Limits of Hijab

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Hijab is one of the obligatory duties in Islam, as all Jurisprudents agree. It is the duty of women to cover their bodies from stranger men, by chador, cloak, a long shirt, coat, an overcoat, a scarf, or any other thing, which covers the whole body. There is not a particular and special type of covering.
Although no controversy in the necessity of Hijab, there are different opinions, among the jurisprudents, as regards the covering of face and hands up to the wrist. Some of them consider it incumbent or necessary. But many others do not say so. The following are some arguments that prove it is not incumbent:

FIRST PROOF
Traditions, which directly and clearly deny the covering of face and hands up to wrist:
Musāda Ibn Ziyad says that he heard from Imam Ja’far-e-Sadiq (a.s.) that he replied the question about the “open decoration” of women, and said that it denotes “face and hands”.(1)
Imam Sadiq (a.s.) was asked which part of the body of the woman can be seen by an stranger man?
Imam replied:
“Face, hands and feet”.(2)
Ali Ibn Ja’far says, “I asked my brother Moosa Ibn Ja’far (a.s.) that which part of a non-Mahram women is allowed to be seen by men?”
He replied:
“Face, hands and the place of bangles.”(3)
Ali Ibn Suaid says: “I asked Imam Moosa Ibn Ja’far (a.s.) that I am engrossed in seeing a beautiful girl, and I would like to see her, what should I do?”
He replied:
________________________________________
۱- Wasael, Vol. 14, P. 146
۲- Wasael, Vol. 14, P. 146
۳- Tafseer Nurus Thaqalayn, Vol. 3, P. 590
“There is no problem till there is no intention of betray, but be careful; do not commit fornication, which will take away bountifulness (barakah) and destroy the religion”.(1)
Mufazzal says that he told Imam Sadiq (a.s.); “May I be sacrificed for you! What is the order about a woman, who goes on a journey with stranger men, and there is no woman to accompany her, and she dies during that journey?”
He answered:
“Give her ritual bath on the parts of Tayammum, but do not rub her hands. And whatever Allah has commanded to cover; and do not uncover her.”
Mufazzal asked what should be done to her body?
He replied:
“They should wash her on the palms; Then her face, and then wash the upper portion of the hand.”(2)

SECOND PROOF
Those traditions, which clearly do not specify exception of face and hands, but indirectly say that it is not compulsory to cover them.
Muhammad Ibn Abi Nasr says that he asked Imam Reza (a.s.): “Can a man see the hair of his wife’s sister?” He replied:
“No, unless she is old and unattractive.”
Then I asked if it was the same with regard to other women? He said: “Yes.”
________________________________________
۱- Tafseer Nurus Thaqalayn
۲- Wasael, Vol. 2, P. 710
Then I asked which part of the body of an old lady is allowed to see? He said: “Hair and arms.”(1)
The narrator asks for the permission to look at the hair of the wife’s sister, but did not take permission to look at the face, as he knew to look at the face was already permitted, otherwise he would have asked about the face also. And in the same way when Imam (a.s.) answered the narrator’s question for the permission to see the old lady, he did not say about the face, because to look at the face was a known fact and there was no need to repeat it; otherwise he could add it also.
Imam Reza (a.s.) said:
“Encourage the son to pray at the age of seven. However, the female will cover her hair from him when he discharges (is sexually mature).”(2)
Abdul Rahman says: I asked Imam Moosa Ibn Ja’far (a.s.) about the girl who has not reached the age of puberty, from what time should she cover her head? And from what time she has to cover her head for Prayer with a scarf?
He replied: ” She must cover her head when she menstruates, and Prayer becomes forbidden for her in it. ” (3)
In these two traditions the compulsion to cover the hair and head for girls is from puberty, but nothing is said for covering of face. If covering the face was incumbent, it was necessary to mention it. From this we come to know that it is not compulsory for women to cover the face.
________________________________________
۱- Wasael, Vol.14, P. 144
۲- Wasael, Vol. 14, P. 169
۳- Wasael, Vol. 14, P. 169

THIRD PROOF
It is derived from the verse ” DO NOT DISPLAY THEIR ORNAMENTS EXCEPT WHAT APPEARS THEREOF ” that it is not compulsory to cover the face because in the traditions of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) the permission to use surma, finger ring etc. is based on this part of the face. Therefore, it should not be incumbent to cover the face and hands, which are decorated.
The verse ” AND LET THEM WEAR THEIR HEAD-COVERINGS OVER THEIR BOSOMS “(1) also proves that covering of the face in not compulsory, because women are advised to observe Hijab, and put on the chest, around the neck and the front part should be covered. But there is no mention as regards the covering of face. Thus we know that it is not compulsory. Also in the tradition of Masad Ibn Sadaqa, it is pointed out that face and hands are included among the EXCEPT WHAT APPEARS THEREOF …
۱- Surah Nur 24:30

FOURTH PROOF
From some of the traditions and historical incidents we come to know that the practice of women in the period of the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was not to cover the face. They used to come in the gatherings, streets, and markets with their faces open. Men used to see their faces and talk with one another, do transactions, listen to traditions from the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and narrate them to other men. There are hundreds of women among the traditionalists. The wives and daughters of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) were no exception. Many traditions are narrated from Aysha, Hafsa, Umme Salma, Fatima; hundreds of traditions are narrated from them. But the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) did not order women to cover their faces, nor did he stop men from seeing the faces of women or stop them from listening to their voices, but he refrained them if it were with pleasure. Please read the following story:
Jabir Ibn Abdullah Ansari says: “Once the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) went to see his daughter Fatima (s.a.). I was with him. When we reached the door of the house.” He knocked and said, ” Assalamo Alaikum. ” Fatimah replied from inside, ” Alaikasalaam Yaa Rasulallah .” The Prophet asked, “if we could enter the house.” Fatimah said: ” Please come in. ” The Prophet asked: ” Should I enter with my companion? ” Fatimah said: ” I don’t have scarf on my head. ” The Prophet told her to put the extra scarf on her head. Fatimah did so. After that the holy Prophet said: ” Assalamo Alaikum. ” Fatima replied to the greeting. Then he asked: ” Shall I enter with my companion? ” She said: ” Please come in. ”
Jabir says that they entered. “My eyes fell on the face of Fatima, which was yellow like turmeric.” The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) asked: ” How did your face become like this? ” She said it was because of severe hunger. The Prophet raised his hands in supplication and said: ” O Allah! Who feed the hungry people, feed Fatima, daughter of Muhammad. ”
Jabir says, “By Allah! After the supplication of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.) I saw the flowing of blood in the face of Fatima. Her face became red, and after that she never suffered starvation.”(1)
From this story we can derive that the face of Fatima (s.a.) was open in such a way that Jabir first saw its yellowness, and after the supplication saw its redness.
Saad Iskaf narrates from Imam Baqir (a.s.) that a young man saw a woman in the streets of Medina. In those days women used to put their scarf behind their ears. The young man was looking at her till he reached her and passed by her. After that the young man looked at the woman from behind. Meanwhile, his head banged against a bone or glass, which was in the wall. His face got scratched and blood came down on his chest and clothes. The young man said by the promise of Allah, “I will complain about her to the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.a.).”
The young man came to the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) who asked him how he got smeared with blood. The young man told the whole story. At that time Jibrael came down and brought the verse: ” SAY TO THE BELIEVING MEN THAT THEY CAST DOWN THEIR LOOKS AND GUARD THEIR PRIVATE PARTS; THAT IS BETTER FOR THEM; SURELY ALLAH IS AWARE OF WHAT THEY DO… “(۲)
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۱- Tafseer Nurus Thaqalayn, Vol. 3, P. 587
۲- Tafseer Nurus Thaqalayn, Vol. 3, P. 588
This story tells us that women in the period of the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and in the early period of Islam did not cover their faces; rather they used to put the scarf behind the ears, and as a result the ears, earrings, neck, and their bosom were visible. Because of this the young man faced that accident and complained to the Prophet of Islam, (s.a.w.a.). And after that the verse of Hijab was revealed. The women were ordered to cover two sides of shoulder with the head cloth, and put their ends on their chests, so that their ears, earrings, neck, and bosom are covered. But the point is that there is no command for covering the face. Thus, we come to know that it is not compulsory. But in order to prevent the scandals, and to protect the society, men and women are advised to keep their looks down and do not look at each other lustfully.

THINK AND ANSWER
۱٫ Is it compulsory to cover the face?
۲٫ What is the proof that it is not compulsory to cover the face?
۳٫ How do you conclude from the sentence: AND DO NOT DISPLAY THEIR ORNAMENTS EXCEPT WHAT APPEARS THEREOF, that it is not compulsory to cover the face and hands?
۴٫ How do you conclude from the sentence: AND LET THEM WEAR THEIR HEAD-COVERINGS OVER THEIR BOSOMS that it is not compulsory to cover the face?
۵٫ What do you conclude from Jabir’s tradition report about Hadhrat Fatima (s.a.)?
۶٫ What do you conclude from the accident of the young man?
t:43

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