of Dress Code in Islam: Burkha or Hijab (?)
Khurshed Alam Chowdhury
As we all agree, that there are tremendous
controversies in the women dress code in Islam.
Even two Islamic scholars do not agree in the same dress
code for women. In
the same Muslim Country, dresses worn by Muslim women are not
the same at all. It
varies even in the same family. Therefore, let us discuss this
important subject with a view: (a)
to determine exactly what type of veil (pardha) should be
observed by Muslim
women prescribed by Quran & Sunnah,
(b) how to implement them and,
(c) to determine if this Islamic dress code is, of
course, feasible or not, for Twentieth or Twenty first
Century’s modern/civilized working/business women ?
and brief History of Veils:
veiling (pardha) women was an aged old practice among the
aristocrats and it was practiced thousands of years before the
arrival of Islam. Hindu,
Bhudda, Christians, Jews etc were also practicing veiling among
their prestigious women. As
far I can discover from various references, this method was
adopted mainly as a sign to distinguish the FREE
WOMEN FROM THE SLAVE WOMEN, so that none should molest her
thinking her to be a slave girl (please read Qur’anic Ayat
amongst aristocrat women was always to cover her Face & body
completely (when goes outside home) and with the advent of Islam
veiling was made obligatory for all believing women from the age
of nine (9) and not the ambiguous age of 7-15 as some authors
of all, veiling in Islam (as per Qur’an & Sunnah) was
always to COVER ENTIRE BODY EXCEPT FEET AND WRIST,i.e. Burkha
was the proper veiling system rigidly obeyed by all Muslim women
until early 20th Century. Begum
Rokeya’s “ABRODE BASHINI” is a master piece document of
the prevailing situation at that time. We all know very well
that even outside education for women was prohibited by Islam.
I urge our honourable readers to read “ABRODE BASHINI”
for themselve. This
famous novel will give a true picture of Sub-continent Muslim
women until early 20th Century.
After all where lies the actual beauty of a
consider it is the very “face” or “Chaahara” which
identifies whether a person is beautiful or ugly.
Why then we are arguing with “Hijab” and “khimar”?
How one protect her beauty only by covering her hairs?
What happens, if she shaved her hairs, does she still
needs to wear Hijab?
To me face (beautiful wide eyes, nose, lips) is the
center of her beauty and I don’t need to see her hair. Then ,
who has invented this “Hijab”?
What is the DRESS CODE for Afganistani women under those
pure Muslim Talibani Mullahs?
black-colored Burkhas with only two small holes for two eyes.
The great Mauolana Delwar Hossain Sayeedi calls them
windows of the body.
What was the true dress code for Prophet Mohammad ‘s (pbuh)
Main problems of this subject are: (a)
should women wear burkha to cover their head and face
altogether or, (b)
should women cover only their hairs by Hijab?
Let us examine what Holy Quran says about veil:
In Holy Quran, Allah has decreed system of
veiling men & women only in two Suras ( Al- nur and Ahzab).
Let me cite here two Ayats relating to veils from famous Quranic
translation of Mauolana A. Yusuf Ali for our discussion:
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 ; that they should draw their veils over their bosom and
not display their beauty
their mahrem men (relationship does not allow legal
let us try to understand, as to, what exactly is the meaning of
& ornaments” that Allah is pointing to? My
understanding here is: Beauty
is obviously women’s face,
and ornaments (her
decorative elements: gold, silver etc) which can only add to her
natural beauty. In his Sha,ne nazul, Mauolana Yousuf Ali said,
“the Arabic word ‘Zinat’
means both natural beauty (face), and artificial ornaments. I
think both are implied here to cover, but chiefly the former
where in the Ayats God said to cover her hairs???
And how by covering hair she
can hide her God’s given beauty?
O Prophet ! Tell Thy wives and daughters. And the believing
women, that they should cast their outer
their persons (face) when abroad, that is most
they should be known
(as such) and not molested. And God is oft-Forgiving,
most merciful.” ‘That
they should be known as
such, and not molested’-- exactly coincide what I have
said in my brief history of veils.
Here in this Ayat,
there are two important things to note:
which means Outer
garments over their
(appearance, face)—a long gown covering the whole
neck, head, and bossom.; (2)
they should be known ,as such, and not molested—so that
aristocrat women are not molested like a slave girls. . No
where in any Quranic Ayats or any Shahi Hadiths says, COVER
THEIR HAIRS ONLY.
of various Islamic Scholars:
In his Shane-Nazul, Mauolana Yousuf Ali
quoted: “ The object was not to restrict the liberty of women,
but to protect them from harm and molestation under the
conditions then existed in Medina.
In the East and in the West a distinctive public dress of
some sort or another has always been a badge of honour or
distinction, both among men and women in order to separate
Aristocrats from that of slaves .
This can be traced back to the earliest civilizations.
Assyrian Law in its palmiest days (7th Century
B.C.), enjoyed the veiling of married women and forbade the
veiling of slaves and women of ill fame (page-1126)”.
the Sha’nenazul by Mauolana Mirza Golam ( Bengali
translation of Holy Qura’n, page- 730,731) said, “ the
Arabic word ‘Zalabib’ means outer garments which should be
pulled /hanged from head up to chest, so that it covers entire
body. As per the
Ayat 33:59, it is clearly evident that, (a)
if women goes out of the house, she must cover with
Zilbab (Burkha) ; (b) and if women stays inside the house with
her relatives, then she must only wears Khimar (head covering)
which is like ‘Ghumtah’.
It should be clear now that, in the purpose-(a):
dress must cover head,
face (appearance), and bosom area; and in the purpose-(b):
she will cover her head and bosom area but not the face
As per (ibid. 2:155 and ibid. 2:156) , the
face is part of the natural Zina (charm) which is the main
source of temptation and seduction.
As to the acquired Zina (ornaments) it is the clothes,
the beautification, and the dyes that the women puts on herself
to improve her appearance.
They hold that it is not permissible to look at the face
of a woman for fear of temptation, since temptation caused by
the face is much greater than that caused by the feet, the hair,
or legs. Therefore,
it is more appropriate not to look at the face, as it is the
origin of beauty, the source of temptation and the place where
me cite one scenario to make it more clear :
Say, you went to New York to select a bride for your
oldest son. Could you determine whether the bride is beautiful
or ugly by not seeing her face?
You could have seen her hairs from behind, as hairs are
more visible from behind, but how in the world you could
determine her beauty by seeing only
to Mauolana Mohiuddin in his Bengali translation of Holy
Qu’ran (Ayat- 33:33) stated: “
needless to say that, women should wear veils (Burkha) so that
it covers her entire face (mukha-mondal) because it is
the center of her beauty.
Actually, Allah will not like to see women outside her
home, because, she was created to stay home for the purpose of
house-hold jobs. Therefore,
it is not only forbidden to get out of the house, but it is also
to go out of her house”.
Sahi Hadiths regarding veils:
Hadiths (Bukhari Sharif):
Abu Huraira narrated, “ in
the battle Khaibar, when
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) recived Safiyya Bint Huyay Ibn al-
Akhtab as BOOTY ( ganimatter Maa’l) one of His ‘Sahaba’
asked , O Messenger of God, what will be the status of Safiyya ?
Then Messenger of God replied, “tomorrow if you see her
covered with veil than she is my wife; if you see her without
veil than she is a slave girl (Books of al-Sira).”
It can be noted here, Safiyya was the 10th
wife of Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) and was, of course, veiled head
to foot to separate from an ordinary Slave girls.
Here is another proof what I have mentioned in veil’s
Bukhari Hadiths (Chapter-27, #108):
This is regarding the defaming incident occurred
about Hazrat Aysha Siddiqa (R.A.) when she got lost while
returning from the Battle field of Muray’ishi.
Ibne Shihab narrated: “Hazrat Aysha (R.A.) said, when
she was traveling with the messenger of Allah, she (Aysha) was
always inside a ‘Haodha’
( a covering all around by black cloths so that nobody
can see her) and in
one nightly journey, the
Caravan left the place without Aysha being inside ‘Haodha’
by mistake (Aysha was out for natural call).
Next morning they found that the Haodha is empty and
Aysha (R.A.) was not there.
One soldier named Shafoan
ibne Muathal was
out on that night to
search for left out articles of war
in the desert.
After some times, Muathal saw Bibi Aysha sleeping
alone in the open desrt’ sands, and he recognized Bibi
Aysha’s by seeing her face.
When Aysha awoke up she immediately covered her entire
face by her ‘chaddar’.
Ibne Muathal took her on the camel’s back and joined
the caravan afterwards.
When Shafoan ibne
Muathal was asked how he was able to recognize that she was
the Bibi Aysha , he (Muathal) replied, “ because
I saw her face before the veiling system
was adopted in Islam.”
Now, let me ask my honorable readers—what you have
learned about veils
from this authentic Hadiths ?
It was the very FACE which used to be veiled not just
Tabrani, Majhari: Hazrat
Amar Ibnul Ash (RA) stated, “ Prophet (pbuh) forbade women
even to talk/converse with others without her husband’s
What I read in Qur’an and Hdiths is:
“women do not exhibit their BEAUTY
in front of non-mahrem men, period.
Now, what is women’s beauty ?
did Allah ask to cover only the partial beauty leaving main
beauty exposed ? My
thirteen year old girl ask me repeatedly, “abba, what is wrong
with our hairs, why Qur’anic teacher always bothers about our
Restriction of veil:
is, of course, a strict color code in Islamic dress.
of Education in
Iran, specifies the color code for girls students covered from
head to toe for children as young as 6 years of age.
Islamic Mullahs sets the rules of women clothing for
older women, only black, brown and dark blue colors are allowed.
Bright colors, especially red color are strictly
Afghanistan, only black and white colors are allowed.
In 1998, one young woman was whipped harshly in Kabul
,for wearing red color clothing.
There are some sahi Hadiths
about forbidden colors in Islam.
of Veil (Pardha):
at the beginning of 20th Century, Aristocrat &
affluent Muslim families all over the World, started
modification of this veiling system and perhaps promulgated
,without any uniformity, to “Hijab” only to cover hairs
& ears, living the face uncovered.
BECAUSE, MODERN,CIVILIZED WOMEN REFUSE TO
COVER THEIR FACE.
SO, TO MAKE IT SOME WHAT ACCEPTABLE TO THE ELITE WOMEN,
THIS SYSTEM WAS STARTED.
to be seen’ like a creatures from another planet’.
this system of covering hairs only was not accepted by
Katmullahs, lower class believing women and many others who
wants to follow Qur’an & Sunnah. Because, if we judge
purpose of true veiling as per
view, the Hijab covering only hairs
her center of beauty FACE
a pure MOCKERY.
Even now, in Saudi
Arab and other Arab Countries, one can see lower class women
wears Burkhas and elite group wears Hijab covering hair only.
This picture can be seen equally in all other Muslim Countries
interesting phenomena of veiling are seen frequently among the
Arab elite class who wears hijab or Burkha at the Air port but
the moment they are boarded the aircraft, immediately they
remove their veils altogether and become a perfectly
western-dressed lady in front of other male passengers. Wives of
Bangladeshi Muslims in USA, usually wears ‘hijab’ in front
of Bangladeshi males, but in front of American people they do
not wear Hijab. These are of course, a total hypocrisy
or‘Munafiqi’ and bears no moral value at all.
perspectives of veil:
Do we need to put women behind the veil to
protect their chastity? In
other words, can a veil alone protect women from the hands of
sick minded men? Answer is universally No!
It is not the veiling women but veiling
men’s heart should protect chastity of a woman.
We all know that, no country on earth can claim that
women are absolutely safe. But I can tell it for sure, in all
third World countries (Muslim and non-Muslim) women are more
often oppressed by men then western world, even though those
countries have more conservative dress system. We all have seen
the recent horrible picture of ‘Unruly
youths tried to strip a woman
of her cloths in Dhaka University campus on the 31st
night (Independent photo). UN report says: 47 percent women
assaulted by their male partners in Bangladesh.
This type of assault on women was only 22 percent in
U.S.A., even though, women in USA, wear mini-skirts, walks alone
freely during dead of night, and where hundred percent of cases
are usually reported. This assault in Bangladesh, doesn’t
include rape. Institute
of Democratic Rights (IDR) reports that 730 women, children
raped across the country (Bangladesh) last year. It is obvious,
percentage of rape will be much higher if every case was
disclosed/reported by victims in Bangladesh.
Will veil alone can protect women ?
I don’t think so !
in USA , one Muslim wife ( who is fairly beautiful and young)
can get out alone
with her new car, drive 50 or 70 miles far away , shopping in
Malls, eating lunch in a restaurant and, safely return home
without any disturbance at all.
Could this same Muslim lady do the same at the Dhaka
city, or in big city of any Muslim countries?
Even Burkha will not be able to save her from molestation
have imposed strict and true Islamic dress for women, even
though, some bigot Muslims think, Talivani Mullah Ghusti doing
wrong or some muslims do not like to discuss this issue very
much. Because, they
know very well, that Afghan Talivan mullahs are highly educated
from the best Madrasha/Moktab of Pakistan.
Question is-who knows better Islam than this Afghani
Talivan ? Can any
Mullah tells us that he knows more than those great Talivan ?
I fervently CAUTION all women to be care full about
Islamic utopia, as I can assure them, if Talivani Mullahs can
grab power in Bangladesh—Mullahs will never be satisfied with
‘Hair Covering hijab’, rather, they will adopt similar
Burkhas like Afghanistan. They
did it in Iran and they are doing it in Afghanistan. They will
take the Country to the dark ages.
So, don’t be so hypnotized by sweet fatwa.
we have understood positively that, to satisfy total
requirements of Islamic veiling fatwa as per Holy Qur’an &
Sunnah, women should wear Burkhas to cover her beauty so that,
they can be protected from the hands of weak and sick hearts in
the Muslim society, as because, in the minds of Mullahs, WOMEN
are the source of temptation and evil, while the poor
innocent man (?) plays the role of the victim.
But problems are: Modern civilized women unlike 7th
Century’s women do not like to sit idle at home, they needs to
compete men in their struggle of survival.
women needs to work outside,
cars, pilots Airplane, pilot rockets to the Moon or even Mars.
Only Almighty Creator knows, keeping women’s “GAZE
DOWN” how in the World, women could drive a car or pilot a
Airplane. She would be a dangerous driver of course.
Maybe, Almighty God did not want women to be the driver
or pilot of an Airplane. For valid reason this Middle-aged
cumbersome, ridiculous, unscientific, senseless, veiling system
has, long before, become obsolete.
veiling women alone will never solve this problem.
Men should learn to respect women as human being and to
achieve that men should wear veils around their hearts