Thursday, June 18, 2009

Last week in one of the religious talk show on islam shown on the telly, they were talking about circumcision. It was interesting to note. It comes to mind the idea I have about belief and faith. To the uninitiated circumcision according to Malay muslim is obligatory for Men for woman it is encourage. That is a fallacy for only certain school of thoughts especially Shafie believe so but Hanafi says otherwise. So what is important is cleanliness not cutting of the foreskin or mutilated the clitoris!!! Ahh but that is life, a Malay muslim still can't figure his right in questioning his basic belief tells a lot about the development of their mind. But again the hold of the conservative in shaping the minds of Muslim everywhere is amazing and all intrusive.

Let's go to the debate of covering of hair for the Muslimah. Most in fact 99% of Muslim believe the covering of hair is mandatory in fact they cite surah 33:59 of the Quran to support their commandment. Although the surah is meant for Muhammad's wives and daughters were never fully explain. Yet if you go at another surah at 24:60 a verse meant for the elderly women it gave them permission to put aside their outer garment as long as it is modest. And if you go to another surah 7:14 the general rule is basically to be modest and cover your adornment.

But when Proffesor Hathout say on TV that they were some theologians who believe that covering of the hair is not mandatory and that majority agrees to it(the covering of hair) and which he also agrees leave me to wonder. One, how come elderly woman is given permission not cover their hair base on the above surah and since now days with the advent of Science people are doing it until the 70's I wonder whether what is important is to be modest. Look I am thinking aloud here and I wonder why there is some theologians say you don't need to cover your hair. They base it on the hadiths narrated by Aisha that the prophet while still ada air sembahyang(after ablution) kiss her hair and proceed to pray. To the theologians the hair is not part of the skin thus it did not cancel the air sembahyang thus it is not an aurat and therefore if that is the case the muslimah or muslim woman need not cover their hair. I also found out that if you have slaves( yes muslim people in the olden days have slaves in fact they were the one trading in human in Africa that sold the africans to the whites.) the women need not cover the hair although modesty is required! Does this mean the Muslims regard the humans as subspecies for this were the edict then. Funny it is not found now, you have to dig deeper for it.

As for me I prefer a Muslimah to be modest and if you want to cover your hair I would not stop you but please do so properly and not wear a short sleeve T shirt or one I can see all the way to the bra straps. I love to see beautiful hair and i don't see a problem displaying it but praying or when you are communicating with God follow the rules! I can't find the old rules in the net yet but when I do I will republish it here. I found all this in the net but I am continuously searching so here is the traditional view

The word translated here as veils is khumur, plural of khimaar. According to scholars, the word khimaar has no other meaning than a type of cloth which covers the head. Muslim scholars point out that men's turbans are sometimes called khimaar as well.

Women during the time of Muhammad did wear the khimaar, but would wear it tied behind so their neck and upper chest were visible. This verse is therefore an order that the khimaar now be drawn over the chest, so that the neck and chest were not bare.

According to most scholars, the khimaar is obligatory for Muslim women.

Cast their outer garments over their persons

O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Oft- Forgiving, Most Merciful.33:59

Elderly women

The rules are relaxed for elderly women:

Such elderly women as are past the prospect of marriage - there is no blame on them if they lay aside their (outer) garments, provided they make not a wanton display of their beauty: but it is best for them to be modest: and Allah is One Who sees and knows all things.24:60

General rules

The Qur'an gives these general rules, which may help in understanding how to interpret dress and other rules in modern times.

O ye Children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover your shame, as well as to be an adornment to you. But the raiment of righteousness,- that is the best. Such are among the Signs of Allah, that they may receive admonition!7:26

The Prophet's family

Muslims in their first century at first were relaxed about female dress. When the son of a prominent companion of the Prophet asked his wife Aisha bint Talha to veil her face, she answered, "Since the Almighty hath put on me the stamp of beauty, it is my wish that the public should view the beauty and thereby recognized His grace unto them. On no account, therefore, will I veil myself."Women in the Muslim World, ed. Lynn Reese, 1998

As Islam reached other lands, regional practices, including the covering of the faces of women, were adopted by the early Muslims. Yet it was only in the second Islamic century that the face veil became common, first used among the powerful and rich as a status symbol.


The Arabic word awrah refers to the parts of the body which must be covered with clothing. Awrah is any part of the body, for both men and women, which may not be visible to the public. Awrah is interpreted differently depending upon the sex of the company one is in.


Rules for women are more complicated. There are a number of scenarios for women:

  • In front of unrelated men (Muslim or non-Muslim), women must cover everything except the hands and face

  • In front of close male relatives, awrah is the navel to the knee and the stomach and the back

  • In front of other Muslim females, awrah is from the navel down to, and including, the knees

  • Awrah in front of non-Muslim women is a point of debate:

    • Some scholars say that women should cover all but the hands and face. This is to prevent non-Muslim women (who may not understand the rules regarding hijab) from describing the appearance of the hijab wearer to other men

    • Other scholars say that if a non-Muslim woman can be trusted not to describe a woman's appearance to other men, then she may reveal as much as she would in front of another Muslim woman in her presence.

The Hanafi school of thought, which is followed by most Muslims in the world, agree that the feet are not part of the awrah and therefore may be revealed.

Amongst other schools of thought a common opinion is that everything apart from a woman's face and hands is awrah. Scholars holding this opinion use this hadith to justify it:

Narrated Aisha (the Prophet's wife): Asma, daughter of Abu Bakr, entered upon the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) wearing thin clothes. The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) turned his attention from her. He said: 'O Asma, when a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it does not suit her that she displays her parts of body except this and this, and he pointed to her face and hands.Abu Dawud, Book 32, Number 4092

N.B. 1: Some Muslims, notably Shias, do not recognise Hadith as an authoritative source.

N.B. 2: This particular hadith is regarded as 'weak' (i.e. not reliably attributed) by some scholars, including the hadith's collector, Abu Dawud


A response to “The dehijabization phenomenon”

By Rifk Ebeid, May 12, 2009

As someone who chose to “dehijab,” I respect all Muslim women regardless of whether they choose to wear hijab, not to wear it, or to stop wearing it. What is unacceptable, however, is Muslims being judgmental toward those who simply disagree with them.

Darah Rateb’s, “The dehijabization phenomenon,” addresses a contentious issue facing the Muslim community today. The hijab debate tends to generate heated discussion among Muslims, but unfortunately hits a dead-end when Muslim women express their belief that hijab is not obligatory. Rateb calls these women “just as problematic” as preachers who emphasize hijab over more important duties and responsibilities.

Rateb opens her piece by thoughtfully describing the various reasons women “dehijab” and points a critical eye towards the hijab obsession that has overshadowed discussion of more important duties and responsibilities of Muslims. Her final analysis, however, addressing “women who remove the headscarf because they choose to interpret the Islamic tradition in their own way without training,” diminishes the strength of her article significantly. The initial reasons addressed were implicitly portrayed as acceptable, or more tolerable, reasons for Muslim women taking off hijab. The piece then took a sharp turn as Rateb accused women who do not believe hijab is obligatory of being arrogant: “For someone who has not dedicated their life to the study of Islam to declare that they have the same ability to interpret the Qur’an as the erstwhile amateur, comes across to me as incredibly arrogant, even while they may not realize their obvious arrogance.”

As a Muslim woman who chose to stop wearing hijab out of a belief that it is not obligatory, I felt it was important to express my view on this issue rather than to allow someone else to speak [incorrectly] on my behalf.

I grew up in a very strict Muslim community in Florida where I was one of a few other Muslim girls who did not wear hijab. I always grew up thinking that wearing hijab was obligatory and hoped to wear it when I felt psychologically ready, even though my mother did not wear hijab – and also does not believe it is obligatory. During Ramadan of my last year of undergrad, I felt ready to don the hijab. I remember making a lot of dua (supplication) for Allah to make it easy on me and to help me feel comfortable in it, and subhan’Allah, my prayers were answered.

Although I never grew up questioning hijab, the arguments against it began to loom in my head very soon after I began wearing it. I initially brushed it off and told myself it was just a test from Allah. I realized how serious of a dilemma it was for me, however, when I stopped knowing how to answer non-Muslims when they asked me why Muslim women wear hijab. I did not have an answer anymore because I, myself, was no longer convinced. I honestly cannot pinpoint exactly what made me lose my conviction, but I believe it was primarily based in my being forced to explain why hijab was obligatory – and realizing my arguments were not even convincing to myself.

Wearing hijab was truly a life-changing experience and brought me into a realm I was completely unaware of before. While this sounds dramatic, it really is something one cannot and will not understand until one does it. Thus, as with any life-changing experience, you begin to question and think about issues you could not have considered or even thought of unless you made that change. The most significant issue for me was the fact that I realized the only reason I was keeping it on was out of fear of what my community would say, and not out of fear of Allah. I began to resent everything that came with hijab. A good friend of mine summarized the dilemma beautifully when she said, “I can see how my faith has suffered as a result of my obsession with my hijab to the detriment of my spiritual health.” When I began to feel like hijab was pushing me further from Allah, rather than bringing me closer, that was when I began to explore beyond my blind belief in others' statements that “it is a command from Allah.”

This juncture in my story is usually where a discussion on hijab turns to the tumultuous path less taken. It appears as though many Muslims get very defensive when they face other Muslims who question their socially acquired beliefs. This is not to say that Muslim women only wear hijab due to socially acquired beliefs. It is to say that from my own personal experience, although I initially wore hijab out of what I thought was conviction, I later realized that the conviction I developed was, in fact, superficial and based subconsciously on what was ingrained in me from a young age. Many Muslim women who begin to question hijab face this dilemma, even if they still believe it is obligatory. It is a natural progression in one’s spiritual growth to look deeper into why we believe what we believe.

Rateb incorrectly assumes that Muslim women who do not believe hijab is obligatory think they “have the same ability to interpret the Qur’an” as those scholars who have dedicated their life to the study of Islam. Contrary to Rateb’s accusation, Muslim women who take off hijab out of a belief that it is not obligatory each have their own personal story that involves an arduous and emotional thought process that made them reach the difficult decision to take off hijab. Additionally, what these Muslim women do believe is that they have the right to question the logic and argument of scholars and to dig deeper and ask questions in response to their answers. If we do not find these answers satisfactory – if they do not put us at ease and make sense to us – then we have the right to disagree.

One of the biggest problems in the Muslim community is that the community often gives holy deference to scholarly interpretations. While I highly respect scholars’ knowledge of Islam, I do not have to agree with their interpretations. This is not arrogant – it is natural. That is why we have four schools of jurisprudence; why the companions of the Prophet often disagreed with one another; and why Islamic history is rife with thinkers who all had differing opinions on even more important issues such as aqeedah (foundation of belief).

Additionally, there is significant importance and wisdom in the fact that the Qur’an was sent down to the masses – to the literate and illiterate alike. At that time the masses had the Prophet to ask questions and receive guidance. This does not translate, however, into today’s scholarly interpretations being anywhere near equivalent to the finality of the Prophet’s guidance. If one believes that a scholar’s explanation and interpretation does not make sense to them, then they should be free to disagree. They should not be accused of being arrogant.

After researching the issue, reading the arguments for hijab, and talking to friends who strongly support hijab, I made the personal decision that it was not something I believed was obligatory. Thus, after four years, I chose to “dehijab.” Wearing hijab for those four years served both positive and negative functions in my life, and it helped me grow immensely as an individual and as a Muslim. While I do not believe hijab, primarily covering of the hair, is obligatory, I do still believe in dressing and acting modestly (“modesty” is a subjective concept, but to each their own).

It is not important or beneficial to go into the reasons why I believe hijab is not obligatory because I am not writing this to convince anyone to adopt my viewpoint. I respect all Muslim women regardless of whether they choose to wear hijab, not to wear it, or to stop wearing it. What is unacceptable, however, is Muslims being judgmental toward those who simply disagree with them. It is unacceptable to accuse those with minority beliefs of being afflicted with very serious diseases of the heart. While it is critical to discuss issues of importance and to argue and learn from one another, launching ad hominem attacks does not enhance the discussion or bolster one’s arguments in any way. The Prophet is narrated to have said that anyone in whose heart there is a mustard seed of arrogance will not enter Heaven. Keeping this in mind, it would be wise for all of us in the Muslim community to be conscious of the gravity of our words, judgments, and accusations.

Rifk Ebeid is a 25 year old Palestinian-American. She has a Master of Arts in Human Rights Studies from Columbia University and is expected to receive her Juris Doctorate degree from George Mason University School of Law in May 2009.

Rulings regarding wearing Hijab and Niqab

We would like to highlight that hijab is the Muslim woman's proper dress, which Allah Almighty has ordered her to wear when he said what means: *{And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save to their own husbands or fathers or husbands' fathers, or their sons or their husbands' sons, or their brothers or their brothers' sons or sisters' sons, or their women, or their slaves, or male attendants who lack vigour, or children who know naught of women's nakedness. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And turn unto Allah together, O believers, in order that ye may succeed.}* (An-Nur 24:31)

This verse shows clearly that Allah has obliged women to wear hijab. But what is exactly meant by hijab?

Hijab is the proper Islamic dress code, which is primarily intended to safeguard the modesty, dignity and honor of men and women. By wearing Hijab, women protect themselves from any lustful gaze or act that may expose them to temptation or harassment of any kind. On the other hand, it protects men from indulgence in vices and unlawful acts.

Hijab does not only refer to head cover, but to the whole dressing of a woman. This means that there are certain requirements for a woman's dress to be Islamic: It must cover the whole body.

It must not be tight or transparent.

It must not delineate the parts of the body, especially those parts that are sexually attractive.

It must not be a dress that is usually worn by men. Hence, a Muslim woman is permitted to wear whatever she likes as long as her dress has all the legal requirements of a woman's Islamic dress code, and it covers the `awrah (sensitive parts of the body that a woman must cover in front of non-mahrams). This is agreed upon by all scholars and jurists.

However, scholars differ concerning the limits of a woman's `awrah, depending on different interpretations of the verse that is mentioned above, and this entails a disagreement among scholars concerning the ruling of niqab (covering the face and hands); whether it is obligatory or not. The majority of Muslim scholars, including the four schools of fiqh, maintain that niqab is not obligatory. They base their view on many evidence that are discussed below in details. Only some of the Hanbali scholars see that niqab is obligatory.

Here, I'd like to cite for you the different opinions as explained by Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, who states:

“Allah Almighty says what means:

*{And say to the believing women to lower their gazes and guard their chastity, and let them not display of their charm - except what is apparent.}* (An-Nur 24:31)

Commenting on the phrase: *{what is apparent}* Ibn `Abbas, the famous Companion and the Qur’an exegete, said: “It means face and hands.” In other words, according to Ibn `Abbas, a woman must cover all her body except her face and hands while in the presence of men who are not related to her directly. The list of those in whose presence she needs not cover is clearly outlined in Surat An-Nur 24: 31.

The majority of imams - including those of the four schools, as well as others - share the above interpretation of Ibn `Abbas, and thus hold the opinion that a woman is not obliged to cover her face and hands.

However, a group of scholars, the majority of whom belong to the Hanbalite Juristic School, teach that a woman must cover her face and hands as well. In support of their position they invoke a tradition attributed to the Prophet, peace and blessings be on him, stating: “Woman is all `awrah”, and hence as such, needs to completely be covered up. They also reason by saying that the most attractive parts of a woman’s body capable of enticing men are her face and hands.

The aforementioned position of the majority on this issue seems to be more consistent with the general understanding and evidences of the Qur’an and Sunnah than of those who advocate covering the face and hands as well. There are several proofs which point to this conclusion:

Firstly, the verse quoted above from the Qur’an seems to presume that the women it addresses are not wholly covered, i.e. face and hands. Otherwise, there is no sense in ordering both genders to lower their gazes.

Secondly, it is a general consensus among scholars that a woman is not required to cover her face and hands while performing salah (ritual prayers). If these were deemed to be `awrah, it would certainly have been necessary to cover them.

Thirdly, a woman is required to bare her face while she is in a state of ihram (consecration during Hajj and `Umrah). This again confirms what we said earlier.

Moreover, the evidences in the sources – the Qur’an and the Sunnah - are overwhelming in showing that the hijab, as prescribed by Islam, was not meant to segregate women or shut them out of the social involvement and participation in the affairs of the Muslim community. This is since the participation of Muslim women - at all levels of Islamic life - is fully documented beyond a shadow of doubt in the sources of Shari`ah. Such active participation as described in the sources is conceivable only if we assume that women were not wholly covered from head to toe.

In light of the above, we conclude: a Muslim woman is required to cover all her body except her face and hands, according to the majority of scholars belonging to all schools. Covering the head, however, is not at all a disputed issue among them - they all agree that this is a necessary part of hijab.”

From Sheikh Kutty'swords, we derive that there is no controversy regarding covering the whole body except for the face and hands. The controversy occurs in respect of covering the face and hands. The majority of scholars say it is not obligatory, while few others maintain it is obligatory. This, in turn, requires that a woman must abide by the agreed ruling which stipulates that a woman must cover her whole body except the face and hands.

As for the controversial part of the issue, we should think of it as a sign of Allah's mercy that He left some things open, so that there will be no hardship for people, and that they can make use of such things according to their own benefit. For example, if a woman is so beautiful to the extent that she attracts men's attention and her beauty tempts them, she would cover her face, as an aspect of preventing harm, even if it is agreed that niqab is not obligatory. On the other hand, some women may have some breathing or skin problems that they do not tolerate wearing face cover. Here, we realize that the difference of opinion in relation to niqab is really an aspect of Allah's mercy.

Finally, I'd like to stress that differences among scholars are only in minor and secondary things, and never in the fundamentals of faith. This is in fact an aspect of God’s mercy, as the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him said:

“Allah has prescribed certain obligations for you, so do not neglect them; He has defined certain limits, so do not transgress them; He has prohibited certain things, so do not do them; and He has kept silent concerning other things, out of mercy for you and not because of forgetfulness, so do not ask questions concerning them.” (Reported by ad-Darqutni.)


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