In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Many Muslims, especially women, due to lack of knowledge, believe that wearing hijab (head covering) is an option in Islam. However, the opposite is true. It is an OBLIGATION for Muslim women to cover their entire body in loose, non-transparent clothing from head to toe except her hands and face, in public, in the presence of a marriageable man and during their five daily prayers. Not doing so will be a SIN and her prayer will be invalid. Let’s try to fully understand this command of Allah from the Qur’an and how this verse was understood by the Muslims at that time and how they practiced.
This is very clearly mentioned in the Qur’an where it says: “Tell the believing women to draw their headscarves over their chests…” [Qur’an 24:31]. The verse makes it clear that women are not only required to wear a headscarf, which primarily serves the purpose of covering the head, but to wear it in a specific way. One might ask why Allah used this manner of speaking. Why didn’t He just mention that women must cover their hair, in plain and clear wording, so that there would be no confusion among people today? In order to answer such a question, the historical context in which the Qur’an was revealed must be understood. Women in many parts of the world used to cover their hair. In Arabia, they used a headscarf that would cover their hair and then they would drape the ends of that scarf behind their shoulders. The verse clarified to women that this is not sufficient for modesty because the neck and upper-chest areas are exposed, so they must drape their headscarves over their chest areas to make sure that part is covered as well. Since women were already covering their heads there was no need to tell them to cover it again..
The final point worth mentioning is that no recognized Muslim scholar for at least a thousand years after the revelation of the Qur’an has ever made an argument to the contrary about women being required to cover their hair in public. Furthermore, no Arabic linguist has ever argued that a khimār is anything but a headcover. This is significant because it would mean that people who do make such an argument, namely, that a headscarf is not a requirement, have discovered something which eluded Muslims for centuries. It has not been a matter of legitimate scholarly debate in the past and it is highly unlikely that something so significant, and public, would have been completely misunderstood for such a long time. It is more probable that people who do make such an argument are, intentionally or otherwise, using intellectual gymnastics to ‘reinterpret’ the Qur’an to mean something that it doesn’t.
In conclusion, I request my brothers to explain and encourage the women of their household to wear hijab and to my sisters who are not wearing hijab, to fully understand Allah’s command and think of Whom they are disobeying and start wearing and to those who are not wearing it in the correct way should wear it the way it is ordered by Allah. Any reason that comes to your mind for not following Allah’s command is from shaytan, our open enemy.
Source: Excerpted, with some modifications, from a Fatwa by Fiqh Council of North America.
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