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The Family

The family in Islam is a unit in which a man and woman unite to share life together according to the rules and regulations laid down by the Shari'ah. They become as close to each other as a garment is to the body. The husband's honour becomes an integral part of his wife's honour, and vice versa. They share each other's prosperity and adversity. Thus in Islam the bridal couple are united as husband and wife in the presence of witnesses seeking Allah's blessings to increase in mutual love and compassion and agreeing to care for each other in sickness and adversity. This fundamental principle of Islamic marriage, understood and observed by the spouses, is the basis of the institution of Muslim marriage. In the family, the man is charged with the duty of being the leader of the family and the woman is assigned the duty of looking after the household. Even if the man has more responsibility than the woman and thereby has a degree over her, it does not make a husband inherently better than his wife. The Qur'an contains a verse which says:

And in no wise covet those things in which Allah has bestowed His gifts more freely on some of you than others: to men is allotted what they earn, and to women what they earn... (4:32)
Commenting on this verse Sheikh Muhammad 'Abduh says that it does not imply that every man is better than every woman or vice versa, but it emphasizes that: "each sex, in general, has some preferential advantage over the other, though men have a degree over women . " What is this "degree"? There are different views about it. One view is that it means the qualities of leadership, surveillance and maintenance which are bestowed on men. Another view is that it signifies the tolerance with which men must treat their wives even when in extremely bad moods. Yet another view is that it is man's natural gift from Allah for judging matters pertaining to his family and managing the problems affecting it. However, the consensus of the scholars is that the "degree" comprises the principle of guardianship and nothing more.

Muhammad 'Abduh feels that guardianship has four elements: protection, surveillance, custody, and maintenance. 'Abd al-'Ati considers that over and above these four elements is the element of obedience. According to 'Abd al-'Ati obedience consists of the following aspects:

  1. A wife must neither receive male strangers nor accept gifts from them without her husband's approval.

  2. A husband has the legal right to restrict his wife's freedom of movement. He may prevent her from leaving her home without his permission unless there is a necessity or legitimate reason for her to do otherwise. However, it is his religious obligation to be compassionate and not to unreasonably restrict her freedom of movement. If there arises a conflict between this right of the husband and the rights of the wife's parents to visit her and be visited by her, the husband's right prevails in the wider interest of the family. Yet the Shari'ah recommends that he be considerate enough to waive his rights to avoid shame within the family.

  3. A refractory wife has no legal right to object to her husband exercising his disciplinary authority. Islamic law, in common with most other systems of law, recognizes the husband's right to discipline his wife for disobedience.

  4. The wife may not legally object to the husband's right to take another wife or to exercise his right of divorce. The marital contract establishes her implicit consent to these rights. However, if she wishes to restrict his freedom in this regard or to have similar rights, she is legally allowed to do so. She may stipulate in the marital agreement that she too will have the right to divorce or that she will keep the marriage bond only so long as she remains the only wife. Should he take a second wife, she will have the right to seek a divorce in accordance with the marriage agreement.


Modesty

Modesty is a virtue which Islam demands of Muslim men and women. The most powerful verses commanding the believers to be modest occur in Surah al-Nur and begin with the words:

Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that will make for greater purity for them: and Allah is well aware of what they do. (24:31)
The rule of modesty is equally applicable to men and women. A brazen stare by a man at a woman or another man is a breach of correct behaviour. The rule is meant not only to guard women, but is also meant to guard the spiritual good of men. Looking at the sexual anarchy that prevails in many parts of the world, and which Islam came to check, the need for modesty both in men and women is abundantly clear. However it is on account of the difference between men and women in nature, temperament, and social life, that a greater amount of veiling is required for women than for men, especially in the matter of dress. A complete code of modesty is laid down in the Qur'an as follows:

And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; and that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty save to 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 women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical desire, or small children who have no sense of sex; and that they should not stamp their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O believers! Turn all together towards Allah, that you may attain bliss. (24:31)
A key term in the above verse is zinat. It means both natural beauty and artificial ornaments. The word as used in the above verse seems to include both meanings. Women are asked not to make a display of their figures, not to wear tight clothing that reveals their shapeliness, nor to appear in such dress except to:

  • their husbands,
  • their relatives living in the same house with whom a certain amount of informality is permissible,
  • their women, that is, in the strict sense, their maid-servants who are constantly in attendance on them, but in a more liberal sense, all believing women,
  • old or infirm men-servants, and
  • infants or small children who have not yet got a sense of sex
While Muslim men are required to cover the body between the navel and the knee, every Muslim woman is asked to cover her whole body excluding the face and hands from all men except her husband. The following traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) give us further guidance in the matter:

"It is not lawful for any woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day that she should uncover her hand more than this and then he placed his hand on his wrist joint. "When a woman reaches puberty no part of her body should remain uncovered except her face and the hand up to the wrist joint."
'A'isha reports that once she appeared got up in finery before her nephew, 'Abdullah ibn al-Tufail. The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not approve of it. "I said, 'O Apostle of Allah, he is my nephew.' The Prophet replied, 'When a woman reaches puberty it is not lawful for her to uncover any part of her body except the face and this and then he put his hand on the wrist joint as to leave only a little space between the place he gripped and the palm."

Asma', the sister of 'A'isha and daughter of Abu Bakr, came before the Prophet in a thin dress that showed her body. The Prophet turned his eyes away and said, "O Asma'! When a woman reaches puberty, it is not lawful that any part of her body be seen, except this and this" - and then he pointed to his face and the palms of his hands. Hafsah, daughter of 'Abdur-Rahman, once came before 'A'isha wearing a thin shawl over her head and shoulders. 'A'isha tore it up and put a thick shawl over her. The Messenger of Allah also said, "Allah has cursed those women who wear clothes yet still remain naked." The khalif, 'Umar, once said, "Do not clothe your women in clothes that are tight-fitting and reveal the shapeliness of the body." The above-mentioned traditions make it explicitly clear that the dress of Muslim women must cover the whole body, except for the face and hands, whether in the house or outside, even with her nearest relatives. She must not expose her body to anybody except her husband, and must not wear a dress that shows the curves of her body. Some scholars, like Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani, are of the opinion that, because modern times are particularly full of fitnah (mischief), women should go as far as to cover their faces because even the face may attract sexual glances from men. Shaikh al-Albani says, "We admit that the face is not one of the parts of the body to be covered, but it is not permissible for us to hold to this taking into consideration the corruption of the modern age and the need to stop the means for further corruption."

It is respectfully submitted, however, that in the light of the Prophetic traditions it suffices to cover the body, leaving out the face and hands up to the wrist joints, since this is the specified Islamic covering and it may sometimes be essential for a woman to go about her lawful engagements with her face uncovered. However if a woman prefers to put on the veil (burqah), she should not be discouraged as this may be a sign of piety and God-consciousness (taqwah). The rules on dress are slightly relaxed when a woman reaches old age and her sexual attractions have faded. The Qur'an says:

Such elderly women as are past the prospect of marriage, there is no blame on them if they lay aside their (outer) garments, provided they make not a wanton display of their beauty; but it is best for them to be modest and Allah is the One who sees and knows all things. (24:60)
However, if a woman is old but still has sexual desires, it is not lawful for her to take off her over- garments. Women at whom people are not possibly going to cast sexual glances but rather look at with respect and veneration are entitled to make use of the relaxation and go about in their houses without wearing an over-garment.

Lowering the Eyes

Islam requires its male and female adherents to avoid illicit sexual relations at all costs. Because the desire to have sexual relationships originates with the look that one person gives another, Islam prohibits a person from casting amorous glances towards another. This is the principle of ghadd al-basar (lowering the eyes). Since it is impossible for people to have their eyes fixed constantly to the ground and inconceivable that a man will never see a woman or a woman will never see a man, Islam absolves from blame the first chance look, but prohibits one from casting a second look or continuing to stare at a face which one finds attractive at first sight.

The following traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) offer us guidance in this regard: Jarir says,

"I asked the Prophet what I should do if I happened to cast a look (at a woman) by chance. The Prophet replied, 'Turn your eyes away.' " According to Buraidah, the Prophet told the future fourth khalif, 'Ali, not to cast a second look, for the first look was pardonable but the second was prohibited.
However, there are certain circumstances in which it is permissible for a man to look at another woman. Such circumstances may arise when a woman is obliged to be treated by a male doctor, or has to appear before a judge as a witness, or when a woman is trapped inside a burning house, or is drowning, or when a woman's life or honour is in danger. In such cases, even the prohibited parts of the body of the woman may be seen or touched, and it is not only lawful but obligatory on a man to rescue her from danger, whatever physical contact it may entail. What is required by Islam in such a situation is that as far as possible the man should keep his intentions pure. But if in spite of that his emotions are a little excited naturally, it is not blameworthy for him to have looked at such a woman, since having contact with her body was not intentional but was necessitated by circumstances, and it is not possible for a man to suppress his natural urges completely.

The Shari'ah also allows a man to look at a woman with the object of reaching a decision about whether he should marry her or not. The following traditions explain the matter further: Mughirah ibn Shu'bah says,

"I sent a message to a woman asking for her hand. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to me, 'Have a look at her for that will enhance love and mutual regard between you.' "
Abu Hurairah says that he was sitting with the Prophet when a man came and said that he intended to marry a woman from among the Ansar (Helpers). The Prophet asked him if he had seen her. He replied in the negative. The Prophet told him to go and have a look at her because the Ansar often had a defect in their eyes. According to Jabir ibn 'Abdullah, the Prophet said that when a man sent a request to a woman for her hand in marriage, he should have a look at her to see if there was anything in her which made him inclined to marry her.

It is thus clear that no man is prohibited from having a look at a woman as such, but that the real idea behind the prohibition is to prevent the evil of illicit intercourse. Therefore what the Prophet has prohibited is only such casting of the eyes as is not essential, as does not serve any social purpose, and as is loaded with sexual motives. This command applies to both Muslim men and Muslim women and is not confined to only one sex.

Maulana Abu'l-A'la Maududi has made a fine psychological distinction, however, between women looking at men and men looking at women. The man, he says,

"...is by nature aggressive. If a thing appeals to him, he is urged from within to acquire it. On the other hand, the woman's nature is one of inhibition and escape. Unless her nature is totally corrupted, she can never become so aggressive, bold, and fearless, as to make the first advances towards the male who has attracted her. In view of this distinction, the Legislator (the Prophet) does not regard a woman's looking at other men to be as harmful as a man's looking at other women. In several traditions it has been reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) let 'A'isha see a performance given by negroes on the occasion of the 'Id. This shows that there is no absolute prohibition on women looking at other men. What is prohibited is for women to sit in the same gathering together with men and stare at them, or look at them in a manner which may lead to evil results. "
The Prophet (peace be upon him) told Fatimah, daughter of Qais, to pass her 'iddah (waiting term), in the house of Ibn Maktum, the same blind Companion from whom Umm Salamah had been instructed to observe purdah. Qadi Abu Bakr ibn al-'Arabi has related in his Ahkam al- Qur'an that Fatimah, daughter of Qais, wanted to pass her waiting term in the house of Umm Sharik. The Prophet did not approve of this for the reason that the house was visited by many people. Therefore he told her to stay in the house of Ibn Maktum who was blind, where she could stay without observing purdah.

This shows that the real object of the Prophet was to reduce the chances of any mischief occurring. That is why the lady was not allowed to stay in a house where the chances of possible mischief were greater but allowed to stay in a house where they were less. On the other hand, where there was no such need, women were prohibited from sitting in the same place face to face with other men.

The real object of ghadd al-basar (lowering the eyes) is to stop people with evil intentions from casting lewd looks at others. It is common knowlege that a person turns their eyes towards another person innocently in the beginning. If the latter is attractive, the former may go on casting glances and thus drift towards the precipice of sexual attraction and ultimately fornication or adultery. Islam encourages regulated love in order to build up happy family lives since it is healthy families that provide the blocks to construct a healthy society; but it abhors promiscuity which ruins people's family lives and seriously damages people through the ultimate disaster of illicit sexual relationships developing between its adherents. Islam blocks the path that finally leads to active temptation by prohibiting the casting of looks by one person at another except when they do so by chance.

Social Behaviour

The Shari'ah has placed restrictions on men meeting strange women privately. Similarly no man other than her husband is allowed to touch any part of a woman's body. The following traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) are worth noting in this connection:

"Beware that you do not call on women who are alone," said the Messenger of Allah. One of the Companions asked, "O Messenger of Allah, what about the younger or the elder brother of the husband?" The Prophet replied, "He is death." (Tirmidhi, Bukhari and Muslim)
"Do not call on women in the absence of their husbands, because Satan might be circulating in any of you like blood." (Tirmidhi).
According to 'Amr ibn al-'As, the Prophet forbade men to call on women without the permission of their husbands. (Tirmidhi)

"From this day no man is allowed to call on a woman in the absence of her husband unless he is accompanied by one or two other men." (Tirmidhi)
The Prophet said,

"The one who touches the hand of a woman without having a lawful relationship with her, will have an ember placed on his palm on the Day of Judgment." (Takmalah, Fath alQadir)
'A'ishah says that the Prophet accepted the oath of allegiance from women only verbally, without taking their hands into his own hand. He never touched the hand of a woman who was not married to him (Bukhari). Umaimah, daughter of Ruqaiqah, said that she went to the Prophet in the company of some other women to take the oath of allegiance. He made them promise that they would abstain from idolatry, stealing, adultery, slander, and disobedience to the Prophet. When they had taken the oath, they requested that he take their hands as a mark of allegiance. The Prophet said, "I do not take the hands of women. Verbal affirmation is enough." (Nasa'i and Ibn Majah).

According to Maulana Maududi these commandments apply in respect of young women. He says, "It is lawful to sit with women of advanced age in privacy and touching them is also not prohibited. It has been reported that Sayyiduna Abu Bakr used to visit the clan where he had been suckled and shook hands with the old women. It has been reported that Sayyidina 'Abdullah ibn Zubair used to have his feet and head pressed gently for relief by an old woman. This distinction between old and young women itself shows that the real object is to prevent such mixing of the sexes as may lead to evil results.''

It is most unfortunate, however, that in spite of this guidance from the Prophet (peace be upon him) many Muslims have adopted the Western system of shaking hands with women, using these traditions in respect of old women as a justification. This is clearly an unreasonable extension of the permission. It is, therefore, submitted that the Muslims the world over, and 'ulama in particular, must pause to reflect and stop this un-Islamic practice which has crept into our society. There cannot be a better form of greeting than uttering 'as-salamu 'alaikum ' (peace be upon you) and greeting back with 'wa alaikum as-salam '(and peace be upon you too).

The Shari'ah wants people to live in their houses in peace and privacy. It therefore commands a Muslim, when visiting friends, relatives or strangers not to enter their houses without seeking their permission. The Qur'an particularly forbids him to enter their houses without alerting the women of the house so that he does not surprise them in a condition in which he would not normally see them. However, children do not have to seek such permission until they reach the age of puberty and sexual awareness stirs in them:

When your children attain puberty, they should ask for leave before entering the house, just as their elders asked it before them... (24:58)
The Holy Qur'an also gives categories of people who should not enter anybody else's house without permission:

O believers! Do not enter houses other than your own until you have taken permission; and when you enter a house, greet the people therein with salutation. (33:33)
At the beginning of Islam, the Arabs could not grasp the real significance of these commands. Therefore they used to peep into houses from the outside. Once when the Prophet (peace be upon him) was in his room, a person peeped through the lattice. The Prophet said:

"If I had known that you were peeping, I would have poked something into your eye. The command to ask permission has been given to safeguard people against the evil look." (Bukhari) Then the Prophet publicly announced: "If a person peeps into somebody else's house without permission the people of the house will be justified if they injure his eye." (Muslim)
No matter how urgent the need is, no-one is allowed to enter anyone else's house without permission. The Qur'an says:

...and when you ask women for an article, ask for it from behind a curtain; this is a purer way for your hearts and theirs. (33:53)
These restrictions also apply to household servants. Once Bilal or Anas asked Fatimah, the daughter of the Prophet, to hand him her child. She handed it to him by stretching her hand from behind a curtain. It is noteworthy that both these men were the personal attendants of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and he used to affectionately address them as "Ya Bunayya" (O my son). The real purpose behind those restrictions is to safeguard men and women against evil inclinations. By keeping a safe distance between them, the Shari'ah ensures that they do not grow too familiar and free with one another which may make them drift towards sexual intimacy.

Beautification and Adornment

The Qur'an lays down the code of conduct for women in the following words:

And play your role by being in your houses and do not keep exhibiting your beauty and decorations like what used to happen in the Jahiliyyah period (before Islam). (33:33)
Abu Bakr al-Jassas says in explaining this verse,

"This verse points out the fact that women are ordered to play their role in the house and are forbidden from loitering outside of their houses."
It was revealed when the Muslim ummah was being formed in Madina as an example for the coming generations of Muslims. It sought to put an end to the Jahiliyyah practices of the pagan Arabs. The khalif 'Umar remarked:

"By Allah, we did not give any position to women in the Jahiliyyah period until such time that Allah sent His command in respect of them and apportioned for them the role that was to be theirs." (Muslim)
Under this apportionment women were given the role of making their own homes the centers of their attention rather than going about exhibiting their physical charms and worldly possessions. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that the following type of women constitute one of the categories of the dwellers of Hell:

"Those women who seem naked even when dressed and those who walk flirtingly and those who plait their heads like the humps of camels, thus inviting people's attention, will not enter Paradise nor will they smell its fragrance even though its fragrance can be smelt from a very long distance." (Muslim).
Islam, however, does not prohibit beautification (zinat) on the part of women as long as it is not done in a way that injuriously interferes with the limbs or the body. In ancient times there were many kinds of defacement practiced on the bodies of men and animals, partly on account of superstition or pagan custom and partly on account of the craze for fashion and display. Examples of this were tattooing, sharpening or spacing the teeth, shaving or plucking the hair, wearing hair pieces, etc. Many of these practices still survive and are, in fact, getting more and more refined.

Since all these practices change or seriously interfere with the natural creation of Allah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) cursed those who indulged in them for the purpose of mere beautification. One report says,

"The Messenger of Allah cursed women who tattooed, and those who got themselves tattooed, those who engaged in sharpening the teeth (as a mark of beauty) and those who had their teeth sharpened." (Bukhari and Muslim)
The Messenger of Allah cursed women who had spaces made between their teeth in order to increase their beauty, thus changing the creation of Allah. A third report says,

"The Messenger of Allah cursed the women who plucked hair and those who were employed to pluck the eyebrows." (Abu Dawud)
This method of beautification would include the modern practice of shaving the eyebrows and then painting on new ones, or shaving certain hair and leaving the eyebrows to look like two inverted crescents.

However, if a woman has some obtrusive hairs on her face which are a problem and embarrassment for her, she may remove them. When 'A'ishah was approached by the young wife of Abu Is'haq who wished to remove her facial hairs in order to look beautiful for her husband, she advised her to do so. (Reported by atTabarani) On this basis some Hanafi jurists are of the opinion that there is no harm in removing the hairs from a woman's face and applying cosmetics if it is done with the permission of the husband, in order to please him and with a good intention. But Imam alNawawi opposes even removing the hairs on a woman's face because he considers the practice similar to plucking hair.

A fourth report says:

''A'ishah reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) cursed women who wore hair pieces and the women who aided in this practice." (Bukhari)
This method of beautification would include the modern practice of wearing wigs. It consists of using a plait of one woman's hair or artificial hair and joining it to another woman's hair with the object of making the woman's hair appear very long and beautiful. Mu'awiyah, while holding a plait of such hair in his hands during his address to the Muslims, castigated the 'ulama:

"Where are your learned men gone? (meaning why did they not stop women from using such hair) I heard the Messenger of Allah stop them from using this." He also said, "Undoubtedly the Israelites destroyed themselves when their women adopted such things." (Bukhari)
The Shari'ah also requires women to abstain from displaying their "decorations" except to a restricted circle of people. The Qur'an says:

And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; and that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty save to 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 women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical desire, or small children who have no sense of sex; and that they should not stamp their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O believers! Turn all together towards Allah, that you may attain bliss. (24:31)
Thus, the following people fall in the exceptional category to whom decorations can be displayed by a woman:

  • Her husband.
  • Her father, including maternal and paternal grandfathers.
  • Her husband's father. He is also like her own father.
  • Her son, including grandsons from her son's side or her daughter's side.
  • Her husband's son by another woman, provided that he is staying with her, and she is looking after him as her son.
  • Her brother, whether full, consanguine, or uterine (that is to say, real or step).
  • Her brother's son.
  • Her sister's son.
  • Muslim women and other women of good character.
  • Her female slaves or servants. However, some 'ulama even include male slaves or servants in the excepted category.
  • Men who have no sexual desire (e.g. eunuchs).
  • Children who have not yet developed sexual feelings.
  • Her uncle, whether paternal or maternal.
It is noteworthy that the above verse of the Noble Qur'an does not mention uncle, but uncle is included in the exceptional category on the basis of a tradition of the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Prophet said, "The uncle (maternal or paternal) is of the same degree as one's father." (Muslim)

Let us here give a little more consideration to the women to whom another woman is permitted to display her finery. These are the women with whom she has blood or family relations. It should be borne in mind that the foregoing Qur'anic verse implies only women of good character. Other women who may not be well known to her or who are notorious for their evil ways or who may be of doubtful character are excluded from this permission, because contact with them might easily lead to disastrous results. That is why the khalif 'Umar wrote to Abu 'Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah, the Governor of Syria, to prohibit the Muslim women from going to the baths with the women of the Ahl al-Kitab (the People of the Book). (At-Tabari, Ibn Jazir) According to Ibn 'Abbas too:

"...a Muslim woman is not allowed to display herself before the women of the unbelievers and non-Muslim poll-tax payers (Ahl al- Dhimmah) any more than she can display herself before other men." (At-Tabari).
This distinction between women on grounds of character and religion is intended to safeguard Muslim women against the influence of women whose moral and cultural background is either not known or is objectionable from the Islamic point of view. However, the Shari'ah allows Muslim women to mix freely with non- Muslim women who are of good character. It is important to note that permission to display zinat does not include permission to display those parts of the body which fall within the female satr. Thus zinat covers decorations, ornaments, clothing, hair- dos, etc. that women are by nature fond of showing in their houses. But tight jeans, short blouses, sleeveless dresses are not counted as zinat for they also reveal that satr.

The Shari'ah further requires a woman not to stamp on the ground while walking, lest her hidden decorations should be revealed by their jingle, and thus attract the attention of passers-by. Writing about these restrictions, Maulana Maududi says:

"It cannot, however, be claimed that a display of fineries will turn every woman into a prostitute, nor that every man who sees her will become an adulterer. But, at the same time, nobody can deny that if women go about in full make-up and mix freely with men, it is likely to result in countless open and secret, moral and material disadvantages for society."
As against this view, the Egyptian scholars, notably 'Abbas Mahmud al-'Aqqad, are of the view that these restrictions were only imposed on the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and other Muslim women are not bound by them. 'Aqqad says, "We should discuss this point in the light of the fact that the command to stay at home was merely addressed to the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) with particular reference to them without referring it to Muslim women in general. It is for this reason that the verse begins with the statement of Allah: O women of the Prophet, you are not like other women. (33:32)

It is respectfully submitted that this view of Al-'Aqqad needs reconsideration. There are a number of verses in the Qur'an which, though apparently laying down "dos" and "don'ts" for our Prophet and for the other Prophets (peace be upon all of them) preceding him, contain clear messages for Muslims in general, nay for all mankind. And Al-'Aqqad contradicts himself when he quotes the following verse of the Holy Qur'an:

O you who believe! Do not enter the Prophet's house until leave is given you for a meal, (and then) not (so early as) to wait for its preparation; but when you are invited, enter; and when you have taken your meal, disperse, without seeking familiar talk. Such (behaviour) annoys the Prophet. He is ashamed to dismiss you, but Allah is not ashamed (to tell you) the truth. And when you ask his womenfolk for anything you want, ask them from behind a screen; that makes for greater purity for your hearts and for theirs. Nor is it right for you that you should annoy Allah's Apostle, or that you should marry his widows after him at any time. Truly such a thing is an enormity in Allah's sight. (33:53)
This verse apparently lays down a code of manners for the believers when entering the house of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and taking food there. After quoting this verse, Al-'Aqqad says:

"And this is part of the etiquette of visiting people with which all visitors should be well disciplined.' In other words, he agrees that this ayat, which is specific to the house of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and taking food there, in reality contains rules applicable to all believers who want to enter somebody else's house. If from this special case a rule of general application can be deduced by Al- 'Aqqad, there seems no reason why he should refuse to deduce a rule of general application for Muslim women from the verse addressed to the wives of the Prophet.

Moreover, this view seems to get support from a tradition of the Prophet in which he said: "...a woman who freely mixes with other people and shows off her decorations is without light and virtue " (At-Tirmidhi)

Hence we may conclude that no Muslim woman should display her zinat (decoration) before others intentionally, but she is not held responsible for something which cannot be helped e.g. her stature, physical build, gait. etc. nor for uncovering her hand or face when there is a genuine need to do so and without any intention of attracting men. In such cases it is the responsibility of Muslim men not to cast evil glances at women with the intention of drawing pleasure from them. The Qur'an ordains:

Say to believing men to lower their eyes. (24:30)

Guests

Very often, a man may receive male visitors and guests in his house. In such a situation the question may arise whether the wife of the host can come forward to serve food and drink to them. If a woman's husband is not present when his guests arrive, she should not serve them. However, if her husband is present and the guests are known friends, relatives and well-wishers, a woman may come forward to serve them with food and drink provided that she is properly dressed and her manners, movements and method of talking are such that they are not likely to encourage evil in them or arouse their passions and thereby become a source of fitnah (mischief).

We have a very good example in the following:

"When 'AbdurRashid al-Sa'adi got married, he invited the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions. His wife, Umm Asyad, prepared the food alone and served it herself. She soaked some dates in a stone bowl overnight, When the Prophet finished eating, she offered him the water, after stirring it well, as a present." (At-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud)
If a woman is not properly dressed, it is better that she does not come forward to serve guests. In this case she should pass out the food and drinks to her husband and he should entertain the guests and visitors on his own.

Public Baths and Swimming Pools

A Muslim woman should not use public baths (hammam) or swimming pools because these places are likely to be a cause of her exposing herself to evil influences. The following tradition treats this point:

"Some women from Homs or from Sham (now the area of Damascus) came to 'A'ishah. She asked, 'Do you enter the public baths? I heard the Messenger of Allah saying that a woman who undresses anywhere else other than in her own house tears off the satr which lies between her and her Lord .' " (At-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud)
If the public baths and swimming pools are mixed, with both men and women using them, it is all the more objectionable. At one stage the Prophet (peace be upon him) forbade both men and women to enter public oath- houses but later he allowed men to use them on the condition that they were never naked. "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, forbade all men to enter public baths but later allowed them to enter them wearing waist-wrappers."

If a wealthy man builds a private pool on his own property there is no harm in him and his wife using it together. However, if he has more than one wife, he should not bathe with more than one at a time, and, if he has grown-up sons, they should not bathe together with their mothers or step-mothers.


Dance-Halls and Gymnasiums

Places in which men and women dance together are totally at odds with the ethos of Muslim society and the Shari'ah does not tolerate the participation of Muslim men and women in this activity because it may so easily prove the first step towards greater evils such as adultery and fornication. Dancing is most certainly not compatible with the simple, purposeful lives that all Muslims should lead. Mixed gymnasiums where women remove their clothes and wear skin- tight costumes for doing physical exercises are also against the dictates of the Shari'ah.


The Mosque

The Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) granted permission to Muslim women to attend the mosque and pray standing behind the rows of men. He even advised the Companions: "Do not prevent the female servants of Allah from going to the mosque." And husbands were specifically told by him: "When your womenfolk ask you for permission to attend the mosque, do not prevent them."

Of course this permission to attend the mosques was on the condition that women strictly observed the various restrictions imposed upon them by the Shari'ah regarding dress, etc., and it is known that the Prophet (peace be upon him) considered it preferable for women to pray in their own homes rather than attend the mosques. This is borne out by the following incident.

Once the wife of Abu Hamid Sa'adi pleaded with the Prophet to be allowed to attend his mosque (the Prophet's Mosque in Madina) as she was very fond of offering prayers behind him. He told her,

"What you say is right, but it is better for you to offer prayer in a closed room than in a courtyard. Your prayer in a courtyard is better than on a verandah, and your offering prayer in the mosque of your own locality is better than your coming to our mosque for it." Thereafter she appointed a room for offering prayers and continued offering prayers there till her death, never even once going to the mosque.

There is a clear tradition of the Prophet (peace be upon him) encouraging women to offer their prayers inside their houses: "The best mosques for women are the inner parts of their houses."

Since the Prophet had not forbidden women to attend the mosques, they continued to come to the mosques. But after his death it became increasingly clear that it was not in keeping with the dignity and honour of Muslim women to come to the mosques for prayers, especially at night, because men, being what they were, would tease them. Therefore the Khalif 'Umar told women not to come to the mosques, but to offer their prayers inside their own houses. The women of Madina resented this prohibition and complained to 'A'isha. But they received a fitting reply from her: "If the Prophet knew what 'Umar knows, he would not have granted you permission to go out (to the mosque)."

'A'isha also prevented women from going to the mosques. When she was told that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had permitted them to attend the mosques, she replied:

"Had the customs and manners which women have adopted since the Prophet's death been there in his lifetime, he too would have prevented them."
Now, what 'A'isha said by way of admonition was in the context of what happened immediately after the death of the Prophet. But what is happening today 1350 years after his death is much more serious in the context of modern fashions and manners. It would probably have shocked 'A'isha beyond measure and she would have reinforced her admonition. Be that as it may, the fact remains that our Prophet did grant permission to women to attend the mosques. In the modern world a new situation has arisen. There are many Muslims living in Western countries, and Western culture and fashions have affected women, even in the East. In addition, the economic tyranny of today has forced many women to work in factories and offices to earn their living. These developments have largely contributed to making many Muslims neglectful of their prayers. We Muslims have to find ways and means of encouraging Muslim women to be particular about their prayers. With due respect to what the khalif, 'Umar, and the Mother of the Believers, 'A'isha, said, it appears to this humble writer that such a way can be found by reverting to the original Prophetic tradition, that is to say, permitting Muslim women to attend the mosques to offer their prayers, subject to all the restrictions laid down by the Prophet (peace be upon him) about their dress etc.

People generally learn by example. Therefore the chances are that, if women started coming to the mosque for prayer, a social pressure would start building up that would make Muslim women feel the urge to come to the mosque to offer their prayers and give up their neglectful attitude. However, it goes without saying that proper arrangements would have to be made for Muslim women to attend the mosques. They must not be allowed to mingle with the men, and their rows must be kept separate from those of the men, preferably behind them, because this is what was approved by the Prophet (peace be upon him).

It is reported by Abu Hurairah that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

"The best row for men is the first, and the worst for them is the last. The best row for women is the last, and the worst is the first." (Muslim)
It is well known that, in the time of the Prophet, women were permitted to attend the mosques subject to the condition that they satisfied the various restrictions imposed on them by the Shari'ah, such as the putting on of a jalbab (a large sheet used for covering the entire body), wearing simple and dignified clothes, not using any perfume, avoiding ostentatious display of ornament, etc. Therefore, if the suggestion of this writer is accepted, efforts will have to be made to persuade Muslim women who want to attend the mosques to start complying with the traditional restrictions on dress, etc. But what has been suggested above should in no way be taken to mean that all women should be required to attend the mosque and indeed those who feel that their houses are as good as the mosque should be encouraged to offer their prayers there.



Women in the Qur'an and the Sunnah

In Islam there is absolutely no difference between men and women as far as their relationship to God is concerned, as both are promised the same reward for good conduct and the same punishment for evil conduct. 

The Qur'an, in addressing the believers, often uses the expression, 'believing men and women' to emphasize the equality of men and women in regard to their respective duties, rights, virtues and merits. It says:

For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast, for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in God's praise, for them has God prepared forgiveness and great reward. (33:35)

This clearly contradicts the assertion of some the Christian Fathers that women do not possess souls and that they will exist as sexless beings in the next life. The Qur'an says that women have souls in exactly the same way as men and will enter Paradise if they do good :

Enter into Paradise, you and your wives, with delight. (43:70) Who so does that which is right, and believes, whether male or female, him or her will We quicken to happy life. (16:97)

The Qur'an admonishes those men who oppress or ill-treat women:

O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should you treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of the dowry you have given them - except when they have become guilty of open lewdness. On the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If you take a dislike to them, it may be that you dislike something and God will bring about through it a great deal of good. (4:19)

Considering the fact that before the advent of Islam the pagan Arabs used to bury their female children alive, make women dance naked in the vicinity of the Ka'ba during their annual fairs, and treat women as mere chattels and objects of sexual pleasure -- possessing no rights or position whatsoever, these teachings of the Noble Qur'an were revolutionary. Unlike other religions, which regarded women as being possessed of inherent sin and wickedness, and men as being possessed of inherent virtue and nobility, Islam regards men and women as being of the same essence created from a single soul. The Qur'an declares:

O mankind! Revere your Guardian-Lord, who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, his mate, and from this pair scattered (like seeds) countless men and women. Revere God, through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and reverence the wombs (that bore you); for God ever watches over you. (4:1)

The Prophet of Islam, peace be upon him, said, "Women are the twin halves of men". The Qur'an emphasizes the essential unity of men and women in a most beautiful simile:

They (your wives) are your garment and you are a garment for them. (2:187)

Just as a garment hides our nakedness, so do husband and wife, by entering into the relationship of marriage, secure each other's chastity. The garment gives comfort to the body; so does the husband find comfort in his wife's company and she in his. "The garment is the grace, the beauty, the embellishment of the body, so too are wives to their husbands as their husbands are to them." Islam does not consider woman "an instrument of the Devil", but rather the Qur'an calls her muhsana - a fortress against Satan because a good woman, by marrying a man, helps him keep to the path of rectitude in his life. It is for this reason that marriage was considered by the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, as a most virtuous act. He said: "When a man marries, he has completed one half of his religion." He enjoined matrimony on Muslims by saying: "Marriage is part of my way and whoever keeps away from my way is not from me (i.e. is not my follower)." The Qur'an has given the raison d'Ítre of marriage in the following words:

And among His signs is this, that He has created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them; and He has put love and mercy between you. Verily in that are signs for those who reflect. (30:21)

The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was full of praise for virtuous and chaste women. He said: "The world and all things in the world are precious but the most precious thing in the world is a virtuous woman." He once told the future Caliph, 'Umar: "Shall I not inform you about the best treasure a man can hoard? It is a virtuous wife who pleases him whenever he looks towards her, and who guards herself when he is absent from her." On other occasions the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "The best property a man can have is a remembering tongue (i.e. which remembers God), a grateful heart and a believing wife who helps him in his faith." And again: "The world, the whole of it, is a commodity and the best of the commodities of the world is a virtuous wife." Before the advent of Islam women were often treated worse than animals. The Prophet wanted to put a stop to all cruelties to women. He preached kindness towards them. He told the Muslims: "Fear God in respect of women." And: "The best of you are they who behave best to their wives." And: "A Muslim must not hate his wife, and if he be displeased with one bad quality in her, let him be pleased with one that is good." And: "The more civil and kind a Muslim is to his wife, the more perfect in faith he is." The Prophet, peace be upon him, was most emphatic in enjoining upon Muslims to be kind to their women when he delivered his famous sermon (Arabic: khutba on the Mount of Mercy, at Arafat, in the presence of one hundred and twenty-four thousand of his Companions who had gathered there for the Hajj al-Wada (Farewell Pilgrimage). In it he ordered those present, and through them all those Muslims who were to come later, to be respectful and kind towards women. He said:

"Fear God regarding women. Verily you have married them with the trust of God, and made their bodies lawful with the word of God. You have got (rights) over them, and they have got (rights) over you in respect of their food and clothing according to your means."

In Islam a woman is a completely independent personality. She can make any contract or bequest in her own name. She is entitled to inherit in her position as mother, as wife, as sister and as daughter. She has perfect liberty to choose her husband. The pagan society of pre-Islamic Arabia had an irrational prejudice against their female children whom they used to bury alive. The Messenger of God, peace be upon him, was totally opposed to this practice. He showed them that supporting their female children would act as a screen for them against the fire of Hell:

It is narrated by the Prophet's wife, 'A'isha, that a woman entered her house with two of her daughters. She asked for charity but 'A'isha could not find anything except a date, which was given to her. The woman divided it between her two daughters and did not eat any herself. Then she got up and left. When the Prophet, peace be upon him, came to the house, 'A'isha told him about what had happened and he declared that when this woman was brought to account (on the Day of Judgment) about her two daughters, they would act as a screen for her from the fires of Hell.

The worst calamity for a woman is when her husband passes away and, as a widow, the responsibility of maintaining the children falls upon her. In the Eastern World, where a woman does not always go out to earn her living, the problems of widowhood are indescribable. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, upheld the cause of widows. Most of his wives were widows. In an age when widows were rarely permitted to remarry, the Prophet encouraged his followers to marry them. He was always ready to help widows and exhorted his followers to do the same. Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet said: "One who makes efforts (to help) the widow or a poor person is like a mujahid (warrior) in the path of God, or like one who stands up for prayers all of the the night and fasts all of the day."

Woman as mother commands great respect in Islam. The Noble Qur'an speaks of the rights of the mother in a number of verses. It enjoins Muslims to show respect to their mothers and serve them well even if they are still unbelievers. The Prophet, peace be upon him, states emphatically that the rights of the mother are paramount. Abu Hurairah reported that a man came to the Messenger of God, peace be upon him, and asked: "O Messenger of God, who is the person who has the greatest right on me with regards to kindness and attention?" He replied, "Your mother." "Then who?" He replied, "Your mother." "Then who?" He replied, "Your mother." "Then who?" He replied, "Your father."

In another tradition, the Prophet advised a believer not to join the war against the Quraish (i.e. the pagan disbelievers at that time) in defense of Islam, but to look after his mother, saying that his service to his mother would be a cause for his salvation. Mu'awiyah, the son of Jahimah, reported that Jahimah came to the Prophet, peace be upon him, and said: "Messenger of God! I want to join the fighting (in the path of God) and I have come to seek your advice." He said, "Then remain in your mother's service, because Paradise is under her feet."

The Prophet's followers accepted his teachings and brought about a revolution in their social attitude towards women. They no longer considered women as a mere chattels, but as an integral part of society. For the first time women were given the right to have a share in inheritance. In the new social climate, women rediscovered themselves and became highly active members of society rendering useful service during the wars which the pagan Arabs forced on the emerging Muslim umma. They carried provisions for the soldiers, nursed them, and even fought alongside them if it was necessary. It became a common sight to see women helping their husbands in the fields, carrying on trade and business independently, and going out of their homes to satisfy their needs.

'A'isha reported that Saudah bint Zam'ah went out one night. 'Umar saw her and recognized her and said, "By God, O Saudah, why do you not hide yourself from us?" She went back to the Prophet, peace be upon him, and told him about it while he was having supper in her room, and he said: "It is permitted by God for you to go out for your needs." The predominant idea in the teachings of Islam with regard to men and women is that a husband and wife should be full-fledged partners in making their home a happy and prosperous place, and that they should be loyal and faithful to one another, and genuinely interested in each other's welfare and the welfare of their children. A woman is expected to exercise a humanizing influence over her husband and to soften the sternness inherent in his nature. A man is enjoined to educate the women in his care so that they cultivate the qualities in which they, by their very nature, excel.

These aspects were much emphasized by the Prophet, peace be upon him. He exhorted men to marry women of piety and women to be faithful to their husbands and kind to their children. He said: "Among my followers the best of men are those who are best to their wives, and the best of women are those who are best to their husbands. To each of such women is set down a reward equivalent to the reward of a thousand martyrs. Among my followers, again, the best of women are those who assist their husbands in their work, and love them dearly for everything, save what is a transgression of God's laws."

Once Mu'awiyah asked the Prophet, peace be upon him: "What are the rights that a wife has over her husband?" The Prophet, peace be upon him, replied: "Feed her when you take your food, give her clothes to wear when you wear clothes, refrain from giving her a slap on the face or abusing her, and do not separate from your wife, except within the house." Once a woman came to the Prophet, peace be upon him, with a complaint against her husband. He told her: "There is no woman who removes something to replace it in its proper place, with a view to tidying her husband's house, but that God sets it down as a virtue for her. Nor is there a man who walks with his wife hand-in-hand, but that God sets it down as a virtue for him; and if he puts his arm round her shoulder in love, his virtue is increased tenfold." Once he was heard praising the women of the tribe of Quraish, saying: " . . . because they are the kindest to their children while they are infants and because they keep a careful watch over the belongings of their husbands."

The Shari'ah (Islamic Law) regards women as the spiritual and intellectual equals of men. The main distinction it makes between them is in the physical realm based on the equitable principle of fair division of labor. It allots the more strenuous work to the man and makes him responsible for the maintenance of the family. It allots the work of managing the home and the upbringing and training of children to the woman, work which has the greatest importance in the task of building a healthy and prosperous society.

It is a fact, however, that sound administration within the domestic field is impossible without a unified policy. For this reason the Shari'ah requires a man, as head of the family, to consult with his family and then to have the final say in decisions concerning it. In doing so he must not abuse his prerogative to cause any injury to his wife. Any transgression of this principle involves for him the risk of losing the favor of God, because his wife is not his subordinate but she is, to use the words of the Prophet, peace be upon him, 'the queen of her house', and this is the position a true believer is expected to give his wife. In contrast to these enlightened teachings of Islam in respect of women, Western talk of women's liberation or emancipation is actually a disguised form of exploitation of her body, deprivation of her honor, and degradation of her soul!


The Virtues of Hijab


1.An act of obedience.

The hijab is an act of obedience to Allah and to his prophet (pbuh), Allah says in the Qur'an: `It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His messenger have decreed a matter that they should have an option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, has indeed strayed in a plain error.' (S33:36).

Allah also said: 'And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things) and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts, etc) and not to show off their adornment except what must (ordinarily) appear thereof, that they should draw their veils over their Juyubihinna.'(S24:31).

Juyubihinna: The respected scholars from As-Salaf As-Saleh (righteous predecessors) differed whether the veil cover of the body must include the hands and face or not. Today, respected scholars say that the hands and face must be covered. Other respected scholars say it is preferable for women to cover their whole bodies.

2.The Hijab is IFFAH (Modesty).

Allah (subhana wa'atala) made the adherence to the hijab a manifestation for chastity and modesty. Allah says: 'O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) over their bodies (when outdoors). That is most convenient that they should be known and not molested.' (S33:59). In the above Ayaah there is an evidence that the recognition of the apparent beauty of the woman is harmful to her. When the cause of attraction ends, the restriction is removed. This is illustrated in the case of elderly women who may have lost every aspect of attraction. Allah (swt) made it permissible for them to lay aside their outer garments and expose their faces and hands reminding, however, that is still better for them to keep their modesty.

3.The hijab is Tahara (Purity)

Allah (swt) had shown us the hikma (wisdom) behind the legislation of the hijab: `And when you ask them (the Prophet's wives) for anything you want, ask them from behind a screen, that is purer for your hearts and their hearts.' (S33:53).

The hijab makes for greater purity for the hearts of believing men and women because it screens against the desire of the heart. Without the hijab, the heart may or may not desire. That is why the heart is more pure when the sight is blocked (by hijab) and thus the prevention of fitna (evil actions is very much manifested. The hijab cuts off the ill thoughts and the greed of the sick hearts:

`Be not soft in speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease (of hypocrisy or evil desire for adultery, etc) should be moved with desire, but speak in an honourable manner.' (S33:32)

4.The hijab is a Shield

The prophet (pbuh) said: "Allah, Most High, is Heaven, is Ha'yeii (Bashful), Sit'teer (Shielder). He loves Haya' (Bashfulness) and Sitr (Shielding; Covering)." The Prophet (pbuh) also said: "Any woman who takes off her clothes in other than her husband's house (to show off for unlawful purposes), has broken Allah's shield upon her. "The hadith demonstrates that depending upon the kind of action committed there will be either reward (if good) or punishment (if bad).

5. The hijab is Taqwah (Righteousness)

Allah (swt) says in the Qur'an: `O children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover yourselves (screen your private parts, etc) and as an adornment. But the raiment of righteousness, that is better.'(S7:26). The widespread forms of dresses in the world today are mostly for show off and hardly taken as a cover and shield of the woman's body. To the believing women, however the purpose is to safeguard their bodies and cover their private parts as a manifestation of the order of Allah. It is an act of Taqwah (righteousness).

6.The hijab is Eemaan (Belief or Faith)

Allah (swt) did not address His words about the hijab except to the believing women, Al-Mo'minat. In many cases in the Qur'an Allah refers to the "the believing women". Aisha (RA), the wife of the prophet (pbuh), addressed some women from the tribe of Banu Tameem who came to visit her and had light clothes on them, they were improperly dressed: "If indeed you are believing women, then truly this is not the dress of the believing women, and if you are not believing women, then enjoy it."

7. The hijab is Haya' (Bashfulness)

There are two authentic hadith which state: "Each religion has a morality and the morality of Islam is haya'" AND "Bashfulness is from belief, and belief is in Al-Jannah (paradise)". The hijab fits the natural bashfulness which is a part of the nature of women.

8.The hijab is Gheerah

The hijab fits the natural feeling of Gheerah, which is intrinsic in the straight man who does not like people to look at his wife or daughters. Gheerah is a driving emotion that drives the straight man to safeguard women who are related to him from strangers. The straight MUSLIM man has Gheerah for ALL MUSLIM women In response to lust and desire, men look (with desire) at other women while they do not mind that other men do the same to their wives or daughters. The mixing of sexes and absence of hijab destroys the Gheera in men. Islam considers Gheerah an integral part of faith. The dignity of the wife or daughter or any other Muslim woman must be highly respected and defended.

 

Seven Conditions For Women's Dress in Islam

Hijab is a word that indicates not just the headscarf but clothing in its entirety which meets the following conditions :

1. Clothing must cover the entire body, only the hands and face may remain visible (According to some Fiqh Schools) .

2. The material must not be so thin that one can see through it.

3. The clothing must hang loose so that the shape / form of the body is not apparent.

4. The female clothing must not resemble the man's clothing.

5. The design of the clothing must not resemble the clothing of the non believing women.

6. The design must not consist of bold designs which attract attention.

7. Clothing should not be worn for the sole purpose of gaining reputation or increasing one's status in society.

The reason for this strictness is so that the woman is protected from the lustful gaze of men. She should not attract attention to herself in any way. It is permissible for a man to catch the eye of a woman , however it is haram (unlawful) for a man to look twice as this encourages lustful thoughts.

Islam protects the woman. It is for this reason that Allah gave these laws. In today's society womankind is being exploited, female sexuality is being openly used in advertising, mainly to attract the desires of men and therefore sell the product. Is the woman really free in today's society ? The answer is obviously no, the constant bombardment by the media as to how the ideal woman should look and dress testifies to this.

Islam liberated woman over 1400 years ago. Is it better to dress according to man or God ?

Allah has stated in the Quran that women must guard their modesty.

" Say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty ; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof. " [Quran : 24.31]

" Say to the believing man that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty ; that will make for greater purity for them, and God is well acquainted with all they do. " [Quran : 24.30]

" And O ye believers turn ye all together toward God, so that ye may attain bliss. " [Quran : 24.31]

With this I should conclude that Allah has given us guidance through the Quran and Sunnah, He also given us the logic and commonsense to apply these in our everyday life. However, Allah is not unreasonable and understands the mankinds weakness and to this I will refer you to the hadith in Sahih Al-Bukhari.

Narrated (Abu Huraira):

The Prophet said, "Religion (Islam) is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded; and gain strength by offering the prayers in the mornings, afternoons and during the last hour of the night." [1:38-O.B.]

In the link below you will find a book written on this issue: The debate on Muslim women's dress is endless. The sisters who opt for niqab (face veil) may appear to be brave, but we need to dispel the notion that niqab is what is originally required by the Qur'an, and the hijab is a later modified version of the original. In fact the other way round is true. The sisters who don the ordinary hijab can rest assured that they are following the injunctions of the Qur'an and Sunnah to the letter, and in their true spirit. In these essays, Dr. Syed Mutawalli ad-Darsh examines the subject from the point of view of the Qur'an, Sunnah, and Ijma. Dr. ad-Darsh, who recently passed away, was an eminent 'alim living in UK. His deep Islamic knowledge combined with years of experience in the west, make him particularly qualified to relate the teachings of Islam to modern societies.

How to Make Your Husband Happy
 

1- Beautiful Reception
After returning from work, school, travel, or whatever has separated you,
begin with a good greeting.

* Meet him with a cheerful face.
* Beautify and perfume yourself.
* Start with good news and delay any bad news until he has rested.
* Receive him with loving and yearning sentences.
* Make hard efforts for excellence of the food & having it ready on time.

2- Beautify and Soften the Voice
* For your husband only, it shouldn't be used in front of non-mahram men
(men who can marry you if you were unmarried).

3- Smelling Good and Physical Beautification
* Taking good care of your body and fitness.
* Put on nice and attractive clothes and perfumes.
* Bath regularly and, after the monthly period, remove any blood traces
or bad smells.
* Avoide that your husband observes you in dirty clothes or rough shape.
* Avoide prohibited types of ornamentation, e.g. tatoo.
* Use the types of perfumes, colors, and clothes that the husband likes.
* Change hair style, perfumes, etc. from time to time.
* However with these things you should avoid excessiveness and, of course,
only act as such in front of mahrem men and women.

4- Intercourse
* Hasten for intercourse when your husband feels compulsion for it.
* Keep your body clean and smelling good as possible including cleaning
yourself of released fluids during intercourse.
* Exchange loving phrases with your husband.
* Leave your husband to fully satisfy his desire.
* Choose suitable times and good occasions for exciting your husband,
and encouraging him to do intercourse, e.g. after returning from a
travel, weekends, etc.

5- Satisfaction With What Allah (SWT) Has Allotted
* You shouldn't be depressed because your husband is poor or works in a
simple job.
* You should look at poor, sick, and handicapped people and remember
Allah (SWT) for all that was given to you.
* You should remember that real wealth lays in Iman and piety.

6- Indifference to Worldly Things
* You should not consider this world as your hope and interest.
* You should not ask your husband for many unnecessary things.
* Asceticism does not mean not to enjoy what is good and permissible
(Halal), but it means that one should look forward to the hereafter and
utilize whatever Allah SWT gave them to achieve paradise (Jannah).
* Encourage your husband to reduce expenses and save some money in order
to give charity and feed poor and needy people.

7- Appreciation
* By the saying of the prophet, the majority of people in hell were women
because they were ungrateful and deny the good done to them.
* The result of being grateful is that your husband will love you more and
will do his best to please you in more ways.
* The result of being ungrateful is that your husband will be disappointed
and will start asking himself: Why should I do good to her, if she never
appreciates?

8- Devotion and Loyalty
* In particular in times of calamities in your husband's body or business,
e.g. an accident or a bankruptcy
* Supporting him through your own work, money, and properties if needed.

9- Compliance to Him
* In all what he commands you, unless it is prohibited (Haram).
* In Islam, the husband is the leader of the family, and the wife is his
support and consultant.

10-Pleasing Him If He Is Angry
* First off, try to avoid what will guarantee his anger.
* But if it happens that you can't, then try to appease him as follows:
1- If you are mistaken, then apologize.
2- If he is mistaken then:
# Keep still instead of arguing or
# Yield your right or
# Wait until he is no longer angry and discuss the matter peacefully
with him.
3- If he was angry because of external reasons then:
# Keep silent until his anger goes
# Find excuses for him, e.g. tired, problems at work, someone
insulted him
# Do not ask many questions and insist on knowing what happened,
e.g. 1) You should tell me what happened? 2) I must know what
made you so angry. 3) You are hiding something, and I have the
right to know.

11-Guardianship While He is Absent
* Protect yourself from any prohibited relationships.
* Keep the secrets of the family, particularly intercourse and things
that the husband doesn't like other people to know.
* Take care of the house and children.
* Take care of his money and properties.
* Do not go out of your house without his permission and put on full
hijab.
* Refuse people whom he does not like to come over.
* Do not allow any non-mahram man to be alone with you in any place.
* Be good to his parents and relatives in his absence.

12- Showing Respect for his Family and Friends
* You should welcome his guests and try to please them, especially his
parents.
* You should avoid problems as much as you can with his relatives.
* You should avoid putting him is a position where he had to choose
between his mother and his wife.
* Show good hospitality for his guests by arranging a nice place for them to
sit in, perfection of food, welcoming their wives, etc.
* Encourage him to visit his relatives and invite them to your home.
* Phone his parents and sisters, send letters to them, buy gifts for
them, support them in calamities, etc..

13- Admirable Jealousy
* Jealousy is a sign for wife's love for her husband but it should be kept
within the limits of Islam, e.g. not insulting or backbiting others,
disrespecting them, etc..
* You should not follow or create unfounded doubts.

14-Patience and Emotional Support
* Be patient when you face poverty and strained circumstances.
* When you face calamities and disasters that may happen to you, your
husband, your children, relatives or properties, e.g. diseases,
accidents, death, etc.
* When facing hardships in Da'wah (imprisonment, getting fired, arrested,
etc.), be patient and encourage him to keep on the path of Allah and
remind him of paradise.
* When he mistreats you, counteract his ill-treatment by good treatment

15- Support in Obedience to Allah, Da'wah and Jihad
* Cooperate with your husband and remind him of different obligatory
and voluntary worships.
* Encourage him to pray at night.
* Listen and reciting the Qur'an individually and with your husband.
* Listen to Islamic tapes and songs individually and with your husband.
* Remember Allah SWT much, particularly after Fajr and before Maghrib.
* Share in arranging Da'wah activities for women and children.
* Learn Islamic rules (ahkam) and good manners ('adab) for women.
* Support your husband's activities by encouraging him, offering wise
opinions, soothing his pains, etc.
* Yielding some of your rights and a part of your time with your husband
for Da'wah.
* Encourage him to go for Jihad when needed and remind him that you and
children will be in the preservation of Allah SWT.

16-Good Housekeeping
* Keep it clean, decorated and well arranged.
* Change house arrangements from time to time to avoid boredom.
* Perfect of food and prepare healthy foods.
* Learn all the necessary skills for managing the house, e.g. sewing.
* Learn how to raise children properly and in an Islamic way.

17-Preservation of Finances and the Family
* Do not spend from his money, even for charity without his permission
unless you are sure that he agrees on this.
* Protect his house, car, etc. while he is absent.
* Keep the children in good shape, clean clothes, etc. Take care of
their nutrition, health, education, manners, etc. Teach them Islam
and tell them the stories of the Prophets and companions.


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