THE COMMAND TO ANNOUNCE YOUR
ENTRANCE TO SOMEONE'S HOUSE
We will begin our discussion with the verses from Surah Nur. Of course the verses which relate directly to the hijab are verses of 30 and 31 of Surah Nur but there are three verses before this which are more or less introductory to the hijab and relate to this issue.
"O believers, do not enter houses other than your houses until you first ask leave and salute the people thereof; that is better for you; haply you will remember."1 This verse describes the duty of a man who is not mahram, to the house of another person, that is, the house of a person whose wife is not mahram to him. Of course, there are rules regarding those who are mahram and we will mention them later. Also there are some places where it is not particular to those who are mahram. It relates to how a person who wants to enter the house of another
1. Quran, 24 : 26.
To begin with, let me say that during the Age of Ignorance before the Holy Quran was revealed, the present situation of houses did not exist with locks, etc. Doors are closed basically because of the fear of thieves. If someone wanted to enter, he would ring the doorbell or use the knocker. In the Age of Ignorance this situation did not exist. It was more like the situation in villages. People like myself who lived in the village know that there were basically no doors shut. The doorst to the courtyard are always open. In many places it is not even the practice to lock the doors at night. In Fariman a village near Tehran where I live I do not remember the door to the yard being closed even once and there was very little theft.
History shows that, in particular in Makkah, they often did not even put doors for a house. In Islam a law was passed that a person never owns the houses of Makkah. Of course, there is a difference of opinion among the religious jurisprudents. The Imams and the Shafe'ites agree that in Makkah, the land cannot belong to anyone person. That is, it belongs to all Muslims and the land of Makkah cannot be bought and sold. The houses belong to all the people. It has the ruling of a mosque. In Surah Hajj it says that the people who live there and the people who come from outside that area are all the same.
These rents which people get today in Makkah neither agrees with the Shi'ite jurisprudence nor with much of the jurisprudence of Sunnis. It must have an international ruling. They have no right to establish limits there and not allow a person to enter. It belongs to him but he has no right to prevents others from entering. The person has no right to close off an empty room. Of course, if a person is using it, he has priority.
The first peson who gave the order for doors to be placed on the houses was Mu'awiyah. This had been forbidden to be done to the houses of Makkah. This was the general situation.
It was not the custom among Arabs in the Age of Ignorance to announce that they wanted permission to enter. They felt it was an insult to seek permission to enter. The Holy Quran says in another verse, if you go and seek permission and it is not granted, return. This may be considered to be an insult by some but this emphasis in the Holy Quran is one of the introductory aspects of the hijab because every woman in her own home is in a situation that she does not want to be seen or she does not want to see a person. A verse was revealed. "And when you ask his wives for something, ask them from behind a curtain (hijab)"1
Thus, a person must first seek permission to enter and then in agreement with the owner, the person enters even if the other party knows that he wants to enter.
The Holy Prophet said, "In order to announce yor entrance, recall God's name in a loud voice. I later realized the words 'ya Allah' that Muslim say, for instance, to enter, is the implementation of this command.
Thus, announce and how much better it is when this announcement is made by the recitation of God's name. The Holy Prophet continuously did this and he was asked, "Is this a general ruling that we should use when we enter our sister's house, our daughter's house, our mother's house?" He said, "If your mother is getting undressed, would she want you to see her then? They said, "NO." He said, "Then this same ruling holds for one's mother's house. Do not enter without announcing your entrance."
When the Holy Prophet would enter, he would stand behind the door of the room in a place where they could bear his vioce and would call out, "Assalamo alaikum ya ahlal bait". He said, "if you hear no answer, perhaps the person did not hear you. Repeat it again in a loud voice. Repeat for a third time if you receive no response. If, after the third time that you announce
1. Quran, 33 : 53.
yourself, you hear no response, either that person is not home or the person does not want you to enter; Return". The Holy Prophet did this and many stories have been narrated about this, such as when he wanted to enter his daughter's house, he would call out salutations in a loud voice. If she resonded, he would enter. If he called out three times and received no response, he would return.
There is something here to note which is the difference between dar and bait in Arabic. Dar is that which we call courtyard and they call a room as bait. The Holy Quran refers to bait, that is, when you want to enter the room of a person. Since the doors to the courtyards were open, the courtyard clearly did not assume an area of privacy. That is, if a woman was dressed in such a way that she did not want anyone to see her, she would not be so dressed in the courtyard. She would go into a room. The courtyard has the ruling of a room. The door is closed and it normally has high walls. Women still consider the courtyard to be, to a certain extent, a place of privacy. Now dar has the ruling of bait because bait basically means the place of privacy where a woman does not want a strange person to see her.
"This is purer for you." That is, the commands We give are better for you, contain goodness, are not illogical.
"Know that this is good."
"And if you do not find anyone therein, enter it not until I leave is given to you and if you are told 'return'. That is purer for you; and God knows the things you do." "There is no fault in you that you enter uninhabited houses wherein enjoyment is for you. God knows what you reveal and what you hide."1 This was very difficult for the Arabs to understand. To seek permission when they wanted to enter a house was itself difficult and then to be told to return and to return was next to impossible. It was an insult.
1. Quran, 24 : 27-28.
In the verse, "there is no fault in you ...", an exception arises. Does this ruling apply whenever one wants to enter any or only a person's residence. The Holy Quran says this is not a general ruling and only applies to someone's home.
A home is a place of privacy, the place of one's private life but if it was not, there would be need to seek permission. If there is, for instance, a caravanserai and you have business, do you have to seek permission, etc. No. Here it is not necessary to enter by seeking permission. What about a public bath. There is no need here. "There is no fault in you ..." if it is not a place of residence in which you have business. "God knows what you reveal and what you hide."
From the word, 'uninhabited', one can understand that the philosophy of why a person cannot enter the home of another without announcing it first is because of the wife as well as the fact that the home is the place of one's privacy. Perhaps there are things which one does not want someone else to see.
Thus, when a person enters the privacy of another's home, the entrance must be announced. A person must, in some way, announce that he wants to enter even if the person knows that the other has allowed him to enter. He is your friend. He knows that you are going to enter. You know that he is totally in agreement with your entering. Still, you should realize that you are entering upon his privacy.
"Say to the believing men that they cast down their look and guard their private parts; that is purer for them. God is aware of the things they do."1
THE COMMAND TO 'CAST DOWN
"Say to the believing women that they cast down their look and guard their private parts and reveal not their adornment
1. Quran, 24 : 30.
except such as it outward and let them cast their veils (khumar) over their bosoms and reveal not their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, or their husbnad's fathers or their sons or their husband's sons, or their brothers or their brother's sons, or their sister's sons or their women or what their right hands own, or such men as attend to them, not having sexual desire, or children who have not yet attained knowledge of women's private parts; nor let them stamp their feet, so that their hidden ornaments may be known. And turn all together to God, O you believers, so you will prosper."1
In the phrase, "tell the believing men to cast down their look", there are two words which we have to define. One is ghadh and the other is absar. A person who might say absar, the plural of obsar, needs no explanation because it means eyes but absar, essetially means 'sight'. If it had said 'ain as in ghamadh'ain it would have meant 'close their eyes'. It would have had a particular meaning in this case. What does ghadh basar mean? Ghadh means 'lower', 'cast down', not 'cover' or 'close'. We see this in another verse, "Be modest in thy walk and lower (yaghaddwu) thy voice; the most hideous of voices is the ass's."2 This does not mean to be silent. A person's voice should be moderate. In the same way, 'to cast down one's look' means not to look in a fixed way, not to stare.
In a famous tradition of Hind ibn Abi Halah which describes the Holy Prophet, it is recorded, "When he was happy, he would cast down his glance."3 It is clear it does not mean he closed his eyes.
Majlisi in Bihar interprets the sentence about the Holy Prophet thus: "He would cover his gaze and put down his head.
1. Quran, 24 : 31.
2. Quran, 31 : 16.
3. Tafsir ul-Quran, Safi, 24 : 31, narrated from a tradition of 'Ali ibn Ibrahim Qummi.
He did this so that his happiness would not show."
Hazrat 'Ali in the Nahj-ul-Balaghah says to his son Imam Hasan, when he gave a banner to him in the battle of Jamal "Even if the mountains are uprooted, do not leave your place. Clench your teeth (so that your anger increases), bare your head to God and nail your feet to the ground. Survey the enemy's forces and cast down your look"1 That is, 'do not fix your gaze on the enemy'.
There are essentially two ways of looking. One is to look at another with care as if you were evaluating the person by the wasy he looked or dressed. But another kind of looking is in order to speak to that person and you look since looking is necessary for conversation. This is a looking which is introductory and a means for speaking. This is an organic looking while the former is an autonomous kind. Thus the sentence means: "Tell the believers not to state at or flirt with women."
In the next sentence it says, "Tell the believing men ... to guard their private parts." (24 : 30) To guard from what? From everything which is not correct, guard against both corruption and the glance of others.
ON THE COMMAND TO GUARD
THEIR PRIVATE PARTS
THEIR PRIVATE PARTS
As you know, it was not the custom among Arabs in the Age of Ignorance to hide their private parts. Islam came and made it obligatory to cover this area.
It should be noted that the present western civilization is moving directly towards the habits of the pre-Islamic Arabs in the Age of Ignorance and they are continuously weaving philosophies justifying that nakedness is a good thing. Russell in "On Discipline", says that another illogical ethics or taboo is
1. Nahj al-Balaghah, Sermon 110.
that a mother and father tell their children to cover themselves which only creates a greater curiosity in children and parents should show their sexual organs to children so that they become aware of whatever there is from the beginning. Now, they do this.
But the Holy Quran says, "And guard your private parts", both from corruption and from the view of others. Covering one's private parts is obligatory in Islam except, of course, between a husband and wife and it is among the most disapproved acts for a mother to be naked before her son or a father before his daughter.
"That is purer for them. God is aware of the things they do"1. The Holy Prophet said that from childhood a certain event occurred several times. He sensed that there was another kind of power within him and it would not allow him to do things that were being done during the Age of Ignorance. He said once when he was a child he was playing with the children. Masons were building a house for one of the Quraish nearby. The children enjoyed helping the builders by bringing them stones, bricks, etc. The children would carry them in their long white skirts (underneath which they wore nothing) and then place them before the builders. In doing so, their private parts would be revealed. The Holy Prophet related that he went and put a stone in the skirt of his long chemise and when he wanted to rise, something stopped him and hit against the skirt of his dress. He repeated it and he had the same feeling. He then realized that he should not do this and he did not try again.2
"Say to the believing women that they cast down their look."3 You see that in these two verses, the ruling particular to men. For instance, if women were forbidden from ruling for a
1. Nahj al-Balaghah, Sermon 227.
2. Ibn Abil Hadid, Sharhe Nahj al-Balaghah, Sermon 190.
3. 24 : 31.
men and women is the so me this is not something looking and not men, there would have been a distinction that such and such ws allright for men but not for women. It is clear, then, that when there is no distinction made between men and women, it has another purpose which we shall discuss in the next lesson.
The word farj is used in Arabic to refer to both a man and a woman's private parts. The fact that men and women have both been commanded to guard their modesty, to guard their private parts is in relation to two things: the view of others and this includes everybody except a husband and wife, and the other is that one should guard one's modesty from corruption, from adultery. If we look at the external form of the verse, perhaps we would conclude that it only refers to corruption but because, from the time of the prophet's companions and the very first commentaries up the Holy Quran, it has been clearly recorded that wherever the Holy Quran says, "guard their private parts," it means from adultery except in those verses where it is to guard the private parts from the view of others. Thus, this verse, either refers to the collective view or it refers to the view of others if we take the traditions into account. There is no difference of opinion here.
THE ISLAMIC HIJAB - PART II
THE COMMAND NOT TO REVEAL THEIR ADORNMENT
"AND TO GUARD THEIR PRIVATE PARTS"
THE ISLAMIC HIJAB - PART II
THE COMMAND NOT TO REVEAL THEIR ADORNMENT
"AND TO GUARD THEIR PRIVATE PARTS"
The third duty is not to reveal "their adornment ..." which refers to that which is separate from the body like jewels and gold as well as things that are attached to the body like hena and collyrium.
Women should "not reveal their adornment ... except such as is outward." What does this refer to? Is it beauty which is most often hidden under clothes that must not be revealed? Then what is that which "is outward"? From the beginning of Islam, many questions arose in relation to "except such as is outward" which were asked from the companions of the Holy Prophet and the helpers and many Shi'ites asked the infallible Imams. There is almost total agreement regarding this point. That is, whether one is Sunni who refers to the companions and helpers of the Holy Prophet or one be a Shi'ite who refers to the recorders of those traditions, there is more or less agreement that which "is outward" is collyrium, a ring and, in some an anklet.
That is, adornments which are used on the two hands and the face. This then shows that it is not obligatory for women to cover their face or their hands. Things which adorn them may appear as long as they are part of common usage. The adornments which are applied to the hands and the face are not obligatory to be covered.
There are great many traditions in relation to this. It was asked from Imam Sadiq what may be displayed of adornments. That is, those things which are not obligatory to cover. He said, "It refers to collyrium and a ring and they are on the face and hands."1 Abi Basir said he asked Imam Sadiq about the exception and he said a ring and bracelet.2
1. "Kafi", vol.5, p.521 and Wasail", vol.3, p.25.
Threre is a tradition recorded by a person who was not a Shi'ite but because of his reliability, he is referred to and quoted by the 'ulama'. He says that he heard from Ja'far ibn Muhammad (A.S.) that the exception is the face and the hands. These are all similar in what they say. When the face and hands do not need to be covered, then their adornment, even more so.
There is another tradition narrated by 'Ali ibn Ibrahim from Imam Baqir, peace be upon him. He was asked about this exception and he said it includes the woman's clothes, collyrium, ring and colouring of the palms of the hands and a bracelet.1 Then the Imam said that we have three levels of adornment, the adornment all people may see, the adornment which mahram may see and the adornment for one's spouse. That which may be displayed for the people is the face and hands and their adornment such as collyrium, a ring, a bracelet but the adornment which may be displayed before someone who is mahram is the neck and above including a necklace, an armlet, hands plus an anklet and anything below the ankles. There is, of course, a difference of opinion as to what can be revealed before someone who is mahram. That which can be concluded from the totality of the traditions and according to the edicts of the religious jurisprudents is that no one is mahram other than one's husband from the navel to the knees. That is, a woman must cover herself from the navel to the knee from even her father or brother and from the navel above, it must be covered from everyone except one's father. But for the husband, a woman may display her whole body.
We have other traditions in this area as well such as the fact that women must 'veil their bosoms'. Before the revelation of this verse, women would wear a scarf but they would place the ends behind their head so that their earrings, neck and chest would show sinc their dresses were most often v-necked. With
1. "Tafsir ul Quran, Safi", 24 : 31.
the revelation of this verse, it became clear that they had to cover their ears, neck and chest with their head covering. There is a tradition recorded by Ibn 'Abbas, the well known transmitter of traditions, that it is obligatory for women to cover their chests and necks.1
The first exception we have referred to relates to what is not obligatory to be covered. The second exception refers to those before whom it is not obligatory to cover such as fathers, husbands, children, etc.