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NIqab or no niqab

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  • NIqab or no niqab

    I often quote references from the commentary on Quran by Moulana Moududi i.e. Tafheem-ul-Quran and because Moulana gives very easy explanation of Quran which even a person with minimum understanding can relate. Moulana Moududi mentions in the introduction that this commentary is meant for the common people who want to understand Quran’s basics, and it doesn’t deal with the intricate issues which relate to fiqh. However, what I like the most about Tafheem-ul-Quran is that it covers all point of views on a subject. If one verse is interpreted differently by different scholars, Moulana mentions the two opinions and also quotes his own opinion. Thus, you do not run the risk of reading a literature which is inclined to only one particular madhab and ignoring the other opinions on the subject.

    I referred to his commentary to understand the verse 30-31 of Surah Noor to know whether it is compulsory for a woman to cover her face or it not. This is a very long post because I have copied detailed commentary from Moulana Moududi’s Tafheem-ul-Quran for verse 30 & 31 of Sura Noor. This is why I am writing summary of it for the people who may not read the entire post.

    • The issue of whether niqab is compulsory or not is debated among scholars and there are varied opinions. Some scholars and most scholars related to Hanafi school of thought believe that niqab is not compulsory, and there is no harm if a woman doesn’t cover her face. The rest believe that niqab is obligatory.
    • There is unanimous agreement among scholars that face of a woman should not be covered when she is in the state of ihram i.e. while performing Umrah or Haj. There is also agreement among scholars that a man should see the face of the woman whom he intends to marry. And that seeing the face of the woman when the situation requires such as identification, testimony etc by non-related men is also permissible.
    • There is also agreement that the wives of the Prophet (may Allah be pleased with them) covered their faces with veil after the verse of veil i.e. jilbaab (33:59) was revealed.
    • Niqab is preferred for two reasons: 1) the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught us that there are areas in religion which are clear (it is clear whether certain thing is halaal or haraam) and there are areas which are not clear, a person with taqwa avoids even the areas where there is doubt whether it is permissible or not; and 2) the wives of the Prophet (may Allah be pleased with them) were the best examples for Muslim women to follow. So if they covered their faces with niqab, Muslim women should also try to follow their example.


    The verse of jilbaab is mentioned below:

    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 All‚h is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Al Ahzaab 33:59)

    There are some hadith that relate that jilbaab was an order not only for the wives of the Prophet (may Allah be pleased with them) but also for all women. I am copying the hadith below:

    Narrated Safiya bint Shaiba: 'Aisha 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 Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Number 282

    Narrated Um 'Atiya: We were ordered to bring out our menstruating women and veiled women in the religious gatherings and invocation of Muslims on the two 'Id festivals. These menstruating women were to keep away from their Musalla. A woman asked, "O Allah's Apostle ' What about one who does not have a veil?" He said, "Let her share the veil of her companion." Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 8, Number 347:

    There is unanimous agreement among scholars that Muslim women should not wear niqab in the state of ihram i.e. when they are performing Umrah or Haj. There is also agreement that a man who intends to marry a woman should see her face. It is not just permissible, but also recommended, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) advised one of his companions to see the woman whom the later intended to marry. Except for these two conditions, there is debate whether it is permissible for women to uncover their face, in other words whether niqaab is obligatory or optional.

    The debate comes from the interpretation of the phrase ‘illa ma zahra min ha’ which is translated as ‘except what is apparent’ in verse 31 of Sura Noor. Some scholars believe that face and hands are part of ‘except what is apparent’ and others believe that only eyes or the outside dress is included in ‘except what is apparent.’

    Those who argue that niqab is not obligatory, say that the order of jilbaab which is meant to cover face as well was only for the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him). According to one hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) advised a young woman to cover the entire body except hands and face: "Ayesha (rad.i-Allahu `anha) reported that Asma’ the daughter of Abu Bakr (rad.i-Allahu `anhu) came to the Messenger of Allah while wearing thin clothing. He approached her and said: 'O Asma’! When a girl reaches the menstrual age, it is not proper that anything should remain exposed except this and this. He pointed to the face and hands." [Abu Dawud]

    There are several other hadith as well, which give an impression that the women mentioned the hadith did not have their face covered. Moulana Moududi has briefly mentioned them in this commentary and I am copying them below.:

    According to a Tradition related by Hadrat Buraidah, the Holy Prophet instructed Hadrat 'Ali: "O 'Ali, do not cast a second look after the first look. The first look is pardonable but not the second one." (Tirmizi;, Ahmad, Abu Da'ud). Hadrat Jarir bin 'Abdullah Bajali says that he asked the Holy Prophet, "What should I do if I happen to cast a chance look?" The Holy Prophet replied, "Turn your eyes away or lower your gaze."(Muslim, Ahmad, Tirmizi, Abu Da'ud, Nasa'i). Hadrat 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud quotes the Holy Prophet as having said: "Allah says that the gaze is one of the poisonous arrows of Satan. Whoever forsakes it, out of His fear, he will be rewarded with a faith whose sweetness he will relish in his own heart." (Tabarani). According to a Tradition related by Abu Umamah, the Holy Prophet said: "If a Muslim happens to glance at the charms of a woman and then turns his eyes away, Allah will bless his worship and devotion and will make it all the more sweet. ''. (Musnad Ahmad). Imam Ja'far Sadiq has quoted from his father, Imam Muhammad Baqir, who has quoted Hadrat Jabir bin 'Abdullah Ansari as saying: "On the occasion of the Farewell Pilgrimage, Fadal bin'Abbas, who was a young cousin of the Holy Prophet, was riding with him on the camelback during the return journey from Mash`ar al-Haram. When they came to a few women passing on the way, Fadal started looking at them. Thereupon the Holy Prophet put his hand on his face and turned it to the other side." (Abu Da'ud). On another occasion during the same Pilgrimage, a woman of the clan of Khath'am stopped the Holy Prophet on the way and sought clarification about a certain matter pertaining to Hajj. Fadal bin `Abbas fixed his gaze at her, but the Holy Prophet turned his face to the other side. (Bukhari, Abu Da'ud, Tirmizi).

    I think the following hadith can also be quoted in the same context as a woman presented herself to the Prophet (peace be upon him) seeking to marry him and he looked at her. Another hadith mentions that when Muslim women returned from fajr prayers, they could not be recognized because of darkness. The mention of darkness as a reason not to recognize women mean that they could be recognized during the day time, which is only possible when their faces were uncovered.

    But, it is also possible that these hadith relate to the time period before the verse of jilbaab was revealed. And, it is also possible that some women covered their faces while others did not. Allah knows the best.

    I will not get into the details, but mention the summary of the commentary by Moulana that he believes niqab is compulsory, but he also mentions that some scholars and most scholars related to Hanafi madhab believe that there is no harm if a Muslima uncovers her face, as he writes:

    “On the contrary, some other commentators have interpreted the verse to mean "all those parts of the body which usually remain exposed or uncovered" and in this they include the hands and the face with all their adornments. This is the view of Hadrat Ibn `Abbas and his followers, and a large number of the Hanafi jurists have accepted it. (Ahkam-ul-Qur'an, AlJassas, Vol. III, pp. 388-389). Thus, according to them, it is permissible for a woman to move out freely with the uncovered face in full make-up and adornment of the hands”

    I am copying below the entire commentary on the two verses for those who want to read in details:


    Verses translation:

    (24:30) And O Prophet, enjoin the Believing men to restrain their gaze29 and guard their private parts.30 This is a more righteous way for them: Allah has knowledge of what they do.

    (24:31) O Prophet, enjoin the Believing women to restrain their gaze31 and guard their private32 parts.33 and not to display their adornment34 except that which is displayed of itself,35 and to draw their veils over their bosoms36 and not to display their adornment except before their husbands,37 their fathers, the fathers of their husbands,38 their sons and the sons of their husbands39 (from other wives), their brothers,40 their brothers' sons,41 their sisters' sons,42 their female associates43 and those in their possession44 and male attendants incapable of sex desire45 and those boys who have not yet attained knowledge of sex matters concerning women;46 also forbid them to stamp their feet on the ground lest their hidden ornaments should be displayed.47 O Believers, turn all together towards Allah :48 it is expected that you will attain true success.49

    Commentary in Tafheem-ul-Quran:


    36. In the pre-lslamic days of ignorance, women used to wear a sort of head-band, which was tied in a knot at the rear of the head. The slit of the shirt in the front partly remained open exposing the front of the neck and the upper part of the bosom. There was nothing except the shirt to cover the breasts, and the hair was worn in a couple or two of plaits hanging behind like tails. (AI-Kashshaf, Vol. II, p. 90, and Ibn Kathir, Vol. III, pp. 283-284). At the revelation of this verse, the head-wrapper (dopatta) was introduced among the Muslim women, which was meant to cover the head, the breasts, and the back, completely. The way the Muslim women responded to this Command has been described by Hadrat 'A'ishah in a vivid manner. She states that when Surah An-Nur was revealed and the people learned of its contents from the Holy Prophet, they immediately went back to their houses and recited the verses before their wives, daughters and sisters. There was an instantaneous response. The Ansar women, one and all, immediately got up and made wrappers from whatever piece of cloth that was handy. The next morning all the women who came to the Prophet's Mosque for prayers were dressed in wrappers. In another tradition Hadrat `A'ishah says that thin cloth was discarded and the women selected only coarse cloth for the purpose. (lbn Kathir, Vol.III, p. 284, Abu Da'ud).

    The very nature and object of the Command demanded that the wrapper should not be made out of fine and thin cloth. The Ansar women immediately understood the real object and knew what type of cloth was intended to be used. The Law-Giver himself clarified this and did not leave it to be interpreted by the people. Dihya Kalbi states: "Once a length of fine Egyptian muslin was presented to the Holy Prophet. He gave a piece of it to me and said, `Use one part of it for your shirt, and give the rest of it to your wife for a wrapper, but tell her that she should stitch another piece of cloth on the inner side so that the body may not be displayed through it." (Abu Da'ud).

    37. This verse describes the circle in which a woman can move freely with all her make-up and adornment. Outside this circle she is not allowed to appear with make-up before the other people, whether they are relatives or strangers. The Commandment implies that she should not display her embellishments outside this limited circle, intentionally or through carelessness. However, what becomes displayed incidentally, in spite of care and concern, or what cannot be concealed, it is excused by Allah.

    38`Fathers' include grandfathers and great grandfathers as well, both paternal and maternal. Accordingly a woman can appear before her own and her husband's grandfathers just as she can appear before her own father and father in law.

    39`Sons' include grandsons and great grandsons from the male or female offspring. No distinction is to be made between the real sons and the step-sons.

    40. Brothers' include real and stepbrothers.

    41. 'Sons of brothers and sisters' include sons, grandsons and great grandsons of all the three kinds of brothers and sisters.

    42. After the relatives the other people are now being mentioned. But before we proceed further, it would be useful to understand three things in order to avoid confusion.

    First, some jurists hold that the freedom of movement and display of adornment by a woman is restricted to the circle of relatives mentioned in this verse. AII others, even the real paternal and maternal uncles, are excluded from this list and a woman should observe purdah from them because they have not been mentioned in the Qur'an. This is, however, not a correct view. Let alone the real uncles, the Holy Prophet disallowed Hadrat `A'ishah to observe purdah even from her foster uncles. A tradition quoted in Sihah Sitta' and Musnad Ahmad on the authority of Hadrat `A'ishah says that once Aflah, brother of Abul Qu'ais, came to see her and sought permission to enter the house. But since the Commandment of purdah had been received, Hadrat `A'ishah refused him permission. On this Aflah sent back the word saying, "You are my niece: you were suckled by my brother Abul Qu'ais's wife." But Hadrat `A'ishah still was hesitant whether it was permissible to appear unveiled before such a relative or not. In the meantime the Holy Prophet arrived and he ruled that he could see her. This shows that the Holy Prophet himself did not interpret the verse in the way these jurists do that it was lawful to appear unveiled only before those relatives who have been mentioned in the verse and not before others. He interpreted it to mean that purdah need not be observed from those relatives with whom marriage is prohibited, for instance, paternal and maternal uncles, son-in-law and foster relatives. Hadrat Hasan Basri from among the followers has expressed the same opinion and the same has been supported by `Allama Abu Bakr al-Jassas in his Ahkam-ul-Qur an. (Vol. III, p. 390).

    Secondly, there is the question of those relatives with whom marriage is not permanently prohibited; they neither fall in the category of mahram relatives (that women may freely appear before them with adornment) nor in the category of complete strangers that they should observe full purdah from them as from others. What should be the right course between the two extremes has not been determined by the Shari `ah for such a course cannot possibly be determined. The observance of purdah or otherwise in such cases will inevitably depend on the mutual relationship, age of the woman and of men, family relations and contacts and other circumstances (e.g. residence in the same house or in different houses). The personal example of the Holy Prophet himself in this matter gives us the same guidance. A large number of traditions confirm that Hadrat Asma', daughter of Abu Bakr, who was a sister-in-law of the Holy Prophet, appeared unveiled before him and no purdah, at least of the face and hands, was observed by her. This same position continued till the Farewell Pilgrimage which took place just a few months before the death of the Holy Prophet. (Abu Da'ud). Similarly Hadrat Umm Hani, daughter of Abu Talib and a first cousin of the Holy Prophet, appeared before him till the end without ever observing purdah of the face and hands. She herself has narrated an incident pertaining to the conquesh of Makkah, which confirms the same. (Abu Da'ud).On the contrary, we see that Hadrat `Abbas sends his son Fadal, and Rabi'ah bin Harith bin `Abdul Muttalib (a first cousin of the Holy Prophet) his son 'Abdul Muttalib before the Holy Prophet with the request for a job, as they could not be married till they became earning members of the family. They both see the Holy Prophet in the house of his wife Zainab, who is a first cousin of Fadal and is similarly related to the father of 'Abdul Muttalib bin Rabi'ah. But she dces not appear before them and talks to them from behind a curtain in the presence of the Holy Prophet. (Abu Da'ud). Taking the two kinds of precedents together we come to the same conclusion as we have stated above.

    Thirdly, in cases where the relationship itself becomes doubtful, purdah should be observed even from the mahram relatives. Bukhari, Muslim and Abu Da'ud have related a case where Saudah, a wife of the Holy Prophet, had a brother born of a slave woman. `Utbah, the father of Saudah and the boy, left a will enjoining his brother, Sa`d bin Abi Waqqas, to look after the boy as a nephew for he was from his own seed. When the case came before the Holy Prophet, he rejected the claim of Hadrat Sa 'd, saying: "The boy belongs to him on whose bed he was born; as for the adulterer, let stones and pebbles be his lot." But at the same time he told Hadrat Saudah to observe purdah from the boy because it was doubtful whether he was really her brother.

    43. The Arabic word nisa-i -hinna means "their female associates". Before we consider what women are exactly meant, it is worth noting that the word used here is not an-nisa, which merely means "women", but nisa i-hinna which means "their female associates". In the former case, it would be quite permissible for a Muslim woman to appear unveiled before all sorts of women and display her adornment. The use of nisa-i-hinna, however, has circumscribed her freedom within a specific circle. As to what specific circle of women is implied, the commentators and jurists have expressed different opinions.

    According to one group, the "female associates" mean only the Muslim women; as for the non-Muslim women, whether zimmis or otherwise, they are excluded and purdah should be observed from them as from men. Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and Ibn Juraij hold this opinion and cite the following incident in support thereof: Caliph `Umar wrote to Hadrat Abu `Ubaidah: "I hear that some Muslim women have started going to public baths along with the non-Muslim women. It is not permissible for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day that she should expose her body before the women other than of her own community." On receipt of this letter Hadrat Abu `Ubaidah was much upset, and he cried out: "May the face of the woman who goes to the public baths to whiten her complexion be blackened on the Last Day!" (Ibn Jarir, Baihaqi, Ibn Kathir).

    Another group, which includes Imam Razi, is of the view that "female associates" are all women without exception. But it is not possible to accept this view as in that case an-nisa should have sufficed and there was no need to use nisa-i-hinna.

    The third opinion, and this appears to be reasonable and nearer the Qur'anic Text, is that "their female associates" mean those familiar and known women with whom a woman usually comes into contact in her daily life and who share in her household chores, etc. whether they are Muslim or non-Muslim. The object here is to exclude those women from the circle who are either strangers whose cultural and moral background is not known or whose antecedents are apparently doubtful, which make them unreliable. This view is also supported by the authentic Traditions which state that zimmi women used to visit the wives of the Holy Prophet. The real thing to be considered in this connection would be the moral character and not the religious belief. Muslim women can meet and have intimate social contacts with noble, modest and virtuous women, who come from well-known and reliable families even if they are non-Muslim. But they must observe purdah from immodest, immoral and vulgar women even if they happen to be "Muslims". Their company from the moral viewpoint is as dangerous as of other men. As for contacts with un-known, unfamiliar women, they may at the most be treated like non-mahram relatives. A woman may uncover her face and hands before them but she must keep the rest of her body and adornments concealed.

    44. There is a good deal of difference of opinion among the jurists about the correct meaning of this injunction. One group holds that this refers only to the slave girls owned by a lady. Accordingly they interpret the Divine Command to mean that the Muslim woman can display her adornment before a slave girl, whether she is an idolatress or a Jew or a Christian, but she cannot appear before a slave man even if he is legally owned by her; for purposes of purdah, he is to be treated just like a free male stranger. This is the view of `Abdullah bin Mas`ud, Mujahid, Hasan Basri, Ibn Sirin, Said bin Musayyab, Ta`us and Imam Abu Hanifah, and a saying of Imam Shafi`i also supports this. They argue that the slave is not a mahram to the lady; if he is freed, e can marry his former owner. Therefore the there fact of his being a slave cannot by itself entitle him to be treated like the male mahrams and allow the lady to appear freely before him. The question why should the words" those in their possession" which are general and applicable to both slaves and slave girls, be restricted to mean only slave girls, is answered by these jurists like this: Though the words are general, the context and background in which they occur snake them specifically applicable to slave girls only. The , words "those in their possession" occur just after "their female associates" in the verse; therefore one could understand that the reference was to a woman's relatives and other associates; this could lead to the misunderstanding that the slave girls perhaps were excluded; the words "those in their possession". therefore were used to clarify that a woman could display her adornments before the slave girls as before her free female associates.

    The other group holds that the words "those in their possession" include both the slaves and the slave girls. This is the view of Hadrat `A'ishah, Umm Salamah and some learned scholars of the house of the Holy Prophet and also of Imam Shafi`i. They do not argue merely on the basis of the general meaning of the words, but they also cite precedents from the Sunnah in support of their view. For instance, the incident that the Holy Prophet went to the house of his daughter, Hadrat Fatimah, along with his slave 'Abdullah bin Musa'dah al-Fazari. She was at that time wearing a sheet which would leave the feet exposed if she tried to cover the head, and the head exposed if she tried to cover the feet. The Holy Prophet felt her embarrassment and said: "No harm: there are only your father and your slave!" (Abu Da'ud, Ahmad, Baihaqi on the authority of Anas bin Malik). Ibn 'Asakir has stated that the Holy Prophet had given that slave to Hadrat Fatimah, who brought him up and then freed him. (But the man turned out to be an ungrateful wretch; in the battle of Siffin, he was the bitterest opponent of Hadrat 'Ali and a zealous supporter of Amir Mu`awiyah). They also quote the following words of the Holy Prophet in support of their stand: "When any of you agrees to a deed of emancipation with her slave, and the slave has the necessary means to buy his freedom, she (the owner) should observe purdah from him." (Abu Da'ud, Tirmizi, Ibn Majah on the authority of Umm Salamah).

    45. The literal translation of the Text would be: "those from among the men who are your subordinates and have no desire." The obvious meaning is that apart from the mahram males, a Muslim woman can display her adornment only before the man who satisfies two conditions: firstly, he should be in a subordinate capacity, and secondly, he should be free from sexual urges either due to advanced age, impotence, mental weakness, poverty or low social position, so that he cannot cherish the desire or have the boldness to think evilly of his master's wife, daughter, sister or mother. Anybody who studies this injunction in the right spirit with a view to obeying it, and not for the sake of finding ways and means of escaping from or violating it, will readily appreciate that the bearers, cooks, chauffeurs and other grown up servants employed these days in the houses do not fall in this category. The following clarifications given by the commentators and the jurists of this point would show the type of men envisaged in the verse: Ibn 'Abbas: This implies a man who is a mere simpleton and has no interest in women. Qatadah: A poor man who is attached to you merely for his sustenance. Mujahid: A fool who only needs food and has no desire for women. Sha'bi: The one who is a subordinate; entirely dependent on his master, and cannot have the boldness to cast an evil look at the womenfolk of the house. lbn Zaid: The one who remains attached to a family for such a long time that he is regarded as a member brought up in that house, and who has no desire for the women of the house. He is there merely because he gets his sustenance from the family. Ta'us & Zuhri: An idiot who dces not cherish the desire for the women nor has the courage to do so. (Ibn Jarir, Vol. XVIII, pp. 95-96, Ibn Kathir, Vol. III, p. 285).

    The best explanation in this regard is the incident that happened in the time of the Holy Prophet, which has been quoted by Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Da'ud, Nasa'i and Ahmad on the authority of Hadrat `A'ishah and Umm Salamah. There was a certain eunuch in Madinah who was allowed free access to the wives of the Holy Prophet and the other women of the city, on the assumption that he being incapable of sex was free from the sexual urge. One day when the Holy Prophet went to the house of his wife, Umm Salamah, he heard him talking to her brother, 'Abdullah bin Abi Umayyah. He was telling `Abdullah that if Taif was taken the following day, he should try to have Badia, daughter of Ghailan Thaqafi . And then he started praising Badia's beauty and her physical charms and even went to the extent of describing her private parts. On hearing this the Holy Prophet said: "O enemy of Allah! you seem to have seen her through." Then he ordered that the women should observe purdah from him and he should not be allowed to enter the houses in future. After this he turned him out of Madinah and forbade the other eunuchs also to enter the houses, because the women did not mind their presence, while they would describe the women of one house before the other men of other houses in the society. This shows that the word "incapable of sex desire" do not merely imply physical impotence. Anyone who is physically unfit but cherishes sex desire in the heart and takes interest in women, can become the cause of many mischief's.

    46. That is, the children who do not yet have their sex feelings aroused. This may apply to boys of 11 to12 at the most. Older boys start having sex feelings though they may still be immature otherwise.

    47. The Holy Prophet did not restrict this injunction to the jingle of the ornaments, but has derived from it the principle that besides the look, anything which tends to excite any of the senses, is opposed to the objective for which Allah has forbidden the women to display their adornment. Therefore he ordered the women not to move out with perfumes. According to Hadrat Abu Hurairah, the Holy Prophet said: "Do not stop the bondmaids of Allah from coming to the mosques, but. they should not come with perfumes." (Abu Da'ud, Ahmad). According to another tradition, Hadrat Abu Hurairah passed by a woman who was coming out of the mosque and felt that she had perfumed herself. He stopped her and said: "O bondmaid of Allah, are you coming from the mosque?" When she replied in the affirmative, he said: "I have heard my beloved Abul Qasim (Allah's blessings and peace be upon him) say that the prayer of the woman who comes to the mosque with perfumes, is not accepted till she purifies herself with a complete bath as is done after a sexual intercourse." (Abu Da'ud, Ibn Majah, Ahmad, Nasa'i). Abu Musa Ash'ari has quoted the Holy Prophet as saying: "A woman who passes on the way with perfumes so that people may enjoy her perfumes, is such and such: he used very harsh words for her." (Tirmizi, Abu Da'ud, Nasa'i). His instruction was that women should use scents with bright colors but light odors. (Abu Da`ud). Similarly the Holy Prophet disapproved that feminine voices should enter the ears of men unnecessarily. In case of genuine need the Qur'an itself has allowed women to speak to men, and the Holy Prophet's wives themselves used to instruct people in religious matters. But where there is no necessity, nor any moral or religious objective, the women have been discouraged to let their voices be heard by men. Thus if the imam happens to commit a mistake during a congregational prayer, and he is to be warned of the lapse, the men have been taught to say Subhan-Allah (Glory be to Allah), while the women have been instructed to tap their hands only. (Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad, Tirmizi, Abu Da'ud, Nasa'i, Ibn Majah).

    48. "Turn towards Allah": Repent of the lapses and errors that you have been committing in this regard so far, and reform your conduct in accordance with the Commands given by Allah and His Prophet.

    49. It would be useful to give here a resume of the other reforms which the Holy Prophet introduced in the Islamic society after the revelation of these Commandments.

    (1) He prohibited the other men (even if they are relatives) to see a woman in privacy or sit with her in the absence of her mahram relatives. Hadrat Jabir bin 'Abdullah has reported that the Holy Prophet said: "Do not visit the women whose husbands are away from home, because Satan circulates in one of you like blood." (Tirmizi). According to another Tradition from Hadrat Jabir, the Holy Prophet said: "Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should never visit a woman when alone unless she has a mahram relative also present, because the third one would be Satan. " (Ahmad). Imam Ahmad has quoted another Tradition from `Amir bin Rabi'ah to the same effect. The Holy Prophet himself was extremely cautious in this regard Once when he was accompanying his wife Hadrat Safiyyah to her Douse at night, two men of Ansar passed by them on the way. The Holy Prophet stopped them and said: "The woman with me is my wife Safiyyah." They said: "Glory be to Allah! O Messenger of AIlah, could there be any suspicion about you?" The Holy Prophet said: "Satan circulates like blood in the human body; I was afraid lest he should put an evil thought in your minds." (Abu Da'ud).

    (2) The Holy Prophet did not approve that a man's hand should even touch the body of a non-mahram woman. That is why while administering the oath of allegiance, he would take the hand of the men into his own hand, but he never adopted this procedure in the case of women. Hadrat 'A'ishah has stated that the Holy Prophet never touched the body of any other woman. He would administer the oath verbally to them; when this was done, he would say: "You may go, Your allegiance is complete." (Abu Da'ud).

    (3) He strictly prohibited the woman from proceeding on a journey alone without a mahram or in company with a non-mahram. A Tradition from Ibn 'Abbas has been quoted in Bukhari and Muslim saying that the Holy Prophet gave a sermon and said: "No man should visit the other woman when she is alone unless she has a mahram also present, and no woman should travel alone unless accompanied by a mahram. " A man stood up and said:"My wife is going for Hajj, while I am under orders to join a certain expedition." The Holy Prophet said: "You may go for Hajj with your wife. " Several other Traditions on the subject, emanating from Ibn 'Umar, Abu Said Khudri and Abu Hurairah, are found in authentic books of Traditions, which concur that it is not permissible for a Muslim woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day that she should go on a journey without a mahram. There is, however, a variation with regard to the duration and the length of the journey. Some Traditions lay down the minimum limit as 12 miles and some lay down the duration as one day, a day and night, two days or even three days. This variation, however, neither renders the Traditions unauthentic nor makes it necessary that we should accept one version as legally binding in preference to others. For a plausible explanation for the different versions could be that the Holy Prophet gave different instructions at different occasions depending on the circumstances and merit of each case. For instance, a woman going on a three-day journey might have been prohibited from proceeding without a mahram, while another going on a day's journey might also have been similarly prohibited. Here the real thing is not the different instructions to the different people in different situations, but the principle that a woman should not go on a journey without a mahram as laid down in the Tradition quoted above from lbn 'Abbas.

    (4) He .not only took practical measures to stop free mixing of the sexes together but prohibited it verbally as well. Everyone knows the great importance of the congregational and the Friday prayers in Islam. The Friday Prayer has been made obligatory by AIIah Himself; the importance of the congregational prayer can be judged from a Tradition of the Holy Prophet, which says: "If a person does not attend the mosque without a genuine reason and offers his prayer at home, it will not be acceptable to AIIah." (Abu Da'ud, Ibn Majah, Daraqutni, Hakim on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas).But in spite of this, the Holy Prophet exempted the women from compulsory attendance at the Friday Prayer. (Abu Da'ud, Daraqutni, Baihaqi). As for the other congregational prayers, he made the women's attendance optional, saying: "Do not stop them if they want to come to the mosque." Then at the same time, he made the clarification that it was better forthem to pray in their houses than in the mosques. According to Ibn 'Umar and Abu Hurairah, the Holy Prophet said: "Do not prohibit the bondmaids of Allah from coming to the mosques of AIIah." (Abu Da'ud). Other Traditions from Ibn 'Umar are to the effect: "Permit the women to come to themosques at night." (Bukhari, Muslim, Trimizi, Nasa'i, Abu Da'ud). And: "Do not stop your women-folk from coming to the mosques though their houses are better for them than the mosques." (Ahmad, Abu Da'ud). Umm Humaid Sa'idiyyah states that once she said to the Holy Prophet, "O Messenger of Allah, I have a great desire to offer my prayer under your leadership." He replied: "Your offering the prayer in your room is better than your offering it in the verandah, and your offering the prayer in your house is better Bran your offering it in the neighbouring mosque, and your offering the prayer in the neighbouring mosque is better than offering it in the principal mosque (of the town)." (Ahmad, Tabarani). A Tradition to the same effect has been reported from 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud in Abu Da'ud. According to Hadrat Umm Salamah, the Holy Prophet said: "The best mosques for women are the innermost portions of their houses." (Ahmad, Tabarani). But when Hadrat 'A'ishah saw the conditions that prevailed in the time of the Umayyads, she said: "If the Holy Prophet had witnessed such conduct of the women, he would certainly have stopped their entry into the mosques as was done in the case of the Israelite women," (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Da'ud). The Holy Prophet had appointed a separate door in his Mosque for the entry of women, and Hadrat 'Umar in his time had given strict orders prohibiting men to use that door. (Abu Da'ud). In the congregational prayers the women were instructed to stand separately behind the men; at the conclusion of the prayer, the Holy Prophet and his followers used to remain sitting for a while so that the women could leave the mosque before the men. (Ahmad, Bukhari). The Holy Prophet would say: "The best row for the men is the front row and the worst the last one (nearest to the women's row); and the best row for the women is the rearmost row And the worst the front one (just behind the men's). (Muslim, Abu Da'ud, Tirmizi Nasa'i, Ahmad). The women joined the 'Id congregational prayers but they had a separate enclosure from men. After the sermon the Holy Prophet used to address them separately (Abu Da'ud, Bukhari, Muslim). Once outside the Mosque the Holy Prophet saw the men and women moving side by side in the crowd. He stopped the women and said: It is not proper for you to walk in the middle of the road; walk on the sides." On hearing this the women immediately started walking along the walls. (Abu Da'ud). All these Commandments clearly show that mixed gatherings of the men and women are wholly alien to the temper of Islam. It cannot therefore be imagined that Divine Law which disallows the men and women to stand side by side for prayers in the sacred houses of Allah, would allow them to mix together freely in colleges, offices, clubs and other gatherings.

    (5) He permitted the women to make modest use of the make-ups, even instructed them to do so, but strictly forbade its overdoing. Of the various types of make-up and decoration that were prevalent among the Arab women in those days, he declared the following as accursed and destructive of communities:

    (a) To add extra hair to one's own artificially with a view to make them appear longer and thicker.

    (b) To tattoo various parts of the body and produce artificial moles.

    (c) To pluck hair from the eyebrows to give them a special shape, or to pluck hair from the face to give it a cleaner look.

    (d) To rub the teeth to make them sharp or to produce artificial holes in them.

    (e) To rub the face with saffron or other cosmetic to produce an artificial complexion.

    These instructions have been reported in Sihah Sitta and in Musnad Ahmad on the authority of Hadrat `A'ishah, Asma' bint Abu Bakr, Hadrat 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud, 'Abdullah bin `Umar, 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas and Amir Mu'awiyah through reliable narrators.

    After having the knowledge of these clear Commandments froth Allah and His Prophet, a Muslim has only two courses open before him. Either he should follow these Commandments practically and purify himself, his family life and the society at large of the moral evils for the eradication of which Allah and His Prophet have given such detailed Commandments, or if due to some weakness he violates one or more of these Commandments, he should at least realize that he is committing a sin, and regard it as such, and should abstain from labelling it as a virtue by misinterpretation. Apart from these alternatives, the people who adopt the Western, ways of life against the clear injunctions of the Qur'an and Sunnah, and then try their utmost to prove them Islam itself, and openly claim that there is no such thing as purdah in Islam, not only commit the sin of disobedience but also display ignorance and hypocritical obstinacy. Such an attitude can neither be commended by any right-thinking person in this world, nor can it merit favour with Allah in the Hereafter. But among the Muslims there exists a section of modern hypocrites who are so advanced in their hypocrisy that they repudiate the Divine injunctions as false and believe those ways of life to be right and based on truth, which they have borrowed from the non-Muslim communities. Such people are not Muslims at all, for if they still be Muslims, the words 'Islam' and 'unIslam' lose all their meaning and significance. Had they changed their Islamic names and publicly declared their desertion of Islam, we would at least have been convinced of their moral courage. But in spite of their wrong attitudes, these people continue to pose themselves as Muslim. There is perhaps no meaner class of people in the world. People with such character and morality cannot be unexpected to indulge in any forgery, fraud, deception or dishonesty.
    Last edited by anistop; 29-03-11, 10:03 AM.
    [103:003] Except those who believe and do righteous good deeds, and recommend one another to the truth, and recommend one another to patience

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