Rafed English

The Word hijab (Modest Dress)

Before we begin our discussion, it is necessary to look at the meaning of the word hijab which is used in our age to refer to a woman's covering. This word gives the sense of 'covering' because it refers to a veil or a means of 'covering'. Perhaps it can be said that because of the origin of the word, not every covering is hijab. That 'covering' which is referred to as a hijab is that which appears behind a curtain. The Holy Quran describes the setting of the sun in the story of the Prophet Solomon,

"...until the sun was covered (bil hijab) and time for the afternoon ritual prayer was over." (38:32).

The diaphragm separating the heart from the stomach is also called 'hijab'.

The use of the word satr, in the sense of 'covering' was used instead of hijab, especially by the religious jurisprudents. The religious jurisprudents, whether in the section on the ritual prayers or in the section on marriage, refer to this issue and use the word satr and not hijab.

It would have been best if the word had not been changed and we had continued to use the word 'covering' or satr because, as we have said, the prevalent meaning of the word hijab is veil. If it is to be used in the sense of 'covering', it gives the idea of a woman being placed behind a curtain. This very thing has caused a great number of people to think that Islam has wanted women to always remain behind a curtain, to be imprisoned in the house and not to leave it.

The duty for covering, which has been established for women in Islam, does not necessarily mean that they should not leave their homes. It is not the intention of Islam to imprison women. We may find such ideas in the ancient, pre-Islamic past of some countries like Iran or India but no such thing exists in Islam.
The philosophy behind the hijab for woman in Islam is that she should cover her body in her associations with men 'whom she is not related to according to the Divine Law' (na-mahram) and that she does not flaunt and display herself.

The verses of the Holy Quran which refer to this issue affirm this and the edicts of the religious jurisprudents confirm it. We will refer to the extent of this covering by using the Quran and the Sunnah as sources. The relevant verses do not refer to the word hijab. Verses which refer to this issue, whether in Surah Nur (Chapter 24) or Surah Ahzab (Chapter 33), have mentioned the extent of the covering and contacts between men and women without using the word hijab. The verse in which the word hijab is used refers to the wives of the Holy Prophet of Islam.

We know that in the Holy Quran there are special commands about the Prophet's wives. The first verse addressed to them begins,

"O wives of the Prophet! You are not as other women..." (33:32).

Islam held the special relationship of the wives of the Prophet in such a great esteem that they were to remain at home for basically political and social reasons during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet and after his death. The Holy Quran says directly to the wives of the Prophet,

"Remain in your houses." (33:33).

Islam desired that the honor and respect of these 'Mothers of the Believers', who were held in great respect by the Muslims, not be misused and that they do not become a political and social tool for selfish and ambitious men.

The verse in which the word hijab is used is,

"...and when you ask his wives for any object, ask them from behind a curtain (hijab)..." (33:53).

According to history and Islamic tradition, when  ever you see the 'verse of hijab' referred to, for instance, "such and such was the case before the revelation of 'the verse of hijab" " or "such and such was the case after the revelation of 'the verse of hijab"", it refers to this verse which relates to the wives of the Prophet and not the verses of Surah Nur which states,

"Say to the believing men that they cast down their glance and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Surely God is Aware of what they do. And say to the believing women that they cast down their glance..." (24:3S31).

Or the verse of Surah Ahzab which states,

"O Prophet! Say to thy wives and daughters and the believing women that they draw their outer garments (jilabib) close to them. So it is more likely that they will be known and not hurt. God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate." (33:59)

But there is a question as to why, in the recent era, the current expression of the religious jurisprudents, that is, satr, did not become prevalent instead of hijab? The reason is unknown. Perhaps they mistook the Islamic hijab for the hijab which is traditional in other countries. We will give further explanation about this later articles.

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