Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Rulings Pertaining To Hijab of Women - Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama'ah, Shafi'i School of Jurisprudence

Allah Most High says:

"Tell Believers to lower their gaze.'' (Al-Qur'an - Surah 24: Ayat 30)

The Ulama have given elaborations on the above Qur'anic verse based on evidences from Ahadith and Seerah.


The nakedness of a woman for Solah , and even if a young girl - consists of her whole body except for the face and hands. Here, nakedness of woman refers to that which will invalidate her Solah - should they become exposed. This ruling for Hijab in Solah - is what has been confused with a woman's Hijab in Public / when in front of Non-Mahram Men.


A man is not permitted to look at any part of a woman who is neither a member of one's unmarriageable kin (Mahram) nor one's wife.

It is hence obligatory for the women to cover her whole body - and this means the hands and face too. Here it should be stressed that the laws of Hijab does not make distinction between the face and hands or some other part of a woman if it is uncovered. Her whole body must be convered.

However, such ruling excludes her voice, which is not unlawful to listen to as long as temptation is unlikely.

The Ulama of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama'ah, of Haqq, with the exception of some Hanafis - hold that it is unlawful for women to leave the house with faces unveiled, whether or not there is likelihood of temptation. When there is likelihood of temptation, scholars unanimously concur (i.e. inclusive of these Hanafis) that it is unlawful. Temptation here refers to anything that leads to sexual intercourse or its usual preliminaries e.g. joyful chit-chatting, comfortable accompaniment, etc. As for when there is real need e.g. for testimony in court, for commercial dealings, looking is not unlawful, provided temptation is unlikely. It should be stressed that in such circumstances - it is not permissible to exceed the degree required, as when looking at part of the face is sufficient, in which case looking at the rest of it is not permissible, as it exceeds the amount required.


The Ahadith of the Prophet Muhammad SAW help to explain and elaborate the meaning of the verses of the Qur'an related to Hijab / Niqab of women. They also become the basis of the rulings established by the Fuqaha and the Imams of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama'ah. These are as rendered below.

Hadith 01

Narrated Safiya bint Shaiba RA: "A'ishah (RA) 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 6, Book 60, Hadith No. 282)

Hadith 02

Narrated A'ishah RA that Rasulullah SAW 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 unrecognised. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 8, Hadith No. 368)

The Ulama explain that this Hadith makes it clear that the Islamic dress is concealing of the entire body, as explained in this Hadith - for only with the complete covering of the face and hands can a woman become totally unrecognisable. Hence, this was the understanding and practice of the Sahabah RA and they were the best of group, the noblest in the sight of Allah Ta'ala with the most complete Imaan and noblest of characters. And so if the practice of the women of the Sahabah was to wear the complete veil then how can we deviate from their path? Indeed it is unbecoming for a person who has desire for Paradise, and emancipation from the Fire of Hell.

Hadith 03

Narrated A'ishah RA: "The wives of Rasulullah (SAW) used to go to Al-Manasi, a vast open place (near Baqia in Madinah) to answer the call of nature at night. Umar (RA) used to say to the Prophet (SAW) "Let your wives be veiled," but Rasulullah (SAW) did not do so. One night Sauda bint Zam'a (RA) the wife of the Prophet went out at Isha' time and she was a tall lady. Umar RA addressed her and said, "I have recognised you, O Sauda." 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). (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 4, Hadith No.148)

Hadith 04

Rasulullah (SAW) said: "ALL of a woman is ‘Awrah." (Imam Tirmidhi - with a Sahih chain)

Hadith 05

Thabit ibn Qays RA: "A woman called Umm Khallad came to the Prophet (SAW) while she was veiled. She was searching for her son who had been killed (in the battle). Some of the Companions of the Prophet (SAW) 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 (SAW) 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 Dawud, Book 14, Hadith No. 2482)

Hadith 06

Narrated Umm Salamah RA: "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 Dawud, Book 32, Hadith No. 4090)

Hadith 07

Narrated A'ishah RA: "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." (Abu Dawud, Book 32, Hadith No. 4091)

In Fathul Baari, Imam Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani RH - the Amirul Mu'mineen of Ahadith mentioned that the phrase, "covered themselves", in the above Hadith means that they "covered their faces".

Hadith 08

Yahya related to me (Imam Malik RH) from Malik from Hisham ibn Urwa that Fatimah bint al-Mundhir RA said: "We used to veil our faces when we were in Ihram in the company of Asma bint Abi Bakr As-Siddiq (RA). (Al-Muwatta Imam Malik, Book 20, Hadith 20.5.16)

Hadith 09

Narrated A'ishah RA: "The riders would pass us while we were with the Messenger of Allah (SAW). 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. (Ahmad, Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah)

In another narration - it has been marked that Asma RA (A'ishah RA's sister) - also covered her face at all times in front of men.

Hadith 10

Narrated Ikrimah RA: "Rifa'a (a man) divorced his wife whereupon Abdur Rahman bin Az-Zubair Al-Qurazi married her. A'ishah (RA) said that the lady (came), wearing a green veil." [This is a long Hadith, and for brevity and relevance to discussion - this is enough] (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 72, Hadith No. 715)

Hadith 11

Narrated Umm 'Atiya RA: We were ordered (by Rasulullah SAW) 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 (place of prayer / praying mat). 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 (SAW) said, "Let her share the veil of her companion." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 8, Hadith No. 347)

This above Hadith proves that the general norm amongst the women of the Sahabah RA 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 SAW ordered them to go to the Place for Eid Solah, they mentioned this hindrance. As a result Rasulullah SAW said that someone should lend her a veil, but did not say they could go out without it. If Rasulullah SAW did not allow women to go to a place like the Eid Solah, which has been ordered by Shari'ah for women and men alike, then how can people let women to out to market places and shopping centres without where there is open intermingling of the sexes, without a veil? The above Hadith also indicates the importance of celebrating the grandness of the two Eids - i.e. Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha - of which even women in their menses, wearing their veils are instructed to attend the Eid masses.

Hadith 12

Anas RA narrates from Rasulullah SAW as part of a long Hadith: "...and if one of the women of Paradise looked at the earth, she would fill the whole space between them (i.e. 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." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 76, Hadith No. 572)

Hadith 13

A'ishah RA narrates: "On one occasion, a female Muslim wanted to give a letter to the Holy Prophet (SAW). The letter was delivered to the Holy Prophet (SAW) from behind a curtain." (Abu Dawud, Book 33, Hadith No. 4154 - agreed upon by Nasa'i)

The above Hadith proves this order is for the whole Ummah, and not just for the wives of the Prophet SAW. The Ulama have explained that - in the Hadith where women came up to Rasulullah SAW face-to-face, this actually occurred before the relevation of the verse: "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 Al­-Ahzaab: Ayat 53)

Hadith 14

A'ishah RA narrates: "Rasulullah (SAW) said "Allah does not accept the prayer of a woman who has reached puberty unless she wears a veil." (Abu Dawud, Book 2, Hadith No. 0641)

Hadith 15

A'ishah RA narrated that Utba bin Abi Waqqas RA said to his brother Sa'ad bin Abi Waqqas RA: "The son of the slave girl of Zam'a is from me, so take him into your custody." So in the year of Fatah Makkah (Conquest of Makkah), Sa'ad took him and said: (This is) my brother's son whom my brother has asked me to take into my custody." Abd bin Zam'a got up before him and said: (He is) my brother and the son of the slave girl of my father, and was born on my father's bed." So they both submitted their case before Rasulullah (SAW). Sa'ad said: "O Allah's Apostle! This boy is the son of my brother and he entrusted him to me." Abd bin Zam'a said, "This boy is my brother and the son of the slave girl of my father, and was born on the bed of my father". Rasulullah (SAW) said, "The boy is for you, O Abd bin Zam'a!" Then Rasulullah (SAW) further said: "The child is for the owner of the bed, and the stone is for the adulterer". Rasulullah (SAW) then said to Sauda bint Zam'a: "Veil (screen) yourself before him." When he saw the child's resemblance to 'Utba, the boy did not see her again till he met Allah. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 89, Hadith No. 293)

A careful analysis of the above Hadith simply proves that Rasulullah SAW did infact order the veil to be observed.

Hadith 16

Narrated Anas RA: "I know (about) the Hijab (the order of veiling of women) more than anybody else. Ubayy bin Ka'ab used to ask me about it. Allah's Apostle became the bridegroom of Zainab bint Jahsh whom he married in Madinah. After the sun had risen high in the sky, the Prophet (SAW) invited the people to a meal. Rasulullah (SAW) remained sitting and some people remained sitting with him after the other guests had left. Then Rasulullah (SAW) got up and went away, and I too, followed him till he reached the door of A'ishah'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 A'ishah's room, he returned and I also returned with him to see that the people had left. Thereupon Rasulullah (SAW) hung a curtain between me and him and the Verse regarding the order for (veiling of women) Hijab was revealed." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 65, Hadith No. 375)

Hadith 17

Narrated Umm Salamah RA: "I was with Rasulullah (SAW) while Maymunah was with him. Then Ibn Umm Makhtum came. This happened when we were ordered to observe veil. Rasulullah (SAW) said: Observe veil from him. We asked: Oh Rasulullah! is he not blind? He can neither see us nor recognise us. Rasulullah (SAW) said: Are both of you blind? Do you not see him?" (Abu Dawud, Book 32, Hadith No. 4100)

Hence the grace and wisdom of speech of our beloved Prophet Muhammad SAW. And the above Hadith is again - another evidence to mark the point that poth genders - male as well as female - must observe the provisions of Hijab.

No comments: