The Qur'an Does Not Mandate Hijab
Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph. D.
In my previous communication I wrote that the Qur’an aims to eliminate all sources of temptations and enticement in society, and does not want women should bear the brunt of the burden in this process. However, the vast majority of Muslim men want that women should be covered from head to toe except perhaps for one roaming eye, and men may happily swagger around undisturbed by scrumptious female parts. Worst of all, this fundamentally male-indulgent view is presented as God’s unquestionable truth.
In this context I quoted from the book of Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl who is an accomplished Islamic jurist and scholar, and a Professor of Law at the UCLA's School of Law where he teaches Islamic law. He is a world renowned expert in Islamic law who previously taught Islamic law at the University of Texas, Yale Law School and Princeton University. A high-ranking Shaykh, Dr. Abou El Fadl also received formal training in Islamic jurisprudence in Egypt and Kuwait.
My quote is not directed at any individual directly or indirectly.
Abou El Fadl argues that in contemporary Muslim societies people tend to become authoritative by imposing a single viewpoint to the total exclusion of others. Shariah (Islamic law) is then invoked to quash debate by people who are themselves not adequately qualified to do so.
To counter this trend Fadl wrote the book "And God Knows the Soldiers" (University Press of America, pp.204, 2002), noting that it was his aim to “challenge those who invoke the moral weight of Islamic law to their side as a way of foreclosing the debate. The message of this book is: "If you carry Islamic law as a weapon to silence others, you better know how to use it.” (p.20)
Islam does not mandate or prescribe any specific type of dress. Thus, as long as the dresses are not revealing or too tight, cultural variations can add tremendous diversity in the fulfillment of this guideline.
Hijab, a terminology that is NOT to be found in the Qur'an or Hadith in the context of dress code. (Source: http://www.globalwebpost.com/farooqm/writings/islamic/scarf_revel.htm)
word-for-word translation of the Qur'anic text (Surah 24: 31)
will prove my point:
A Muslim scholar wrote "Surely a female dress covers all of the body except the hair and the face. The verse forcefully commands that these beautiful parts and features should not be displayed to the stranger, but only to the husband and very close relatives." (Source: Dr. Bashir Ahmad, "Veil/Hijab Becoming a Symbol of American Muslims" in Pakistan Link, August 26, 2005)
The words "except the hair" are the author's own subjective interpretation which he cannot provide proof as these are the Qur'anic words.
scholars who read ‘The Message of the Qur'an’ ( published by Dar
al-Andalus Ltd, 3 Library Ramp, Gibraltar, 1980) wrote, "Muhammad Asad's
translation and commentary is widely considered the best in the English
language, renowned for its intellectual insight and frequent reference
to classical commentaries such as Zamakshari. Asad's interpretation to
be the most bona-fide and coherent, it is scrupulously referenced so he
does not give his opinion rather quotes some of the greatest scholars
after the manifestation of the Qur’an such as Zamakshari, Ibn Kathir as
well as Qurtubi to name a few."
scholar should know "Asbab Un-Nuzool" causes or reasons for revelations
On Surah, An-Nur 24: 31, Muhammad Asad gives the translation "… let them draw their head-coverings over their bosoms." In his commentary No. 38, he wrote, "The noun khimar (of which Khumur is the plural) denotes the head-covering customarily used by Arabian women before and after the advent of Islam. According to most of the classical commentators, it was worn in pre-Islamic times more or less as an ornament and was let down loosely over the wearer's back; and since, in accordance with the fashion prevalent at the time, the upper part of a woman's tunic had a wide opening in the front, her breasts were left bare. Hence the injunction to cover the bosom by means of a khimar (a term familiar to the contemporaries of the Prophet) does not necessarily relate to the use of a khimar as such but is, rather, meant to make it clear that a woman's breasts are not included in the concept of "what may decently be apparent" of her body and should not, therefore, be displayed."
The word khumur (singular, khimar), is generally understood to be a head-covering worn by both male and female Arabs at the time of the Prophet. Some Muslims had discussions about whether or not it is permissible to wipe over a head-covering when making ablution for prayer refer to the Prophet wiping over his khimar. (Source: http://www.brandeis.edu/projects/fse/Pages/veilinglink1.html)
My main contention is that covering of hair for a woman is not mandatory as written by many scholars including Shaykh Zaki Badawi. Dr. Zaki Badawi (head of the Muslim Council in London, England and the Chairman of the Council of the Mosques and Imams) wrote, "The hijab veil (which covers all of a Muslim woman's hair) is also not obligatory" (Source: http://www.mostmerciful.com/Hijab.htm)
Parents have problems in some Gulf countries where the education ministry, the teachers' union and the students' union had all fallen under Islamist control. One mother described what happened when she moved her 11-year-old daughter to a new school: "After about three months she said: 'Mummy, I want to wear hijab'." The mother, thinking she was too young for hijab, asked her why. A teacher had said the girl's hair would be burnt on Judgment Day if she did not wear it.
Years of research on hijab (head cover) has convinced me to make a challenge. The challenge is for any one ( Muslim or non-Muslim) to prove that the Qur'an mandates the women to cover their hair.
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