The topic of hijab is a contentious topic these days and for a number of reasons. Firstly, we have western politics interfering in the Islamic guidance on Hijab and there are countries in the world, especially in Western Europe where the Hijab is frowned upon and even not permitted.
The second issue of hijab is that there is no explicit mention of this word in the Quran and in fact, the ayat in Sura Nur, does not contain the word hijab and therefore there is a push towards convincing naïve Muslims and non-Muslims that there is no requirement for the females to cover their head.
Today’s reminder will try to address this but more so, it is a reminder for all of us because the topic is a greater one on modesty.
The imam reminded us of the following ayats from the Quran as part of today’s reminder. They are mentioned now.
First, it is Sura An-Nur, ayat 31 which is translated to say:
And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which[necessarily]
appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.
And Sura Al-Ahzab, ayat 59 which is translated to say:
O Prophet! Ask your wives, daughters, and believing women to draw their cloaks over their bodies. In this way it is more likely that they will be recognized ˹as virtuous˺ and not be harassed. And Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
And Sura Al-araf, ayat 26 which is translated to say:
O children of Adam! We have provided for you clothing to cover your nakedness and as an adornment. However, the best clothing is righteousness. This is one of Allah’s bounties, so perhaps you will be mindful.
Dear brothers and sisters, in response to the topic of hijab, it is worth mentioning the limitations of the translations of the Quran as opposed to the original language in which Allah SWT spoke to mankind.
When we are confronted by those who oppose the covering of the head for the females, we may be asked why this is the case when the word hijab isn’t mentioned. What we ought to do at this point is to remind others that the word used in the Quran is Khimmar which is misinterpreted as a veil.
In actual fact, there are a number of linguistic reasons in Arabic why this is actually referring to the head and not to be incorrectly used in the context of a veil. Even before Islam came to the Arabs, Khimmar was used to describe the extra-long turban of men, women in pre-Islam times had a head-covering which had an extra-long part in the back which was also Khimmar.
Dear brothers and sisters, the decision for a female to wear a headscarf is her own to make. This is not an instruction for anyone to force anyone else. However, it is important to know why this is something followed in Islam and why the argument some have against the hijab is invalid.
But alongside this, the wider reminder today isn’t just on the concept of a headscarf. It is about modesty for both men and women. Although the imam reminded us of the practical steps, we can all benefit from these and apply to some degree as it is not the characteristic of a Muslim to be immodest, whether they are a man or a woman.
And so, the reminder concludes with 4 practical points made in regards to modesty.
- To cover the body. This is obvious for women but also the men need to know that their modesty is accountable. And specifically from navel to knee, they must be covered.
- To not have provocative clothing. This means clothes that are tight, see-through or immodest and again, this is applicable to both genders as the root cause is to prevent immodest clothing leading to immodest behaviour.
- For the women to not have perfume on that attracts others. Perfume is known to cause this effect and so if ultimate aim is to not draw attention to oneself beauty and attraction, then it is only logical that anything which causes attention should be restricted.
- For each gender to dress according to their gender. Allah’s Messenger SAWS is reported to have cursed those who choose to dress like the opposite gender.
Dear brothers and sisters, we are living in a time where the boundaries on decency is constantly being stretched. Modesty is a badge of honour and it is a characteristic of a Muslim and so let us use today’s example to represent our faith in the best of manners.