Q: What is
the legal Hijab (veil) in Islam?
Are the face and hands considered `Awrah (parts of the body that must be covered in public) in this time? What is regarded as temptation? When we see a young woman without her face covered in the market and tell her that it is not permissible for her to go out like this because this leads to temptation, she asks how is she to know what is tempting or not? How should we reply to her? Some say Hijab is an ancient tradition, how do we refute this? Is it permissible for a Muslim woman who calls people to Allah's Way in Muslim countries to uncover her face and hands? Is she thus committing a forbidden act?
(Part No. 17; Page No. 156)
The Shari`ah (Islamic law) aims at protecting people's honor and blocking all ways and means leading to vice. It encourages people to marry and forbids committing fornication. It commands women to wear Hijab and cover all their body including the face and hands in front of strange men. The Shari`ah thus protects women and gives then honorable status so they become known for their chastity and purity. It protects them against harm and abuse from lustful men and evil-hearted people. Wearing Hijab is not an ancient custom; it is a legal ruling. Also, the Shari`ah orders women to remain in their homes away from men and their gatherings. It orders women not to leave their homes except when there is a specific need and to cover their faces and refrain from adorning themselves when going out. All this aims at protecting the honor of Muslim women and keeping them away from male gatherings which may lead to vice and evil consequences. The Shari`ah orders both man and woman to lower their gaze and prohibits Khulwah (being alone with a member of the opposite sex). It also prohibits women from traveling without a Mahram (spouse or permanently unmarriageable relative), applying perfume when going out, beautifying their voices when talking to strange men, so that no evil-hearted person may think ill of them. The Shari`ah also prohibits women from making movements that may draw men's attention to them such as jingling their jewelry to make a sound which draws men's attention and the like. The Shari`ah provides such rulings to preserve women's honor, guard their chastity, and protect them from temptation which results in (Part No. 17; Page No. 157) evil and harm. There is no doubt that violation of these rulings leads to vice and fornication which natural instinct and sound reasoning utterly abhor. May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.