women and modest Muslim styles of dress in general.
The Arabic word literally means curtain or cover (noun). Most Islamic legal systems define this type of modest dressing as covering everything except the face and hands in public.
Women who do not respect the hijab and their husbands deserve to die.
By problemitizing and forbidding hijab, a favorite fetish of Islamic fundametalism|Muslim fundamentalists and the Western press alike, the French government has forced a reaction from those forces that includes sworn proclamations that the head scarf is a mandatory religious duty for women, and that banning the scarf is tantamount to interfering with the fundamental practice of Islam itself.
I just wish I felt supported by the image-makers of the West, who seem to have a veil fetish. They are doing the exact opposite of what the European politicians suggest: They're imposing the veil on women.
The veil can be erotic but in a political context it is not; it is a kind of seal on property, a mark of submission.
women and modest Muslim styles of dress in general.
The Arabic word literally means curtain or cover (noun). Most Islamic legal systems define this type of modest dressing as covering everything except the face and hands in public. According to Islamic scholarship
, hijab is given the wider meaning of modesty
, and morality
; the words for a headscarf or veil used in the Qur'an
are khimār () and jilbaab (), not hijab. Still another definition is metaphysical, where al-hijab refers to "the veil which separates man or the world from God."
Muslims differ as to whether the hijab should be required on women in public, as it is in countries like Iran
and Saudi Arabia
; whether it should be banned in schools, as it is in France
; or whether it should be left for the women to decide, as it is in the United States
Etymology and meaningAccording to the Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World, the meaning of hijab has evolved over time:
instructs both Muslim men and women to dress in a modest way.
The clearest verse on the requirement of the hijab is surah
24:30–31, asking women to draw their khimār over their bosoms.
In the following verse, Muslim women are asked to draw their jilbab
over them (when they go out), as a measure to distinguish themselves from others, so that they are not harassed. Surah 33:59 reads:
Alternative viewsOther Muslims take a relativist approach to ħijāb. They believe that the commandment to maintain modesty must be interpreted with regard to the surrounding society. What is considered modest or daring in one society may not be considered so in another. It is important, they say, for believers to wear clothing that communicates modesty and reserve.
Other verses do mention separation of men and women but, however, they refer specifically to the wives of the prophet:
According to Leila Ahmed, nowhere in the whole of the Qur'an is the term hijab applied to any woman other than the wives of Muhammad.
According to at least two authors (Reza Aslan and Leila Ahmed), the stipulations of the hijab were originally meant only for Muhammad's wives, and were intended to maintain their inviolability. This was because Muhammad conducted all religious and civic affairs in the mosque adjacent to his home:
According to Ahmed:
They argue that the term darabat al-hijab ("taking the veil"), was used synonymously and interchangeably with "becoming Prophet Muhammad's wife", and that during Muhammad's life, no other Muslim woman wore the hijab. Aslam suggests that Muslim women started to wear the hijab to emulate Muhammad's wives, who are revered as "Mothers of the Believers" in Islam, and states "there was no tradition of veiling until around 627 C.E." in the Muslim community.
HadithThe Arabic word jilbab is translated as "cloak" in the following passage. Contemporary salafi
s insist that the jilbab (which is worn over the Kimaar and covers from the head to the toe) worn today is the same garment mentioned in the Qur'an and the hadith; other translators have chosen to use less specific terms:
- Narrated Anas ibn MalikAnas ibn MalikAnas bin Malik ibn Nadar al-Khazraji Al-Ansari was a well-known sahabi of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.He was an Ansar of the Banu Khazraj . He is not to be confused with Malik ibn Anas. Anas ibn Malik, the last of the Companions of the Prophet died at al-Basrah in 93 AH aged 103.-Muhammad's...
: "I know (about) the Hijab (the order of veiling of women) more than anybody else. Ubay ibn Ka'b used to ask me about it. Allah's Apostle became the bridegroom of Zaynab bint JahshZaynab bint JahshZaynab bint Jahsh was a wife of Muhammad and therefore a Mother of the Believers. Prior to this, she was briefly married to Muhammad's adopted son, Zayd ibn Harithah...
whom he married at Medina. After the sun had risen high in the sky, the Prophet invited the people to a meal. Allah's Apostle remained sitting and some people remained sitting with him after the other guests had left. Then Allah's Apostle got up and went away, and I too, followed him till he reached the door of 'Aisha'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 'Aisha's room, he returned and I also returned with him to see that the people had left. Thereupon the Prophet hung a curtain between me and him and the Verse regarding the order for (veiling of women) Hijab was revealed." ,
- Narrated Umm Salama Hind bint Abi UmayyaUmm Salama Hind bint Abi UmayyaHind bint Abi Umayya was a wife of Muhammad, and therefore a Mother of the Believers.-Name:Hind bint Abi Umayya, Hind al Makhzumiyah, Hind bint Suhayl, also called as Umm Salama ....
, Ummul Mu'minin: "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 hanging down over their heads by wearing outer garments." . Abū Dawud classed this hadith as authentic.
- Narrated Safiya bint Shaiba: "Aisha used to say: 'When (the Verse): "They should draw their veils (Khumur) over their necks and bosoms (juyyub)," was revealed, (the ladies) cut their waist sheets at the edges and covered their faces with the cut pieces.'" , .
Dress code required by hijabTraditionally, Muslims have recognized many different forms of clothing as satisfying the demands of hijab. Debate focused on how much of the male or female body should be covered. Different scholars adopted different interpretations of the original texts.
WomenThe four major Sunni schools of thought
) hold that entire body of the woman, except her face and hands – though a few clerics say face, hands – is part of her awrah
, that is, the parts of her body that must be covered during prayer and in public settings. There are those who allow the feet to be uncovered as well as the hands and face.
It is recommended that women wear clothing that is not form fitting to the body: either modest forms of western clothing (long shirts and skirts), or the more traditional jilbāb
, a high-necked, loose robe that covers the arms and legs. A khimār or shaylah, a scarf or cowl that covers all but the face, is also worn in many different styles. Some scholars encourage covering the face, while some follow the opinion that it is only not obligatory to cover the face and the hands but mustahab (Highly recommended). Other scholars oppose face covering, particularly in the west where the woman may draw more attention as a result. These garments are very different in cut than most of the traditional forms of ħijāb, and they are worn worldwide by Muslims.
Detailed scholarly attention has focused on prescribing female dress. Many Muslims believe that basic requirements mean that, in the presence of someone of the opposite sex other than a close family member (those within the prohibited degrees of marriage—see mahram
) a woman should cover her body, and walk and dress in a way that does not draw sexual attention to her. Some believers go so far as to specify exactly which areas of the body must be covered. In some cases, this is everything but the eyes, but most require that women cover everything but the face and hands. In nearly all Muslim cultures, young girls are not required to wear a ħijāb. There is not a single agreed age when a woman should begin wearing a ħijāb—but in many Muslim countries, puberty is the dividing line.
In private, and in the presence of mahram
s, rules on dress relax. However, in the presence of the husband, most scholars stress the importance of mutual freedom and pleasure of the husband and wife.
(also spelled burka) is the garment that covers women most completely: either only the eyes are visible, or nothing at all. Originating in what is now Pakistan, it is more commonly associated with the Afghan
chadri. Typically, a burqa is composed of many yards of light material pleated around a cap that fits over the top of the head, or a scarf over the face (save the eyes). This type of veil is cultural as well as religious.
It has become tradition that Muslims in general, and Salafi
s in particular, believe the Qur'ān demands women wear the garments known today as jilbāb and khumūr (the khumūr must be worn underneath the jilbāb). However, Qur'ān translators
and commentators translate the Arabic into English words with a general meaning, such as veils, head-coverings and shawls. Ghamidi argues that verses teach etiquette for male and female interactions, where khumūr is mentioned in reference to the clothing of Arab women in the 7th century, but there is no command to actually wear them in any specific way. Hence he considers head-covering a preferable practice but not a directive of the sharia
Men's dressAlthough certain general standards are widely accepted, there has been little interest in narrowly prescribing what constitutes modest dress for Muslim men. Most mainstream scholars say that men should cover themselves from the navel
to the knee
s; a minority say that the hadith that are held to require this are weak and possibly inauthentic. They argue that there are hadith indicating that the Islamic prophet Muħammad wore clothing that uncovered his thigh when riding camels, and hold that if Muħammad believed that this was permissible, then it is surely permissible for other Muslim males.
As a practical matter, however, the opinion that Muslim men must cover themselves between the navel and the knees is predominant, and most Muslims believe that a man who fails to observe this requirement during salah must perform the prayer again, properly covered, for it to be valid. Three of the four Sunni Madh'hab, or schools of law, require that the knees be covered; the Maliki school recommends but does not require knee covering.
According to some hadith
, Muslim men are asked not to wear gold jewellery, silk clothing, or other adornments that are considered feminine. Some scholars say that these prohibitions should be generalized to prohibit the lavish display of wealth on one's person.
Sartorial hijab as practicedIn more secular Muslim nations, such as Turkey or Tunisia, many women are choosing to wear the Hijab, Burqa
, etc. because of the widespread growth of the Islamic revival in those areas. Similarly, increasing numbers of men are abandoning the Western dress of jeans and t-shirts, that dominated places like Egypt 20 to 30 years ago, in favor of more traditional Islamic clothing such as the Galabiyya..
In Iran many women, especially younger ones, have taken to wearing transparent, colorful and very loosely worn Hijabs instead of Chadors or mantoos to protest but keep within the law of the state.
The colors of this clothing varies. It is mostly black, but in many African countries women wear clothes of many different colours depending on their tribe, area, or family.
In Turkey, where the hijab is banned in private and state universities and schools, 11% of women wear it, though 60% wear traditional non-Islamic headscarves, figures of which are often confused with hijab.
In many of the western nations, there has been a general rise of hijab-wearing women. They are especially common in Muslim Student Associations at college campuses.
Some Muslims have criticized strict dress codes that they believe go beyond the demands of hijab, using Qur'an 66:1 to apply to dress codes as well; the verse suggests that it is wrong to refrain from what is permitted by God.
Historical and cultural explanationsJohn Esposito
, professor of Islamic Studies at Georgetown University
, writes that the customs of veiling and seclusion of women in early Islam were assimilated from the conquered Persian and Byzantine
societies and then later on they were viewed as appropriate expressions of Quranic norms and values. The Qur'an does not stipulate veiling or seclusion; on the contrary, it tends to emphasize the participation of religious responsibility of both men and women in society. He claims that "in the midst of rapid social and economic change when traditional security and support systems are increasingly eroded and replaced by the state, (...) hijab maintains that the state has failed to provide equal rights for men and women because the debate has been conducted within the Islamic framework, which provides women with equivalent rather than equal rights within the family."
Bloom and Blair also write that the Qur'an does not require women to wear veils; rather, it was a social habit picked up with the expansion of Islam. In fact, since it was impractical for working women to wear veils, "A veiled woman silently announced that her husband was rich enough to keep her idle."
Modern practiceWearing hijab in Kazakhstan is not prohibited, but widely criticized as a foreign custom (as traditional Central Asian scarfs worn by married womens like bandana, not like hijab), as it was not practiced until the fall of the USSR and the arrival of foreign Islamic missionaries.
Governmental enforcement and bansSome governments encourage and even oblige women to wear the hijab, while others have banned it in at least some public settings.
Some Muslims believe hijab covering for women should be compulsory as part of sharia
, i.e. Muslim law. Wearing of the hijab was enforced by the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, and is enforced in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Islamic Emirate required women to cover not only their head but their face as well, because "the face of a woman is a source of corruption" for men not related to them. While some women wholeheartedly embrace the rules, others protest by observing the rules in an inconsistent fashion, or flouting them whenever possible. Sudan
's criminal code allows the flogging or fining of anyone who “violates public morality or wears indecent clothing”, albeit without defining "indecent clothing."
Turkey, Tunisia, and Tajikistan are Muslim-majority countries where the law prohibits the wearing of hijab in government buildings, schools, and universities. In Tunisia, women were banned from wearing hijab in state offices in 1981 and in the 1980s and 1990s more restrictions were put in place. In 2008 the Turkish government attempted to lift a ban on Muslim headscarves at universities, but were overturned by the country's Constitutional Court. Though in December 2010, the Turkish government ended the headscarf ban in universities.
On March 15, 2004, France passed a law
banning "symbols or clothes through which students conspicuously display their religious affiliation" in public primary schools, middle schools, and secondary schools. In the Belgian
city of Maaseik
has been banned. (2006)
On July 13, 2010, France's lower house of parliament overwhelmingly approved a bill that would ban wearing the Islamic full veil in public. There were 335 votes for the bill and one against in the 557-seat National Assembly.
Non-governmentalNon-governmental enforcement of hijab is found in many parts of the Muslim world.
Successful informal coercion of women by sectors of society to wear hijab has been reported in Gaza
where Mujama' al-Islami, the predecessor of Hamas
, reportedly used "a mixture of consent and coercion" to "'restore' hijab" on urban educated women in Gaza in the late 1970s and 1980s.
Similar behavior was displayed by Hamas itself during the first intifada in Palestine. Though a relatively small movement at this time, Hamas exploited the political vacuum left by perceived failures in strategy by the Palestinian factions to call for a 'return' to Islam as a path to success, a campaign that focused on the role of women. Hamas campaigned for the wearing of the hijab alongside other measures, including insisting women stay at home, segregation from men and the promotion of polygamy. In the course of this campaign women who chose not to wear the hijab were verbally and physically harassed, with the result that the hijab was being worn 'just to avoid problems on the streets'.
According to journalist Jane Kramer
, in France, veiling among school girls became increasingly common following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, due to coercion by "fathers and uncles and brothers and even their male classmates" of the school girls. "Girls who did not conform were excoriated, or chased, or beaten by fanatical young men meting out Islamic justice." According to the American magazine The Weekly Standard
, a survey conducted in France in May 2003 reportedly "found that 77% of girls wearing the hijab said they did so because of physical threats from Islamist groups."
, India in 2001 an "acid attack on four young Muslim women ... by an unknown militant outfit [was followed by] swift compliance by women of all ages on the issue of wearing the chadar
(head-dress) in public."
, Iraq, "more than 100 women who didn't adhere to strict Islamic dress code" were killed between the summer of 2007 and spring of 2008 by Islamist militias (primarily the Mahdi Army
) who controlled the police there, according to the CBS news program 60 Minutes
s in other countries have been accused of attacking or threatening to attack the faces of women in an effort to intimidate them from wearing of makeup or allegedly immodest dress.
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Contemporary Muslim opinion
- Niqab is not required
- The great burqa/niqab/hijab debate
- QuranicPath | Hijab & Niqab Not in the Qur'an