Submit :
News                      Photos                     Just In                     Debate Topic                     Latest News                    Articles                    Local News                    Blog Posts                     Pictures                    Reviews                    Recipes                    
RESPONSE: Islamic veil in the light of Qur'an and Sunnah
Just like a house built on a shaky plinth, Mr Satbir Singh Bedi has written an article on the Islamic practice of veil, which has not only shown his flimsy knowledge of the subject, but also his illogical understanding of the figurative speech.

The author starts by writing that there is no ‘theological justification for wearing Burqa, Hijab or Chador in Islam’. Had the author relied not only on his distorted opinion, and bothered to research a bit on the subject, he wouldn’t have ended up making such false claims. In fact, the title of the article, which claims that “Muslims force women to Burqa”, is so catchy that one can’t but click on the link. But unfortunately, what a reader ends up reading is a piece of skewed perceptions, sweeping statements that lack any background, research or supporting statements that could have substantiated the tall claims.

Not that I, as a Muslim, can’t tolerate criticism of Islam or its practices, but what compelled me to write this rebuttal, is that the author, who apparently suffers from Islamophobia, has no moral authority to write on the subject. Reason: Had he been a Muslim (of course, Muslims know more about Islam just like followers of other religions know their religions) he would have been in a better position to write on the subject. The only other case, which I can think of, is that the writer had made comparative religious studies or studied Islam in detail. Looking at this factually incorrect and grossly misleading write-up, one doesn’t feel at any point in time that the author has studied the subject or been in the company of scholars to know the subject.

Now, I would like to quote the author and respond to his illogical and skewed perceptions.

Contrary to widely held belief, there is no theological justification whatsoever for wearing the Burqa or Hijab or Chador in Islam. At best, there are sayings from the Islamic Prophet that insist that both sexes dress 'with modesty'. But the reality is different.

First, Muslims have been told by Prophet (PBUH) to follow Qur’an, and Sunnah (way of life prescribed as normative for Muslims on the basis of the teachings and practices of Prophet). So whatever we follow doesn’t have to necessarily come from Qur’an only, it can trace its roots to Sunnah as well. All these teachings are available to us in the form of books of Hadith (saying of Prophet) like Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim etc.

“...and not display their beauty except what is apparent, and they should place their khumur over their bosoms...” (Quran 24:31)

Khumur: Plural of word ‘Khamar’, according to Arabic dictionary, Lisanu ’l-‘Arab, Majma‘u ’l-Bahrayn or al-Munjid, means the veil covering the head.

So when the author writes there are no theological justifications – it speaks of his complete ignorance of the subject. Now, we need to understand that every verse of Qur’an was revealed upon our Prophet (PBUH) with a proper context.

According to the commentators of the Qur’an, the women of Medina in the pre-Islamic era used to put their khumur over the head with the two ends tucked behind and tied at the back of the neck, in the process exposing their ears and neck. By saying that, “place the khumur over the bosoms,” Almighty Allah ordered the women to let the two ends of their headgear extend onto their bosoms so that they conceal their ears, the neck, and the upper part of the bosom also. (Ar-Razi, at-Tafsiru ’l-Kabir, vol.23, p. 179)

There is, at best, difference among various Islamic scholars whether women should hide their faces as well or not, but saying that hijab, burqa or chador don’t exist in Islam is totally false.

“O Prophet! Say to your wives, your daughters, and the women of the believers that: they should let down upon themselves their jalabib.” (Surah Ahzab: 59)

Jalabib, plural of jilbab in Arabic means a loose outer garment. This one is like Abaya (loose cloak – Google the word) worn by Muslim women these days.

Summing up, Qur’an and Hadith clearly state that women should use a veil, but it hasn’t fixed a colour, a particular type of cloth. So women are at liberty to choose the stuff and the colour of their headgear.

For example, women who choose to make the Islamic pilgrimage (Hajj) are pointedly forbidden to conceal their faces. The contention that facial concealment is a religious requirement in Islam is thus incorrect. In fact, wearing a veil or hijab is a jewish custom which the Islam supposedly adopted after coming into contact with the Jews.

Talking about covering of face by women during Hajj, this is what Prophet (not Qur’an) had to say:

Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) said: "The Muhrimah (a female in Ihram - a sacred state a Muslim should be in while performing Hajj) should not cover her face, nor should she wear gloves."

This Hadith also proves that women should, in circumstances other than during Hajj, or in the presence of husband, father, in-laws, children etc., would cover their faces too. Otherwise, why would Prophet (PBUH) need to direct women not to cover their faces?

Having said that, it is permissible, according to scholars, for her to cover her face if she fears the gaze of non-Mahram (men with whom a woman can marry) men upon her. When scholars say this , these base statements on the following saying:

It was narrated that Aisha (Prophet's wife) said, "The riders would pass by us while we were with the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) in a state of Ihram. When one of them would ride next to us, we would take our Jilbab and cover (coming down with the cloth from our heads) our face. When the rider would pass, we would uncover once again."

Now, talking of Hijab as a “Jewish custom which Islam adopted after coming in contact with Jews”, the author fails to understand that Islam and Judaism are both Abrahamic religions, and I would like to inform the ill-informed author that there are many customs which are similar to both Muslims and Jews. Qur’an talks in detail about Moses (PBUH) and Muslims regard him as a great prophet who would talk to Almighty Allah. Talking of customs, as an example, Jews also eat Halal (kosher) meat and wouldn’t consume pork. Again, it doesn't justify that the practice has been borrowed from Jews. Yes, there are some Rabbis saying that the practice existed in Jewish culture too. But then, it has been so in Christians as well.

One of the reasons the veil was brought into vogue was for saving the chastity of Muslim women but has it been effective? The answer is a clear 'No'. There are so many Muslim women who become unfortunate victims of crime against women - either by men outside their household or within. Though crime against women is not religion or community specific. It also takes also place among and within Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Jews.

When you say that women are victims of crime – either my men outside their household or within – Firstly, women have been directed by Allah in clear terms “…not to reveal their adornment save to their own husbands or fathers or husbands' fathers, or their sons or their husbands' sons, or their brothers or their brothers' sons or sisters' sons, or their women, or their slaves, or male attendants who lack vigour, or children who know naught of women's nakedness.” (Qur’an 24:31)

In the light of above verse, women don’t have to use hijab, burqa, or jilbab inside their homes, so what is the basis of the argument that ‘veil has failed to save chastity of Muslim women within their household’? They have been directed not to use it inside their homes, so a woman molested or raped inside her home can’t be blamed on the veil!

Not every Muslim woman wears hijab or veil, so when you say outside men inflict crime on them, how do you know they were veiled? Is there a study that tells you only veiled women were molested and the ones without it were spared by criminals? Then you go on to say that crimes occur in other religions too, so why create a fuss over veil? There may be many instances when women wearing veil might have escaped the eyes of criminals. Since no such studies have been conducted, so I can’t tell you if wearing of veil has saved any woman or not.

Nevertheless, Muslim women (who choose hijab out of will) are also obeying the commandment of Allah. After all, Islam means ‘complete submission”. I have a doctor friend who works at one of premier hospitals in India. She wears a hijab and she fells proud and comfortable walking around in that attire. She is not married yet and stays away from her family in Delhi. Just like her, there are hundreds of thousands of women who choose Hijab out of their own will.

Unfortunately, the veil is not able to protect weak or vulnerable Muslim women as poverty and other circumstances often trigger their entry into prostitution. They also get trapped, in order to improve their lot, into marrying rich Sheikhs from Arab countries. Among Hindus and Sikhs, the 'pallu' does not protect women from crime against them by their men. I am only trying to point out that the 'use' and 'objective' of a veil has been politicized and abused.

Poverty forces women into prostitution. There is no denying the fact but why single out Muslim women only? Is there any survey that says only Muslim women become prostitutes, or most prostitutes are Muslims? Anyway, how is that related to hijab? I fail to see the connection here. How can you blame veil for failing to stop women from prostitution and similar acts when you know that it is the poverty that makes people mad and forces them to resort to any means – irrespective of its effect on their life.

Muslim men force Muslim women to wear Hijab but do they follow all the customs mentioned in the Sharia? Such people might be in minority but they exist - just like Hindus and Sikhs who are hypocritical in behavior. Personally speaking, I have found, that as demanded by Sharia, most Muslims do not shave off their moustache and keep an untrimmed beard. They also do not pray five times a day. In fact, praying is sometimes not even part of their daily schedule among some Muslims. To give examples of Muslim public personalities Nawaz Sharif, General Musharraf, Asif Ali Zardari and other top leaders in Pakistan do not keep beards. Moreover, I have seen that top Muslim women like Sheikh Hasina, Khaleda Zia, late Begum Bhutto and many more never wore a Hijab. So why are poor Muslim women forced to wear Hijab by their husbands? Surely, this requires deep thinking.

There might be many Muslims who force women to wear hijab but don’t follow the sharia themselves. Agreed, that is hypocrisy and as has been made out, a general human problem in all religions. How can we say that Hijab is forced on Muslim women? I don't deny there might be a number of such cases, but where are the cases to support your claim? You can just make a claim without supporting it with at least a study that says women are forced to wear veils.

Talking of people who don’t follow the tenets of Islam religiously, how can this argument be used as a basis to question the validity of the existence of these practices? Just like ‘two wrongs don’t make one right’ how can we even use the statement that Sheikh Hasina, Khalida Zia and Begum Bhutto (which should have been Benazir Bhutto) didn’t wear hijab to say that the practice is not Islamic?

Just like followers of all religions, there are Muslims who religiously follow the practices and there are others who don’t follow all practices. If you like people like Asif Ali Zardari and Khalida Zia, that is your choice, but you can’t use them to criticize the practices these people don’t follow.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
Email Id
Verification Code
Email me on reply to my comment
Email me when other CJs comment on this article
Sign in to set your preference
Afra Siab. I am not a Muslim hater. I love Dara Shikoh type of Muslims. Muslims are divided into two categories. The first category of Muslims are Dara Shikoh type of Muslims who sing Poet Iqbal's song "Saare Jahaan Se Achcha Hindustan Hamara. Hindi hain watan hai hindustan Hamara" (Our India is better than any other country in the world. We are Indians and India is our country). They easily adjust to being the national of their country, be it India or Pakistan or Bangladesh or Iraq, etc. They are also happy to live in multi-cultural surroundings and are full of adjustments. They believe in mingling with the locals. They are never associated with any terrorist activities and hence their conscience never bothers them. The second category of Muslims are Aurangzeb type of Muslims who sing Poet Iqbal's song "Cheen-o-Arab Hamara, Iran bhi Hamara. Muslim Hain Watan Hai Saara Jahaan Hamara".(China is ours, Arab is ours, Iran also is ours. We are Muslims and the whole world is our Nation). It is these later type of Muslims who do not want to sing the National song "Vande Mataram". These later type of Muslims think that Muslims are internationalist and have no nationality. They think that all Muslims are brothers whether they belong to Algeria, Iraq, Iran, India or Pakistan or any other country. They feel that Muslims must act for an Independent Muslim Caliphate and should have only one interpretation of Quran and Sunnah. They also feel that Martyrdom is the highest achievement in a Muslims life and Martyrs never die. These Martyrs including suicide bombers would straightaway go to heaven where Allah will welcome them and present them with seventy two beautiful virgins. So, these Muslims feel that one must die for Islam whose interpretations should be one. They constitute the hardliners who often become terrorists or their supporters. They too have no burden on their conscience because they believe that they are doing Allah's work killing the infidels and establishing an Islmist regime. I take it that the first category can bear their burden lightly because they are not guilty of extremism. I love these Dara Shikoh type of Muslims.
@ Afra Siab. Here is what a prominent Muslim author has to say about veil: The Moderate Muslim Misogynist By Inas Younis, New Age Islam June 6, 2013 When a man opens the door for a woman, or carries her belongings, or provides for her so she does not need to work outside the home, Feminists call it sexism; we call it chivalry. Feminists call it condescension; we call it foreplay. Feminists call it oppression; we call it romance. In the Muslim world, a little benevolent sexism can be sexy. Islam characterises a woman's nature as being pure and in need of protection. Women are idealized and placed on a pedestal to preserve their more glorified view of reality. Women in Islam are encouraged to accept that they have physical disadvantages, because Islam has transformed these into a social advantage, by affording them a privileged status. Of course, all of this plays out rather ceremoniously, if at all. But it is part of the social contract Muslim women have traditionally embraced. The attraction of Islamic sexism is that it's optional; there is nothing in Islam which makes blind subservience a mandatory article of faith. And contrary to anything the Muslim establishment might say, veiling and seclusion is neither mandatory nor traditionally Islamic per se. The spirit of Islam is designed to give women a sanitized version of freedom, as in freedom with security. It recommends obedience, as a courtesy to the masculine spirit, which we admittedly love and wish to preserve.
Khadeeja Zarreen
It is pathetic that you are again mistaken Uncle Satbir. Your statement is an absolute figment of your imagination - "Burqa has essentially become a symbol of showing to the world that the woman wearing it is a Muslim." Did you ever think why we have to pronounce from house tops that we are Muslims ? We r Muslims from the bottom of our Heart ! We are Muslims - this is the begining and this is the end. Modesty is a part of our relgion and we follow our religion. We can't help if you fall a victim of inferiority complex by just looking at the burqa or hijab. We have plethora of articulate Muslim women who can defend their rights. Sir, as you often mention in your articles that you are not keeping well, I suggest you take a holiday from writing and spend some time with Baba Ramdev Maharaj in the green peaceful hills of Himalyas. Try all possible YOGA gymnatics and shout and laugh loudly with unlimited decibles like they could only laugh at themselves and others. Both of you would enjoy and entetain umpteen physical and spiritual benefits. And may I suggest you take with you the book "Nine Lives" by William Dalrymple. The whole book is interesting but the very first chapter would be an eye opener. As a well read journalist you must be knowing a lot about ascetics standard of Digambra Jain Monks. Read what is SALLEKHANA - a ritual fast to death which they call triumph of hope over death. Go to a Jain monastry if you don't know. Do you know how a jain Sadwi takes DIKSHAW ? If you don't know I shall tell you. At the ceremony of DIKSHAW a senior Mataji applies the warm ash of dried cow dung at the hair of young beautiful 14 years girl while a group of expert matajis pluck the hair from the LIVE ROOTS. This ash acts as antiseptic and traquilizer during the bleeding of head. This hot ash helps the hands of young matajis from slipping over the delicate hair of potential Sadhvi. Get up uncle please ! No, it is not violence and cruelty. It is religion. Do you know the DEVEDASI PRATHA of enlightened state of Maharshtra ? Die you ever meet the daughteres of Yellamma ? Have you ever visited the creamation ground at Tarapith in Bengal ? Once you finish the tour of these horrible scenareos, I have another bag full STORY BOOKS of real atrocities perpetrated in your back yard. So before you cricize at the tenets of my religion of cast culpable offenses of casting aspersions at my Prophet (PBUH) I request to look at the garbage you carrying at your back and stinks emnating from your backyard. Stop worrying about us. Take care of your hose before I remind you another mythological story why there is a blotch on Moon. Have a nice bed rest uncle !
merinews for RTI activists
In This Article
(951 Articles)

Not finding what you are looking for? Search here.