Quarterly: Issue No 52
DRESSING OF MUSLIM WOMEN TODAY
The most important and the greatest of all the favours and blessings - bestowed by Allah to mankind - is Islam and the honourable Islamic law, which is derived from the Qur’an and the Prophetic Sunnah. This Law has outlined all that which is beneficial for mankind in this life and the Hereafter. One of the virtues of this Law is that its rules and regulations have clearly lcxaid out preventions of all evil and immorality, including all roads that lead to it. It is a protection of the truth and morality. There are many rules for which this Law has laid out preventative measures so that people will not fall into evil on some issues of faith, acts of worship and daily worldly transactions.
However, the most obvious of all of these preventative measures are those related to women and the limits that Allah has defined for them not to exceed. Islam has clearly laid the guidelines for the Muslim woman to adhere to so that her personality remains distinct and her safety, purity and good conduct are assured.
The correct dress and covering for women and the prohibition of them unnecessarily intermixing with men are the two most important interconnected preventative measures that Islam has laid out. Muslims must submit to Islamic rulings that oblige women to properly cover themselves in order to protect their chastity and purity, maintain modesty and protect them from being harassed or bothered, as Allah says:
O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allah is Ever OftForgiving, Most Merciful. (Surah Al-Ahzaab 33: verse 59). Let us take note that in this verse, Allah addressed the wives of the Prophet also, who were the furthest away from immoravlity and evil actions; they were purest and most pious women ever and were honoured by the virtue of being married to the Prophet.
Muslims must also adhere and submit to Islamic rulings that prohibit unnecessary intermixing of men and women. There are many Islamic texts in this regard, such as the Hadith - in Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim - which is narrated by ‘Uqbah Ibn ‘Aamir that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “Do not enter into the presence of women.” A man from the Ansaar then retorted: ‘What about our in-laws’ - referring to the relatives of a woman's husband such as his brothers, cousins, and their children, so the Prophet replied: “The in-laws are death”; which means that they are more harmful to women than death is to our body. These are commands that came from the Prophet whose words were nothing but inspired revelation. So how could anybody ever accept anyone else's opinion over this?
Why is it that the Prophet lined up the rows of men for prayers in the masjid separate from the women, and described the rows, as narrated by Abu Hurayrah by saying: “The best rows (in the masjid) are the first rows, and the worst are the last, and the best rows for women are last the rows, and the worst are the first.” (Muslim). This act confirms the obligation of separating men and women; and proposes to avoid unnecessary intermingling of the sexes. If this is the way believing men and women should be during an act of worship inside the masjid, then how much more so is it necessary in places outside the masjid, where gatherings might include evil and sinful people along with good people?
The Muslim ummah must not take these commands lightly because the evil consequences which these texts are aiming to prevent society from still very much exist, and there is nothing that would prevent such evils from occurring in our time which had existed at the time of the Prophet. Moreover, the people whom the Prophet addressed in these narrations were from the best generation of the Muslim ummah according to his own testimony, as is mentioned in many narrations. So, has the need for such texts and their warnings vanished in our time? Is it not a clear fact that we need these texts and warnings even more than that generation did? Is it not especially so because of the dangers of evil in our time are becoming more widespread? People usually honour man-made set of laws that they perceive as being beneficial to them, especially when these laws prevent evil or harm from befalling them when applied. People do not mind if these man-made laws include certain restrictions on their freedom and impose penalties for those who disobey or transgress the defined limits. Why is it the case that some of those who believe in Allah and His Messenger deal with Divine Islamic Law with suspicion and uncertainty? Some of these people even go as far as to demand that it should be abolished, despite the fact that this Divine Law includes all that which is beneficial to mankind and prevents all that which brings harm?
It is not permitted for anyone to discuss and pass judgment regarding this issue without having the proper Islamic knowledge to be able to do so. Nor should they base their discussion and opinion on unfounded claims with no evidence, or simply argue on the basis of their base desires. Rather, one should be sincere and free themselves from their base desires that divert them far away from the truth. In addition, one must have a broad knowledge of Islam and possess the ability to differentiate between right and wrong evidences, possess a clear understanding of the relevant evidences as well as the ability to properly extract Islamic rulings from these evidences. Only then can a person become eligible to discuss such issues.
We live in a very disturbed world. We encounter waves upon waves of confusion and darkness. One who searches for the truth will struggle to see it, except for he upon whom Allah bestows His mercy and guides to it. This propagation of misconceptions through satellite television channels, radio stations, magazines and newspapers is such a dangerous development that it leads to mass confusion and disorder; it may thereby kill people’s hearts so that they may no longer possess the ability to distinguish the truth. These are common tools that have always been used by the enemies of Islam. They do not touch upon any aspect of our religion Islam except that they arouse misconceptions regarding it, and this follows a round in the battle between the followers of the truth and the followers of falsehood. But a true believer will always submit to what Allah says:
It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed in a plain error. (Surah Al-Ahzaab 33 : verse 36)
But no, by your Lord, they can have no Imaan, until they make you (O Prophet) the judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission. (Surah An-Nisaa 4 : verse 65)
Therefore, the outcome of what we say or write is what we should fear the most. We must be extremely wary of its consequence, as the Prophet once declared to his close companion Mu’aadh Ibn Jabal after he had asked with astonishment: “Will we be held responsible for all that we say?” The Prophet replied: “What do you think makes people land on their faces or noses into the Hellfire more than the product of their tongues?” (Ahmad, Abu Dawood, At-Tirmidhi).
THE PROPHETIC QUALITIES OF LOVE & BEAUTY
Despite many volumes of literature written by various authors about the Prophet, the clear and pure stream of his qualities and sublime manners continues to flow, in an abundant flux, revealing further noble, lofty, and superior traits with which believers quench their thirst for spiritual amelioration and from which every person with determination to become a better human being drinks.
The Prophet was identified by many distinguishing and unique qualities. Let us look at just two of these qualities. One of this is “beauty”, and the other is “love”.
For Allah, praised be He, is beautiful, the Qur’an is beautiful, and the universe is beautiful. Being sent to teach people about this universal beauty, he undoubtedly had the best share of it. He was characterized (amongst others) by the following:
1. The beauty of smiling. Yes, smiling is a type of superior beauty. It is also a universal human language in the sense that we see it in our daily lives. The opposite is a picture of depression, gloom, and frowning. Linguists say that smiling, a prelude to laughter, is a facial expression of cheerfulness, in which one’s teeth are a sign of pleasure and joy.
Smiling, therefore, is one form of beauty. The Prophet was known to smile throughout the day and throughout his life. He smiled more than any other person. Jareer (One of the Prophet’s companions) is quoted as saying, “Allah’s Messenger never declined to see me since I embraced Islam. He never saw me without smiling at me.” The Prophet was not only characterized by the beauty of his smiling, he also promoted smiling and encouraged others to smile. He said, “Your smiling at your brother is an act of charity.” He also said, “Do not underrate any good action, even if it is just meeting your brother with a cheerful face.”
2. The beauty of handsome appearance. The Prophet used to wear the nicest clothes available to him. He groomed himself when preparing to meet delegations in a manner appropriate for him and for them; that is, he dressed what is compatible with the status and traditions of each delegation. He liked perfume. Sayyidah ‘Aishah (the Prophet’s wife) said, “I used to apply to the Prophet the best perfume available.” He disapproved of any person who had eaten onions or garlic to come inside the masjid. He endorsed beauty in general as one of the things loved by Allah. He said, “Allah is beautiful and loves beauty.”
3. The beauty of gentleness in behaviour, action, and speech. Even his talks and khutbahs were given in a gentle manner without shouting out loudly at people. He, blessings and peace be upon him, says, “When gentleness gets into something, it can only adorn it, and when removed from something, it can only disfigure it.” Thus, gentleness is an adornment, i.e. beautiful, while violence is an ugly, repulsive thing. The Prophet carried out all his affairs with gentleness, and consequently, urged gentleness in all affairs, both in public and private.
Examples of the beauty of gentleness:
a. He used to shorten a prayer when he heard an infant crying, in consideration of a mother’s anxiety for her child.
b. Once he stopped the advance of an army out of concern for a bird grieving for its babies, which were captured by some soldiers. The army resumed its advance only when the baby birds were returned to their mother.
c. He avoided direct, face-to-face reproach. He would rather say something like, “What about those people who feel too proud to do something which I myself do?”
d. The beauty of tenderness includes devising various ways to honour one’s wife. The Prophet used to offer his knee for his wife Safiyyah to step on it when she wanted to mount a camel.
e. He preached Allah’s “gentleness” with his people. He said, “When Allah created His creatures, He wrote down in His book, which He has on the Throne, ‘My mercy overpowers my anger.’”
Love, however, is actually a basic religious principle. It is the basis of great relationships that are most sublime and closest to perfection.
Love is the origin of one’s relationship with Allah, for Allah loves people who repent and who purify themselves: “Truly, Allah loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves.” (Al-Baqarah 2: 222). Allah loves people who are patient (3:146), people who are charitable (3:134), people who put their trust in Him and turn to Him (3:159), and people who are fair-minded (3:148). Imaan is the seed of a plant, adorned with love, sown by Allah in the believer’s heart; as He says: “But Allah has made Imaan beloved to you and adorned it in your hearts.” (Al-Hujuraat 49 : 7).
The Prophet said: “By Him Who has my soul at His disposal, you will never ever be admitted into Jannah until you have Imaan, and you will never ever truly have Imaan until you love each other.” (Sahih Muslim)
What a great warning to unite the Ummah!
May Allah guide us all in understanding Islam in its pristine purity! Ameen!
Requesting your humble duas!
Abdul Haq Abdul Kadir,
Umhlanga Rocks, KZN,