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What is Modest Clothing for Men and Women?

A woman in a headscarf or face veil is one of the most, if not the most, commonly associated image with Islam but the concept of modesty in Islam is a fascinating, profound concept. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives a methodical and thorough explanation of how it relates to both men and women.

Dalia Mogahed on The Hijab: A Case of Misplaced Blame?

Following Dalia Mogahed’s rivetting interview on the much-loved Daily Show with Trevor Noah, the following clarification on her Facebook page has created further ripples on social media.
Regarding a woman covering her head, consider these verses:
“For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, for as much as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man.Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have a sign of authority on her head because of the angels.”

No, not the Quran.

It is 1 Corinthians 11:7-11:11 in The Bible.
The problem I think is that many people have this understanding of the head cover (whether they know where it comes from or not), as literally a symbol of man’s authority over women and her inferiority, from the Judea-Christian tradition, and wrongly assume the same applies in Islam. It does not.
Here is the Quranic verses for comparison related to this topic:
“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and to be mindful of their chastity: this will be most con­ducive to their purity – [and,] verily, God is aware of all that they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and to be mindful of their chastity, and not to display their charms [in public] beyond what may [decently] be apparent thereof; hence, let them draw their head-coverings over their bosoms. And let them not display [more of] their charms to any but their husbands, or their fathers, or their husbands’ fathers, or their sons, or their husbands’ Sons, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their womenfolk, or those whom they rightfully possess, or such male attendants as are beyond all sexual desire, or children that are as yet unaware of women’s nakedness; and let them not swing their legs [in walking] so as to draw attention to their hidden charms And [always], O you believers – all of you – turn unto God in repentance, so that you might attain to a happy state!” (The Quran 24:30-31)

Dalia-Mogahed-Daily-ShowNot about subjugation

The Quranic verses clearly are dealing with matters of modesty and privatizing the display of beauty, and begin by addressing men to behave respectfully toward women without condition. Nothing at all implies the head covering is a symbol of subjugation or inferiority to men.

Resources for seekers:

Beyond Hijab: Modesty Amongst Women in Islam

In this lecture, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives advice on reframing the question of Hijab from one of form (clothing) to one of essence (modesty) by using the Prophetic example and the example of the best of women: Khadijah, Fatima, Maryam, A’isha, and Asiya (may Allah, Most High, be pleased with them all).

Is It Permissible to Walk Around Topless in Front of Unmarriageable Kin?

Question: I am a married woman living with my in-laws i.e. father-in-law, mother in-law and my husband’s sister. My husband says I can merely cover between my navel and knees in front of them because they are unmarriageable to me and there is no sign of lust or fitna. My husband also says that they can also touch those parts if needed as they are unlawful to marry and if there is no lust. Please tell me if this is correct or not.
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
The nakedness (`awra) of a woman in front of her unmarriageable kin (mahram) is from navel to knee, stomach and the back. [see: A Detailed Exposition of the Fiqh of Covering One’s Nakedness (awra)]
Note that the entire back is considered to be from the nakedness, not just the back of the stomach.
Uncovering the chest area would not be prohibited in and of itself, yet would be contrary to the dictates of modesty and what is befitting for a dignified Muslim woman. A sense of bashfulness and covering up are keys to taqwa. The Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Modesty is from faith.”
See: Modesty in Islam – Shaykh Ibrahim Osi-Efa – Video and: IslamCast Daily Hadith – 018 – Modesty is From Faith
And Allah alone gives success.
wassalam,
Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani