Our sisters in Islam are probably more enthusiastic in practicing and learning Islam than brothers. Women usually outnumber men in Islamic lectures and classes. They are active and may Allah reward them for their endurance. But sometimes they are not properly encouraged or guided when they begin to observe the Hijab. Perhaps she has reached the age of puberty and her Wali (guardian) has instructed her only without educating her about it. Perhaps she has recently reverted to Islam and her close sisters have told her of its obligation. A sister who does not truly know the excellence and virtue of Hijab will always remain envious of non-Muslim women. Why? Because they see them looking ‘beautiful’ for all to see. Hence, the Muslim woman then compares herself with them and feels ‘ashamed’ of her own Hijab.
This is, therefore, a reminder to our sisters about the superiority of Hijab. It is a reminder that Hijab will always reign supreme and that a true Muslim man will forever be dazzled by the beauty of the Muhijabah (woman who wears the Hijab).
1. Act of obedience
The Hijab is an act of obedience to Allah and to his Prophet (peace be upon him), Allah says in the Qur’an: “It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His messenger have decreed a matter that they should have an option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, has indeed strayed in a plain error.” (Qur’an, 33:36)
After commanding men to lower their gaze, Allah said: “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things) and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts, etc) and not to show off their adornment except what must (ordinarily) appear thereof, that they should draw their veils over their Juyubihinna.” (Qur’an, 24:31)
Juyubihinna: Scholars have differed whether the veil cover of the body must include the hands and face or not. While some say it’s obligatory to cover the face and hands, others say it is recommended to do so.
Allah made the adherence to the Hijab a manifestation for chastity and modesty. Allah says: “O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) over their bodies (when outdoors). That is most convenient that they should be known and not molested.” (Qur’an, 33:59). In this verse there is an evidence that public display of a woman’s beauty is harmful to her. When the cause of attraction ends, the restriction is removed. This is illustrated in the case of elderly women who may have lost every aspect of attraction. Allah made it permissible for them to lay aside their outer garments reminding, however, that is still better for them to keep their modesty.
3. Purity and honor
Allah revealed us the Hikma (wisdom) behind the legislation of the Hijab: “And when you ask them (the Prophet’s wives) for anything you want, ask them from behind a screen, that is purer for your hearts and their hearts.” (Qur’an, 33:53)
The Hijab seeks greater purity for the hearts of believing men and women, because it screens the desires. Hijab blocks the sight, prevents Fitna and minimizes the chances of any ill thoughts and greed of sickened hearts.
“…Be not soft in speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease (of hypocrisy or evil desire for adultery, etc) should be moved with desire, but speak in an honorable manner.” (Qur’an, 33:32)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Allah, Most High, is Ha’yeii (Bashful), Sit’teer (Shielder). He loves Haya’ (Bashfulness) and Sitr (Shielding; Covering).” The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said: “Any woman who takes off her clothes in other than her husband’s house (to show off for unlawful purposes), has broken Allah’s shield upon her.”
Moreover, the Hijab fits the natural bashfulness as part of the nature of women.
Allah says in the Qur’an: “O children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover yourselves (screen your private parts, etc) and as an adornment. But the raiment of righteousness, that is better.” (Qur’an, 7:26) The widespread forms of dresses in the world today are hardly a cover and shield for the woman’s body. For Muslims dress is also an act of Taqwa (righteousness).
6. Gheerah (Sense of honor)Wome
Hijab also protects a man’s Gheerah. A normal man will not like others to gaze at his wife or daughter, because he is protective about them and has that feeling of protective jealousy. Gheerah is the emotion that drives a man to safeguard his womenfolk from strangers. A Muslim man has Gheerah for all Muslim women. But free intermingling of sexes and absence of Hijab destroys the Gheerah in men. Islam considers Gheerah an integral part of faith. The dignity of the wife or daughter or any other Muslim woman must be highly respected and defended.
[ALLAH’S Quran – 48:24] “It was He who held back the hands of your enemy as well as your hands from a hostile course of action against each other (at Hodaibyiah) in the precincts of Macca, after He had helped you win the victory over them. Allah has always had sight of what you do.”
[48:24 – Commentary ] “Shortly before the Truce of Hudaybiyyah was concluded, a detachment of Quraysh warriors – variously estimated at between thirty and eighty men – attacked the Prophet’s camp, but his practically unarmed followers overcame them and took them prisoner; after the signing of the treaty the Prophet released them unharmed (Muslim, Nasa’i, Tabari).”
“During the course of events at Hudaybiya any incident might have plunged the Quraysh and the Muslims into a fight. On the one hand, the Muslims, though unarmed, had sworn to stand together, and if the Holy Prophet wanted he could have forced entrance to the Kabah, and on the other hand the Quraysh were determined to keep out the Muslims by resorting to armed confrontation, if necessary. Allah restrained both sides from anything that would have resulted in bloodshed. Refer to the commentary of verse one to know that the treaty of Hudaybiya was a victory for the Holy Prophet.”
DEVELOPMENT carries the notion of enhancement of one’s capabilities and potentials. It implies a forward movement from a given position to a position of greater achievement, opportunity and benefit.
In order to develop, individually or collectively, it is necessary to define the goals one wishes to achieve, factors that influence development, and the process of achieving the desired goals for development. Each human being is born with some basic faculties. How these faculties are molded depends on inherent capacities, nurturing environment and other external influences.
Islam places a great deal of emphasis on ‘self-development’ where an individual takes the responsibility for understanding the purpose of human life, and for shaping that life in the best possible manner, for one’s own benefit and the benefit of the society at large; Islam also provides comprehensive guidance to achieve this goal.
Human development consists of processes of growth and change that takes place from birth to the end of life. The development process is externally influenced from sensory inputs through the organs, and it is internally self-propelled from things which happen within the human body and mind.
Our focus here is the development of the human mind, which takes place through sensory inputs and internal mental processes. This development includes learning through the senses and cognition that occurs when learning is abstracted into knowledge for subsequent use.
Islam identifies two sources which play the roles of nurturing or corrupting human development. Inspiration from divine guidance nurtures human development. Not paying attention to divine guidance and succumbing to conspiracies, arising from within or external environment, corrupts human development.
Human development may be looked at from different perspectives, both as a basic human interest and as formalized disciplines of studies such as psychology, science, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, and so on.
Purification from corruption
We regularly wash our hands before touching food because our hands come in contact with so many objects that may collect harmful germs from others touching the same objects. We wash our clothes when they collect sweat and dirt from our own body and our surroundings. We bathe and shower to keep our body clean. All these cleanliness chores are intended to keep us in good physical health. What about some chores to keep our minds clean and in good health? So many things that we come in contact with can corrupt our minds.
We may see a person drawing satisfaction from hitting and humiliating another. It leaves an impression on our mind and may later make us do the same impulsively.
We see people achieve success through lying and cheating, and our mind may perceive it as an acceptable behavior particularly if these cheaters and liars are being bandied around as role models.
A child may go through abuse from parents considered respectable in society and on growing up may engage in the same dysfunctional behavior.
Both eyesight and hearing are indispensable for human learning and development. They can propel us to unimagined heights of human excellence. However, we must learn to use them properly. Otherwise what we see and hear can also corrupt our mind and degenerate us into the lowest abyss of human existence.
How do we purify ourselves from the corrupting influences around us? We need to reflect on what we see and hear and to separate them into experiences that are desirable form of behavior and those that are undesirable in the light of some guiding principles. We may call it the exercise of the mind, and similar to other forms of exercise, the exercise of the mind requires regime and regularity.
The process of purification of the mind, variously called purification of the heart and soul, is known in Islam as tazkiyyah.
A prerequisite of engaging in tazkiyyah is to know that the human mind is prone to becoming corrupted. The corruption may be attributed to acquired elements within oneself, or to external influences, or both. However, the responsibility for any undesirable behavior rests with the person who commits it and not the person or the environment that caused it. We all bear direct responsibility for our actions.
Despite the best efforts that one may make at purification of the mind, aberrations are still possible. We may make mistakes or commit sins. What happens then? A properly trained human mind possesses what is called a self-reproaching soul (nafs-e-lawwama). It will react by an admission that something has gone wrong; it will accept the failing with humility, and it will engage the mind to reform itself accordingly.
On the other hand, someone who has a headstrong soul (nafs-e-ammara) such admissions may be seen as undignified, thus becoming prone to more and bigger aberrations in future. A wrongful act if recognized with a thoughtful commitment to avoid repetition is an act of self-purification and proper human development.
On the contrary, a reckless disregard of such actions leads to further corruption of the soul and self-degeneration.
Understanding the principles is generally within the reach of most people. Putting those principles into practice requires courage, rigor and regularity.
Consider the following excerpt from a Tradition (Hadith) of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) about one of the things that happened to him during his appearance before God. Prophet said : “… Allah enjoined fifty prayers on my followers. When I returned with this order of Allah, I passed by Moses who asked me, ‘What has Allah enjoined on your followers?’ I replied, ‘He has enjoined fifty prayers on them.’ Moses said, ‘Go back to your Lord (and appeal for reduction) for your followers will not be able to bear it.’ (So I went back to Allah and requested for reduction) and He reduced it to half. When I passed by Moses again and informed him about it, he said, ‘Go back to your Lord as your followers will not be able to bear it.’ So I returned to Allah and requested for further reduction and half of it was reduced. I again passed by Moses and he said to me: ‘Return to your Lord, for your followers will not be able to bear it. So I returned to Allah and He said, ‘These are five prayers and they are all (equal to) fifty (in reward) for My Word does not change’.”
The prayer we offer to God is an act of His remembrance and the guidance that he has revealed for shaping our lives. We engage in this formal exercise five times a day. What about the rest of the time? This requires us to reflect on the moral of the above saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Perhaps an ideal number to stand formally before God would have been seventy times a day as the Prophet (peace be upon him) was informed first.
One may ask as whether there are some special words that one can utter for engaging in remembrance of God and reflecting on our thoughts and actions. The Prophets asked the same question. While there are no bounds on what one can say and utter, what we are reminded to say by God is very simple, easy to remember and utter, and direct in meaning. Here are some examples: … There is no God but Allah.
This simple expression provides the pinnacle for human development. Reminding ourselves that there is no god but Allah provides the best possible framework for human development since what God (Allah) tells us to do is for our own good, and there is no need for us to succumb to any power contrary to what God tells us. Ultimately God has power over all things and God arranges our affairs rightly if we reach out to Him.
Examples of expanded expressions for remembrance of God for self-development are: ‘Glory to Allah, and praise to Allah, there is no god except Allah, and Allah is the Greatest’. Also there is ‘there is no god but Allah, He is One and has no partner. His is the dominion, and His is all praise, and he is Powerful over everything’.
There are infinite words and ways of expressing ourselves in remembering Allah, and seeking closeness to Him for personal development. However, simple words can reach boundless depths in meaning when expressed with devotion and sincerity. It is this power of amazing simplicity that is within easy reach for all of us.
Gambling is one of the major prohibitions and it is not a minor sin. The door is wide open before a Muslim to earn money through lawful means. Hence, he should not let others beguile him or deceive him with baseless ideas. Rather, he should be more realistic.
A Muslim is ordered by Allah to leave no stone un turned in seeking his livelihood through the sweat of his labor. In earning his living a Muslim should employ his thinking, exert physical effort to attain his goal, and burn his midnight oil to make his dreams and high hopes come true.
We can not expect a Muslim to earn his living by a stroke of luck while wallowing in deep slumber and exerting no effort. Lacking behind and lassitude are not the characteristics of a Muslim and not the norms of Islam.
Our Muslim youth should not be beguiled by such fake and illegal ambitions. Rather, they should live the reality as it is and be down-to-earth.
Referring to this in his sincere advice to his son Al-Hasan, Imam `Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) stated, ‘Do not incline to hopes (i.e., while staying idle), because high hopes is the merchandise of the fool.’ This also reminds us with the words of a poet: Never be the slave of hopes as hopes are the capitals of the penniless!”
Yusuf Al Qaradawi
Al-Isra (The Ascension) Sura 17: Verse 53
Tell My servants (O Muhammad), to always say that which is best. Verily it is Satan who sows discord among men. Satan indeed is an open enemy to man.
In their discussions with the unbelievers and polytheists, in fact with all opponents of their faith, Muslims should refrain from losing their temper. Additionally, they should not resort to exaggerated and extremist statements. Even in the face of provocation from their opponents, Muslims should not utter even a word that is contrary to the truth; nor should they lose their temper at the vulgarities which are flung at them by their opponents, nor should they be provoked to the point of paying back their opponents in the latter’s own coins. Instead, they should keep their composure and say only that which is balanced and true, and is in keeping with the grace and dignity of the faith which they seek to uphold.
The Quran tells believers that whenever in the course of their discussion on contentious issues with unbelievers, they feel overly provoked and overwhelmed with rage, they should immediately realize that such reactions are instigated by Satan who is keen to hurt the cause of their faith. Satan will certainly try to prompt the believers to give up, as their opponents had done, all efforts of reform, and to become entangled in futile wrangling and strife. For it is Satan’s aim that all mankind remain perpetually enmeshed in such controversies.
“Towards Understanding the Quran” – Abul Ala Mawdudi, Vol. 5, p. 51