In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
“When Europeans came to North America, the thing they said about the native Americans was that they were so barbaric, because they walked around naked. The European women were wearing three layers of clothes. Then they came to North America, and decided that the native Americans were backward because they all walked around naked. And now, we walk around naked, and we say that the Muslims are backward because they wear so much clothes”.
Shaikh Abdul Waahid- abu Khadeejah [may Allaah preserve him] stated:
Both men and women are expected to show modesty in the clothes they wear. Women are expected to dress in a way that shows they are believing women. The Qur’ān instructs the Prophet, “Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to wrap their outer garments (the jilbāb) around themselves. That is more suitable so that they will be known as pious women, and not be harassed.” (Al-Ahzāb 33:59)
Women are also told not to display their finery. This means that the dress is meant to protect the wearer from harassment and to prevent one from becoming obsessed with pride in one’s outward appearance. It is also a way Muslims can develop a society that respects the boundaries between men and women. In this way each person is judged for their piety, honesty, hard work and values, not mere outward beauty and fashion consciousness. Many Muslim women completely conceal themselves in a ‘jilbāb’ (outer garment covering them from their head to their feet), along with gloves, and a face veil (niqāb) that allows only the eyes to be seen. All of this is from Islam. However, not all of it is obligatory. The gloves and face veil are not obligations but recommendations, and most women choose not to wear them.
So the hijāb is the Islamic practice of preventing women from being seen by men except by their closest male relatives (referred to as mahrams). Men are not allowed to shake hands with women unless they are closely related to them, such as one’s wife, daughter, paternal aunt, maternal aunt, sister, etc.
Some Muslims wrongly believe that the hijāb is a cultural practice rather than a religious one. They are very much mistaken because Allāh has instructed the women, “and they are to draw their veils (khumur) over their heads and chests (juyūb) and not to reveal their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husband’s sons, their brothers or their brother’s sons, or their sister’s sons…” (An-Nūr 24:31)
The crucial words in this verse are: وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَىٰ جُيُوبِهِنَّ
In Arabic: wal-yadribna clearly proves that this is a command (due to the lām of command) so it means: “and they are to draw their veils…” The word Allāh uses in this verse for veil is Khimār (pl. khumur). The meaning of this word in the Arabic language is: scarf or veil. The jurist, linguist, scholar of the Arabic grammar and Quran, Shaikh Ibn Uthaimīn said, “It is a cloth with which a woman covers her head.” (Tafsīr Surah An-Nūr, p. 167). The Quranic Scholar, Al-Baghawī (died 516AH) stated, “The term juyūb (sing. jayb) in this verse refers to their chests, hair, necks and ears.” (3/289) Shaikh Ibn Uthaimīn also said, “The Quranic scholars have said it means that they are to cover their heads, necks, and chests with a scarf.” (p. 168)
Allah instructed the men, “To lower their gaze from looking at women with desire other than their wives, and to protect themselves from fornication. That is purer for them.” (An-Nūr 24:30) Men are commanded to dress modestly in loose garments that do not reveal what is between their navel and knees. All lower garments such as trousers or long shirts (i.e. thawb) must be above the ankles just as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has commanded, “What is below the ankles of a lower garment will be in the Fire.” (Reported by Al-Bukhārī, no. 793) And he said, “The lower garment of the believer should come to the mid-calf, but there is no sin on him if it comes between that point and the ankle. But whatever is lower than the ankle is in the Fire.” And he said three times, “Allah will not look at the one who lets his lower garment drag on the floor out of vanity.” (Reported by Ibn Mājah, no. 3704) https://www.abukhadeejah.com/understanding-the-muslim-dress-code-modesty-for-men-and-the-hijab-for-women-islam-4-5/
The above clarification by Shaikh Abu Khadeejah [may Allaah preserve him] is very clear and this is modesty obligated on all believers. So, we say to some of those who seek to vilify believing women, “Do you not recall your history when your forefathers arrived in America? One of your writers stated as follows, ‘When Europeans came to North America, the thing they said about the native Americans was that they were so barbaric, because they walked around naked. The European women were wearing three layers of clothes. Then they came to North America, and decided that the native Americans were backward because they all walked around naked. And now, we walk around naked, and we say that the Muslims are backward because they wear so much clothes. Can you imagine anything more barbaric? Banning women wearing head scarfs?'”
Therefore, brothers and sisters, this above statement of a non-Muslim reminds us of three affairs:
First, it reminds us of the Allaah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] statement that there will be women who will be dressed but naked. [Saheeh Muslim 2128]
Second, we should ask Allah to grant us the guidance and ability to adhere to everything we have been commanded in the divine revelation and that we do not follow any custom that opposes it. Imaam Al-Albaanee [may Allaah have mercy upon him] stated regarding his discussion with a priest: “Within the perfection of Islam is that it laid down rulings and divine legislation in order for Muslims to preserve their Islamic personality and are not to wasted away (or ruined)– in any era – through the (Un-Islamic] personality of another nation. The scholars who deal with the subject matters of Ijmaa (consensus) say that any society that wants to preserve their personality must preserve their traditions, history and language, and this is an indisputable affair to them in the knowledge (or subject matter) related to consensus. So, I told him that one of the virtues of Islam and the perfection of its legislation is that it has legislated for the Muslims to preserve their Muslim personality and not to imitate those who are in opposition [to their identity (i.e. identity judged to be un-Islamic by the divine revelation)]; rather they should aim to be in opposition to the path of those who are in opposition to their identity. (1)
Imaam Abdul Azeez Bin Baaz [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “It is obligated on every Muslim that he does not depend on custom; rather he presents it to the pure Islamic legislation (to be judged), so whatever the Islamic legislation affirms is permissible and whatever it does not affirm is impermissible. The customs of the people are not proof to determine the lawfulness of anything. All the customs of the people in their countries or tribes must be presented to the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of His Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] for judgement, so whatever Allaah and His Messenger made permissible is permissible, and whatever they forbid, then it is obligatory to abandon it even if it is the custom of the people”. (2)
Imaam Muhammad Bin Saaleh Al-Uthaymeen [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “The customs cannot make something that is not legislated (in the divine revelation) as something legislated, because of Allaah’s statement: [وَلَيۡسَ ٱلۡبِرُّ بِأَن تَأۡتُواْ ٱلۡبُيُوتَ مِن ظُهُورِهَا – It is not Al-Birr (piety, righteousness, etc.) that you enter the houses from the back] [Surah Al-Baqarah. Aayah 189], despite the fact that it was something they took as their custom and considered it to be an act of righteousness. Whoever takes something as a custom and believes that it is an act of righteousness, then it should be presented to Allaah’s divine legislation [i.e. to be judged]”. (3)
Imaam Muhammad Bin Saaleh Al-Uthaymeen [may Allaah have mercy upon him] also said, “Extremism in related to customs is stringent adherence to old customs and not diverting to what is better than them. As for if the customs are equal in benefit [i.e. the ones judged to be permissible by the divine legislation], then a person remaining upon what he is upon would be better than going along with the new (or emerging) customs”. (4)
Finally, it is absolutely clear that those who seek to vilify female believers for wearing layers of clothes desire nothing else but corruption – a corruption they seek to portray as progress, freedom and liberty. Imaam Abdul Azeez Bin Baaz [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: They seek to conquer the intellects of the Muslim children and nurture their hearts upon their views, either by making them feel that their ways are superior in every affair-be it in affairs of creed and religion, or that which they speak with by way of languages, or what they consider to be civilized manners, customs etc.. They seek to nurture a great number of Muslims in the Muslim lands until they are intoxicated with their views and return them to their lands. Then they start praising and promoting them until they become the figureheads in their countries. So they spread their ideas through these people…etc They encourage the Muslims in the Muslim lands to learn their languages at the expense of the Arabic language, which is the language of the Qur’aan- the language by way of which the Muslims perform their acts of worship. They also establish many studies that are intended to cause nuisance and glorify what they call popular literature and national heritage…..etc They prepare a large number of people amongst their people to study Islam and the Arabic language and write books, and take up teaching positions in universities- orientalists….etc They also spread propaganda that Muslim women in the Muslim lands are oppressed in order to take them out of their homes and place them where they want. But Allaah (The Most High) said:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ قُلْ لِأَزْوَاجِكَ وَبَنَاتِكَ وَنِسَاءِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ يُدْنِينَ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِنْ جَلابِيبِهِنَّ ذَلِكَ أَدْنَى أَنْ يُعْرَفْنَ فَلا يُؤْذَيْنَ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا
O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies. That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” They set up radio programmes designed to mislead gullible young Muslims who do not understand Islam and do not have sufficient knowledge, especially in Africa…. However if the Muslims exercise patience these plots will not harm them. Allaah (The Most High) said: [وَإِنْ تَصْبِرُوا وَتَتَّقُوا لا يَضُرُّكُمْ كَيْدُهُمْ شَيْئًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِمَا يَعْمَلُونَ مُحِيطٌ – But if you remain patient and become Al-Muttaqun (the pious – see V.2:2), not the least harm will their cunning do to you. Surely, Allah surrounds all that they do]. (5)
And Allaah knows best
[Ref 1: Asbaab Al-Ijaabah Cassette 2]
[Ref 2: Majmoo Al-Fataawaa 6/510]
[Ref: 3: Tafseer Surah Al-Baqarah 2/299]
[Ref 4: Majmoo Al-Fataawaa 7/7]
[Ref 5: مجلة البحوث الإسلامية العدد 8 ص 286 293 أجراها مع سماحته قسم التحرير – مجموع فتاوى ومقالات متنوعة الجزء الثالث. ]