Veil and Hijab
Was the command of the veil (hijab) specific only for chaste wives?
وَقَرْنَ فِى بُيُوتِكُنَّ وَلَا تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ ٱلْجَـٰهِلِيَّةِ ٱلْأُولَىٰ ۖ وَأَقِمْنَ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَءَاتِينَ ٱلزَّكَوٰةَ وَأَطِعْنَ ٱللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُۥٓ ۚ إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ ٱللَّهُ لِيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمُ ٱلرِّجْسَ أَهْلَ ٱلْبَيْتِ وَيُطَهِّرَكُمْ تَطْهِيرًۭا ٣٣
Remain in your homes, and do not display (your) beauty as it used to be displayed in the days of earlier ignorance; and establish Salāh, and pay Zakāh, and obey Allah and His messenger. Allah only intends to keep (all sorts of) filth away from you, O members of the family (of the prophet), and to make you pure through a perfect purification. (33:33)
So, is this command only for the pure wives? And are other women allowed to adorn themselves like the women of ignorance and go out? Clearly, other women are not allowed, and further, a command is given as follows:
And establish the prayer
So, is the command to establish prayer specifically for the pure wives? And there is no command for other women regarding prayer? And after that, a command was given as follows:
So, is the command of the veil (hijab) only for the purified women
and not for other women? And further, it was said:
وأطعن الله ورسوله
And obey Allah and His Messenger
So, is the command of obedience to Allah and His Messenger exclusive to the pure wives? No, the context of the entire verse is explaining that the commands in this verse are general for everyone. Although the direct address is to the pure wives, it is addressing all the women of the community through them.
Another point to consider is that the purpose of the veil and covering was to prevent the potential harm that could arise from immodesty within society. Now, the question is whether this harm can only arise from the impure wives? God forbid! The pure wives, who are chaste women, are not the source of this mischief. So, was there a fear of mischief from them? Is there no concern about mischief arising from other situations? Therefore, when the command is given to the pure wives to go out with the Prophet, it will be applied to other women in the same way. This is because there is a concern about potential mischief from them. In addition, the second verse addresses the entire Muslim community, saying,
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّبِىُّ قُل لِّأَزْوَٰجِكَ وَبَنَاتِكَ وَنِسَآءِ ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يُدْنِينَ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِن جَلَـٰبِيبِهِنَّ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ أَدْنَىٰٓ أَن يُعْرَفْنَ فَلَا يُؤْذَيْنَ ۗ وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ غَفُورًۭا رَّحِيمًۭا ٥٩
O prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers that they should draw down their shawls over them. That will make it more likely that they are recognized, hence not teased. And Allah is Most-Forgiving, Very-Merciful. (33:59)
In this verse, the word “jilbab” has been chosen to refer to the garment that covers the entire body from head to toe. The difference between “jilbab” and “burqa” is that the “burqa” is a veil that is worn over the face, while the “jilbab” does not cover the face.
During the time of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), women used to wear the “jilbab,” and in this verse, it is instructed that all believing women should lower their “jilbabs” over themselves. This command is given to prevent the face of a woman from being exposed in a manner that may lead to temptation, hence the first requirement is covering the face, and this is in accordance with the Quranic command.
Now, let’s discuss the concept and limits of “hijab” and “pardah.”
Regarding “hijab,” the fundamental requirement is that the entire body, from head to toe, should be covered with a “chadar” (a cloth) or a “burqa.” The hair should also be covered, and the face should be veiled as well. This means that the face should be covered with a “niqab” (a face veil).
As for the mention in the verse, it is explained in the commentary by Hazrat Abdullah bin Masood ((رضي الله عنه) that during that time, women used to practice the act of lowering the “chadar” over their heads, and only their eyes remained visible. The rest of the face was covered by the “chadar.” So, the proper way of observing “hijab” is to cover the entire body, including the face, with the exception that when there is a pressing need to reveal the face, it is permissible to uncover the face and the hands up to the wrists. Otherwise, the general rule is that the entire body should be covered.
This explanation provides a clear understanding of the concept and limits of “hijab” and “pardah” as per the Islamic teachings.
And women should not consider that the veil is a source of difficulty for us, rather, the veil is inherent in a woman’s nature, and the meaning of a woman is something to be concealed. The veil is a part of a woman’s creation. If nature is altered, there is no remedy for it. However, the comfort and tranquility found in wearing the veil will not be present when one is unveiled and openly exposed. Therefore, preserving the veil is an essential part of modesty.
It appears that the Holy Prophet (ﷺ) was observing the conditions of today. He (ﷺ) said that near the Day of Judgment, there will be women who will have thin and frail hair on their heads like the humps of camels.
During the time of the Holy Prophet (ﷺ), it was inconceivable that women would grow their hair like the humps of camels. And he said that outwardly, they will be dressed, but their dress will be such that it will not serve the purpose of covering, either because their clothing will be extremely thin or because it will be very tight, causing all the contours of their bodies to be revealed. As a result, all modesty will vanish. It was also inconceivable before that women would dress in this manner. This is because their hearts used to be filled with modesty, and their nature was such that they disliked wearing such clothing. But now, the chest is exposed, the neck is exposed, and the arms are exposed. What kind of clothing is this?