By: Marah Qasem
The Arabic word Islam simply means “surrender (to Allah)”. The essence of our religion is the surrender or submission. It requires trust on our part. Trust that Allah SWT will be there for us, trust the he knows what is best for us. Submission to Allah SWT requires that we put him before ourselves. That we put our desires second to his desire for us. That we acknowledge that he knows better than we do and what is right for us.
Allah SWT tests us. He send difficulties our way to see how we cope. He wants to see if we will keep trying even if it’s a challenge. He wants to see if we will maintain our faith in him, and trust in him. If we do so, he may reward us with Jannah, inshallah. Jannah is the everlasting reward. So if we have hope in Jannah, we should persevere even when it's a struggle for us, and we should keep on trying to perfect our submission to Allah SWT.
In the first part of this article, I have argued that part of our commitment to Allah SWT is to trust that he knows what is best for us and that what he has commanded is right. So, what does the Quran say about hijab? There are two ayat (verses) of the Quran that deal with hijab. These are Surah an-Nur ayah 31 and Surah al-Ahzab ayah 59. Let's look at what these ayat say, and how the prophet (sAas) has explained them.
Surah an-Nur ayah 31 has explained:
And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their head covers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers, their brothers' sons, their sisters' sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.
Surah al-Ahzab ayah 59 says:
O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.
Together, these two ayat lay out seven commandments for Muslim sisters:
Lowering the gaze means not looking at what is forbidden to be seen of others. Guarding the private parts means that only the husband is allowed to see or touch them. Not giving knowledge of what is hidden means not posturing or strutting around so as to jangle hidden jewelry or to make men think about hidden body parts. All of these are part of what Allah SWT has commanded in regard to hijab.
The majority of scholars have agreed that the phrase "what is apparent of it" refers to the face and hands.
Therefore, the first rule can really be phrased as "do not display the beauty except for the face and hands around non-mahram men". This is the basic rule of hijab. You must recognize it. This is where it comes from. It is nothing other than the Prophet's (sAas) explanation of the Quran.
The second rule is to extend the headcovering (khimar) to cover the bosom. The commentators on the Quran have explained exactly what this command entails:
Imam Abu Abdullah Qurtubi: "Women in those days used to cover their heads with the khimar, throwing its ends upon their backs. This left the neck and the upper part of the chest bare, along with the ears, in the manner of the Christians. Then Allah commanded them to cover those parts with the khimar."
Imam Abu'l-Fida ibn Kathir: "'Extend their khimars to cover their bosoms' means that they should wear the khimar in such a way that they cover their chests so that they will be different from the women of the jahiliyyah who did not do that but would pass in front of men with their chests uncovered and with their necks, forelocks, and earrings uncovered."
For me personally, wearing the hijab has strengthened myself as a Muslim and is the best decision I have made. Yes, of course it wasn't easy at first but nothing is easy at first. When you're struggling always remind yourself that you're doing this because Allah SWT has commanded you to.
When should you wear the hijab? If I tell you that you should wear the hijab when you hit puberty I would not be telling you my honest opinion. Everyone is different, so therefore you don't know. I woke up one day and just had a goal of bettering myself as a Muslim girl and just started reading the Quran everyday and ran into the two ayat as mentioned before and realized that it was a command from Allah SWT and just automatically started wearing the hijab.
My challenge to you
To me, the obligations of hijab are clear, explicit, and detailed and when I look at both the Quran and the Hadith. There is no question in my mind; I am convinced that Allah SWT has indeed commanded the hijab. Inshallah, I hope that after you have studied the details I have presented, you agree with me on this. Frankly, I don't see any other interpretation.
If we are agreed that the Quran and the Hadith do command hijab, then the real question is: how important is it to you to follow what Allah SWT has commanded in the Quran and Hadith?It's your choice. Is it important for you to obey Allah SWT? Do you think you should submit your will to His? Do you believe that He knows what is best for you? Do you think that if you dislike what He has commanded, you should be the one to change, not Him? Are you willing to set aside your dislikes and to try to seek the wisdom in what He has commanded? Are you motivated to try to surrender to Him even though it may be difficult for you? Is the promise of Jannah worth going through some hardship now?