What is our stance on the ‘Hijab’ or head veil for women?
‘Hijab’, or the head veil, is considered a practice in many sects of Orthodox Islam. The wearing of a head veil is also practiced by certain sects of Christianity and Judaism
The wearing of a head covering has not been mentioned as an obligatory practice by the Almighty God in any covenant. In fact, the evidence provided by various religions is not concrete, and is mostly based on interpretation of the scholars of religion, rather than the direct words of God through His prophets and messengers.
From the Quran, we see the following verse,
The verse of the Khimar (The covering or scarf for the chest)
“And tell the believing women to cast down their looks and to guard their private parts, and not to display their charms, beyond what is [acceptably] visible, and let them draw their shawls (Khumurihinna) over their chests (Juyubihinna), and not display their charms except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers, or their sons, or their husband’s sons, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or their slave girls, or male dependants lacking [sexual] desire, or children who are not yet conscious of female sexuality. And let them not thump their feet to make known their hidden ornaments. Turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, so that you may be successful.”
– Holy Quran, An-Nur verse 31
The word Khumurihinna is Arabic, and refers to the scarf or shawl, the clothing that covers the specified location of the chest (Juyubihinna).
Another mention in the Quran on how to dress modestly:
O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves their outer garments (Jalabibihinna*). That is more suitable that they will be recognised and not harassed, and Allah is All-Forgiving, All-Merciful.
*Jalabibihinna: a type of clothing which has many styles, from hoodie to no head cover.
– Holy Quran, Al-Ahzab verse 59
In this day and age, the term ‘Hijab’ has been made to be understood as the covering scarf for the hair of a woman.
But how does the Quran use the term ‘Hijab’?
“There will be a Hijab (veil) between them. And on the elevations will be certain men who recognize each of them by their mark. They will call out to the inhabitants of Paradise, ‘Peace be upon you!’ They have not [yet] entered it, though they eagerly hope to.”
– Holy Quran, Al-A’raf verse 46
“When you recite the Quran, We draw a hidden Hijab (veil) between you and those who do not believe in the Hereafter…”
– Holy Quran, Al-Isra verse 45
“Thus she veiled herself from them, then We sent to her Our Spirit so he appeared to her as a well-proportioned human.”
– Holy Quran, Maryam verse 17
“O you who have believed, do not enter the houses of the Prophet except when you are permitted for a meal, without awaiting its readiness. But when you are invited, then enter; and when you have eaten, disperse without seeking to remain for conversation. Indeed, that [behavior] was troubling the Prophet, and he is shy of [dismissing] you. But Allah is not shy of the truth. And when you ask [his wives] for something, ask them from behind a Hijab (veil). That is purer for your hearts and their hearts. And it is not [conceivable or lawful] for you to harm the Messenger of Allah or to marry his wives after him, ever. Indeed, that would be in the sight of Allah an enormity.”
– Holy Quran, Al-Ahzab verse 53
“…he said, ‘Indeed I have preferred the love of [worldly] goodness over the remembrance of my Lord until it [the sun] disappeared behind the [night’s] Hijab (veil)“
– Holy Quran, Sad verse 32
“They say, ‘Our hearts are within coverings [i.e., screened] from what you invite us to, and there is deafness in our ears, and there is a Hijab (veil) between us and you. So act [as your faith requires]; we too are acting [according to our own].”
– Holy Quran, Fussilat verse 5
“It is not [possible] for any human that Allah should speak to him except through revelation or from behind a Hijab (veil), or He sends a Messenger who reveals by His permission whatever He wills. Indeed He is Most High, All-Wise.”
– Holy Quran, Ash-Shura verse 51
So the word ‘Hijab’ can clearly be used in various ways, all of which are based on the Hijab being a veil that separates, whether a metaphorical veil or a spiritual veil between man and God, or any such separation that is being indicated.
However, Hijab is not seen in the Quran as a term that indicates a scarf that the woman must cover her hair with.
So where did the concept of covering the hair as an obligation on women appear in Islam, if not through the words of God and his Messenger Muhammad (pbuhahf)?
Certain sayings that are found in hadith books of Islam, such as Bukhari, mention historical events that took place, concerning the commandment to cover the hair, such as:
Narrated from Aisha, that the wives of the Prophet (pbuhahf), would go out at night to the Manasi’ (toilet), and it was a vast open space. Umar used to say to the Prophet (pbuhahf): “Veil your women.” But the Prophet (pbuhahf) did not do so. One night Sawda daughter of Zam’a, the wife of the Prophet (pbuhahf), went out at `Isha’ time and she was a tall woman so Umar called out to her saying: “We recognized you, Sawda”, in order to ensure that the Hijab (veil) would come down, and so God revealed the verse of Hijab (veil).”
– Sahih Bukhari, Abi Abdullah Muhammad ibn Isma’il Al-Bukhari, 1st ed., Book 4: Ablutions, p.50, hadith 146
– Sahih Muslim, Abi Al-Hussein Muslim ibn Al-Hajjaj ibn Muslim, 2nd ed., Book 39: Book of Greetings, p.713, hadith 2170d
It can be seen from this narration that the concept of Hijab was insisted on by Umar, not Prophet Muhammad (pbuhahf). In fact, if we look carefully at the history of Islam, we do not find any evidence of Prophet Muhammad (pbuhahf) saying that covering the hair is an obligation. It is a sunnah, but not a requirement.
Some Christian women, based on Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Moravian, Anglican, Reformed, Methodist and Quaker teachings, wear the head covering in public worship and during private prayer at home.
Did the concept of head covering come from Jesus (pbuh)?
If we take a look at the scriptures, we will not find verses pertaining to Jesus (pbuh) that command or even recommend the head covering.
We do, however, find verses from the Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians.
It is clear from the scriptures that it was Paul who commanded women to cover their heads. In the New Testament of the Bible Paul wrote:
“…I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels”
– Holy Bible: 1 Corinthians 11:3-10
But it became considered an obligation on the people based on the interpretation of the alleged scholars and those that considered themselves capable of interpreting the words of God and establishing rulings from their own understandings, instead of taking rulings from God’s caliph.
The truth of the matter is that covering the hair was never an obligation in any of God’s covenants. Since the revelation of the Seventh Covenant, Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan (fhip) as God’s proof on earth today, has allowed us to understand the truth and reality of the falsehood of the head covering being obligatory. And our Imam and Caliph Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan (fhip) is far better than to impose on the people a ruling that did not even come from God. In fact, he (fhip) is the true shepherd, freeing the people of the false chains and shackles that the non-working scholars are attempting to put on the masses. As the Saviour of Mankind, Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan (fhip) is setting us free with the truth.