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Videos of Quranic lectures [Maududi]: What is Hijab, for men and women? Explanation from quran, Abul A'ala Maududi, Urdu audio + English text

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About the Video: What is Hijab, for men and women? Explanation from quran, Abul A'ala Maududi, Quran 24:30-31 and 33:32-33

Surah-24, Verse-31

[Quran, 24-30] And O Prophet, enjoin the Believing men to restrain their gaze29 and guard their private parts.30This is a more righteous way for them: Allah has knowledge of what they do.

Surah-24, Verse-31

[Quran, 24-31] O Prophet, enjoin the Believing men to restrain their gaze31 and guard their private32 parts.33and not to display their adornment34 except that which is displayed of itself,35 and to draw their veils over their bosoms36 and not to display their adornment except before their husbands,37 their fathers, the fathers of their husbands,38 their sons and the sons of their husbands39 (from other wives), their brothers,40 their brothers' sons,41 their sisters' sons,42 their female associates43 and those in their possession44 and male attendants incapable of sex desire45 and those boys who have not yet attained knowledge of sex matters concerning women;46 also forbid them to stamp their feet on the ground lest their hidden ornaments should be displayed.47 O Believers, turn all together towards Allah:48 it is expected that you will attain true success.49


29The word ghedd means to reduce, shorten or lower down something. Accordingly, ghadd basar is generally translated as `lowering the gaze' or 'keeping it lowered'. But the Command of ghadd basar does not imply that the gaze should always be kept lowered. It only means to imply that one should restrain one's gaze and avoid casting of looks freely. That is, if it is not desirable to see a thing, one should turn the eyes away and avoid having a look at it. The restriction of a 'restrained gaz' is applicable only in a limited sphere. The context in which the words occur shows that this restriction applies to the men's gazing at women, or casting looks at the satar of the other persons, or fixing the eyes at indecent scenes.

The details of this Divine Commandment as explained in the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet are given below:

(1) It is not lawful for a tnan to cast a full gaze at the other women except at his own wife or the mahram women of his family. The chance look is pardonable but not the second look which one casts when one feels the lure of the object. The Holy Prophet has termed such gazing and glancing as wickedness of the eyes. He has said that man commits adultery with all his sensory organs. The evil look at the other woman is the adultery of the eyes; lustful talk is the adultery of the tongue; relishing the other woman's voice is adultery of the ears; and touching her body with the hand or walking for an unlawful purpose is adultery of the hands and feet. After these preliminaries the sexual organs either bring the act of adultery to completion or leave it incomplete. (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Da'ud).

According to a Tradition related by Hadrat Buraidah, the Holy Prophet instructed Hadrat 'Ali: "O 'Ali, do not cast a second look after the first look. The first look is pardonable but not the second one." (Tirmizi;, Ahmad, Abu Da'ud). Hadrat Jarir bin 'Abdullah Bajali says that he asked the Holy Prophet, "What should I do if I happen to cast a chance look?" The Holy Prophet replied, "Turn your eyes away or lower your gaze."(Muslim, Ahmad, Tirmizi, Abu Da'ud, Nasa'i). Hadrat 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud quotes the Holy Prophet as having said: "Allah says that the gaze is one of the poisonous arrows of Satan. Whoever forsakes it, out of His fear, he will be rewarded with a faith whose sweetness he will relish in his own heart." (Tabarani). According to a Tradition related by Abu Umamah, the Holy Prophet said: "If a Muslim happens to glance at the charms of a woman and then turns his eyes away, Allah will bless his worship and devotion and will make it all the more sweet. ''. (Musnad Ahmad). Imam Ja'far Sadiq has quoted from his father, Imam Muhammad Baqir, who has quoted Hadrat Jabir bin 'Abdullah Ansari as saying: "On the occasion of the Farewell Pilgrimage, Fadal bin'Abbas, who was a young cousin of the Holy Prophet, was riding with him on the camelback during the return journey from Mash`ar al-Haram. When they came to a few women passing on the way, Fadal started looking at them. Thereupon the Holy Prophet put his hand on his face and turned it to the other side." (Abu Da'ud). On another occasion during the same Pilgrimage, a woman of the clan of Khath'am stopped the Holy Prophet on the way and sought clarification about a certain matter pertaining to Hajj. Fadal bin `Abbas fixed his gaze at her, but the Holy Prophet turned his face to the other side. (Bukhari, Abu Da'ud, Tirmizi).

(2) Nobody should have the misunderstanding that the Command to restrain the 'gaze was enjoined because the women were allowed to move about freely with open faces, for if veiling of the face had already been enjoined, the question of restraining or not restraining the gaze would not have arisen. This argument is incorrect rationally as well as factually. It is incorrect rationally because even when veiling of the face is the usual custom, occasions can arise where a man and a woman come face to face with each other suddenly, or when a veiled woman has to uncover her face under necessity. Then even if the Muslim women observe purdah, there will be non-Muslim women who will continue to move about unveiled. Thus, the Commandment to lower the gaze or restrain the eyes, does not necessarily presume existence of a custom allowing the women to move about with unveiled faces. It is incorrect factually because the custom of purdah which was introduced after the revelation of the Commandments in Surah Al-Ahzab included veiling of the face, and this is supported by a number of Traditions relating to the time of the Holy Prophet himself. Hadrat `A'ishah in her statement relating to the incident of the "slander", which has been narrated on the authority of reliable reporters, has said: "When I came back to the camp, and found that the caravan had left, I lay down and was ' overpowered by sleep. In the morning when Safwan bin Mu`attal passed that way he recognised me because he had seen me before the Commandment of purdah had been sent down. On recognising me he exclaimed: Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji`un: `To Allah we belong and to Him we shall return'; and I awoke and covered my face with my sheet." (Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad, Ibn Jarir, Ibn Hisham). Abu Da'ud contains an incident that when the son of Umm Khallad was killed in a battle, she came to the Holy Prophet to enquire about him and was wearing the veil as usual. It was natural to presume that on such a sad occasion one is liable to lose one's balance and ignore the restrictions of purdah. But when questioned she said, "I have certainly lost my son but not my modesty." Another Tradition in Abu Da'ud quoted on the authority of Hadrat `A'ishah relates that a woman handed an application to the Holy Prophet from behind a curtain. The Holy Prophet enquired: "Is it a man's hand or a woman's?" She replied that it was a woman's. Thereupon the Holy Prophet said: "If it is a woman's hand, the nails at least should have been coloured with henna!" As regards the two incidents relating to the occasion of Hajj, which we have mentioned above, they cannot be used as an argument to prove that the veil was not in vogue in the time of the Holy Prophet. This is because wearing of the veil is prohibited in the state of ihram. However, even in that state pious women did not like to uncover their faces before the other men. Hadrat `A'ishah has stated that during the Farewell Pilgrimage when they were moving towards Makkah in the state of ihram, the women would lower down their head sheets over their faces whenever the travellers passed by them, and would uncover their faces as soon as they had passed by. (Abu Da'ud).

(3) There are certain exceptions to the Command of lowering the gaze or restraining the look. These exceptions relate to occasions when it is really necessary to see a woman, for instance, when a man intends to marry her. It is not only permissible to see the woman in such a case but even commendable. Mughirah bin Shu'bah has stated,. "I wanted to marry in a certain family. The Holy Prophet asked me whether I had seen the girl or not. When 1 replied in the negative, he said: `Have a look at her; this will enhance harmonious relationship between you two'." (Ahmad, Tirmizi, Nasa'i, Ibn Majah, Darimi). According to a Tradition related by Abu Hurairah, a man wanted to marry in a family of the Ansar. The Holy Prophet asked him to have a look at the girl, for the Ansar usually had a defect in their eyes. (Muslim, Nasa'i, Ahmad). According to Jabir bin 'Abdullah, the Holy Prophet said: "When a person from among you wants to marry a woman, he should have a look at her to satisfy himself that there is some quality in the woman which induces him to marry her. " (Ahmad, Abu Da'ud). According to another Tradition emanating from Abu Humaidah and quoted in Musnad Ahmad, the Holy Prophet said that there was no harm in such a procedure. He also permitted that the girl may be seen without her being aware of it. From this the jurists have concluded that there is no harm in looking at a woman when it is really necessary. For instance, there is no harm in looking at a suspect woman when investigating a crime, or in the judge's looking at a female witness, who appears in the court, or in the physician's looking at a female patient, etc.

(4) The intention of the Command to restrain the gaze also implies that no man or woman should look at the private parts of the other man or woman. The Holy Prophet has said: "No man should look at the satar of another man nor a woman at the sater of another woman." (Ahmad, Muslim, Abu Da'ud, Tirmizi). Hadrat 'Ali has quoted the Holy Prophet as saying: "Do not look at the thigh of another person, living or dead". (Abu Da'ud, Ibn Majah).  

30"Guard their private parts": Abstain from illicit sexual gratification and from exposing their satar before others. For males, the satar is the part of the body from the navel to the knee, and it is not permissible to expose that pan of the body intentionally before anybody except one's own wife. (Daraqutni, Baihaqi). Hadrat Jarhad Aslami states that once he was sitting in the company of the Holy Prophet with his thigh exposed. The Holy Prophet said: "Do you not know that the thigh has to be kept concealed." (Tirmizi, Abu Da'ud, Mu'atta). Hadrat 'AIi reports that the Holy Prophet said: "Do not expose your thigh." (Abu Da'ud, Ibn Majah). Not only is the satar to be kept concealed before others but even when alone. The Holy Prophet has warned: "Beware, never remain naked, for with you are those (that is, the angels of goodness and mercy), who never leave you alone except when you ease yourself or you go to your wives. So feel shy of them and give them due respect. " (Tirmizi). According to another Tradition, the Holy Prophet said: "Guard your satar from everybody except from your wife and your slave-girl." The questioner asked, "Even when we are alone?" The Holy Prophet replied, "Yes, even when alone, for Allah has a greater right that you should feel shy of Him." (Abu Da'ud, Tirmizi, Ibn Majah).

31The Commandments of restraining the gaze for women are the same as for men. They should not glance intentionally at the other men, and if they happen to cast a chance look, they should turn their eyes away; and they should abstain from looking at the satar of others. However, the Commandments relating to the men's looking at women are a little different from those relating to the women's looking at men. On the one hand, there is an incident related in a Tradition saying that Hadrat Umm Salamah and Hadrat Umm Maimunah, wives of the Holy Prophet, were sitting with him when lbn Umm Maktum, a blind Companion, made his appearance. The Holy Prophet said to his wives: "Conceal your faces from him." The wives said, "O Messenger of Allah: Is he not a blind man '? Neither will he see us nor recognize us." Thereupon the Holy Prophet remarked: "Are you two also blind? Do you not see him?" Hadrat Umm Salamah has clarified that this incident occurred at a time when the Commandments about the observance of purdah had already been sent down. (Ahmad, Abu Da'ud, Tirmizi. This is also supported by a Tradition in Mu'atta saying that a blind man came to see Hadrat 'A'ishah and she observed purdah from him. When asked as to why she observed purdah when the man could not see her, she replied: "But I do see him." On the other hand, there is a different Tradition from Hadrat `A'ishah. In 7 A.H. a deputation of the Africans came to Al-Madinah and they gave a performance of physical skill in the compound of the Prophet's Mosque. The Holy Prophet himself showed their performance to Hadrat 'A'ishah. (Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad). In another case, we find that when Fatimah bint Qais was irrevocably divorced by her husband, the question arose as to where she should pass her 'Iddah (the prescribed waiting term after divorce or death of husband). The Holy Prophet first told her to stay with Umm Sharik Ansari, but then instructed her to stay in the house of Ibn Umm Maktum, where she could stay with greater freedom as he was a blind man. He did not approve of her staying in the house of Umm Shank because she was a rich lady and her house was frequented by the Companions whom she entertained generously. (Muslim, Abu Da'ud). Read together these Traditions show that the restrictions about the women's looking at melt are not so hard as about the men's looking at women. While it is forbidden for women to sit face to face with men, it is not unlawful if they cast a look at men while passing on the way or see a harmless performance by them from a distance. There is also no hams for women to see the other men in case of real need if they are living in the same house. Imam Ghazzali; and lbn Hajar `Asqalani have also reached almost the same conclusion. Shaukani in his Nail al-Autar has quoted Ibn Hajar as saying: "Such a permission in respect of women is also supported by the fact that they have always enjoyed this type of freedom in outdoor duties While they came out veiled when visiting the mosques, or moving in the streets, or during the journey, so that men may not gaze at them, the men were never commanded to use the veil so that women may not gaze at them. This shows that the Commandments in respect of the two sexes are different." (Vol. Vl, p. 101). However, it is not at all permissible that women should gaze leisurely at men and draw pleasure of the eye in doing so.

32That is, they should abstain from illicit gratification of their sex desire as well as from exposing their satar before others. Though the commandments for men in this respect are the same as for women, the boundaries of satar for women are different from those prescribed for men. Moreover, the female satar with respect to men is different from that with respect to women

The female satar with respect to men is the entire body, excluding only the hand and the face, which should not be exposed before any other man, not even the brother and father, except the husband. The woman is not allowed to wear a thin or a tight fitting dress which might reveal the skin or the outlines of the body. According to a Tradition from Hadrat 'A'ishah, orate her sister Asma' came before the Holy Prophet in a thin dress. The Holy Prophet immediately turned his face away and said: "O Asma', when a woman has attained her maturity, it is not permissible that any part of her body should be exposed except the face and the hand." (Abu Da'ud). Ibn Jarir has related a similar incident from Hadrat 'A'ishah saying that once the daughter of `Abdullah bin Tufail, who was her mother's son from her former husband, came to her house on a visit. When the Holy Prophet (Allah's peace be upon him) entered the house, he saw her but turned his face to the other side. Hadrat `A'ishah said: "O Messenger of Allah, she is my niece." Thereupon the Holy Prophet remarked: "When a woman reaches the age of puberty, it is not lawful for her to display her body except the hand and the face. (Then he indicated what he meant by the hand by gripping his own hand from the wrist so that there was hardly a breadth left between his grip and the palm of the hand)." The only relaxation permitted in this connection is that a woman can uncover only that much of her body before her close relatives (for example, her brother, father, etc.) as is absolutely necessary for attending to the household duties. For instance, she can roll up her sleeves while kneading the flour, or tuck up her trousers while washing the floor.

The boundaries of female satar with respect to women are the same as the boundaries of the male satar with respect to men, which is the part of the body from the navel to the knee. This does not, however, mean that a woman should appear half naked before other women. It only means that while it is obligatory to keep the part of body from the navel to the knee duly covered, it is not so in case of other parts. 

33It should be carefully noted that the demands that Divine Law makes from women are not only those it has made from men, that is restraining of looks and guarding of the private parts, but it makes some other demands from them also, which it has not made from men. This shows that men and women are not identical in this respect.

34"Adornment" includes attractive clothes, ornaments and other decorations of the head, face, hand, feet, etc. which the women usually employ, and is expressed by the modern word 'make-up'. The injunction that this `makeup' should not be displayed before others is discussed in detail in the following Notes.

35Different interpretations given by different commentators of this verse have greatly confused its real meaning. All that is obviously meant is that "women should not display their make-up and adornment" except that "which is displayed of itself" and is beyond their control. This clearly means that women should not purposely and intentionally display their make-up, but there is no accountability if the make-up becomes displayed without any purpose or intention on their part; for instance, the head-wrapper's being blown aside by the wind thus exposing the adornment, ,or the outer-garment itself which cannot be concealed but which nevertheless has attraction being a part of the female dress. This very interpretation of this verse has been given by Hadrat `Abdullah bin Mas'ud, Hasan Basri, Ibn Sirin and Ibrahim Nakha`i. On the contrary, some other commentators have interpreted the verse to mean "all those parts of the body which usually remain exposed or uncovered" and in this they include the hands and the face with all their adornments. This is the view of Hadrat Ibn `Abbas and his followers, and a large number of the Hanafi jurists have accepted it. (Ahkam-ul-Qur'an, AlJassas, Vol. III, pp. 388-389). Thus, according to them, it is permissible for a woman to move out freely with the uncovered face in full make-up and adornment of the hands

We are, however, unable to subscribe to this view. There is a world of difference between "displaying something" and "its becoming displayed of itself." The first implies `intention' and the second 'compulsion' and a state of helplessness. Moreover, such an interpretation also goes against the traditions which state that the women never moved out with open and uncovered faces in the time of the Holy Prophet after the Commandments of purdah had been sent down. These Commandments implied veiling of the face as well, and the veil had become a part of the female dress except during Hajj when one has to be in the prescribed state of ihram and keep the face uncovered. Another argument that is advanced in support of this view is that the hands and the face are not included in the satar of the woman, whereas satar and purdah are two entirely different things. Sanctity of satar is such that it cannot be violated even before the mahram males like the father. brother, etc. As for purdah it is over and above satar which is meant to segregate women from non mahram males; the discussion here relates to the Commandments of purdah and not to satar.

36In the pre-lslamic days of ignorance, women used to wear a sort of head-band, which was tied in a knot at the rear of the head. The slit of the shirt in the front partly remained open exposing the front of the neck and the upper part of the bosom. There was nothing except the shirt to cover the breasts, and the hair was worn in a couple or two of plaits hanging behind like tails. (AI-Kashshaf, Vol. II, p. 90, and Ibn Kathir, Vol. III, pp. 283-284). At the revelation of this verse, the head-wrapper (dopatta) was introduced among the Muslim women, which was meant to cover the head, the breasts, and the back, completely. The way the Muslim women responded to this Command has been described by Hadrat 'A'ishah in a vivid manner. She states that when Surah An-Nur was revealed and the people learned of its contents from the Holy Prophet, they immediately went back to their houses and recited the verses before their wives, daughters and sisters. There was an instantaneous response. The Ansar women, one and all, immediately got up and made wrappers from whatever piece of cloth that was handy. The next morning all the women who came to the Prophet's Mosque for prayers were dressed in wrappers. In another tradition Hadrat `A'ishah says that thin cloth was discarded and the women selected only coarse cloth for the purpose. (lbn Kathir, Vol.III, p. 284, Abu Da'ud).

The very nature and object of the Command demanded that the wrapper should not be made out of fine and thin cloth. The Ansar women immediately understood the real object and knew what type of cloth was intended to be used. The Law-Giver himself clarified this and did not leave it to be interpreted by the people. Dihya Kalbi states: "Once a length of fine Egyptian muslin was presented to the Holy Prophet. He gave a piece of it to me and said, `Use one part of it for your shirt, and give the rest of it to your wife for a wrapper, but tell her that she should stitch another piece of cloth on the inner side so that the body may not be displayed through it." (Abu Da'ud).

37This verse describes the circle in which a woman can move freely with all her make-up and adornment. Outside this circle she is not allowed to appear with make-up before the other people, whether they are relatives or strangers. The Commandment implies that she should not display her embellishments outside this limited circle, intentionally or through carelessness. However, what becomes displayed incidentally, in spite of care and concern, or what cannot be concealed, it is excused by Allah.

38`Fathers' include grandfathers and great grandfathers as well, both paternal and maternal. Accordingly a woman can appear before her own and her husband's grandfathers just as she can appear before her own father and father in law.

39`Sons' include grandsons and great grandsons from the male or female offspring. No distinction is to be made between the real sons and the step-sons.

40Brothers' include real and stepbrothers.

41'Sons of brothers and sisters' include sons, grandsons and great grandsons of all the three kinds of brothers and sisters.

42After the relatives the other people are now being mentioned. But before we proceed further, it would be useful to understand three things in order to avoid confusion.

First, some jurists hold that the freedom of movement and display of adornment by a woman is restricted to the circle of relatives mentioned in this verse. AII others, even the real paternal and maternal uncles, are excluded from this list and a woman should observe purdah from them because they have not been mentioned in the Qur'an. This is, however, not a correct view. Let alone the real uncles, the Holy Prophet disallowed Hadrat `A'ishah to observe purdah even from her foster uncles. A tradition quoted in Sihah Sitta' and Musnad Ahmad on the authority of Hadrat `A'ishah says that once Aflah, brother of Abul Qu'ais, came to see her and sought permission to enter the house. But since the Commandment of purdah had been received, Hadrat `A'ishah refused him permission. On this Aflah sent back the word saying, "You are my niece: you were suckled by my brother Abul Qu'ais's wife." But Hadrat `A'ishah still was hesitant whether it was permissible to appear unveiled before such a relative or not. In the meantime the Holy Prophet arrived and he ruled that he could see her. This shows that the Holy Prophet himself did not interpret the verse in the way these jurists do that it was lawful to appear unveiled only before those relatives who have been mentioned in the verse and not before others. He interpreted it to mean that purdah need not be observed from those relatives with whom marriage is prohibited, for instance, paternal and maternal uncles, son-in-law and foster relatives. Hadrat Hasan Basri from among the followers has expressed the same opinion and the same has been supported by `Allama Abu Bakr al-Jassas in his Ahkam-ul-Qur an. (Vol. III, p. 390).

Secondly, there is the question of those relatives with whom marriage is not permanently prohibited; they neither fall in the category of mahram relatives (that women may freely appear before them with adornment) nor in the category of complete strangers that they should observe full purdah from them as from others. What should be the right course between the two extremes has not been determined by the Shari `ah for such a course cannot possibly be determined. The observance of purdah or otherwise in such cases will inevitably depend on the mutual relationship, age of the woman and of men, family relations and contacts and other circumstances (e.g. residence in the same house or in different houses). The personal example of the Holy Prophet himself in this matter gives us the same guidance. A large number of traditions confirm that Hadrat Asma', daughter of Abu Bakr, who was a sister-in-law of the Holy Prophet, appeared unveiled before him and no purdah, at least of the face and hands, was observed by her. This same position continued till the Farewell Pilgrimage which took place just a few months before the death of the Holy Prophet. (Abu Da'ud). Similarly Hadrat Umm Hani, daughter of Abu Talib and a first cousin of the Holy Prophet, appeared before him till the end without ever observing purdah of the face and hands. She herself has narrated an incident pertaining to the conquesh of Makkah, which confirms the same. (Abu Da'ud).On the contrary, we see that Hadrat `Abbas sends his son Fadal, and Rabi'ah bin Harith bin `Abdul Muttalib (a first cousin of the Holy Prophet) his son 'Abdul Muttalib before the Holy Prophet with the request for a job, as they could not be married till they became earning members of the family. They both see the Holy Prophet in the house of his wife Zainab, who is a first cousin of Fadal and is similarly related to the father of 'Abdul Muttalib bin Rabi'ah. But she dces not appear before them and talks to them from behind a curtain in the presence of the Holy Prophet. (Abu Da'ud). Taking the two kinds of precedents together we come to the same conclusion as we have stated above.

Thirdly, in cases where the relationship itself becomes doubtful, purdah should be observed even from the mahram relatives. Bukhari, Muslim and Abu Da'ud have related a case where Saudah, a wife of the Holy Prophet, had a brother born of a slave woman. `Utbah, the father of Saudah and the boy, left a will enjoining his brother, Sa`d bin Abi Waqqas, to look after the boy as a nephew for he was from his own seed. When the case came before the Holy Prophet, he rejected the claim of Hadrat Sa 'd, saying: "The boy belongs to him on whose bed he was born; as for the adulterer, let stones and pebbles be his lot." But at the same time he told Hadrat Saudah to observe purdah from the boy because it was doubtful whether he was really her brother.

43The Arabic word nisa-i -hinna means "their female associates". Before we consider what women are exactly meant, it is worth noting that the word used here is not an-nisa, which merely means "women", but nisa i-hinna which means "their female associates". In the former case, it would be quite permissible for a Muslim woman to appear unveiled before all sorts of women and display her adornment. The use of nisa-i-hinna, however, has circumscribed her freedom within a specific circle. As to what specific circle of women is implied, the commentators and jurists have expressed different opinions.

According to one group, the "female associates" mean only the Muslim women; as for the non-Muslim women, whether zimmis or otherwise, they are excluded and purdah should be observed from them as from men. Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and Ibn Juraij hold this opinion and cite the following incident in support thereof: Caliph `Umar wrote to Hadrat Abu `Ubaidah: "I hear that some Muslim women have started going to public baths along with the non-Muslim women. It is not permissible for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day that she should expose her body before the women other than of her own community." On receipt of this letter Hadrat Abu `Ubaidah was much upset, and he cried out: "May the face of the woman who goes to the public baths to whiten her complexion be blackened on the Last Day!" (Ibn Jarir, Baihaqi, Ibn Kathir).

Another group, which includes Imam Razi, is of the view that "female associates" are all women without exception. But it is not possible to accept this view as in that case an-nisa should have sufficed and there was no need to use nisa-i-hinna.

The third opinion, and this appears to be reasonable and nearer the Qur'anic Text, is that "their female associates" mean those familiar and known women with whom a woman usually comes into contact in her daily life and who share in her household chores, etc. whether they are Muslim or non-Muslim. The object here is to exclude those women from the circle who are either strangers whose cultural and moral background is not known or whose antecedents are apparently doubtful, which make them unreliable. This view is also supported by the authentic Traditions which state that zimmi women used to visit the wives of the Holy Prophet. The real thing to be considered in this connection would be the moral character and not the religious belief. Muslim women can meet and have intimate social contacts with noble, modest and virtuous women, who come from well-known and reliable families even if they are non-Muslim. But they must observe purdah from immodest, immoral and vulgar women even if they happen to be "Muslims". Their company from the moral viewpoint is as dangerous as of other men. As for contacts with un-known, unfamiliar women, they may at the most be treated like non-mahram relatives. A woman may uncover her face and hands before them but she must keep the rest of her body and adornments concealed.

44There is a good deal of difference of opinion among the jurists about the correct meaning of this injunction. One group holds that this refers only to the slave girls owned by a lady. Accordingly they interpret the Divine Command to mean that the Muslim woman can display her adornment before a slave girl, whether she is an idolatress or a Jew or a Christian, but she cannot appear before a slave man even if he is legally owned by her; for purposes of purdah, he is to be treated just like a free male stranger. This is the view of `Abdullah bin Mas`ud, Mujahid, Hasan Basri, Ibn Sirin, Said bin Musayyab, Ta`us and Imam Abu Hanifah, and a saying of Imam Shafi`i also supports this. They argue that the slave is not a mahram to the lady; if he is freed, e can marry his former owner. Therefore the there fact of his being a slave cannot by itself entitle him to be treated like the male mahrams and allow the lady to appear freely before him. The question why should the words" those in their possession" which are general and applicable to both slaves and slave girls, be restricted to mean only slave girls, is answered by these jurists like this: Though the words are general, the context and background in which they occur snake them specifically applicable to slave girls only. The , words "those in their possession" occur just after "their female associates" in the verse; therefore one could understand that the reference was to a woman's relatives and other associates; this could lead to the misunderstanding that the slave girls perhaps were excluded; the words "those in their possession". therefore were used to clarify that a woman could display her adornments before the slave girls as before her free female associates.

The other group holds that the words "those in their possession" include both the slaves and the slave girls. This is the view of Hadrat `A'ishah, Umm Salamah and some learned scholars of the house of the Holy Prophet and also of Imam Shafi`i. They do not argue merely on the basis of the general meaning of the words, but they also cite precedents from the Sunnah in support of their view. For instance, the incident that the Holy Prophet went to the house of his daughter, Hadrat Fatimah, along with his slave 'Abdullah bin Musa'dah al-Fazari. She was at that time wearing a sheet which would leave the feet exposed if she tried to cover the head, and the head exposed if she tried to cover the feet. The Holy Prophet felt her embarrassment and said: "No harm: there are only your father and your slave!" (Abu Da'ud, Ahmad, Baihaqi on the authority of Anas bin Malik). Ibn 'Asakir has stated that the Holy Prophet had given that slave to Hadrat Fatimah, who brought him up and then freed him. (But the man turned out to be an ungrateful wretch; in the battle of Siffin, he was the bitterest opponent of Hadrat 'Ali and a zealous supporter of Amir Mu`awiyah). They also quote the following words of the Holy Prophet in support of their stand: "When any of you agrees to a deed of emancipation with her slave, and the slave has the necessary means to buy his freedom, she (the owner) should observe purdah from him." (Abu Da'ud, Tirmizi, Ibn Majah on the authority of Umm Salamah).  

45The literal translation of the Text would be: "those from among the men who are your subordinates and have no desire." The obvious meaning is that apart from the mahram males, a Muslim woman can display her adornment only before the man who satisfies two conditions: firstly, he should be in a subordinate capacity, and secondly, he should be free from sexual urges either due to advanced age, impotence, mental weakness, poverty or low social position, so that he cannot cherish the desire or have the boldness to think evilly of his master's wife, daughter, sister or mother. Anybody who studies this injunction in the right spirit with a view to obeying it, and not for the sake of finding ways and means of escaping from or violating it, will readily appreciate that the bearers, cooks, chauffeurs and other grown up servants employed these days in the houses do not fall in this category. The following clarifications given by the commentators and the jurists of this point would show the type of men envisaged in the verse: Ibn 'Abbas: This implies a man who is a mere simpleton and has no interest in women. Qatadah: A poor man who is attached to you merely for his sustenance. Mujahid: A fool who only needs food and has no desire for women. Sha'bi: The one who is a subordinate; entirely dependent on his master, and cannot have the boldness to cast an evil look at the womenfolk of the house. lbn Zaid: The one who remains attached to a family for such a long time that he is regarded as a member brought up in that house, and who has no desire for the women of the house. He is there merely because he gets his sustenance from the family. Ta'us & Zuhri: An idiot who dces not cherish the desire for the women nor has the courage to do so. (Ibn Jarir, Vol. XVIII, pp. 95-96, Ibn Kathir, Vol. III, p. 285).

The best explanation in this regard is the incident that happened in the time of the Holy Prophet, which has been quoted by Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Da'ud, Nasa'i and Ahmad on the authority of Hadrat `A'ishah and Umm Salamah. There was a certain eunuch in Madinah who was allowed free access to the wives of the Holy Prophet and the other women of the city, on the assumption that he being incapable of sex was free from the sexual urge. One day when the Holy Prophet went to the house of his wife, Umm Salamah, he heard him talking to her brother, 'Abdullah bin Abi Umayyah. He was telling `Abdullah that if Taif was taken the following day, he should try to have Badia, daughter of Ghailan Thaqafi . And then he started praising Badia's beauty and her physical charms and even went to the extent of describing her private parts. On hearing this the Holy Prophet said: "O enemy of Allah! you seem to have seen her through." Then he ordered that the women should observe purdah from him and he should not be allowed to enter the houses in future. After this he turned him out of Madinah and forbade the other eunuchs also to enter the houses, because the women did not mind their presence, while they would describe the women of one house before the other men of other houses in the society. This shows that the word "incapable of sex desire" do not merely imply physical impotence. Anyone who is physically unfit but cherishes sex desire in the heart and takes interest in women, can become the cause of many mischiefs.

46That is, the children who do not yet have their sex feelings aroused. This may apply to boys of 11 to12 at the most. Older boys start having sex feelings though they may still be immature otherwise. 

47The Holy Prophet did not restrict this injunction to the jingle of the ornaments, but has derived from it the principle that besides the look, anything which tends to excite any of the senses, is opposed to the objective for which Allah has forbidden the women to display their adornment. Therefore he ordered the women not to move out with perfumes. According to Hadrat Abu Hurairah, the Holy Prophet said: "Do not stop the bondmaids of Allah from coming to the mosques, but. they should not come with perfumes." (Abu Da'ud, Ahmad). According to another tradition, Hadrat Abu Hurairah passed by a woman who was coming out of the mosque and felt that she had perfumed herself. He stopped her and said: "O bondmaid of Allah, are you coming from the mosque?" When she replied in the affirmative, he said: "I have heard my beloved Abul Qasim (Allah's blessings and peace be upon him) say that the prayer of the woman who comes to the mosque with perfumes, is not accepted till she purifies herself with a complete bath as is done after a sexual intercourse." (Abu Da'ud, Ibn Majah, Ahmad, Nasa'i). Abu Musa Ash'ari has quoted the Holy Prophet as saying: "A woman who passes on the way with perfumes so that people may enjoy her perfumes, is such and such: he used very harsh words for her." (Tirmizi, Abu Da'ud, Nasa'i). His instruction was that women should use scents with bright colors but light odors. (Abu Da`ud). Similarly the Holy Prophet disapproved that feminine voices should enter the ears of men unnecessarily. In case of genuine need the Qur'an itself has allowed women to speak to men, and the Holy Prophet's wives themselves used to instruct people in religious matters. But where there is no necessity, nor any moral or religious objective, the women have been discouraged to let their voices be heard by men. Thus if the imam happens to commit a mistake during a congregational prayer, and he is to be warned of the lapse, the men have been taught to say Subhan-Allah (Glory be to Allah), while the women have been instructed to tap their hands only. (Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad, Tirmizi, Abu Da'ud, Nasa'i, Ibn Majah).

48"Turn towards Allah": Repent of the lapses and errors that you have been committing in this regard so far, and reform your conduct in accordance with the Commands given by Allah and His Prophet.

49It would be useful to give here a resume of the other reforms which the Holy Prophet introduced in the Islamic society after the revelation of these Commandments.

(1) He prohibited the other men (even if they are relatives) to see a woman in privacy or sit with her in the absence of her mahram relatives. Hadrat Jabir bin 'Abdullah has reported that the Holy Prophet said: "Do not visit the women whose husbands are away from home, because Satan circulates in one of you like blood." (Tirmizi). According to another Tradition from Hadrat Jabir, the Holy Prophet said: "Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should never visit a woman when alone unless she has a mahram relative also present, because the third one would be Satan. " (Ahmad). Imam Ahmad has quoted another Tradition from `Amir bin Rabi'ah to the same effect. The Holy Prophet himself was extremely cautious in this regard Once when he was accompanying his wife Hadrat Safiyyah to her Douse at night, two men of Ansar passed by them on the way. The Holy Prophet stopped them and said: "The woman with me is my wife Safiyyah." They said: "Glory be to Allah! O Messenger of AIlah, could there be any suspicion about you?" The Holy Prophet said: "Satan circulates like blood in the human body; I was afraid lest he should put an evil thought in your minds." (Abu Da'ud).

(2) The Holy Prophet did not approve that a man's hand should even touch the body of a non-mahram woman. That is why while administering the oath of allegiance, he would take the hand of the men into his own hand, but he never adopted this procedure in the case of women. Hadrat 'A'ishah has stated that the Holy Prophet never touched the body of any other woman. He would administer the oath verbally to them; when this was done, he would say: "You may go, Your allegiance is complete." (Abu Da'ud).

(3) He strictly prohibited the woman from proceeding on a journey alone without a mahram or in company with a non-mahram. A Tradition from Ibn 'Abbas has been quoted in Bukhari and Muslim saying that the Holy Prophet gave a sermon and said: "No man should visit the other woman when she is alone unless she has a mahram also present, and no woman should travel alone unless accompanied by a mahram. " A man stood up and said:"My wife is going for Hajj, while I am under orders to join a certain expedition." The Holy Prophet said: "You may go for Hajj with your wife. " Several other Traditions on the subject, emanating from Ibn 'Umar, Abu Said Khudri and Abu Hurairah, are found in authentic books of Traditions, which concur that it is not permissible for a Muslim woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day that she should go on a journey without a mahram. There is, however, a variation with regard to the duration and the length of the journey. Some Traditions lay down the minimum limit as 12 miles and some lay down the duration as one day, a day and night, two days or even three days. This variation, however, neither renders the Traditions unauthentic nor makes it necessary that we should accept one version as legally binding in preference to others. For a plausible explanation for the different versions could be that the Holy Prophet gave different instructions at different occasions depending on the circumstances and merit of each case. For instance, a woman going on a three-day journey might have been prohibited from proceeding without a mahram, while another going on a day's journey might also have been similarly prohibited. Here the real thing is not the different instructions to the different people in different situations, but the principle that a woman should not go on a journey without a mahram as laid down in the Tradition quoted above from lbn 'Abbas.

(4) He .not only took practical measures to stop free mixing of the sexes together but prohibited it verbally as well. Everyone knows the great importance of the congregational and the Friday prayers in Islam. The Friday Prayer has been made obligatory by AIIah Himself; the importance of the congregational prayer can be judged from a Tradition of the Holy Prophet, which says: "If a person does not attend the mosque without a genuine reason and offers his prayer at home, it will not be acceptable to AIIah." (Abu Da'ud, Ibn Majah, Daraqutni, Hakim on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas).But in spite of this, the Holy Prophet exempted the women from compulsory attendance at the Friday Prayer. (Abu Da'ud, Daraqutni, Baihaqi). As for the other congregational prayers, he made the women's attendance optional, saying: "Do not stop them if they want to come to the mosque." Then at the same time, he made the clarification that it was better forthem to pray in their houses than in the mosques. According to Ibn 'Umar and Abu Hurairah, the Holy Prophet said: "Do not prohibit the bondmaids of Allah from coming to the mosques of AIIah." (Abu Da'ud). Other Traditions from Ibn 'Umar are to the effect: "Permit the women to come to themosques at night." (Bukhari, Muslim, Trimizi, Nasa'i, Abu Da'ud). And: "Do not stop your women-folk from coming to the mosques though their houses are better for them than the mosques." (Ahmad, Abu Da'ud). Umm Humaid Sa'idiyyah states that once she said to the Holy Prophet, "O Messenger of Allah, I have a great desire to offer my prayer under your leadership." He replied: "Your offering the prayer in your room is better than your offering it in the verandah, and your offering the prayer in your house is better Bran your offering it in the neighbouring mosque, and your offering the prayer in the neighbouring mosque is better than offering it in the principal mosque (of the town)." (Ahmad, Tabarani). A Tradition to the same effect has been reported from 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud in Abu Da'ud. According to Hadrat Umm Salamah, the Holy Prophet said: "The best mosques for women are the innermost portions of their houses." (Ahmad, Tabarani). But when Hadrat 'A'ishah saw the conditions that prevailed in the time of the Umayyads, she said: "If the Holy Prophet had witnessed such conduct of the women, he would certainly have stopped their entry into the mosques as was done in the case of the Israelite women," (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Da'ud). The Holy Prophet had appointed a separate door in his Mosque for the entry of women, and Hadrat 'Umar in his time had given strict orders prohibiting men to use that door. (Abu Da'ud). In the congregational prayers the women were instructed to stand separately behind the men; at the conclusion of the prayer, the Holy Prophet and his followers used to remain sitting for a while so that the women could leave the mosque before the men. (Ahmad, Bukhari). The Holy Prophet would say: "The best row for the men is the front row and the worst the last one (nearest to the women's row); and the best row for the women is the rearmost row And the worst the front one (just behind the men's). (Muslim, Abu Da'ud, Tirmizi Nasa'i, Ahmad). The women joined the 'Id congregational prayers but they had a separate enclosure from men. After the sermon the Holy Prophet used to address them separately (Abu Da'ud, Bukhari, Muslim). Once outside the Mosque the Holy Prophet saw the men and women moving side by side in the crowd. He stopped the women and said: It is not proper for you to walk in the middle of the road; walk on the sides." On hearing this the women immediately started walking along the walls. (Abu Da'ud). All these Commandments clearly show that mixed gatherings of the men and women are wholly alien to the temper of Islam. It cannot therefore be imagined that Divine Law which disallows the men and women to stand side by side for prayers in the sacred houses of Allah, would allow them to mix together freely in colleges, offices, clubs and other gatherings.

(5) He permitted the women to make modest use of the make-ups, even instructed them to do so, but strictly forbade its overdoing. Of the various types of make-up and decoration that were prevalent among the Arab women in those days, he declared the following as accursed and destructive of communities:

(a) To add extra hair to one's own artificially with a view to make them appear longer and thicker.

(b) To tattoo various parts of the body and produce artificial moles.

(c) To pluck hair from the eyebrows to give them a special shape, or to pluck hair from the face to give it a cleaner look.

(d) To rub the teeth to make them sharp or to produce artificial holes in them.

(e) To rub the face with saffron or other cosmetic to produce an artificial complexion.

These instructions have been reported in Sihah Sitta and in Musnad Ahmad on the authority of Hadrat `A'ishah, Asma' bint Abu Bakr, Hadrat 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud, 'Abdullah bin `Umar, 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas and Amir Mu'awiyah through reliable narrators.

After having the knowledge of these clear Commandments froth Allah and His Prophet, a Muslim has only two courses open before him. Either he should follow these Commandments practically and purify himself, his family life and the society at large of the moral evils for the eradication of which Allah and His Prophet have given such detailed Commandments, or if due to some weakness he violates one or more of these Commandments, he should at least realize that he is committing a sin, and regard it as such, and should abstain from labeling it as a virtue by misinterpretation. Apart from these alternatives, the people who adopt the Western, ways of life against the clear injunctions of the Qur'an and Sunnah, and then try their utmost to prove them Islam itself, and openly claim that there is no such thing as purdah in Islam, not only commit the sin of disobedience but also display ignorance and hypocritical obstinacy. Such an attitude can neither be commended by any right-thinking person in this world, nor can it merit favor with Allah in the Hereafter. But among the Muslims there exists a section of modern hypocrites who are so advanced in their hypocrisy that they repudiate the Divine injunctions as false and believe those ways of life to be right and based on truth, which they have borrowed from the non-Muslim communities. Such people are not Muslims at all, for if they still be Muslims, the words 'Islam' and 'unIslam' lose all their meaning and significance. Had they changed their Islamic names and publicly declared their desertion of Islam, we would at least have been convinced of their moral courage. But in spite of their wrong attitudes, these people continue to pose themselves as Muslim. There is perhaps no meaner class of people in the world. People with such character and morality cannot be unexpected to indulge in any forgery, fraud, deception or dishonesty


Surah-33, Ayah-32

Surah-33, Ayah-33

Wives of the Prophet, you are not like the other women.46 If you are God fearing, do not talk in a soft voice lest the man of the diseased heart should cherish false hopes from you, but speak in an unaffected manner.47 Stay in your houses,48 and do not go about displaying your fineries as women used to do in the days of ignorance.49 Establish the Salat, pay the Zakat, and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah only intends to remove uncleanliness from you, O people of the Prophet's household, and purify you completely.50

46The verses from here to the end of the paragraph are those with which the Commandments of Purdah were introduced in Islam. In these verses though the wives of the Holy Prophet only have been addressed, the intention is to enforce reforms in all the Muslim houses. The object of addressing the Holy Prophet's wives particularly is that when a pure way of life will start from his house, it will be followed by the women of all other Muslim houses as well, because this house was looked upon by the Muslims as a model to follow. Some people, when they see that these verses have been addressed only to the wives of the Holy Prophet, assert that these Commandments were only meant for them. But when one reads what follows in these verses one feels that there is nothing which might have been meant particularly for the holy wives and not for the other Muslim women. Could Allah have intended only this that the holy wives alone should be fret from uncleanliness and they alone should obey Allah and His Prophet and they alone should offer the Salat and pay the Zakat? If this could not be the intention, then how could the Command for them to stay in their houses and avoid displaying the fineries and abstain from talking to the other men in an alluring voice be meant particularly for them to the exclusion of all other Muslim women? Is there any rational proof on the basis of which some Commands in one and the same context and series be regarded as general and some others as particular and special?

As for the sentence, ¦You are not like the other women," it also does not mean that the other women should come out in full make-up and should talk to the other men coquettishly and flirt with them, but "as for you, you should not adopt such a conduct. " The style, to the contrary, is such as if a gentleman would tell his child, `You are not like the common children of the street: you should not use abusive language." From this no sensible person would ever conclude that the speaker regarded only his own child using abusive language as bad; as for others he would not mind if they used abusive language. 

47That is, "There is no harm if the other man is spoken to in case of a genuine need, but on such an occasion the woman's tone and manner of speech should be such as does not let the other man think that he could cherish any false hope from her. There should be no undue softness in her tone, no allurement in her conversation, no consciously affected mellowness in her voice, which should excite the male hearer's emotions and encourage him to make advances.

About such a manner of speech Allah clearly says that this does not behoove a woman who has any fear of God in her heart and desire to avoid evil. In other words, this is the way and manner of the wicked and unchaste woman's speech and not of the believing pious woman's speech: If this verse is read together with verse 31 of Surah An-Nur, in which Allah says: "They should not stamp the ground in walking lest their hidden decoration is revealed," the intention of the Lord clearly seems to be that the women should not attract other men by their voice or the jingle of their ornaments unnecessarily and if at all they have to speak to the other men, they should speak to them in an un-affected tone and manner. That is why it is forbidden for the woman to pronounce the call to the Prayer. Moreover, if a woman is attending a congregational Prayer and the Imam commits a mistake, she is not permitted to say Subhan-Allah like the males but should only tap her hands to call the imam's attention to the error.

Now just consider this: When Islam disallows the woman to talk to other men in a soft and sweet tone and even forbids her to produce her voice before the other men without a genuine need, will it approve her to appear on the stage and sing, dance, flirt and behave coquettishly? Will it permit her to sing love songs over the radio and excite the people's emotions by presenting sweet melodies full of obscene themes? Will it permit that she should play the roles of the wives and sweet-hearts of others in dramas? Or that the women should be made the air hostesses and be especially trained to charm and allure the passengers? Or that they should visit clubs and attend social functions and gatherings in full make-up and mix freely with men and have fun and a good time with them? From which Qur'an has this culture been derived? For the Qur'an that was sent down by God there is to be found no hint as to the admissibility of this sort of culture. 

48The word qarna in the original is derived from qarar according to some lexicographers and from waqar according to others. In the first sense, it will mean: `Settle down, stick firmly;" and in the second sense: "Live peacefully, sit with dignity." In both the cases the verse means to impress that the woman's real sphere of activity is her home; she should carry out her functions within that sphere peacefully, and she should come out of the house only in case of a genuine need. This meaning is clear from the words of the verse itself and the Holy Prophet's Ahadith also impress it even more forcefully. Hafiz Abu Bakr Bazzar has related on the authority of Hadrat Anas that the women made a submission to the Holy Prophet, saying: "All kinds of virtues have been secured by the men: they fight and accomplish great deeds in the way of Allah. What should we do that we may also get a reward equal to that of the warriors?" The Holy Prophet replied: The one who sits in her house from among you; will attain the reward of the warriors." What he meant was : The warrior can fight confidently and with full peace of the mind in the way of Allah only when he is sure that all is well at home: his wife is there to look after the house and the children, and there is no cause for him to worry that she will betray him in his absence. The woman who will provide him this satisfaction and peace of the mind will be an equal partner with him in his fighting though she will be sitting back at home. According to another tradition that Bazzar and Tirmidhi have related on the authority of Hadrat 'Abdullah bin Mas`ud, the Holy Prophet said: `The woman must remain veiled and concealed. When she comes out of her house, Satan stares at her. And she is closer to Allah's mercy when she is inside her house." (For further details, see E.N. 49 of Surah An-Nur).

In the presence of such a clear and express command of the Qur'an, it is not at all permissible that the Muslim women should seek membership of the councils and parliaments; that they should run after social activities outside the house; that they should work side by side with men in the government offices, should get education along with boys in the colleges, serve as nurses in the male wards of hospitals, should be employed as hostesses in the airplanes and rail cars, and should be sent abroad for education and training. The greatest argument that is given in support of the permissibility of the women's outdoor activities is that Hadrat 'A'ishah had taken part in the Battle of the Camel. But the people who present this argument perhaps do not know what was Hadrat `A'ishah's own opinion in this regard. `Abdullah bin Ahmad bin Hanbal has related in his Zawa id az-Zuhd and Ibn Mundhir, Ibn Abi Shaibah and Ibn Sa'd in their own books the tradition from Masruq, saying that when Hadrat `A'ishah during her recitation of the Qur'an would reach this verse (wa qarna fi buyut-i kunna), she would start crying involuntarily; so much so that her head-wrapper would become wet, for this reminded her of the error that she had committed in the Battle of the Camel. 

49In this verse two important words have been used, which must be understood for the proper understanding of its intention. They are tabarruj and jahiliyyat al-ula.

The word tabarruj in Arabic means to become manifest and appear openly before others. The Arabs use the word baraj for every conspicuous and elevated object. A burj (tower) is so called because of its prominence and elevation. A sailing-boat is called barijah, because its sails become visible from a distance. The word tabarruj when used in respect of a woman will have three meanings: (1) that she should show the charms of her face and body before the people; (2) that she should display the adornments of her dress and ornaments before others; and (3) that she should make herself conspicuous by her gait and figure and coquetry. The same explanation of this word has been given by the leading lexicographers and commentators. Mujahid, Qatadah and Ibn Abi Nujaih say: "Tabarruj means to walk in a vain, alluring and coquettish manner." Muqatil says: ¦It means a woman's displaying of her necklaces, ear-rings and bosom. " AI-Mubarrad says: "That a woman should reveal her adornments which she should conceal. " Abu 'Ubaidah comments: "This that a woman should make herself conspicuous by display of her body and dress to attract the attention of men."

The word jahiliyyat has been used at three other places in the Quran besides this, in Al-i `Imran: 154, where about those who shirk fighting in the way of Allah, it has been said: ¦They began to cherish about Allah thoughts of Ignorance Uahiljyyat) which were void of the truth," and in Al-Ma`idah: 50, where about those who want to be judged by their own law instead of the law of Allah, it has been said: "Do they desire to be judged by the laws of ignorance (Jahiliyyat)?" and in Al-Fath: 26, where the prejudice of the people of Makkah due to which they did not permit the Muslims to perform 'Umrah, has been called as "the haughty spirit of paganism ( jahiliyyat). " According to a Hadith once Hadrat Abu ad-Darda' in the heat of a quarrel abused another person in respect of his mother. When the Holy Prophet heard of it, he remarked: "You still have jahiliyyat in you. " According to another Hadith the Holy Prophet said: "Three things show jahiliyyat to taunt the lineage of another person, to take omens from the movement of the stars, and to mourn over the dead. " All these customs show that jahiliyyat in the Islamic terminology is every such conduct which goes against Islamic culture and civilization and Islamic morality and etiquette and Islamic way of thinking and behavior. Thus, jahiliyyat al-ula would mean all those evils in which the Arabs of the pre-Islamic days and the people of the entire world were involved.

This explanation makes it abundantly clear that what Allah forbids women is to move out of their houses showing off their physical charms and beauty. He instructs them to stay in their houses because their real sphere of activity is their home and not the world outside. However, if they have to move out of the house for an cut-door duty, they should not move out as the women used to do in the pre-Islamic days of ignorance. For it does not behoove the women of a Muslim society to walk out fully embellished to make their face and figure conspicuous by adornments and tight-fitting or transparent dresses, and to walk coquettishly. These are the ways of ignorance which Islam does not approve. Now everybody can see for himself whether the culture which is being made popular in our country is the culture of Islam, according to the Qur'an, or the culture of ignorance. 

50The context in which this verse occurs makes it manifest that the word ahl al-bait (people of the house) here implies the wives of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace), because the address begins with: "O wives of the Prophet," and they are the addressees in the whole discourse preceding it as well as following it. Moreover, the word ahl al-bait in Arabic is used precisely in the sense in which the word "household" is used in English, which includes both a man's wife and children. No one would exclude the wife from the "household." The Qur'an itself has used this word at two other places besides this, and at both the wife is included in its sense, rather as the most important member of the family. In Surah Hud, whcn the angels give the Prophet Abraham the good news of the birth of a son, his wife exclaims: "Shall I bear a child now when I have grown too old, and this husband of mine has also become old?" The angels say: What! Are you surprised at Allah's decree, O people of Abraham's household? Allah's mercy and blessings are upon you." In Surah Al-Qasas, whcn the Prophet Moses reaches the Pharaoh's house as a suckling, and the Pharaoh's wife is in search of a suitable nurse for the child, the Prophet Moses' sister says, "Shall I tell you of a household whose people will bring him up for you and look after him well?" Thus, the Arabic idiom and the usage of the Qur'an and the context of this verse, 'all point clearly to the fact that the Holy Prophet's wives as well as his children are included in his ahl al-bait; rather the more correct thing is that the verse is actually addressed to the wives and the children become included in the household only because of the sense of the word. That is why according to lbn 'Abbas and 'Urwah bin Zubair and `Ikrimah, the word ahl al-bait in this verse implies the wives of the Holy Prophet.

But if somebody says that the word ahl al-bait has been used only for the wives and none else can be included in it, it will also be wrong. Not only this that the word "household" includes all the members of a man's family, but the Holy Prophet has himself explained that this includes even himself. According to Ibn Abi Hatim, once when Hadrat `A'ishah was asked about Hadrat `Ali, she said, Do you ask me about the person who was among the most loved ones of the Holy Prophet and whose wife was the Holy Prophet's daughter and most beloved to him?" Then she related the event when the Holy Prophet had called Hadrat 'Ali and Fatimah and Hasan and Husain (may Allah be pleased with them all) and covered them all with a sheet of cloth and prayed: "O Allah, these are my household, remove uncleanness from them and make them pure." Hadrat 'A'ishah says, "I said: I also am included among your household (i.e. I may also be covered under the sheet and prayed for). " Thereupon the Holy Prophet replied" You stay out: you, . of course, are already included." A great many Ahadith bearing on this subject have been related by traditionalists like Muslim, Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Ibn Jarir, Hakim, Baihaqi, etc. on the authority of Abu Said Khudri, Hadrat 'A'ishah, Hadrat Anas, Hadrat Umm Salamah, Hadrat Wathilah bin Aqsa' and some other Companions, which show that the Holy Prophet declared Hadrat 'AIi and Fatimah and their two sons as his ahl al-bait. Therefore, the view of those who exclude them from the ahl al-bait is not correct.

Similarly the view of those people also is not correct, who, on the basis of the above-cited Ahadith, regard the wives of the Holy Prophet as excluded from his ahl al-bait. In the first place, anything which has been clearly stated in the Quran cannot be contradicted on the basis of a Hadith. Secondly, these Ahadith also do not have the meaning that is put on them. As related in some traditions that the Holy Prophet did not cover Hadrat 'A'ishah and Hadrat Umm Salamah under the sheet of cloth which he put on the four members of his family, dces not mean that he had excluded those ladies from his "household." But it means that the wives were already included in ahl al-bait, because the Qur'an, in fact, had addressed them as ahl al-bait. The Holy Prophet, however, thought that the apparent words of the Qur'an might cause somebody the misunderstanding about these members that they were excluded from the ahl al-bait. Therefore, he felt the need for clarification in their case and not in the case of his wives.

A section of the people have not only misconstrued this verse to the extent that they have made the word ahl al-bait exclusively applicable to Hadrat `AIi and Fatimah and their children to the exclusion of the holy wives, but have gone even further and concluded wrongly from its words "Allah only intends to remove uncleanliness from you and purify you completely", that Hadrat 'Ali and Fatimah and their children are infallible like the Prophets of Allah. They say that "uncleanliness" implies error and sin, and, as Allah says, these ahl al-bait have been purified of this, whereas the words of the verse do not say that uncleanliness has been removed from them and they have been purified. But the words are to the effect: "Allah intends to remove uncleanliness from you and purify you completely. " The context also does not tell that the object here is to mention the virtues and excellences of the Holy Prophet's household. On the contrary, they have been advised here what they should do and what they should not, because Allah intends to purify them. In other words, they have been told that if they adopted such and such an attitude and way of life, they will be blessed with cleanliness, otherwise not. However, if the words "Allah intends to remove uncleanliness from yon . . . " are taken to mean that Allah has made them infallible, then is no reason why all the Muslims who perform their ablutions before offering the Prayer are not held as infallible, because about them also Allah says: "But Allah wills to purify you and complete His blessings upon you." (Al-Ma'idah: 6)



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