THE CATEGORIES OF HIJAB AND THEIR COMMANDMENTS
From the seven ayas of the Qur’an and numerous aúódõth about the hijab, the primary objective is to conceal women, their activities, and movements, from men. This is only possible by having them stay within the four walls of their homes and behind curtains. The other methods of observing hijab may be used, as required, based on one’s needs and circumstances.
Thus the first category of hijab, which is the prime objective of Shari‘a is for women to remain in their homes. But, Shari‘a is a comprehensive and complete system of life which makes concessions for every necessity. The Shari‘a provides for the need of women to come out of their homes through the second category of hijab. The second category, based on the Qur’an and Sunna, is that women cover themselves from head to toe with an ‘abóya or cloak with a veil that is cut to accommodate the eyes. The details of these categories of hijab are listed below.
First Category of hijab—remaining in home
According to the Qur’an and Sunna, this is the main objective and primary type of hijab. The aya in Sñrat al-Aúzób,
…And when you ask anything from them (the blessed wives of the Prophet), ask them from behind a curtain… (33:53)
is a clear evidence of this. This point is even more clear-cut in the previous aya of Sñrat al-Aúzób: Remain in your homes… (33:33)
The practice of the Blessed Prophet in this matter elucidates the correct meaning of this ayat even more.
As has been said before, the first aya of hijab was revealed at the time of Zainab’s marriage to the Blessed Prophet . In regards to the time of the revelation of this aya, Anas narrates:
I know the occasion of the revelation of this aya better than anyone else as I was with the Blessed Prophet . When this aya was revealed, the Blessed Prophet s drew a curtain in his tent between Zainab and the men present in the tent. He did not ask Zainab to cover herself with an ‘abóya or a sheet of cloth. The hadith of ‘Umar in this regard, which has been mentioned before, also makes the same point that the Blessed Prophet’s wives should remain in their homes away from the gaze of men, as is evident from these words: “All kinds of good and bad people come to visit you.” In Bukhórõ, ‘ô’isha j narrates about the Battle of Mu’ta:
The Blessed Prophet was in Masjid al-Nabawī when he received the news that Zaid ibn Hóritha, Ja‘far and ‘Abd Allóh ibn Rawóúa l were martyred. The signs of grief and sadness were evident on his face. I was watching the whole event from an opening in the door.
It is clear that ‘ô’isha did not come out in an ‘abóya to sit with the men even on such a sad occasion. Instead, she observed the whole incident from an opening in the door of her house.
In Bukhórõ, in the Book of Battles, under the chapter of ‘Umrat al-Qaðó, it is mentioned that ‘Urwa ibn Zubair , ‘ô’ishó’s nephew, and ‘Abd Allóh ibn ‘Umar were sitting outside of ‘ô’isha’s house discussing the ‘umras of the Blessed Prophet . Ibn ‘Umar narrates:
As we talked, we heard ‘ô’isha brushing her teeth and cleaning her throat.
This also suggests that, after the revelation of the aya of hijab, it became the practice of the wives of the Blessed Prophet to observe hijab by staying in their homes.
Similarly, in another hadith of Bukhórõ, it is narrated about the Battle of ùó’if that the Blessed Prophet rinsed his mouth in a pot and gave the water to Abñ Mñsó and Bilól to drink and to rub on their faces. The Mother of the Believers, Umm Salama was watching this from behind a curtain. She asked the two ýaúóba l to leave some of the water for her also. This hadith indicates that the wives of the Blessed Prophet stayed in their homes and behind the curtains after the aya of hijab was revealed.
In Bukhórõ, the Book of Adab, Anas narrates that he and Abñ ùalúa were once going somewhere with the Blessed Prophet . The Blessed Prophet was riding a camel and the mother of the believers ýafiyya sat behind him. On the way, his camel suddenly slipped and they both fell. Abñ ùalúa jumped from his camel and said, “O Allah’s messenger! May I be sacrificed for you, are you hurt?” The Blessed Prophet s said, “No, take care of the lady.” So, Abñ ùalúa covered his face with a garment and went to ýafiyya and draped it over her.
Then he prepared the mount for both to ride on. In the above incident, the precautionary measures taken to observe hijab with the wives of the Blessed Prophet, even in the event of an accident, indicates the importance of hijab.
In Tirmidhī, ‘Abd Allóh ibn Mas‘ñd narrates that the Blessed Prophet said: فاذا خرجت المرأة إستشرفها الشيطان
Indeed when she leaves her home, Satan keeps an eye on her. Ibn Khuzaima and Ibn ûabbón, in their narration of the above hadith, add the following words: أقرب ما تكون من وجه ربها وهى فى قعر بيتها
“A woman is closest to her Creator when she is concealed in her home.” ( Ibn Khuzaima, Ikhtiyór ýalót al-Mar’a | Ibn ûabbón, al-ûaþar wa al-Ibóúa Kanz ‘Ummól, 16/ 391)
This hadith also confirms that women should remain in their homes unless it is necessary for them to come out. In another hadith, the Blessed Prophet s said: ليس للنساء نصيب في الخروج إلا مضطرة
“Women should not come out of their homes except under a dire necessity.”
‘Alī g narrates: “Once I was in the presence of the Blessed Prophet s when he asked the ýaúóba l: أي شئ خير للمرأة
What is better for women?
No one responded. The ýaúóba l remained silent. When I went home and asked Fóøima the same question, she replied: لا يرين الرجال ولا يرونهن
It is better for women that they don’t look at men, nor be looked at by men. I repeated her answer to the Blessed Prophet. He said:صدقت( إنما فاطمة بضعة من
[She responded correctly], indeed she is a part of me.” ( Kanz ‘Ummól, 16/602)
In the hadith of Ifk, ‘ô’isha j was left in the desert because the hijab of the wives of the Blessed Prophet s was not limited to ‘abóya or an enwrapping sheet. Even the palanquin which they sat in when traveling was a form of hijab. It was lifted and secured upon a camel and brought down [as necessary]. The palanquin was like a [mobile] home for traveling women. In this incident, when the caravan was ready to move on, the servants lifted the palanquin and mounted it on the back of the camel assuming that ‘ô’isha was sitting inside though she was not. She had left the caravan out of necessity. Thus, the caravan departed and she was left alone in the desert.
This incident also confirms that the Blessed Prophet and his wives interpreted the rule of hijab for women as staying in their homes, and if while traveling, in the palanquin, to avoid men. If they were so vigilant about observing hijab while on journey, then how careful must they have been about it at home?
second Category of hijab—‘abaya
When a woman is to come out of the house out of necessity, she is required to wear an ‘abóya or wrap herself in a long sheet of cloth that covers her from head to toe and does not reveal any part of her body. This is confirmed by the following aya of Sñrat al-Aúzób:
O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers that they should draw down their shawls over them… (33:53)
As mentioned previously, the jilbób is a cloak or long sheet of cloth which covers a person from head to toe.
Ibn Jarīr narrates from ‘Abd Allóh ibn ‘Abbós that the jilbób should be worn in a way that it covers a woman from head to toe, including her face, only leaving an opening around one eye to see the road. The full explanation of this aya is given in Chapter One. The purpose here is to show that a woman is required to observe the second category of hijab when she comes out of her home out of necessity.
It is permissible for women to observe this category of hijab out of necessity so long as they adhere to certain conditions which are mentioned in the authentic aúódõth. The conditions are:
- She must not wear perfumes,
- She must not wear jewelry that jingles,
- She should walk on the sides of the street, 4 She should not enter in crowds of men.
It is narrated in a hadith that once Bilól or Anas went to bring Fóøima’s baby to the Blessed Prophet . Fóøima j gave him the baby from behind a curtain despite the fact that both these men were close servants of the family and often visited them.
After the revelation of the aya of hijab, curtains were hung in the houses of the Blessed Prophet as well as other Muslim homes. ( Dars al-Qur’an)
In summary, all four imams agree that it is not permissible for a woman to uncover her face in front of a non-maúram. Three of the four imams say it is forbidden, while Imam Abñ ûanīfa and his students say it is forbidden due to the possibility of fitna. Included in non-maúram men are the husband’s brother, the sister’s husband, the husband of the husband’s sister, and the uncle’s and aunt’s sons. Often these men are considered maúram though the Blessed Prophet unequivocally declared them as non-maúram, as mentioned previously in Chapter Two.
The opportunities for fitna to arise from not covering the face is so evident that it needs no further elaboration. No household is free from such incidents of fitna but as people generally hide such incidents, they never become known. Even then, every now and then such incidents do make their way into the newspapers. I will mention a few such incidents as examples. In one of his published speeches, Mufti Rashīd Aúmad Ludhiónwī said:
Some people are under the misconception that there is no danger when hijab is not observed in their homes. They say, “Móshó’ Allóh, our wives, daughters, sisters and daughters-in-law are very pious. They don’t look at anything bad so how can they have any bad intentions in their hearts? Our brothers and other relatives, like the uncle’s and aunt’s sons, are from honorable families. We cannot even imagine such evils in our homes.” As important as the issue is, people are that much more careless. Even learned scholars are careless in this regard. People ignore this injunction as if it was never revealed in the Qur’an.
I will narrate such incidents of families who thought they were pious. Like most of you, they began to take pride in their piety and rejected the commandment of Allah u by not observing hijab in their homes. What were the results? These are
not stories of the past. These incidents occurred recently here in Karachi. If it was not for keeping the honor of their families, I would have told you their names and addresses so that you could go and ask them and verify these incidents yourself. The truth is that they dishonored their families and themselves by violating the law of Allah u about hijab. Now listen to these stories. May they penetrate your hearts:for more information
There was a Haji Sahib who was pious and virtuous. People had such faith in his piety that they had entrusted him with millions of rupees worth of valuables. Once, some of his relatives came to me and told me this incident. He fell in love with his sister-in-law. His wife and in-laws all lived in the same house. He began having an affair with his sister-in-law. What did he do? He quietly obtained a passport and visa of a foreign country, shaved off his beard, put on a suit and absconded with all the wealth people had placed in his trust to the foreign country. Think about how people say that such a thing could never happen in their homes because of the religious environment in their homes. What can you say about such self-deceptions and vain hopes?
This also took place in Karachi. A religious man who actively participated in religious activities and who had the good fortune of performing hajj ended up having an affair with his sister-inlaw simply because there was no tradition of observing hijab in his home. Their relationship continued for many years during which the woman took birth control pills until she was married and went to her husband’s house.
A man who observed his üalót and fasting regularly and whose wife was from a respectable family, did not observe hijab in their home. They often visited their friends’ homes and their friends came to their house. Once, one of his friends led his wife on and they ended up having a relationship. While the man worked all day and the children were in schools, the wife was having fun with her husband’s friend in the privacy of her own home. The husband found out about the affair after some time. He tried his best to stop his wife but without much success and he finally divorced her.
I mentioned the above three incidents as examples. Otherwise, such incidents are happening everyday. It is clear that the beginning of such incidents is the lack of hijab in the homes which is the first step [towards fitna]. If hijab is observed meticulously, such evils can be prevented before they even begin.