Correct and Proper Hijab in Islam and How to Wear it Properly - Muslim Clothing
When you question what proper Hijab in Islam is, two issues raised. In so many different hijabs which is right? And what is proper way to wear Khumar and Jilbab. So lest start with the proper definition of Hijab in Islam.
Hijab in Islam is a garment which women are to wear in public places. It is obligation on women to put on hijab whenever she’s outside in public place. Hijab is a full body covering from head to toe. It combines of two pieces of garments naming Khimar and Jilbab. Khimar is a piece of garment that covers women head to her chest and neck, where, Jilbab is a piece of garment, a full-length outer garment starting from the shoulders to end on her feet.
That’s how women are fully covered through hijab. However, there are many traditional garments and clothing prevailing in Muslims society which are worn by ladies in public place like Chadar, Dupatta, Burqa etc. if all of these worn in such a way that fulfills the condition of Khimar and Jilbab, then its allowed and can be viewed as an Islamic Hijab.
There exists difference of opinion amongst the scholars and Islamic Jurists if women allowed showing her face or not. Some scholars say the women should be fully covered. However, majority of scholars like Hanafi, Maliki, hunbali says everything should be covered except hands and the face. And they quote the hadith on the authority of Asma’ bint ‘Umays that she said:
“The Messenger of Allah entered the house of ‘Aisha bint Abu Bakr while her sister, Asma bint Abu Bakr, was with her. She was wearing a Shammi (Syrian) dress with wide sleeves. When the Messenger of Allah (SAW) saw her he got up and went out”. ‘Aisha said: “leave the room for the Messenger of Allah has seen something he does not like”. So she withdrew. So the Messenger of Allah (SAW) entered, ‘Aisha (ra) inquired as to why he stood to leave? He (SAW) said: “Did you not see what she was wearing? It is not permitted for anything to be seen of a Muslim woman except this and this”. He took his sleeves and covered the upper part of his hands until nothing could be seen of his hands except his fingers. Then he lifted his hands to his temples until only the face could be seen”.
So this is the proper hijab observed by famous and most authentic scholar and jurists in Islamic History.
Details of Islamic Ruling on Hijab as Public Wearing of Women
To understand the proper hijab in Islam, one must know what is Awrah, public clothing, and Tabarruj in Islamic ruling on hijab. Because many people confuse between these three issues regarding the Muslim woman’s dress. These three different issues are:
Concealing the parts of the body that the Islamic Law has determined i.e. “Al Awrah.”
What to wear in public.
The dazzling display i.e. “Al Tabarruj”
The Judgement of “Al Awrah”
The Awrah like the Divine Law of Islam has clearly determined for the woman consists of the whole body except for her face and her hands. The neck is Awrah, the arms are Awrah and so are the legs, as well as the hair, even one single hair, ears and the profile are considered to be Awrah as well. Therefore, the Muslim woman should cover all her body except for her face and hands from strange Muslims or not, for Allah (SWT) says:
“They should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof.” [Al Nur-31]
What must ordinarily appear is the face and the hands for this used to be the case with Muslim women whether during prayer or Hajj or in front of the Messenger of Allah (SAW) who kept silent about this matter, which proves that he did not object. Another evidence comes from the Messenger of Allah (SAW) saying to Asma’a, “O Asma’a, when a woman reaches puberty, no part of her body should be revealed except for this and this.” (pointing to the face and hands.)
The Judgement on the Awrah necessitates that the color of the skin should be totally concealed, be it black or white or red or brown. If the clothing is transparent and it shows the color of the skin, it cannot be valid as a cover for the Awrah, and the Awrah is considered, therefore, to be revealed and not covered, for the Shari’ah has commanded the concealing of the skin by concealing its color. And the evidence on this issue is derived from what Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated: Asma’a daughter of Abu Bakr entered the house of the Messenger of Allah (SAW) to visit her sister Aisha and she was wearing a transparent garment so the Prophet (SAW) turned his head and said: “O Asma’a! If a woman reaches puberty it is not right for her to reveal any part of her body except this and this. (pointing to the hands and face).”
So the transparency of the clothes was considered by the Prophet (SAW) to be revealing and invalid as cover for the Awrah. Another evidence comes from what Usama Ibnu Zaid narrated when the Prophet (SAW) asked him about what he did with the Kobtya (a thin dress), Usama said that he gave it to his wife to wear. Upon this, the Prophet (SAW) said: tell her to wear some lining underneath the Kobtya, for I fear that her curves may otherwise still be seen.” This saying clearly demonstrates the Prophet’s concern about thin clothes which do not properly cover the woman’s curves.
The Judgement of What the Woman Should Wear
Islam has commanded the Muslim woman to dress as follows when outside her house:
1. Al Khimar, (the veil or head cover), this is what the scholars call the upper garment.
2. The Jilbab (the wide dress), and this is what the scholars call the lower garment.
As far as the upper garment is concerned, Islam has commanded the Muslim woman to wear a “Khimar” (a veil or a head cover) if she is to go out. The Khimar should cover the whole head, the whole neck and the collar bone, and it should be suitable for going out shopping or likewise. The Muslim woman should also observe other recommendations and interdictions before stepping out, like asking her parent or husband for permission, not imitating in her dress men or unbelievers, not to apply make-up before other than the immediate family (Mahram), not to display her beauty before strangers, to cover the Awrah, and not to put on perfume outdoors. If the woman does not abide by these rules, she will be considered sinful for violating the Shari’ah.
As for the Jilbab or the lower garment, Islam has commanded the Muslim woman to wear over her dress a Jilbab or cape or something similar that would cover the whole of the body down to the ankles. If she has not got a Jilbab, she can always borrow it from a neighbor or relative, otherwise ti would not be right for her to go out without such a dress that covers her body and is suitable for outdoors. The jilbab should not be transparent, decorated, dazzling, perfumed or similar to a man’s or unbeliever’s dress. If she does not adhere to these rules she will be considered sinful for not abiding by the Shari’ah.
If the Muslim woman when she goes out, does not wear these two garments and does not take into consideration all the other rules like asking permission from the husband or a parent, not imitating men or unbelievers in her dress, not applying make-up around other than immediate family (Mahram), not to display her beauty, to always cover the Awrah and not to put on perfume outdoors, it would not be right for her to go out under any circumstances, for the obligation of wearing these two items should be observed outside at all times unless the woman is under duress and her life is in danger, or if she is obliged to preserve her life, for example, if her house is on fire or if she is attacked by a man, she can flee outside even half naked to preserve her honor. Preserving life or honor is compulsory in Shari’ah. In any other situation, the Muslim woman has no valid excuse but to abide by what the Shari’ah has prescribed. Evidence on this issue comes from the Qur’an. Allah (SWT) says:
“That they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof: they should draw their veil over their bosoms.” [Al Nur - 31]
Allah (SWT) said on the lower garment:
“O People! Tell your wives and daughters and the believing women that they should cast their outer garment over their persons.”
It has been narrated on the authority of Umm Atiya that she said: The Messenger of Allah ordered us all women whether single or menstruating or housewives to go out in the days of Eid Al- Fitr and Eid Al-Adha, the menstruating women should not perform prayer but can join in the festivities. I said: O Messenger of Allah! What if one of us does not have a Jilbab? He said: She can borrow a Jilbab from her sister.
These events are clear evidence about what the Muslim woman should wear in public. Allah (SWT) has described in the two versed the dress that He commanded the Muslim woman to wear in public. The description of the dress is detailed, very clear and comprehensive. On the upper garment, Allah says: “That they should draw their veils over their bosoms”. It means they are to draw the Khimar around the neck and bosom to hide any part that may appear from around the bosom, collar bone or neck.
As for the lower garment, Allah (SWT) says: That they should cast their outer garments over their persons”. This means the women should draw a Jilbab or a cape or something similar, which would cover the whole body right down to the ankles. About the general state of the Jilbab, Allah (SWT) says:
“That they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof.”
This means the Muslim women should not reveal any part of the body where beauty could be displayed like the ears, and the arms and the legs, except for what must ordinarily appear in public like the face and the hands. This was the case when these two verses descended i.e. during the life of the Prophet (SAW).
Supported by this detailed and clear evidence, the dress a Muslim woman should wear in public should be easy to define. What Umm Atiya narrated confirms and clarifies the obligation of wearing the Jilbab over the normal dress for any woman wanting to go out. When she asked the Messenger of Allah what to do in case a woman did not have a Jilbab and he replied that she should borrow one from her sister, this means she is not permitted to go out without it. The Jilbab should be wide and long, covering the whole body right down to the ankles.
It has been narrated on the authority of Ibn Omar that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: He who trailed his garment out of pride, Allah would not look toward him on the Day of Reckoning. Upon this, Umm Salma said: What should the women do with their dresses then? He said: They should lower about the length of a span (from the ankle). She said: In this case, their legs will be revealed! So, he (SAW) said: They should lower an arm’s length and no more.
This evidently demonstrates that the Jilbab that a Muslim woman should wear over her dress while outdoors should be lowered all the way down until it covers the legs. This means that it is important to lower the Jilbab until the legs are covered in a way that would clearly show that it is a dress designated for outdoors.
The Judgement of Tabarruj (the dazzling display)
The issue of Tabarruj is separate from that of covering the Awrah, and also separate from that of the dress that a woman should wear in public. Tabarruj occurs when a woman performs a dazzling display of her beauty and reveals it to strangers. Tabarruj is forbidden by a clear-cut evidence from the texts of Shari’ah. Allah (SWT) says:
“Such elderly women as are past the prospect of marriage: there is no blame on them is they lay aside their outer garments, provided they make not a wanton display of their beauty.” [Al Nur 60]
We understand from the verse that Tabarruj is in any case completely forbidden. Allah (SWT) permitted such women to lay aside their outer garments, on the condition that they should not make a dazzling display of their beauty. If the elderly women are forbidden from Tabarruj, this means that other women are forbidden as well. Allah (SWT) says:
“And that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments.”
Allah (SWT) in this iyah forbids one form of Tabarruj in which women strike their feet in a way in which the ankle chain releases a sound which reveals their beauty. In the early days of Islam, women used to wear ankle chains and strike their feet to display their beauty and draw men’s attention. So the iyah descended to put a stop to such dazzling display of beauty and to such kinds of Tabarruj.
It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Musa Al Ash’ari, that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “Any woman who puts on perfume and walks past a group of people and they smell it, she is considered to be an adulterer”. It means like an adulterer in terms of sin. It has also been narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: There are two types of people in Hell who I have not yet seen. The first are people that have whips like the tail of oxen with which they beat people. And the second are women who are naked in spite of being dressed, they will be led astray and will lead others astray and their heads will look like the humps of camels. These women will not enter paradise, they will not even experience the faintest scent of it, even though the fragrance of the Paradise can be perceived from a great distance.”
These texts bear clear evidence about the interdiction of Tabarruj. We ought also to differentiate between Tabarruj and make-up. Tabarruj is forbidden in Islam. However, applying make-up has not been forbidden by the Divine Law of Islam except in times of mourning over the loss of a husband, as it has been narrated on the authority of Umm Atiya who said that the Messenger of Allah said: The woman should not mourn any dead person more than three days, except for the husband whom she should mourn his death for four months and ten days, during which period she is not to wear colorful clothes except if the colors are not bright; she is not to put on Kohl or perfume, not to cut or trim anything except the excessive curls and the long nails.”
And on the authority of Abi Dawood, the same hadith includes the phrase “nor should she dye her hair,” and in the Nissa’i version “she should not comb her hair”.
This saying (Hadith) is an interdiction of applying make-up when in mourning, and this means that make-up is allowed at other times.
To apply Kohl or Henna or to wear earrings, chains, bracelets, etc,. Is allowed. The Shari’ah has however forbidden some types of make-up or beauty accessories like tattoos or wearing wigs; for on the authority of Ibn Omar, the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “Allah curses the woman who adds artificial hair to her own and the one who adds it for her, and the tattooed woman and the tattooing woman.”
Although the Shari’ah allows the woman to apply make-up and display her beauty to her husband, and Mahrams like her brother, father, and brothers, she is still forbidden from applying attracting or alluring make-up outdoors. Therefore, if a woman is about to go out, she should remember that she is not going out to display her beauty or to attract men’s attention but to attend life’s necessities like shopping, etc.
These are the Judgements of Al Awrah and the woman’s garments (Khimar and Jilbab), and also that of Tabarruj (dazzling display). If there were a dress, which covers the woman’s Awrah, it does not necessarily mean that it is automatically allowed for her to wear it outdoors because the Shari’ah has determined the type of garment that the woman is allowed to wear outdoors. Trousers for instance are not suitable for a woman to wear in public despite the fact that they perfectly cover the Awrah. If a woman goes out wearing trousers, then according to the texts of Shari’ah she is sinful, simply because she ignored one of her duties. That is why we are strongly advised not to confuse the issue of what the women should wear in public with that of covering the Awrah or with that of Tabarruj.
Trousers, even if they are not transparent, a woman should not wear before strange men, Muslim or not, for when she wears them she is in fact, displaying her beauty and this is Tabarruj, and Tabarruj is forbidden (haram).
So, all items or wear like trousers and wigs and hats which the Shari’ah has not determined and deemed as fit to be worn in public are forbidden even if such items do cover the woman’s Awrah. This means that the Muslim woman should not wear items of clothing which would cover her Awrah but leaves her displaying her beauty or looking like men or looking like unbelievers.