The Dress Code for Women in the Quran


Introduction:

Before presenting the Quranic rules for women’s dress, it is essential first to remind ourselves of the following:

1- The Quran is the only source of law that is authorised by God (6:114).

2- The Quran is complete and fully detailed (6:38, 6:114, 6:89 and 12:111).

3- God calls on His true believers to make sure not to fall in the trap of idol worship by following the words of the scholars instead of the words of God (9:31).

4- God calls those who prohibit what He did not prohibit, aggressors, liars and idol worshippers (5:87, 6:140, 7:32, 10:59).

The command to follow the Quran alone is given very clearly in the Quran, see: Dozen Reasons

Quranic guidelines for women’s dress

First Rule : The Best Garment

“O children of Adam, we have provided you with garments to cover your bodies, as well as for luxury. But the best garment is the garment of righteousness. These are some of God’s signs, that they may take heed.” 7:26

Righteousness is the basic rule of dress code in the Quran. Any woman knows quite well what is decent and what is revealing. Women do not need to be told, they know how to maintain righteousness and how not to. God created the woman and therefore He knows that she can make that distinction, and that is why God set this rule of righteousness as the first rule.

Second Rule : Cover your Bosoms

The second rule can be found in 24:31. Here God commands women to cover their bosoms. But before quoting 24:31 let us review some crucial words that are always mentioned with this topic, namely ‘hijab’ and ‘khimar’.

The word ‘hijab’ in the Quran

Hijab is the term used by many Muslim women to describe their head cover that may or may not include covering their face except their eyes, and sometimes covering also one eye. The Arabic word ‘hijab’ can be translated into veil or yashmak. Other meanings for the word ‘hijab’ include, screen, cover(ing), mantle, curtain, drapes, partition, division, divider.

Can we find the word ‘hijab’ in the Quran?

The word ‘hijab’ appeared in the Quran 7 times, five of them as ‘hijab’ and two times as ‘hijaban’, these are 7:46, 33:53, 38:32, 41:5, 42:51, 17:45 & 19:17.

None of these ‘hijab’ words are used in the Quran in reference to what the traditional Muslims call today ‘hijab’ as a dress code for the Muslim woman.

God knows that generations after Muhammed’s death the Muslims will use the word ‘hijab’ to invent a dress code that He never authorised. God used the word ‘hijab’ ahead of them just as He used the word ‘hadith’ ahead of them (45:6).

The word ‘hijab’ in the Quran has nothing to do with the Muslim women’s dress code.

Historical Background:

While many Muslims call ‘hijab’ an Islamic dress code, they completely ignore the fact that, ‘hijab’ as a dress code has nothing to do with Islam and nothing to do with the Quran.

In reality ‘hijab’ is an old Jewish tradition that infiltrated into the hadith books like many innovations that contaminated Islam through alleged hadith and sunna. Any student of the Jewish traditions or religious books will see that head cover for the Jewish woman is encouraged by the Rabbis and religious leaders.
Religious Jewish women still cover their heads most of the time and especially in the synagogues, at weddings and religious festivities. This Jewish tradition is a cultural not a religious one. Hijab was observed by the women of the civilisations that preceded the Jews and was passed down to the Jewish culture.

Some Christian women cover their heads in many religious occasions while the nuns cover their heads all the time. This religious practise of covering the head was established from traditions thousands of years before the Muslim scholars claimed the ‘hijab’ as a Muslim dress code.

The traditional Arabs, of all religions, Jews, Christians and Muslims used to wear ‘hijab’ not because of Islam, but because of tradition. In Saudi Arabia, up to this minute most of the men cover their heads, not because of Islam but because of tradition.

North Africa is known for its Tribe (Tuareg) that have the Muslim men wearing ‘hijab’ instead of women. Here the tradition has the ‘hijab’ in reverse. If wearing ‘hijab’ is the sign of the pious and righteous Muslim woman, Mother Teresa would have been the first woman to be counted.

In brief, ‘hijab’ is a traditional dress and has nothing to do with Islam or religion. In certain areas of the world, men are the ones who wear the ‘hijab’ while in others the women do.

Mixing religion with tradition is a form of idol-worship since it implies setting up other sources of religious laws besides the Quran.

The word ‘khimar’ in the Quran:

The word ‘khimar’ can be found in the Quran in 24:31 While the first basic rule of Dress Code for the Muslim women can be found in 7:26, the second rule of the dress code for women can be found in 24:31. Some Muslims quote verse 31 of sura 24 as containing the ‘hijab’, or head cover, by pointing to the word, khomoorehenna, (from khimar), forgetting that God already used the word ‘hijab’, several times in the Quran. Those blessed by God can see that the use of the word ‘khimar’ in this verse is not for ‘hijab’ or for head cover. Those who quote this verse usually add (head cover) (veil) after the word ‘khomoorehenna’, and usually between brackets, because it is their addition to the verse not God’s. Here we have 24:31:

“And tell the believing women to subdue their eyes, and maintain their chastity. They shall not reveal any of their ‘zeenatahhunna’ (their beauty spots) except what is normally apparent. They shall cover their chests with their Khimar and shall not relax this code in the presence of other than their husbands, their fathers, the fathers of their husbands, their sons, the sons of their husbands, their brothers, the sons of their brothers, the sons of their sisters, other women, the male servants or employees whose sexual drive has been nullified, or the children who have not reached puberty. They shall not strike their feet when they walk in order to shake and reveal certain details of their bodies. All of you shall repent to God, O you believers, that you may succeed.” 24:31

The Arabic word khimar means cover. Any cover can be called a khimar such as a curtain, a dress, a table cloth that covers the top of a table is a khimar, a blanket can be called a khimar and so on. The word khamr, which is used in the Quran for intoxicants, has the same root as khimar. Both words mean that which covers.

The khimar covers a window, a body, a table and so on, while khamr is that which covers the mind. Traditional translators, obviously influenced by Hadith and culture, claim that khimar in 24:31 has only one meaning, and that veil or hijab, and thus mislead women into believing that 24:31 commands them to cover their hair! This fact that the word khimar can mean any cover is a matter that can be verified by consulting any Arabic dictionary.

In 24:31 God is telling women to use their khimar (cover/garment) which could be a dress, a coat, a shawl, a shirt, a blouse, a scarf and so on to cover their cleavage/bosoms.

God does not wait for a clever scholar to decipher the words of the Quran!

Third Rule: Not to reveal any of their beauty spots

The third rule can also be found in 24:31. Here God commands women not to reveal their beauty spots except what is normally apparent (face, hair, lower arms and lower legs .. etc).

“They shall not reveal any of their ‘zeenatahhunna’ (beauty spots), except that which is normally apparent.”

This expression may sound vague to many because they have not understood the Mercy of God. Once again, God here used this very general term to give women the freedom that as long as they observe righteousness, they are free to decide according to their own circumstances the definition of what is “apparent”.

The word ‘zeenatahunna’ in this verse refers to the woman’s beauty spots which carry a sexual connotation, examples are “thighs, breasts, back side … etc). At the end of the verse, God tells the women not to strike with their feet to show their ‘zenatahunna’. The way a woman strikes her feet while walking can expose or shake certain parts of the body that do not need to be emphasised.

For more detailed analysis of 24:31 please go to: Corruption of 24:31

Fourth Rule : Lengthen your Garments

“O prophet, tell your wives, your daughters, and the wives of the believers that they shall lengthen their garments. Thus, they will be recognised and avoid being insulted. God is Forgiver, Most Merciful.” 33:59

When we reflect on the above words, we would understand the great wisdom of God. In this verse, God, deliberately said that women should lengthen their garments, but did not say how long is long. God could have said tell them to lengthen their garments to their ankles or to their mid-calf or to their knees, but He did not. God knows that we will be living in different communities and have different cultures and insists that the minor details of this dress code will be left for the people of every community to decide for themselves, as long as righteousness is always maintained.

Relaxing the Dress Code:

In the family setting, God put no hardship on the women, and permitted them to relax their dress code. If you reflect on the verses, 33:35 and 24:60, you will see that God did not give details of what this relaxation is, because every situation is different.

“The women may relax (their dress code) around their fathers, their sons, their brothers, the sons of their brothers, the sons of their sisters, the other women, and their (female) servants. They shall reverence God. God witnesses all things.” 33:55

“The elderly women who do not expect to get married commit nothing wrong by relaxing their dress code, provided they do not reveal too much of their bodies. To maintain modesty is better for them. God is Hearer, Knower.” 24:60

Reply to those who claim that a Muslim woman should be all covered except for her face:

Many so-called Muslim scholars have invented extreme rules for women’s dress which are not found in the Quran. Some say that a woman should be totally covered except for her face, while others even more extreme say that all the woman must be covered from head to toe except for two holes where the eyes can peep out from!

1- There is nothing in all the Quran that says to the woman to cover all her body.We must accept that the Quran has all the details, and that God does not forget. If God wanted the woman to cover all her body from the neck to the feet God would have said that clearly. Those who make such un-Quranic claims cannot find words in the Quran with such extreme commands, so they manipulate 24:31 and 33:59 to comply with their false claims.

2- The fact that God says in 24:31 to specifically cover the breast indicates clearly that there are other parts of the woman’s body that do not have to be covered.

Here is an example to make the point clear:

Think of your house and in it you have a garden. You have gardener who comes to look after your garden.
One day you ask him: please water the area near the trees and also water the back of the garden.

What does this example tell us?
It tell us that since you specified only areas to be watered, then this is a clear indication that there will be other areas in the garden that do not to be watered. If you wanted the gardener to water the whole garden you would have asked exactly that, by saying: please water the whole garden.

When we apply this example to the issue of women’s dress code in the Quran, the same principle applies, if God wanted the whole body of the woman to be covered, God would not have bothered saying “cover your chest” since an overall command to cover all the body would be all that is needed to say. But since God specifies certain parts of the woman’s body to be covered, then there are other parts that do not have to be covered as long as the are not beauty spots of sexual connotation and as long as righteousness in dress is maintained.

3- The command to “lengthen the garment” also proves that the woman is not commanded to be all covered from head to feet. For if that is the case, and the woman is covered down to the ground, there would be no meaning to “lengthen the garment”.

How can the woman lengthen a garment that is already down to the ground?

It is just like (another example) if a driving instructor tells the learner:
The most important rule for driving on this road is not to go over the speed of 30 miles/hour

This order from the instructor indicates that it is within the ability of the learner to drive at speeds higher than 30 mph.

But if the driving instructor used a car that can never exceed the 30 mph speed, there would not be any need to tell the learner not to go above that speed, because the learner could not do so even if he wanted to.

And thus if all women are covered from head to feet, there would be no need to tell them to lengthen their garments!

Source: www.quran-islam.org

 


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