing is to have Sabr (patience) and keep your trust in Allah always.

  • Wear it and spite the Satan

My dear sister, the worries and fears in your mind are the whisperings of the Satan. He wants to talk you out of obeying Allah ('azza wa jall).

It is very easy to keep going around in circles in your mind and to dwell on all the things that could go wrong. I know that I myself have a tendency to do this, I put it off and I dither and wait for "the perfect time". If I let myself do this, I would never do anything at all!

So the thing you have to remember is that you do not need to be perfect in Imaan [faith] to wear Hijab. If perfection were a qualification, which sister could truly wear it??

You must also not fall into the trap of thinking that you should wait until all your worries and fears have disappeared. They never will! Trust me on this, sister.

True courage is going ahead to do what's right even though you are still nervous and scared. So don't listen to the Satan. Ignore the worries and fears he whispers into your mind. Tell him that you will not let him keep you from obeying Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) and you will not let him rule your life.

  • Make a firm decision to wear it

Once you have come to know in your heart that you must wear hijab, then you have to set a day and

JUST DO IT !!

This is the only way. Set a day and when that day comes, you have to do it. Don't back down. Don't give up. Do it.

Make lots of du'aa (supplication) and do not stop making du'a. Ask Allah ('azza wa jall) to give you strength. Ask Him to make it easy for you. Ask Him to help you. He will, I swear it to you. He is always there for you when you turn to Him. Remember how much He has given you, how everything that you have, even your very existence, is due to Him. Remember that He deserves this from you. Remember the promise of Jannah. Remember that remaining patient and faithful through difficulty now may lead to Jannah, Inshaa’ Allah (Allah-Willing). Even if bad things happen, keep these thoughts in your mind. Don't worry about tomorrow. Just concentrate on getting through today, and leave tomorrow to Allah ('azza wa jall) until it comes.

That's how you do it.

  • Final Words of Encouragement

I have been wearing Hijab since September 1999 and I do not regret it. I have never for one instant regretted it – not even one iota. Inshaa’ Allah, you will discover that you feel the same. Even within just a few months I came to feel that I would not be properly dressed if I went out without my Hijab. This is when you know that you have made it!

Never feel that you are alone, or that you are the only one who is scared and worried and nervous. Just about every other sister who has travelled down this road has gone through the same things; I know I have. Your sisters are here for you. We have been where you are. We are encouraging you and cheering you on. We know what it takes because we had to find that in ourselves too. We are praying for your success just as we prayed for our own.

Come and join us.

Allah does not burden a soul except what it can bear. For it is what it has earned, and upon it is what it has made due.

"Our Lord and Sustainer, do not condemn us if we forget or do wrong. Our Lord and Sustainer, do not put a burden on us like the burden You put on those who were before us. Our Lord and Sustainer, do not put a burden on us that we cannot endure. And blot out (our sins) and forgive us, and be gentle to us. You are our Protector. So help us against the rejectors." (Surah al-Baqarah [2]:286)

 

beautifulpurpleAmidst the hustle and bustle of a teeming metropolis, a solitary figure traverses. She moves steadily in her black garment which shields her against the tyranny of this life. Whilst others around her rush frantically, she moves with tranquillity and ease. The peace which she achieves beneath this veil of hers is immense. It is liberation beyond measure. Is this a princess of royal blood? No. Is she a head of state? No. So who is this woman of serenity? This is a woman of Hijaab. A woman amongst many women. A Muslim Woman.

The site of a woman covering from top to bottom, is not so rare anymore in the major cities of the West. For many Westerners it represents the oppression which Islam imposes upon women. For Muslims however, it is the realisation that Islam will eventually reach every corner of this planet. This is not surprising, considering that Islam is the fastest growing religion on Earth. What is surprising, for Westerners, is that 7 out of 10 (70%) people who become Muslim are Women! It is these same women who then go on to willingly observe the Hijab without coercion or force. The women of Hijaab in the cities of London, Paris, New York etc, are not all immigrants who have just stepped off the boat, as many people think. Rather, many of them tend to be women of high intellect and education. Women who have experienced the bitterness of western oppression. Women of diverse nationalities and races, who are brought together as one, under the banner of Islam.

An Islamic Duty

Ever since the appearance of Hiirfan-ul-quran_16jaab in the west, there has been a constant crusade against th is noble act. The hypocrisy[1] of the Western media has been evident for many years now, through its constant attacks on Islam and Hijaab. Despite these attempts, women in Hijaab are still on the increase. Thus, a new crusade had to be launched by the advocates of "liberation" and "freedom". For a while now, many Western critics have insisted that the Hijaab has nothing to do with Islaam. They claim that it is a cultural practice and not a religious one. This has been broadcast in the Western media with the aid of its puppets, the modernist Muslims. People such as Dr Zaki Badawi[2], have pushed this erroneous view for a number of years now. This has led to much confusion amongst ignorant Muslims, and many Muslim women are being led into depriving themselves of this great benefit.

So what is the reality behind this issue? Is the Hijaab obligatory?

‘Hijaab’ is an Arabic word which literally means a cover, a screen or a partition. Islamically it refers to the dress code of the Muslim woman. In answering the above question, as Muslims we unashamedly say, ‘Yes!, the Hijaab IS obligatory!!’

The proofs for this obligation are many, but for brevity we will only quote two here. In the Qur’an Allaah says, {And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their modesty, and not to display their adornment except that which appears ordinarily thereof, and to draw their veils over their necks and bosoms...} (Surah An-Noor [24]:31)

It is NOT a simple headscarf which many women wear, because a piece of cloth on the head does not conceal the parts of a woman’s body, which when exposed, are the result of much strife. Besides covering the entire body, the Hijaab also has other conditions, such as not being tight, transparent, too colourful or resembling the clothes of a man.[3]

The Benefits of Hijaab

Obedience:

While other women are subjected to the prehijaabssures and slavery of modern society, the Muslim woman is truly free from this. In the west, women are expected to conform to the liberal fashions which appear daily. These fashions and expectations are often shaped by men. In this way, women become slaves to both society and man. Hijab is a liberator from this slavery. It takes women away from the obedience of man, to the obedience of the Most Perfect, Allaah. This obedience will only bring about good, because we believe that Allaah is the Most Kind and the Most Just. Slavery to the one with such characteristics is a slavery of reward and contentment. It is not a slavery from which the woman is exploited and oppressed.

As a command of Allaah, the Hijaab has united the hearts of so many. Hijaab knows no colour, nationality, race, height or weight. Through obedience to Allaah, it truly unites the women of the world. Thus, this unification has surpassed the ranks and shallowness of all female liberation movements. Christian nuns, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, feminists, lesbians, women boxers and even female gang members, are all known to have become united under Islam and its Hijaab once they come into the fold of Islaam. It is truly a force to be reckoned with. It must be remembered that this obedience to Allaah is a voluntary act from most Muslim women. Many assume that those brought up as Muslims, have always been wearing Hijaab. However, this is not so. Many Muslim women (especially in the U.K.), who are Muslim by name, often know very little of Islaam. When they discover its true meaning, most of them willingly adopt the Hijaab simply to obey their Creator, and not because of any external pressures.

Wearing the Hijaab is no futile action. A woman may go through much trial and tribulation[4] because she has obeyed Allaah. But the fulfilment of this action will never go unnoticed, as Allaah says, {Never will I allow to be lost the actions of any of you; whether male or female.} (Surah Al-Imran [3]:195)

The result of these obedient actions will be an everlasting reward. A reward which all Muslim women aspire for. A reward called Paradise, "And whosoever does righteous actions- whether male or female, and is a believer, will enter Paradise" (Surah An-Nisa [4]:124)

A Shield:

pinkgreenAllaah, the Almighty says, {O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their veils over their bodies. That is most convenient that they should be recognised and not be molested.} (Surah Al-Ahzab [33]:59)

One of the greatest benefits of Hijaab, is the natural protection it gives to a woman. By wearing Hijaab, a woman shields herself from the rampant desires of man. By his very nature, man is a creature of intense desire. The Hijaab controls this desire and thus not only protects the woman, but also the man. Sexually motivated crimes in the west are on the increase. Rape, molestation and harassment are reaching epidemic levels. Undoubtedly the clothing of a woman has something to do with this. When women walk around with literally nothing on, some men see it as a signal to do as they please. This results in the honour of a woman being scarred for life. The Muslim woman does not have this problem. She knows that when she walks on the streets, the men will not look at her. Why? Because there is nothing for them to look at!! She feels like a princess who is shielded from the savages of her domain. Peace and security is felt beneath the veil.

The woman of Hijaab does not have to reveal her body in order to gain respect. She does not have to have her ‘bits’ hanging out so that men can drool over her. If a man desires her, then it has to be for her religion and intellect. The Hijaab gives him no other choice. She is a woman who is truly shielded from the evils of man.[5]

Nature:

The nature of a woman is fundamentally different from man. Women are more timid, gentle and caring than men. This is the reason why they have been chosen (by Allaah) to be the perfect rearers of children. The Hijaab reinforces this nature of the woman. We praise Allaah that he has ordered this Hijaab, for the world that we live in seeks to change our very nature as human beings. Men try to be women and women try to be men. People are being led into confusion by the political correctness which is so popular in our societies. Many women have jumped onto the bandwagon of feminism and lesbianism, shouting how evil and oppressive men are. But when one looks at these women, their delusion is clear. While claiming to hate men, their attire suggests otherwise. Short hair, bomber jackets and steel toe-capped boots, are the vogue for these women. Their hatred for men is so much, that their very appearance attracts and gives enjoyment to the enemy!!

Some of these women have even gone to the extreme of growing masses of facial hair. The hideous site of these bearded ladies, is enough to put anyone off their dinner!!! Such depravity is far from natural. The Hijaab on the other hand, enables the woman to stay as a woman. Rather then being a monstrosity, a woman in Hijaab is like an oyster with a beautiful pearl inside it. Her femininity has stayed feminine, without being altered into masculinity. There is no doubt about it, this is a TRUE WOMAN.

Honour:

Contrary to the tales of the media, the Hijaab provides an honour for the woman like no othleafwaterer garment does. For many women, a dress designed by Versace[6] or Armani is all the honour they need. But the Hijaab carries far more honour than these worthless clothes. Whilst the dresses of the catwalks are designed by mere mortals, the Hijaab comes from the one who is immortal, Allaah. Through it a woman is given with the utmost respect by true Muslim men, who are obliged to keep their Muslim sisters away from the corruption of this world. Thus a Muslim will not allow for someone to ogle his wife, chat her up or harass her. The honour of a Muslim woman demands that this does not happen.

The honour of a Muslim woman is so high, that we believe that the state of a society is dependent upon its women. If the women are corrupt and immoral, then the society will be corrupt and immoral. If the women are righteous and god-fearing, then the society will be righteous and god-fearing. Women are the educators of the nation; if they have no honour and have been corrupted, then society will be void of education and steeped in ignorance. This is the predicament of a society which rejects Hijaab. This is the predicament of all Western societies, which stubbornly cling onto their unethical ways of life.

Those who seek to reject Hijab after reading this, then their loss will eventually become apparent. But those who seek to please Allaah through this action, can be sure that this good can only bring more good,

"Is there any reward for good – other then goodness?" (Surah ar-Rahman [55]:60)

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References:

[1.] The British media is an example of this. Whilst condemning the Hijaab as oppressive, it is well known that newspapers such as The Sun and The News of the World, often display pictures of naked women. This of course, is the liberation which the West claims to give women!
[2.] Dr Zaki Badawi is a self-styled mufti who is unfortunately seen as a public face of Islam. A number of years ago, Dr. Badawi appeared on Dutch T.V. proclaiming that Hijaab was not obligatory. This announcement caused much confusion and resulted in some women taking their Hijaab off.
[3.] The proofs for these conditions can be found in an excellent book entitled "The Islamic ruling regarding Women’s dress, according to the Qur’an and Sunnah" by Abu Bilal Mustafa Al-Kanadi.
[4.] Wearing Hijaab in the West can be a struggle for many women. The hypocrisy of the West is such, that it does not respect this choice which is made willingly, and subjects these women to much psychological pressure. 2 years ago, two Muslim girls were even expelled from a school in France because they wore Hijaab. Freedom has truly been given a new meaning!
[5.] "A view through Hijaab" is an informative account of life in Hijaab. Written by Khaula Nakata, it is the experience of Hijaab as seen through the eyes of a Japanese woman who embraced Islam.
[6.] There will be no more dresses designed by Gianni Versace!! The evils of Homosexuality ensured that this man (?) reaped the fruits of his unholy labour.
 

sisterislamicshopI met a woman who changed my perspective about myself and other women. She was a Lebanese girl, born and raised a Muslim. I saw in her something I had seen in few women, and that is self-confidence. Here was this short, stout sister in her mid twenties. She was not much to look at, but when I spoke to her, I could feel her warmth, sincerity and intelligence. She was a Ph.D. in psychology, a college professor and a soon-to-be mother.

How did she affect me? Well. While we were speaking, both of us began speaking about the subject of choosing a good husband. She told me she had waited some time before marrying as she had been waiting for the perfect man, a good practicing Muslim man. She said, "I had a lot to offer a man. I was a good practicing Muslimah, educated, intelligent, and a respectable woman." This was a real shock to me. I must say, I was brought up with the American vanities. When a woman says she has a lot to offer, none of those things are usually on the list. Normally, women would say, "I am tall and thin. I have a pretty face. I have a good figure." Or, maybe, "I have blond hair and blue eyes." But for her to list such unfeminine qualities as elements that would make her a good catch as a wife, shocked me, especially since she so obviously lacked in the departments I so vainly considered important.

Later, however, I thought about it. I realized that this attitude I had was a sad fact of American life, and a sad commentary about me. We were raised to idealize Barbie. Our role models were beautiful women. I did not know very many names of women who had academically and intellectually excelled, but I could name several dozen models, singers and actresses.

I thought about myself. I had, at the time, graduated from my Master's degree. I was teaching English at a local college. I was working on my Ph.D. I was, and always had been considered to be of above average intelligence, but for as far back as I could remember, the only thing about which people ever commented about me to my parents was my beauty. Also, I could not imagine considering myself without considering my beauty. My self-image, like most American women, was tied to my beauty. If I lost that, even though I had so much, I had nothing.

A good friend of mine once mentioned how sad she felt that it took her so long to put on the Hijab, and even when she did finally put it on, she had to make it look pretty, by cinching the waist or wearing makeup. Another sister, a new convert, told me how she had just recently tried putting on the Hijab one day. She said that when she got back in her car, she started crying because she ...looked so ugly. I knew exactly how they both felt. I, myself, delayed my entry into Islam because, as I told many of my friends, I was not going to be seen walking around in bed sheets.

What is wrong with us that we see ourselves based solely on the image reflected in the mirror? Allah, the Almighty, has given us so much more. Allah has created us mates for our husbands, daughters for our parents, mothers for our children and sisters to one another, but we have allowed the disbelieving mentality to poison our perspectives. Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be beautiful. This is perfectly natural. The problem lies in making our self-image contingent upon this fact.

Look around us. The best-paid women are those who play to men's fantasy either as actresses, models or even exotic dancers. The society is built around pleasuring men. All it takes is to watch one hour of television to figure this out. Are all consumers men? No. Then why are commercials ridden with beautiful, naked or practically naked women and tons of sexual imagery?

It is a true shame that a woman should be so worried about her image that she disobeys Allah because she does not have the confidence to be less than beautiful. Hijab is an essential element of societal protection. It keeps the woman from tempting the man, and it keeps her from tempting herself.

How? Because the attentions of a handsome man who has been turned by a pretty face or body is flattering to the woman. We enjoy the attention, and this can lead to too much more than 'friendly' chatting or innocent flirting. Additionally, the Hijab makes society judge the woman on a basis other than her beauty. This is also a protection. It makes the woman develop other talents. It makes her purity and modesty increase in value. It makes others respect her because it shows that she respects herself.

We need to recognize the obvious. Too many times you hear a woman say, ‘I dress this way to please myself’. Really? Well how many of you wear sexy tight dresses, heels, and are fully made-up when you are lounging around your house? If it is only for you, not for the attention it gets you from men, then why do you discard it when no man is present? Why do you not try to beautify yourself for yourself when only you are present? The reason is that it is not for you, in that way. It is for your self-confidence. We all need a boost now and then, so dressing sexily and turning a few heads our way makes us feel good and reminds us that we are still beautiful.

Therein lies the problem. Why do we need to have this type of reinforcement to make us feel good? Why is it that we have to gain our confidence from our looks? What is wrong with us? Look to men. You can see the shortest, fattest, baldest, ugliest one of them walking with a tall beautiful woman. Why? Because he has confidence in himself. He knows he has an asset, which appeals to others. He is rich or intelligent or even he is witty, or maybe he sings well.

purple-flower-glowing-We need to recognize our assets as women. The greatest asset we have is not our beauty. It is our virtue. Think about it. Men love to be seen with and to play with the sexy vamp, but he looks for a good girl to settle down and raise a family.

When the women of Greece wanted men to stop going to war all the time, they made a pact to withhold sexual favors from their men. The men got the message, and the wars stopped. The women of the world have always used their power to make men desire what they could not have. They have preserved their dignity and men have recognized this and respected this. Now, we no longer respect ourselves. We make ourselves available for visual feasting and other feasting as well.

The American woman works harder than she ever did. She is raising her children without a father. She is suffering needlessly as are her children. Many times, she has to go to medical science to get the man to even admit that the child is his. How low have we fallen? We think we have freedom? We are more imprisoned than we have ever been. We are prisoners to the whims of men. Men are beating us, abandoning us, using us, and discarding us. Why? Because there is always a more gullible woman around the corner.

We are going to all kinds of extremes to attract men. Recently, I was driving on a Sunday. I saw these women going into a church, and I swear they looked like they were dressed for a nightclub, not a church. On the flipside, I see our Muslim sisters wearing hijabs that show more than they conceal. I see the young girls playing with the beautiful Barbie dolls and arguing over who looks more like Barbie. Ya Allah! When will we wake up?

We have to protect ourselves sisters. We are Muslims. That is supposed to make us the best of nations. We are supposed to be the example to the world, so why are we the ones doing the following? We are the cream of the crop, so why are we wallowing in the mud? Sisters, I beg you to examine America for what it is.

When we show that we respect ourselves, we will get the respect we deserve, not until then. We have to set the limit. We have to show plainly and clearly that we are women of dignity, that we are Muslim women. If we do so, they will respond, even if the culture and practice is not theirs.

I was at work one day, when a man was introduced to me. He extended his hand to me. I politely said, “Sorry, but my religion forbids me from shaking hands with men”. His response to me was,

“My mother told me that one day I would go to shake hands with a lady, and she would refuse. I have finally met a lady."

Another time, I was in a market, and this sweet old man came up to me. He tugged on the back of my headpiece, and when I turned, he said,

“May God bless you for this. It is so beautiful to see a woman who respects herself."

The point here is that we will be viewed as we present ourselves. Why are some American men so appalled when they hear that a woman should cover herself? It is because that means that they can not get that boost to their self-image by parading around with a trophy woman. Why are so many women against the idea of Hijab? Because it means that they lose the confidence they have because their beauty is the key to their self-image. No beauty, no confidence. No beauty, no worth. Where would Cindy Crawford or Sharon Stone be if they had to rely on something other than their looks? Let's not fall into the trap they have laid for us.

Having stated all this let me get off my soapbox and get into the real reasons for my writing this. Having grown up as a non-Muslim in the West, I had more than a few concerns about the religion of Islam before I converted. The hardest thing for me was giving up what I considered to be my freedom to choose. But I finally realized that it was only by submitting to the rules of Allah that I was able to recognize this freedom. broken-heart-2

Some people question why women have to cover or why women can not marry non-Muslim men. First, it is a fact of life that we are not in paradise. Although, the sad fact is that we expect everything to be perfect. We expect men and women to act like angels and we get angry or frustrated because they don't. The first thing any Muslim has to realize is that there is a Superior force (Allah) at work running the universe. We may not agree with the decisions He makes or the plan He has created, but if we recognize Him to be superior, we must know that His choices are based on factors of which we are unaware, and His superiority makes His choice right and ours wrong, by default.

I shall give you a poor example. I am not a medical doctor. However, when I feel sick, I go to someone who is. He tells me you have cancer. He prescribes radiation treatment. He gives me a basic explanation of what is going on, and how the radiation works to kill it, but in the end, I have no choice but to trust that he knows more than I do about this, and I let him do what needs to be done to get rid of the cancer, or I can take my chances on my imperfect understanding - a move that has killed many a cancer patient.

When it comes to Allah, I can not tell you why men were created to be creatures that are stimulated sexually by visual stimuli. Nor can I tell you why women are less prone to this phenomena (this is why Playboy, Hustler and such types of magazines are more popular than Playgirl). I also can not tell you why it is that women tend to follow men that they love, even in this liberated age (did you know the vast majority of crimes committed by women were somehow or other connected to pleasing the man they love?!). We may not like the reality of it but we can not deny it exists and we can not hide our heads in the sand like an ostrich. The sad reality is we have to protect ourselves because no one is going to protect us.

The Muslim woman covers as a way to be known and as a protection; Allah says this in Surah Ahzab [33]:59. Now, how is covering ourselves  going to protect us? It does so because it increases the respect men give us. As a non-Muslim, I dealt with the issues of sexual harassment and disrespect. When I put on Hijab, nothing changed about me but the fact that I was now covered. For some reason, men acted different. They saw the no-trespass sign loud and clear. There was no ambiguity. You see, when a woman wears typical Western clothes, the man is unsure whether she is available and whether she 'plays around'? Is she a respectable woman? They don't know. There is nothing to openly warn him, but the Hijab states loudly and clearly: This is a respectable woman who does not play games. So, wearing the Hijab actually helped me to progress in my career as a college professor with no problems of this type. I even presented a research paper at a national convention. My Hijab allowed them to see me for my intellectual merits because they were denied access to my attractive physical merits. As a non-Muslim, there were many days I went home in tears from all the ‘cute’ comments and lewd innuendoes.

At first it seemed unfair that I should have to go to this extreme to protect myself, but I no longer see it this way, no more than I see it as extreme to avoid walking down a dark alley in New York City at 2 a.m. waving a thousand dollars in cash. I recognize that I bear a certain amount of responsibility to be wise and to protect myself. If I do not care about my safety, who will? I need to be conscientious and wise. I cannot assume that all men out there have perfect self-control. For God's sake, I do not have it, so why should I expect it from anyone else?

Another issue that has bothered many of us is that we can only marry a Muslim man. As I said before, it is more natural for a woman to follow a man than for a man to follow a woman. Like it or not, this is reality. Allah could have made it different, but at some point we have to realize that there must be a reason for this. It may be to keep harmony in the family one needs to be more naturally submissive than the other, one has to be stronger in general this is the man.

Even the most intellectual of feminist philosophers recognize that men and women think, act and even communicate differently. Once again this is reality. Now the question is how do we protect ourselves? Survival - that's the ultimate aim - isn't it? We want to survive this world and even excel, if we can, so we can move on to bigger, better things namely Jannah (Heaven). One of the ways we do so is by not placing ourselves in a situation that will cause us problems in the future. In this case, Allah has done that for us. Allah wants to protect our religion. So in His Infinite Wisdom, He has forbidden the woman to allow her heart to overrule her head.

As I said: We may not like reality because it's not what we want to do, but it is life and we have to live it. I don’t like having to lock my doors from fear of criminals, but I won’t avoid doing it in protest. If I don’t lock my doors, that would be stupid and dangerous. I try to be wise and deal with what exists not what I wish would exist.

The laws of Allah are laws to help us deal with reality - that which really exists.

 

bananaThe pea is a splendid plant...

It proudly displays its strong green Hijaab (covering). It protects it from the hot and cold weather and guards it from insects.

Allah has blessed the pea with a special Hijaab (covering), because without it, the seeds would scatter, dry up and die.

The orange keeps itself within its shiny orange Hijaab (covering) to protect its delicious fruit...

Otherwise it loses its taste too.

So are the banana, the coconut and the pomegranate. coconut

Each one has an elegant and unique Hijaab (covering), which protects it from destruction.

The jewel of the sea, the pearl, have been given a very tough and rugged Hijaab (covering)...an oyster shell.

It protects it from sea animals and keeps it sparkling and shining inside.

However, the most respected in all His creation is the Muslim girl who wears the Hijaab (covering)...

She knows it is a gift from Allah. It protects her from harm, injury and mischief. She wears it knowing it gives her dignity, beauty and respect.

So precious she is that she conceals the beauty her Lord has blessed her with, beneath her Hijaab (covering), a protective covering unlike any other.

Do you wear a Hijaab? Give it a try today.

pearl

 

Mountain PathIt often occurs to me that many of my Sisters in Islam are not properly encouraged once they begin to observe the requirements of Hijab. It may be that a sister has been obliged to wear the Hijab without truly pondering over its superiority. Perhaps she has reached the age of puberty and her Wali (Guardian) has instructed her to wear it. Perhaps she has recently reverted to Islam and her close sisters have told her of its obligation. Or, perhaps her husband has commanded her to wear Hijab. A sister who does not truly know the superiority of Hijab will always remain envious of the Non-Muslim Women. Why? Because they see these misguided women looking beautiful for all to see. Hence, the Muslim woman then compares herself to that woman which causes her to feel ashamed of her own Hijab.

Therefore, what follows is a reminder for my respected Sisters in Islam. It is a reminder that Hijab will always reign supreme and that the true man (i.e. the Muslim man), will forever be dazzled by the beauty of the Muhajjibah (woman who wears the Hijab), for her inner beauty, modesty and true worth.

Some Excellent Qualities of Those Who Wear Hijab

It is well known that the true Muslim woman is a woman embodied with Hayaa' (modesty). Allah (subhanahu wa ta'aala) loves for our Muslim women to be shielded by their Hijab. It is their outer protection from the decadence of this life. Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) has said,

"Verily! Allah is Hayaa (modest, bashful) & Sitteer (i.e. the One Who Shields - from disobedient acts). He loves Hayaa (i.e. He loves for one to practice modesty and bashfulness) and Siter (shielding; covering)."
(Collected by Abu Dawud; An-Nissa’ee; Al-Baihaqee; Ahmad; & in Saheeh An-Nissa’ee)

Since possessing Hayaa' is a quality that is beloved by Allah (subhanahu wa ta'aala) our sisters must feel comfort in knowing that they have this Hayaa' and that those women who show themselves to the world are devoid of this beautiful characteristic. Such women will not be shielded from Allah’s (subhanahu wa ta'aala) Wrath. Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) 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." (Collected by Abu Dawud & At-Tirmidhi)

pinkwithskyTherefore, we see that the Hijab of the Muslim woman has a quality that comprises Hayaa' (modesty). Hayaa proceeds from Imaan (faith). That is why when Allah (subhanahu wa ta'aala) commands the women to observe Hijab, Allah (subhanahu wa ta'aala) says, "And tell the believing women..." (Surah An-Nur [24]:31)

Allah [subhanahu wa ta'ala] also says, "...And the women of the believers..." (Surah Al-Ahzab 33:59)Furthermore, Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, "Al-Hayaa (modesty & bashfulness) is from Imaan (belief) and Imaan is in Al-Jannah (the Paradise)." (At-Tirmidhi - Saheeh)

He (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) also said, "Hayaa (modesty and bashfulness) and Imaan (belief) are fully associated together, if one is lifted the other follows suit." (Narrated by ‘Abd Allah bin ‘Umar; related by Al-Haakim in his "Mustadrak")

My dear sisters in Islam, know that these women who beautify themselves for the world to see possess no Hayaa' and hence are void of any true Imaan (belief and faith). Instead of looking to the latest fashion models for guidance, you, my dear sisters, must look to the wives of the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam). Look at the great amount of Hayaa 'that ‘Aa'ishah bint Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with her) possessed even in the presence of the deceased!

'Aa'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said,

"I used to enter the room where the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) and my father (Abu Bakr) were buried in, without having my outer-garment on me, thinking,  ‘It is only my husband and my father’. But when ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (radhiallahu 'anhu) was later buried in (the same place), I did not enter the room except that I had my outer-garment on being shy from ‘Umar."(As-Simt Ath’ameen Fee Maniqib Ummahat Ul-Mu’mineen by Ibn As-Sakir. Al-Haakim brings a similar narration which he says is "good according the conditions of Imaam Bukhari and Imaam Muslim.")

My dear sister in Islam, I know that it is quite difficult for you to go out wearing Hijab in a society that may mock, ridicule, look-down and even torments you for it. I know that you, indeed, must feel strange and out of place.  However, if you knew the status of those who are mocked by the kuffaar (disbelievers) as well as the status of the strangers, you will continue to wear your Hijab (i.e. to cover with a Khimaar (a head cover which covers the hair, neck, ears and chest) as commanded (24:31), as well as with a Jilbaab (the outer garment worn above the garments worn in the house) (33:59).

Allah (subhanahu wa ta'aala) says in His Book: "Verily! (During the worldly life) those who committed crimes used to laugh at those who believed.  And whenever they passed by them, used to wink one to another (in mockery); And when they returned to their own people, they would return jesting; and when they saw them, they said: ‘Verily! These have indeed gone astray!’ But they (disbelievers, sinners) had not been sent as watchers over them (the believers).  But on this Day (the Day of Resurrection) those who believe will laugh at the disbelievers.  On (high) thrones, looking (at all things).  Are not the disbelievers paid (fully) for what they used to do?" (Surah Al-Mutaffifin [83]:29-36)

Allah’s (subhanahu wa ta'aala) words should serve as a support for you my dear sisters. Also, take comfort in being a stranger among these lewd and sinful women. Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said,

"Islam began as something strange, and it would revert to its (old position) of being strange, so good tidings for the strangers." (Narrated by Abu Huraira and Reported Saheeh Muslim)

As-Sufoor and Its Characteristics

tearsAs-Sufoor means to expose or to uncover. Therefore, instead of practicing the Hijab (covering), the disbelieving women practice as-Sufoor. As-Sufoor is sinful as it leads to At-Tabarruj (i.e. to make a dazzling display of one’s beauty). Displaying oneself is a attribute of one who is Jaahil (ignorant). Allah (subhanahu wa ta'aala) says, "And stay in your houses and do not display yourselves (At-Tabarruj) like that of the times of ignorance..." [Surah Al-Ahzab [33]:33]

Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, "The best of your women is the affectionate, the fertile (in productivity), the propitious (favourable), the consultative if they fear Allah. The most evil of your women are the Mutabar’rijaat (those who do At-Tabarruj), the Mutakhayelat (who strut/swagger), and they are the hypocrites. Those who enter Al-Jannah (the Paradise) are like the Cough Crow [i.e. few]." (Al-Bayhaqi in his "As-Sunan")

My dear sisters in Islam, we see from the above evidence that displaying oneself is indeed haraam (impermissible). Further, it is a quality of the most evil of women!  Therefore, do not be envious of the disbelieving women. They only have this life to enjoy while the believing women will have Al-Jannah. There is nothing in your Hijab whatsoever to be ashamed of as it is the garment of the righteous and pious female slaves of Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala). In order to truly show you how evil those women who do as-Sufoor and at-Tabarooj are, let us ponder over the following statement of Allah’s Messenger [sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam],

"Of the people of Hell there are two types whom I have never seen, the one possessing whips like the tail of an Ox and they flog people with them. The second one, women who would be naked in spite of their being dressed, who are seduced (to wrong paths) and seduce others. Their hair is high like the humps (of camels). These women would not get into Al-Jannah (the Paradise) and they would not perceive its odour, although its fragrance can be perceived from such and such a distance." (Saheeh Muslim)

Sisters in Islam, these women who practice at-Tabarruj are common among us today. These are women that even the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) did not see! Look around you and you will see those women who are ‘clothed yet naked’!  Look at the hair styles of the women who practice tt-Tabarruj - are they not high like the camel’s hump?  My dear sister, perhaps we are the first generation since the time of the Prophet Adam ('alyhisslaam) to witness such women.  If one ponders over photos taken thirty to forty years ago, one will see that the disbelieving women did not make at-Tabarruj as their offspring do today. These are women who will be in the Hell Fire, save those who Allah (subhanahu wa ta'aala) has mercy on by guiding them to Islam!  Thus, how can you envy them? Why do so many sisters suffer from an inferiority complex? My brothers, how can you desire them over your women of Hayaa’ (modesty)? Such women will not even smell the fragrance of Paradise!

 

1. Tabarruj is disobedience to Allaah and His Messenger (sall-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)

nailpolishThe one who disobeys Allaah and His Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) can only harm himself and can not in any way harm Allaah. The Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “All of my followers will enter Paradise except those who refuse.” It was asked, “O Messenger of Allaah, who would refuse?” He (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “He who obeys me enters Paradise and he who disobeys me has refused.” (Reported by al-Bukhaaree)

It is reported that Mu'awiyyah (radee Allaahu ‘anhu) gave a sermon in Greater Syria and in it he mentioned that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) prohibited seven things and he named Tabarruj as one of them.

‘Abdullaah ibn Mas’ood (radee Allaahu ‘anhu) reported that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa allam) used to dislike ten kinds of behavior and he (‘Abdullaah ibn Mas’ood) mentioned that from amongst them is displaying and beautification which is done in an improper place.

Jalaal-ud-Deen as-Suyuti (d.911H) (rahimahullaah) said that,

“Tabarruj, by displaying beautification, is showing off to strangers...”

This is the explanation of the meaning of ‘Abdullaah ibn Mas’ood’s statement “improper place”, therefore this doesn't apply if the beautification is done for the husband.

2. Tabarruj is a grave destructive sin

Umayymah, the daughter of Ruqayyah visited the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) to acknowledge the message of Islam and to acknowledge that he (sall-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was and is the Messenger of Allaah. The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said to her, “I give my acknowledgment that you must not set partners to worship besides Allaah, that you do not steal, commit fornication or adultery, that you do not kill your child, that you do not commit any falsehood before your hands and between your legs, that you do not wail and that you do not make tabarruj like that of jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic era).” (Reported by Ahmad ibn Hanbal in his Musnad, Shaykh Ahmad Shakir graded the chain of the hadeeth as “good” and stated that Imaam ibn Kathir mentioned this hadeeth in his tafsir [exegesis] saying that the chain of this narration is “good”)

It’s clear that the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) associated Tabarruj (display of beauty) to be from amongst the grave destructive sins.

3. Tabarruj brings the curse and expulsion from the Mercy of Allaah

The Messenger (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “There shall be (in the later) part of my nation women who are dressed but are in fact naked. On their heads are humps like those of camels. Curse them for they are surely cursed.” (Reported by at-Tabaaranee, Shaykh al-Albaanee graded this hadeeth “Saheeh”)

4. Tabarruj is an attribute of the people of hell

The Messenger (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “Of the people of Hell there are two types whom I have never seen: The one possessing whips like the tail of an ox and they flog people with them. The second one the women who would be naked in spite of their being dressed, who are seduced to wrong paths and seduce others with their hair high like humps. These women would not get into Paradise and they would not perceive its odour, although its fragrance can be perceived from such and such distance.” (Reported by Muslim)

5. Tabarruj is darkness on the Day of Resurrection

It is narrated that the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “The parable of a woman who moves with a slow sweeping motion trailing her beautified clothes performing not for her husband is like darkness of the Day of Judgement, she has or comes with no light.” (Reported by at-Tirmidhee in his Sunan, Shaykh al-Albaanee graded the hadeeth “weak”)

Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi (d.543H) (rahimahullaah) said that although this hadeeth [narration] is weak,

“…its meaning is correct because the enjoyment of disobedience is in fact torture and suffering. The meaning is that this type of woman will come on the Day of Resurrection black (engulfed) in darkness, as though she physically originated from darkness. In contrast, what happens to be difficult and painful in performance of obedient acts is a true enjoyment because of the reward awaiting those who are obedient to Allaah and His Messenger (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wasallam).”

The odor of the mouth of a fasting person may not be a pleasant in this world, to Allaah however it is better than the odor of musk because the Muslim has obeyed Allaah and performed what is due upon him from fasting. Similarly the woman wearing her Hijab may be looked upon as “reactionist”, “old fashioned” or “a walking tent”, however she will, Allah Willing, be the winner on the Day of Resurrection and those who mock her put themselves onto a dangerous road and may be subjected to the wrath of Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala).

6. Tabarruj is hypocrisy

The Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said,“The best of your women is the affectionate, the fertile (in productivity), the propitious (favorable), the consultative if they fear Allaah. The most evil of your women are the Mutabarrijat (those who do at-Tabarruj [display their beauty]), the Mutakhayelat (who strut/swagger), and they are the hypocrites. Those who enter Al-Jannah (the Paradise) are like the Cough Crow [i.e. rare].” (Reported by al-Bayhaqi in his Sunan)

The cough crow has a red beak and red legs and is rare. Therefore, the expression in the Prophetic Narration, “cough cow” indicates that the women who will enter Paradise will be few

7. Tabarruj is disgraceful

The Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said,“Any woman who takes of her clothes in other than her husband’s home has broken the shield between her and Allaah.” (Reported by Ahmad ibn Hanbal & al-Haakim who said it is “Saheeh” according to the conditions of al-Bukhaaree and Muslim and adh-Dhahabee agreed)

Imaam Abu Zakariya an-Nawawee (d.676H) (rahimahullaah) commenting on this hadeeth said,

“The saying of the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wasallam), ‘Any woman who takes off her clothes in other than her husband’s home’, means showing off her beauty to strangers by taking off her shield of clothes; she has broken the shield between her and Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala).”

Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) stated, {O Children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover yourselves (screen your private parts, etc.) and as an adornment and the raiment of righteousness, that is better…} (Al-A’raf 7:26)

So if a woman does not fear Allaah and uncovers her private parts then she is breaking the shield between her and Allaah, the Most High. This is because she uncovered and dishonored herself and committed a grievance against her own husband, so in turn Allaah will uncover her shield, she will truly be in a scandal.

8. Tabarruj is an unchaste sin

The women is ‘Awrah, a source of attraction and therefore, her body is not to be shown by wearing clothes that show off her body, its shape and features; doing such is disgraceful. Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) orders us to stay away from disgraceful sins, {And when they commit a Faahishah (evil deed, going round the Ka’bah in naked state, every kind of unlawful sexual intercourse, etc.), they say: ‘We found our fathers doing it, and Allaah has commanded us of it.’ Say: ‘Nay, Allaah never commands of Faahishah. Do you say of Allaah what you know not?” (Al-A’raf [7]:28)

Rather, it is Satan who orders such Faahishah, such disgraceful sins. Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) says, {Shaytaan (Satan) threatens you with poverty and orders you to commit Fahshaa (evil deeds, illegal sexual intercourse, sins etc.); whereas Allaah promises you Forgiveness from Himself and Bounty, and Allaah is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knower.} (Al-Baqarah [2]:268)

The Mutabarrijat, those who do at-Tabarruj (display their beauty) create a sinful virus which spreads disgraceful sins amongst the Muslim society. Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) says, {Verily, those who like that (the crime of) illegal sexual intercourse should be propagated among those who believe, they will have a painful torment in this world and in the Hereafter. And Allaah knows and you know not.} (An-Nur [24]:19)

Tabarruj is the leading course for the spread of Zina (illegal sexual relations).

9. Tabarruj is a Satanic way

The story of Adam and his wife demonstrates how the enemy of Allaah (i.e. Satan) was so keen to incite them to show their private parts in order to spread evil and disgraceful sins. It also shows that Tabarruj of women is the primary goal of Shaytaan, which he ardently seeks to achieve. Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) says, {O Children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover yourselves (screen your private parts, etc.) and as an adornment, and the raiment of righteousness, that is better.} (Al-A’raf [7]:26)

It is very clear that Satan is the one who established the call for Tabarruj; he is the leader of the leaders who call for the so-called "liberation" of women. Satan is the leading guide for all those who obey him and follow him in disobedience to Allaah, the Almighty, especially those Mutabarrijat (those who do at-Tabarruj [display their beauty]) who harm the Muslims and misuse their youth. The Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “I have not left after me any chance of turmoil more harmful to men than the harm done to them because of women.” (Reported by al-Bukhaaree)

Adam (‘alayhis-sallam) forgot, made a mistake, repented and asked for forgiveness from Allaah and Allaah accepted his repentance. The struggle between Adam’s offspring and Satan continues, the Devil still whispers, so as to drive us (men and women) into disobeying Allaah and committing sins. There is no safeguard except in returning to Allaah in good faith and repentance, remembering Allaah and asking Him for His help in order to overcome our evil lusts and desires.

10. Tabarruj is the way of the Jews

The Jews have an important role in the destruction of nations through Fitnah, the seduction and temptation of women. The spread of Tabarruj is an effective weapon of their wide spread establishments. In fact, the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said,“Watch out for this worldly life (safeguard yourself from its temptation) guard yourself from the allurement of women. Verily, the first trial for the people of Israel was caused by women.” (Reported by Muslim)

Their (the Jews) books also testify to this fact. In the third chapter of Isaiah it is quoted that,

“Moreover, the LORD said, ‘Because the daughters of Zion are proud and walk with heads held high and seductive eyes, and go along with mincing steps, and tinkle the bangles on their feet. Therefore the Lord will afflict the scalp of the daughters of Zion with scabs, and the LORD will make their foreheads bare.” (Isaiah, Chapter 3, V.16-17)

Furthermore:

“In that day the Lord will take away the beauty of their anklets, headbands, crescent ornaments, dangling earrings, bracelets, veils, headdresses, ankle chains, sashes, perfume boxes, amulets, finger rings, nose rings, festal robes, outer tunics, cloaks, money purses, hand mirrors, undergarments, turbans and veils.” (Isaiah, Chapter 3, V.18-23)

Although the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) warned against mimicking the non-believers and their ways, many Muslims don’t abide by this warning. This is a prophecy of the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) who said, “You will tread the same path as was trodden by those before you, inch by inch and step by step, so that if they enter the hole of the lizard you will follow them into it also.” His companions asked him: “Do you mean the Jews and the Christians?” He (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) replied: “Who else?” (Reported by Muslim)

The similarity of those women who disobey Allaah and His Messenger (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) to the Jews is very evident because their response to Allaah’s command was and is similar to that of the Jews, “We have heard and disobeyed.” (Al-Baqarah [2]:93)

This is unlike the response of the believing woman who would respond (to the commands of Allaah) saying, “We hear and we obey.” (Al-Baqarah [2]:85)

This is because the believing women remember the saying of Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala), “And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger (Muhammad) after the right path has been shown clearly to him and follows other than the believers’ way. We shall keep him in the path he has chosen, and burn him in Hell - what an evil destination.” (An-Nisa [4]:115)

11. Tabarruj is filthy Jaahiliyyah (ignorance)

Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) says, “And stay in your houses, and do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance.” (Al-Ahzab [33]:33)

The Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) described the times of ignorance as filthy and wicked and ordered us to reject them. Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) described the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) as, “…he allows them lawful at-Tayyibaat [(i.e. all good and lawful) as regards things, deeds, beliefs, persons, foods, etc.], and prohibits them as unlawful al-Khabaa’ith (i.e. all evil and unlawful as regards things, deeds, beliefs, persons, foods, etc.).” (Al-A’raf [7]:157)

The call to bring about Tabarruj is in reality a call to bring back the times of Jaahiliyyah (the pre-Islamic era of ignorance). Both of which are wicked ways which the Messenger (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) declared unlawful. The Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “Verily, ever matter of Jaahiliyyah [time of ignorance] is under my hate.” (Reported by Aboo Daawood, at-Tirmidhee, Ahmad and other)

Tabarruj and all forms of Jaahiliyyah such as false pride and haughtiness, ill thoughts about Allaah, call for falsehood, setting up rivals with Allaah, ruling by the laws of other than Islaam, usury, etc., are all inclusive.

12. Tabarruj is an animal act

To be similar in our behavior to animals is truly a degradation and decline to a level lower than the level of being humans. Being human is a blessing which Allaah has bestowed upon us. Allaah, the Almighty, has given us a natural inclination towards covering, preservation and safeguarding modesty. To consider the acts of display and uncovering as an act of beauty represents a corruption of the Fitrah (natural disposition/ inclination) and is a sad sign of our decadence and decline.

The stability of a person's respect is linked to his or her covering of the body.

13. Tabarruj is a door to wide-spread evil

Anyone who carefully examines the Islamic texts, the Qur’aan, the authentic Sunnah and the lessons from history will become convinced of the evils and harms of Tabarruj, both in religious and worldly matters. Some of its underlying consequences are:

a) The rivalry and competition among the women in showing off their beauty to non-Mahram men. This is seduction, which leads to the spoiling of basic morality; it leaves women as merchandised articles for anyone to look at.

b) The corruption of the morality of men, especially the youth and those in adolescence; it pushes them to commit various kinds of sin. We have seen teenage kids in the streets of Europe, North America and other parts of the world roaming around smoking, at times half naked, on drugs and looking to engage in sexual relationships. Why, what happened? Many try to hide from the hard facts. The drive for lust and the materialistic life became the objective of the new generation, the Pepsi, MTV generation. The result, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases!

c) The destruction of family ties, by the of a lack of trust between family members and the great threat of divorce due to it.

d) The commercial abuse of women in media, advertisement, entertainment and many other areas.

 

e) Doing harm to women by making them vulnerable to harm by the wicked, irreligious and sinful.

 

f) The spread of diseases. The Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “Sin did not spread in any particular nation until they openly conducted (their sins) and as a result plague and other illnesses that were not present amongst their predecessors because present amongst them.”

g) The facilitation of the grave sin of Zinaa' (adultery) and the fornication which is done by the eye. The Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “(The) adultery of the eye is the lustful look.” (Reported by Muslim)

h) Tabarruj makes it difficult to lower the gaze.

 

i) It justifiably brings down the Punishment of Allaah and His Punishment is more severe than an atomic bomb. Allaah, the Almighty, says, “And when We decide to destroy a town (population), We (first) send a definite order (to obey Allaah and be righteous) to those among them [or We (first) increase in number those of its population] who are given the good things of this life. Then, they transgress therein, and thus the word (of torment) is justified against it (them). Then We destroy it with complete destruction.” (Al-Isra [17]:16)

The Prophet (sall-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said,

“When people see wrong or evil and they don’t change it

then it is eminent that the Punishment of Allaah will fall upon them.”

(Reported by Aboo Daawood and others)

 

muslimahindesertWhen American writer Samuel Cole's feminist sister converted to Islam and donned the Hijab, it shocked her family. This is his defence of Muslim women's status in Islam.

Sometime in 1987 my sister, an ardent feminist with a degree in civil engineering, converted to Islam. She now lives in Lahore, Pakistan where she is a full-time Muslim wife and mother of five—soon to be six.

As is required by her adopted Qur'an, she stops all activities to pray five times each day; and when she goes out in public she covers herself from head to toe in the Hijab.

The term "Hijab" comes from the Arabic word "hajaba," which means to hide from view. It is the long dress and veil worn by many Muslim women with the function of distinguishing them from non-Muslims, reminding them of their Islamic faith, and concealing them from the public view of males. In many of the more traditional Muslim societies women tend to remain outside the public sphere of men, devoting themselves to child rearing and taking care of the home. In part because of this apparent restriction from the public realm, many Americans see the Muslim Hijab as a symbol of female oppression.

Despite this perception, Islam is growing rapidly in America - and female converts outnumber males four to one. Indeed, according to my sister the Hijab is not a symbol of oppression, but is instead a symbol of liberation. Naheed Mustafe, a Canadian woman who converted to Islam, writes,

"Young Muslim women are reclaiming the hijab. . . to give back to women the ultimate control over their bodies."

Yet to most Americans this is a strange assertion. How can a law that restricts a woman's dress be liberating?

To Muslims the answer is easy. The Islamic tradition of Hijab frees women from being perceived primarily as sexual objects.

"[Non-Muslim] women are taught from early childhood that their worth is proportional to their attractiveness,"

writes Mustafe. It's not hard to understand this: leafing through the ads of any woman's magazine, even a male reader can sense the incredible pressure on women to conform to some ever-changing and abstract image of female beauty. Is it any wonder that American women spend billions of dollars on hair and beauty products; or that they subject themselves to plastic surgery, drugs, and diets; or that in despair they fall into neurotic cycles of anorexia and bulimia? It is the pursuit of a mirage—one that degrades and sickens the pursuers.

But the sacrifice of health (and self esteem) in a futile pursuit of physical attractiveness is not the worst effect of sexual objectification. Societies that view women as sexual objects have a horrendous rate of violence toward women. In the United States, one out of every four women will be sexually assaulted at some time in her life. And even in relatively non-violent Canada, one woman is assaulted every six minutes. Women in our society live with the awareness that they must always be cautious of dark alleys and fearful of strangers. This is true oppression, a type that stems directly from the perception of women as sexual objects.

quranbluemushafIn the few societies that closely adhere to the Qur'an—and many repressive Islamic regimes do not—this sort of violence toward women is quite low. In 1990 the number of reported rapes in Egypt, a relatively westernized Islamic society with a secular government, was only 17 (Israel reported 369 rapes that same year). And my sister has told me that as a Muslim woman, she feels a respect and security on the streets of Pakistan that she had never felt in 30 years of living in America. It does seem hard to ignore the fact that many Islamic women enjoy a level of protection and respect that is unheard of in the West. In some countries there is no doubt that this is due to the result of Islamic law that imposes punishment on offenders. But enforcement of religious law is not practiced in moderate Islamic countries such as Egypt or Pakistan; and there it seems Muslim tradition alone protects the dignity of women.

Nevertheless, Islam and its tradition of Hijab can seem to be an extreme solution to the sexual objectification of women. Can't society simply be changed through more education? Or perhaps through encouraging men to practice some self-restraint? In fact this has been a goal of the women's movement for years. But although there has been some success at increasing career and educational opportunities for women, the oppression of women continues unabated. One only needs to peruse the horror section of the local video store to see that the most common victims of violence portrayed in popular films are women. And not surprisingly statistics in the United States point to more violence directed at women, not less.

The problem in western society, as some Muslim writers see it, is that predominately Judeo-Christian cultures have no convention of equality between men and women. Instead, these traditions hold Eve to be ultimately responsible for original sin and the downfall of man. The story in Genesis is a cornerstone in the foundation of our culture. As such, it has institutionalized an essentially inferior status for women. This is not so in the tradition of Islam: Eve is not blamed for tempting Adam. Together they sinned, together they are guilty, and together they both begged for and received forgiveness from God. It is true that Islam holds women and men to be different in the most integral qualities. But unlike Judeo-Christian doctrine, the Qu'ran puts women and men on equal footing before God and thus as equally, and innately, valuable to society.

Unfortunately, many of us see Islam as a religion of suicidal bombers or of bearded zealots intent on returning us all to a cultural stone-age. But this image is perhaps unfair. All religions have their own fair proportion of crazies. Islam, however, is the largest and fastest growing of the world's monotheistic religions. Still, the Muslims have something to offer for women. Pierre Craibites (an American judge) writes,

"Muhammad, 1300 years ago, assured to the mothers, wives and daughters of Islam a rank and dignity [still] not generally assured to women by the laws of the West."

The conversion of my sister to Islam was a shock and then a mystery to me for many years. It did not seem possible for an intelligent feminist woman to, without coercion, suddenly chuck her ideals and embrace Islam. Within my family the subject is beyond the bounds of rational discussion, and it is only from my sister's very recent letters that I may have finally acquired an understanding of her unique brand of feminism: You see, in adopting Islam she has rejected a culture that assigns value to a person based on a masculine ideal of success. In exchange she has adopted a culture where she is valued as an equal...for no other reason than that she is a woman.

 

All praise is due to Allah (ta'aala), as is deserved by His Majesty and Great Power. I squestion_mark_cloudend prayers an d ask for blessings upon His Noble Messenger who drew the path for us to the pleasure of Allah and His Jannah. This path of Islaam is a straight one that is surrounded by virtues from all sides and attends to the best moral characteristics, one of which is the clothing of purity, concealment, and chastity.

The Protector, the Blessed and Above All Imperfection, has made the wearing of Hijaab an obligation for the believing woman as a safeguard for her chastity, protection of her honour and as a sign of her faith. Today, many of the Muslim and non-Muslim societies have distanced themselves from the way of Allah and deviated from His straight path. They are ill societies which are in need of help in order to gain true happiness. Among the ailments and deviations of such societies is of women making an immodest and open display of their beauty. Sadly, this has even manifested amongst our own believing Muslim Sisters. We must ask ourselves, as well as them, as to what are the causes and reasons that have led to this digression?

We put this question to various Muslim women and derived ten major reasons from their answers as to why they do not wear the Hijaab. Stay with us dear Muslim sister as we go through the reasons for why Muslim women turn away from the Hijaab. We will come to realise that surely no excuse outweighs Allah's commandment.

Excuse One: I'm not yet convinced (of the necessity) of Hijaab.

We then ask this Sister two questions:full_moon

One: Is she truly convinced of the correctness of the religion of Islam? Ofcourse the answer will be: Yes she is convinced, for she responds with, "Laa ilaaha illallah!" (There is no god but Allah) and then she says,  "Muhammadun rasoolullah!" (Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah). This shows that she is convinced of Islam as a belief system and a law by which one governs and rules their life.

Two: Is the Hijaab then a part of Islamic Law (Sharee'ah) and an obligation? If this sister is honest and sincere in her intention and has looked into the issue as one who truly wants to know the truth, her answer could only be, "Yes, of course". She says so for Allah (ta'aala), Whose deity (Uloohiyyah) she believes in, as He has commanded the wearing of Hijaab in His Book (Al-Qur'aan) and the noble Prophet ('alaihi salaat wassalaam) whose message she believes in, has commanded the wearing of Hijaab.

What do we call a person who says they believe in and are content with the correctness of Islam but who nonetheless does not do what Allah or His Messenger have ordered? Certainly they can in no way be described as those whom Allah speaks of in following verse, {The only saying of the faithful believers when they are called to Allah and His Messenger to judge between them is that they say, 'We hear and obey.' and such are the successful.} (Soorah An-Noor [24]:51)

In summary: If this Sister is convinced of Islaam, how then can she not be convinced of its orders?

Excuse Two: I am convinced of Islamic dress but my mother prevents me from wearing it and if I disobey her I will go to the Fire.

The one who has answered this excuse is the most noble of Allah's creati20081204_1d7e03874180ec9846fes4vuPrHMYS9j-5469on, the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) in concise and comprehensive words of wisdom, "There is no obedience to the created in the disobedience of Allah." (Ahmed)

The status of parents in Islaam, especially the mother, is a high and elevated one. Indeed Allah (ta'aala) has combined it with the greatest of matters, which is worshipping him in many verses. He stated, {Worship Allah and join none with Him and do good to parents.} (Soorah An-Nisaa [4]:36) Obedience to parents is not limited except in one aspect, and that is if they command anything which infact disobedience to Allah. Allah, the Almighty said, {But if they strive with you to make you join in worship with Me others that of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not.} (Soorah Luqmaan [31]:15)

The lack of obedience to them when it comes to obeying Allah must not prevent you being good to them and having kind treatment towards them. Allah, the Almighty, said later in the same verse, {But behave with them in the world kindly.}

In summary: How can you obey your mother and disobey Allah, Who created both you and your parents?

Excuse Three: My position does not allow me to substitute my dress for an Islamic dress.

alpenglowThis sister is either one of the following two types:

  1. She is sincere and honest.
  2. She is lying to herself.

We will begin with an answer to the honest and sincere sister. Are you unaware my dear sister, that it is not permissible for the Muslim woman to leave her home in any case unless her clothing meets the conditions of Islamic Hijaab. If you have taken the time and effort to learn so many matters of this world how then can you be neglectful of learning those matters which will save you from the punishment of Allah and His anger after death?! Does Allah not say, {Ask the people of remembrance (i.e. knowledgeable scholars) if you do not know.} (Soorah an-Nahl [16]:43)

If you must go out, then do not do so without the correct Hijaab, seeking the pleasure of Allah and the degradation of Satan. That is because the corruption brought about by you going out adorned and beautified is far greater than the matter which you deem necessary to go out for.

My dear sister, if you are really truthful in your intention and correctly determined you will find a thousands hands of good assisting you and Allah will make the matter easy for you! Is He not the One Who says, {And whoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty) and He will provide him from sources he never could imagine.” (Soorah at-Talaaq [65]:2-3)  

Honour and position is something determined by Allah (ta'aala) and it is not due to embellishment of clothing, show of colours and keeping up with the trendsetters. It is rather due to obedience to Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) and holding on to the pure law of Allah, which obligates the correct Islamic Hijaab. Listen to the words of Allah, "Indeed, the most honourable amongst you are those who are the most pious." (Soorah al-Hujuraat [49]:35)  

In summary: Do things in the way of seeking Allah's pleasure and entering His Jannah and give less value to the high priced, costly objects and transient wealth of this world.

Excuse Four: It is so very hot in my country and I can't stand it.

red_dawn_1600x1200Allah, the Almighty, gives an example by saying, {Say: The Fire of Hell is more intense in heat if they only understand.} (Soorah At-Taubah [9]:81)

Dear Sister, how can you compare the heat of your land to the heat of the Hellfire?

Know, my sister, that satan has trapped you in one of his feeble ropes to drag you from the heat of this world to the heat of the Hellfire. Free yourself from his net and view the heat of the sun as a favour and not an affliction especially in that it reminds you of the intensity of the punishment of Allah, which is many times greater than the heat you may now feel. Return to the order of Allah and sacrifice this worldly comfort in the way of following the path of salvation from the Hellfire about which Allah says, {They will neither feel coolness nor have any drink except that of boiling water and the discharge of dirty wounds.} [Soorah An-Naba' [78]:24-25]  

In summary: The Jannah is surrounded by hardships and toil, while Hellfire is surrounded by temptations, lusts and desires.

Excuse Five: I'm afraid that if I wear the Hijaab I will take it off, as I have seen so many other Sisters do!

Dear Sister, why haven't you instead searched out for reasons and causes to affirm tlovelyscenehe truth and guidance, until you feel stronger in following that which you know is right?

If everyone was to apply this logic, Muslims would have left Islaam in its entirety by now! They would have left Salaah (the 5 compulsory prayers) out of fear of ‘maybe’ one day I may abandon it. They would have left fasting in Ramadhan that 'maybe' i might not fast next year anyway..and the list goes on. Haven't you seen, dear Sister, how satan has trapped you in his snare and blocked you from following the revealed guidance?

Allah (ta'aala) loves continuous acts of obedience, even if they are small. Then, how about something that is an absolute obligation like the wearing of Hijaab! The Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) said, “The most beloved deed with Allah is the consistent one though it be little.”

One way by which you can gain steadfastness is by means of much supplication to Allah, asking him sincerely to make your heart firm upon the Deen, as did the Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam). Secondly, by keeping up the prayers, being mindful of the deep meanings contained within the verses you recite, for Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) states, {And seek help in patience and the prayer and truly it is extremely heavy except for the true believers in Allah who obey Allah with full submission and believe in His promise of Jannah and in His warnings (Al-Khaashi'oon).} (Soorah al-Baqarah: [2]:45)

Other means by which to keep oneself steadfast upon guidance and truth is by adhering to the laws of Islaam, indeed one of which is wearing the Hijaab. Allah, the Almighty said, {If they had done what they were told, it would have been better for them and would have strengthened their faith.} (Soorah Al-Baqarah: [2]:66)

In summary: If you hold tight to the causes of guidance and taste the sweetness of faith you will not neglect the orders of Allah, the Almighty, after having held on to them.

Excuse Six: If I wear the Hijaab then who will marry me? I will wear the Hijaab after marriage.

morningdewdropAny husband who is happy with you being uncovered and adorned in public, in defiance of and in disobedience to Allah, is not a worthy husband in the first place. He is a husband who has no feeling to protect what Allah has made inviolable, most notably yourself, and he will inmost likelihood not help you in any way to enter the Paradise or escape from the Hellfire.

A home which is founded upon disobedience to Allah and provocation of His anger is fitting that it be afflected with misery and hardship. As Allah stated, {But whosoever turns away from My reminder (i.e. neither believes in the Qur'aan nor acts upon its teachings) verily for him is a life of hardship and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Resurrection.} (Soorah Ta Ha [20]:124)

Marriage is a favour and blessing from Allah,which he gives to whom He wills. How many women who wear Hijaab (Mutahajjibaat) are in fact married, while many who don't aren't? Dear Sister, remember: a pure goal or end is not attained through impure and corrupt means. If the goal is honourable then it must necessarily be achieved by a pure and clean method.

In summary: There is no blessing in a marriage established upon sinfulness and corruption.

Excuse Seven: I don't wear hijaab based of what Allah says, “And proclaim the grace of your Lord." (Soorah ad-Dhuhaa [93]:11). How can I cover what Allah has blessed me with of silky soft hair and captivatin g beauty?

Does this sister of ours adheres tNightSkyo the Book of Allah and its commands as long as they coincide with her personal desires and understanding? She leaves behind what is mentioned therein of difficult matters when they don't please her.

If this is not the case, then why doesn't she follow the verse, {And do not show off their adornment except only that which is apparent.} (Soorah An-Noor [24]:31)

And the statement of Allah (Subhaanahu wa ta'ala), "Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks all over their bodies." (Soorah Al-Ahzaab [33]:59)?  

With this statement my sister you have now made a new Sharee'ah (Law) for yourself, which Allah (ta'aala) has strictly forbidden, namely beautification (at-Tabarruj) and uncovering (as-Sufoor). The real reason behind your defiance is your unwillingness to follow the Law of Allah, especially when it coincides with your own personal interests.

The greatest blessing or favour that Allah has bestowed upon us is that of Eemaan (faith) and Hidaayah (guidance) and among them is the Islamic Hijaab. Why then do you not manifest and talk about this greatest of blessings given to you, which should be more important to you than your beauty?

In summary: Is there a greater blessing and favour upon the woman than guidance and Hijaab?

Excuse Eight: I know that hijaab is obligatory (Waajib), but I will wear it when Allah guides me to do so.

We ask this Sister, how long will she procrastinate before she accepts this Divine Guidance? Weskybluish know that Allah has out of His wisdom made a cause or means for everything. That is why the sick take medicine to regain health, and the traveller rides a vehicle or an animal to reach his destination, and other limitless examples.

Has this Sister of ours seriously endeavoured to seek true guidance and exerted the proper means to get it such as:

  • Supplicating to Allah sincerely as He stated, {Guide us to the Straight Path.} (Soorah Al-Faatihah [1]:6)
  • Keeping company with the righteous good sisters, as they are for her among the best company.

In summary: If this sister was really serious about seeking guidance she would have exerted herself by the proper means in order to gain it.

Excuse Nine: It's not time for that yet, I'm still too young to wear the Hijaab. I'll do it when I get older and after I make Hajj!

The Angel of Death my Sister, is awaiting fophotos-of-Lenticular-Clouds-Over-Mount-Drum-Alaska-picturesr the order of Allah (ta'aala) to snatch your soul at any moment in your life. Allah, the Almighty has said, {When their term comes, neither can they delay it nor can they advance it and hour (or a moment).}

Death, my Sister, doesn't discriminate between the young or the old and it may come while you are in this state of great sinfulness and disobedience, fighting against the Lord of Honour with your uncovering and as you show your adornment to men who have not right over you. My Sister, you should race towards Allah's obedience, along with those who race to answer the call of Allah (tabaaraka wa ta'aala), "Race with one another in hastening towards forgiveness from your Lord and Paradise the width whereof is as the width of the heavens and the earth." (Soorah Al-Hadeed, [57]:21)

You are forgetting your own self by not fulfilling the right of your soul in obeying Allah and properly worshiping Him. Allah stated about the hypocrites (Al-Munaafiqoon), {And be not like those who forgot Allah and He caused them to forget their own selves.} (Soorah al-Hashr, [59]:19)

My Sister, wear the Hijaab in this young age; Allah will soon ask you on the Day of Resurrection about your youth and every moment of your life.

In summary: Stop procrastinating, my Sister. For, how can you guarantee tomorrow?

Excuse Ten: I'm afraid that if I wear Islamic clothing that I'll be labelled as belonging to some group or another and I hate partisanship.

Myellowgreeny Sister in Islam, there are only two parties in Islaam, and they are both mentioned by Allah Almighty in His Noble Book.

The first party is the party of Allah (hizbullah), the group He gives victory to because of their obedience to His commands and their staying away from what He has forbidden.

The second party is the party of the accursed Satan (hizbush-shaytaan); they disobey the Most Merciful and make corruption on earth. When you hold tight to and adhere to the commandments of Allah, among which is wearing the Hijaab, you will be, Allah Willing, a part of the successful party of Allah. When you beautify and display your charms, you will be riding with Satan, his friends and partners from among the hypocrites and the disbelievers. No company can be worse than theirs.

Dear Sister, don't you see how you are running away from Allah when you run away from the command. Instead you are running towards Satan, trading filth for good. My Sister, run instead towards Allah and follow His way, "So flee to Allah (from His Torment to His mercy). Verily I (Muhammad) am a plain warner to you from Him." (Soorah Adh-Dhaariyaat, [51]:50) 

The Hijaab is a high form of worship that is not subject to the opinions of people and their orientations and choices, as the one who has legislated it is the most Wise and He knows us better than we even know our own selves.

In summary: In the way of seeking the pleasure of Allah and in hope of His Mercy, forgiveness and Paradise, run away from the whispers and false statements of the devils from amongst both the humans and jinn! Hold tight to the legislation of Allah and follow the example of the best of women, the Mothers of the Believers and Sahaabiyaat (the Women Companions). May Allah be pleased with them all. Aameen.

In Conclusion

greenwhiteDear Sister, every day that passes while you disobey Allah by not wearing the Hijaab distances you from righteousness and brings you closer to Satan. Every day brings you closer to the grave and the Angel of Death is ready to capture your soul.

{Everyone shall taste death and only on the Day of Resurrection shall you be paid your wages in full. And whoever is removed away from the Hellfire and admitted into Al-Jannah, is indeed successful. The life of this world is only the enjoyment of deception (a deceiving thing).} [Soorah Aale 'Imraan [3]:185]

Get onto the train of repentance my Sister, before it passes by your station.

Deeply consider my Sister, how today you can change for the best before tomorrow comes.

Think about it, my Sister.... Now, before it's too late.

 

fullmoon_in_mediterranean_seaWhen I returned to Islam, the religion of our inborn nature, a fierce debate raged about girls observing the Hijab at schools in France. The majority, it seemed, thought that wearing the head-scarf was contrary to the principle that public - that is state-funded - schools should be neutral with regard to religion. Even as a non-Muslim, I could not understand why there was such a fuss over such a small thing as a scarf on a Muslim student’s head.

Muslims contributed a proportionate amount of tax to the state funds. In my opinion, schools should respect religious beliefs and practices of students as long as they did not disrupt the school routine, nor pose a threat to discipline. However, the French faced, apparently, increasing unemployment and they felt insecure about the immigration of Arab workers. The sight of the Hijab in their towns and schools aggravated such insecurity.

More and more young people in Arab countries were and are wearing the Hijab, despite the expectations of many Arabs and non-Arabs alike that it would disappear as Western secularism took root in Arab societies. Such a revival of Islamic practices is often regarded as an attempt by Muslims to restore their pride and identity, both undermined by colonialism. In Japan, it may be seen and be understood as conservative traditionalism, or the result of anti-Western feeling, something which the Japanese themselves experienced following the first contact with Western culture during the Meiji era; they too reacted against a non-traditional lifestyle and Western dress. There is a tendency for people to be conservative in their ways and to react against anything new and unfamiliar without taking the time to see if it is good or bad.

The feeling still persists amongst non-Muslims that Muslim women wear the Hijab simply because they are slaves to tradition, so much so that it is seen as a symbol of oppression. Women’s liberation and independence is, so they believe, impossible unless they first remove the Hijab.

Such naiveté is shared by "Muslims" with little or no knowledge of Islam. Being so used to secularism and religious eclecticism, pick and mix, they are unable to comprehend that Islam is universal and eternal. This apart, women all over the world from among the non-Arabs, are embracing Islam and wearing the Hijab as a religious requirement, not a misdirected sense of "tradition".  I am but one example of such women. My Hijab is not a part of my racial or traditional identity; it has no social or political significance; it is, purely and simply, my religious identity.

For non-Muslims, the Hijab not only covers a woman’s hair, but also hides something, leaving them no access. They are being excluded from something which they have taken for granted in secular society.

hijab_plumI have worn the Hijab since embracing Islam in Paris. The exact form of the hijab varies according to the country one is in, or the degree of the individual' s religious awareness. In France I wore a simple scarf which matched my dress and perched lightly on my head so that it was almost fashionable! Now, in Saudi Arabia, I wear an all-covering black cape; not even my eyes are visible. Thus, I have experienced the Hijab from its simplest to its most complete form.

What does the Hijab mean to me? Although there have been many books and articles written about the Hijab, they always tend to be written from an outsider's point of view. I hope this article will allow me to explain what I can observe from the inside, so to speak. When I decided to declare my Islam, I did not think whether I could pray five times a day or wear the Hijab. Maybe I was scared that if I had given it serious thought I would have reached a negative conclusion, and that would affect my decision to become a Muslim. Until I visited the main mosque in Paris I had nothing to do with Islam; neither the prayers nor the Hijab were familiar to me. In fact, both were unimaginable but my desire to be a Muslim was too strong (Alhamdulilah) for me to be overly concerned with what awaited me on the "other side" of my conversion.

The benefits of observing Hijab became clear to me following a lecture at the Masjid, when I kept my scarf on even after leaving the building. The lecture had filled me with such a previously unknown spiritual satisfaction that I simply did not want to remove it. Because of the cold weather, I did not attract too much attention but I did feel different, somehow purified and protected; I felt as if I was in Allah’s company. As a foreigner in Paris, I sometimes felt uneasy about being stared at by men. In my Hijab I went unnoticed, protected from impolite stares.

My Hijab made me happy; it was both a sign of my obedience to Allah and a manifestation of my faith. I did not need to utter beliefs, the Hijab stated them clearly for all to see, especially fellow Muslims, and thus it helped strengthen the bonds of sisterhood in Islam. Wearing the Hijab soon became spontaneous, albeit purely voluntary. No human being could force me to wear it; if they had, perhaps I would have rebelled and rejected it.

The Hijab reminds people who see it that God exists, and it serves as a constant reminder to me that I should conduct myself as a Muslim. Just as police officers are more professionally aware while in uniform, so I had a stronger sense of being a Muslim wearing my Hijab.

Two weeks after my return to Islam, I went back to Japan for a family wedding and took the decision not to return to my studies in France; French literature had lost its appeal and the desire to study Arabic had replaced it. As a new Muslim with very little knowledge of Islam it was a big test for me to live in a small town in Japan completely isolated from Muslims. However, this isolation intensified my Islamic consciousness, and I knew that I was not alone as Allah was with me. I had to abandon many of my clothes and, with some help from a friend who knew dress-making, I made some pantaloons, similar to Pakistani dress. I was not bothered by the strange looks people gave me!

Aniqab-003fter six months in Japan, my desire to study Arabic grew so much that I decided to go to Cairo, where I knew someone. None of my host family there spoke English (or Japanese!) and the lady who took my hand to lead me into the house was covered from head to toe in black. Even her face was covered. Although this is now familiar to me here in Riyadh, I remember being surprised at the time, recalling an incident in France when I had seen such dress and thought, "There is a woman enslaved by Arabic tradition, unaware of real Islam," (as I used to ignorantly believe that covering the face was not a necessity, but an ethnic tradition).

I wanted to tell the lady in Cairo that she was exaggerating her dress, that it was unnatural and abnormal. Instead, I was told that my self-made dress was not suitable to go out in, something I disagreed with since I understood that it satisfied the requirements for a Muslimah. But, when in Rome do as Romans do...So I bought some cloth and made a long dress, called Khimaar, which covered the loins and the arms completely. I was even ready to cover my face, something most of the sisters with whom I became acquainted did. They were, though, a small minority in Cairo.

Generally-speaking, young Egyptians, more or less fully westernized, kept their distance from women wearing Khimaar and called them "the sisters." Men treated us with respect and special politeness. Women wearing a Khimaar shared a sisterhood which lived up to the Prophet’s saying (Allah' s blessings and peace on him) that, "A Muslim gives his Salaam to the person he crosses in the street, whether he knows him or not."

The sisters were, it is probably true to say, more conscious of their faith than those who wear scarves for the sake of custom, rather than for the sake of Allah.

Before becoming a Muslimah, my preference was for active pants-style clothes, not the more feminine skirt, but the long dress I wore in Cairo pleased me; I felt elegant and more relaxed. In the western sense, black is a favourite colour for evening wear as it accentuates the beauty of the wearer. My new sisters were truly beautiful in their black Khimaar, and a light akin to saintliness shone from their faces. Indeed, they are not unlike Roman Catholic nuns, something I noticed particularly when I had occasion to visit Paris soon after arriving in Saudi Arabia. I was in the same Metro carriage as a nun and I smiled at our similarity of dress.

Hers was the symbol of her devotion to God, as is that of a Muslimah. I often wonder why people say nothing about the veil of the Catholic nun but criticize vehemently the veil of a Muslimah, regarding it as a symbol of` "terrorism" and "oppression." I did not mind abandoning colourful clothes in favour of black; in fact, I had always had a sense of longing for the religious lifestyle of a nun even before becoming a Muslimah!

Nevertheless, I balked at the suggestion that I should wear my Khimaar back in Japan. I was angry at the sister’s lack of understanding: Islam commands us to cover our bodies, and as long as this is done, one may dress as desired. Every society has its own fashions and such long black clothes in Japan could make people think I am crazy, and reject Islam even before I could explain its teachings. Our argument revolved around this aspect.

After another six months in Cairo, however, I was so accustomed to my long dress that I started to think that I would wear it on my return to Japan. My concession was that I had some dresses made in light colours, and some white khimaars, in the belief that they would be less shocking in Japan than the black variety.

sisterI was right. The Japanese reacted rather well to my white Khimaars, and they seemed to be able to guess that I was of a religious persuasion. I heard one girl telling her friend that I was a Buddhist nun; how similar a Muslimah, a Buddhist nun and a Christian nun are! Once, on a train, the elderly man next to me asked why I was dressed in such unusual fashion. When I explained that I was a Muslimah and that Islam commands women to cover their bodies so as not to trouble men who are weak and unable to resist temptation, he seemed impressed. When he left the train he thanked me and said that he would have liked more time to speak to me about Islam.

In this instance, the Hijab prompted a discussion on Islam with a Japanese man who would not normally be accustomed to talking about religion. As in Cairo, the Hijab acted as a means of identification between Muslims; I found myself on the way to a study circle wondering if I was on the right route when I saw a group of sisters wearing the Hijab. We greeted each other with salaam and went on to the meeting together.

My father was worried when I went out in long sleeves and a head-cover even in the hottest weather, although I found that my hijab protected me from the sun. Indeed, it was I who also felt uneasy looking at my younger sister’s legs while she wore short pants. I have often been embarrassed, even before declaring Islam, by the sight of a women’s bosoms and hips clearly outlined by tight, thin clothing. I felt as if I was seeing something secret. If such a sight embarrasses me, one of the same sex, it is not difficult to imagine the effect on men. In Islam, men and women are commanded to dress modestly and not be naked in public, even in all male or all female situations.

It is clear that what is acceptable to be bared in society varies according to societal or individual understanding. For example, in Japan fifty years ago it was considered vulgar to swim in a swimming suit but now bikinis are the norm. If, however, a woman swam topless she would be regarded as shameless. To go topless on the south coast of France, however, is the norm. On some beaches in America, nudists lie as naked as the day they were born. If a nudist were to ask a "liberated" female who rejects the Hijab why she still covers her bosoms and hips which are as natural as her hands and face could she give an honest answer? The definition of what part of a woman’s body should remain private to her is altered to suit the whims and fancies of either men or their surrogates, the so-called feminists. But in Islam we have no such problems: Allah has defined what may and may not be bared, and we follow.

The way people walk around naked (or almost so), excreting or making love in public, robs them of the sense of shame and reduces them to the status of animals. In Japan, women only wear makeup when they go out and have little regard for how they look at home. In Islam a wife will try to look beautiful for her husband and her husband will try to look good for his wife. There is modesty even between husband and wife and this embellishes the relationship.

Muslims are accused of being over-sensitive about the human body but the degree of sexual harassment which occurs these days justifies modest dress. Just as a short skirt can send the signal that the wearer is available to men, so the Hijab signals, loud and clear, "I am forbidden for you."

The Prophet, Allah's blessings and peace be upon him, once asked his daughter Fatima, may Allah be pleased with her,

"What is the best for a woman?"

And she replied,

"Not to see men and not to be seen by them."

This shows that it is preferable for a woman to stay at home and avoid contact with male strangers as much as possible. Observing the Hijab, when one goes outside, has a similar affect.

Having married, I left Japan for Saudi Arabia, where it is customary for the women to cover their face outdoors. I was impatient to try the Niqab (face-cover), and curious to know how it felt. Of course, non-Muslim women generally wear a black cloak thrown over their shoulders, but do not cover their faces. Non-Saudi Muslim women also often keep their faces uncovered.

Once accustomed to, the Niqab is certainly not inconvenient. In fact I felt like the owner of a secret masterpiece, a treasure which you can neither know about, nor see. Whereas non-Muslims may think they are life imitating caricatures when they see Muslim couples walk in the streets, the oppressed, and the oppressor, the possessed, and the possessor, the reality is that the women feel like queens being led by servants.

My first Niqab left my eyes uncovered. But in winter I wore a fine eye-covering as well. All the feelings of un-ease when a man's eyes met mine disappeared. As with sun glasses, the visual intrusion of strangers was prevented.

It is an error of judgment to think that a Muslim woman covers herself because she is a private possession of her husband. In fact, she preserves her dignity and refuses to be possessed by strangers. It is non-Muslim (and "liberated" Muslim) women who are to be pitied for displaying their private self for all to see.

Observing the Hijab from outside, it is impossible to see what it hides. The gap, between being outside and looking in, and being inside and looking out, explains in part the void in the understanding of Islam. An outsider may see Islam as restricting Muslims. In side, however, there is peace, freedom, and joy, which those who experience it have never known before. Practicing Muslims, whether those born in Muslim families or those returned to Islam, choose Islam rather than the illusory freedom of secular life. If it oppresses women, why are so many well-educated young women in Europe, America, Japan, Australia, indeed all over the world, abandoning "liberty" and "independence" and embracing Islam?

A person blinded by prejudice may not see it, but a woman in Hijab is as brightly beautiful as an angle, full of self-confidence, serenity, and dignity. No signs of oppression scar her face.

"For indeed it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts within the bosoms, that grow blind," says the Qur'an (Al-Hajj 22:46).

How else can we explain the great gap in understanding between us and such people?

 

muslimah-at-sunset21. An act of Obedience.

The Hijaab is an act of obedience to Allaah and to his Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam). Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) says in the Qur'an, {It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allaah and His messenger have decreed a matter that they should have an option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allaah and His Messenger, has indeed strayed in a plain error.} (S33:36).

Allaah, the Almighty also said, {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 Juyoobihinna.} (S24:31).

The respected scholars differ whether the Jilbaab (outer-garment) must include the hands and face or not. Some say that the hands and face must be covered. Other respected scholars say it is preferable for women to cover their whole bodies.

2. The Hijaab is 'Iffah (Modesty).

Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) made the adherence to the Hijaab a manifestation for chastity and modesty. Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) says, {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.} (S33:59). In the above verse there is evidence that the recognition of the apparent beauty of the woman is harmful to her. Allaah, the Almighty, has made it permissible for elderly women to lay aside their outer garments and expose their faces and hands’, still reminding them, however, that it is still better for them to keep their modesty.

3. The Hijaab is Tahaarah (Purity)

Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) has shown us the Hikmah (wisdom) behind the legislation of the Hijaab. {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.}

The hijaab brings about greater purity for the hearts of both believing men and women because it screens against the evil desires of the heart. Without the Hijaab, the heart may or may not desire. But with the hijaab the very temptation of evil glances and advances are prevented. The Hijaab cuts off ill thoughts and the greed within the sick hearts, {Be not soft in speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease (of hypocrisy or evil desire for adultery, etc) should be moved with desire, but speak in an honourable manner.} (S33:32)

4. The Hijaab is a Shield

The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said, "Allaah, Most High, in Heaven, is Ha'yeii (Bashful), Sit'teer (Shielder). He loves Hayaa' (Bashfulness) and Sitr (Shielding; Covering)."

The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) also said, "Any woman who takes off her clothes in other than her husband's house (to show off for unlawful purposes), has broken Allaah's shield upon her.”

5. The Hijaab is Taqwah (Righteousness)

Allaah, the Almighty says in the Qur'an, {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.} (S7:26). The widespread forms of dresses in the world today are mostly for showing off and are hardly taken as a cover and shield for the woman's body. For the believing women, however the purpose is to safeguard their bodies and cover their private parts as a manifestation of the order of Allaah... It is an act of Taqwah (righteousness).

6. The Hijaab is Eemaan (Belief or Faith)

Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) addresses the command regarding the Hijaab to the Muslim Women by referring to them as Al-Mu’minaat (the believing women) and this occurs many times in the Qur’aan. 'Aa'ishah (radhiallahu 'anhaa), the wife of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam), addressed some women from the tribe of Banoo Tameem who came to visit her and had light clothes on them and hence were improperly dressed,

"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."

7. The Hijaab is Haya' (Bashfulness)

There are two authentic hadith which state, "Each religion has a morality and the morality of Islam is shyness." And, "Bashfulness is from belief, and belief is in Al-Jannah (paradise)".

The Hijaab fits the natural bashfulness which is a part of the nature of women.

8. The Hijab is Gheerah (Commendable Jealousy)

The Hijaab fits the natural feeling of Gheerah, which is intrinsic in the righteous man who does not like people to look at his wife or daughters. Gheerah is a driving emotion that drives the straight man to safeguard women who are related to him from the eyes and contact of strangers. In fact, the Muslim man should have Gheerah for all Muslim women.

The mixing of sexes and absence of Hijaab destroys the Gheerah in men. Islam considers Gheerah as an integral part of faith. The dignity of the wife or daughter or any other Muslim woman must be highly respected and defended.

 

diomandThe following is a very thought-provoking story related by Muhammad Ali's daughters about his own, very unique way, of making them see things and his reasonings.

The following is an excerpt from Muhammed Ali's daughter from a book written about her father,

"If memory serves me correctly, I was wearing a little white tank top and a short black skirt. I had been raised Orthodox Muslim, so I had never before worn such revealing clothing while in my father's presence. When we finally arrived, the chauffer escorted my younger sister, Laila, and me up to my father's suite.

As usual, he was hiding behind the door waiting to scare us. We exchanged many hugs and kisses as we could possibly give in one day. My father took a good look at us. Then he sat me down on his lap and said something that I will never forget.

He looked me straight in the eyes and said,

"Hana, everything that God made valuable in the world is covered and hard to get to. Where do you find diamonds? Deep down in the ground covered and protected. Where do you find pearls? Deep down at the bottom of the ocean covered up and protected in a beautiful shell. Where do you find gold? Way down in the mine, covered over with layers and layers of rock. You've got to work hard to get to them."

He looked at me with serious eyes.

"Your body is sacred. You're far more precious than diamonds and pearls, and you should be covered too."

youareajewel

Source: "More Than A Hero: Muhammad Ali's Life Lessons Through His Daughter's Eyes."

 

treasure_chestIn many secret locations, treasure-chests, deposits, safes, banks, hidden excavations in the ground and chambers, people have hidden away from the eyes of men the most precious of items, the likes of money and jewellery. Some hide them out of fear of theft, whereas other items, such as precious stones and gold, are hidden in order to preserve their beauty and worth. Sadly, before the dignity of woman comes the need for the security of material assets.

The hearts which contain faith in the One Ever-Watching Lord ache in pain when seeing the abuse, misuse, oppression and brainwashing of women who are engrossed within titles of freedom and modernism yet unclad and devoid of shame and honour. Indeed, they have stripped off much more than their clothing: their ability to be judged for who they are over what they wear and look like. They have become prey for many men whose unrestrained glances relish and covet them with animalistic and hedonistic looks. Even many of their men don’t mind them being an open show for both the indecent people to stare at them and for decent people to become embarrassed by their immodest exposure. Strange indeed is their greedy protection for their precious inanimate objects, such as money, diamonds and jewellery that they so fastidiously store away, in comparison to their protection of the women of their homes, their ‘soul-mates’, wives, mothers and daughters.

I ask you: what liberty is there in being openly paraded in front of all men indiscriminately, regardless of whether they are drug addicts, alcoholics, gay, paedophiles, porn addicts... Are such women truly FREE?! Or are they free to be devoured by a godless, capitalist, hungry and sex-driven society. THAT is why majority of the monstrous media outlets relish in annihilating good ethics and morals. The media and news weekly censure the evil advances made towards women, such as date-rape and molestation, while simultaneously, hand-in-hand, they openly declare war against the pure veil. Yes, the very veil worn by Mother Mary, which was once upon a time for them an icon and embodiment of modesty and refinement, has now become, as declared by Jack Straw’s and Mr. Sarkozy’s Jihaad, a garb of the social outcasts.
No longer does it matter who doesn’t wear next to anything... it’s about who wears the ...burqas and abayas!

The Reality

Ah! How dark memories eat away at the tranquillity and peace of many a woman and young girl, who are now to live with regrets that tarnish and stain their lives.

My sisters, a woman –especially the Muslim woman - is more precious and deserving of attention and care than the most exquisite and beautiful of gems, diamonds and expensive stones. For she is a human being, with a heart that gushes forth sentiments and feelings from within her soul. She is a mother, a daughter, a wife and above all, she is from the Ummah (the people to whom the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) has been sent) of Islaam. Unlike these materialistic assets, she is a woman who is free to enjoy the permissible delights of this world, view its enchanting scenes and enjoy the shade of the expansive heaven above. She can breathe the freshness of the autumn breeze and can see her reflection in the lakes of summer.

Yes, she can do all this, while being covered and protected within the warmth and care of her Islamic attire. A Muslim woman wears her Hijaab and Jilbaab knowing that it is an open statement of her belief and faith in Allah, the One and True Lord. She walks with happiness, tranquillity and peace emanating from her heart. This is because she has been blessed by her Lord with the honour of wearing the dress code of the believing women of all times.

The Muslim Woman’s role models are the Mothers of the Believers and how excellent these role models are indeed! Her guide is the Qur’aan, of which the character of the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) was a receptacle.

The Sahaabiyaat's Reaction towards this Divine Command

Dear Sisters! Let’s open our hearts and allow it to sink in the words of the Lord of the heavens and the earth, {And say to the faithful women to lower their gazes, and to guard their private parts, and not to display their beauty except what is apparent of it, and to extend their head-coverings (khumur) to cover their bosoms...} (Surah an-Nur, verse 31)

Imaam Abu Abdullah Qurtubi (rahimahullah) said,

"Women in those days used to cover their heads with the Khimaar (cloth), throwing its ends upon their backs. This left the neck and the upper part of the chest bare, along with the ears, in the manner of the Christians. Then Allah commanded them to cover those parts with the Khimaar."

Imaam ibn Katheer (rahimahullah) wrote,

"{Extend their khimaars to cover their bosoms} means that they should wear the Khimaar in such a way that they cover their chests so that they will be different from the women of the Jaahiliyyah (Time of Ignorance) who did not do that but would pass in front of men with their chests uncovered and with their necks, forelocks and earrings uncovered."

My dear sister, Allah (the Mighty) has not only sanctioned the Khimaar, but another garment also comes your way, which will envelop your beauty, your very being, your physical charm and preserve it for him who is worthy of you, who has respected you by taking you under his protection in the name of Allah and by undertaking the strong covenant of marriage. More importantly, by wearing it you will be following the Words of your Creator, you will be actualising your honourable title of being a Muslimah, a woman who submits to her Lord. Your love for the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) will adorn your actions, just as the horizon is adorned by the golden light of dawn. For, Allah (the Mighty) commanded His Messenger to announce to all the Muslim Women, of which you my dear Sister are also a member,

{O Prophet! Say to your wives and your daughters and the women of the faithful to draw their outer-garments (jalaabeebihinna) close around themselves; that is better that they will be recognized and not annoyed. And God is ever Forgiving, Gentle.}

You are following the way of the pious women before you. Therefore, envelop yourself with Allah’s guidance and mercy by following His teachings, just as the Sahaabiyaat did. Umm Salamah, the Mother of the Faithful said,

“When the verse, {That they should draw their Jalaabeeb close around them} was revealed, the women of Ansaar (the women companions of Madinah) came out as if they had crows over their heads by wearing Jalaabeeb.” (Sunan Aboo Daawood, Book 32 #4090)

In fact, some of the Sahaabiyaat remained in their homes and would not go out until and unless they had a Jilbaab. In Prophetic Narrations (ahaadeeth), we find that the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) commanded the Sahaabiyaat to come out for the ‘Eed gathering. One of them then asked the Messenger (peace be upon him),

"O Messenger of Allah! What about the one who does not have a Jilbaab?” He said, "Let her borrow the Jilbaab of her companion." (Saheeh Bukhaari, Book 8 #347)

It is noteworthy that the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not say that she could suffice with a baggy shirt and a baggy lower-garment, as the men wore. Secondly, he did not have to define to her what the Jilbaab actually was. This is because the Jilbaab was understood and known to them, both by language as well as by the faith that glowed and alighted the path of guidance for them. In truth, many of us today know what the Jilbaab signifies yet try to interpret it to mean something else. Is it really ignorance or is there a bigger agenda… of the satan that perches on the heart of man when Allah (the Mighty) isn’t remembered.

Let’s look at how the female Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) wholeheartedly complied with the command of their Lord, submitting to it by embracing the Jilbaab. In Rooh al-Ma’aani, 22/89, it says,

“After the revelation of this verse, many female Companions (may Allah be pleased with them all) used to emerge outside their homes with complete reticence as though birds were sitting on their heads. They used to cover themselves with long black cloaks.”

niqaabigrey89As I come near to the conclusion of this article I wish to present to you, my dear Sister, a beautiful narration of our Beloved Messenger (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said, "Allah said, ‘My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him.’” (Saheeh al-Bukhaari)

That is why we find many of the female Companions also adopting the face-veil. For many the face-veil brings about a frown on the face, but as for those who are acquainted with history know that the face was covered not only by many Muslim women but also by many pious women in the past. For it was an emblem of modesty, something to be respected and not vilified.

After Surah an-Noor, verse 31 had been revealed, the Mothers of the Faithful, as well as the Sahaabiyaat (Women Companions), continued to wear Niqaab with the approval of the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam). This has been specifically mentioned for Umm Khallad (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 14 #2482), Asma bint Abu Bakr (Muwatta, Book 20 #20.5.16), and some Qurayshi women who were visiting the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) (Sahih Bukhari, Book 54 #515).

Therefore, we should respect the Niqaab even if we do not don it ourselves. How can our hearts have a dislike, an itch against any of the practices of the Sahaabiyaat? Although there is a difference of opinion over whether the Niqaab is binding upon a Muslimah, there is no difference of opinion over the fact that it is a highly recommended action. Therefore, the Khimaar (a big Hijaab fully covering the chest) and the Jilbaab are a must and binding upon every single Muslimah who has testified in the Oneness of Allah and the Messengership of the final Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him).

Following the Deen al-Haqq (true religion) is an honour and great blessing. For, Allah (the Mighty) has blessed you with belief in Him, without you ever having seen Him. That in itself is truly a miracle. Not only that, dear Sister, Allah (the Omnipotent) has blessed you in becoming a follower of the Final and Noble Messenger Muhammad (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam), although you have never sat in his presence nor met him in this life.

Let’s not shy away from being enveloped by the teachings of Islaam and the command of our Lord and His Messenger, peace be upon him, and let’s allow our every single breath to be an act of worship until we meet our Lord.

And surely, the meeting is soon.

 

This is an amazing lecture by Imaam Siraaj Wahaaj on the Jilbaab. All sisters are advised to listen to this talk and pass it on to other sisters.

Allah Almighty has said: {O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their Jilbaabs over their bodies. That will be better (for them), (so) that they shall be known (as free respectable women and) and not harmed. And Allâh is ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.} (Surah al-Ahzaab [33]:59)

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For more recommended lectures: Click Here.

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Evidence from the Qur’aan

muslimah-at-sunset2In the Quran, Allah ('azza wa jall) says:

{O Prophet! Say to your wives and your daughters and the women of the faithful to draw their Jalaabeeb close around them; that is better that they will be recognized and not annoyed. And God is ever Forgiving, Gentle.} (Surah al-Ahzab, [33]:59)

In this verse there is a clear command for Muslim women to wear a garment which Allah ('azza wa jall) has referred to as "Jalaabeeb", the plural of "Jilbaab". The Jilbaab is an outer-garment, an extra layer, something worn over normal clothing.

Further, in Surah an-Noor, chapter 24, verse 31, Allah ('azza wa jall) commands the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wasallam) to say to the believing women,

{And say to the faithful women to lowe r their gazes, and to guard their private parts, and not to display their adornment except what is apparent of it, and to extend their head-coverings (khumur) to cover their bosoms, and not to display their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband's fathers, or their sons, or their husband's sons, or their brothers, or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their womenfolk, or what their right hands rule (slaves), or the followers from the men who do not feel sexual desire, or the small children to whom the nakedness of women is not apparent, and not to strike their feet (on the ground) so as to make known what they hide of their adornments. And turn in repentance to Allah together, O you the faithful, in order that you are successful.}

This Qur'anic verse lists a number of things that Muslim Sisters are to do:

1) Lower the gaze (from looking at that which is impermissible).

2) Guard the private parts; by, for example, not having sexual relationships outside marriage.

3) Conceal all of the body and its decorations except "what is apparent of it". Some scholars have agreed that the face and the hands are "what is apparent of it"; other scholars say that only the eyes are "what is apparent of it".

4) Wear a Khimaar (head-covering) and extend it to cover the bosom. This means that it covers the hair, the neck, the shoulders, and the upper chest.

5) That the husband, mahram relatives, women, slaves, male servants who do not feel sexual desire, and children are the only people who can see more of the woman than "what is apparent of it".

6) Not stamp the feet, so that what is hidden becomes known to others, such as anklets.

jilbaabis566It can clearly be seen from this analysis that Allah ('azza wa jall) has commanded every believing woman that when non-Mahram men are present, she is to wear the Jilbaab, which is loose and opaque, plus a headscarf (referred to in the Quran as 'Khimaar').

Surah an-Noor, chapter 24, verse 60, provides an exemption for certain women in regard to the Jilbaab. It reads as follows, {And the elderly women, those who do not have hope of marriage, there is no fault on them that they lay aside (some of) their clothing as long as they are not making a display of their adornment. And that they refrain is better for them. And Allah is the Hearer, the Knower.}

For those who who say that the Jilbaab is 'just a tradition' and 'not from Islaam', here is an interesting puzzle. Elderly women who have no hope of getting married again are allowed to, "lay aside (some of) their clothing" - but they are restricted from making a display of their adornment. How can a woman lay aside any part of her clothing without making a display of her body? The answer is: she is laying aside an extra layer. This is the only way to understand this verse.

So what is this "extra layer" that Muslim women are wearing? My dear sister, it is the Jilbaab! Many of our predecessors explained that these verses pertain to the Jilbaab.

Some of them include:

  • Ibn Abbas,
  • Ibn Umar,
  • Mujahid,
  • Sa'id ibn Jubayr,
  • Abu ash-Sha'tha,
  • Ibrahim an-Nakha'i,
  • Al-Hasan,
  • Qatadah,
  • Az-Zuhri, and
  • Al-Awza'i in Imam ibn Kathir's Tafseer (commentary) of Surah an-Noor, verse 60.

May Allah be pleased with them all. Hence, what we learn is:

*The Muslim woman is commanded in Surah an-Noor, verse 31, that whenever she is around non-Mahram men, she must cover with a Jilbaab. This rule is always in force whenever non-mahram men are present, whether she is indoors or outdoors.

*The only exception to the rule regarding the Jilbaab is that of elderly women who do not have hope of marriage. They may leave off the Jilbaab, as long as they continue to wear other clothing that covers them. Although, it is important to note that if an elderly woman has the potential to be a temptation for men, for example she still looks young, then such a woman should be careful and cover, so as to safeguard herself and also not be a cause of temptation for others, as this exception is for women who have aged outwardly.

The Women-Companions and the Jilbaab

When the above verse was revealed, the Sahaabiyaat were eager to obey the command of their Lord, the Most High, without complacency or procrastination.

Umm Salamah, the Mother of the Faithful, said,

“When the verse, "That they should draw their jalaabeeb close around them" was revealed, the women of Ansaar came out as if they had crows over their heads by wearing Jalaabeeb.” (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 32, #4090)

Jilbaab_BrownIn fact, some of the Sahaabiyaat remained in their homes and did not go out when they didn’t have a Jilbaab. In Prophetic Narrations (aHaadeeth), we find that the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) commanded the Sahaabiyaat to come out for the Eid gathering:

Narrated Umm Atiyya: “We were ordered to bring out our menstruating women and screened women to the religious gatherings and invocation of the Muslims on the two Eid festivals. These menstruating women were to keep away from the musallaa (prayer area). A woman asked,

"O Messenger of Allah! What about one who does not have a Jilbaab?"

He said, "Let her borrow the jilbaab of her companion." (Sahih Bukhari, Book 8, #347)

My Dear Sister, surely if it were allowed for a sister to go outdoors without Jilbaab, why didn't the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam) allow the Sahaabiyaat to leave their homes, in order to join the believers in the celebration of E’id, without their Jilbaabs? But instead, he told them that they must find the garment called "Jilbaab" to wear, even if they had to borrow one from a friend!

The rule is plain: It is disobedience to Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) and His Noble Messenger (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) if a woman goes outdoors without wearing the garment called "Jilbaab".

What does the dictionary say about Jilbaab?

The definitive dictionary of classical Arabic, ‘Lisan al-Arab’ by Ibn al-Mandhur, provides the following definition of Jilbaab,

"The Jilbaab is the outer-garment, mantle, or cloak. It is derived from the word tajalbaba, which means to clothe. Jilbaab is the outer sheet or covering which a woman wraps around her on top of her garments to cover herself from head to toe. It hides her body completely." (Lisan al-Arab, volume 7, page 273)

The dictionary al-Qamus al-Muhit by Abu Tahir al-Fayruzabadi provides the following definition,

"The Jilbaab is that which conceals the clothes like a cover."

The dictionary al-Sihah by Jawhari provides the definition,

"The Jilbaab is the cover and some say it is a sheet. Jilbaab has been mentioned in the Prophetic Narrations with the meaning of sheet, which the woman wrapped over the clothes."

What material should the Jilbaab be made of?

This garment must be made of fabric that is thick and opaque so that it does not show what is beneath it, and it must be loose so that it does not reveal the contours of what is beneath it.

A Statement of Modesty, A Protection

Modesty is always a concern whenever non-Mahram men are present, and for the purposes of modesty a sister must wear a Khimaar and Jilbaab, which has been commanded by Allah ('azza wa jall) in the Qur’aan. It is therefore incorrect to say that Shalwaar Kameez or other conservative outfits with the Hijaab alone, are sufficient for the purposes of modesty.

Rather, when a sister goes outdoors or in public, there may be other concerns beyond modesty. Surah al-Ahzab, verse 59, mentions these concerns in giving the reason for the command of Jilbaab, when it says, "that is better so that they are recognized and not annoyed" . From this we can see that the Jilbaab has two purposes:

1) To make the sister recognizable as a Muslim woman.

2) To protect her from being "annoyed", i.e., harassed, molested and hurt.

In Conclusion:

The Muslim woman, as is clear from the verses of the Qur'aan, must wear the Jilbaab.

She should wear it proudly and with conviction, because it asserts her Islamic identity and is a command from the Lord of the Worlds.

 

currentaffairsAllah, the Most High says:

“O Prophet! Tell your wives and daughters and believing women that they should cast their Jalaabeeb [outer- garments] over their persons. That is most convenient that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Most Forgiving and Most Merciful.” (Surah al-Ahzaab, verse 59).

The above verse is clear in determining that it is obligatory (Fardh) upon a woman to cover herself with a Jilbaab. This leaves us with a question, what is a Jilbaab?

It is stated in Lisaan al-Arab:

“Jilbaab, plural of Jalaabeeb: an outer garment or a cloak with it a woman covers her head and chest. And it is said: It is a long cloak that covers a woman completely." (Ibn Manzur, Lisan al-Arab, 2/317).

Sayyiduna Ibn 'Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him) states: “Jilbab is long cloak that covers a woman from her head to her feet.” (Ruh al-Ma’ani, 22/88).

The Two Types of Jilbaab

There are two kinds of Jilbaab:

1. A Jilbaab which is worn from the head down, all the way down to the feet, wearing just one cloth. This type of Jilbaab is predominant in Saudi Arabia, Iran and such places.

2. Other sisters wear a Jilbaab which is detached from the Khimaar (head-cover), and flows from the shoulder downward. If a sister wears this kind of Jilbaab then she must insure that her Hijaab is big enough and covers her hair, ears, neck and chest properly. If she is complacent in doing so, then a day is near when she will be accountable to her Lord.

Let's contemplate the following narration:

'After the revelation of this verse, many female Companions (Allah be pleased with them all) used to emerge outside their homes with complete reticence as though birds were sitting on their heads. They used to cover themselves with long black cloaks.' (See: Ruh al-Ma’ani, 22/89).

The above and other interpretations of Jilbaab are clear that a Jilbaab is the outer garment that women must wear when emerging in front of strangers, be it outside or within the home. This garment must be wide, loose, and modest and cover the body completely. The scholars differed over whether or not the face-veil is included, without a doubt it is highly recommended.

 

sistershelpThe sources in Islamic law are primarily the Qur’aan and Sunnah[1]. The Qur’an, the book held sacred by Muslims, contains approximately 500 verses dealing with diverse topics which are of a legal relevance. The Sunnah represents the repository of reports of sayings, acts and consent of the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam). The role of the Sunnah is seen as an elaboration of the Quranic injunctions. There are other sources which derive from the two primary sources and they are the Ijmaa’ (legal consensus), Qiyaas (analogical deduction) and other disputed sources but they are not relevant to the discussion at hand.

The Notion of an Islamic Dress Code

Islamic law is comprehensive in its enunciation of a code of conduct with respect to an individual’s life and dealings with others. Part of this are the rules pertaining to dress and attire. The dress code includes rules for men and women. So for example, a man is obliged to cover a certain part of his body whilst in front of others and he is not allowed to wear gold and silk which women are allowed to do. On the other hand women are also obliged to cover a certain part of their person when going out of the family home wearing a headscarf (Khimaar) and an outer garment (Jilbaab) which men are not required to do. Thus, the Jilbaab is not a new innovation but part of the well known attire of the dress code for Muslim women.

Explicit Mention of Jilbaab in Primary Muslim Religious Sources

The authority of the requirement for women to wear the Jilbaab is the Qur’an itself. In the chapter of al-Ahzaab (The Confederates) the following verse instructs Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam),

{O Prophet! Say to your wives and your daughters and the women of the faithful to draw their jalaabeeb (pl. of jilbaab) close around them; that is better that they will be recognized and not annoyed. And God is ever Forgiving, Gentle.}[2]

The divine wisdom for instructing women to wear the Jilbaab mentioned in the above verse is so that women be modestly attired and not be subject to the irreverent insults of the unscrupulous.

The obligation of Jilbaab is also derived from the Sunnah of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) which is the second primary source of law for Muslims.

Umm Atiyyah narrated: We were ordered to bring out our menstruating women and screened women to the religious gatherings and invocation of the Muslims on the two Eid festivals. These menstruating women were to keep away from the musallah (place of prayer). A woman asked,

"O Messenger of Allah! What about one who does not have a Jilbaab?”

He said, "Let her borrow the Jilbaab of her companion."[3]

The above understanding was practised by women at the time of the revelation of the above verse as the following reports indicate,

Umm Salamah (a wife of the Prophet) narrated,

“When the verse, {That they should draw their Jalabeeb close around them} was revealed, the women of Ansaar (inhabitants of Madinah) came out as if they had crows over their heads by wearing Jalaabeeb.[4]

'Aa'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) also reported,

“The wife of Rifa'a al-Qurazi came to Allah's Messenger while I was sitting...and she was showing the fringe of her Jilbaab.”[5]

The Opinion of Reputable Experts in Quranic Exegeses

The classical experts of Quranic exegesis all support the legitimacy of the Jilbaab with only difference being whether it extends to covering that face. Here are some quotes from the most widely recognised Islamic sources.

Ibn Jarir At-Tabari (d.310[6]):

‘God Almighty said to His Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam[7]): Tell your wives, daughters and the wives of the believers…that they should draw over themselves their Jilbabs.’

Al-Qurtubi (d.671):

‘Jalabeeb is the plural of Jilbaab, and it is a garment larger than a Khimaar (headscarf). It has been narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas and Ibn Mas'ood that it is a ridhaa (large sheet of cloth). It is said that it is a qina’ (veil) but the correct view is that it is a garment which covers the whole body. It has been reported in Sahih Muslim on the authority of Umm ‘Atiyyah who asked; "O Messenger of Allah! What about one who does not have a Jilbaab?". He said, "Let her borrow the Jilbaab of her companion."

Fakhr ad-Din ar-Razi (d. 606):

‘In the days of Jaahiliyyah (pre-Islamic times) the free and women in bondage would go out uncovered and they would be followed by those intent on fornication and consequently allegations would be levelled against them. So that is why God ordered the free women to wear the Jilbaab.'[8]

Ibn Kathir (d.774):

‘God Almighty commands His Messenger (Muhammad) to command the believing women – especially his wives and daughters – to draw the Jilbaab over their persons’[9]

In Safwat at-tafaaseer, a modern work by Muhammad Ali as-Sabuni, which compiled the exegeses from most of the reputable works of Quranic exegesis, said that verse 59 of chapter Ahzab is saying to the Prophet to,

‘Tell the women that they should wear a wide outer garment.’ [10]

This view is not confined only to Sunnis but is the view of the Imami Shia as well. Al-Janabizi said,

‘The women did not cover their faces and chests with their Jilbaabs, hence God Almighty ordered them to cover their faces and chest with Jilbaabs so that they can be distinguished from other women. The woman’s Jilbaab is a wide garment worn over the normal clothes…’ [11]

Views of Contemporary Scholars

jilbaab657The classical position that that the Jilbaab is obligatory is the view generally held by contemporary scholars as well. Like the classical scholars, their difference was over whether the Jilbaab should cover the face or not, and not on the conditions of the Jilbaab. As an example of the contemporary position the following are words of the deobandi Mufti Ibn Adam al-Kawthari which is representative of the general view,

‘The above and other interpretations of jilbaab are clear that a Jilbaab is the outer garment that women must wear when emerging in front of strangers. This garment must be wide, loose, and modest and covers the body completely.’

Sheikh Muhammad Al-Hanooti:

‘The verse 59 of Surah Al-Ahzab urges a woman to wear a Jilbab. A Jilbab means the outer garment over her inner clothes to guarantee that everything of her body is covered and doesn’t show or shape any of her figures. That is the objective of Sharee’ah.’

What is a Jilbaab?

The jilbaab is an outer garment which covers the whole body. This definition is discerned from a lexical and textual basis:

Lexical description of Jilbaab as an Outer Garment:

The nature and description of the Jilbaab can be understood from the lexical definition of the word Jilbaab as explained in classical Arabic dictionaries. These sources also explain the function of the Jilbaab as an outer garment:

Ibn Manzur,

"The Jilbaab is the outer garment, mantle, or cloak. It is derived from the verb tajallbaba, which means to clothe. Jilbaab is the outer sheet or covering which a woman wraps around her on top of her garments to cover herself from head to toe. It hides her body completely."[12]

Al-Fayruz Abadi,

"The Jilbaab...is that which conceals the clothes like a cover."[13]

As for modern dictionaries it is worth citing from the monumental work of the 19th-century British scholar and lexicographer Edward William Lane (1801-76),

‘Jilbaab: …one that envelopes the whole body: (TA) and a wide garment for a woman, less than the milhafah (sheet): or one with which a woman covers over her other garments…’[14]

This description has also been given in the Oxford Dictionary of Islam edited by John L. Esposito where it states,

‘Jilbab: Generic term for women’s outer garment (shawl, cloak, wrap) in Arabian sedentary communities before and after the rise of Islam. The Qur’an (333:59) instructs Muslim women to cloak themselves as a mark of status and as a defensive measure against sexual harassment in public places.’[15]

The textual definition as enunciated by the law giver is of Jilbaab as an outer garment.

The reasons for concluding that the Jilbaab is an outer garment are textual as well as linguistic. What is meant by textual in this context is the primary corpus of Islamic legal text obligated by the law giver i.e. the Qur’aan and the practise of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). So for example, in chapter 24 the following verse gives elderly women the option to set aside their outer garment,

jilbaabis566{And as for women past child-bearing who do not expect wed-lock, it is no sin on them if they discard their (outer) clothing in such a way as not to show their adornment. But to refrain (i.e. not to discard their outer clothing) is better for them. And Allâh is All-Hearer, All-Knower.} [24:60]

The garment mentioned must be an outer garment as the verse could not possibly be saying they should discard their normal everyday clothing. That is why companions of Muhammad, such as Ibn ‘Abbaas and Ibn Mas’ood, both understood the garment to refer to the Jilbaab, since that is the outer garment that is worn by women.[16] Both of whom are considered experts in Quran exegesis.

Authority for it as an outer garment is also to be found in the Sunnah. The above report of Umm ‘Atiyyah is clear in its indication that the Jilbaab is an outer garment. This is because the Prophet (peace be upon him) stipulated that before going out she needs to wear Jilbaab and if she does not have one she must "…borrow the jilbab of her companion."[17] The fact that she was not allowed to go outside without it indicates its function as an outer garment.

Also Abu Dawud records a report on the authority of Umm Salamah (a wife of the Prophet) which indicates that Jilbaab is an outer garment. It is reported that she asked the Prophet,

"Can a woman pray in a long dress and a headscarf without wearing an Izaar (a type of Jilbaab)?"

He (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) replied, "If the long dress is ample and covers the surface of her feet." (Abu Dawud[18]) The fact that Umm Salmah asked if she can wear a long dress and headscarf without the Izaar (Jilbaab), this indicates that the Izaar (Jilbaab) is normally worn on top of the regular clothes.

This is supported by the view of companions who said that the clothing of women during prayer is the above three items, which means the Izaar (jilbaab) must have been worn above the normal clothes. So, for example, it is narrated that 'Umar (radhiallahu `anhu) said,

‘The woman should pray in three items of clothing: long dress, headscarf and Izaar (Jilbaab).’

It is also reported that his son Abdullah b. Umar said,

‘The woman should pray wearing long dress, headscarf and milhafa[19] (Jilbaab).’[20]

It is due to the above narrations that ash-Shirazi took the view that the jilbaab is the outer garment as the following excerpt shows,

‘It is recommended that when a woman prays that she wears three items of clothing: a headscarf by which to cover the head and neck. A dress to cover the body and feet and a Milhafah (jilbaab) by which to cover her clothes. This is due to the report that Umar (radhiallahu 'anhu) said, ‘The woman should pray in three items of clothing: dress, headscarf and Izaar (Jilbaab).’ It is also reported that Abdullah b. Umar who said, ‘The woman should pray wearing dress, headscarf and Milhafah (Jilbaab).’ Also, it is recommended that her Jilbaab is thick so that it does not describe parts of her body and does not move away when she assumed the bowing and prostration positions so that it does not describe her clothes.’

An-Nawawi (d.676)[21], a commentator of Al-Shirazi’s Muhazzab explained the latter’s comments and attributed it to Shaafi'ee (the founder of the Shafi’i school of thought),

‘This ruling has been stated by ash-Shaafi’ee and the scholars of the school are agreed on this.’

Then he quotes the view that the Jilbaab,

‘...is a sheet worn over the clothes (i.e. that it is an outer garment)’ saying, ‘This view is correct and it is the view of ash-Shaafi’ee (i.e. that the Jilbaab is worn over ones clothes).[22]

Ibn Hazm stated in his al-Muhalla,

‘In the Arabic language of the Prophet, Jilbaab is the outer garment which covers the entire body. A piece of cloth which is too small to cover the entire body could not be called Jilbaab.’[23]

Thus, the fact that the Jilbaab is an outer garment is established by the Qur’aan and Sunnah and it is the same meaning understood by the Companions of Muhammad (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) and attested by the scholars.

Other conditions:

There are other conditions which are not specific to Jilbaab but generally applicable to all clothing when women go before men who aren’t Mahrams ('Mahrams' refers to close relations to whom marriage is impermissible or the spouse) whether inside or outside the home. They are the following:

i. It must be loose-fitting
ii. Should not be semi-transparent
iii. Should not become an attraction (Tabarruj)
iv. Should not resemble the clothing of men.

These conditions are well known and accepted and there is no need to dwell on them, for further discussion of their evidences one can consult the relevant books of Islamic jurisprudence.[24]

Is Shalwaar Kameez Sufficient?

The question that needs to be answered is that does it fulfil the key requirements of a Jilbaab i.e. is it a loose fitting outer garment which covers the entire body? The Shalwaar Kameez normally does not cover the whole body but leaves some parts exposed and nor is it always loose fitting and provided even these conditions are met, it is certainly not an outer garment. It is not worn over ones normal clothes; rather it is an every day garment worn by south Asian women. An outer garment by definition is worn over the home clothes and outside the home whereas the Shalwaar Kameez is the normal home clothes worn inside the home. Therefore, the Shalwaar Kameez fails the first basic criteria of being an outer garment before one looks at the other criteria’s that have been mentioned.

Is modest clothing enough to fulfil the requirement of Jilbaab?

The answer to the question depends whether one includes the conditions mentioned above as part of what constitutes modest clothing. It is valid that the outside garments do not all have to be uniform in their design but they nevertheless have to fulfil the criteria set down by Islamic law. Modesty is not left to the subjective interpretation of individuals but rules have been laid down governing the requirements of modesty i.e. modesty cannot transcend the conditions but must incorporate them. Hence, it is not enough that the garments cover the whole body but is tight fitting and nor is it enough that it is loose fitting but not an outer garment. In this respect, the outer garment can be of diverse forms as long as the individual conditions have been met.

Juristic Difference and the Muslim Individual

Those who aren't familiar with Islamic law wonder why certain Muslims insist on following a rule which other Muslims do not follow and consequently assume that the one insisting is extreme or unnecessarily strict. So for example, a particular Muslim scholar might see a certain dress as acceptable, but this does not mean others are bound or even allowed to follow this view. The reason for the difference is that like any other legal tradition Muslim jurists differ on the details of law and it is up to the individual to follow the verdict of the jurist s/he regards as the most trustworthy and competent. The criterion for following a particular ruling is not self interest and expediency but the competence of the jurist who derived it. Having followed a particular verdict this becomes God’s law for that individual and cannot be changed for considerations of public approval or disapproval. This is because not following the rule is an abandonment of a religious obligation which has to be accounted for in the Hereafter. Thus, in the context of the Jilbaab for a Muslim woman who follows a particular jurist’s understanding of what is required by Islamic law, she is obliged to follow that even if others hold different views simply because she believes that view to be sound. In this respect, it does not matter what contrary views exist out there as the obligation on her is to follow the jurist she trusts and not what is expedient. Particularly in this case as the view that Jilbaab is necessary, it is something that has been expressed in both the letter of the law and in harmony with the spirit of the law. In fact it is a rule that traditionally has not been a matter of dispute amongst early jurists.

Religious Duty or Political Statement?

Jilbaab is essentially a religious duty first and foremost. The authority for it is derived directly from Islamic sources and not the political writings of contemporary Muslims. It was advocated by the classical jurists who expounded its requirement a thousand years before the phenomenon of resurgent Islam. The Jilbaab predates the current political controversies and therefore the motivation for adhering to it is born of a feeling of religious obligation and not a political statement.

The legislative wisdom behind the Jilbaab dress code is for women to be modestly attired, as mentioned in the aforementioned verse and commentary of the Qur’aan. The motivation is religious. Had the motive been other than religious then it would not be accepted as an act of worship which requires that the act be of exclusive devotion to God. Wearing it as a political statement or even as a fashion statement and not a religious obligation will still be considered as a sinful act because the motivation was not adherence to the religious obligation, which is the only motive that is acceptable in matters of obedience to God.

Is Jilbaab a symbol of Oppression?

The Muslim woman’s attire is viewed by some non-Muslims as oppressive because, it is claimed, the Jilbaab represents the inferior status of woman, that they are compelled against their will or that it inhibits their participation in public life. This view is not born of an understanding of the divine wisdom for legislating the dress and nor from the positive effects that accrue from its adherence. Rather, the origins of such thinking are the abuse of women by some Muslim men which Islamic law itself denounces or the stereotypical perceptions of the role of women in Islaam[25]. Islamic law views men and women as the same in their worth and religiosity before their Lord. The disparity in the rules arises not from a discriminatory view of any one gender but the fact that Islamic law recognises that there is a gender difference and hence prescribes rules accordingly. The great majority of rules apply equally to men and women due to their identical nature, but differ in a few cases due to the gender dissimilarity.

Thus, Muslim women wear the Jilbaab to remain modestly attired in public life and feel that it enhances their worth rather than diminish it. Its practical effects are also appealing to women who feel they can confidently[26] participate in outside activities, such as work and study, free from the disrespectful glances of men. So far from obstructing women’s social participation the jilbaab actually facilitates it by empowering and liberating her from unwanted sexual advances and thereby promoting an atmosphere which is conducive to the social interaction of men and women.

_____________________

References

[1] For a good over view see: Sources of Islamic Law: An Overview by Yasin Dutton. http://www.muhajabah.com/docstorage/dutton.htm
[2] Qur’an: (33:59)
[3] Sahih Bukhari Book 8/347
[4] Sunan Abu Dawud 32/4090
[5] Sahih Bukhari Book 72/684
[6] Date of death according to Hijri calendar.
[7] pbuh is abbreviation for ‘peace be upon him.’
[8] ar-Razi, Fakhr ad-Din, at-Tafsir al-Kabir, p.231.
[9] Ibn Kathir, Tafsir al-Qur’an al-‘Azim.
[10] as-Sabuni, Muhammad Ali, safwat at-tafasir, p.538.
[11] al-Janabizi, Tafsir bayan al-sa’adah fi muqaddimat al-ibadah, see commentary of verse 59 of surah Ahzab.
[12] Ibn Man.zur, Muhammad ibn Mukarram, Lisan al-`Arab, (Bayrut : Dar .Sadir, 1955-56). Vol.7, p. 273.
[13] Al-Fayruzabadi, al-Qamus al-Muhit,
[14] Lane, Edward William, An Arabic-English lexicon, (London 1863-1893) under the relevant root verb.
[15] Esposito, John L. (ed.), The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, (Oxford University Press, 2003).p.160.
[16] al-Qurtubi, Jami li-ahkam al-Qur’an, verse 60 of sura Nur.
[17] Sahih Bukhari Book 8/347
[18] This narration is mawquf and is attributed more correctly to Umm Salama, the wife of the Prophet.
[19] Milhafa is a synonym of jilbab. Notice here Abdullah b. Umar uses the word milhafa (jilbab) instead of izar, indicating that izar here is the jilbab. See al-majmu’ sharh al-muhazzab, p.259.
[20] Al-Nawawi, al-majmu’ sharh al-muhazzab, (Beirut, 2002), pp.258.
[21] A major reference for Islamic law who’s interpretation of law is canonized in the Malaysian legal code.
[22] An-Nawawi, al-majmu’ sharh al-muhazzab, (Beirut, 2002), pp.258-9.
[23] Ibn Hazm, Al-Muhalla, vol. 3, p.217
[24] For a contemporary source see Badawi, Jamal, The Muslim Woman’s Dress According to the Qur’an and Sunnah, (Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd,1980) or http://members.tripod.com/iaislam/TMWD.htm
[25] Bullock, Kathrine, Rethinking Muslim Women and the Veil: Challenging and Historical and Modern Stereotypes, (Herndon, VA: International Institute of Islamic Thought, 2002).p.73.
[26] Ali, Sayyid, ‘Why Here, Why Now? Young Muslim Women Wearing Hijab,’ The Muslim World, vol.95, (2005), pp.515-530.

 

miscarriageThe Arabic word ‘Islaam’ simply means to 'surrender (to Allah)'. Hence, the essence of our religion is this surrender or submission, which requires trust on our part. Trust that Allah (Subhaanahu wa ta'ala) will be there for us, trust that He knows what is best for us.

Submission to Allah ('azza wa jall) requires that we put Him before ourselves. That we put our desires second to His desire for us. That we acknowledge that He knows better than we do what is right for us.

Very often, such submission is difficult. Sometimes it seems that everything that happens is bad, and we wonder h ow Allah ('azza wa jall) could desire this for us. And sometimes the things He asks of us are difficult to do, either because it seems too much to ask, or because it seems pointless or out of date. In times like this, submission becomes a struggle. We really have to work to find our trust in Allah (a'zza wa jall). We really have to do battle with our souls to admit that what we want or what we think doesn't seem to be what's right or best.

Allah ('azza wa jall) tests us. He sends difficulties our way to see how we cope. He wants to see if we will keep trying even when it's a challenge. He wants to see if we will maintain our faith in Him, and trust in Him. If we do continue to have faith and to trust in Him, then our reward is Jannah, inshaa’ Allah [if Allah wills], an everlasting reward. Any difficulty we face in the world will seem as fleeting as a nightmare when we look back from the Hereafter, and any ease we face in the world will also seem as fleeting as a dream. We shouldn't set these fleeting states as our goal; we should set the ultimate happiness as our goal. And the ultimate happiness is Jannah.

So if we have hope of Jannah, we should persevere even when it's a struggle for us, and we should keep on trying to perfect our submission to Allah ('azza wa jall). This is what the religion is about: Sabr (patience), Jihaad [struggle], and Islaam (submission).

The way that Allah ('azza wa jall) has commanded

jilbaab657I mentioned above that part of Islam is trusting that Allah ('azza wa jall) knows what is best for us, and it is submitting to His judgment even if we don't think we agree. If Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) has commanded something that we don't understand or don't like, we shouldn't reject that thing. Instead, we should try to seek its wisdom for ourselves and to change our own minds.

Now, the testimony of faith that we make to become Muslims, or when we assume adult status in the deen [religion], has two parts: ‘laa ilaha ill'Allah’ and ‘Muhammadan rasul Allah’. The first of these, none has the right to be worshiped except Allah, is a statement of our belief that Allah ('azza wa jall) is the Ruler of All, Judge of All, All-Knowing, All-Powerful. It is He who must be obeyed, and obedience to anybody else is merely conditional and must not be done if they ask us to disobey Allah ('azza wa jall). And Allah (Subhaanahu wa ta'ala)has given us everything we have, our existence, our life, our capabilities, our goodness. If He took any of it away, there is no power that could help us get it back. And we could never repay Him to match what He has given us, or even begin to. However, in his infinite mercy, Allah ('azza wa jall) asks of us only that we obey Him. Isn't it the least that we can do for Him after all that He has done for us?

There is also the second testimony: ‘Muhammad is the messenger of Allah’. The Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) would not be a messenger if he did not come with a message. And his message is the Qur’aan. Therefore, by saying this statement we are really also testifying that the Qur’aan is a message from Allah, the Most High, and therefore, obedience to Allah ('azza wa jall) entails obedience to the Qur’aan, because it is His Word.

The Qur'aan also tells us to obey the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) as well as Allah ('azza wa jall) (see for example Surah an-Nisa ayah 59). It tells us that if we have faith we will take the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) as our judge in any dispute (Surah an-Nisa ayah 65). It tells us that when both Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) and the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) have decided a matter it is not for a Muslim or Muslimah to have any further say in that matter (Surah al-Ahzab ayah 36). It tells us that what the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) has given us, we should take and what he has prohibited us, we should refrain from (Surah al-Hashr ayah 7). And it tells us that the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) has been sent not just to deliver the Qur'aan but also to explain it (Surah an-Nahl ayah 44).

Now the questions arise:

  • question_mark_cloudHow do we determine what the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) has ordered, in order to obey it?
  • How do we find out what he judged in disputes so that we can abide by it?
  • How do we know what he has decided on matters, so that we can submit to it?
  • How do we discover what he has given, so that we can take it, or what he has prohibited, so we can abstain from it?
  • How do we learn how he has explained the Quran, so that we can follow that explanation and not other explanations?

The answer to all these questions is that we look at the Sunnah. The Sunnah is the Qur’aan put into action by the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam). It shows what he ordered, judged, and decided. It shows what he has given us and what he has prohibited for us. Yes, it shows how he explained the Qur'aan. If we do not obey what the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) has ordered, or abide by what he has judged, or submit to what he has decided, or take what he has given, or refrain from what he has prohibited, or follow his explanation of the Qur’aan - then we have indeed disobeyed Allah ('azza wa jall).

That is why, if we are sincere about obeying Allah ('azza wa jall) and following His commandments, we should follow both the Qur’aan and the Sunnah.

Hijab: A commandment of the Qur’aan and Sunnah

In the first part of this article, we learnt that a part of our commitment to Allah ('azza wa jall) is to trust that He knows what is best for us and that what He has commanded is what is right and if we find ourselves disliking the way that He has set for us, our challenge is not to ignore or to try to change His command, but rather it is to seek for ourselves the wisdom in the command and to surrender to His will. If we don't like what He has commanded, we should try to change ourselves, for the word of Allah cannot be changed. In such a situation we should try to find reasons why His command is right and will be beneficial for us, and we should try to motivate ourselves through this to obey the command.

In the second part of the article, we established how the Qur’aan and Sunnah are where we must look in order to find out what Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) has commanded. Neither one can be taken alone; both must be taken together.

Now we will cover what the Qur’aan and Sunnah says about the Hijaab and Jilbaab. There are two verses of the Qur'aan that deal with Hijaab. These are Surah an-Nur, verse 31 and Surah al-Ahzab verse 59. Let's look at what these verses say, and then how the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) has explained them.

Surah an-Nur, verse 31 says, {And say to the faithful women to lower their gazes, and to guard their private parts, and not to display their beauty except what is apparent of it, and to extend their head-coverings (khumur) to cover their bosoms (jaybs), and not to display their beauty except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband's fathers, or their sons, or their husband's sons, or their brothers, or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their womenfolk, or what their right hands rule (slaves), or the followers from the men who do not feel sexual desire, or the small children to whom the nakedness of women is not apparent, and not to strike their feet (on the ground) so as to make known what they hide of their adornments. And turn in repentance to Allah together, O you the faithful, in order that you are successful.}
Surah al-Ahzab ayah 59 says, {O Prophet! Say to your wives and your daughters and the women of the faithful to draw their outer-garments (jalaabeebihinna) close around themselves; that is better that they will be recognized and not annoyed. And God is ever Forgiving, Gentle.}

Together, these two verses lay out seven commandments for Muslim sisters:

Jilbaab_Brown

1. To lower the gaze.

2. To guard the private parts.

3. Not to display beauty except what is apparent of it.

4. To extend head-coverings to cover their bosoms.

5. Not to display beauty except to husbands or their fathers...

6. Not to strike ones feet (on the ground) so as to make known what they hide (such as anklets etc)

7. To draw outer-garments close around ourselves.

It can be seen that three of these commandments relate to behaviour. These are:

1. Lowering the gaze.

2. Guarding the private parts.

3. Not striking the feet on the ground so as to give knowledge of what is hidden.

Lowering the gaze means not looking at what is forbidden to be seen of others. Guarding the private parts means that only the husband is allowed to see or touch them. Not giving knowledge of what is hidden means not posturing or strutting around so as to jangle hidden jewellery or make men think about hidden body parts. All of these are part of what Allah ('azza wa jall) has commanded with regards to the Islamic Hijaab.

The other four commandments relate to dress, and can really be expressed as three rules:

1. Not displaying the beauty beyond "what is apparent of it" except to the people listed in 24:31.

2. Extending the head-covering to cover the bosom.

3. Drawing the outer-garment close around.

Imaam Abu 'Abdillah Qurtubi (may Allah have mercy on him) said,

"Women in those days used to cover their heads with the Khimaar (head-cover), throwing its ends upon their backs. This left the neck and the upper part of the chest bare, along with the ears, in the manner of the Christians. Then Allah commanded them to cover those parts with the Khimaar."

Imaam Abul-Fida ibn Katheer (may Allah have mercy on him) said,

"'Extend their khimars to cover their bosoms" means that they should wear the Khimaar in such a way that they cover their chests so that they will be different from the women of the Jaahiliyyah (time of ignorance) who did not do that but would pass in front of men with their chests uncovered and with their necks, forelocks, and earrings uncovered."

There is also the commandment in Surah al-Ahzaab, verse 59 to wear the Jilbaab (outer-garment). The Jilbaab is a modest Islamic coat that goes over our home-clothes.

The Jilbaab must meet the following conditions:

*An outer-garment, an extra layer, something worn over the clothes.

*Thick and opaque and loosely cut so that it conceals what is underneath it.

*It is worn with a Khimaar, socks and shoes. It should cover from the head/shoulders to the ankles, like a cloak.

*It must be worn around non-Mahram men (this would exclude the husband, brother, father etc; i.e. men to whom marriage is not allowed, aswell as the husband), even if it’s in the home.

In Summary

path1According to the Qur’aan and Sunnah, Hijaab consists of

1. Modest behaviour in lowering the gaze, guarding the private parts and avoiding showing off.

2. Modest dress.

Each of these obligations is clearly set out in the Qur'aan and has been explained by the Prophet (sallallahu 'alyhi wa sallam). The obligation of the Hijaab and Jilbaab is therefore clear, explicit, and detailed for anyonewho  turns towards both the Qur’aan and Sunnah for their guidance.

The following are some important questions for sisters who are feeling weak in putting/ keeping on the Hijaab and Jilbaab:

  • Do you believe that Allah ('azza wa jall) knows what is best for you?
  • Do you think that if you dislike what He has commanded, you should be the one to change, not Him?
  • Are you willing to set aside your dislike and to try to seek the wisdom in what He has commanded?
  • Are you motivated to try to surrender to Him even though it may be difficult for you?
  • Is the promise of Jannah worth going through some hardship now?

Please consider each of these questions. If you are sincere in your commitment to Allah ('azza wa jall), and in your choice of Islam as a religion, don't you think that you should give the Hijaab and Jilbaab a try or atleast become stronger in your conviction in wearing it?

May Allah ('azza wa jall) fill all our hearts with strong faith, conviction and steadfastness in that which he loves. Aameen.

 

They can be seen every day. Shuffling down the high-street, their hair covered, their body shrouded in a lifeless garment that drapes to the floor. These poor, uneducated women are the symbol of Islamic oppression, as Cherie Blair openly commented,
“Nothing more I think symbolizes the oppression of the women than the Burka.”

Some people would see this modesty as positive, because, as Jean-Marie Le-Pen famously said about the Hijaab,

“It keeps us from ugly looking women.”

Either way, these subjugated Muslim women are in need of being liberated by Western society so that they can embrace their femininity and rest on equal footing with men. Or do they?

Quest for Beauty

flower-tulip-water-drop2In Western societies, the women feel free to dress and act as they wish – they pride themselves on having the choice to be an individual and look unique, in their own personal style. They believe that the Western society has resulted in them being respected as equals to men and has liberated them by helping them to embrace their sexuality, thus raising their confidence and self-esteem.

However, this notion held in many women’s heads doesn’t reflect the reality on the ground. The quest for beauty isn’t as easy as it seems – it normally starts at home, flicking through a magazine, watching MTV or passing by a billboard. The women portrayed are always the same – slim, full-chested and wearing skimpy outfits that are meant to entice men. Most of the time their flawless, air-brushed faces are smiling at the camera, causing the majority of teenage girls to sigh enviously and then look at their own figure in the mirror disappointedly. This pressure for women to look a certain way, to be beautiful like the famous actresses in adverts causes them to undergo this quest for the western perception of “beauty”.

A common misconception is that they undergo this quest by choice, not compulsion. However, this is not the case. Most women feel the need to look “beautiful” and feel revolted when they see their own bodies in the mirror – they idolise the models and pop stars, hoping to look like them so that they too will be respected by people based on their looks. Teenage girls especially feel the peer pressure to look like the ‘in star’ at that moment in time so that people would want to be her friend. This feeling of being inadequate in the eyes of society is exploited by the multibillion dollar industries such as cosmetics, designer clothing and the increasingly popular plastic surgery industry. The UK beauty industry secures revenues to around £8.9 billion every year, whilst the US cosmetic industry grows by a shocking 10% each year.

If women didn’t feel the need to look a certain way, why would 22% of women stay at home because they didn’t feel good about their appearance as stated in “The Bread for Life” campaign?[1] If they didn’t view appearance as the most respectable part of a woman, why did 55% of women rate looks when asked what the most attractive aspect of a woman was, when only 1% attached importance to intelligence. If these women are confident and have a high self-esteem why do 45% of women that are underweight think that they are too fat? Why do 1 in 20 women in America suffer from anorexia, bulimia or other eating disorders? Would 1000 women in the US die every year from anorexia if they felt confident and respected by men?[2] By looking at just a few statistics we can see that these women aren’t pursuing this quest out of choice, rather they feel compelled to by society.

Women in the West not only need to look a certain way, but need to dress a certain way. Let’s take a look at what fashions women in the West need to comply to. Most of the famous fashion designers are secular men that aim to make the clothing as revealing as possible because to view their woman sexually is their definition of beauty. These men feel free to view women in any manner they wish – designers such as Dolce & Gabbana, Gionni Versace, Alexander McQueen, who designs for Gucci, and John Gallian, who designs for Christian Dior.

By this, we can see that not only women in the West feel the need to comply with a certain beauty status quo but these unrealistic expectations result devastatingly for many women, who suffer physically, mentally and emotionally. This quest for beauty is not undertaken by choice, but via pressure and therefore the concept of the Western woman being free to define how she looks and dresses is none other than a myth.

Islam’s View of Women

orangeA common belief in the West is that Islam views the women as inferior to men and that she is viewed as substandard. The misconception that Islam only views women to please men, cook and clean is undoubtedly taken from Asian culture that stems from routes of Hinduism and corrupted Islam that has evolved over the ages. However, this doesn’t come from the religion and beliefs of Islam. On the contrary, Islam came as a mercy to mankind, whether they are men or women. We believe that women are equal to men, although it has to be accepted that they are biologically different and therefore have different roles and responsibilities.

If we look back to the time of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alyhi wa sallam) we see that the Muslim women were treated with the utmost respect, something the non-Muslim women actually yearned for. Consequently the non-Muslim women used to imitate the Muslim women in order to gain the respect they had. Islam views the woman as a jewel or pearl that isn’t to be viewed by all. She is much too precious to be viewed and exhibited to lecherous men. Islam doesn’t have a certain concept of what physical “beauty” is, therefore there are no unrealistic expectations that women have to live up to. Islam recognises that physical attraction is important in a marriage but it emphasises that what is most important is the belief and righteousness of women. If her faith is strong and beautiful, then a pious man will view her to be beautiful as well.

The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, "A woman is married for four things, i.e., her wealth, her family status, her beauty and her religion. So you should marry the religious woman (otherwise) you will be a losers." [Sahih Bukhari]

Women have a high status in Islam, especially the mother, where the Prophet is reported to say, “Be at your mother’s feet and there is the Paradise.” (Ibn Majah, Sunan, Hadith no. 2771) This privilege is given to the mothers of our Ummah and no one who has looked at Islam carefully and sincerely can come to the conclusion that Islam views woman as being inferior.

The Musilm Woman’s Dress Code

jilbaabis566Women can dress however they like in front of their husbands and do not need to cover in front of their Mahrams (people whom they can’t marry and their husbands), although within reason. Islam is, however, a complete Deen (way of life) and has discussed the concept of the image that a women should adopt when out of the house and in the presence of non-mahram. Many people are confused as to what is prescribed for the woman to wear in public life – is a skirt and top with a scarf alright? Or Shalwaar Kameez? What if the trousers are loose?

Our belief and rulings can’t stem from our mind or from our parents’ minds or from our culture. We have to follow what our Lord ordained for us and look at the evidences given as to how we should dress.

In the presence of all non-mahrams, the image prescribed for women is that all of her body should be covered; some scholars include the face and hands, others don't. The clothing shouldn’t be see-through or tight so as to reveal the shape of the body. Therefore the whole of the woman including the neck, feet and hair (even one hair), is 'awrah (that which is impermissable to reveal to a non-mahram man). Any exceptions to this have been defined by the Qur’an and Sunnah and not by man’s mind.

In Surah Nur Allah (a'zza wa jall) says, {They should not show their charms (zeenah) in public beyond what may (decently) be apparent thereof; hence let them draw their head-coverings (khumar) over their necks and bosoms (juyub). And let them not display (more of) their charms except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband's fathers, or their sons, or their husband's sons, or their brothers, or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their womenfolk, or what their right hands rule (slaves), or the followers from the men who do not feel sexual desire, or the small children to whom the nakedness of women is not apparent, and not to swing their legs (in walking) so as to draw attention to their hidden charms.} [Al-Qur’aan, an-Noor, verse 31]

Therefore, when the woman leaves her home and goes out into public house, it is an obligation on her to wear the Khimaar (head-scarf) and Jilbaab (a one piece dress that covers her and drapes to the floor – it also covers her home clothes, which she wears underneath).

If she leaves her home without these two pieces of clothing then she is sinful in the eyes of the Creator as the evidence of these two garments is very clear.

{Let them draw their head-coverings (khumar) over their necks and bosoms.} [Al-Qur’aan, an-Noor, verse 31]

{Oh Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (jalabeeb) all over their bodies).} [Al-Qur’aan, al-Ahzaab, verse 59]

The first verse discusses the obligation of the Khimaar, whilst the second verse discusses the obligation of the Jilbaab. In addition, the ruling for the Jilbaab is reinforce by a Hadeeth narrated by Umm Atiyya, she said,

“The Messenger of Allah ordered us all women whether single or menstruating or housewives, to go out in the days of Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha. (It was ordered that) the menstruating women should not perform prayer but can join in the festivities. I said,

"O Messenger of Allah! What if one of us does not have a Jilbaab?"

He said, "She can borrow a Jilbab from her sister.”

Another misconception is that women can only wear black when in public life. The ruling for this is to do with the issue of Tabarruj, i.e. draw attention to her.

{…and do not keep exhibiting your beauty and decorations like what used to happen in the Jahiliyyah period (before Islam).}

This refers to the woman not wearing any clothing jewellery or make-up that would draw attention to her beauty (tabarruj).

Behind the Veil

jilbaab1555Many of the Muslim women that choose to follow the command of their Lord are doing so purely and simply because their Lord prescribed it for them.

{It is not fitting for a believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Apostle, to have any option about their decision: if anyone disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong path.} [Al Qur’aan, Al Ahzab: 36]

So, contrary to Western belief they aren’t oppressed when covering, rather they are liberated and know that they are striving in the path of Allah ('azza wa jall). They have overcome the shallow thinking of Western society where everyone’s sole concern is how they look and are perceived by others. The Muslim woman has a much greater confidence than those around her because everyday she is going against the grain and not conforming to what society expects of her as a woman. She has satisfaction in knowing that she is standing with her head held high for what she believes in. By wearing Hijaab, the Muslim woman has freed herself from the grips of Western culture and has in turn given herself the confidence that women in the West are too afraid to have. However, the Western media usually doesn’t look beyond the veil to see how she is as a person, but rather assume she is wearing Hijaab against her will and is just another uneducated Muslim woman.

The Muslim woman defies this stereotype and is a thinking woman. She tries to educate herself as much as she can as Hijaab doesn’t limit her in anyway – she still can go to school, college and university as long as she doesn’t have to compromise her beliefs. Wearing Hijaab gives some women the encouragement to pursue their education at university and even go onto a masters degree as they have the drive to show the West that wearing the veil doesn’t cover their mind.

The Muslim woman has many role models, but contrary to Western idols like Christina Aguilera, Cameron Diaz and Tyra Banks, who are'nt known for their modest behavior, she looks up to the great Sahaabiyaat (Women Companions) of the Prophet’s era. She knows that her duty as a Muslimah is much more than just wearing the Hijaab. She aims to be caring and compassionate like Faatimah bint Muhammad (radhi Allahu 'anhaa) was to the Prophet (sallallahu 'alyhi wa sallam). After her mother died she realised her responsibility and with loving tenderness devoted herself to his needs. She was always there to provide the Prophet (sallallahu 'alyhi wa sallam) with comfort and solace during times of trial, difficulty and crisis. Rasoolullah (sallallahu 'alyhi wa sallam) said, "The best women in all the world are four: the Virgin Mary, Aasiyaa the wife of Pharoah, Khadijah Mother of the Believers, and Fatimah, daughter of Muhammad."

The Muslim woman yearns for the strength of Summaiyah (radhi Allahu 'anhaa) who was tortured to by Abu Jahl, but never gave in to revoking her religion. She was eventually tortured to death and earned the position of the first martyr in Islam. Umm Amarah (radhi Allahu 'anhaa) was a skilled fighter and fought in many battle, most famously in the Battle of Uhud where she protected the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) with her own body, not caring about herself. The Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) is reported to say that wherever he turned, whether to his left or right, he saw Umm Amarah fighting to defend him.

Women like 'Aa'ishah (radhi Allahu 'anhaa) had a remarkable memory and reported over 2000 ahaadeeth (narrations). She had a deep understanding of Tafseer (Qur’anic Exegeses), Hadeeth (Prophetic Narrations) and Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence). At the age of 18 people came from all over Arabia to ask her questions about the religion because she was one of the most knowledgeable scholars.

The Muslim woman today is much more than a woman wearing Hijaab and Jilbaab. She strives to be like her role models in the past who wore Hijaab, who were modest, compassionate and caring, who were educated and who persevered for Islaam no matter what the cost.

The Muslim woman of today strives to be a role model for the future.

_____________

Footnotes:

[1] This campaign, in 1998 surveyed over 900 young women between ages 18 and 24 living in the West.
[2] American Anorexia/Bulimia Association
 
sisterpark
 
Alien scum how dare you come!
To these hallowed land of pies and plum!
Covered behind layers of veils,
You want to live in our hallowed vales!

Perhaps it has never crossed your mind
Our arrival was at behest of your kind
To these shores we were invited
At the behest of those knighted

Well what can I say
Now we all have to pay
Little can I understand you
Your face is blurred and hidden beyond view

My words are spoken and not drawn,
Have you ears for eyes my dear little pawn?
Do you wish to see the expressions of my face
Or is it the colour of my race?

True, it is ear and not eye
Perhaps pawn am I
Strange how quick I was to declare
My support for the single straw and its awful blare

They spin their web of lies
Stifling protests and cries
Is your life to end as dummies?
Wrapped by others into petrified mummies?

It isn't veils of cloth that stand
Beyond what I understand
But the veils of my leader's mind
Perceptible to all but the blind

Though eyes can open and see
Only when hearts understand shall we be free
Perhaps a flame shall flicker and a boy shall say
The Emperor's nudity is on display

 

ladyofdeen'Aa'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated, 'The wives of Rasoolullah (peace be upon him) used to go to al-Manasi, a vast open place (near Baqee' in Madinah) to answer the call of nature at night. 'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) used to say to the Prophet (peace be upon him),

"Let your wives be veiled (i.e. obligate this on them)."

But the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) did not do so (as this was not the command of his Lord as yet). One night Sawdaa' bint Zam'a (may Allah be pleased with her), the wife of the Prophet (peace be upon him), went out at 'Ishaa' time and she was a tall lady. 'Umar addressed (may Allah be pleased with him) her and said,

"I have recognized you, O Sawdaa'."

He said this because he eagerly desired that the verses of al-Hijaab (the observing of veils by the Muslim women) may be revealed. Then Allah revealed the verses of al-Hijaab.' (Saheeh al-Bukhaari, Volume 1, Book 4, Hadith # 148)

Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) said, "I know (about) the Hijaab (the order of veiling of women) more than anybody else. Ubay ibn Ka'b used to ask me about it. Allah's Apostle became the groom of Zainab bint Jahsh whom he married at Madinah. After the sun had risen high in the sky, the Prophet invited the people to a meal. Rasoolullah (peace be upon him) remained sitting and some people remained sitting with him after the other guests had left. Then Rasoolullah (peace be upon him) got up and went away, and I too, followed him till he reached the door of 'Aai'shah's room. He then thought that the people must have left the place by then, so he returned and I also returned with him. Behold, the people were still sitting at their places. So he went back again for the second time, and I went along with him too. When we reached the door of 'Aa'ishah's room, he returned and I also returned with him to see that the people had left.

Thereupon Rasulullah (peace be upon him) hung a curtain between me and him and the Verse regarding the order for Hijaab (veiling of women) was revealed. (Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 7, Book 65, Hadith # 375)

Safiyyah bint Shaiba (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated, 'Aa'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) used to say,

"When (the Verse), {They should draw their veils over their necks and bosoms} was revealed, (the ladies) cut their waist sheets at the edges and covered their faces with the cut pieces. (Saheeh al-Bukhaari Volume 6, Book 60, Hadith # 282)

'Aa'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated,

“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." (Saheeh al-Bukhaari, Volume 1, Book 8, Hadith # 368)

niqaab344Umm Salamah, one of the Mothers of the Believer (may Allah be pleased with her) said,

"When the verse {That they should cast their outer garments over their persons} was revealed, the women of Ansaar came out as if they had crows over their heads by wearing outer garments. (Abu Dawood Book 32, Hadith # 4090)

'Aa'ishah, Ummul-Mu'mineen (may Allah be pleased with her) said,

" May Allah have mercy on the early immigrant women. When the ve rse, {That they should draw their veils over their bosoms} was revealed, they tore their thick outer garments and made veils from them. (Abu Dawood Book 32, Hadith # 4091)

Fatima bint al-Mundhir (may Allah be pleased with her) said,

"We used to veil our faces when we were in Ihraam, while we were accompanied by Asmaa' bint Abi Bakr as-Siddiq." (Muwatta Imaam Malik, Book 20, Hadith # 20.5.16)

'Aa'ishah, Ummul-Mu'mineen (may Allah be pleased with her) said,

"The riders would pass us while we were with the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). When they became close to us, we would draw our outer cloak from our heads over our faces.  When they passed by, we would uncover our faces." (Recorded by Ahmad, Abu Dawood and Ibn Maajah)

'Aa'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated a long narration some of which is, '...Rasoolullah (peace be upon him) then said to Sauda bint Zam'a, "Veil (screen) yourself before him," when he saw the child's resemblance to 'Utba,

The boy did not see her again till he met Allah.' (Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 9, Book 89, Hadith # 293)

Thabait ibn Qays (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated, 'A woman called Umm Khallad came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) while she was veiled. She was searching for her son who had been killed (in the battle). Some of the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) said to her, "You have come here asking for your son while veiling your face?" She said,

"If I am afflicted with the loss of my son, I shall not suffer the loss of my modesty." (Abu Dawood Book 14, Hadith # 2482)

 

white sands blue skies by corazondediosOne of the multitudinous quasi-reasons given by a certain Conservative MP in the UK and many others for why Muslim women shouldn’t wear the niqab is that it is, in the words of one observer, ‘a blatant obstacle to integration’. This seemingly unequivocal (and ‘factual’) statement is trotted out not only by right-wing MPs, but many a Muslim called upon by the media to offer their two pence worth in the debate. The argument may hold some water if only someone were able to define quite what integration is. Of course there is a lexical meaning which defines integration as “the bringing of people of different racial or ethnic groups into unrestricted and equal association, as insociety or an organization...” (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/integration. Accessed 10 Sep. 10)

Or, indeed, as in Tito’s communist Yugoslavia or Zhivkov’s Bulgaria, which of course Britain isn’t, or isn’t supposed to be. To start to address this argument one would start by having to define integration in our context, only to stumble across the first hurdle – there isn’t a consensus definition for integration in the sense that it is being used.

The authors of a report on integration commissioned by the Home office and carried out by a team at the University of Oxford, are a bit more honest about how unambiguously the term can be used as it is:

‘...it must be emphasised that there is no single agreed understanding of the term ‘integration’' (Castles S, Korac M, Vasta E, Vertovec S. Integration: Mapping the field. Report of a Project carried out by the University of Oxford. 2002. Home Office online report 28/03. http://rds.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/onlinepubs1.html. Accessed 10 Sep. 10)
Castles et al are also helpful in dispelling the ‘when in Rome’ notion of integration:
“Integration is a two-way process: it requires adaptation on the part of the newcomer but also by the host society. Successful integration can only take place if the host society provides access to jobs and services, and acceptance of the immigrants in social interaction. Above all, integration in a democracy presupposes acquisition of legal and political rights by the new members of society, so that they can become equal partners. Indeed, it is possible to argue that, in a multicultural society, integration may be understood as a process through which the whole population acquires civil, social, political, human and cultural rights, which creates the conditions for greater equality. In this approach, integration can also mean that minority groups should be supported in maintaining their cultural and social identities, since the right to cultural choices is intrinsic to democracy.”
With this elucidation, the onus of integration, at least in part, is placed not upon those being integrated as much as it is upon the host society. However, herein lays another dilemma. Much of the discourse regarding integration deals with the issue of migrants, refugees and ethnic minorities integrating into society. What then of third generation “immigrants” who are British and may already have been ‘integrated’ and then decide to wear the veil? Or of white British Muslims upon whom many of the parameters of ‘integration’ do not apply? One politician on a radio interview cited the veil as being discourteous to the ‘host society’. What then if the lady behind the veil is an Emma with a double-barrelled surname who is very much part of the ‘host society’? Many cannot accept the notion that the women wearing the veil are in the main not refugees who have been forced to wear it under duress, but British women who have chosen to wear it out of religious conviction.
 
designniqbCastles et al helpfully contribute to the discourse by setting out a list of criteria against which the degree of integration can be measured – a sort of checklist of indicators that determine the extent of integration with indicators of education, training and employment; social integration; health, legal , political and overall integration. The irony is that there may be women wearing the veil who may tick all the boxes by being educated, working in the public and services sector, voting and being good neighbours, yet be considered not to have integrated because of the niqab. Furthermore, if the veil is an obstacle to integration, the implied meaning by those who use this word loosely is that they will not be able to integrate at all, whilst in the academic sense of the word they may be more integrated into the workings of British society than many thousands of young white working class English (the so-called ‘Chavs’) whose integration may never been questioned on the basis of their appearance. For a politician to assert that Muslim women are not integrated because they wear the niqab and do not converse with male strangers on a street is somewhat of an over-simplification to say the least.
 
One of the problems in the discourse is that whilst often referring to integration, many of its proponents actually mean assimilation, a totally different concept and certainly not one to be expected in what is supposed to be a democratic country in a post-colonial era that has described itself as being multicultural. (Modood T. Remaking Multiculturalism after 7/7. 2005. http://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict-terrorism/multiculturalism_2879.jsp. Accessed 10 Sep. 10)
 
As expounded on by Professor Modood (University of Bristol), assimilation involves the ‘newcomers’ becoming as much like their hosts as possible while not disturbing the host society, with the least change in the attitudes of the latter. Integration is a two-way process, while assimilation is a one-way process. What is regrettable is that it is the voices within the Muslim community that are the most vocal advocates of assimilation (whilst still talking of ‘integration’) to an extent that even the generality of British society does not demand of Muslims in 21st century Britain.
 
There are many reasons for this, and certainly one of them is a pathological sense of inferiority that has persisted, albeit in subtle form and especially amongst South East Asian communities, despite decades having elapsed from the end of colonial rule where the subjugated Asian held the white Sahib in awe. There is a subliminal message that in their difference, there is somehow something superior about British society and Muslims are to integrate upward in to it – in contrast to a lateralised mutual accommodation – and adopt its ways, and aspects of Muslim culture are looked down on and denigrated as being inferior. The Niqab and the Muslim women’s dress is certainly a case that illustrates this conflict, what with it being described as medieval and backward. A certain lack of confidence in their own heritage makes many Muslims echo these same sentiments.
 
The glaringly obvious reality of the Hollobone bill and the brouhaha surrounding the Niqab across Europe is that it is not motivated by altruistic concerns about social cohesion or courtesy or women’s rights. If so, then banning the English Defence League, countering racism, promoting respect and allowing people to practice their religion in peace are more worthy causes to promote. This is no more than a further symptom of the swelling problem of anti-Islamic xenophobia that is spreading across Europe, with a growing far-right and a dangerous rise in anti-Muslim sentiment that is catalysed by a biased media and closet racists in mainstream parties. It may be argued that with so much Islamophobia around, Muslims should not fan the flames by wearing attire that is seen as divisive. But that is a flawed argument, as it is precisely this argument that gives in to the racist far-right and emboldens them further. It is for this very reason – this dangerous Islamophobia in Europe – that Muslim women should not be allowed to be bullied into taking off the veil, and that Muslims, whatever their views, should support them. It is tremendous naiveté if Muslims think that by a handful of women taking off the veil the racists and Islamophobes will back off or that the growing xenophobia that Muslims are being subjected to will somehow abate.
 
These law-abiding women have been forced to the cold front, and are taking the bullet for the rest of the Muslim community simply for adopting attire they believe is recommended by Islam and a tradition of the wives of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The honourable thing to do for anyone with any sense of justice and concern for both the Muslim community and social cohesion overall is to support them and not let the racists and xenophobes claim a pathetic victory.
 

The following is a detailed dissertation on the Niqaab, with pictures and references.

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Aboo Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said that Allah, the Almighty said, "My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works until I love him." (Saheeh al-Bukhaari)

Niqaab is Mustahabb (Recommended)

twosistersshoreThe term Mustahabb means ‘recommended’ i.e. something which is recommended to do because it draws a person closer to their Lord, their Creator and Sustainer. The above Divine Narration beautifully and magnificently describes the way to seek the love of Allah. It is our obedience to Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala), through our servitude of what He has commanded us to do which draws us nearer to Him. And by doing more than what He has been commanded us, we may draw nearer to Him even more, something which every Muslim woman should strive for.

When a Sister is already covering everything but her face and hands, and she then wants to do something extra in order to to seek the love of Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala), the next step for her is to cover her face and hands.

Even if there was no other reason for wearing the Niqaab, other than to draw closer to Allah ('azza wa jall), surely this reason in itself sufficient. Let alone the fact that the Mothers of the Faithful, the Prophet’s (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) wives, wore the face-veil! Furthermore, many of our beloved Prophet's companions viewed the face-veil to be an obligation, binding on all Muslim women. Their statments regarding the Niqaab can be found in many Qur’anic exegeses pertaining to the verses on covering.

Niqaab, A Statement of Modesty

glovesblackThe word 'Hayaa'' is often translated to mean ‘Shyness’, even though the Arabic term 'Hayaa'' actually contains a much richer meaning. A better, albeit longer, translation of its meaning might be, ‘Keeping private that which should be private’.

Islaam places great importance on privacy, and on keeping private those things which should be kept private. Hijaab is in fact part of a larger code of conduct, and Hayaa' (modesty, shyness and bashfulness) constitutes only one aspect of it.

Allah ('azza wa jall) has, through the Sharee'ah (Islamic Codes of Law), clearly distinguished between a person's public and private space; He has placed a screen (i.e. Hijaab) between them. Private space is physically separated from public space and strongly protected against any incursion (Surah an-Noor, verses 27-29). What people do in their private space has also been protected and screened, This is accomplished by the prohibition on speculation, gossip and spying (Surah an-Noor, verses 12-13 and Surah al-Hujuraat, verses 11-12). What is private must be kept private, by the physical protection of walls and by the conduct of Muslims in not talking about it, speculating over it, or looking into it.

The same rule applies to the physical person, as what is not necessary to be displayed for some task should be covered. That is why we find in Surah an-Noor, verse 31, women are {not to display their beauty except what is apparent of it}. Whereas in the private space and sphere of the home and family, rules are relaxed. People within the special group of family may visit freely (Surah an-Nur, verse 61) and be at ease in their manner of dressing (Surah an-Nur, verse 31). By contrast, in public space rules are strict. This includes not only dress but also conduct: physical contact should be avoided, talk should be business-like, and Khalwah (i.e., a woman being alone with a non-Mahram man) should be avoided. Therefore, in the dress, speech, and behaviour of a Muslim, there should be a screen which separates the public (that which is necessarily known) from that which is private (that which unnecessary to be made known).

From this, we can see that the Niqaab is a screen of privacy, an act of ‘Hayaa''’ (modesty). Clearly, it is Mustahabb (recommended) to screen our privacy even more than what has been commanded. We can respect other peoples' privacy more carefully through avoiding speculation, gossip, and spying; we can protect our own privacy more carefully by taking extra steps in modest dress, in avoiding physical contact and Khalwah (seclusion) with non-Mahrams, and by keeping any of our necessary conversations with non-Mahrams to the minimum necessity, just enough to conduct our business modestly.

For sisters, that extra degree in modest dress is the Niqaab, including the gloves for some.

Niqaab as Taqwa (Allah-Consciousness)

Sometimes people criticise Muslim women in Niqaab for being too concerned with their outward appearance, rather than their inner reality. It is true that this can lead to hypocrisy, but we should not be discouraged by such people nor let them push us down to the opposite extreme of saying that the outward is not important at all. Sometimes it is the outward which actually helps us to develop the inner, by making us more aware of Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala). This awareness, of Allah ('azza wa jall) watching us is referred to in Arabic as 'Taqwa’.

Niqaab can increase Taqwa. When a sister sees her own reflection in Niqaab, or when she becomes aware of why she wears it, she may be reminded that she dresses like this because Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) rewards and likes modesty, and because she knows that He is aware of all that she does to please Him. Such thoughts should in turn inspire her to behave in the best possible manner she can. SubhaanAllah! In this way, let's contemplate over how much more of a reminder the Niqaab can be in each day of a Muslim woman's life, especially when it is worn with the correct intention!

For many sisters, Niqaab is a spiritual struggle because it often seems so difficult to wear. At times we may be forced to look deep into ourselves and find our faith and our courage in order to continue wearing it. This provides many spiritual benefits in itself, such as an increase in Taqwa and helping in conquering one's Nafs (inner, lower self).

The above are just some of the ways that Niqaab is beneficial and recommended (Mustahabb). Let's now get to the best crunch of it all.

Niqaab, the Way of our Role Models: the Mothers of the Faithful

quranniqabisWe have gone through a number of different benefits for wearing Niqaab and how it cane be recommended and beneficial. We learnt how Niqaab is actually a higher degree and level of Hijaab. Therefore, whatever benefits the Hijaab brings about, as a commandment of Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala), the Niqaab also brings about, but on much a higher degree as it is a supererogatory (Nafl) act.

We will now come to see that the Niqaab was worn by the Mothers of the Faithful, the Prophet’s (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) wives. For, their way was the way of righteousness, obedience and compliance to the prescriptions of their Lord. They were truly women of modesty and bashfulness and lofty, emanating examples for women of all times after them. For the Mothers of the Faithful (radhiallahu 'anhunna), the Niqaab was Fardh (a binding obligation), as the command in Surah al-Ahzaab, verse 53, clearly states.

Isn't it then really strange, how can Muslims claim that the Niqaab ‘presents a bad image of Islam’ or is ‘cultural’, ‘oppressive’ and ‘backward’? There is no dispute that the Mothers of the Faithful, who are our role models, wore the face-veil and surely, their way is a way of liberation, righteousness and balance. That is why, any sister who is true to her self must rightly agree that the face-veil is, in fact, highly recommended.

In Conclusion

niqaab344The face-veil, as does the Hijaab and Jilbaab, asserts the Islamic identity of all believing women. Even many non-Muslims, when questioned about which religion women wearing the face-veil adhere to respond by saying, "Islam". Then why is it that Muslims so readily cry out that the Niqaab is not from Islaam? There may be a greater problem behind their embarassment and that maybe a hidden inferiority complex, which only adds to their difficulty of going against the norm of society.

After Surah an-Noor, verse 31, had been revealed, the Mothers of the Faithful, as well as the Sahaabiyaat (Women Companions), continued to wear Niqaab with the approval of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam). This has specifically been mentioned of Umm Khallad (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 14, #2482), Asmaa' bint Abi Bakr (Muwatta, Book 20, #20.5.16), and some Qurayshi women who were visiting the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) (Sahih Bukhari, Book 54, #515).

This evidence is also backed by the fact that the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) had to tell women not to wear the Niqaab and gloves during pilgrimage (Sahih Bukhari, Book 29, #64), which shows that Niqaab and gloves were well-known and worn by a substantial number of Women Companions (radhiallahu 'anhunna).

Clearly, this form of extra modesty has the approval of the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam). This adds as an important factor contributing to the wide-spread acceptance of the Niqaab by many Muslim women into their lives, from the time of our Noble Messenger (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) right up until this day.

In Summary:

  • Hijaab is a screen of privacy.  
  • Hijaab helps develop Taqwa (Allah-Consciousness)
  • Hijaab is a struggle that purifies the soul.
  • Hijaab covers the beauty of sisters.
  • Hijaab is an assertion of Islamic identity.
  • Hijaab draws you close to Allah.
  • Niqaab is a better screen of privacy.
  • Niqaab helps develop more Taqwa.
  • Niqaab is a greater struggle.
  • Niqaab is a better cover.
  • Niqaab is a stronger assertion.
  • Niqaab draws you even closer.

glovesblackIn the past few weeks a British MP sparked a huge controversy in the U.K. on the Muslim woman’s dress commonly referred to by non-Muslim westerners as "the black veil" and by Muslims as the Niqaab. I watched the controversy as it grew fiercely spreading across the western world and how it was being portrayed in the media. Many westerners began preparing for a mighty confrontation with the Muslim women who live in their countries and who still choose to wear Niqaab. Sadly, many westerners have presumed all of them have immigrated from "back home".

Some of them describe the wearing of the Niqaab by Muslim women as “backward”, “uncomfortable for them”, and in the words of the British Prime Minister Tony Blair it is a, “mark of separation”. But although they express their feelings towards it in many ways, the overriding question on the mind of many westerners appears to be: Why are some Muslim women who are not forced to wear Niqaab still choosing to do so in free western countries?

Indeed, many westerners are baffled by this, and instead of trying to understand they turn to their own alternative explanations such as, “They must be brainwashed” because saying these women are “oppressed” just doesn’t cut it anymore. As for these westerners, then I as a Muslim woman who wears Niqaab says: leave them to their ignorant assumptions for it is the same whether we explain to them or do not explain to them; they have chosen not to understand. But there are other westerners who when they see me on the streets look more curious than cruel. And many sincerely wonder the reason for us turning to this traditional Islaamic dress when we simply aren’t forced to. And as for them perhaps it is only more of an explanation from a veiled Muslim woman that they want, and to know how Niqaab benefits us and to them I say fair enough. I have chosen to write this piece for them (specifically) and I sincerely hope that it serves well in explaining this to them.

I have witnessed many non-Muslim western writers and self-proclaimed intellectuals set out to try and explain for themselves how we, the Niqaabis, feel about Niqaab and constantly suggest it is not possible for a rational woman to want this. But I wonder what makes them qualified to speak from the Muslim woman’s perspective on Niqaab. Is there anyone more qualified to say how these Muslim women feel about wearing Niqaab other than one of these Muslim women themselves? So here I go to explain to you the benefits of wearing Niqaab. Before i do so, here is some relevant background information about me:

1. I was born and raised in Canada my whole life and therefore am (of course) a Canadian citizen; the only other country I have been to was the United States. Therefore, occasionally when I am shouted at to "go back home" to my own country I’m not really sure how to.

2. English is my first and only language.

3. I am considered educated by both Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and I hope by my writing you have observed this on your own.

4. No one on planet earth has forced me to wear Niqaab and at any moment, if i wish, I can take it off and there would be no real consequences from others for doing so. Similarly, no one forces me to defend wearing Niqaab or to speak well of it, and this I also do by choice.

5. At age nine I was told to wear the Muslim headscarf (commonly referred by Muslims as Hijaab) but was able to do so still running around in jeans and a shirt. In grade ten I progressed to wearing skirts on my own. In grade twelve I began wearing the long black robe (abaaya), which is often seen on Muslim women. Later on in the year, I began Wearing niqaab and then I wore a long and loose garment over my abaya, commonly referred to by Muslims as a Khimaar (a head-scarf which covers the hair, ears, neck and ches)]. Then finally, to top it all off, I began to wear gloves. I love dressing like this and am happy to. Thus, I progressed to dressing this way, and most of my life did not do so.

6. Three years ago, I never thought I would ever wear Niqaab and had much disdain for it at the time. Silly me.

7. Among the women I know who wear Niqaab and have helped me to think differently about it are women who have converted to Islaam. Some of them are brown-skinned like me while others are white, black, Pilipino etc.

This is my perspective, and I hope you are now able to see its relevance to the issue at hand. Let's now go on to going through the many benefits there are for me and other Muslim women in wearing the Niqaab and in dressing modestly. Some of the benefits I’ve received were expected and others have surprised me. It may be wondered whether or not I'll mention any disadvantages of wearing it, but by Allah I know of no real or meaningful disadvantages that are of any concern to me.

Benefit 1: It is an Act of Worship that Can Yield Reward

Of surprise to many I’m sure, in Islaam it is well know that an act of worship goes beyond prayer. Wearing Niqaab and dressing modestly for the Muslim woman is also an act of worship, an opportunity to please Allah, which means a Muslim woman can be rewarded for it. Imagine the comfort I then feel to know that every time I wear it I may be rewarded for doing so and to constantly be wearing it throughout life takes its potential reward almost beyond imagination.

shiningniqaabBenefit 2: You are Immediately Identified as a Muslim Woman

As women who dress like me are attributed to Islaam, there is no need to explain to others what religion I am from. Since people immediately know I’m Muslim many of them then expect certain behaviours of mine to be different from theirs because of my different religious teachings. In fact, many people kindly make way for my differences because of this acknowledgement. And truly, it is an honour to be identified as a Muslim woman.

Benefit 3: It Brings the Best Treatment from Men

I have found Muslim and Non-Muslim men alike treating me better than ever before since I began observing Niqaab. They move aside for me to let me pass, never come within my personal space, and practice decent behaviour when it is necessary for them to speak to me. You won’t find them making inappropriate gestures or remarks to me that would be deemed offensive. To my relief I am left peacefully alone to go about my business without the worry that I need to ward anyone off.

Often I’ve seen or have known of women becoming extremely angry because men who find them attractive would bother them and when these women demand that they stop these men do not take them seriously. To many men, the primary message a woman gives off is in her manner of dress which dictates to them how to treat her.

Benefit 4: More Clothes Means more Protection

When we dress in this manner around non-related men we do not incite their desires so that they may want to harm us. Rather, it effectively discourages them from bothering, molesting, or harassing us as the wearing of clothes and the covering up of beauty naturally calms the desires of the other gender rendering you to be left alone in peace. They have no business with us, and we cannot be deceived by them. And how often do we hear of young mothers becoming pregnant thinking themselves loved only to be abandoned when they are finished being toyed with. And how can a man desire a woman whose beauty is not even described to him? So naturally this type of dress is protection, it is the easiest protection to accomplish, and when we are in the company of our male relatives who would not harm us (like others men may) and in whom we can place our immediate trust regarding ourselves and our honour we don’t need to cover to this extent.

The vast majority of the time in fact we are not dressed this way. This same idea of protection can be applied regarding the two genders. As women are generally physically weaker than men and more vulnerable to this type of harm by them, she can balance out this disadvantage by wearing more clothes for protection. So weariiqaab is also befitting for our very nature as women.

Benefit 5: More Protection Means a Greater Feeling of Ease and Peace

Security is a human need that when felt naturally leaves a human being in a state of relief and encourages feelings of ease and peace. For me when I cover, I know I am shielded from every strange man who may have within them perversions, evil thoughts, or may commit lewd acts I may not know about. It is impossible to tell which of them may possess these ill traits in public, and so often do we find the most decent looking person to have committed the most heinous crimes. So we get to choose which men get to see us and we choose for them to be our male relatives (our honourable and beloved protectors). It is truly a unique power for a woman to have this choice. To know then that simply wearing Niqaab does away with much of these threats naturally leaves the Muslim woman feeling at ease and peace beneath the veil.

Benefit 6: It Makes Beauty Easy on Women

Many women nowadays, particularly in the western world, exhaust themselves before going out in public applying make-up, tending to their hair, and choosing an outfit to wear for the day; a process which takes some hours. Before heading out many cram their feet into outrageously uncomfortable high-heel shoes. Some women find the public pressure of body image so intense that they take to greater extremes and suffer from such disorders as bulimia and anorexia nervosa. Ironically, they call themselves free in doing so and equal to men yet do this primarily for the sake of men. And then upon coming home, these women in the presence of their spouse or family do not care to exert the same effort in tending to their appearance. For Muslim women it is the complete opposite, and the Niqaab plays a huge part in that. We need not struggle to please the many men outside of our homes who have no business with us but we need only please our spouse and family and that is a lot less people. After all, the relationship lies between a woman and her spouse, and not a woman and other men in society. Or at least from an Islaamic standpoint that is how meaningful relationships should be.

Benefit 7: It Helps to Preserve Praiseworthy Virtues

Among the virtues we Muslim women try to strive for, and indeed we consider them virtues, are the virtues of modesty and chastity. These are virtues all Muslims, whether male or female, strive for. When the women of society possess them then the whole of society benefits. That is because we find there is a direct link between how women of a society generally dress and how much temptation there is for men and women to fall into fornication, adultery, and other despicable acts. And it is these acts that destroy families and cause all of society to fall into corruption and weakness. Having these virtues also paves the way for gaining other virtues such as decency, honour, uprightness, integrity, piety, discipline, honesty etc. The Niqaab helps to preserve and maintain these virtues.

Many westerners mock Muslim women in veil, and praise other types of women such as Hollywood actresses and instead endeavour to be like them. I wonder what good example we can take from them. Even though these women can publicly be seen in movies performing acts that at one point in time were done only in a bedroom, they are still seen as a beacon of light for the many women of the western world and are constantly called role models. And I have never witnessed the condemning of their behaviour by westerners whilst the condemning of Niqaab and the wearing of modest clothes has been vicious. I fear it would be painfully hard and degrading to always attain their fake appearance, to be seen as a sex object, and to answer each call of this sickly vain society. So let it be seen by us in which way this leads to their happiness, goodness, and freedom. And let it be seen by us some meaningful and lasting relationships they are able to carry with their boyfriends, spouses and families as a result of their behaviour. We do not see it and we have not seen it. That is why, the behaviour of many western women and what they value can likewise be baffling to us Muslim women.

Benefit 8: It Means Freedom for Us

Can it be denied that everyone has their own notion of what freedom is? For Muslim women, freedom is not as absurdly simple as: the fewer clothes you wear the more free you are. And it does not mean you are able to do whatever you wish. We, as well as all Muslims, consider us bound by religion and our worship is to Allah not to our own vain desires. Freedom first comes to us in worshipping Allah alone and not ascribing partners to Him or giving what belongs to Him to others. This is freedom in that it satisfies the natural inclination of a human being to worship their Lord and does so in a manner that can be easily understood and that gives Him His due respect. The way Niqaab offers Muslim women freedom is that it frees us from all kinds of harm, which may come to a woman from many angles; further, it allows us to serve our Lord. Primarily I am referring to the harm that can be inflicted on women by men, when women incite their natural desires. And it also frees us from going against our nature, as we are allowed to have shame and we are not pressured into displaying our bodies to strangers. We are also freed from the expectation to please by way of our appearance every man in public - this is what we consider to be freedom. Even if westerners were to consider whether or not we are "free" according to their standards, even they would have to consider us free because we are doing what we want to do out of pure choice.

Benefit 9: It is a Befitting Action, Especially in Today's World

In the eyes of many, Niqaab is a backwards thing, a thing from the past, a tradition, and something no longer needed nowadays. On the contrary, I have found the need to wear it more than ever especially because harassment, molestation, and assault on women are more wildly rampant than ever as the morals of society as a whole have decreased. The Niqaab effectively shields against the increase of these crimes.

Although others may express their hatred for the Niqaab and those who wear it, it cannot be said by other than a Muslim woman who chooses to wear it how we feel about wearing it, and what we consider it to do for us. In light of this great Niqaab controversy I know of nobody more knowledgeable or experienced in the field of Niqaab other than the veiled Muslim woman. And I know of nobody's opinion being more relevant and important in the Niqaab debate other than hers.

Yes, I know of the Niqaab more than those who don’t wear it... And of my face-veil I know only good.

 

“The burka is not a religious problem, it’s a question of liberty and women’s dignity. It’s not a religious symbol, but a sign of subservience and debasement. I want to say solemnly, the burka is not welcome in France. In our country, we can’t accept women prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity. That is not our idea of freedom.” – Nicolas Sarkozy.

rednikabHere we go again. After the hue and cry following the comments made by Jack Straw in 2006, another political statement made very publicly by a notable politician in Europe has sent the Muslim Ummah into a defensive global backlash and rhetoric. As for the tremendous vocal support Sarkozy’s comments have garnered, both from non-Muslims and secular-minded Muslims, it is indeed a shame, a staggeringly startling shame, for people who claim to be champions of ‘freedom’ and ‘equality’, to support any kind of ban on an individual’s choice of dress.

Whether a woman chooses to don the burka out of cultural factors or religious ones, – what difference does it make? She is making a conscious choice to clad herself in this garment. For the onlookers to assume that she was oppressed into wearing it just screams of naïveté and a purported facade of concern. Also, if the burka is restrictive and isolating, isn’t that the wearer’s prerogative? Since when is it ‘unacceptable’ for a woman to choose not to mingle with men or roam around freely sans outer garments? If that is her choice: to be home-bound, largely unidentified and covered-up; can we not let her be!?

Perhaps not being offended by one’s wife’s nude photographs being auctioned off for thousands of dollars speaks more aptly of ‘freedom’, liberty and the pièce de résistance: women’s “dignity”? Since when is it “dignified” to peel off a woman’s clothing and commoditize her body for the world to ogle and wow at as a piece of artwork? What if a woman chooses to do the absolute opposite i.e. wear layers of clothing that gives this clear message to men: “hands off”, “eyes off” and last but not least, “back off”? That is a sign of “subservience and debasement”? Subhaan Allah!

British Muslim Ms. Saira Khan, who was extremely vocal of her views about the burka in the UK in 2006, and reiterated her stance this year after Nicolas Sarkozy’s comments, claims to have once tried it on and found it to be,

“...the most horrid experience. It restricted the way I walked, what I saw, and how I interacted with the world. It took away my personality. I felt alienated and like a freak. It was hot and uncomfortable, and I was unable to see behind me, exchange a smile with people, or shake hands.”

There are many other dresses that are equally, if not more, uncomfortable for woman to wear; that never stopped them from wearing them, did it? Be it the hideous combination of garish angel-wings, gaudy underwear and monstrous boots that starved, underweight, so-called ‘icons’ of fashion strut on the catwalk amid scores of cameras (where are the champions of women’s dignity now? Oh sorry, they’re probably drooling too profusely to be able to talk!), or the bandage designer dresses that fitness-freak celebrities squeeze themselves into for public events, or the voluminous swathes of fabric that Eastern women meticulously fold around their bellies every day, accompanied by a clinging excuse-for-a-blouse, to go about their domestic duties in this traditional sari, taking pains and tolerating discomfort to carry off their preferred choice of dress is something women have been doing since centuries. Trust me, donning a full-length cloak over loose, comfortable clothing and tying a piece of cloth over your face is actually much easier to carry off than those male designers’ couture creations for women, that are supposed to send us into frenzied, money-busting jaunts of retail therapy. It seems while Ms. Khan did endeavor to don the burka for a television programme, she forgot to cast off the walls of prejudice and disdain from her mind before doing it.

Whenever any person, be they the likes of Muslims like Saira Khan, or of prominent world leaders such as Nicolas Sarkozy, claims to have problems with women cladding themselves in top-to-toe religious garb that covers them completely, it is actually their own innate issues, having to do with Muslim faith, Islamic identity and assimilation into foreign society for the purpose of worldly gains, wherein lies the crux of the problem. They are not concerned about women being oppressed by men in the name of religion, restricted physically in bodily movement and outdoor recreational activities, or isolated socially by these layers of cloth, or about not being ‘equal’ and ‘free’ to do whatever they want in society. They are confused as to how other women can persistently carry off a garment which they have chosen to throw off or refuse to wear.

It is actually a major slap in their face to see Muslim women having the so-called freedom to take off their burka’s and sprint about in clothes worn by the people of their country, but choose not to; for them to have the legal and social liberty to laugh and mingle freely with men, shaking hands and cracking jokes, but choose not to; for them to have the power to exploit their feminine sexuality to garner monumental worldly gains, but choose not to. At their wits’ end, they write emotionally-charged articles and make flambouyant statements about so-called equality, freedom, dignity and liberation of women, because they can just not fathom why a woman in her right mind would choose to dress this way.

And yet, with each passing year, more and more educated, free and liberal-minded women are choosing to dress this way. Women who grew up in the culture of parties, drinking, casual dating and random sex. Women with jobs, active love-lives, careers and money. Women with loving families, husbands and/or children. Isn’t it worthy of reflection why a woman would give up so much to don a garment that the world adamantly insists on banning?

I have been wearing the burka for several years now, and over this time, have gained the friendship of an increasing number of educated, confident and devout Muslim women who dress the same way, whether in the East or the West. While its true that we made a conscious choice to start wearing this garment, what is worthy of taking note is that just deciding to wear it is not the tough part. The tough part is dealing constantly with the skepticism, silent antagonism and outright hostility that other Muslims – yes, Muslims -  show us time and again when they see us performing our daily lives in public with this garment on. A small number among them, sadly, are also those modestly-dressed sisters who themselves wear hijab, whom we mix with at parties and weddings, who can’t seem to fathom why we haven’t given up on the face-veil yet. They sometimes criticize the burka too, because according to them, much like some claims made by non-Muslims, it is not ordained anywhere in the Quran; else, they consider it sufficient to meander out of having to wear it by quoting scholars and jurists who emphasize how it is not obligatory. There are many things Muslims do for the pleasure of Allah that are not obligatory, so where’s the argument, really?

We do not want to enforce our choice of wearing burka on other Muslim women; what we would, however, appreciate is to be left alone to wear it if we have chosen to.

And don’t pity us, please. Pity the botoxed, image-obssessed teenaged girl with the eating disorder, roaming around barely clothed on the beach, wondering if the sun is highlighting her cellulite, or if her body is in anyway less than perfect for the world to judge.

 

...Wearing my niqab is a choice freely made, for spiritual reasons...

sisterislamicshopI put on my niqab, my face veil, each day before I leave the house, without a second thought. I drape it over my face, tie the ribbons at the back and adjust the opening over my eyes to make sure my peripheral vision is not affected.

Had I a full-length mirror next to the front door, I would be able to see what others see: a woman of average height and build, covered in several layers of fabric, a niqab, a jilbab, sometimes an abayah, sometimes all black, other times blue or brown. A Muslim woman in 'full veil'. A niqabi.

But is that truly how people see me? When I walk through the park with my little ones in tow, when I reverse my car into a parking space, when I browse the shelves in the frozen section, when I ask how to best cook asparagus at a market stall, what do people see? An oppressed woman? A nameless, voiceless individual? A criminal?

Well, if Mr Sarkozy and others like him have their way, I suppose I will be a criminal, won't I? Never mind that "it's a free country"; never mind that I made this choice from my own free will, as did the vast majority of covered women of my generation; never mind that I am, in every other respect, an upstanding citizen who works hard as a mother, author and magazine publisher, spends responsibly, recycles and tries to eat seasonally and buy local produce!

Yes, I cover my face, but I am still of this society. And, as crazy as it might sound, I am human, a human being with my own thoughts, feelings and opinions. I refuse to allow those who cannot know my reality to paint me as a cardboard cut-out, an oppressed, submissive, silenced relic of the Dark Ages. I am not a stereotype and, God willing, I never will be.

But where are those who will listen? At the end of the day, Muslim women have been saying for years that the hijab et al are not oppressive, that we cover as an act of faith, that this is a bonafide spiritual lifestyle choice. But the debate rages on, ironically, largely to the exclusion of the women who actually do cover their faces.

The focus on the niqab is, in my opinion, utterly misplaced. Don't the French have anything better to do than tell Muslim women how to dress? Don't our societies have bigger problems than a relative handful of women choosing to cover their faces out of religious conviction? The "burka issue" has become a red herring: there are issues that Muslim women face that are more pressing, more wide-reaching and, essentially, more relevant than whether or not they should be covering with a niqab, burqa or hijab.

At the end of the day, all a ban will do is force Muslim women who choose to cover to retreat even further - it is not going to result in a mass "liberation" of Muslim women from the veil. All women, covered or not, deserve the opportunity to dress as they see fit, to be educated, to work where they deem appropriate and run their lives in accordance with their principles, as long as these choices do not impinge on others' freedoms. And last time I looked, being able to see a woman's hair, legs or face were not rights granted alongside "liberté, egalité et fraternité".

As a Muslim woman living in the UK, I am so grateful for the fact that my society does not force me to choose between being a practising Muslim and an active member of society. I have been able to study, to work, to establish a writing career and run a magazine business, all while wearing a niqaab. I think that that is a credit to British society, no matter what the anti-multiculturalists may say, and I think the French could learn some very valuable lessons from the British approach.

So, three cheers for those women who make the choice to cover, in whatever way and still go out there every day. Go out to brave the scorn and ridicule of those who think they understand the burka better than those who actually wear it. Go out to face the humiliating headlines. Go out to face the taunts of schoolchildren. Go out to fight another day. Go out to do their bit for society and the common good. Because you never know, if Mr Sarkozy and his supporters have their way, there could come a day when these women think twice about going out there into a society that cannot bear the way they look. And, who knows, I could be one of them.

And, while some would disagree, I think that would be a sad day.

Source: Times Online.

53652-golf-course-sunset-wallpaper 531x331I spent seven years of my girlhood heavily veiled - not in a Muslim niqab but in a nun's habit.

We wore voluminous black robes, large rosaries and crucifixes, and an elaborate headdress: you could see a small slice of my face from the front, but from the side I was entirely shielded from view. We must have looked very odd indeed, walking dourly through the colourful carnival of London during the swinging 60s, but nobody ever asked us to exchange our habits for more conventional attire.

When my order was founded in the 1840s, not long after Catholic emancipation, people were so enraged to see nuns brazenly wearing their habits in the streets that they pelted them with rotten fruit and horse dung. Nuns had been banned from Britain since the Reformation; their return seemed to herald the resurgence of barbarism. Two hundred and fifty years after the gunpowder plot, Catholicism was still feared as inassimilable, irredeemably alien to the British ethos, fanatically opposed to democracy and freedom, and a fifth column allied to dangerous enemies abroad.

Today the veiled Muslim woman appears to symbolise the perceived Islamic threat, as nuns once epitomised the evils of popery. She seems a barbaric affront to hard-won values that are essential to our cultural identity: gender equality, freedom, transparency and openness. But in the Muslim world the veil has also acquired a new symbolism. If government ministers really want to debate the issue fruitfully, they must become familiar with the bitterly ironic history of veiling during the last hundred years.

After the British occupied Egypt in 1882, the consul general, Lord Cromer, argued that veiling was the "fatal obstacle" that prevented Egyptians from participating fully in western civilisation. Until it was abolished, Egypt would need the benevolent supervision of the colonialists. But Cromer had cynically exploited feminist ideas to advance the colonial project. Egyptian women lost many of their new educational and professional opportunities under the British, and Cromer was co-founder in London of the Anti-Women's Suffrage League.

When Egyptian pundits sycophantically supported Cromer, veiling became a hot issue. In 1899 Qassim Amin published ‘Tahrir al-Mara’ - The Liberation of Women - which obsequiously praised the nobility of European culture, arguing that the veil symbolise everything that was wrong with Islam and Egypt. It was no feminist tract: Egyptian women, according to Amin, were dirty, ignorant and hopelessly inadequate parents. The book created a furore, and the ensuing debate made the veil a symbol of resistance to colonialism.

The problem was compounded in other parts of the Muslim world by reformers who wanted th eir countries to look modern, even though most of the population had no real understanding of secular institutions. When Ataturk secularised Turkey, men and women were forced into European costumes that felt like fancy dress. In Iran, the shahs' soldiers used to march through the streets with their bayonets at the ready, tearing off the women's veils and ripping them to pieces. In 1935, Shah Reza Pahlavi ordered the army to shoot at unarmed demonstrators who were protesting against obligatory western dress. Hundreds of Iranians died that day.

Many women, whose mothers had happily discarded the veil, adopted the hijab in order to dissociate themselves from aggressively secular regimes. This happened in Egypt under President Anwar Sadat and it continues under Hosni Mubarak. When the shah banned the chador, during the Iranian revolution, women wore it as a matter of principle - even those who usually wore western clothes. Today in the US, more and more Muslim women are wearing the hijab to distance themselves from the foreign policy of the Bush administration; something similar may well be happening in Britain.

jilbaab657In the patriarchal society of Victorian Britain, nuns offended by tacitly proclaiming that they had no need of men. I found my habit liberating: for seven years I never had to give a thought to my clothes, makeup and hair - all the rubbish that clutters the minds of the most liberated women. In the same way, Muslim women feel that the veil frees them from the constraints of some uncongenial aspects of western modernity. They argue that you do not have to look western to be modern. The veiled woman defies the sexual mores of the west, with its strange compulsion to "reveal all". Where western men and women display their expensive clothes and flaunt their finely honed bodies as a mark of privilege, the uniformity of traditional Muslim dress stresses the egalitarian and communal ethos of Islam.

Muslims feel embattled at present, and at such times the bodies of women often symbolise the beleaguered community. Because of its complex history, Jack Straw and his supporters must realise that many Muslims now suspect such western interventions about the veil as having a hidden agenda. Instead of improving relations, they usually make matters worse. Lord Cromer made the originally marginal practice of veiling problematic in the first place. When women are forbidden to wear the veil, they hasten in ever greater numbers to put it on.

In Victorian Britain, nuns believed that until they could appear in public fully veiled, Catholics would never be accepted in this country. But Britain got over its visceral dread of popery. In the late 1960s, shortly before I left my order, we decided to give up the full habit. This decision expressed, among other things, our new confidence, but had it been forced upon us, our deeply ingrained fears of persecution would have revived.

But Muslims today do not feel similarly empowered. The unfolding tragedy of the Middle East has convinced some that the west is bent on the destruction of Islam. The demand that they abandon the veil will exacerbate these fears, and make some women cling more fiercely to the garment that now symbolises their resistance to oppression.

Source: The Guardian.

 

almuminahI am an American woman who was born in the midst of America's "Heartland." I grew up, just like any other girl, being fixated with the glamour of life in "the big city." Eventually, I moved to Florida and on to South Beach of Miami, a hotspot for those seeking the "glamorous life." Naturally, I did what most average Western girls do. I focused on my appearance and appeal, basing my self-worth on how much attention I got from others.

I worked out religiously and became a personal trainer, acquired an upscale waterfront residence, became a regular "exhibiting" beach-goer and was able to attain a "living-in-style" kind of life.

Years went by, only to realize that my scale of self-fulfilment and happiness slid down the more I progressed in my "feminine appeal." I was a slave to fashion. I was a hostage to my looks.

As the gap continued to progressively widen between my self-fulfilment and lifestyle, I sought refuge in escapes from alcohol and parties to meditation, activism, and alternative religions, only to have the little gap widen to what seemed like a valley. I eventually realized it all was merely a pain killer rather than an effective remedy.

By now it was September 11, 2001. As I witnessed the ensuing barrage on Islam, Islamic values and culture, and the infamous declaration of the "new crusade," I started to notice something called Islam. Up until that point, all I had associated with Islam was women covered in "tents," wife beaters, harems, and a world of terrorism.

As a feminist libertarian, and an activist who was pursuing a better world for all, my path crossed with that of another activist who was already at the lead of indiscriminately furthering causes of reform and justice for all. I joined in the ongoing campaigns of my new mentor which included, at the time, election reform and civil rights, among others. Now my new activism was fundamentally different. Instead of "selectively" advocating justice only to some, I learned that ideals such as justice, freedom, and respect are meant to be and are essentially universal, and that own good and common good are not in conflict. For the first time, I knew what "all people are created equal" really means. But most importantly, I learned that it only takes faith to see the world as one and to see the unity in creation.

Quranhifdh55One day I came across a book that is negatively stereotyped in the West, The Holy Qur'an. I was first attracted by the style and approach of the Qur'an, and then intrigued by its outlook on existence, life, creation, and the relationship between Creator and creation. I found the Qur'an to be a very insightful address to heart and soul without the need for an interpreter or pastor.

Eventually I hit a moment of truth: my new-found self-fulfilling activism was nothing more than merely embracing a faith called Islam where I could live in peace as a "functional" Muslim.

I bought a beautiful long gown and head cover resembling the Muslim woman's dress code and I walked down the same streets and neighbourhoods where only days earlier I had walked in my shorts, bikini, or "elegant" western business attire. Although the people, the faces, and the shops were all the same, one thing was remarkably distinct--I was not--nor was the peace at being a woman I experienced for the very first time. I felt as if the chains had been broken and I was finally free. I was delighted with the new looks of wonder on people's faces in place of the looks of a hunter watching his prey I had once sought. Suddenly a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I no longer spent all my time consumed with shopping, makeup, getting my hair done, and working out. Finally, I was free.

Of all places, I found my Islam at the heart of what some call "the most scandalous place on earth," which makes it all the more dear and special.

While content with Hijab I became curious about Niqab, seeing an increasing number of Muslim women in it. I asked my Muslim husband, whom I married after I reverted to Islam, whether I should wear Niqab or just settle for the Hijab I was already wearing. My husband simply advised me that he believes Hijab is mandatory in Islam while Niqab is not. At the time, my Hijab consisted of head scarf that covered all my hair except for my face, and a loose long black gown called "Abaya" that covered all my body from neck to toe.

A year-and-a-half passed, and I told my husband I wanted to wear Niqab. My reason, this time, was that I felt it would be more pleasing to Allah, the Creator, increasing my feeling of peace at being more modest. He supported my decision and took me to buy an "Isdaal," a loose black gown that covers from head to toe, and Niqab, which covers all my head and face except for my eyes.

shiningniqaabSoon enough, news started breaking about politicians, Vatican clergymen, libertarians, and so-called human rights and freedom activists condemning Hijab at times, and Niqab at others as being oppressive to women, an obstacle to social integration, and more recently, as an Egyptian official called it, "A sign of backwardness."

I find it to be a blatant hypocrisy when Western governments and so-called human rights groups rush to defend woman's rights when some governments impose a certain dress code on women, yet such "freedom fighters" look the other way when women are being deprived of their rights, work, and education just because they choose to exercise their right to wear Niqab or Hijab. Today, women in Hijab or Niqab are being increasingly barred from work and education not only under totalitarian regimes such as in Tunisia, Morocco, and Egypt, but also in Western democracies such as France, Holland, and Britain.

I call on Muslim women to assume their responsibilities in providing all the support they can for their husbands to be good Muslims. To raise their children as upright Muslims so they may be beacons of light for all humanity once again. To enjoin good, any good, and to forbid evil, any evil. To speak righteousness and to speak up against all ills. To fight for our right to wear Niqab or Hijab and to please our Creator whichever way we chose. But just as importantly, to carry our experience with Niqab or Hijab to fellow women who may never have had the chance to understand what wearing Niqab or Hijab means to us and why do we, so dearly, embrace it.

Most of the women I know wearing Niqab are Western reverts, some of whom are not even married. Others wear Niqab without full support of either family or surroundings. What we all have in common is that it is the personal choice of each and every one of us, which none of us is willing to surrender.

Willingly or unwillingly, women are bombarded with styles of "dressing-in-little-to-nothing" virtually in every means of communication everywhere in the world. As an ex non-Muslim, I insist on a women's right to equally know about Hijab, its virtues, and the peace and happiness it brings to a woman's life, as it did to mine. Yesterday, the bikini was the symbol of my liberty, when in actuality it only liberated me from my spirituality and true value as a respectable human being.

I couldn't be happier to shed my bikini in South Beach and the "glamorous" Western lifestyle to live in peace with my Creator and enjoy living among fellow humans as a worthy person. It is why I choose to wear Niqab, and why I will die defending my inalienable right to wear it. Today, Niqab is the new symbol of woman's liberation.

To women who surrender to the ugly stereotype against the Islamic modesty of Hijab, I say,

You don't know what you are missing.

 

How much do you really know about the Niqab? An insider guide to common misconceptions...

mujaahidaat671. The Niqab is a symbol of female subjugation.

None of the Niqab-wearing women who I know, wear it because they have been forced to. They see it as an act of devotion to their Creator: the culmination of a spiritual journey. In fact most of them are women who were born and brought up in the UK; many are White or Afro-Caribbean Muslim converts to Islam who have chosen to observe it. The Hijab, Niqab and Abaya are outer garments and are worn only when outdoors or in the presence of men who are not close relatives and so, contrary to popular belief, underneath their robes, in family and female-only settings Muslim women are often very fashion conscious and outgoing. They dress in everyday clothing; they get their hair done, go on holiday and even buy lingerie!

2. Women who wear the Niqab cannot possibly contribute to society.

People are surprised to hear that Niqab-wearers come from varied vocational backgrounds. They include doctors, teachers, dentists, authors, social workers, university graduates, lecturers and more. They usually prefer to work in a female environment and so would not wear the face-veil all the time. Other women say that wearing the Niqab actually makes them feel more comfortable when they are working with men. It is ironic that the very women who are the subject of debate are far from being a burden on society: they don’t get drunk and disorderly, don’t smoke and are likely to be very good citizens. Many of them are full-time mothers who take pride in raising well-educated children who will be an asset to British society.

3. The Niqab isn’t in the Qur’an.

The Qur’anic worldview presents a complete system of living, which permeates the daily lives of observant Muslims. This includes everything from rituals of personal hygiene, advice on neighbourly behaviour and animal rights to regulations for dress. Some women see the niqab as a religious obligation, others, as an act of worship following in the footsteps of notable Muslim women of the past. Numerous verses in the Qur’an contain directives for Muslim women’s dress, amongst them,

{O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the Believers to draw their outer garments all over their bodies. That will be better, so that they may be known and so as not to be annoyed, and God is Ever-forgiving, Most Merciful.} (33:59)

The Qur’an was interpreted by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his disciples and their teachings form the basis of Islamic law. There are two orthodox schools of thought with regards to the interpretation of this verse. One orthodox interpretation is that it means covering the whole body including the face. The other school of thought is that, though not obligatory, covering the face is a virtue.

4. Wearing the Niqab implies that all men are predatory.

Just as locking our doors at night doesn’t imply that all members of society are burglars, wearing the Niqab doesn’t imply that all men are predatory.

The Islamic worldview recognises that attraction between men and women exists and, if left unharnessed, has the potential to break down the moral fabric of society. It also acknowledges the physiological and physical differences between men and women and therefore Islamic legislation for dress and behaviour reflect these differences and aid adherents to avoid situations that could lead to extra-marital sexual relations. Hence both men and women have been commanded to lower their gazes and are given directives on dress.

5. The Niqab poses a security risk at banks and airports.

By simply going to the side and showing their faces and ID to female members of staff, Muslim women who wear the Niqab, have been, for decades, passing through airport security in major airports all over the world without cause for security concern. The same sort of arrangement can be made for any situation where ID needs to be checked.

6. Niqab wearers can’t possibly be teachers.

There are many highly qualified and experienced Muslim teachers. A Muslim teacher, who wears the Niqab, would not need to do so if men were not present, therefore many female Muslim teachers choose to teach women or children and uncover their faces whilst teaching.

7. Banning the Niqab will free those Muslim women who are coerced into wearing it.

Banning the face-veil would be totally counter-productive: it would cause many Muslim women to feel targeted and persecuted and is likely to cause many talented women to withdraw from society. The majority of Niqab-wearing women in Europe, wear it out of personal choice, so if, for the sake of a suspected minority, the Niqab was to be banned, this would be clear discrimination against the majority. If we want to empower women from any community who are oppressed or abused, effective public services where such abuse can be reported need to be made more available and accessible to the women involved.

 

flowersniqabThere is a lot of debate among Muslims as to whether or not it is required for a Muslim woman to cover her face and hands in addition to the rest of her body when appearing in public or in front of non-Mahram men (i.e. a man who is not a close-relative, to whom marriage is allowed). The purpose of this article is not to fall on either side of that debate, but to urge all Muslims to show respect for sisters who have chosen to wear either the Khimaar (head-cover which covers the hair, ears, neck and chest properly) or the Niqaab (face-veil.)

Some Muslims give these sisters a hard time, saying that they are doing above and beyond what has been commanded by Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala), and that the "extreme" appearance of these fully-veiled women projects a bad image to the non-Muslims who already view the Muslim woman as being weak and oppressed. They argue that such individuals, upon seeing fully-veiled Muslim women, will be "turned off" by Islaam, and that we may lose potential Muslim reverts, or/and even the understanding and sympathy of the non-Muslim community.

Think about it carefully: would we ever think of criticizing a Muslim who fasts extra days outside of Ramadhaan? Do we belittle the Muslim whose prayers exceed the prescribed daily five? Are we upset when Muslims give more Zakaat (annual obligatory charity) than required by Islamic Law? Of course not. We admire such people for their apparent dedication to Allah ('azza wa jall), just as we should admire Muslim women who cover their faces for the same reason. Whether they veil because they take the so-called "most-conservative" viewpoint that covering the face is a requirement of Islamic Law, or because they simply believe that they will earn extra reward from our Lord and Creator for doing something more. Praise be to Allah, veiled women are engaged in an act which is modest and permissible, and that is the bottom line.

As for the question of non-Muslims being "turned off" by Islaam upon seeing fully-veiled Muslim women, Muslims should not waste time and energy worrying about such matters. To the contrary, some non-Muslims are not critical of the face-veil at all and are so intrigued by it that they actually become interested in Islaam as a direct result of seeing fully covered Muslim women.

One non-Muslim woman wrote about her impressions of the face-veil in our local newspaper after crossing paths with a veiled woman on a busy city street. The writer was struck by the confidence with which the Muslim woman walked, seeing all that was around her, but not being seen by others, secure in the knowledge that no man could make a lewd comment to her about her shapeless body and invisible face. She confessed a twinge of jealousy as she contemplated her own short skirt and tight blouse, realizing in a split second that, no matter how much she tried to convince herself otherwise, society's men were probably not judging her solely for her intellectual and professional capabilities. She now felt embarrassed in front of the Muslim woman who must've, she imagined, felt somewhat sorry for a "liberated" western woman like herself who could not even make it from one end of the street to the other without fear of harassment.

niqaab6767Contrast this powerful piece of writing to an article authored by a Muslim woman in another newspaper. In it, the woman practically begged non-Muslims not to judge Islaam by the face-veil, which, she claimed, is a mere cultural tradition having nothing to do with Islaam. This article served to divide local Muslims into two camps, understandably upsetting veiled women and their families. Even if one wanted to take the "least-least conservative" point of view and say that the veil is nothing more than a cultural tradition, it should not be forgotten that such a tradition has sprung forth from a culture of Muslims who are seeking the reward and pleasure of Allah, Most High. We should, in fact, respect the sisters who, in spite of the intense scrutiny placed upon them by Muslims and non-Muslims alike, continue to veil, refusing to abandon an islamically permissible garment which provides them (and the community as a whole) with extra doses of security, honour and pride.

Islam is a light that Allah ('azza wa jall) puts into one's heart, and He will undoubtedly help those sincere individuals who are seeking the Straight Path to get there one way or another. It really has nothing to do with what people "think about Islam". One of the best things we can do as Muslims is to behave well, dealing with people kindly and fairly, remembering that it is ultimately up to the will of Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) if a particular individual is to become a Muslim or not. We should never think that we have to change the good things about ourselves in order to attract new converts to Islaam. This strategy is not only demoralizing to one's faith, but it also does not work.

In conclusion, I would like to note that I do not wear the face-veil myself but have enormous respect for the women who cover their faces. I was prompted to write this article after hearing from many of my fully-veiled sisters in faith that some of the harshest criticisms they receive are from within the Muslim community itself and not from non-Muslims as they had anticipated before adopting the veil. I really think that all Muslims should realize how much courage and confidence it takes to veil one's self in the modern-day world and that we should be their best supporters in the struggle for the Muslim woman's right to veil.

 

gate-and-cloudsLondon, 1984: A dark, triangular figure emerged from the door of a limousine parked directly in front of Harrods' Department Store. It was the body of a woman, covered from crown to ankles in the darkest of garments, so black that it stood stark against the overcast horizon. When she turned, I saw no face. Instead, a slit in a black gauze cloth revealed only a glimpse of brown skin and black eyes rimmed with kohl. As she and two similarly costumed companions moved steadily towards the door, other shoppers moved out of their way.

Snickers, stares, and startled head-turns failed to evoke a reaction from the women as they passed through the halls with the rest of the shoppers, selecting items for purchase, comparing opinions with each other and passing on the same pound notes as everyone else. While all eyes were on them, they looked at no one and soon passed out of the doors in the same deliberate walk, reboarding the limousine that had waited for them. All around people stared, shook their heads or sighed in relief.

I felt angry: at their men for forcing them to dress in such a degrading fashion and at them for accepting to wear it. I was furious that they dared to violate the rules of Western society so blatantly, without the slightest attempt to tone down their attire to suit the norms of English society. It was arrogant and insensitive. If they rejected the West, even in its dress, they never should have left their own countries, I thought and shivered with relief knowing that this could never happen to me.

Boulder, Colorado, USA 1986: Triangular shapes appeared all around me at the University of Colorado. Some wore long cloaks and headscarves, some long black abayas that ran from head to toe. A few covered completely, revealing only eyes that offered no clue as to who was inside. They walked quietly past the stares and comments that followed them everywhere. I watched in silent curiosity.

Although most large university cities have sizeable Muslim populations, Boulder in the 1980s had an especially large group of graduate students from all over the Islamic world. Unlike undergraduates, these students were usually married and brought their often large families with them. Although not all of the wives studied, they could be seen throughout the city in their Islamic dress.

They walked with a modest dignity that suggested that they were something other than the oppressed, subservient slaves to men that everyone said they were. Where I found them in class, their intelligence and confidence shone through. Where I bumped into them on campus, in the library and in stores, they seemed encased in a bubble from another world. No matter what people said out loud about them, they never shrank back or ran off in tears. Something lay beyond the mysterious veil that I could not understand with my American mind. I had to put a foot in through their door to comprehend.

On the first day of a course I took on Islam, the professor warned us that many students found Islam to be irresistible and converted right in class. This frightened but intrigued me. Several other students must have felt the same fear. The class fell to half its number by the next meeting.

The more I learned, the more I realized how ignorant I was about this religion. All I knew, I had learned from books, newspapers and magazines... everything written by non-Muslims. One by one, myths fell apart. Evidence came from the Islamic texts themselves. In our small class, we were able to get to know one another well. Several American students had grown up in the Middle East and wanted reminders of their childhoods. One Arab Muslim man recited Qur'an (Koran) for us and chanted the call to prayer. One American woman was engaged to a Saudi and wanted to know what to expect. I absorbed their admiration for the religion, pleasantly shocked at Islam's simplicity and straightforwardness. White was white, black was black and everyone had a specific place and job in society. In such a permissible society as the U.S., the idea of daily laws to govern even minute actions appealed to me.

It wasn't until Aisha, the professor's research assistant and an American convert to Islam, delivered a talk that I could actually believe that Islam indeed preached a high regard for women. Here was a highly educated woman from Iowa, standing in front of a class covered in her veil. Her clothing concealed her beauty and figure, but revealed her mind and personality. She could draw back or let show exactly as much as she wanted. I realized that the veil was just the opposite of what I had always believed it to be. Rather than oppress and hide, it empowered and gave a woman control, forced others to contend with facets other than her physical appearance.

Aisha explained that real incidents of abuse and horror fuelled the misconceptions about the veil. Muslims did not always practice what Islam prescribed. The veil was meant to liberate, not oppress, but many still used it that way. Some women were forced into the veil; others wore it as a cultural habit with no religious meaning. Some Muslims took it to mean that because men were not religiously required to veil, they had complete control over women. There were Muslims, she explained, who sometimes misunderstood their religion or disregarded its teachings. And then, she said, there was Islam.

Islam was an ideal that had not changed in over 1400 years. Those who practiced it fully--the so-called fundamentalists--were branded medieval and violent. Aisha was neither. She was modern and serene, fully devoted to her religion, no matter what other people may have thought about it.

The Arab Muslim friends I was slowly gathering all demonstrated the same love for their religion, the same certainty that they were in on the truth. Never did they try to force me to convert. They accepted and answered all my questions, often apologizing for what I perceived to be inconsistencies. They often said, "We really aren't supposed to do that," or "We are bad examples. Don't look at us, but learn what Islam teaches."

As part of my university studies, I travelled to West Africa and worked with Muslims on a construction project. In the rain forest of the Ivory Coast, Islam came to life in front of me. This time there were no apologies, though. Prayers were made on time, alcohol was forbidden and women were veiled and treated with honour. My bare arms and uncovered hair met with disapproval in the town until I expressed an interest in learning about Islam. Then I was excused: I would learn, I would understand and then I would do the right thing.

Returning to the U.S., I longed for the peace and certainty of faith I had felt among the African Muslims. I looked for that same tranquillity among the Arab Muslims I knew, but did not find it right away. Most of the Muslims I knew were westernized and shy about the actual practice of their faith. Few of them could answer my questions or direct me in any other way but to say, "If you become Muslim, you will be happy."

As I studied Islam, I tried hard to turn back to Christianity, to make sure I was ready to leave it. The more I studied the Bible and the history of the church, the more Islam made sense to me. I found questions in the Bible, answers in the Qur’an. I found verses requiring women to cover their heads in the Bible, which satisfied my questions about that. As I sat in class with Muslim men who dressed like Jesus and women who dressed like Mary, I began to confirm what the Muslims had told me --that they followed Jesus more carefully than Christians did. The Christian faith that I had tried hard to grasp and study since childhood but had never been able to believe slipped quietly away. . I was certain in my belief in God, but for several months I hung between Christianity and Islam, with no religion. Before I converted, I wanted to make sure I was not adjusting my beliefs to fit Islam -- that I truly believed in my heart what I was accepting. I could not turn back after having known Islam, but I was not sure I could dive in, either.

quran-illumunatedThe more I resisted Islam, the more it drew me in. The more I tried to convince myself that I could never live an Islamic life, the more I realized I could not live any other way. I "practiced" being a Muslim. I gave up pork and alcohol. I wore more modest dress. I read the Qur’an on a regular basis, looking for the answers to my questions. I sought out more religious Muslims, more women. I spent more time simply asking God what to do. Facing certain difficulty at work, with my family and friends, swimming in the middle of a society that only knows bad about Islam, I made my decision. Hard or not, I knew it was what I believed and I was willing to accept what came with it.

I walked through the door of Islam in 1989 by pronouncing the testimony of faith in front of my closest friends. We all cried, in both joy and fear: joy for the step that had been so painful for me to make and fear of what I faced as a Muslim in America.

Everything changed: my clothing, my manners, my sleeping habits, my friends. I changed jobs to one where I thought I would feel comfortable covering my hair. First, I wore a scarf and loose clothes. Then longer clothes. Then an over cloak. The more I learned about Islam and devoted myself to it internally, the more I longed to express it externally.

Many of my friends covered their faces. Some covered out of custom, following what the people in their countries did, but the ones who drew my admiration and interest were the Western Muslims who covered by choice. They insisted on being respected for whom they were, not for how they looked. After living in an open society all their lives and experiencing the dangers and discrimination, the threat of men's eyes that many American women faced, they had set a barrier. No men except very close family could look upon them, let alone dare touch them or harass them. Among women, they were free and uncovered down to modest clothing. Their relaxed laughter when unveiled reflected the safety they felt in the company of their sisters.

I knew it was not easy, though. The veil was difficult to get used to. It could get hot in the summer. Until a woman practiced walking in it for some time, it was easy to trip over the abaya or get it caught in doors. Some women had tried it and just could not adapt to the stares, the clumsiness, and the "un-Americanness" of it all. It was often hard to dress completely covered and realize that men did not follow the same. They, too, were to observe modest dress but to a lesser degree due to the more public nature of their Islamic duties. However, many wore tight jeans and T-shirts -- even husbands of women who were totally covered. Fully veiled women often encountered criticism from unveiled Muslim women who insisted, in spite of clear evidence from the Qur’an and other Islamic writings, that it was not part of Islam. For a woman to accept the face cover, she would have to be able to stand firm in the storm of all these difficulties.

What made the veil worth it all, though, was that it was an expression of religious devotion, much as a nun’s habit marks a devotion to God rather than to man. Although covering the hair and body is the minimum requirement for an adult Muslim woman, covering the face is a commendable act. I found in the face cover a means to externalize what my heart was feeling. I loved being a Muslim and I wanted the world to know exactly who I was. I wanted to be protected by the veil, covered in the expression of my faith.

* * *

I wind an oblong black scarf around my head. A gauze veil covers my face, all but my eyes. I put on an abaya, then socks, and then gloves. My heart pounds when I see myself in a mirror. I remember the Muslim women I had seen in Harrods' and realize how brave they had been. May God help me do this, I pray.

My husband has seen me "practicing" in the house with this clothing, but I have never gone out in it. He offers his encouragement, knowing it may be very hard for me. He puts his hand on my arm and we walk out the door together.

I see but cannot be seen. The veil does not suffocate; I feel free and strong. I thought I would feel tremendously self-conscious, but I feel certain and assertive.

As we drive along the highway, I am aware of stares and snickers, fingers pointing. I do not return the looks of the others. I simply don't care what they are thinking, I don't care if they understand. No one can see my reaction, my expression, my features beyond the veil. No matter how hard they look, they can see only my abaya and veil. I feel not smothered or hidden, but protected. No one can enter that private area behind my veil unless I allow it. From now on, I choose who sees what of my body, just as I choose to whom I wish to reveal my deepest thoughts. I sink into this refuge of cloth and wonder how I possibly could have come to the point that I could embrace what I had once so passionately hated.

The veil has become beautiful to me, not for its outward appearance but for what it says about what I believe.

Again, I shiver with relief, but this time because of the liberation I feel.

 

In a speech delivered on the 22nd of June the President of France said,

“The burqa is not a religious sign — it’s a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement. It will not be welcome on the territory of the French republic.”

Having already banned the Hijaab in public schools, France seems eager to move even further with a complete ban on the Niqaab and as a result we feel it is necessary to provide some advice on the matter so that Muslims living in the West are not caught unaware and unable thereby to articulate an accurate Islamic perspective on the issue.

keep goingGenerally speaking there are three methods to answering questions when being interviewed:

(1) focusing on the content;

(2) the delivery of the content and,

(3) the perception of the audience.

Muslims who are interviewed on Islamic matters tend to focus solely on how the audience will receive their answers and tend to lose track of the real content that needs to be addressed. In stark contrast the Quranic dialogue with non-believers is very much content focused; delivered in an awe-inspiring way. We too, as followers of the Qur’an, are commanded to “Speak the truth”, albeit with wisdom and eloquence. Our Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) told us that whoever tries to please the people at the expense of Allah’s pleasure will certainly displease Allah and he will also find that the people will eventually dislike him and that whoever speaks the truth to please Allah will find that the people will end up liking him.

In light of this I would like to provide some answers to questions that are often asked by non-Muslims, be they our neighbours, colleagues, or from the media. It is hoped that these answers will empower us to take the debate forward in a constructive manner.

1) Why do Muslim women wear the Burqa (face veil)?

All of us, we believe, have been created by an all-Knowing, all-Wise being who blessed us with a short life here on earth and then an eternal life in an abode in the Hereafter. The purpose of this life is to achieve success in passing the trials and tribulations God has decreed for us; the greatest test being sincere submission to His divine Will. Abiding by the guidelines and legislation decreed by God brings harmony and tranquillity to the hearts of the believers which is then followed by eternal happiness in paradise. Every piece of guidance legislated by God has copious amounts of goodness and wisdom behind it, including the dress code specified for both men and women.

Muslim women who adopt the face veil, for example, have a deep conviction that they are following the guidance of their Creator. The wisdom behind the injunction, such as protecting women from abuse and harassment, are of peripheral value as the main aim is to seek the pleasure of God.

2) Would you like all women in the western society to cover themselves up?

We would like all of mankind to live by the guidance of their Creator and understand their purpose in life. Many Muslim women including those who accept the message of Islaam do chose to adopt the traditional Islamic dress code.

Interestingly the majority of converts to Islaam are women. I recall once a lady had made an appointment with us to take the testimony of faith. When we went to meet her we found a woman fully dressed with Islamic attire. When we asked her if she knew of a non-Muslim woman wanting to become Muslim she replied that it was in fact her!

3) Does the Qur’an speak about the Niqaab?

It is very saddening to see so called ‘Islamic experts’ categorically deny the mentioning of the face veil in the Qur’an when it is in fact mentioned in two specific verses, 

{O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.}

And in Surah Noor chapter 24, verse 31,

{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 only that which is apparent (like palms of hands or one eye or both eyes for necessity to see the way, or outer dress like veil, gloves, head-cover, apron, etc.), and to draw their veils all over Juyubihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms, etc.) and not to reveal 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 (Muslim) women (i.e. their sisters in Islam), or the (female) slaves whom their right hands possess, or old male servants who lack vigour, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex.}

Therefore, one cannot deny the fact that covering the face is an authentic orthodox opinion held by a great number of scholars based on Quranic texts.

Even if one was to deny its place in the Qur’aan this by no means shows that it hasn‘t been legislated elsewhere in the Prophetic Guidance, the Sunnah. For instance the Qur’aan does not specify the number of daily prayers as being five or the obligatory annual charity as being 2.5% but such fundamentals were learnt from the Prophetic Guidance and are not disputed over by any Muslim.

4) Is the Niqaab obligatory?

The question is somewhat irrelevant as there exists a consensus amongst jurists that observance of the Niqaab is a legislated act within Islamic jurisprudence, that is to say, it is not merely cultural attire as many ignorant individuals claim. Though a great number of scholars opined that it is Mustahabb (recommended), many others thought it was obligatory. Thus, whether it is obligatory or not is not the issue as every Muslim woman has the right to adopt the Islamic dress code regardless of the opinions of others. The question concerns those who want to adopt it and would like to clarify their position so as to provide theological grounding.

5) Is the ‘Non-Niqaabi’ immodest?

The women who champion the Niqaab are raising the standards of modesty in their respective communities. If we say that modesty is essentially covering up ones beauty than inevitably the face veil does this more so than any other garment. However, modesty must be defined in the framework of Islamic tradition which means that while the Qur’an and the Sunnah (Prophetic Guidance) provide a general guideline for how to be modest (for instance the word Jilbaab is mentioned in the Qur’an and refers to a single garment that covers the body) the specifics of style and manner can depend on the cultural norms of the society.

A common pitfall Muslims find themselves in is when they simply refer to the Niqaab and Hijaab as a means of being modest without providing any sense of the general guidance of Islaam on the matter. This implies that clothing is completely relative and so what is modest in Saudi Arabia is inappropriate in Miami since a revealing dress in Miami could, in all seriousness, be deemed modest given that the norm there is a Bikini!

6) Why don’t men have to wear the Niqaab?!

Men have been commanded to lower the gaze and to cover that which is between the navel and knee but women have been commanded to cover much more. Why? Because they are physiologically and physically distinct and so the legislation, logically, encapsulates these differences.

7) Do Muslim men force their women to adorn the Niqaab?

We encourage each other to perform acts of piety and righteousness. If I felt that my nearest and dearest were going off the rails I would help them and actively advise them do change their ways. I would advise the women in my family to adhere to Islamic dress code because it is a call for righteousness.

8) Is the Niqaab a security issue?

There should always be a spirit of tolerance and forbearance in people, especially the natives as where ever there is a will there is a way. Muslim women who are accepted for who they are will be more appreciative of the state and help to develop stronger ties of cohesion in their communities. Forcing Muslim to uncover their faces will sow seeds of mistrust and even hatred with the state. And so banning the Niqaab would be grossly counterproductive.

9) Is Niqaab a symbol of subjugation?

The word subjugation, when spoken of in the West and addressed to Muslims or non-Westerners smacks of a colonial will to dominate through a preponderance of the view that European values are not only better than those of others, but that their being ‘better’ elevates their imposition on to others to the status of liberation.

What is frustrating to many Muslims is that over and over again Muslim women have spoken out claiming that what they wear is out of their own choice and a deep sense of spirituality. Yet the media and prominent figures in the West continue to ignore these voices and imply that only ‘they’ truly know what is going on inside Muslim women’s head, something which even the Muslim women – subjugated as they are – are not privy to. This obscene hypocrisy highlights the continuing Orientalism that still operates in the West when it comes to its discourse on Islam.

From a Muslim perspective (although many non-Muslims agree), the tyranny of fashion shows, billboards with air-brushed pictures, the use of scantily clad bodies to sell consumer products is a form of subjugation for Western women, who, if not dominated by men are certainly dominated by the demands and dictates of the market.

How, at any rate, is one to decide whether someone is subjugated or not? Banning a religious practice in a society where no Muslim is demanding its imposition seems more a fundamentalist move than a liberal one, but then perhaps that is exactly what we are witnessing: the fundamentalising of liberalism. What’s more is that Muslim ought not to feel cowed by media pressure or hawkish tactics by commentators who merely claim that such Islamic dress codes are oppressive – the onus of proving this, after all, lies with them and not with Muslims.

For our part we have firsthand accounts of women who have donned the burqa/hijaab/niqaab who repeatedly pronounce their individuality and choice as well as the fact that the majority of women who seem to be adopting the burqa are Western educated women all born and brought up in countries like France and Britain many a time at odds with their mothers from the East.

So, is the Burqa an Eastern or Western phenomena?!

 

POLITICAL opportunist Nicolas Sarkozy forgot three fundamental lessons when he decided to denounce the burka.

treesdeepinthoughtThe first one is that men should stay well clear of becoming embroiled in expressing opinions on women’s clothes, unless of course you happen to be called Lacroix, Gaultier, Lagerfeld or Ghesquiere.

This was a lesson learned the hard way by former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw who was pilloried when he questioned the nikab after asking a female constituent to lift her veil so he could see her face.

Could you imagine him making the same request of any female members of the Saudi royal household during one of his galloping missions to the Middle East?

Foolishly Scotsmen Gordon Brown and John Reid, hailing from a country where men wear pleated skirts and paint their faces blue, then waded in with the grace of a couple of dancing bears.

Even the Bishop of Rochester - a man who wears a pointy hat and a purple dress - chipped in his dislike of the nikab, full face veil or burka.

Of course they were all despatched very quickly by Muslim women in Britain who proved themselves to be anything but oppressed, subjugated creatures. And just to show there'’s real solidarity across women of faith and no faith, quite a few western feminists expressed their disdain at Straw and co-while standing shoulder to shoulder with their Muslim sisters.

The second lesson is try and be sincere if you are taking up a cause. Sarkozy feigned his utmost respect for women by saying he felt the burka represented the unacceptable symbol of women'’s  enslavement - today I can unveil him to be a purveyor of weasel words.

If he really cared about the subjugation of women he would seriously tackle the appalling levels of domestic violence French women suffer at the hands of French men - two million are victims of bullying, violent partners ... a staggering 400 are murdered by their spouse.

So how many women in France actually wear the burka? The answer is a very tiny minority - so much so that when the BBC'’s Emma Jane Kirby went to interview a burka-wearing woman in Paris she couldn’t find a single one!

The former BBC’'s Europe correspondent went to the Muslim quarter in the capital but all she could find were lots of women of North African origin wearing hijabs. She was given blank expressions and shrugs of the shoulder when she asked if any of them knew women who wore burkas - and the local Islamic dress shops didn’t stock any.

So why would Sarkozy launch such an onslaught on the burka, describing Muslim women who wear it as,

“Prisoners behind a grille, cut off from social life, deprived of their identity'?

As pointed out by one Islamic observer,

'“The irony is that many Muslim women would say the current headscarf ban in France has created exactly this situation for them”'.

Well the real reason had nothing to do with the burka and everything to do with Sarkozy putting pressure on the Liberal Left, throwing a few cheap shots at the expense of Muslim women while trying to pick up a few votes at their expense as well.

Sarkozy, like many male politicians, is pretty gutless so in a pathetic attempt to disguise his real motivations in wanting to pick up votes, he invents a proposed ban of the burka as a defence of women's rights. This, he knows will go down well with the French electorate who see veiled women as a threat to their liberal self esteem.

Using women to win votes is a common political ploy - I remember when Tony Blair and George W Bush claimed their invasion in Afghanistan was in defence of women’s rights and designed to liberate Afghan women.

Those two even used and pushed their own doting wives to stand in front of the world'’s media to justify their husband'’s invasion of the country - on a recent visit I can tell you there are few career women emerging from the rubble of Kabul.

So next time a politician tries to drive through any form of controversial measure or make a spectacular announcement, please don’t fall for the mealy-mouthed excuse that they're doing it for the liberation of women and/or ethnic minority groups.

Reading the weekend newspaper opinion pages and columnists, I was amazed at how many supposedly intelligent, feministas fell for the Sarkozy bull. But they did - hook, line and sinker exhibiting an astonishing shallowness in their writing.

I genuinely have a feeling Sarkozy is one of these weak-kneed, lily-livered men who trembles at the thought of empowered women. And I think the sight of a woman in a burka makes him feel inferior.

Could it be that because his wife - as beautiful as she is - has bared all for every man on the planet to ogle, that the very sight of a burka-clad female makes him feel insecure in his own relationship?

As any European schoolboy can testify from the pictures Blu-tacked to his ceiling, to the crumpled, sticky torn out, somewhat crusty pages of last year’'s GQ hidden under their bed, France'’s First Lady is the stuff of male fantasies.

I suppose there must be some men around who might get a kick out of the thought of pre-pubescent boys fumbling over pictures of their wife in the buff ... or even dirty old, syphilitic men playing with themselves, but I wonder if the pocket-sized French Leader (a mere 5ft 5ins tall) is secure and confident in his marriage to a much younger woman?

niqaab344Consider this, if a woman chooses to be veiled rather than show her face to a man, is she doing so to protect her husband’s feelings, in which case she could be seen as being compliant and servile, or - more importantly - is she doing so to protect her own face from the violation of a man's eyes?

Could it be that some of these women, when peering out of their burkas at the French leader, feel so special that they do not want the likes of him staring at all of their features?

And this, I believe, is what disturbs Sarkozy because if burka-clad women don’t want to be peered or leered at by men like him then this would be seen not as a show of subjugation but a sense of female superiority.

Could it be that because every bloke on the planet who wants to, can study in detail every curve and crevice of his naked young wife, that the very sight of a burka-clad female makes him feel uncomfortable in his own relationship?

After all Mrs Sarkozy can be viewed in all her naked glory by anyone who can access the internet or a copy of last year’s GQ.

And then someone paid $91,000 for a naked portrait at a Christie’s auction in New York.

On top of that it appears someone stole hundreds of “highly intimate” images of France’s First Lady and an ex-lover a couple of months ago.

Fascinating stuff, but let’s not dwell too long on this subject, I'’ve yet to raise the third lesson Sarkozy needs to learn and that is: People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

A quick scratch beneath the thin veneer of public office reveals the French leader to be a sauteur.*

And the source of this information is non other than the long-suffering Cecilia Sarkozy, who had to put up with 18 years of being married to a man with behavioural problems including being mean, cold and a serial womaniser.

In the book Cecilia, published by Flammarion in January 2008, she said of her husband,

"He has a ridiculous side. He is undignified. Nicolas doesn't come over like a president. He has a real behaviour problem ... He needs someone to point it out to him. I did it for 18 years and I can't do it any more. I am the last person who can do it."

These, and other, extracts incensed Sarkozy and his estranged wife'’s lawyers sought an injunction to prevent publication on the grounds that the book had invaded the former first lady's privacy – not that it was inaccurate. The former French first lady Cécilia Sarkozy, divorced in October 2007, is quoted as criticising her ex-husband's morals, his parenting skills and his fitness to be president.

That must have been extremely crushing and hurtful for France’s 'little emperor’. But no more hurtful than attacking and scapegoating harmless Muslim women. I wonder if he feels as though they are judging him from behind their veils?

Well we'’re all judging France'’s ‘Little Emperor’ now and the verdict isn’t a good one

*Sauteur: A vulgar term for a serial womaniser.

 

NoorisFatherInLawMy daughter-in-law died two months ago. Everyone used to make fun of her because she was taller and healthier than my son. Whatever ill minded people said, at the end she eventually became our daughter.

My wife often advised me not to show my affection for Nooreja in front of other daughter-in-laws. But she was different than everyone, how could I not praise for her kindness. So, everyone was jealous of Noori, oh, I and my wife called her Noori.

After dividing my property among my children, I had a small portion of money left only for my Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). I was unable to bear my wife’s expense. When my wife asked for money to our children, they said, there is no point to send a blind mother in Hajj. My wife lost her eye sight many years ago. I saw her crying many days while I was preparing for Hajj.

Then one day, Noori called everyone, by standing inside the indoor curtain, she passed a parcel to my elder son. Noori had sold her gold ornaments and also added the money that she got from her parent’s property. She requested my son to arrange for my wife and her’s Hajj procedure. No one utter a word of gratitude only I saw my blind wife’s glittering eyes. People used to say, whatever happens a daughter-in-law never can be a daughter. Noori could not become my daughter, she became our son.

During Hajj, Noori took my wife in her back while completing a ritual. My wife was holding her like a child and I wiped from far. My wife died in 2004 just after come back from Hajj. I do not know if Allah grant any of our Hajj or not. But till my last breathe my daughter-in-law will be in my prayers, and I will keep begging to Allah so He grant the best place of Heaven for our Noori.

Vid3

It's no secret that in-laws are the subject of many marital arguments. The rivalry between wives and their mothers-in-law is a major source of tension in many marriages. You may find it interesting that many new brides get along very well with their husband's parents at first; it isn't until later—sometimes years later—that friction develops.

Time-after-time, daughters-in-law in my support group say things like, "My husband's parents welcomed me into their family immediately and treated me as their own daughter." Likewise, "My own in-laws showered me with gifts and included me in everything". It's not uncommon for young women to be very fond of their husband's family, and vice versa... in the beginning.

Later on down the marriage, dealing with in-laws can be an overwhelming challenge—whether you are dealing with an overbearing mother-in-law who believes her opinions are superior to yours—or someone who tries to make you feel guilty whenever your needs conflict with hers. It may be tempting to gossip, hold silent grudges, or cut off all communication with troublesome in-laws - but that often just adds to the problem.

Here are some tips for dealing with difficult in-laws:

Flowers Wallpapers- Love your husband more than you dislike his parents. Rather than gossip to your spouse about his awful parents (which will trigger his instinct to defend them), communicate directly with them in a tactful manner. Don't give your in-laws the power to destroy your marriage; focus on being a great wife rather than a vindictive daughter-in-law. Behave in a way that draws your husband's loyalty so you can unite as a couple to deal with difficult in-laws.

- If need be, only turn to the knowledgeable and righteous for advice.

- Change your perspective. You and your mother-in-law are adults, so don't behave as though you are an inferior child. The extent to which she can push your buttons is the extent to which she has power over you. Learn what your buttons are, and brainstorm new constructive and respective Islamic responses with Adab. If maintaining silence is better, than do so.

Abu Musa al-Ashari (ra) is reported to have said, "Respect for Allah  includes respect for an old Muslim and respect for one who carries the Qur'aan (in his heart, that is, he who memorised it), who does not exaggerate (while reciting it), and does not keep himself away from it and respect for a just man of high office (all these are included in showing respect to Allah )." (Abu Dawood)

- Communicate assertively. It's usually not necessary to have a big serious confrontation to communicate your needs, but it is important to speak in an assertive manner when the opportunity presents itself, without being rude, egotistic and abrupt. If your husband has the desire and confidence to confront his parents about problem issues, then that’s fantastic.

- Set reasonable boundaries, if need be keep a psychological distance. You can't completely control your mother-in-law's behavior (or anyone else's for that matter), but you can set limits on how her behavior affects you. The purpose of a boundary is to protect yourself and/or your marriage. 

- If your mother in law can't be spoken to or advised, and gets upset easily for no apparent reason then don't always blame yourself. Just because she feels hurt or angry doesn't mean you did something wrong. In-laws with healthy behavior will respond appropriately when you communicate your needs and draw reasonable boundaries. However, in-laws with destructive behavior will choose to be offended and try to make you feel guilty for having needs that conflict with theirs. It's important to stand your ground with controlling, manipulative in-laws.

When you decide to get out of the victim role and start behaving in a new way, then you will start to have healthier relationships with your in-laws, and more importantly with all those around you.

muslimah-at-sunset2In-laws are the focus of blame and reproach when there are marital disputes. But there are ways to maintain a good relationship with them. Here are some tips:

  • Remember your spouse's parents have known them longer and loved them longer. Never make an issue about "me or them".
  • Let respective parties settle their own disputes. If your mother-in-law has a problem with her husband, let them deal with it. Don't interfere
  • Don't tell your spouse how to improve their relationship with their parents.
  • Expect some adjustment time for parents after marriage to adjust to this new relationship.
  • Remember that mothers are usually skeptical about daughter-in-laws and fathers about son-in-laws. Give people the benefit of the doubt.
  • Always strive to treat your in-laws with compassion, respect and mercy.
  • Maintain a balance between your needs and that of your in-laws.
  • Never compare your wife to your mother or your husband to your dad.
  • Do not go to your parents with unnecessary quarrels.
  • If you are supporting your parents financially with your spouse's money it may be best to inform your spouse as a matter of courtesy and clarity.
  • Do not forbid your spouse from seeing family unless you fear for their religion and safety.
  • Do not divulge secrets.
  • Make time to know your in-laws but stay out of their disputes.
  • Maintain the Adab (etiquettes) of Islam with your sister- and brother-in-laws (i.e.no hugging or kissing).
  • Give grandparents easy and reasonable access to their grandchildren.
  • Be forgiving and keep your sense of humor.
  • Remember that nobody can interfere or influence your marriage unless you allow them to.
  • Visit them when you can and encourage your spouse to visit their parents and regularly check on them.
  • When parents become dependent on their children, a serious discussion with all parties present should take place. Expectations and requirements of such a living arrangement must be worked out.

 

With my in-laws back living with me alhamdulillah, it took me to thinking about living harmoniously and issues of control, privacy and co-operation.

I enjoy my in-laws extended visits, especially the long meals, the long walks and the long talks. This means that at the moment our home is busy but pleasant. It hasn’t always been this way though and it has taken a bit of work and growing up for everyone to get to this point.

Mum-in-Law

white sands blue skies by corazondediosThe first time my mother-in-law came to stay there were tears, arguments and sulks on both sides, with my poor husband trying to mediate as best he could. We are both fairly strong-willed and used to getting our way. We both had to learn that sometimes it is better to step back and let small things go.

The second time my mother-in-law came to stay, she had already been diagnosed with Hepatitis C and we were not sure how much time she had with us as she had been told her illness was untreatable. I wanted to keep her happy and as well as possible given the situation. She wanted me to be happy and at ease with her. The small things seemed so irrelevant, we had reached a point where we were both willing to capitulate to the others way of doing things.

So I suppose for my mother-in-law, the art of living together involved not “sweating the small stuff” as it were, letting go. If she wanted more chilli in the curry, fine. I didn’t want to hoover that minute, fine.

Of course, it’s not always small stuff. During a stay with her in Pakistan, she wanted me to take my hijab off for a wedding, I was mortified. I had to ask for assistance from hubby, who waited until my mother-in-law was within ear-shot and commanded sternly “just because you are going to a wedding, don’t think you can take your hijab off”. I was killing myself with laughter. That’s not to judge her harshly, because a year later when she came to stay with me, she left wearing hijab and abaya maashaa'Allah.

There was also the matter of control, at first I felt I could not cook what I want, leave the house in a mess if I wanted to or spend my money how I wanted to. This was not because of anything she said but because of my assumptions and because she would not sit still. She has worked hard and been careful with her money her entire life and sickness has not changed that habit. If the cooking or cleaning or laundry was not done she would rush to do it her way. So I learned to get it done myself at the first opportunity or delegate to my husband or brother-in-laws with the maxim that “your mum is ill, she needs rest, so get this done before she does” – I can’t believe this worked.

I also had to deal with my assumptions that she thought me lazy, spendthrift, or wasteful. She has never actually said any of these things so I need to give her the benefit of the doubt. I had to remember that I’m an adult and I can spend my time and money in the way that I choose. If anyone says anything about this, then I can take their comments on board and thank them for their concern but then totally ignore it if I choose to.

Father-in-Law

Amazing_scenery

Living with my father-in-law was a whole different kettle of fish. I think he is wonderful, he is the doting parent that any girl would wish for and we have in common a liking for the things that bore the entire rest of the family: history, museums, academia (we both loved Stonehenge, whilst the everyone else could not see the interest in a bunch of old rocks). So you can imagine we have a mutual fan club there.

We weren’t without our teething problems though. Dad-in-law wasn’t aware of when he could be critical. So his comments about my cooking, how well my sister-in-law dressed and how beautiful she was knocked my confidence quite a bit. This was not intentional and if he had known he would have been mortified. I had to learn though to accept how I am and to accept my cooking as it was. I had to remind myself that I don’t have to impress anyone but Allah (SWT) and that I didn’t need anyone’s approval. I still don’t have much confidence in the kitchen, but I’m not too fussed anymore about what people think about me.

Regarding privacy, during the in-laws first visit, I was breast-feeding Gorgeous, so I had to make it very, very clear that when my bedroom door is closed, no-one comes in. That has held so that when I need quiet- or alone- time I can just go in my room and shut the door.

Brothers-in-Law

My brothers-in-law are my age and younger and are non-Mahram for me, although I think highly of all of them and we have a relationship of mutual respect, I still dress Islamically when they are around and cover myself, including at home. This can feel bothersome at times, especially as I want to look nice for my husband, but I am now used to it and to be honest this is not a problem when we only have the older brother-in-law with us because he is rarely home.

Uqba bin Amir reported Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) as saying: "Beware of getting, into the houses and meeting women (in seclusion)." A person from the Ansaar said: "Allah’s Messenger, what about husband’s brother?", whereupon he said: "The husband’s brother is death." (Muslim 8:26:5400)

Although there is no obligation in Islam on a woman to care for her in-laws, there is an obligation to care for her parents. If we viewed our in-laws in the same way as our parents, with the same empathy and concern, we would be willing to change our behaviour a little and guide them gently to adjust theirs. Also, they ARE my husband’s parents and because of this, I want to help him serve them and make his way to his reward, inshaa'Allah.

Finally, we will all one day be old if death does not reach us first. The way the elderly are treated today is sad and frightening. What is to say things will be any different for us – alone, uncared for and robbed blind? I believe that we are paid back for what we do (Allah SWT is truly Just) and if we care for our elders perhaps someone will care for us. I also know that children learn from what we do and not what we say. If we make caring for our elders, even difficult ones, the norm in our homes, they might just extend the same treatment to us as the perfectly natural way to behave.

“And your Lord has commanded that you shall not serve (any) but Him, and that you shall show goodness to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, say not to them (so much as) “Ugh” nor chide them, and speak to them a generous word.” (Quran 17:23)

Narrated 'Abdullah: I asked the Prophet (PBUH) "Which deed is the dearest to Allah?" He replied, "To offer the prayers at their early stated fixed times." I asked, "What is the next (in goodness)?" He replied, "To be good and dutiful to your parents" I again asked, "What is the next (in goodness)?" He replied, 'To participate in Jihad (religious fighting) in Allah's cause."

'Abdullah added,

"I asked only that much and if I had asked more, the Prophet would have told me more." (Bukhari 1:10:505)

***

This weekend my mum-in-law is flying back to Pakistan after staying with us for the last five months. She is here for about six months every year and her coming and going usually means lots of change in our home and family routine.

I have written before about how I initially struggled to get on with her, but how eventually we found the middle ground and learned to live together without upsetting each other – letting small things go and learning to accept our differences. Two years on, I view her parting with mixed feelings.

Living with your in-laws can be challenging, even after so many years, I occasionally still find myself a little resentful or fed up. One of the difficulties I faced was my mother-in-law’s poor health. This made her much less mobile and consequently all of us less mobile as we didn’t like to leave her at home on her own for too long.

I also struggled with her anxiety and depression in the beginning. I found myself coming home from a long day at work to spend time trying to reassure her and cheer her up. Over time, alhamdulillah I have noticed her depression lifting and this being less of a problem, but in the beginning I found it wore me down each day.

Probably the hardest I found was not being able to say no to her. So if she wanted to go somewhere, or come early from somewhere it had to happen that way. If she wanted certain things to be cooked or household chores to be done, I felt that they had to be done, even if I thought my time would be better spent in a different way. In this way she is very similar to my mum and as with my mum I couldn’t say no. I think the way I have been raised embeds obedience very deeply and to refuse to do what a mother or mother-in-law asks feels equivalent to being a bad daughter or daughter-in-law. As always, as I write this, I am finding a lot of this is in my head and I let my over-thinking hobble me like nothing else can.

On the other hand, when she has been well, she has helped with the school run and the housework. She watched the kids whilst hubby dropped me to work in the morning. She minded the children when I needed to pop across the road to get a carton of milk, saving me the frustration of spending 20 minutes getting three children ready to go across the road to pick up one thing.

She was also a second feminine influence in the home, contrasting to hubby’s obsession with building work and vehicles and the two boys’ rowdiness (and obsession with construction blocks and toy cars). She and Little Lady are fast friends, with Little Lady sneaking out of bed to get into her grandmothers bed.

Most importantly though, I believe it is extremely beneficial to have an elder in the home for so many reasons. They are in a position to pass on their life lessons so that we don’t make the same mistakes they have – in both the small matters and the big ones. They give us a powerful sense of our own mortality. Having my grandmother live with me for two years meant that I learnt to value and treasure each day of health and mobility – you may hate housework, but there might be a day when you wish you were well enough to do these things for yourself.

The blessing that elders bring to our homes are also invaluable: spending time engaged in dhikr (remembrance of Allah SWT), getting up for tahajjud (the night prayer). Spending time making dua for each and every one of their family members – what is there that comes close to a mothers supplications for her children?

Some of these things I will feel the loss of in our home, I am a little worried bout how I am going to manage, now that I have gotten so used to her being here. Mum-in-law is likely to be back in a few months inshaa’Allah (in time for a family wedding inshaa’Allah). In the meantime, I plan to let the laundry pile up, and the dishes, guilt-free...

 

mujaahidaat67Mujaahidaat:

Women who struggle in the way of Allah (‘azza wa jall) are referred to as ‘Mujaahidaat’. Usually ‘Jihaad’ is understood to mean an action done by men in the battlefield; although this is true, the linguistic meaning of Jihaad is not solely restricted to this. The term Jihaad comes from the term juhd, which means to strain, exert and take pains when doing something. Therefore, although a Sister is not religiously obliged to go and fight in the battlefield, she is nevertheless tested in different ways throughout her life for which she has to struggle and take great pains in order to fulfil the command of her Lord. In this way she is also practicing another kind of Jihaad… the Jihaad of and with the inner-self.

It will be no exaggeration to say that some sisters, especially those who are living with their brother-in-law (the Hamw), face a tremendous amount of hardship and difficulty in observing the Hijaab properly and safeguarding their modesty. For example: imagine how it must feel to have to cook in a hot kitchen with your brother-in-law walking in and out, especially on a hot day; or having to put on your Hijaab and Jilbaab (and the face-veil if a Sister wears one) whenever you need to go to the bathroom!! Imagine sitting quietly on the side, or better still in another room alone, as others in your in-laws mix freely, laughing, talking and having a nice time. Imagine the difficulties a sincere Sister would have to surmount in order to protect her modesty.

These are just some examples of the sort of struggles sisters go through on a daily basis; some have become accustomed to it, others struggle sometimes and some are going through much difficulty. May Allah (‘azza wa jall) ease the difficulties of all Sisters, raise their ranks and reward them abundantly in both this life and the next. Aameen.

A Sister who faces such a situation should continually ponder over and recite the following verse:

{Allah does not want to place you in difficulty, but He wants to purify you, and to complete His Favour to you that you may be thankful.}[1]

This verse shows us that the Prophet’s (sallallahu ‘alyhi wa sallam) advice pertaining to the brother-in-law isn’t to place difficulty on us, but to purify us and protect us. Any Muslim woman who allows this verse to penetrate into her heart will find herself keen to observe Hijaab and adhere to the limits set by her Lord. This is because she sees the bigger picture and knows that her striving and struggling will not go in vain, hence she works intelligently to overcome such difficult situations.

Obedience to Allah Alone

Remember dear Sister that there is no obedience to any created being if it involves disobedience to the Creator. If your husband does not support you in practicing caution around your brother-in-law then advise him with words full of wisdom, gentleness and intelligence. Have patience in doing this and if he changes and listens to you then Allah Willing your reward is with Allah, as you would have saved him from being prevented from Paradise. The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alyhi wa sallam) said,

"The Duyooth will not enter the Jannah." [2]

When the Sahaabah asked about what ‘Duyooth’ means, the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alyhi wa sallam) said:

“The one who does not care regarding whomsoever enters upon his ahl [the Arabs also refer to ahl as family and more specifically as the wife.].” [3]

Having said this, there is no doubt that there are many respected and revered Muslim Brothers who hold tight to their Deen and support their wife in her struggle to be an upright Muslim woman, but due to personal or financial reasons are unable to provide separate accommodation for their wife. In both cases a Muslim woman should try her utmost to exercise patience and persevere in the path of Taqwaa (Allah-consciousness).

We are Struggling towards our Lord

salahpray

Dear Sister, when things become hard for you then remember that Allah (‘azza wa jall) says in the Qur’aan,

{Verily we have created man into toil and struggle.} [Surat al-Balad, verse 4]

Yes, all of us are toiling and struggling towards Allah (‘azza wa jall) and all of us will be and are being tested in some way or another.

The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alyhi wa sallam) said, “A strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than a weak believer, and there is good in everyone, (but) cherish that which gives you benefit (in the Hereafter) and seek help from Allah and do not lose heart, and if anything (in the form of trouble) comes to you, don't say: ‘If I had not done that, it would not have happened so and so’, but say: ‘Allah did that what He had ordained to do’ and your "if" opens the (gate) for the Satan.”[4]

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) said, "The example of a believer is that of a fresh tender plant; from whatever direction the wind comes, it bends it, but when the wind becomes quiet, it becomes straight again. Similarly, a believer is afflicted with calamities (but he remains patient till Allah removes his difficulties). And an impious wicked person is like a pine tree which keeps hard and straight till Allah cuts (breaks) it down when He wishes." (See Hadith no. 558, vol. 9)

We must remember that the Paradise is surrounded with difficulties as the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alyhi wa sallam) said: “When Allah created Paradise, He said to Gabriel: ‘Go and look at it’. He went and looked at it, then came and said: ‘O my Lord! By Thy might, no one who hears of it will fail to enter it.’ He [Allah, the Almighty] then surrounded it with disagreeable things, and said: ‘Go and look at it, Gabriel.’ He went and looked at it, then came and said: ‘O my Lord! By Thy might, I am afraid that no one will enter it.’

When Allah created Hell, He said: ‘Go and look at it, Gabriel.’ He went and looked at it, then came and said: ‘O my Lord! By Thy might, no one who hears of it will enter it.’ He [Allah, the Almighty] then surrounded it with desirable things and said: ‘Go and look at it, Gabriel.’ He went, looked at it, then came and said: ‘O my Lord! By Thy might and power, I am afraid that no one will remain who does not enter it.’” [5]

Indeed Allah tests us to see who is worthy of the Paradise,

{Do you think that you will enter the garden while Allah has not yet known those who strive hard from among you, and (He has not) known the patient.} (3:142)

{O you who believe! Be patient and excel in patience and remain steadfast, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, that you may be successful.} (3:200)

{Surely the men who submit and the women who submit, and the believing men and the believing women, and the obeying men and the obeying women, and the truthful men and the truthful women, and the patient men and the patient women and the humble men and the humble women, and the almsgiving men and the almsgiving women, and the fasting men and the fasting women, and the men who guard their private parts and the women who guard their private parts, and the men who remember Allah much and the women who remember Allah much --- Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a mighty reward.} (33:35)

The best of people were tested the most and indeed Allah loves the ones who show patience: {... and Allah loves the patient.} (3:146)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “…Whoever remains patient, Allah will make him patient. Nobody can be given a blessing better and greater than patience." (Saheeh al Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 24, Number 548)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said, "No calamity befalls a Muslim but that Allah expiates some of his sins because of it, even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn." (Volume 7, Book 70, Number 544)

Narrated Anas bin Malik: Allah's Apostle sent for the Ansaar and gathered them in a tent and said to them, "Be patient till you meet Allah and His Apostle, and I will be on the lake-tank (Al-Kauthar)." (Volume 9, Book 93, Number 533)

Taqwaa: the Way Out

treepinkWhen `Umar bin Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) asked Ubayy bin Ka`b (may be pleased with him) about Taqwaa, Ubayy [may Allah be pleased with him] said,

"Have you ever walked on a path that has thorns on it?''

`Umar said, "Yes.'' Ubayy said, "What did you do then?'' He said,

"I rolled up my sleeves and struggled.'' Ubayy said, "That is Taqwaa.'' [6]

Dear Sister, this is the secret key by which Allah will make ease for you within any difficult situation, just as Allah (‘azza wa jall) said,

{And whosoever has Taqwaa of Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty).}[7]

{And whosoever has Taqwaa of Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make his matter easy for him.}[8]

Other ways by which to keep strong is by reading the Qur’aan, imploring Allah to make your matter easy for you, mixing with righteous sisters, reading heart-softening books, articles and listening to Islamic lectures.

Let’s not forget to seek the help of Allah, beseech Him and call upon Him. Almighty Allah says:

“And your Lord said: Invoke Me [i.e. believe in My Oneness (Islamic Monotheism) and ask Me for anything] I will respond to your (invocation).” (Ghafir: 60)

{And seek help in patience and As-Salât (the prayer) and truly it is extremely heavy and hard except for Al-Khâshi'ûn [i.e. the true believers in Allâh - those who obey Allâh with full submission, fear much from His Punishment, and believe in His Promise (Paradise, etc.) and in His Warnings (Hell, etc.)]. (They are those) who are certain that they are going to meet their Lord, and that unto Him they are going to return.} [Suratul Baqarah, verses 45-46]

In Conclusion

niqab78So dear Sister, be strong and do not allow the criticism of those who do not understand Islamic segregation to bear heavily on your heart - be they from the closest, loved or most respected people in your eyes. What you are doing is not extreme, rather it is obedience to the command of Allah the Almighty. Be a Mujaahidah, strong for your Deen; strive for the pleasure of Allah, even if it necessitates the displeasure of others. For, soon the Angel of Death will visit us to take our souls up into the heavens, let’s hope to be of those to whom he will say,

“O good and peaceful soul, depart to Allah’s forgiveness and pleasure.”

My dear Sisters, the one who disobeys Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu ‘alyhi wa sallam) can only harm himself and cannot in any way harm Allah. The Messenger (sallallahu ‘alyhi wa sallam) said:

“All of my followers will enter the Paradise except those who refuse.” They said, “O Allah’s Messenger! Who will refuse?” He said, “Whoever obeys me will enter the Paradise, and whoever disobeys me is the one who refuses [to enter it].” [Saheeh al Bukhari]

Dear sister, despite your difficulty keep, as much as you can, your heart ever-observant with the Noble Prophet’s (sallallahu ‘alyhi wa sallam) words of caution: ‘The brother-in-law is death’. For,

{What is with you passes away and what is with Allah is enduring, and We will most certainly give to those who are patient their reward for the best of what they did.} (16:96)

 

________________

[1] al-Maa'idah 5:6
[2] Saheeh: At-Tayaalsee has narrated it 1/89 and others
[3] With an authentic chain, this hadeeth has been related by Al Haadiz Al Mundhary. Also in an-Nasaai’, Ahmad, at-Tabaraani, Al Bayhaqi and Al Haakim.
[4] Muslim, Book 33, Hadith 6441
[5] Dawud, Book 40, Hadith 4726
[6] Ibn Katheer, volume one: under the tafseer of verse 2 of Suratul Baqarah.
[7] al-Talaaq 65:2-3
[8] al-Talaaq 65:4
 

FreeGreatPicture.com-20209-hd-beach-coastThe Muslim woman must be wise and prudent in safeguarding her dignity and honour. Times are swiftly changing and a clever woman is she who protects herself and realises her high worth and dignity as a believer, even if she trusts the same men that the Shar’iah (chronicles of Islamic Law) has outlined as potential threats to her chastity and hereafter.

Today, when dressing immodestly has become the social norm and to speak out against it may adjudge you to be a social outcast, you – the Muslim woman – must stand strong against such vicious tides. You must remember that this realm is just a realm of test, a few days that are swiftly running out as every hour passes us. Dear Sister, declare war against such a progression, a “progression” which goes against the way of some of the best women this world has ever witnessed, the female Companions of the Noble Messenger (peace be upon him). The Qur’aan clearly mentions how Tabarruj (the analytical study of which is to follow shortly) is a thing of the past, an outdated, backward, ignorant and sub-human act!

{And do not tabbarrajna [display] yourselves like that of the times of ignorance…}[i]

Something that is an outdated act is now cloaked with the colour of modernism and progression. Yet, Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) have clearly spoken out against Tabarruj and this is what we are now going to look into.

***

‘Lisaan al Arab’ is an excellent Arabic dictionary by Ibn Mundhur, used by scholars and laymen alike. In it one can find different meanings for the various derivates of root letters. It’s absolutely amazing to read, for it opens one’s mind up to how amazing the Arabic language is...do you want to have a taste of it?

Well, let’s dive into the meaning of Tabarruj. Allah Willing, once you read it you’ll realise what it means to not do Tabarruj, in front of non-Mahrams generally and more specifically in front of the Hamuw (the brother-in-law), the one whom the Prophet (sallallahu alyhi wa sallam) referred to as ‘death’ for the Muslim woman.

The term ‘tabarruj’ carries two basic meanings:

1. To display, show, make apparent, raised

  • Distance between eyebrows: This is why the distance between the eyebrows is called ‘al-Baraj’, because it is so apparent to all those who look towards the face of an individual.
  • Wide Eyes: The whiteness of which is very white and the blackness of which is very black. Such eyes can’t be missed and stand out from all other features in one’s face.
  • A Specific Genus of Stars: That’s why a specific genus of stars is referred to as ‘Burooj’, because it is 1) raised, 2) apparent for onlookers. This term is mentioned in the Qur’aan: {By the heaven, dhaatil burooj [holding the big stars]} [Al Burooj [85]:1]
  • High Buildings: ‘Barj’, the plural of which is ‘Burooj’ and ‘Abraaj’, means tower/ castle. This is because such high buildings can’t be missed, as they tower above the rest. As mentioned in the Qur’aan: {Wheresoever you may be, death will overtake you even if you are in buroojin mushayyidah (fortresses built up strong and high)} [An-Nisaa’ [4]:78]

THAT’s why ‘a woman’s playing up her charms’ (refer to Hans Wehr) comes under this meaning. Because she makes an outward and apparent show of her beauty, intentionally wanting others to look her way.

2. To adorn herself, make herself pretty

Ibn Mundhur writes in ‘Lisaan al Arab’ regarding the term ‘at-Tabarruj’:

‘The woman making her Zeenah and Mahaasin apparent to men.’  And: ‘To make apparent the Zeenah to strangers (li an-naas al-ajaanib), and that is blameworthy. But (if it’s done) for the husband then no (it’s not blameworthy).’

Ibn Mundhur quotes Abu Ishaaq, with regards to this verse, that:

‘making apparent the Zeenah and to Istadaa.’

In the above definitions three very important terms were used:

  1. Zeenah: embellishment, adornment, ornament, decoration.
  2. Mahaasin: (pl. of mahsanah) beauties, charms, attractions.
  3. Istadaa: to call, invoke, urge, incite, appeal, necessitate, make necessary or a requisite.

Having read this deep analysis of the term Tabarruj, I now want you to read the following verse again, but this time with deep thought and contemplation,

“And do not tabbarrajna [display] yourselves like that of the times of ignorance…”[ii]

Now, if you have a brother-in-law specifically and if you live or come in contact with any non-mahram generally, I want you to recall and ask yourself honestly whether you have ever partaken in the act of ‘Tabarruj’. If so, dear Sister, it is not too late to repent and mend your ways. But time is running out as death and the Day of Judgement are swiftly catching up with man. The narrations pertaining to the punishment for Tabarruj are severe indeed and we can’t afford to gain Allah’s (the Glorious and Mighty) Anger or Wrath, may Allah forgive us.

‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood reported that the Prophet (sallallahu a’lyhi wa sallam) used to dislike ten kinds of behaviour and he (‘Abdullah) mentioned that one of them was:

“Tabarruj by means of displaying beautification in an improper place.”[iii]

When the Companion Mu’aawiyyah (may Allah be pleased with him) gave a sermon in Hums (Syria), he mentioned that the Prophet (sallallahu a’lyhi wa sallam) prohibited seven things, one of which was Tabarruj.[iv]

jilbabwalk Umaymah, the daughter of Ruqayyah, came to the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alyhi wa sallam) to acknowledge the message of Islaam and that Muhammad (sallallahu alyhi wa sallam) is the Messenger of Allah (‘azza wa jall). The Prophet (sallallahu alyhi wa sallam) said to her: “I give you my acknowledgement that you must not set partners to worship besides Allah and…that you don’t commit any falsehood by your hands and between your legs… and that you don’t make Tabarruj like that of the time of ignorance.”[v]

The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alyhi wa sallam) said: “… The most evil of your women are the Mutabarrijaat (those who do Tabarruj), the Mutakhayalaat (those who strut/swagger), and they are the hypocritical ones. Those who enter the Jannah (in number) are like the Cough Crow.”[vi] The Cough Crow has a red beak and red legs. This is an expression of metonymy indicating that few from the likes of these women enter heaven because this kind of crow is rare.

The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alyhi wa sallam) said, “Of the people of hell there are two types whom I have never seen: The one possessing whips like the tail of an ox and they flog people with them. The second one, women who would be naked in spite of their being dressed, who are seduced [to wrong paths] and seduce others with their hair high like humps. These women would not get into the Paradise and they would not perceive its odour, although its fragrance can be perceived from such and such distance.”[vii]

The Prophet (sallallahu alyhi wa sallam) said, “There shall be, in the latter part of my nation, women who are dressed but [in fact] naked, on their heads are humps like those of Bukht [a specific kind of camel], curse them for they are surely cursed.” [Al-Mu’jam as-Sagheer by Imaam at-Tabarani p.232] The scholars say that the Prophet (sallallahu alyhi wa sallam), in this hadeeth, is referring to women who wear tight clothes that shows off the shape of the body. In reality they are naked although they have clothes on them!

The Prophet (sallallahu alyhi wa sallam) also said: “The parable of a woman who moves with slow sweeping motion, trailing her beautified clothes, performing not for her husband, is like darkness on the day of Judgement; she has (or comes with) no light.” [At-Tirmidhi: the hadeeth is weak but the meaning is correct]

The Prophet (sallallahu alyhi wa sallam) said, “Any woman who takes off her clothes in other than her husband’s home (for an unlawful purpose), has broken the shield between her and Allah.” [Musnad Imaam Ahmad and in the Mustadrak of Imaam al-Haakim]

The scholars explain that what the Prophet (sallallahu alyhi wa sallam) is referring to is any woman who shows off her beauty to strangers by taking off her shield of clothes. She ‘has broken this shield between her and Allah’ because Allah says:

{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.} [Al–A’raaf [7]:26]

Therefore, if a woman does not fear Allah (‘azza wa jall) and uncovers that which Allah has commanded her to cover, then she is breaking the shield between her and Allah, the Most High. Also, by uncovering and dishonouring herself she is in fact cheating and committing a treason with her husband, for marriage is a contract to be faithful to one another and one of the ways a Muslim woman is faithful to her husband is by means of safeguarding her beauty and ornaments for his eyes alone.

Allah refers to the commitment made to the institution of marriage as a meethaaqan ghaleedhaa (a solemn contract), a term otherwise used only in relation to the covenant between Allah and the Prophets [see Q 33:7].

Whether or not we are supported by our husbands, and whether or not they themselves understand the gravity of this solemn contract, we must comply, for our standing and questioning will be in front of our Lord alone. In our graves there will be no other, and when death approaches us, such difficulties will seem trivial and the relief will be, Allah Willing, magnanimous.

Dear Sister, a storm always settles down sooner or later. It may seem hard to begin covering properly and according to the Shar’iah (Islamic law) but soon Allah will turn hardship into ease.

{So verily, with the hardship, there is relief.

Verily, with the hardship, there is relief

(i.e. there is one hardship with two reliefs, so one hardship cannot overcome two reliefs).}

(Surah 94, Verses 5-6)

____________________________
 
[i] Surah al Ahzaab [33]:33
[ii] Surah al Ahzaab [33]:33
[iii] An-Nisaaee 8/141
[iv] Musnad Imaam Ahmad 4/101
[v] Musnad Imaam Ahmad 2/196
[vi] Al Bayaqi
[vii] Saheeh Muslim

 

Subcategories

domesticviolence

A husband disciplining his wife according to Islamic ettiquette, governing himself by specific and strict refined regulations of Islamic Law, is only for a wives who are recalcitrant and have evil and unjustified conduct towards their husbands. This disciplinary action must be done by one who fears Allah and wishes to keep marital matters private; in no way does Islaam sanction domestic violence. Sisters should also fear Allah and maturely deal with and change any recalcitrance and refractoriness on their part.

There is a huge difference between this disciplinary measure and abuse perpetrated by unrefined, ignorant  and hot-headed individuals. Abuse must stop and the appropriate measures to prevent it must be taken. It is noteworthy to mention that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) never beat any of his wives. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “From among the believers are those who have the kindest disposition and are the kindest to their families- such are those who show the most perfect faith. The best among them are those who are kindest to their wives.”  [Bukhaari and Muslim]

gardenniqab

“It is only those who have knowledge among Allah's servants who fear Him.” [Qu'aan, Sûrah Fâtir, verse 28]

recipebook3Dear Sisters, the main dish is the main event of any meal, so you’ve got to make it good. And no matter what your tastes run to, or how experienced you are as a chef you’ll find something in these recipes that will tempt your taste-buds.

From dishes like a simple butter chicken or a ten minute curry to more elaborate ones like vegetable lasagne and spaghetti carbonarra. We’ve got all sorts covered:

Middle Eastern falafel, Chinese lemon chicken and Japanese sushi are all there, so no matter what you’re after, you will find something to enjoy here.

Students are requested to attend classes regularly, and to be punctual to the best of their ability. This link contains some some beneficial articles on seeking knowledge and the ettiquettes pertaining to it. Please bring the print-outs as advised, extra paper, a folder, pen/pencil and all necessary stationary and/or additional requirements. You may also want to invest in a small folding table to bring to the classes, especially those of you who find it hard to take notes whilst sitting on the floor.

The books we will be covering during this course are quite popular and can be purchased from any good Islamic bookstore. Alternatively, you can order it via a reputable Islamic website.

The Noble Life of the Prophet

noblelifeThe following is description of the book's contents by the publishers:

In this book, the events of the Prophet's life, from the day he (p) was born and even before that day for background information-until the day he (p) died, have been recorded.

Beyond enumerating the events of the Prophet's life, lessons and morals from those events have been drawn to point out the significance of an event and the wisdom behind the Prophet's actions or deeds, the Islamic ruling that is derived from a particular incident, and the impact that a given event should have on our character or choice of deeds is indicated.

 

QuranicArabic

Ibn al-Jazaree says in his poem about acquiring Tajweed:

And there is no obstacle between it (learning Tajweed) and leaving it,
Except that a person must exercise his mouth with it!

Qira'at refers to the various manners of reciting the Qur'an. There are 10 authentic Qira'at. For a qira'at to be authentic there are very detailed rules. Whereas the Qur'an was revealed in seven ahruf, as is proved in many mutawaatir ahadith. This was because different tribes pronounced and spelled words differently.

This section contains recommended audio/ video recordings for Qur'aan recitation in addition to Tajweed lessons.

MadinahtunNabiyy

Shamaail Al Tirmidhi is a classical book containing narrations pertaining to the noble character and virtues of the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) and infact is an indispensable collection of Hadeeth related to the Prophet’s (sallallahu a'lyhi wa sallam) blessed Seerah (biography).

It was compiled by the eminent Muhaddith, Imam al-Tirmidhi less than 3 centuries after the passing away of the Prophet Muhammed (salalahu alayhi wa salam).

Many scholars of Islam have indulged in uncountable attempts throughout history to collect hadiths on various religious issues. The most famous collection of 40 hadiths of all time is the one collected by Imam Abu Zakariyyah Muhyuddeen Yahya ibn Sharaf An-Nawawi who died in AH 676. The collection is known as Al-Arba`ain An-Nawawiah or An-Nawawi's 40 Hadiths.

These selected forty hadiths comprise the main essential and fundamental concepts of Islam which, in turn, construct the minimum level of required revealed knowledge for every single Muslim.Various principles are contained in these hadiths, such as belief, Muslim ethics and fiqh. The collection of Forty Hadith by Imam Nawawi has been known, accepted and appreciated by Muslim scholars for the last seven centuries.

Umdatul-Ahkaam by Ibn Qudaamah al-Maqdisee (d.600 A.H.) is a famous text that contains hadith pertaining to juristic rulings (ahkaam) from Bukhari & Muslim. Like Bulugh al Maram Ibn Hajar, the author leaves out the chains of narration and suffices with the name of the Sahabi.

There are very few hadeeths in this book which are only reported by Imaam Bukhaaree or only by Imaam Muslim. Therefore, all the hadeeths of “Umdatul-Ahkaam” are authentic hadeeths. It is divided into books and chapters of fiqh.

TheQuraanicscript3

It is reported that ‘Umar ibn Yazeed wrote to Abu Moosa al-Ash’ari (may Allaah be pleased with him) and said:

‘Learn the Sunnah and learn Arabic; learn the Qur’aan in Arabic for it is Arabic.’ [Iqtidaa’ al-Siraat al-Mustaqeem, 2/207]

madinahbooksThe Arabic Course for English-Speaking Students is a comprehensive and popular course for the teaching of the Qur'anic and Traditional Arabic, originally devised and taught at the renowned Madinah Islamic University, catering for the non-Arabic speaking students from all over the world. Over the years, this course has enabled students to become competent in their use of the Arabic language and to participate and benefit from scholarly pursuits such as Qur'anic Exegeses, Hadith, Fiqh, Sirah, History, and Classical and Modern Arabic Literature. It is concise (consisting of only three books, reasonably short) but extensive in their coverage. It combines modern Arabic vocabulary with Islamic terminology used in the Qur'an and Sunnah. It Helps acquire an understanding of hundreds of Qur'anic verses, aHadith, Arabic parables and poetry.
madinahbooks

The Arabic Course for English-Speaking Students is a comprehensive and popular course for the teaching of the Qur'anic and Traditional Arabic, originally devised and taught at the renowned Madinah Islamic University, catering for the non-Arabic speaking students from all over the world. Over the years, this course has enabled students to become competent in their use of the Arabic language and to participate and benefit from scholarly pursuits such as Qur'anic Exegeses, Hadith, Fiqh, Sirah, History, and Classical and Modern Arabic Literature. It is concise (consisting of only three books, reasonably short) but extensive in their coverage. It combines modern Arabic vocabulary with Islamic terminology used in the Qur'an and Sunnah. It Helps acquire an understanding of hundreds of Qur'anic verses, aHadith, Arabic parables and poetry.

madinahbooks

The Arabic Course for English-Speaking Students is a comprehensive and popular course for the teaching of the Qur'anic and Traditional Arabic, originally devised and taught at the renowned Madinah Islamic University, catering for the non-Arabic speaking students from all over the world. Over the years, this course has enabled students to become competent in their use of the Arabic language and to participate and benefit from scholarly pursuits such as Qur'anic Exegeses, Hadith, Fiqh, Sirah, History, and Classical and Modern Arabic Literature. It is concise (consisting of only three books, reasonably short) but extensive in their coverage. It combines modern Arabic vocabulary with Islamic terminology used in the Qur'an and Sunnah. It Helps acquire an understanding of hundreds of Qur'anic verses, aHadith, Arabic parables and poetry.

madinahbooksThe Arabic Course for English-Speaking Students is a comprehensive and popular course for the teaching of the Qur'anic and Traditional Arabic, originally devised and taught at the renowned Madinah Islamic University, catering for the non-Arabic speaking students from all over the world. Over the years, this course has enabled students to become competent in their use of the Arabic language and to participate and benefit from scholarly pursuits such as Qur'anic Exegeses, Hadith, Fiqh, Sirah, History, and Classical and Modern Arabic Literature. It is concise (consisting of only three books, reasonably short) but extensive in their coverage. It combines modern Arabic vocabulary with Islamic terminology used in the Qur'an and Sunnah. It Helps acquire an understanding of hundreds of Qur'anic verses, aHadith, Arabic parables and poetry.

Al Aajaroomiyyah, is the quintessence of Arabic grammar, its status is largely unchallenged as an excellent introduction to this first field of learning, which every scholar must master before delving into other Arabic literature. Hence, we find much attention has been paid to it amongst Arab scholars over a considerable period of time. Up untill now, this text is taught across the world in traditional institutions and is recognised as a key stepping stone to studying detailed grammar.

This course is not designed for complete beginners, but for students who have already studied the basics and are ready to tackle grammer in intensive way. It is hoped by the end of the course that the student will be able to understand the basics of grammar and thus be able to deal with more advanced texts in grammar and literature.

The Laamiyyah is a famous primer classical text on sarf by the famous Jamaal ad-Deen Ibn Maalik (rahimahullah).

seerahofp

ProphetsmasjidIn the Arabic language the word seerah comes from 'saara yaseeru'. Linguistically it means to travel or to be on a journey.
 

When we’re talking about someone’s seerah we’re talking about that person’s journey through life. You are talking about the person’s birth, the events surrounding it, his life and his death, and you are also studying the manners and characteristics of that person.

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{Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining Al-Ma‘roof (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do) and forbidding Al-Munkar (polytheism and disbelief and all that Islaam has forbidden). And it is they who are the successful.} (Surah Aal ‘Imraan [3] :104)

The Prophet (salAllaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, 

"Allaah, His angels, and the inhabitants of heaven and earth, even the ant in its hole and even the fish, send blessings (pray for good) upon the one who teaches the people good." (At-Tirmidhi, Saheeh)

The Muslim woman has been bestowed with many rights by Allaah Almighty, and it is of great importance in Da'wah that she - the Muslim woman - familiarises herself with the rights that Islaam has blessed her with. Not only will she, herself, then appreciate Islaam more, but in the eyes of those people who think she is 'oppressed' and without rights, she will be able to effectively prove their views wrong. So much so that many of their women, when realising the rights Islaam has given the Muslim woman, will feel envious of her dignified position in Islaam.

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"If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two or three or four. But if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with them, then only one." (Qur'aan, [4]:3)

The books we will be covering for this course are popular and can be purchased from any good Islamic bookstore. Alternatively, you can order it via a reputable Islamic website.

noblelifeThe Noble Life of the Prophet

The following is description of the book's contents by the publishers:

In this book, the events of the Prophet's life, from the day he (p) was born and even before that day for background information-until the day he (p) died have been recorded.

Beyond enumerating the events of the Prophet's life, lessons and morals from those events have been drawn to point out the significance of an event and the wisdom behind the Prophet's actions or deeds, the Islamic ruling that is derived from a particular incident, and the impact that a given event should have on our character or choice of deeds is indicated.