Hijāb is for Men and Women

Praise be to Allāh, the Lord of the World; and blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all his Family and Companions.

Mu’ mīneen Brothers and Sisters, السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

(May Allah’s Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon all of you)

Hijāb for Men

 

It is not uncommon for non-Muslims and even many Muslims to associate the Islāmic commandments on Hijāb with females, even though Islām has ordained Hijāb for both men and women. In fact, many of us would be surprised to note that Allāh states in the Holy Qur’ān:

“Tell the believing men to cast down their looks and guard their private parts; that is purer for them; surely Allāh is Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments except what appears thereof….” (24:30-31)

Indeed, before addressing women and telling them to conceal their bodies, Allāh first addresses the believing men and tells us to lower our gaze!

When discussing the issue of Hijāb for men, it is essential to keep in mind the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

A man once came to the Holy Prophet () and told him he wished to commit fornication. As the companions got up to strike him, the Prophet (ﷺ) restrained them and then said to the man, “How would you feel if someone wished to do the same thing with your mother or sister or wife or daughter?” The man replied that naturally he would want to kill the person. The Prophet (ﷺ) then said, “If you do not wish for someone to do such an act with your mother or sister or wife or daughter, then why entertain such a thought about someone else’s mother or sister or wife or daughter?!”

Islāmic teachings on Hijāb for males can be divided into three categories:

The Physical Hijāb

Let’s face it – if it wasn’t for those skin-tight t-shirts, many brothers would not spend hours working the dumbbells every day. Yet although it may not be obligatory on men to completely conceal our bodies like it is for women, the issue of modesty and humility cannot be neglected. Pride and boastfulness are among the greatest sins in Islām, and attempting to impress others (both males and females) using our physique and attracting attention to ourselves in such a manner certainly falls into this category.

Again, the Golden Rule comes into play here: next time you go out in public wearing clothes that reveal your chest and biceps so that girls can check you out, imagine how you would feel if your own sister or wife was checking out other men who were dressed in a similar manner. The answer should be obvious.

Social Hijāb

In addition to the physical Hijāb, Islām has clear teachings about social Hijāb. An alarming number of otherwise religious and pious boys these days think it is perfectly acceptable to have female “friends” and to openly socialize and hang out with them, “as long as we don’t do anything Harām” and “as long as she is wearing a scarf”!

The Holy Prophet (ﷺ) is reported to have said, “One who believes in Allāh and Yawm al-Qiyāma does not remain in a place where even the sound of breathing of a non-Mahram women is perceived.” It is one thing that Islām permits us to meet with non-Mahrams for school/work-related or otherwise unavoidable reasons – and even then, complete modesty should be observed – but these days it is a common sight to see boys and girls mingling so freely and casually in the pretense of youth groups, student organizations, camps, retreats, conferences, and “meet-and-greet” programs.

However confident we may be in our ability to avoid Harām, let us not forget that Shaytān even tried to misguide Prophet Ibrahim and Prophet Ismail (peace be upon them). So what special spiritual powers do we possess that make us think we can completely avoid his evil whispers?

Indeed, Shaytān works slowly and patiently. It all starts innocently enough: a social gathering where boys and girls are sitting and “respectfully” talking to each other. That is, until someone cracks a joke, and then someone else makes a somewhat crass remark, and very soon this “Islāmic” discussion devolves into an unspoken flirt-fest.

Honestly, who are we kidding here? The people who claim to be so overly confident about their ability to avoid Harām are the same ones who often complain about how “difficult” and “challenging” it is for them to practice Hijāb and avoid music and keep beards. How funny that we easily blame shortcomings of faith when it comes to observing the other obligations of Islām, yet when it comes to mixed gatherings, our Imān is so incredibly strong that we can be 100 percent sure we will not get involved in anything prohibited whatsoever! The sad reality is that the same brothers who are so incredibly steadfast when it comes to the other obligations of Islām are the very ones who falter in this category, precisely because they are so overly-confident about their ability to avoid Harām.

Hijāb of the Eye

In today’s hypersexualized Western society, many of us would rather just ignore the concept of lowering the gaze and avoiding inappropriate glances at females all together. And there is no harm in “just looking”, right?

Yet one minor glance can have a spiritually disastrous effect on the human being. Prophet Isa (peace be upon him) once said to his disciples: “Beware of looking at forbidden things, for that is the seed of desire and leads to deviant behavior.” (Lantern of the Path)

Many of us might believe in “lowering the gaze”, but this is an aspect of our Hijāb that most of us still need to perfect. In addition to not looking at non-Mahrams, prudence dictates that we should avoid looking at pictures, billboards, magazines, as well as television programs and movies with images of non-Mahram women.

Even a few inappropriate glances at non-Mahrams can over time cause one to abandon his modesty and openly start “checking out” girls. From a psychological point of view, the things we perceive with our eyes during the course of the day are stored in our memory. These images then subconsciously “accumulate” and slowly lead a person to physically manifest them. Hence the alarming rate of Muslim youth today who have become addicted to pornography and cannot help but satisfy their desires through unlawful means. The despicable act of masturbation, so widespread among Muslim youth today, can only be avoided by stopping such images and thoughts from accumulating in our minds in the first place – and that can only be achieved by lowering the gaze at any and all times.

In addition to preventing us from committing vulgar and sinful behavior, the spiritual benefits one attains from observing proper Hijāb of the eye are innumerable.

For those who still find this obligation a bit cumbersome, let’s get down to the core of the matter and recall the Golden Rule: how would you feel if someone entertained lewd thoughts or glanced inappropriately at your own mother, sister, wife, or daughter? Exactly.

Prophet Yousuf (AS) – The Perfect Example!

On a final note, it is said that when Zulaikha, the wife of the Aziz of Egpyt, tried to seduce Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him), she covered the face of the idol placed nearby. When Prophet Yusuf inquired, she said she did not wish for it to witness her commit a sin. Prophet’s Yusuf’s reply to Zulaikha encompasses the true essence of the Hijāb for men and can serve as the perfect benchmark for us to judge the appropriateness of our actions at all times. He said: “If you exhibit shyness and modesty before a stone that does not see, it is more befitting for me to exhibit shame and modesty before the One Who sees and Who is aware of everything that is manifest about me and everything that is concealed within me.” (Anecdotes for Reflection, vol. 2)

Hijāb for Women

#1. The dress worn in public must cover the entire body except what has been specifically excluded, based upon the following proofs:

Allāh states in the Holy Qur’ān:

“And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their private parts from sin and not show of their adornment except only that which is apparent, and draw their headcovers over their necks and bosoms and not reveal their adornment except to And that they should not I strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And 0 you Believers! Turn you all together towards Allāh in repentance that you may be successful.” (24:31)

Surah An-Nur spells out specifically the commands concerning the fact that a woman’s natural beauty and her adornments are to be concealed from strangers except by what may show due to accidental or uncontrollable factors such as the blowing of the wind, etc., and what has been exempted.

Allāh says:

“0 Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their outer garments above themselves ( when they go out). That is better so that they may be recognized and not molested. And Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”(33:59)

Abu Dawood narrates that Ai’sha (Radi Allāhu Ta’āla Anha) said: “Asma’a the daughter of Abu Bakr (Radi Allāhu Ta’āla Anhu) came to see the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ) wearing a thin dress; so Allāh’s Messenger (ﷺ) turned away from her and said: “0 Asma’a, once a woman reaches the age of puberty, no part of her body should be seen but this -and he pointed to his face and hands.”

#2. The garment should be thick and opaque so as not to display skin color and form of the body beneath it. Delicate or transparent clothing does not constitute a proper covering. The Sahaba were very stern on this and regarded scanty clothing in public as an indicator of a woman’s lack of belief. AI-Qurtubi reports a narration from Ai’sha (Radi Allāhu Ta’āla Anha) that some women from Banu Tamim came to see her wearing transparent clothing, Ai’sha (Radi Allāhu Ta’āla Anha) said to them: “If you are believing women, these are not the clothes of believing women.” He also reports that a bride came to see wearing a sheer, transparent khimaar, whereupon Ai’sha (Radi Allāhu Ta’āla Anha) said: “A woman who wears such clothing does not believe in Surah An-Nur.”

Moreover, the following hādith makes this point graphically Allāh’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: “There will be in the last of my Ummah (nation of believers), scantily dressed women, the hair on the top of their heads like a camels hump. Curse them, for verily they are cursed.” In another version he (ﷺ) said: ” … scantily dressed women, who go astray and others go astray; will not enter Paradise nor smell its fragrance, although it can be smelled from afar.” (At-Tabarani and Sahih Muslim)

Scantily dressed women : are those who wear clothing which reveals more than it conceals, thereby, increasing her attractiveness while opening the path to a host of evils.

#3. The clothing must hang loosely enough and not be tight-fitting show the shape and size of the woman’s body, The reason for wearing a garment which is wide and loose fitting is that the on of Muslim women’s clothing is to eliminate lure and beauty of her body from the eye of the beholder. Skin-tight body etc. may conceal the skin color, yet they display the size and of the limbs and body.

#4. Color-Appearance-Demeanor:

Allāh says in the holy Qur’ān:

“0 wives of the Prophet! You are not like any other women; if you fear ( Allah) , then do not be too pleasant of speech, lest one in whose heart is a disease should feel desire (for you) .” (33:32)

The reason for the revelation of this verse is not the fear of distrust nor misbehavior on the part of the women, but rather to prevent them from speaking invitingly, walking seductively or dressing revealingly so as to arouse sexual desires in the heart of lecherous and evil men.

One thing, which exists within a woman is the desire to show herself off, it is a part of her nature. While, in a man is an inclination towards looking, not just looking but flirting and receiving pleasure from it. Both of these things exist. Will Durant says that there is nothing in the world more firm and more persevering than a man’s desire to look at a woman.

Science says, that men and women are sexually stimulated in different ways. A woman, being a naturally sensitive and tender-hearted creature, requires touching and tactile movements in order to stimulate her. A man, on the other hand, is a much coarser creature, tough and virile with a strong imagination. He can be stimulated by a mere look. A woman covers herself to keep from showing off her body and the man cannot see anything which will stimulate him sexually. How clever Islām is to adopt Hijāb in society! So it completely conforms with the innate natures of woman!

Seductive dressing and enticing speech are the characteristics of ill-intentioned women, not a Muslimah.

#5. The clothing of a Muslim woman must not resemble the clothing of men. The following hādith helps to explain this. Abu Hurayrah (Radi Allāhu Ta’āla Anhu) said: “Allāh’s Messenger (ﷺ) cursed the man who wears women’s clothes and the woman who wears men’s clothes.” (Abu Dawood and Ibn Majah-Saheeh)

#6. A Muslimah’s clothing must not resemble the clothing of the disbelievers. Indeed, dissimilarity with unbelievers is a precedent that was established by the first generation of Islām. The following hādith will help to clarify this position:

Abdullah ibn Umar (Radi Allāhu Ta’āla Anhu) said: Allāh’s Messenger (ﷺ) stated: “Whoever resembles a people is one of them.” (Abu Dawood)

#7. The woman’s dress must not be an expression of ostentation, vanity or as a status symbol by being excessively showy or expensive, nor must it be excessively tattered so as to gain admiration and fame for being humble. Ibn Umar (Radi Allāhu Ta’āla Anhu) reported that Allāh’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: “Whoever dresses for ostentation in this world, Allāh will dress that person in a dress of humiliation on the Day of Resurrection, and then set it on fire”. (Abu Dawood)

It has been authentically related in Sahih AI-Bukhari, the Muwatta of Imam Malik and the Sunan of Abu Dawood that the Prophet (ﷺ) forbade women from covering their faces and hands during their performance of Salāh, or while in a state of Ihrām. This indicates clearly that wearing the face veil was a common practice during the time of the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ), and not as some people claim, a cultural practice that appeared years later.

I pray that Allāh guide us along the Straight Path, and protect from deviation after having guidance. And may Allāh bless the leader of His Messengers, Muhammad (ﷺ), his family and his companions, and all who follow in their footsteps until the Final Hour, Āmīn.

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