By Shariffa Carlo Al Andalusia
We tend to indulge ourselves in "sheikh hunting" when we don't like what we hear, until we find the "sheikh" who tells us what we want to hear. It soes not matter sometimes who this "sheikh" is or where he/she learned or even what level his/her understanding has reached. If we heard someone call him sheikh or her sheikha, we follow what they teach. We would never do this with our life matters, yet for our deen, which extends beyond the limited bounds of our life, we find it easy. We are supposed to verify that everything that we learn is supported by the Quraan and the authentic hadiths of our beloved Prophet (pbuh).
Narrated Abu Huraira: I said: "O Allah's Apostle! Who will be the luckiest person, who will gain your intercession on the Day of Resurrection?" Allah's Apostle said: 'O Abu Huraira! I have thought that none will ask me about it before you as I know your longing for the (learning of) Hadiths. The luckiest person who will have my intercession on the Day of Resurrection will be the one who said sincerely from the bottom of his heart "None has the right to be worshipped but Allah.'"
And 'Umar bin 'Abdul 'Aziz wrote to Abu Bakr bin Hazm, "Look for the knowledge of Hadith and get it written, as I am afraid that religious knowledge will vanish and the religious learned men will pass away (die). Do not accept anything save the Hadiths of the Prophet. Circulate knowledge and teach the ignorant, for knowledge does not vanish except when it is kept secretly (to oneself)." Sahih Bukhari: Volume 1, Book 3, Number 98.
Think about this. In explanation of this hadith, Umar bin Abdul Aziz told us to seek the knowledge of the hadith. Why? Its obvious, because it is here that we can truly understand the verses of Allah and stay away from shirk, by applying them as they were implemented by our beloved Prophet. Any other way is denying the truth of La ilaha il Allah!
The Prophet (pbuh) warned us that there would emerge people who would teach from ignorance. And those people are alive and thriving today. This is especially sad when we know that knowledge of what is truly Islam is so easy for us to find. We do not have to travel hundreds of miles on foot or by steed to acquire knowledge of one hadith. They are all collected, authenticated and analyzed for us now. May Allah guide us to the true knowledge.
The latest trend to hit the street, as they say, is the invention of new interpretations for the verses on hijab. They have discovered, it seems, something the Prophet (pbuh), himself, had not discovered. Audhu billah! At first they claim that the word "hijab" does not appear in the Quraan. This is not true. Hijab is there, in relation to the mothers of the believers, who are our examples. Also, jilbab and khymar (two far more specific terms) are there, and they are specifically directed towards us, the Muslim women, and in observing these two, we are essentially observing hijab. Since this is not easily disputed, they have to invent a new loophole. They go on to say that the verse for the khymar does not say hair. They have taken a verse and ignored the implementation of this verse as found in the authentic sunnah or the teachings of the scholars.
Those who are teaching this lunacy have committed two great violations. First, they are denying the verses of Allah, which in itself is outright shirk. Second, they are saying that our beloved Prophet (pbuh) did not understand these verses, because when the women began to cover themselves completely, he did not correct them. Which he ALWAYS did when they were wrong!
Narrated Umm Salamah, Ummul Mu'minin: When the verse, "That they should cast their outer garments over their persons" was revealed, the women of Ansar came out as if they had crows over their heads. Sunan Abu Dawud: Book 32, Number 4090.
Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin: Safiyyah, daughter of Shaybah, said that Aisha mentioned the women of Ansar, praised them and said good words about them. She then said: "When Surat an-Nur came down, they took the curtains, tore them and made head covers (veils) of them." Sunan Abu Dawud: Book 32, Number 4089.
Narrated Anas ibn Malik: The Prophet (pbuh) brought Fatimah a slave which he donated to her. Fatimah wore a garment which, when she covered her head, did not reach her feet, and when she covered her feet by it, that garment did not reach her head. When the Prophet (pbuh) saw her struggle, he said: There is no harm to you: Here is only your father and slave. Sunan Abu Dawud: Book 32, Number 4094.
Here, the Prophet was waiting for his daughter to cover from her head to her feet, the mother of the believers was praising the women for their understanding and implementation of this verse. If they were wrong, it would have been correction, not praise. Did our great Prophet, himself, not understand? Did his beloved daughter not understand? Did Aisha, the mother of the Believers, who is undisputedly one of the greatest scholars of al Islam, not understand? It is inconceivable that the Prophet and these great woman who lived with and learned from the Prophet himself, would understand Islam less than these Modern self-appointed scholars of Islam. May Allah guide them and protect us from them!
Having said this, let me give you the verses relating to the woman's covering and try to explain them. Allah says:
O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments (Jalbab) over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. 33:59
And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils (khymar) over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss. 24:31
O ye who believe! Enter not the Prophet's houses,- until leave is given you,- for a meal, (and then) not (so early as) to wait for its preparation: but when ye are invited, enter; and when ye have taken your meal, disperse, without seeking familiar talk. Such (behavior) annoys the Prophet: he is ashamed to dismiss you, but Allah is not ashamed (to tell you) the truth. And when ye ask (his ladies) for anything ye want, ask them from before a screen: that makes for greater purity for your hearts and for theirs. Nor is it right for you that ye should annoy Allah's Messenger, or that ye should marry his widows after him at any time. Truly such a thing is in Allah's sight an enormity. 33:53
In these verses, we see that we have been commanded to wear the jalbab and the khymar. What are these things? For a technical explanation, we find that jalabib, which is used in the verse is the plural of jalbab. "Jalbab is actually the outer sheet or coverlet which a woman wraps around on top of her garments to cover herself from head to toe. It hides her body completely." (Lisan ul Arab vol 1 p. 273). The best explanation is that it is what we would today call a burqa or an abiya.
In explanation of this word, Allamah ibin Al Hazam writes:
"In the Arabic language of the Prophet, Jalbab is the outer sheet which covers the entire body. A piece of cloth which is too small to cover the entire body could not be called Jalbab." Al Muhalla, vol. 3, p. 217.
The second piece, the khymar is from the root khmr which means something which veils. As we can see from the term khamir (alcohol or any substance which veils the mind). The khymar was a piece which covers the head and the breast area as instructed in the verse.
Sheikh Al-Albaani was asked about this verse in relation to its limitations. He explained that it means a covering that goes over the head, shoulder and breast area, excluding the face. Here is the exchange in a question/answer format:
Here we can clearly see the limitations of the piece that covers our heads. It must bo over the shoulders and the breast to fit what is described in the Quraan.
When we put the two pieces together, what we have is a long dress jilbab and a head/shoulder/breast cover: khymar. These two pieces were commanded by Allah. Together they comprise the cover of the Muslim woman. Now, how do we know how serious it is to not cover? We find this in the explanations of the verses. We have one particularly strong hadith which pretty much covers it all.
The Prophet (pbuh) said, "The worst among women are those who freely leave their homes without hijab. They are hypocrites and few of those will enter paradise." (Sunan Baihaqi)
Also, In al Qurtubi, Aisha is narrated as having said to some women from the tribe of the Bani Tamim who were wearing dresses made of thin material when they were visiting her, "If you are mu'min this is not the type of dress suitable for mu'min women. But if you are not mu'min, then do as you please." Also, narrated in Al Qurtubi is a statement from the mother of the believers, Aisha, that the woman who does not cover does not believe in surat al Noor. These are very strong words, for the one who disbelieves in any part of the Quraan is not a believer and has committed shirk!
So strong is the importance of covering, that we can not even reveal to others that which is hidden. Abdullah Ibin Masud narrated that the Prophet said, "A woman should not look at or touch another woman so that she may describe this woman to her husband in such a way as if he were actually looking at her." (Bukhari, Abu Dawud)
The covering of the Muslim woman is not an option, it is a privilege and a commandment from Allah. It is the duty of every Muslim woman and the responsibility of every Muslim man. For the man was commanded to:
O ye who believe! save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who flinch not (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do (precisely) what they are commanded. 66:6
Now, the words of Allah in commanding us to wear khymar and jalbab should be enough. Added to that the words of our Prophet and the explanations from his wives, should be more than enough. Let's add to that that it is the consensus of the scholars (ijimaa) that the "hijab" is mandatory, and there should remain no woman who does not observe it, if she believes in Allah and the last day.
So, knowing this, what is the believing woman to do, except submit to Allah. And how exactly do we do this. The cover of the Muslim woman is two pieces: An overgarment (jilbab) and a head/shoulder/bosom scarf (khymar). It is not pants, skirts, or other... The word in the Quraan is clear -- jalbab (which is clearly a one piece garment). Also, the teachings and examples of the mothers of the believers, the family of the Prophet and the female companions of the Prophet are enough to show us that these are the only acceptable alternatives. While pants and skirts were available and known, there is not one single example of them being utilized as appropriate covering outdoors. This means they can not be utilized as such today. The covering has certain limitations and those limitations came from Allah's commandments, not man (or woman's) desires or rationalizations.
Second, the dress must be loose, and touching (even dragging ) on the ground. We know this from the following two hadiths.
When the Prophet (pbuh) was talking about Allah not gazing upon the one who trails his garments in pride,
Narrated Umm Salamah, Ummul Mu'minin: Safiyyah, daughter of AbuUbayd, said: When the Apostle of Allah (pbuh) mentioned lower garment, Umm Salamah, wife of the Apostle of Allah (pbuh), asked him: And a woman, Apostle of Allah? He replied: She may hang down a span. Umm Salamah said: Still it (foot) will be uncovered. He said: Then a forearm's length, nor exceeding it. Sunan Abu Dawud: Book 32, Number 4105.
Narrated Dihyah ibn Khalifah al-Kalbi: The Apostle of Allah (pbuh) was brought some pieces of fine Egyptian linen and he gave me one and said: Divide it into two; cut one of the pieces into a shirt and give the other to your wife for veil. Then when he turned away, he said: And order your wife to wear a garment below it and not show her figure. Sunan Abu Dawud: Book 32, Number 4104.
These two hadiths show that the dress must touch the ground and must be loose. Since we know that they had shoes and socks, and they were not given as options, then we also know that they can not be taken as options today. The dress had to cover the feet and the legs. The commandments of covering never spoke of just covering the skin. They gave a specific UNIFORM for the Muslim woman. Remember, in the verse about Jalbab, one of the reasons for it was so that the Muslim woman should be known as such. This is important for us to remember. We need to be able to recognize each other, and to be able to be easily recognized by others. This is one of the primary purposes of the cover.
Also, the dress should not be decorated, making it more beautiful than what is covered. Allah commands the believing woman to "not display their beauty" (24:31). and he orders us to "not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments" (24:31). We are not to show the decorations we place on ourselves or even to allude to that which we hide. Therefore, the things which do show, the jilbab and the khymar should be devoid of decoration or ornamentation.
Now we have a dress which is plain, long and wide and a plain scarf which covers the head, shoulders and bossom. The only things showing should be the face and the hands. now what is face. It is the part we have to clean in wudu --the circle from the hairline (not including any hair), to the ears but not including the ears as they are considered part of the head, to the chin. The hands are from the wrist down. All else is considered aura (that which is to be hidden) including the feet which we were told to cover with our dress, not with socks or shoes. To strengthen this, we have a hadith from Sunan Abu Dawud. A woman asks Um salama, " I am a woman who drags her dress and I walk in the dirty places, what shall I do? Um Salama answered, "Rasool Allah said 'What is after it purifies it.'" Therefore, if the dress could be shortened and socks or shoes serve in their place as sufficient covering, this special right, that the dress becomes clean for salat by dragging over clean dirt would not have been necessary or even acceptable. And Allah knows Best.
Last, but not least, because the woman and man are forbidden to imitate each other and because we can not imitate the Kufar, the dress also can not imitate the dress of a man (like pants or a thob or dishdasha) nor can it imitate the kufar, like trying to make it match the latest kafir fashions or dressing like a nun. And the dress should never be a dress of pride.
May Allah guide us all to the best for this life and the next.
May Allah guide our women to the proper dress of the Muslim woman,
to the uniform of the Muslim, to the dress of dignity and piousness.
May Allah keep us from worshipping our desires and guide us all
to the sirat al mustaqeem. Ameen.