The meaning of Hijab is to cover. Hijab means a dress that covers the body of a woman. Islam has ordered women to cover their bodies completely and protect from the eyes of strangers.
The necessity of Hijab is proved from the verses of Qur’an and traditions. We mention three verses in this regard. Allah says in Qur’an,
Tell believers to avert their glances and to guard their private parts; that is chaster for them. God is informed about anything they may produce.
Tell believing women to avert their glances and guard their private parts, and not to display their charms except what [normally] appears of them. They should fold their shawls over their cosmos and show their sharms only to their husbands, or their father or their father – in- law, or their own sons or stepsons, or their own brothers or nephews on either their brothers’ or their sisters’ side; or their own womenfolk, or anyone their right hands control, or nale attendants who have no sexual desire, or children who have no yet shown any interest in women’s nakedness. Let them not stomp their feet in order to let any ornaments they may have hidden be noticed.(1)
The above verse was revealed about Hijab of women, which requires explanation:
It begins with the command that the believing men and women should cast down their looks, and the men should not attract women, nor do the women attract men. They should not look at each other with evil intention.
Sometimes a person sees another person, but it is not with an evil purpose; sometimes he sees to acquire pleasure; that is called a lustful glance. This second type of glance and pleasure seeking takes a person towards sin, and they are prohibited to do this. But those looks, which are not with the intention of seeking sexual pleasure, are not forbidden, as it may be necessary in the society and for social life.
Moreover, men and women are advised that they should protect their private parts. The purpose is to cover them or try to protect chastity. It mean wearing and observing Hijab.
After that women are told: ” AND DO NOT DISPLAY THEIR ORNAMENTS… ”
۱- Qur’an (24:30-31)
Ornaments (Zeenat) means decoration and make-up. There are two types of decorations: Jewels which are separate from the body like: earrings, necklace, ring, and flower on the (fore) head, bangles, and fashion dresses. The second types are those decorations that are applied to the body like: Surma (antimony), nail polish, Henna, hair dye etc., the verse includes both types of decorations, and make-up. Women are advised to not show their make-up and decorations to stranger men, and through this refrain from attracting their attention and stimulating their sexual desires.
After this it says: EXCEPT WHAT APPEARS THEREOF… thus giving permission to women that those decorations that are naturally open, there is no need to cover them like surma, coloring of eye-brows, henna on the hands, ring, color of chador, overcoat and shoes. As women live in the society and have responsibilities, naturally the stranger men (namahram) will see face, hands and those decorations, which are apparent, and covering them is difficult and problematic for them. That is why they are excepted; they can remain busy with their responsibilities without covering them.
In some of the traditions, the apparent decoration is elaborated, which explain the verse.
Zorarah narrates from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) the explanation of the verse, that the apparent decoration means Surma and ring.(1)
۱- Wasael, Vol. 14, P.146
Abu Basir says that he asked Imam Sadiq (a.s.) the exegesis, and he said the apparent meaning is ring and bangles.(1)
After commanding Hijab the verse says: AND LET THEM WEAR THEIR HEAD-COVERINGS OVER THEIR BOSOMS. Khamar (head covering) means a big scarf. Juyoob (covering of bosom) means a long cover and shirt with collar.
It is said that women in the period of the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), used to wear a cloth which was open from the front and some parts of the chests used to be exposed, they wore scarves but had a custom that its two ends were put on their ears, and it fell on their backs. As a result their ears, earrings, neck and some parts of their chests were seen. It was for this reason that the verse orders women, that they should put the scarves on their coats so that ears, earrings, necks and chests remain covered.
Tabarsi writes about the meaning of the verse that Khamar is a long scarf that may cover the neck and chest. The verse commands to put the scarf on the chest so that the neck is covered.(2)
With reference to this verse he says: “It advises women to protect their chastity, and stops them from spoiling the society; while walking, they should not behave so that they excite the sexual desires of stranger men, and cause problems.
۱- Wasael, Vol. 14, P. 146
۲- Majmaul Bayan, Vol. 7, P. 138
From the above verse, we derive certain important ethical and religious points:
۱) Men and women should not have lustful looks at each other, and one should not have the intention of pleasure in their social intercourse.
۲) Women should not expose their ornaments, to the stranger men.
۳) It is a duty of women to put their scarves in such a way, that they completely cover their ears, earrings, around the necks and chests.
۴) Women are advised that they should try more for chastity. They should not behave in public, in such a way as it may create scandal in the society.
۵) It is not obligatory on women, to cover their beauty, which is naturally apparent.
Another Verse on Hijab
The Qur’an says,
O prophet, tell your wives and daughters, and believers’ wives as well, to draw their cloaks close around themselves, that is more appropriate so they may be recognized and not molested. God is Forgiving, Merciful .(1)
Cloak ( Jalbab) means a big dress or a dress, which is worn over the clothes and covers the whole body. It also means a big scarf.
۱- Qur’an (33:59)
On this basis, the exegesis of this verse is: Say to women that they arrange for a dress and scarf, in such a way that the whole body, chest and neck are covered and protect themselves from the eyes of stranger men. If they do so they will be considered chaste and will not be noticed by stranger men and will not disturb the society.
It can be derived from the verse that a Muslim woman should cover herself simply when she goes out, and in this way she can help in preventing evil in the society. This would be beneficial for the women themselves, and also for the young men, and all the people in general.
The holy Qur’an says,
O wives of the Prophet, You are not like any other women, if you do your duty, then do not act too deferential while talking [to others] lest someone whose heart contains malice may thereby be encouraged. Employ suitable speech.
Remain in your homes and do not dress up fancily the way they used to dress during [the time of] primitive ignorance. Keep up prayer and pay the welfare tax, and obey God and His messenger. God merely wants to remove any blight from you [since you are] People of the [prophet’s] House, and to cleanse you thoroughly.(1)
In the above verse, they are noticed about three things:
۱- Qur’an (33:32-33)
(۱) While speaking, they should not be soft-spoken, because speaking sweetly may arouse the vicious men, and stimulate them sexually.
(۲) She should be a housewife, and remain in the house.
(۳) They should not uncover themselves, like the women of the period of ignorance (before Islam) and with the intention of showing themselves (display their make-up and beauty) to the stranger men.
At the end, I would like to remind that ” AND STAY IN YOUR HOUSES ” does not imply that wives of the Prophet and all other women should only sit in the house, and never come out. Because, as said earlier, women are also a part of the society. They have some responsibilities, and sometimes it is necessary to come out of the house. Women used to come out of their houses in the time of the holy Prophet, and used to come to the mosque, and listen to the speeches of the Prophet, and ask religious questions. There are many women who narrated traditions. Women took part in battles and treated the injured warriors. The wives of the holy Prophet also took part in wars, but were not allowed to fight.
The holy Prophet and his companions never made women captives in the houses, and the verse does not imply this. Its purpose is that women should be attracted to their family, and consider it their original place. They also should pay attention to home, children, and husband, and consider themselves responsible.
MAHAREM (VERY NEAR RELATIVES)
There are two groups of men related to women: Whatever is said about Hijab of women, it is for those men who are strangers. And it is not incumbent to observe Hijab with those who are Mahram (very near relatives). Those men who are near, are as follow:
۱٫ Father, grandfather, and as far as the lineage goes up.
۲٫ Maternal grandfather and as far as the lineage goes up.
۳٫ Brothers and their sons, and as far as the lineage goes down.
۴٫ Sons of sister, and their sons, as far as the lineage goes down.
۵٫ Uncle, and uncle of the uncle and as far as the line goes up.
۶٫ Husband, Father of husband, and as far as the lineage goes up.
۷٫ Father and mother of husband, and their fathers as far as the lineage goes up.
۸٫ Son of the husband, and his children, as far as the lineage goes down.
۹٫ Son, and his children, grandsons, as far as the linage goes down.
۱۰٫ Daughter, and her children, grandsons, as far as it goes down.
۱٫ Son-in-Law, and son-in-law’s son-in-law as far as the linage goes down.
The above-mentioned people are Mahram. They can see the hair and body of each other, and it is not compulsory to do Hijab from them. However, with the condition that, they should not see with lust; otherwise one cannot see the Mahram. If it is for lust, even women cannot see other women, and men can not see another man.
THINK AND ANSWER
۱٫ What is the meaning of: SAY TO THE BELIEVING MEN THAT THEY CAST DOWN THEIR GLANCES?
۲٫ What decorations should not be shown by women to stranger men?
۳٫ What decorations are not necessary to be covered?
۴٫ Give the comment of: AND WEAR THEIR HEAD COVERING OVER THEIR BOSOM.
۵٫ Why the women shouldn’t behave in the society, in an exciting manner?
۶٫ How long should be the head cloth (scarf)?
۷٫ How many points can be derived from the verses of Surah Nur?
۸٫ What is the meaning of Jalbab (bosom covering) and how should one wear it?
۹٫ What is the meaning of: THEY LET DOWN UPON THEM THEIR OVER-GARMENTS?
۱۰٫ What is the meaning of: THIS WILL BE MORE PROPER, THAT THEY MAY BE KNOWN?
۱۱٫ How should a muslim woman go out of her house?
۱۲٫ What message do we get from the verses of Surah Ahzab?
۱۳٫ Give the list of people who are Maharem (very near relatives)?