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Video: What does the Quran really say about a Muslim woman’s hijab? — Samina Ali

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In recent times, the resurgence of the hijab along with various countries’ enforcement of it has led many to believe that Muslim women are required by their faith to wear the hijab. In this video, novelist Samina Ali takes us on a journey back to Prophet Muhammad’s time to reveal what the term “hijab” really means and how it is related to women’s rights. This engaging talk  will challenge your assumptions about Muslim women.

Samina Ali is an award-winning author, activist and cultural commentator. Her debut novel, Madras on Rainy Days, won France’s prestigious Prix Premier Roman Etranger Award and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award in Fiction. Ali’s work is driven by her belief in personal narrative as a force for achieving women’s individual and political freedom and in harnessing the power of media for social transformation. She is the curator of the groundbreaking, critically acclaimed virtual exhibition, Muslima: Muslim Women’s Art & Voices.

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3 comments on “Video: What does the Quran really say about a Muslim woman’s hijab? — Samina Ali

  1. Αλή Αλ-Γιουνάνι
    December 26, 2021

    From the Quran…..(This tafseer is Agreed upon by Ibn Kathir, Al-Qurtubi and At-Tabari)

    The Noble Qur’an ……..

    Surah Al-Ahzaab, Verse #59
    ‘O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (“Jalabib”) veils all over their bodies (screen themselves completely except the eyes to see the way Tafseer Al-Qurtubi) that is most convenient that they should be known (as such) and not molested: and Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful.”

    Surah An-Nur, Verses #30 and #31
    ‘And Say to the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts) and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent (like both eyes for necessity to see the way, or outer palms of hands or one eye or dress like veil, gloves, head cover, apron), and to draw their veils all over Juyubihinna (i.e. their bodies, necks and bosoms)

    From the Hadith…..

    Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Hadith # 282
    Narrated Safiya bint Shaiba (Radhiallaahu Ánha) “Aisha (Radhiallaahu Ánha) 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.

    Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 1, Book 8, Hadith # 368
    Narrated ‘Aisha (Radhiallaahu Ánha) Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) 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.

    This was the understanding and practice of the Sahaba and they were the best of group, the noblest in the sight of Allah (swt) with the most complete Iman and noblest of characters. So if the practice of the women of the Sahaba was to wear the complete veil then how can we deviate from their path?

    Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 1, Book 4, Hadith # 148
    Narrated ‘Aisha (Radhiallaahu Ánha): The wives of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) used to go to Al-Manasi, a vast open place (near Baqia at Medina) to answer the call of nature at night. ‘Umar used to say to the Prophet “Let your wives be veiled,” but Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) did not do so. One night Sawda bint Zam’a the wife of the Prophet went out at ‘Isha’ time and she was a tall lady. ‘Umar addressed her and said, “I have recognized you, O Sawda.” He said so, as he desired eagerly that the verses of Al-Hijab (the observing of veils by the Muslim women) may be revealed. So Allah revealed the verses of “Al-Hijab” (A complete body cover excluding the eyes or the face according to some other scholars).

    Tirmidhi with a SAHIH chain reports…
    Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) said “All of a woman is ‘awrah.” (must be covered)

    Abu Dawood Book 14, Hadith # 2482
    Narrated Thabit ibn Qays (Radhiallaahu Ánhu): A woman called Umm Khallad came to the Prophet (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) while she was veiled. She was searching for her son who had been killed (in the battle) Some of the Companions of the Prophet (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) 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. Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) said: You will get the reward of two martyrs for your son. She asked: Why is that so, oh Prophet of Allah? He replied: Because the people of the Book have killed him.

    Abu Dawood Book 32, Hadith # 4090
    Narrated Umm Salamah, Ummul Mu’minin (Radhiallaahu Ánha): 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 by wearing outer garments.

    Abu Dawood Book 32, Hadith # 4091
    Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin (Radhiallaahu Ánha) “May Allah have mercy on the early immigrant women. When the verse “That they should draw their veils over their bosoms” was revealed, they tore their thick outer garments and made veils from them. Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani, who is known as Amir Al-Mu’minin in the field of Hadith, said that the phrase, “covered themselves”, in the above Hadith means that they “covered their faces”. [Fath Al-Bari].

    Imam Malik’s MUWATTA Book 20 Hadith # 20.5.16
    Yahya related to me from Malik from Hisham ibn Urwa that Fatima bint al-Mundhir (Radhiallaahu Ánha) said, “We used to veil our faces when we were in Ihram in the company of Asma bint Abi Bakr As-Siddiq (Radhiallaahu Ánha). “This again proves that not only the wives of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) wore the Niqaab and that even though in Ihram women are not supposed to wear Niqaab but if men are there they still have to cover the face.

    Abu Dawood Book 10, Hadith # 1829
    Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin: (Radhiallaahu Ánha) who said, “The riders would pass us while we were with the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam). When they got 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 Majah, Narrated ‘Aisha. [In a narration from Asma {who was not the wife of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam)}, Asma also covered her face at all times in front of men.]

    Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 7, Book 72, Hadith # 715
    Narrated ‘Ikrima (Radhiallaahu Ánhu) narrates “Rifa’a divorced his wife whereupon ‘AbdurRahman bin Az-Zubair Al-Qurazi married her. ‘Aisha said that the lady (came), wearing a green veil.” It is a very long hadith but the point is the women of Sahaba wore the full veil.

    Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 1, Book 8, Hadith # 347
    Narrated Um ‘Atiya (Radhiallaahu Ánha) We were ordered (by Rasulullah ‘(Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) to bring out our menstruating women and veiled women in the religious gatherings and invocation of Muslims on the two ‘Eid festivals. These menstruating women were to keep away from their Musalla. A woman asked, “O Allah’s Apostle ‘ What about one who does not have a veil (the veil is the complete cover with only one eye or two eyes showing)?” He said, “Let her share the veil of her companion.”

    This hadith proves that the general norm amongst the women of the Sahaba (Radhiallaahu Ánhuma) was that no woman would go out of her home without a cloak, fully concealed and if she did not posses a veil, then it was not possible for her to go out. It was for this reason that when Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) ordered them to go to the Place for Eid Salah, they mentioned this hindrance. As a result Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) said that someone should lend her a veil, but did not say they could go out without it. If Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) did not allow women to go to a place like the Eid Salah, which has been ordered by Shariah for women and men alike, then how can people let women to out to market places and shopping centers without where there is open intermingling of the sexes, without a veil.

    Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 8, Book 76, Hadith # 572
    In the end of this very long hadith it quotes Anas (Radhiallaahu Ánho) rates from Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) “and if one of the women of Paradise looked at the earth, she would fill the whole space between them (the earth and the heaven) with light, and would fill whatever is in between them, with perfume, and the veil of her face is better than the whole world and whatever is in it.” This show that even the women of Jannah have veils and the word veil is what covers the face (niqaab).

    Abu Dawood Book 33, Hadith # 4154, Agreed upon by Nasai
    Aisha (Radhiallaahu Ánha) narrates that on one occasion a female Muslim wanted to give a letter to the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam), the letter was delivered to the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) from behind a curtain.
    Note: Quoted in the famous book Mishkaat. Here the Mufassirin of hadith have explained that the hadith where women came up to Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) face to face were before the ayah “And when you ask (his wives) for anything you want, ask them from behind a screen, that is purer for your hearts and for their hearts.” (Surah Al­Ahzâb ayah # 53) And this hadith proves this order is for the whole Ummah not just for the wives of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam)!

    Abu Dawood Book 2, Hadith # 0641
    Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin (Radhiallaahu Ánha) “Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) said “Allah does not accept the prayer of a woman who has reached puberty unless she wears a veil.”

    Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 7, Book 65, Hadith # 375
    Narrated Anas (Radhiallaahu Ánhu) I know (about) the Hijab (the order of veiling of women) more than anybody else. Ubai bin Ka’b used to ask me about it. Allah’s Apostle became the bridegroom of Zainab bint Jahsh whom he married at Madina. After the sun had risen high in the sky, the Prophet invited the people to a meal. Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) remained sitting and some people remained sitting with him after the other guests had left. Then Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) got up and went away, and I too, followed him till he reached the door of ‘Aisha’s room. Then he 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 ‘Aisha’s room, he returned and I also returned with him to see that the people had left. Thereupon Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) hung a curtain between me and him and the Verse regarding the order for (veiling of women) Hijab was revealed.

    Abu Dawood Book 32, hadith # 4100
    Narrated Umm Salamah, Ummul Mu’minin (Radhiallaahu Ánha): I was with Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) while Maymunah was with him. Then Ibn Umm Maktum came. This happened when we were ordered to observe veil. Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) said: Observe veil from him. We asked: oh Rasulullah! is he not blind? He can neither see us nor recognize us. Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) said: Are both of you blind? Do you not see him?

    Like

    • Αλή Αλ-Γιουνάνι
      December 26, 2021

      The opinions of the great scholars…

      From the Sahaba (Radhiallaahu Ánhuma) …….

      Ibn Ábbas (Radhiallaahu Ánhu), who was one of the most knowledgeable companions of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam), Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) even made dua for him saying “O Allah, make him acquire a deep understanding of the religion of Islam and instruct him in the meaning and interpretation of things.”

      Ibn Jarir (Rahimahullah) with an authentic chain of narrators has quoted Ibn Abbaas’ (Radhiallaahu Án) opinion was “that the Muslim women are ordered to cover their head and faces with outer garments except for eyes.” (This is quoted in the Ma’riful Qur’an in the tafseer of Surah Ahzaab ayah # 33, with reference of Ibn Jarir with a sahih chain of narrators). The Tabiee Ali Bin Abu Talha explained that this was the last opinion of Ibn Abbas and the other opinions quoted from him were from before Surah Al-Ahzaab, Verse #59 and the order of the “Jalabib”.

      Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud (Radhiallaahu Ánhu) Who was known as the most knowledgeable Sahabi in matters of Shariah. He became Muslim when he was a young kid and ever since that he stayed with Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) and gained the understanding of Quran from him. Umar Ibn Khattab (Radhiallaahu Ánhu) said about him “By Allah, I don’t know of any person who is more qualified in the matters dealing with the Quran than Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud”
      Explained, the word Jilbaab (as mentioned in the Quran Surah Ahzaab ayah # 59 )

      Aishah (Radhiallaahu Ánha)

      Stated that in verse 30 and 31 of Surah An Nur “What has been allowed to be shown is the hands, bangles and rings but the face must be covered.
      (Quoted by Abdul A’la Maududi in the book Purdah P# 195)

      Abu Ubaidah Salmani (Radhiallaahu Ánhu), an other well known Sahabi is quoted saying “Jilbab should fully cover the women’s body, so that nothing appears but eyes with which she can see.” (Tafseer Al-Qurtubi) And In the time of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) “The women used to don their cloaks (Jilbaabs) over their heads in such a manner that only the eyes were revealed in order to see the road.”

      From the Tabi ‘een..

      Hasan Al Basri (Rahimahullah)

      States in his tafseer of the Surah An-Nur, “What a woman is allowed to show in this Ayah implies to those outer garments (not the face or hands) which the woman puts on to cover her internal decoration (her beauty).
      (Quoted in the book “Purdah” P#194 )

      Ibn Jarir (Rahimahullah) Quotes the opinion of Ibn Ábbas (Radhiallaahu Ánhu)
      “Allah has enjoined upon all Muslim Women that when they go out of their homes under necessity, they should cover their faces by drawing a part of their outer garments over their heads.” (Tafseer Ibn Jarir, VOL 22, pg.29)

      The Tabi’ee, Qatadah (Rahimahullah)
      Stated that the Jilbab should be wrapped and fixed from above the forehead and made to cover the nose, (although the eyes are to show) and the chest and most of the face are to be covered.

      The Tabi’ee Ali bin Abu Talha (Rahimahullah)
      Quotes from Ibn Abbas (Radhiallaahu Ánhu) that he used to say it was allowed to show the hands and face when Surah Nur ayah #31 was revealed but after Surah Al-Ahzaab, Verse #59 with the word “Jalabib” was revealed then after this Ibn Abbaas (Radhiallaahu Ánhu) said that the Muslim women are ordered to cover their head and faces with outer garments except for eyes.” And this was also the opinion of Ibn Mas’ud (Radhiallaahu Ánhu).

      Imam Muhammad bin Sirin (Rahimahullah) One of the most knowledgeable tabi’een)
      “When I asked Ubaida bin Sufyan bin al-Harith (‘Radhiallaahu Ánhu’ Other well known and knowledgeable Companion of Rasulullah) the meaning of this verse about “Alaihinna” and how the jilbaab was to be worn, he demonstrated it to me by pulling a sheet of cloth over his head to cover his entire body, leaving the left eye uncovered. This was also the explanation of the word ‘Alaihinna in this verse”(Commentary by Ibn Jarir and Ahkam-ul-Quran, Vol # 3, p.457)

      From the Mufassirin of Quran…

      The Mufassir, Imam Al-Qurtubi (Rahimahullah),
      Cites in his Tafseer of the Ayah on Jilbaab (Al-Ahzab 33:59), that the Jilbaab is: “a cloth which covers the entire body… Ibn ‘Abbas (Radhiallaahu Ánhu) and ‘Ubaidah As-Salmani (Radhiallaahu Ánhu) said that it is to be fully wrapped around the women’s body, so that nothing appears but one eye with which she can see.” (Tafseer Al-Qurtubi Surah Al-Ahzab ayah # 59. This was also agreed upon by Imam WahidiImam Neishapuri in the book of tafseer of Quran “Gharaib -ul-Quran” and “Ahkamu’l-Quran”, Imam Razi, in his tafseer of Surah Azhab in the book “Tafsir-i-Kabir” Imam Baidavi in his tafseer of Quran “Tafsir-i-Baidavi” and by Abu Hayyan in “Al-Bahru’l-Muhit” and by Ibn Sa’d Muhammad bin Ka’b Kuradhi and they have all descirbed the use of jilbab more or less in the SAME way as the two described by Ibn Abbas (Radhiallaahu Ánhu).)

      Also from Imaam Qurtubi (Rahimahullah)
      in his Al-Jamia li Ahkaamul Qurãn states: “All women are in effect covered by the terms of the verse which embraces the Shari principle that the whole of a woman is ‘Áwrah’ (to be concealed) – her head, body and voice, as mentioned previously. It is not permissible to expose those parts except in the case of need, such as the giving of evidence…” (“Al-Jamia li Ahkaamul Qurãn”)

      At-Tabari and Ibn Al-Mundhir
      described the method of wearing the jilbab according to Ibn Abbas (Radhiallaahu Ánhu) and Qatadah (Radhiallaahu Ánhu). The sheet should be wrapped around from the top, covering the forehead, then bringing one side of the sheet to cover the face below the eyes so that most of the face and the upper body is covered. This will leave both eyes uncovered (which is allowed in necessity).(Ruhu’l-Ma’ani, Vol 22, p.89)

      Ibn Kathir (Rahimahullah) said…
      “Women must not display any part of their beauty and charms to strangers except what cannot possibly be concealed.”

      From the 4 Madhahib (4 madhabs)…….

      Mufti Anwar Ali Adam Al Mazahiri (Mufti A’azam (Head Mufti) of Madrasa Madinati’l-Uloom Trinidad & Tobago.):

      “Imam Shafi, Malik and Hanbal hold the view that niqab (covering the face and the hands completely with only a small area for the eyes to see) as
      being compulsory (fard). Imam Abu Hanifah says that niqab is Wajib and the face and hands can be exposed provided that there is not fear of desire if one looks at the female face, otherwise if there is the slightest chance of desire developing in the looker (the meaning of desire is that the looker would see the female face and think that she is beautiful, sexual thaught is not what is meant) then exposing the face and hands is Haram.
      (This is from the fatwaa issued by Mufti Anwar Ali Adam Al Mazahiri on 13/9/99. He derived the opnions of the 4 Imaams from these sources Tafseer Ibn Katheer, Tafseer Ma’rifatul Qur’aan, Durru’l-Muhtaar, Fatawa Shami, Al Mabsoot, Fathul Qadeer. And the opinion of Imaam Abu hanifah is a directly derived from his statements in the Famous book of hanafi Fiqh Fatwaa Shami)

      Jamiatul Ulama Junbi Africa sated that the proper opinion for the Hanafi madhhab is that “A woman must be properly and thoroughly covered in a loose outer cloak which totally conceals her entire body including her face!”
      (This from the book Islamic Hijab by Jamiatul Ulama P.12)

      From the known and respect authentic Ullima…….

      Ibn Al-Hazm (Rahimahullah)
      “In arabic language, the language of the Prophet (saw), the word jilbab (as mentioned in the Quran Surah Ahzaab ayah # 59) means the outer sheet which covers the entire body. A sheet smaller than that which would cover the entire body, cannot be catagrized as jilbab. (Al-Muhallah, Vol 3. Pg 217)

      Ibn Al-Mandhur (Rahimahullah)
      “Jalabib is plural for Jilbab. Jilbab is actually the outer sheet/coverlet which a woman wraps around, on top of her garments to cover herself from head to toe. This covers the body entirely.” (Lisan ul-Arab, VOL 1., Pg.273)

      Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani (Rahimahullah)
      A tradition reported on the authority of Aishah (Radhiallaahu Ánha) says: “A woman in a state of Ihram (during Hajj and Umrah) should stretch her head cloth over to her face to hide it.” (In Fathu’l-Bari, chapter on Hajj)

      Shaikh Abu Bakr Jassas (Rahimahullah)
      states “This verse of Surah Ahzab shows that the young women when going out of their homes are ordered to cover their faces from strangers (non-mahram men), and cover herself up in such a manner that may express modesty and chastity, so that people with evil intentions might not cherish hopes from her”. (Ahkamu’l-Quran, VOL. III, p.48)

      Imaam Ghazali (Rahimahullah) “Woman emerged (during the time of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) with NIQABS on their Faces.” (from his famous book of Fiqh “Ihyaal Uloom”)

      Qadi Al-Baydawi (Rahimahullah)
      “to let down over them a part of their outer garments” means that they should draw a part of their outer garment in front of their face and cover themselves.” (Tafsir al-Baydawi, Vol 4, p.168)

      It is also stated in the Famous books of Fiqh Durru’l-Mukhtar:
      “Young women are prohibited from revealing their faces in the presence of men.”

      Arabic words explained by Sahaba and Ulama….

      Shaikh Ibn Al Hazm (Rahimahullah) writes: “In the Arabic language of the Prophet, Jilbab 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 Jilbab.” (Al Muhalla, vol. 3, p.217.)

      The Tabi’ee, Qatadah (Rahimahullah), stated that the Jilbab should be wrapped and fixed from above the forehead and made to cover the nose, (although the eyes are to show) and the chest and most of the face are to be covered.

      Jalabib, which is used in the verse is the plural of Jilbab. Jilbab, 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 an abaya.)

      What is Hijab really mean?

      “The root word of hijab is hajaba and that means: (hajb) to veil, cover, screen, shelter, seclude (from), to hide, obscure (from sight), to make imperceptible, invisible, to conceal, to make or form a separation (a woman), to disguise, masked, to conceal, hide, to flee from sight, veil, to veil, conceal, to cover up, become hidden, to be obscured, to vanish, to become invisible, disappear from sight, to veil, to conceal, to withdraw, to elude perception.

      Hajb: seclusion, screening off, keeping away, keeping off,

      Hijab plural: hujub: cover, wrap, drape, a curtain, a woman’s veil, screen, partition, folding screen, barrier,

      Ihtijab: Concealment, hiddenness, seclusion, veildness, veiling, purdah.

      Hijab: Concealing, screening, protecting,

      Mahjub: concealed hidden, veiled!

      These definitions of the hijab were taken from the: Arabic-English Dictionary, The Hans Wehr dictionary of modern written arabic, edited by JM Cowan.

      And ALLAH (swt) knows best.

      Like

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