(A Transcribed Lecture from Youtube by N. Ali Khan — Explanation of Hijab from The Quran)
Explanation of Hijab from The Quran
As if the masculine, which includes the feminine wasn’t enough, tell the believing women they better lower their eyes too because there’s something about their eyes.
(…furujahuunna). They better guard their privates.
(…zinatahunna). They better not look extra beautiful. They better not expose their beauty. In other words, they shouldn’t be out of their way, gaudy and attention-grabbing. They shouldn’t have the kind of earrings that sound like chains rattling every time they take a step, so that people from far away can be like “What’s that? Oh”
(…zinatahunna.) They should not wear tight clothing. And these are general guidelines. They shouldn’t expose the beauty that Allah has given them to just anybody. They shouldn’t douse themselves and dip their face in makeup.
(…Illah ma dahara minha.) Except for what is obvious. She’s tall, she can’t make herself short. She tall, she’s prominent, she sticks out, she’s like six feet tall. What are you going to do about that? It’s obvious you can’t help that.
She’s skinny. The other one is heavy set. You can’t change that
(…Illahmadahara minha.) Except for what is obvious of it.
(Wal yadribna bi khummuriy hinna.) And they should strike upon themselves, their shawl, khummuris. khimar is the singular. And khimar is similar to the word in Arabic khammar, which as you might know is alcohol. Khammar is called alcohol because it overshadows, covers your mind. And some say it creates a barrier between your mind and your tongue. So what you are saying is actually not from your mind, you are mindless in your speech.
Khimar is what covers the head of a woman and covers her chest. It veils her beauty, from it we get the word khimar.
(arabic…) by means of which, the essential feminine parts of a body and her head are covered. And Allah will explain further what parts, in case it’s kind of confusing to you. The head is already implied by the word khammar. But as an extension in language, that’s general. And more of the woman, that’s specific. So Allah made it specific with the word a’alajuyubyhinna. On the chest cavity. So the shawl should be thrown over it.
You know how in some dupatta-type things, you wrap the shawl around and you take the last piece of it and you throw it over? That’s how layabdibhinna is used, they should throw it over as an added layer. Then the word darabah yaqni beshiddah meaning it should be tight, it shouldn’t be loose. It should be well put together so that it doesn’t just keep falling off. Like sloppy hijab, some people need hijab counselling.
I learned about that when I had daughters. Some girls are like hijab machines, they know how to put a hijab on professionally. And then there are girls like, I don’t know if there is oil on their head or what, but the hijab just goes it every direction but the direction that it is supposed to go in. The hijab catastrophes walking around right. Allah says it should be well put together. So we should have how to put a hijab type workshops. So they can do wal yadribna bi khumurihinna ala juyubyhinna, so that they can do that properly.
Now ‘ala juyub’, what is aj-jaib? The chest cavity right here. So when you go to a convention and you see all these girls wearing “hijab”, they are not wearing a khimar. It’s wrapped around their head really tight, and then they are wearing a t-shirt. Even their neck isn’t covered. That’s some kind of funky fashion statement, but that’s not Islam.
And don’t say that you are making progress. Look, there are girls who are not going to wear it. Because they are not mature enough they don’t know about the religion enough, they haven’t understood it enough etc. But if you claim something to be from Islam, that’s a problem.
If you say, look this is all I can do right now I am working on it, I understand. Your Iman will get there one day, your understanding will get there one day, you’ll develop. But don’t say that your work in progress is Islam. That’s not fair to Allah’s book.
I’m not telling you this so you guys go around conventions being the hijab police. But for you to know for your family. You don’t have enough problems in your family? I don’t have enough problems in my family? Our extended families are wild. They’ve run amok. These teachings have to go there first.
This for the best of generations. How long before they were ready for this? 19 years, 18 years. So if it’s not happening your family right away, relax man, there is other stuff to work on and this will come.
I went to teach an Arabic class a long time ago, 11 years ago in Las Vegas. Maybe 25 people took the class at a school. There were maybe eight girls and there was not a single girl at the community that wore hijab at the time. I didn’t talk about hijab, I didn’t talk about the ayat of hijab, khumur wasn’t even in the Arabic vocabulary list. I just taught Arabic and talked about the Quran, that’s it. By the end of it, seven out of those ten girls were wearing hijab. Not because of me. Because when Allah says kun, the words you say goes right through and to the heart. Mukallib al kulub. That word is enough for somebody to change their life. We don’t know when Allah will give power to our words. Something went into these girls, it went into one. She put it on, the other asked why did you do it. She said something to her, it went into her heart. They started wearing the hijab, SubhanAllah.
If you keep pushing it down people’s throats, an allergic reaction happens. A reform movement happens that says no, this orthodox interpretation of Islam is wrong and that this was all for a given time and that we have to re-interpret these values. Or those who say I am done feeling bad, let’s re-interpret the religion and say that we are not violating it, you are and that are the narrow minded ones that don’t understand it. That is the by-product of us shoving these things down people’s throats without understanding how the deen is taught. So don’t blame these progressives and these other movements for what they are saying. They are just a natural consequence if our immature behavior. It’s a by product, zinatahunna. Illa libuullatihinna, except for their husbands. Awu aba i hinna or their fathers. Aw abahi buulati hinna, or the fathers of their husbands, being their father-in-laws. Aw abna’ihinna, or their kids. Aw abnai buulati hinna, their step kids, meaning the kids of their husband from another marriage. Aw ikhwani hinna, their brothers, their siblings. Aw bani ikhwani hinna, or their nephews. Aw banee ikhwati hinna, paternal material nephews. Or their own women, this is subject to debate, what do they mean their own women? Some say this means the women of the family, some say more convincing also, women of the Muslims.
Non-Muslim women may not have the sensitivities that Muslim women have and they may go and describe those women to men. And now it’s even more appropriate because now we have cameras, digital cameras and iPhones and this and that. So they may take a picture in the privacy of your home and then put it up on their Facebook album. So it’s a good measure among their own women.
Aw ’ma malakat aimanu hinna or one of the right hands possessed by the women, meaning one of the female slaves (in history there were slaves). Also, for the followers that do not have any desire left from among the men, in other words there is no problem if you don’t have your hijab with men that are either so old that they are dependent. But the condition is ulil arba, the people of desire. Arba is a need without which there is not alternative and Allah uses that to describe the hormones of men. In other words, it’s this raging ocean of desire and if that guy doesn’t have it, he’s either too old or he’s physically incapable, mentally not stable.
Also, the child upon whom the privates of women haven’t really become manifest. In other words, he is not a attracted to the things about women that men are attracted to. He hasn’t really discovered what makes the body of a woman attractive. He’s a little kid, little kids don’t have that distinction. So with those kids you don’t have to put a hijab on. That’s why if I have to find my wife on the other side from the men’s section, I will take a boy, like a six-year-old, hey just look for a really crazy person.
Wa’layadribna bi arjulyhinna, and they should strike their feet or have a little thump to their walk so that their jewelry jiggles and makes noise. Or if they have high heels that go thump, thump, thump. So that when a couple of guys are here and they turn around when they hear the tap, tap and turns around four times in the middle of a conversation. First time was okay, second, third, forth is on record. Women shouldn’t try to get extra attention.
I wonder sometimes, how women even walk in those things, it’s an acrobatic act.
Wa’layadribna bi arjulyhinna.
So that it may be exposed, what’d supposed to be hidden from their beauty. It is probably one of the most beautiful ending to a piece of counsel of social values. In it’s ending Allah says, repent to Allah, make taubah mumins, make taubah believers, to make taubah for all this stuff that you have been violating.
Wa tubu illallahi, jameeaa ayyuhal muminun, make taubah to Allah, everybody altogether. La allahkum tuflihun, so that you make be successful.
Now the prophet has given more instruction. Tell your wives, wabbanatiqa (and your daughters). And this time also, tell your daughters. Wanisa il muslimin, an also include the women of all believers. Allah could have just said, “tell the women of the believers” and that would include everyone. But Allah says start with your family. In this surah everything has been directed at the family of the Prophet shallallahu alaihi wasallam. But now we are learning what we were supposed to have learned all along, that it’s supposed to be not just for your spouses but also for your daughters. And these rules also now apply to the mothers. All believing women and family.
Yudnina alayhinna min jalabib hinna. Let’s take this bit by bit because it’s a sensitive topic. It calls for seminars in secular circles about reinterpreting Islam under progressive thought.
Yudnin,To bring something close to something. In jannah, the branches of the massive trees come close to you so they are called dania, they lower themselves. Ad’na means two things, to bring close and to lower.
Wal muradu yudnina jalabibihina ayminal ardh litastar ayjazam, adna is to draw something over. It’s the image of somebody putting on a garment and when they put it on, it drops. Now somebody puts on a long dress, they put it on, t drapes over. So the garment Allah is talking about isn’t tight. Because if it’s tight, can would not drop on it’s own. Number two, it’s not multiple pieces, but it’s one piece that falls.
Alayhina. They should drop this garment over themselves, so that means the garment is coming from above. One part of it has to be above. Alyhina gets to the head.
Hijab in Surah Nur in the Quran
The head covering specifically, has already been mentioned in Surah Nur. So it’s already mentioned, what’s supposed to be covered. What was highlighted was that the hair shouldn’t show and that the chest should be covered in a lose way so it’s draped over. So whatever a woman is wearing, her hijab falls over her chest.
Yudnina alayhinna, it should veil over themselves, draw over themselves. Min jallabibihinna. Jilbab yakni a large cloth. Khimar is a large cloth which covers till your belly and jilabab would be heard to toe. In different cultures in the Islamic world, this manifested in different ways. Then there is the rocket ship thing right, some cultures have a whole thing in one drop and there’s a thing for the eyes. There is a lot of commentary about this ayat and what it means. You will find a huge variation even among the sahaba about what this mean, what does it mean to wear a jilbab.
If your jilbab is tight and it takes you awhile to put it down, that’s not a jilbab. So it has to be loose. The second thing is that it covers the entire body, it’s draping over the entire body.
Sahaba position on Hijab and Jilbab
Some sahabas that used to be from the people of the book Abdullah Ibn Salam for example had the opinion that one eye should show. The entire body should be covered, no hands no anything, and one eye should show, and barely. He was a rabbi before and a particular school or rabbi tradition that he belonged to believes that a woman’s pinkie showing was equal to zinna. So he had the most conservative interpretation of this ayat.
Other sahaba had different stances. Others said that we have to understand this in light of the Surah Nur which is coming later but we have to combine both of them. It’s also cool to know that this came first and the other surah came later. So in the beginning it’s cool to know that you have this garment, and it’s supposed to cover the head and fall over it. Then it can recede and how far back can it recede? The hadith of the prophet shallallahu alaihi wasallam is used, in which the prophet says to mark your way in this way. So that is the limit’s on how far back it can go etc.
Niqab – Mandatory or Not?
There is a debate on whether this includes the niqab or not. Some ulama considered it mandatory to wear the niqab. Some said mustahab. Some said it’s not even from the Sunnah etc, there’s a big debate in history. I was interested in this subject for myself personally. Before I say this, I just want to let you know that my word on this means nothing. This is a discussion you should have with someone who studies fiqh, someone who studies sharia.
I was interested because, my wife, six months before I married her, started wearing a niqab. And so I wanted to research the subject for myself and wanted to research it and she was contemplating it for some time. We were convinced that the niqab is in fact part of our religion, it’s not something that’s just cultural that is found in the salaf and even among the ummahatul mukminin. At least for our family, we consider it mustahab. It’s not something that I say is mandatory on my wife, we consider it something optional. It’s preferred is she wants to but it’s not sinful if she doesn’t do it. It’s entirely her choice. That’s a least the conclusion that we’ve reached.
Nowadays it has become this controversy and some people say that it’s fard. And I completely respect that opinion. There are female scholars too on that position. Then there are scholars that say that it’s entirely cultural and that it’s not necessarily what you conclude from the ayat. There’s room to say that, but if you take all the tradition into consideration, at least from our limited analysis, it’s part of the religion but it’s not at the crux of the religion. Meaning it’s something that is a make or break or that you didn’t meet the condition of the ayat.
The modern day rendition of the jilbab would be like a loose overcoat. It could be a long overdress. And then fiqah disagree about how high it should be and for Imam Shafi Rahmatullah it can be two pieces and it manifested in different ways. For example in India, the salwar kameez is basically an Indian thing. And the way it manifested was that there was the salwar and the kameez and it Urdu they say chadar. So traditional it was the clothing and then a layer and then a large sheet, and that was their jilbab. And that serves as a jibab because it is the outer garment. And you already have clothes on and it’s the outer layer on top you’re your actual clothing.
These are women that observe the laws of Islam and they are rooted in modesty and shame. And they don’t interact with men without and purpose and etc. So they are going to be left alone.
What is the point my young sister, if you are wearing jilbab, hijab but you are still hanging out with guys at the MSA. And you are just going out for some pizza. We are not supposed to have just casual hangouts with the opposite gender. I am not passing the verdict that it is haram but it is definitely questionable. Look at all the barriers in this surah, all the protections in place. Look at the spirit of the text. Those innocent meetings that you have, they are not. There are people sitting at that meeting, whose minds are running crazy man.
I have girls too, and one day they are going to be listening to this. Maybe five, six years from now when they are teenagers so I’m yelling at them ahead of time. I’m not even talking about you all, I’m talking about my own daughters. Don’t be dumb. Don’t think boys aren’t interested in you or you’re just talking. There’s no such thing. Be smart, be aware, be cautious. The boy’s hormones are always active; they are always thinking. They don’t know how to turn it off, especially when they are young. When does it turn off? About 30 minutes after death. Don’t think that it’s harmless. Keep your voice stern, avoid unnecessary laughter, avoid small talk as much as possible. Nobody should get the wrong idea. You may not even mean it.
I will go as far as to say that you don’t even have to respond to a guy’s salam if you don’t know him. He says “salam alykum sister, nice convention isn’t it?” You walk on. You can salam in your heart. It’s okay he’ll live. “Astaghfirullah hal ‘azim, Allah says you should respond to the salam.” “My dad can respond to your salam. “You see my brother over there, He benches 360 pounds, he can respond to your salam.”
Allah has always been extremely merciful, always forgiving.
Resistance to wear Hijab
There is a new argument amongst some families. Don’t wear hijab, don’t wear jilbab, because you’ll be a target. People are going to look at you and they are going to say things to you at Walmart. Don’t wear it because when you go to campus people will make fun of you. If the point of hijab is to blend in in America, if you wear it, then you are going to be a target. It’s the opposite, you are not blending it because the whole point is that you should blend in.
Allah says that you will be causes harm by not wearing it. It’s the passive form. Allah didn’t say falla yuqdi hinnan’nasu that people cause them them harm. Allah said so that they may not be harmed. In other words, the hurt, the harm, isn’t just restricted to what people might say, the hurt can be of a spiritual form. The problem here can be of a greater form and your arafna is also recognition. They can wear this so they may be honoured. Honoured by Allah.
Hurt will come to me and pain will come to me if I don’t observe it. I’m not trying to be insensitive to girls who are struggling, my younger sisters, my older sisters, my mothers, my sisters that aren’t wearing hijab and jilbab. It’s a struggle.
Just last night, I was at a restaurant with some friends and there were two girls whom I didn’t even know were Muslim. I overhead one saying to another “oh you should try the hijab, I’m going to try it too. I tried to before but I took it off, people were too judgemental or whatever, but you know it’s the month of Ramadan, if we are ever going to try it we should try it now. And they were discussing this over hookah. And she said to the other, hey lets go to the masjid and then just went to the masjid. “I have a jilbab in my car” You cant judge people. You don’t know what people are going through, you don’t know what their backgrounds are, what they have been exposed to.
So because the ayat says it, you don’t make a poster out of it, roll it up and slap people on the head with it when they are not wearing the hijab. That’s not what the point is. The law is the law, I cannot give you a watered down version of what Allah says to make you feel better. But at the same time I can’t judge you either. We have to be true to what the text says and we have to be courteous to people’s situations. Somebody is struggling with it.
If somebody has not felt the need for it in their heart, then these ayat are not going to change that. I went to my cousin and I recited the ayat and she still didn’t wear the hijab. Astaghfirullah, whats wrong with you.
Modesty in Islam
Allah has been talking about modesty, shame since the beginning of revelation. We are now in the fifth year of madina, 18 years of hijab came down. For 18 years, Muslim women are taught to guard their shame but there’s no conversation of hijab, there’s no conversation of jilbab. These are the mothers of the believers. These are the best of the Muslims. And then these laws came down. So there is such a thing as modesty outside of these things but then finally the law came down, Allah’s law.
Just like salat. You cannot say well when you are ready then you can start praying. However just because it’s the law, it doesn’t mean you can judge people who are at a different psychological and intellectual and knowledge stages in their life. We have to take it easy on some people. These sahabias were on a certain level.
For a woman to change the way she dresses overnight, change her entire wardrobe? That’s incredible. That’s really really incredible. When the ayat talks about the men, don’t say what about the women vice versa. It’s not about them right now, it’s about you, don’t change the subject. This surah honours women, deals with specific issues that has to do with women and Allah chose to put this into the surah in which there was the possibility of controversy.
So what are we learning? That this modesty in clothing, even if you have the most modest clothing. If you don’t have taqwa, then the modest clothing it’self is pointless. If you are going to dress ultra orthodox and still have questionable character, the clothing doesn’t mean anything.
Then our beards and thobes and kufis and hijabs and jilbabs don’t mean anything. But we cant say that all that matters is character and these ayat are only valid if you have taqwa to begin with. No, that’s like saying salat only counts when you have hundred percent khushu. Law doesn’t change, prayer is law. Your quality of prayer is a work in progress. Just like that, this clothing code that has been revealed is law. Now our modesty and character is an ongoing project. The law is in its place and the modesty and character are in their places. That’s subjective, it’s qualitative. Law isn’t subjective or qualitative, it’s black and white.