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Traditions and Narrations about Hijab

There are a series of traditions in this area which completely explain this issue. In the previous lesson we presented the traditions that basically stated it was forbidden for a man to look at the face of a non-mahram woman. There are another series of traditions whose transmissions are questionable and are not relied upon by the 'ulama but they do explain things and offer good ethics.
There is the famous letter of Hazrat 'Ali to Imam Hasan which is a letter of advice, "To the extent possible keep your wife or wives away from mixing with others. Nothing protects a woman better than the home." The tradition contains the word ihtijab. It means to be hidden by a curtain. He said to Malik al-Ashtar, "Do not continue to separate (ihtijab) yourself from the people."

Where the Imam says to avoid women having to mix with non-mahram men, this is more healthy for women. This is truth. However much she is separated from non-mahram men, the danger of deviation lessons. Whereas today, we see how the danger has increased with their system in the modern world. Therefore, we cannot say that men and women mixing together creates less chances of danger.

There is another tradition which is reliable, the religious jurisprudents rely upon it.1 The Holy Prophet said, "The first look is yours but the second is to your loss." Is this giveing a ruling or taking a position? Some have said this is giving a ruling. They say the Holy Prophet said that one may look once at a woman but a second look is forbidden. Others say what is meant is that the first time when your eyes unintentionally fall on a woman's face it is possible, but a second time when it is done intentionally is not permitted. But still, others say that it is neither a ruling nor taking a position. The first time is unintentional but the second time it is with lust and this is why the Holy Prophet said the second time is to your loss.

There is another tradition whihc is a good lesson although it is not relied upon in jurisprudence. It is good ethics. It says the Holy Prophet asked, "What things are better than any other for women." No one answered. Imam Hasan, still a child, went home and asked what the answer was. Hazrat Fatimah said, "That she sees no man and no man sees her."2 This shows that for a woman looking at a man is also dangerous. It is safer and better if she does not meet non-mahram men. There is no position that this is so. What we are referring to is what is allowed so that a woman will face less difficulty and not what is safer and more secure. Clearly this is safer?3
There is another tradition, "A look is an arrow of satan"4 This, of course, refers to a look of lust. Or "Every thing has its adulterous form and the adultery of the eyes is to look,"5 referring to a look of lust and one which holds the fear of deviating.

1. "Wasa'il", vol.3, p.24.

2. "Wasa'il", vol.3, p.9.

3. It is possible that someone presents an intellectual reason which nullifies this deduction by saying, for instance, what difference is there between the hair and face that one is obligatory to cover one and not the other. Thus, we reason by practice and someone else presents and intellectual reason. It is sufficient for the person who is referring to practice, even if it be through presenting a possibility, that they invalidate it there is a difference. If it were practical, Islam would have clarified it, but it did not want people to fall into difficulty.

4. "Wasa'il", vol.3, p.24.

5. "Kafi", vol.5, p.539; and "Wasa'il", vol.3, p.24.

Adopted from the book : "On the Islamic Hijab" by : "Murtaza Mutahhari"

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