Covering for Men and Women ( Hijab)

It is harâm and a grave sin for women and girls to exhibit themselves undressed to nâ-mahram men and for men to look at them. It does not become a Muslim to earn worldly property by means of harâm. Goods earned in such a way are useless and without Allâhu ta’âlâ’s blessing. He who slights the harâm becomes a kâfir.

If a person claims to be a Muslim, his actions have to be in conformity with the Sharî’at. If he does not know how he should behave, he has to learn by asking a scholar in the Madh-hab of Ahl as-sunna, or by reading books written by scholars belonging to this Madh-hab. If what he has done runs counter to the Sharî’at’s prescription, he is by no means free from the state of sinfulness or denial (of Islam). In this case, he has to do true penance daily. Any sin or any act of denial is definitely pardonable, depending on the (trueness of the) penance one has done. If the person concerned does not do true penance, he will be tormented, i.e. punished, both in this world and in Hell. Kinds of these punishments are written at various places in our book.

Parts of the body that men and women have to cover, both during namâz and elsewhere, are called “Awrat Parts.” If a person says that Islam does not contain any concept in the name of awrat parts, he becomes a disbeliever. If a person does not attach importance to the fact that one has to cover those parts of one’s body that are awrat according to the (agreements of the scholars called) ijmâ’, i.e. in all the four Madh-habs, or that one should not look at those parts of other people’s bodies; in other words, if he does not feel any fear as to the torment he would be subjected to (in case he failed to observe this important rule), he becomes a disbeliever. Parts between a man’s knees and loins are not awrat parts according to the Hanbalî Madh-hab. A person who says, “I am a Muslim,” has to learn and respect the credal tenets of Islam and the commandments and prohibitions that are communicated in ijmâ’, i.e. in agreement by all the four Madh-habs. Not to know them does not grant an exemption. It is equal to knowing and disbelieving. A woman’s entire body, with the exception of her face and hands, is awrat according to all the four Madh-habs. The same rule applies to women’s exposing their awrat parts, singing, or reciting aloud the (eulogy that praises our Prophet ‘sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam’ and which is called) Mawlid, in the presence of men. If a person floutingly exposes a part of his, or her, body which is not awrat with ijmâ’, i.e. which he, or she, does not have to cover according to (at least) one of the remaining three Madh-habs, he, or she, will not become a disbeliever, although an act of this sort is one of the grave sins. An example of this is men’s exposing their limbs between the knees and the loins, e.g. their thighs. It is farz for every person to learn what he or she does not know. And as soon as he or she learns any new religious tenet, (such as, covering the awrat part), he or she has to do penance and begin to observe it, (e.g. cover the awrat part concerned).

The following hadîths are quoted from the book Zawâjir [Egypt, 1356 A.H. (1937)] by Shafi’î scholar Hadrat Ibn Hajar al-Makkî [889-974 A.H. (1494-1567)].

“Do not show your thigh, and do not look at the thigh of a person dead or alive.”

“Allâhu ta’âlâ will severely punish those who show the private parts of their body to others.”

“The parts between men’s knees and navels are their private parts.”

“It is a grave sin to expose one’s private parts.”

“Three kinds of people will never go to Paradise. The first one is the dayyûth, that is, the person who takes no notice of his wife’s relations with other men. The second one is the woman who makes herself look like men. The third one is the one who continues to have alcoholic drinks.” Women’s making themselves look like men means to dress like them, to wear coats and trousers like them, to cut their hair like theirs, which are grave sins.

 “There are two groups of people who will go to Hell: in the first group are those who carry whips or truncheons and beat people unjustly. The second group are the women who show themselves undressed to men, that is, who go near men in a thin, transparent dress. Such women go near men for evil purposes.”

Abû Dâwûd reported Hadrat ’Âisha (radiy-Allâhu ’anhâ) as having said that her sister “Asmâ’ came near Rasûlullah (sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam). She had a thin dress on her. The colour of her skin was visible. Rasûlullah (’alaihi ’s-salâm) did not look at his sister-in-law. He turned his blessed face away and said, ‘O Asmâ’! When a girl arrives the age of performing salât, she should not show men her parts other than her face and hands.’ ” It is understood from this hadîth that it is a grave sin for women to go immodestly dressed near men. Imâm az-Zahabî says that Allâhu ta’âlâ will punish in this world and in the next those women who show men their ornaments, e.g. gold, pearls over their outer dress, who use perfumes or are dressed in multi-coloured, silk tissue, with broad cuffs which expose their arms, and show themselves to men in this manner. Because these evils exist mostly in women, Rasûlullah (’alaihi ’s-salâm) said, “On the Night of Mi’raj, I saw Hell. I saw that the majority of the people in Hell were women.”

“He who believes in Allâhu ta’âlâ and in the Last Day should enter the public bath wrapping himself with a large bath-towel. He who believes in Allâhu ta’âlâ and in the Last Day should not send his wife to public baths!”

“The country of Iran will come into Muslims’ possession. There are buildings called ‘hammâm’ there. Men shall enter the hammâm covered with a large bath-towel and send their wives there only for a bath-cure or for getting clean from haid and nifâs!”

“A person who believes in Allâhu ta’âlâ and in the Last Day should not stay with a nâ-mahram woman in a room!”

“Towards the end of this world, it will become harâm for the men of my umma to go to hammâms; for there will be people whose private parts are exposed there. May Allâhu ta’âlâ damn him who uncovers his private parts and him who looks at another’s private parts!”

 “The person who commits adultery is like the person who worships idols.”This hadîth points out that adultery is a grave sin.

“When a Muslim who insists on drinking wine dies, Allâhu ta’âlâ punishes him like a disbeliever worshipping idols.” Adultery is certainly a graver sin than drinking wine.

“This umma will go on being auspicious until adultery spreads among them. When adultery spreads among them, Allâhu ta’âlâ punishes all of them.”

“Allâhu ta’âlâ’s punishment becomes halâl for people of a country where adultery and ribâ have spread.”

Rasûlullâh (sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam) asked as-Sahâbat al-kirâm (radî-Allâhu ’anhum), “How do you consider adultery?” They said, “O Rasûl-Allah! Allâhu ta’âlâ and His Messenger have forbidden adultery. It will be forbidden until Rising-Day.” He said, “If a person commits adultery with his neighbor’s woman, he will be tortured more than he who has committed it with ten different nâ-mahram women.”

“Paradise is harâm for the dayyûth,” Dayyûth (cuckold) is the person who knows but keeps quiet and does not get angry at his wife’s committing adultery.

“The hand of the person who touches a nâ-mahram woman lustfully will be fastened to his neck on the Day of Resurrection. If he kisses her, his lips will be burned in Hell fire.”

It is a grave sin to commit fornication. It is a graver sin to commit adultery. The sin graver than this is fornication or adultery committed with a mahram relative. It is a graver sin for a widow to commit adultery than it is for a girl to commit fornication. It is a graver sin for an old man to do it than it is for young people. It is a graver sin for a religiously learned man to do it than it is for an ignorant person.

The reason why we have written long about the harm of women’s uncovering themselves is because we do not want our fellow countrymen to get into trouble in this world and the next, and it stems from our feelings of goodness and service for them. In fact, it does not become a Muslim to know himself honest and good and to consider uncovered women and men and society women base and bad. When a Muslim sees those who go about uncovered, drink alcohol and live society life, he should feel pity for them or, if possible, advise them in kind words or writings compatible with the Book and laws or, at least, pray for their desisting from that harmful life. When we see a sinner, we should remember our own sins and think of the punishments that will be given to us in case our faults and sins are not forgiven! It is harâm to find fault with, to slander or backbite (ghîba) anybody, which is a graver sin for us than their sins. Allâhu ta’âlâ loves those who have patience, do goodness, give service to and advise others, and who have soft words and smiling face and do favours. He does not love those who admire themselves. We should do the good things Allâhu ta’âlâ likes! We should be sweet-tempered. Harsh treatments and punishments are the government’s duties. A Muslim does not hurt anybody with his tongue or hand. It is a sin to hurt anybody and arouse fitna. And causing fitna is a graver sin. It does not befit a Muslim to sin. He obeys the State and laws. He does not violate any law. He is an honourable person who wins everybody’s love and regard.

The Hanafî ’âlim Khair ad-dîn ar-Ramlî wrote in the subject of “Nafaqa” in Al-fatâwâ’ al-khairiyya: “It is wâjib for the husband to have the wife live in a house he owns or rents. The husband who does not supply the wife with nafaqa (livelihood, means of subsistence) is to be imprisoned. The house should be among the neighbors who are sâlih. These neighbors help the woman in her religious and worldly affairs and prevent the husband’s oppression. The house should contain a kitchen, a toilet, a bathroom and rooms. Anyone whom the wife does not approve cannot live in this house. If the husband escapes or disappears and does not supply her livelihood, the wife applies to the court for nafaqa. She cannot demand separation from the husband. The judge determines the amount of alimony according to the customs and tells her to borrow that amount of money from her rich relatives, to whom he orders to lend her. He imprisons those who will not lend her. The court finds the husband and has him pay the lender. Because the husband has committed a grave sin, he is also punished with ta’zîr. If the wife, seeing her husband’s escape and fearing that he will not give nafaqa, applies to the court demanding him to appoint a guarantor, the judge orders him to appoint a guarantor. If the husband does not escape and does not bring the nafaqa, the judge determines the nafaqa, that is, the amount of [money for] food, clothes and rent and makes him give it to her every month. A man who owns (the amount of) nisâb and has to pay zakât must give the nafaqa of the (wife even if she is) rich. If the woman proves with two witnesses that her husband has fled and has not left nafaqa, the Shâfi’î judge abolishes the nikâh. After the ’idda (length of time within which a woman may not remarry), she may marry another man according to the Hanafî madhhab. If, later, the husband turns up and proves that he has left nafaqa, it will be overruled. Nafaqa is not given to the woman who is obstinately disobedient or who is told that she has been divorced.” Yet, it is not easy to divorce the wife and to demolish her home and happiness.

He wrote in the subject of “Nikâh”: “If a father has given his adolescent daughter in marriage to a man without taking her permission, and if she does not accept it when she learns it, the nikâh is not sahîh. She is to be believed if she says, ‘I refused when I heard.’ ” The passages above show that the Muslim woman is not a toy in the hands of the man and that women’s rights are under the guarantee of the state.