Modesty & the Etiquette of Hijab

Modesty & the Etiquette of Hijab

Woman, as taught by Islam since the light of Prophethood, is a precious and most valuable treasure of this world. She is to be protected, honoured and valued. Like a precious stone, her beauty should be respected, hidden in security and safety so as not to be abused by unworthy eyes.

We live in times where a woman’s beauty is paraded and flaunted without limits throughout the media, as a worthless object of lust and mindless desire. Her body, which was created as a pure symbol of grace, is displayed in shameless ways to corrupt minds and distort the meaning of ‘beauty’. Is it really any wonder that society has become so unashamed in its ways?

Ultimately, Hijab is empowerment for the Muslim woman. It is her right to preserve her modesty, to guard herself from the corruption of society. The veil or Hijab is that distinctive symbol which identifies her as a woman of God; humble, modest. It places her on the pedestal she is worthy of: that no male other than her close relatives and her husband, has the right to behold her beauty.

It is reported that Sayyida Fatima, the honourable daughter of the Beloved Messenger, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, said, “A woman’s best adornment is her modesty.”

The Verse of the Veil – al-Qur’an

To emphasise the importance of the Hijab, it should be known that Almighty Allah revealed an entire elaborative verse in the Qur’an regarding this concept:

“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 head veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except 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.” [Qur’an 24:31]

• Sayyida Aisha stated, “May Allah have mercy on the early emigrant women (Muhajirun). When the verse ‘That they should draw their head veils over their bosoms’ [24:31] was revealed, they tore their thick outer garments and made veils from them. And when the verse ‘That they should cast their outer garments over themselves’ [33:59] was revealed, the women of the Muhajirun came out as if they had crows over their heads by wearing outer garments.” [Abu Dawud]

The above report is an indication of the truly pious and God-fearing nature of the women Companions of the Prophet, who immediately obeyed Almighty Allah’s orders to observe the Hijab and fulfil their duties of modesty.

• Sayyidina Umar bin al-Khattab says, Allah agreed with him on three matters (i.e. sent Divine Revelation or Wahi on three matters, as he had hoped). One of these matters was in regards to the veil. He reports, “I said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! I wish you ordered your wives to cover themselves from the men because good and bad ones talk to them.’ So the Verse of the Veil (of women) was revealed.” [Bukhari: Vol 1, Book 8, Hadith no. 395]

Hijab and its Virtues

The Beloved Messenger of Allah said, “A woman should be concealed, for when she goes out, the devil looks at her.” [Tirmidhi, Hadith no. 3109]

• Preserves her honour, dignity & self-respect
Islam teaches the Hijab as a means of protection so that the Muhajiba (one who observes the Hijab) is known as a woman of honour, and is therefore protected from being harassed by men of evil and unrestrained desires:
“O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the believing women to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known [as free respectable women] and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.” [Qur’an 33:59]

• Modest adornment
Allah has blessed mankind with clothing as a way to cover ourselves, and also to beautify our appearances in an elegant manner; indeed the Beloved Messenger of Allah said, “Allah is beautiful and loves beauty.” [Muslim]
Allah says in the Qur’an, “O children of Adam, We have bestowed upon you clothing to conceal your private parts and as adornment. But the clothing of righteousness (libas al-taqwa) – that is best. That is from the signs of Allah that perhaps they will remember.” [Qur’an 7:26]
Here, the term libas al-taqwa refers to piety and virtue, which Hijab is an integral part of.

Requirements of the Hijab

• Sayyida Aisha reported that Lady Asma, the daughter of Sayyidina Abu Bakr Siddique, went to the Messenger of Allah wearing thin clothing. He said to her, “O Asma! When a girl reaches the menstrual age, it is not proper that anything should remain exposed except this and this. (He pointed to the face and hands.)” [Abu Dawud]

• In another Hadith, the Beloved Messenger states, “When a woman reaches puberty, no part of her body should remain uncovered, except her face and the hand up to the wrist joint.” [Abu Dawud]

From the above Hadiths, it is clear that the entire body of a Muslimahshould be covered, except for the face and hands. The wearing of a Niqab, or face veil, is optional and a personal preference.

• Outlining the requirements of the Hijab, and clarifying its necessity upon every believing woman, Almighty Allah mentions in the Qur’an: “[The believing women] should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their head veils over their bosoms…” [Qur’an 24:31]

Regarding the term, “except what must ordinarily appear thereof”, Tafsir Jalalayn (written by Imam Jalaluddin Suyuti and Imam Jalaluddin Mahalli) interprets this as the face and hands, as stated in the above Hadiths. Other scholars interpret this as only the two eyes, or are of the opinion that only that which is impossible to cover may be exposed. And Allah knows best.

Hijab: A Summary of Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do:

1. Ensure your chest area is covered. (“Draw their head veils over their bosoms…” [24:31])
2. Ensure all your hair is covered. (“Should not display their beauty and ornaments…” [24:31])
3. Dress smartly, within the bounds of Sharia or Islamic Law. (“Let the mark of Allah’s favour and honour upon you be seen.” [Hadith: Abu Dawud])
4. Avoid extravagance and seek moderation. (“Eat, drink, wear clothes and give alms without extravagance and without conceit.” [Hadith: Bukhari]”)

  • Don’t:

1. Wear clothes which show the shape of your body either through tight fit or transparency. (“…Women who, although clothed, are yet naked seducing and being seduced, their hair style like the tilted humps of camels. These will not enter the paradise nor will its fragrance reach them although its fragrance reaches a very great distance.” [Hadith: Muslim] )
2. Dress with the intention to impress others, and in a manner which leads you to become conceited. (“Eat, drink, wear clothes and give alms without extravagance and without conceit.” [Hadith: Bukhari])
3. Dress in such a manner which resembles a man. (“Allah has cursed the women who imitate the men and the men who imitate the women.” [Hadith: Tirmidhi])
4. Dress in such a manner which resembles the unbelievers. (“Indeed, these are the clothes of Kuffar (unbelievers), so do not wear them.” [Hadith: Muslim])

Lowering the Gaze

“…Not display their beauty except 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.” [Qur’an 24:31]

The Muslimah should not display her beauty i.e. be seen without Hijab, by those other than whom the Qur’an mentions in the above verse. In short, she cannot display her beauty to those she is able to marry also known as ghair mahram males.

The Holy Qur’an also teaches both genders to lower their gaze, meaning to protect their eyes from staring at each other. It is known that a great percentage of human communication is visual; therefore from a simple glance, Shaytan creates an opportunity to put lustful thoughts into the minds of men and women.

“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty…” [Qur’an 24:31]

And, “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 acquainted with all that they do.” [Qur’an 24:30]

Hijab and the Man

When discussing Hijab, the question often arises; why is emphasis for covering up placed upon the women instead of the men?

Firstly, it should be noted that men definitely have a degree of Hijab to observe. In addition to modest clothing and following the ways of the noble Sunnah, men must also lower their gaze and protect themselves from their desires in regards to women.
This is commanded upon them in the Qur’anic verse: “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 acquainted with all that they do.” [Qur’an 24:30]

This is further explained in several Hadith, which tells us that the first glance is allowed however the second glance is not. This means that a man may look once but he should then turn away:

• The Beloved Messenger of Allah said to his cousin Sayyidina Ali,“O Ali, do not follow a glance with another, for you will be forgiven for the first, but not for the second.” [Tirmidhi, Hadith no. 2701]

• Sayyidina Jareer ibn Abdullah said, “I asked the Messenger of Allah about an accidental glance at a woman. He commanded me to turn my gaze away.” [Tirmidhi]

Imam Nawawi states in his commentary or Sharh Sahih Muslim, that:
“What is meant by an accidental glance is if one’s gaze falls upon a non-mahram woman accidentally; there is no sin in that initially, but he must look away immediately. If he looks away immediately, there is no sin on him, but if he persists in looking, then he has sinned, because of this Hadith, for the Prophet commanded him to look away. And Allah says (interpreting the verse): “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts)…” [Qur’an 24:30]
Men must lower their gaze and avoid looking at women at all times, except for sound and legitimate purposes, namely testimony, medical treatment, proposing marriage, buying a slave girl, buying and selling, etc. In these cases it is permitted to look only as much as is necessary and no more. And Allah knows best.” [Sharh Sahih Muslim, 14/139]

One of the main reasons for why the Hijab is so focused on women is because woman is a man’s weakness. This is an innate trait which has been embedded into his nature. Therefore, the woman is asked to observe the Hijab not just for her own protection and modesty, but also to protect the man from his own weakness and lower self (nafs). Indeed, the Qur’an states, “For man was created weak.” [Qur’an 4:28]
Regarding this verse, Tafsir ibn Kathir reports Imam Waki’s comment: “Concerning women; man’s mind leaves when women are involved.” And Tafsir Jalalayn interprets this verse thus: “For man was created weak, unable to abstain from women and passions.”

Therefore, the Hijab is a protection and a for of purity for both genders and is ruled according to the nature of each. Since woman is made naturally soft-hearted, modest and humble, she is asked to cover up and protect herself; and since man is created weak, he is taught to exercise self-restraint. If both genders fulfil their individual duties, their faith is protected and their purity is preserved.

And Allah says in the Qur’an:
“If any one does a righteous deed, it is for the benefit of his own soul; if he does evil, it works against his own soul. In the end will you all be brought back to your Lord.” [Qur’an 45:15]

Qur’an & Hadith regarding Haya (or Modesty)

• “And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty…” [Qur’an 24:31]

• 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 acquainted with all that they do.” [Qur’an 24:30]

• The Beloved Messenger of Allah said, “Imaan (faith) consists of more than sixty branches. And haya (modesty) is a part of faith.”[Bukhari]

• The Beloved Messenger of Allah said, “Indeed haya and imaan are Companions. When one of them is lifted, the other leaves as well.” [Baihaqi]

• The Beloved Messenger of Allah said, “When lewdness is a part of anything, it becomes defective; and when haya is a part of anything it becomes beautiful.” [Tirmidhi]

• The Beloved Messenger of Allah said, “Hayadoes not bring anything except good.” [Bukhari]

• The Beloved Messenger of Allah said, “Every Deen (religion) has an innate character. The character of Islam is modesty (haya).” [Abu Dawud]

• The Beloved Messenger of Allah said, “Surely Allah (is One who) has haya and is the Protector. He loves haya and people who cover each others faults.” [Bukhari]

• The Beloved Messenger of Allah said, “Hayacomes from faith; faith leads to Paradise.” [Bukhari]

• The Beloved Messenger of Allah said, “Hayaand trustworthiness will be the first to go from this world; therefore keep asking Allah for them.” [Baihaqi]

May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon our Beloved Prophet Mustafa, upon his Family and his Companions.

Esteemed Parents of the Beloved Messenger of Allah

Esteemed Parents of the Beloved Messenger of Allah

The perfection of status granted to the Beloved Messenger of Allah, upon him be utmost blessings and peace,extends to the fact that even his lineage itself is sacred. From his ancestors, Prophet Adam to Prophet Ibrahim, to his own blessed parents, and then from his own household to his daughter Sayyida Fatima, to his grandchildren, to his descendants from them; they were all people of enlightenment and purity.

It is also interesting to note how Messengers before him were delivered through blessed and pious parents – such as Prophet Zakariyya, father of Prophet Yahya or Sayyida Maryam, mother of Prophet Isa, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon them all. Therefore, it is only fitting that the most superior of all Messengers be granted through righteous and blessed parents.

Events recorded in history from the life of his parents demonstrate character traits of honourable purity in both of them. May Allah’s peace be upon them both!

Life and Union of the Prophet’s Parents

Sayyidina Abdullah was the son of Sayyidina Abdul Muttalib, Custodian of the Holy Ka’bah and leader of the noble tribe of Banu Hashim.

Sayyidina Abdul Muttalib himself once saw a vision in which he was shown the Well of ZamZam, which had been concealed or hidden away at that time. When he located that place, he dug it up and found the sacred well as well as some buried treasures. He restored the treasures back to the Holy Ka’bah and then established the practise of distributing ZamZam water to pilgrims. From this, it is apparent that Sayyidina Abdullah was raised in a respectable environment, one which revolved around the sacred House of Allah, revered even by the pagans.

When he became of age, Sayyidina Abdul Muttalib sought to fulfill a vow he had once made in his earlier days; that he would sacrifice one of his sons if he was blessed with ten. Sayyidina Abdullah, a dutiful and obedient son, willingly followed his father to the Ka’bah where he was to be sacrificed, without objection. It was only at the request and pleas of others that Sayyidina Abdul Muttalib finally agreed to instead pay 100 camels as blood money for his vow, instead of slaughtering his son.1

This incident became famous throughout the city of Makkah, and the young Sayyidina Abdullah began to capture the interest of many young women who hoped to marry him. However, he chose to remain single for a while.

After some time, his father Sayyidina Abdul Muttalib chose for him a beautiful young lady named Aminah, daughter of Wahb ibn Manaf, from the respectable tribe of Banu Zuhra. At the time, he was 25 years of age and Sayyida Aminah was roughly 15 years old.

When this news became publicly known, a woman named Qutayla – sister of Waraqah ibn Nawfal – rushed to Sayyidina Abdullah to ask her to marry him. She had noticed an extraordinary radiance shining from his forehead, and recognised that a Messenger of God was to arrive through him. In her eagerness, and with the hope of bearing that precious child, she offered him the price of a hundred camels if he would take her instead of Sayyida Aminah. Sayyidina Abdullah refused explaining that he would not go against the will of his father, so she withdrew disappointed.

Married Life

The wedding and union of Sayyidina Abdullah and Sayyida Aminah proceeded, and Sayyidina Abdul Muttalib gifted his son with a black servant girl named Barakah, may Allah be pleased with her. The new couple happily settled into their new home and anticipated a bright future together – but their bliss was short-lived. Several weeks later, Sayyidina Abdullah was needed by his father to travel to Syria to organise trade and business matters.

Sayyida Aminah became grieved at this separation and as a result, she became weak and frail. For two months after this, she was in a state of feverishness and grief, with the attentive Barakah constantly by her side trying to comfort and nurse her. It is reported that one morning, Sayyida Aminah woke up in a better frame of a mind; she had dreamt of a light radiating from her womb which lit up the palaces of Syria.

It soon became apparent that she was pregnant. Barakah ran to Sayyidina Abdul Muttalib to break this news to him, and he was delighted. Sayyida Aminah longed to see her husband again; eager to tell him that he was soon to be a father. But she was never to see him again.

After completing his business trip, Sayyidina Abdullah took the return journey through Madinah which was then known as Yathrib. Here, he rested at the house of his uncles for some nights, but eventually the intense humid atmosphere took its toll on his health and he was struck with a violent fever. For a month, he struggled against it and the caravan to Makkah left without him as he tried to recover back to full health. But he did not make it. Soon Sayyidina Abdul Muttalib received the shattering news of his son’s death.

Barakah ran home with this tragic news, afraid of how greatly it would devastate the ailing Sayyida Aminah. As feared, she was heartbroken with the news, and she lay faint and unconscious for a while in a pained state whilst Barakah stayed by her side, nursing her anxiously. It is reported that Sayyida Aminah attributed the following elegy in memory of her husband: “Death invited the son of Hashim and when he accepted, mankind has not been left with his equal. Yet even if he is dead, his noble deeds have survived him; he was so generous and compassionate.”

Throughout this difficult period of life, Sayyida Aminah’s faith and patience gave her strength. She was carrying a baby who would bless the entire world, her grief soothed by that which her womb carried. She was often graced by enlightening dreams and visions which consoled her, brought her peace and gave her courage to endure.

Birth of the Beloved

At the time of the Beloved Prophet’s birth, Sayyida Aminah was accompanied by Barakah and a lady named Shifa 2, the future mother of the esteemed Companion Sayyidina Abdur Rahman ibn Awf, may Allah be pleased with her, and with him. As Sayyida Aminah had seen in her vision, a light now emanated from her womb which was so radiant and intense that she could see the palaces of Syria.

Truly blessed was her pregnancy; she felt no pain or discomfort. Eventually the blessed child entered into the world from her enlightened womb. When she delivered him, his small precious body emerged prostrated in the sujood position, already circumcised 3, with his tiny fists clenched tightly. Sayyida Shifa reported that there was a Divine Presence around them, and a voice called out “May Allah have mercy on you.”

The loving Barakah, may Allah be well pleased with her, rushed forward to be the first to hold him in her arms, then washed and wrapped him with utmost care. The newborn child glowed with incredible beauty, his soft face radiant with a most resplendent light. He was born on a Monday, 12th Rabiul Awwal, in the Year of the Elephant, 570 CE. May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him!

[credits for references and information:

Did They Believe?

The majority of scholars of the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaat have agreed that the parents of the Beloved Messenger are amongst the inmates of Paradise.

Hadhrat Pir Mohammad Karam Shah al-Azhari, may Allah have mercy upon him, writes, “The majority of the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaat scholars adhere to the opinion that the parents of the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, are recipients of salvation and are blessed with the bounties of Paradise.” [Zia ul-Nabi, Vol. 2, page 78]

It is narrated from Sayyidina ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Beloved Prophet said, “Allah continued to transfer me from the loins of the pure to the wombs of the pure, clean and mannered. No two groups have appeared except I was the best of the two.” [Imam Abu Nu’aym, Dala’il al-Nubuwwah]

Sayyida Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, narrated that the Prophet said, “Jibra’il said to me, ‘I have searched the earth, the Easts and the Wests. And I did not find a man better than Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and I did not find a clan better than the clan of Bani Hashim.’ [Imam Tabrani in Awsat; Imam Bayhaqi in Dala’il al-Nubuwwah]

Imam Jalaluddin al-Suyuti writes in his book Masalak al-Hunafa, “It is proven from authentic Ahadith that from the time of Adam to Abdullah [the Prophet’s father], the Prophet’s lineage were the best of their people. No one was better than his lineage in any generation.”

Imam Jalaluddin al-Suyuti has also published several works in defense of the blessed parents of the Prophet, upon him and them be Allah’s peace and blessings. Below are listed some works of Imam al-Suyuti regarding the parents of the Beloved Messenger of Allah, all available in print:

• al-Duruj al-Munifa fil-Aba’ al-Sharifa
(The Outstanding Entries Regarding the Noble Ancestors [of the Prophet]);

• al-Fawa’id al-Kamina fi Iman al-Sayyida Amina wal-Ta`zim wal-Minna fi anna Abaway Rasulillah fil-Jannah
(The Treasured Benefits Regarding the Muslim Belief of the Lady Aminah [bint Wahb] and the Laudatory Gift That the Prophet’s Parents are in Paradise);

• al-Maqamat al-Sundusiyya fil-Nisbat al-Mustafawiyya
(The Resplendent Stations Concerning the Prophetic Lineage);

• Masalik al-Hunafa fi Waliday al-Mustafa
(Methods of Those With Pure Belief Concerning the Two Parents of the Prophet”) translated in the Encyclopedia of Islamic Doctrine (2:143-159);

• Nashr al-`Ilmayn al-Munifayn fi Ihya’ al-Abawayn al-Sharifayn
(The Proclamation of the Two Lofty Knowledges Regarding the Resuscitation of the Prophet’s Two Parents);

• al-Subul al-Jaliyya fil-Aba’ al-`Aliyya
(The Manifest Paths on the Lofty Ancestors [of the Prophet]),
– epitomized by Imam Yusuf al-Nabhani in Hujjat Allah alal-Alameen (p. 413-421).

And Allah knows best.


1 Hafiz ibn Kathir 1.126; Ibn Ishaq pg. 67-68
2 Hafiz ibn Kathir 1.72,148
3 Hafiz ibn Kathir 1.149, from Bayhaqi. He used the words makhtum and masrur.