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Muslim Veils in Privacy and Public!

Why a male Muslim veils his women?

Quran, the basic religious book of Muslims, does not declare it mandatory…

The code for modest behavior for believing women is given in Sura al-Noor (24:31) as:

“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss.”

Why a Female Muslim Veils in Public?

It is a verdict of Sura al-Ahzaab in Quran that annoying believing men and women is a big sin. Naturally such offence shall take place when the women go in mixed gatherings. The offence to tease and annoy women is so big that a Muslim society is ordained to adopt very strict punishments. These verses of Sura al-Ahzaab give the picture very clearly:

“58. And those who annoy believing men and women undeservedly, bear (on themselves) a calumny and a glaring sin.

59. O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Oft- Forgiving, Most Merciful.

60. Truly, if the Hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is a disease, and those who stir up sedition in the City, desist not, We shall certainly stir thee up against them: Then will they not be able to stay in it as thy neighbors for any length of time: “In these verses there is mentioning of an outer garment and not any type of Muslim veils. Even the code of outer garment (jilbab) is lifted from certain category of women:

Some Muslim scholars argue that women can not get this privacy in public without wearing Muslim veils.

Condition Relaxed

Quran says:

“Such elderly women as are past the prospect of marriage,- there is no blame on them if they lay aside their (outer) garments, provided they make not a wanton display of their beauty: but it is best for them to be modest: and Allah is One Who sees and knows all things.” (Quran 24: 60)

Muslim Veils in Hadith

I am not a scholar of Hadith either. However, I searched ‘Hijab” and “veil” on website http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/reference/searchhadith.html and found some important message:

In Bukhari Volume 7, Book 65, Number 375 Anas bin Malik narrates:I know (about) the Hijab more than anybody else. Ubai bin Ka'b used to ask me about it. Allah's Apostle became the bridegroom of Zainab bint Jahsh whom he married at Medina. After the sun had risen high in the sky, the Prophet invited the people to a meal. Allah's Apostle remained sitting and some people remained sitting with him after the other guests had left. Then Allah's Apostle got up and went away, and I too, followed him till he reached the door of 'Aisha's room. Then he thought that the people must have left the place by then, so he returned and I also returned with him. Behold, the people were still sitting at their places. So he went back again for the second time, and I went along with him too. When we reached the door of 'Aisha's room, he returned and I also returned with him to see that the people had left. Thereupon the Prophet hung a curtain between me and him and the Verse regarding the order for (veiling of women) Hijab was revealed.

This reporting ends with a note that a curtain provided privacy to Muhammad (PBUH) and his family to meet purposes of Hijab.

Hadith that Specifies Muslim Veils for Wives of the Prophet

At another place of Bukhari:

Narrated Umar: I said, "O Allah's Apostle! Good and bad persons enter upon you, so I suggest that you order the mothers of the Believers (i.e. your wives) to observe veils." Then Allah revealed the Verses of Al-Hijab.

Narrated 'Aisha (the wife of the Prophet) “Umar bin Al-Khattab used to say to Allah's Apostle "Let your wives be veiled" But he did not do so. The wives of the Prophet used to go out to answer the call of nature at night only at Al-Manasi.' Once Sauda, the daughter of Zam'a went out and she was a tall woman. 'Umar bin Al-Khattab saw her while he was in a gathering, and said, "I have recognized you, O Sauda!" He ('Umar) said so as he was anxious for some Divine orders regarding the veil (the veiling of women.). So Allah revealed the Verse of veiling.” Volume 8, Book 74, Number 257:

Quran and Hadith talk about setting of Hijab in private and public life in different modes. Some liberals argue that the veiling was specified for wives of Muhammad (PBUH) while other women at that time did not wear veil to hide their faces. However, they admit that the women should use ‘jilbab’ to hide their bodies and head except hands and faces.

On the other hands the scholars declaring Muslim veils mandatory argue that the life of Muhammad (PBUH) is binding upon common Muslims. Similarly, they continue, the wives of Muhammad (PBUH) and women from his family lives the life exactly as enunciated by Quran. So wearing of Muslim veils was binding upon the wives of Muhammad (PBUH) and other believing women.

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