I know there are various articles and posts on Hijaab already floating around the blogosphere and the Internet in general. [And why not? Considering the Hijaab has been a hot-topic for ages and is still considered a contraversial subject]
However, sometimes we tend to overlook the basics and the rulings/conditions of Hijaab, although some of us might already know or be aware of them. Secondly, with all the in-depth and detailed articles on Hijaab, it is hard to find something that puts the basics of Hijaab out there.
The word ħijāb (حجاب) comes from the Arabic Word 'Hajaba', which means to 'cover, hide, protect'.
The Qur'an uses the term 'Hijab' in various places:
It is not given to any human being that Allâh should speak to him unless (it be) by Revelation, or from behind a veil, or (that) He sends a Messenger to reveal what He wills by His Leave. Verily, He is Most High, Most Wise. (42:51)
The verses revealed in the Qur'an regarding Hijaab and Muslim Women were:
And tell 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 and to draw their veils all over Juyubihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms,) and not to reveal 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 brother's sons, or their sister's sons, or their (Muslim) women (i.e. their sisters in Islâm), 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 feminine sex. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And all of you beg Allâh to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful (24:31)
They are required to cover from all Men except for those that the Verse above mentions.
Secondly, a Muslim Woman can expose infront of other Women, the elderly or the children. There is no Hijaab infront of them.
However, there is a common misunderstanding within Muslim Communities that Hijaab is either just covering the hair or clothing. Infact, a Womans 'Hijaab' refers to everything, her way of speaking, how she interacts with others and so on. Secondly, Hijaab refers to covering everything modestly, including the body. I've seen a lot of Women and Girls who may wear the headscarf but their arms are uncovered or their hair or neck is showing. This is not considered the correct Hijaab and it does not fulfill the conditions of Hijaab.
Baba Ali, who runs UmmahFilms did a video on Hijaab, titled 'That's not Hijaab' which I find to be relevant to this issue.
Why do Muslim Women cover?
The above is a question which is asked constantly by both Muslims and Non-Muslims alike. We may give reasons that it protects from harm and conceals, but the ultimate reason and answer is because it is the command of Allah subhanna wa ta'ala. And as Muslims, it is our duty to obey Allah subhanna wa ta'a.
The Qur'an says:
It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allâh and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allâh and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed in to a plain error. (33:36)
يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓاْ أَطِيعُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُواْ ٱلرَّسُولَ وَلَا تُبۡطِلُوٓاْ أَعۡمَـٰلَكُمۡ
Now, after we've established this fact, I will go on to look at some of the many reasons why Muslim Women choose to wear Hijaab and the benefits of covering. The Qur'an give us two reasons why Muslim Women should cover,
O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allâh is Ever Oft¬Forgiving, Most Merciful (33:59)
Secondly, everyone knows a Woman is attractive. That is how Allah subhanna wa ta'ala has made her. The Hijab acts as a shield between being 'hit-on' and 'checked-out' by Men. You are far less likely to be the victim of cat-calls or suggestive comments if your cover compared to exposing and wearing fitted clothing. This is a fact.
Thirdly, wearing the Hijaab decreases the vanity and pride some of us might possess.
Fourthly, a Muslim Woman who wears Hijaab is rejecting the call of the so-called fashion industry and the Media, which preaches that a Womans looks and physical body is everything. An industry which actually exploits Women and turns them into slaves of the 'Modern World'. We see it happening everyday, in magazines, on the T.V and in the malls. Women and their bodies are used to sell and market products and cater to the 'needs' of society. Islam teaches Women to think, to develop their mental capabilities and gives more importance to an individuals intelligence and not to judge someone just because of their physical appearance.
Conditions Of Hijaab
There are certain conditions which pertain to Hijaab.
It should cover all the body apart from whatever has been exempted.
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“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 Allaah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
This aayah clearly states that it is obligatory to cover all of a woman’s beauty and adornments and not to display any part of that before non-mahram men (“strangers”) except for whatever appears unintentionally, in which case there will be no sin on them if they hasten to cover it up.
[The 'unintentionally' some Ulema say refer to the face and hands. While others say that too is awrah.]
Secondly:It should not be see-through but instead thick.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “During the last days of my Ummah there will be women who are clothed but naked, with something on their heads like the humps of camels. Curse them, for they are cursed.” Another hadeeth adds: “They will not enter Paradise or even smell its fragrance, although its fragrance can be detected from such and such a distance.”
(Narrated by Muslim from the report of Abu Hurayrah).
Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr said: what the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) meant was women who wear clothes made of light fabric which describes and does not cover. They are clothed in name but naked in reality.
Transmitted by al-Suyooti in Tanweer al-Hawaalik, 3/103.Thirdly:
It should not tight and should be concealing.
Usaamah ibn Zayd said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) gave me a thick Egyptian garment that was one of the gifts given to him by Duhyat al-Kalbi, and I gave it to my wife to wear. He said, ‘Why do I not see you wearing that Egyptian garment?’ I said, ‘I gave it to my wife to wear.’ He said, ‘Tell her to wear a gown underneath it, for I am afraid that it may describe the size of her bones.’
(Narrated by al-Diyaa’ al-Maqdisi in al-Ahaadeeth al-Mukhtaarah, 1/442, and by Ahmad and al-Bayhaqi, with a hasan isnaad).
It should not resemble the clothing of Men
Abu Hurayrah said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) cursed the man who wears women’s clothes, and the woman who wears men’s clothes.”
It should not be a garment of fame and vanity.
Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Whoever wears a garment of fame and vanity in this world, Allaah will clothe him in a garment of humiliation on the Day of Resurrection, then He will cause Fire to flame up around him.’”
(Hijaab al-Mar’ah al-Muslimah, p. 54-67).
[Taken from IslamQ&A]
With them, we should be gentle in our dawah because at least they are thinking of covering and we should make dua for them. However, at the same time, we need to be clear about what is correct and what isn't. Wearing tight jeans and a t-shirt with a head-scarf does not constitute as Hijab and neither does having a scarf that covers half of your head. And we should do it for the sake of Allah not because of cultural reasons.
The Media, especially the Western Media, has long portrayed Muslim Women who cover in a negative light. The Hijab or Niqaab is very rarely portrayed in a positive light. Either we're seen as being oppressed, uneducated, forced to cover, illiterate or as being mysterious and alluring. There are a lot of misconceptions about the Hijab and the face-veil and the Hijab has been banned in quite a few countries, like France and Turkey, who claim to be following the 'Modern World' and say that they allow their citizens 'freedom'.
What is freedom when you do not allow your people the basic human right to wear a piece of clothing which they feel is extremely important to their beliefs? How is that simple piece of clothing a 'threat'?
And Allah Subhanna wa ta'ala knows best.