The Concept of Hijab in Islam
This essay attempt to briefly enumerate the basic requirements regarding Muslim
Women’s dress (Hijab) as stipulated by the Shariah(Islamic law). The term Hijab, includes
Not only the covering of body, but methods of behavior before members of the
Same or opposite sex, promoting privacy for females and prohibiting
Intermingling sexes, to ensure modesty, decency, chastity and above all,
Respect and worship of Allah.
Minor differences exist among the scholars regarding the actual number of the
Requirements because of varying methods used in codifying them. The ones
Mentioned here represent the ones agreed upon by the overwhelming majority of
Scholars and are all solidly backed by firm evidence taken from the Qur'an, the
Sunnah and the practice of the Sahabah (the Companions).
The Extent of Covering
The dress worn in public must cover the entire body except what has been
Specifically excluded, based upon the following proofs: Allah says:
“And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their private
Parts from sin and not show of their adornment except only that which is
Apparent, and draw their head covers over their necks and bosoms and not reveal
Their adornment except to and that they should not I strike their feet in order
To draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And 0 you Believers! Turn you all
Together towards Allah in repentance that you may be successful." (24:31)
The word zeenah in the Ayah above, literally means adornment and includes both
The woman's natural or physical beauty and that with which they adorn
Themselves, such as, jewelry, eye shadow, attractive clothing, hand dye, etc.
Surah An-Nur spells out specifically the commands concerning the fact that a
Woman’s natural beauty and her adornments are to be concealed from strangers
Except by what may show due to accidental or uncontrollable factors such as the
Blowing of the wind, etc., and what has been exempted (see explanation at end
Of this section).
Allah says: "0 Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the
Believers to draw their outer garments above themselves (when they go out).
That is better so that they may be recognized and not molested. And Allah is
Forgiving, Merciful." (33:59)
Abu Dawood narrates that Aishah (raa) said: “Asma the daughter of Abu Bakr
(Raa) came to see the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) wearing a
Thin dress; so Allah's Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) turned away from
Her and said: "0 Asmaa, once a woman reaches the age of puberty, no part of
Her body should be seen but this -and he pointed to his face and hands."
The word khumur (pI. of khimar) refers to a cloth which covers the head, ears,
Hair, neck and bosom. The esteemed mufaasir (Quranic interpreter) Al-Qurtubi
Explains: Women in the past used to cover their heads with the khimar, throwing
Its ends over their backs. This left the neck and the upper part of the chest
Bare, in the manner of the Christians. Then Allah commanded them to cover those
Parts with the khimar.
Allah states further in this Ayah:"... And let them not stamp their feet so as
To reveal what they hide of their adornments " The women in the time of the
Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) wore anklets which could be employed to
Attract attention by stamping their feet, thereby, making the anklets tinkle.
This practice is not only forbidden by Allah, but shows that the legs and
Ankles are to be covered as well. Some of the modern day Hanafi scholars are of
The mistaken view that a woman can display her feet, a portion of her forearms
And the! Ears; yet there is no authentic proof from the practice of the Prophet
(Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) or his Sahabah to uphold such a view.
Amongst the authentic Ahadith which clarify this point is the following: Ibn
Umar (raa) reported that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)
Said: “On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will not look at the man who trails
His garments along out of pride”. Umm Salamah then asked:” What should women do
With (the hems of) their garments?” He replied: “Let them lower them a
Bandspan”. She replied: “Their feet would be exposed!” He then said: “Let them
Lower them a forearm’s length but no more.” (Reported by At-Tabarani- Sahih)
The major point of difference among the scholars concerns the hadith of Asma
(Raa) i.e., that the face and hands need not be covered; a number of the
Scholars have maintained that the face hands must also be covered, because it
Was the practice of the of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and the
Wives of the Sahabah to themselves completely according to authentic Ahadith.
The above point has been a topic of debate amongst the scholars both past and
Present and will be dealt with, Inshallah at the end of essay.
The garment should be thick and opaque so as not to display skin color and form
of the body beneath it. Delicate or transparent clothing does not constitute a
proper covering. The Sahabah were very stern on this and regarded scanty
clothing in public as an indicator of a woman's lack of belief. AI-Qurtubi
reports a narration from Ayesha (raa) that some women from Banu Tamim came to
see her wearing transparent clothing, Ayesha said to them: “If you are
believing women, these are not the clothes of believing women.” He also reports
that a bride came to see wearing a sheer, transparent khimaar, whereupon Ayesha
(raa) said: “ A woman who wears such clothing does not believe in Surah An-Nur.”
Moreover, the following hadith makes this point graphically Allah's Messenger
(Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “There will be in the last of my Ummah
(nation of believers), scantily dressed women, the hair on the top of their
heads like a camels hump. Curse them, for verily they are cursed.” In another
version he said:” … scantily dressed women, who go astray and others go astray;
will not enter Paradise nor smell its fragrance, although it can be smelled
from afar.” (At-Tabarani and Sahih Muslim)
Scantily dressed women :“are those who wear clothing which reveals more than it
conceals, thereby, increasing her attractiveness while opening the path to a
host of evils.”
The clothing must hang loosely enough and not be tight-fitting show the shape
and size of the woman's body, The reason for wearing a garment which is wide
and loose fitting is that the on of Muslim women's clothing is to eliminate
lure and beauty of her body from the eye of the beholder. Skin-tight body etc.
may conceal the skin color, yet they display the size and of the limbs and
The following hadith proves this clearly: Usamah ibn Zaid said:“ Allah's
Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) gave me a gift of thick Coptic cloth he
had received as a gift from Dahiah Al-Kalbi, and so I gave it to my wife.
Thereafter, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) asked thy didn't you wear
the Coptic cloth? I replied: I gave it to my wife. Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi
Wasallam) then said: Tell her to wear a thick gown under it ( the Coptic
garment) for I fear that it may describe the size of her limbs. “ narrated by
Ahmad, AI-Bayhaqi, and AI-Haakim)
Color- Appearance -Demeanor
Allah says: 0 wives of the Prophet! You are not like any other women; if you
fear ( Allah) , then do not be too pleasant of speech, lest one in whose heart
is a disease should feel desire (for you) ." (33:32)
The reason for the revelation of this verse is not the fear of distrust nor
misbehavior on the part of the women, but rather to prevent them from speaking
invitingly, walking seductively, or dressing revealingly so as to arouse sexual
desire in the heart of lecherous and evil men.
Seductive dressing and enticing speech arc the characteristics of
ill-intentioned women, not Muslims. AI-Qurtubi mentions that Mujahid (raa)
said: "Women (before the advent of Islam) used to walk about (alluringly) among
men." Qatadah (raa) said: "They used to walk in a sensuous and seductive
manner." Maqatil (raa) said: "The women used to wear an untied cloth on their
heads, while provocatively toying with their necklaces, earrings and other
A garment which is intended to conceal a woman and her beauty from public view
cannot be a thing which enhances her beauty. Therefore, the garment should not
contain bright colors, bold designs or reflective material that draw men’s
attention to the wearer. Imam Adh-Dhahabi says in his book Kitab AI-Kabalir
(The Book of Major Sins): " Amongst the deeds which a woman is cursed for are
displaying the adornments she wears, wearing perfume when she goes out, and
wearing colorful clothes " Hence, the Muslim woman is encouraged to wear muted,
somber colors and to avoid bright designs, patterns and colors.
The Fifth Requirement:
Difference from Men's Clothing
The clothing of a Muslim woman must not resemble the clothing of men. The
following hadith helps to explain this.
Abu Hurayrah (raa) said:Allah's Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) cursed
the man who wears women’s clothes and the woman who wears men’s clothes. (Abu
Dawood and Ibn Majah-Saheeh)
The Sixth Requirement:
Difference from the Clothing of Unbelievers
Her clothing must not resemble the clothing of unbelievers. Indeed,
dissimilarity with unbelievers is a precedent that was established by the first
generation of Islam.
The following hadith will help to clarify this position:
Abdullah ibn Umar (raa) said: Allah's Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)
stated: "Whoever resembles a people is one of them." (Abu Dawood)
The Seventh Requirement:
No Vain or Ostentatious Dressing
The woman's dress must not be an expression of ostentation, vanity or as a
status symbol by being excessively showy or expensive, nor must it be
excessively tattered so as to gain admiration and fame for being humble.
Ibn Umar (raa) reported that Allah's Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)
said: Whoever dresses for ostentation in this world, Allah will dress that
person in a dress of humiliation on the Day of Resurrection, and then set it on
fire. (Abu Dawood)
It has been authentically related in Sahih AI-Bukhari, the Muwatta of Imam
Malik and the Sunan of Abu Dawood that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)
forbade women from covering their faces and hands during their performance of
Salah, or while in a state of Ihram. This indicates clearly that wearing the
face veil was a common practice during the time of the Messenger of Allah
(Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), a cultural practice that appeared years later.
My dear muslim sisters, be it u wear hijaab or Not, this can be an eye opener for u, and i urge to to try and implement what ever you can from wht i have written, and pray that allah make u among those of taqwa.