Introduction: when dealing with others and when



Muslims are required to pay attention to
their appearance, making sure that their clothing is beautiful and clean,
especially when dealing with others and when performing the prayers, as the
Qur’an states, “Children of Adam, wear your best clothes to every
mosque.” (Soorat
Al-A?raaf, 7:31)

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Allah ? has
permitted people to wear nice clothes and put on a good appearance, as doing so
is one aspect of remembering Allah’s blessings upon them. As the Qur’an states,
“Say, ‘Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah, which He has brought forth for
His servants and the good things, clean and pure, which Allah has provided for
them?’ Say, ‘They are lawful for the believers in the present life but they
shall be exclusively for them on the Day of Resurrection.’ Thus we explain our
signs for a people who understand.” (Soorat Al-A?raaf, 7:32)


first bit of guidance given in Islam describes the parts of the body which must
be covered in public.

For women: In
general, standards of modesty call for a woman to cover her body, particularly
her chest. The Quran calls for women to “draw their head-coverings over
their chests” (24:30-31), and the Prophet Muhammad instructed that women
should cover their bodies except for their face and hands.

Muslims interpret this to require head coverings for women, although some
Muslim women, especially those of more conservative branches of Islam, cover
the entire body, including the face and/or hands, with a full body chador.

For men: The minimum amount to be covered is the body between the
navel and the knee. It should be noted, though, that a bare chest would be
frowned upon in situations where it draws attention. 


of Covering

The dress
must cover the whole body except for the areas specifically exempted.

The Quran

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.





The dress
must be loose enough so as not to describe the shape of a woman’s body. This is
consistent with the intent of the ‘ayahs cited above (24: 30-31) and is surely
a crucial aspect of hiding zeenah. Even moderately tight clothes which cover
the whole body do describe the shape of such attractive parts of the woman’s
body as the bust line, the waist, the buttocks, the back and the thighs. If
these are not part of the natural beauty or zeenah what else is?

Muhammad (pubh) once received a thick garment as a gift. He gave it to Osamah b
Zayd, who in turn gave it to his wife. When asked by the Prophet why



The dress
should be thick enough so as not to show the color of the skin it covers, or
the shape of the body which it is supposed to hide.

The purpose
of ‘ayah (24:31) is to hide the Muslim women’s body except ma dhahara minha
(the face and hands). It is obvious that this purpose cannot be served if the
dress is thin enough so as to reveal the color of the skin or the shape or
beauty of the body. This is eloquently explained by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh):
“In later (generations) of my umah there will be women who will be dressed
but naked. On top of their heads (what looks) like camel humps. Curse them for
they are truly cursed.” In another version he added that they “will
not enter into paradise or (even) get a smell of it.”



The dress
should not be such that it attracts men’s attention to the woman’s beauty. The
Quran clearly prescribes the requirements of the woman’s dress for the purpose
of concealing zeenah (adornment). How could such zeenah be concealed if the
dress is designed in a way that it attracts men’s eyes to the woman?

This is why
the Quran addressing the Prophet’s wives as the examples for Muslim women says:

“Bedizen not
yourselves with the bedizenment of the Time of Ignorance…”


The Quran instructs
that clothing is meant to cover our private areas and be an adornment (Quran
Clothing worn by Muslims should be clean and decent, neither excessively fancy
nor ragged. One should not dress in a manner intended to gain the admiration or
sympathy of others



dress should not be similar to what is known as a male costume. lbn ‘Abbas
narrated that “The Prophet cursed the men who act like women and the women
who act like men.

should not be similar to what is known as the costume of unbelievers. This
requirement is derived from the general rule of Shari’ah that Muslims should
have their distinct personality and should differentiate their practices and
appearance from unbelievers.

dress should not be similar to what is known as a male costume. lbn ‘Abbas
narrated that “The Prophet cursed the men who act like women and the women
who act like men.

should not be a dress of fame, pride and vanity. Such fame may be sought by
wearing an excessively fancy dress as a status symbol or an excessively ragged
dress to gain others’ admiration of one’s selflessness. Both motives are
improper by Islamic standards. The Prophet (pbuh) says:

“Whoever wears a dress of fame in this world; Allah will clothe him
with a dress of humiliation in the day of resurrection, then set it

inscribed with Hadith: “The Prophet said: The intention is the Act.
Conferences call for integrity, security for discretion. ..”


Is it allowed for a veiled girl to attend co-education Schools?
Answer: If she observes all the rules of hijab
and is sure that no one would look at her with lust, then it is allowed.
If yes, then she would not be able to answer the questions put forward to her
by the teacher, she would have to whisper?
Answer: Talking to Ghair Mahram becomes haram
(forbidden) when there is a danger that the said Ghair Mahram may get lustful
ideas by hearing the voices of the women.

Can a woman participate fully in social and economic life remaining in purdah?
Answer: Yes, provided she does not exceed the
limits laid down by the Shari’ah of Islam. Remember that Islam does not allow
free mingling of males and females.

4.  In many societies both men and women have no work. For
example, in an agricultural society, as in Tanzania, both men and women have to
work in fields without which the family would starve. What would you suggest
under this condition?
Answer: If you want to follow Islam you must
change. In fact the notion that in an agricultural society a woman must work in
the fields is based on short-sightedness. We see women working in Tanzania and
then generalize it as a principle of sociology. We forgot that the countries
which are feeding the world, like U.S.A., Canada, Australia etc. are
agricultural countries, but their agriculture does not depend on their women
working in the fields.
So, it is not agriculture, per se, which demands
women’s back breaking labor, it is backwardness which compels Tanzania women to
work in the fields, and not its agricultural society. And we may say that Islam
does not like this backwardness; it wants these ladies to return to their
proper place that is home. In other words Tanzanians society will have to
change by following Islamic principles if it wants to march forward.
Alims have been told to oppose Bid’at. At what stage should they do it? At
early stage or later stages?
Answer: At every stage.
Muslim Women in different countries put on different types of veil. Which type
of veil is in keeping with the principle of Islam?
Answer: Any type that would suit them provided
the main purpose of hijab, i.e., hiding of their bodies, is served.
Is it not necessary for our women to go and obtain knowledge in medicine or
pharmacy etc.? A woman patient would prefer to be examined by a female doctor
rather than a male one. She should also express herself more freely to a female
doctor. There are only two women’s colleges in the world in medicine; and due
to the shortage of women doctors, it is necessary for our women to go and join
other colleges and therefore they have to come out of Purdah.
Answer: She should try to go to a women’s
college only.
8. Some
ladies, without veil have kept their dignity. So why all this?
Answer: Purdah of eyes and Purdah of dress, both
are compulsory for all Muslim women. The dignity of a Muslim woman in the eyes
of Allah depends on Purdah, for example, see the Ayat which says, “You are not like
any other women”.
It is the distinction and dignity of Muslim
woman to “stay in your houses”. If we try to separate their dignity form Purdah,
then our out-look is not in conformity with God’s preference.
By observing only the Purdah of Eyes, the ladies
mentioned in the question are obeying only part of the divine law.
I believe in Islam that man and women will be treated equally tomorrow on the
Day of Judgment. Now if that is the case, in view of the present inflation, why
cannot a woman work and help the man in running a home?
Answer: Do not be extravagant and try to remain
within the limits of the income earned by the husband. However a woman can help
increasing the income by such means which do not require her to discard hijab.
Equal treatment on the Day of Judgment does not mean equal burden in this life.
Should parents abstain from recommending Purdah to their daughters lest she is
forced after marriage by her in-laws to take it down?
Answer: As far as she is with you, you are to
perform your duties and responsibilities. What happens at a later stage when
she is with her husband is not your responsibility. If you are afraid that
after one week you will not get any food, would you start starving from today?
Is it respectable for a girl to have her veil removed by her in-laws?
Answer: No. It is haram. She has to refuse.
Purdah is wajib for a girl, but if the husband forbids her to do wajib things,
what can she do then? Is it wajib to listen to her husband?
Answer: No. She is not to listen to him if he
tells her to commit a sin. And the husband gets twice the sin for forcing her
to remove Purdah or do any haraam thing.
Accepting that woman’s place is at home, should a wife in western countries be
allowed to work in order to help her husband whose income alone is not
Answer: I think one thing must be clarified here
before answering this question. Al-Tauba baed al-hijra is one of the seven
great sins. If someone is living in a place where he is free to practice his
religion, and he willingly migrates to a place where he will not be free to
observe religious commands, it is called Al-Tauba Baed Al-Hijra (literal
meanings: To become a nomad after hijrat).
Many of our brethren had to go to western
countries because of the circumstances beyond their control. They should not be
blamed. But there are others who have opted for such countries just for worldly
gains. They bear the great responsibility, not only of their own Akherat, but
of their children and future generation also.
Now, coming to the question, the first advice to
such people is not to go to such countries where they cannot meet their
expenses without wife’s earning. If they are there, and it is unavoidable, then
the answer to question No. 9 is applicable here.




The part one was written in October 1977.
Fifteen months later, came the Islamic revolution of Iran, and Islamic rule was
established there on 11/1979. It was a world-shaking phenomenon which changed
the direction of history throughout the world. Not only did it create religious
awakening in every Muslim community, but also gave courage to down-trodden and oppressed
masses everywhere and up against the exploiters and oppressors.
One the visible effect of the Islamic Revolution was to turn the direction of
the youths from western culture to Islamic norms. Young Muslims boys now feel
proud to keep beard and young girls have rediscovered the dignity of Islamic
Hijab. And it is happening not only in the eastern countries but even in the
So far so good, we, of the older generation, are really happy to see this
pleasant change. At the same time, it is necessary, rather essential, to guide
the youths to the proper Islamic path, charting for them the full course of
their spiritual journey. It will enable them to see how much they have
progressed and how far they have to go yet.
 Before going ahead, I should mention an important principle of Islamic
ideology, and that is the inter-relation of Islamic Laws and Islamic Ethics.
Islamic Laws teach the minimum a person is required to do, and transgression of
which entails sins and is sometimes considered a crime. Islamic Ethics take a
man from that starting point to the highest peak of spiritual perfection.

If a man is sick and weak, he first needs
treatment to cure his disease; after that he needs special regimen of diet,
exercise and tonics to restore his body, to bring him to the peak of his health
and strength. The same principle applies in the spiritual field. Islamic laws
keep man free from ills of sin and crime, while Islamic Ethics show him the way
to noble spiritual perfection and strength.
From Islam’s point of view, it is not enough to merely ordain some basic laws
to protect the believers from sins, and leave them at that. A weak patient,
even when cured of a disease, is an easy target of further attacks unless his
strength is restored. Nor has Islam merely exhorted its followers to strive to
reach high moral standards, without prescribing some rules to prevent them from
negative influences.
Of what use will be tonics if body is riddled with debilitating diseases. Thus
Islamic Laws and Islamic Ethics are inter-linked; they are different stages of
the same spiritual journey. Islam knows that spiritual level of all people is
not the same. Therefore, it has chosen for us the highest ethical and spiritual
ideas, at the same time it has laid down minimum requirements which one cannot
transgress without exposing himself to spiritual peril.
Let us, look, for example, at the concept of charity. A Muslim is responsible
for providing sustenance to his immediate family (parents, self, wife and
children). It is only after meeting those obligatory expenses, that he is
exhorted to spend on charity. Allah says in the Quran:
“And they ask you
as to what they should spend. Say: What you can spare.”
This is the starting point of charity. But suppose you have some food just
sufficient to satisfy the hunger of your own family, and your brother’s or neighbor’s
family has nothing to eat. Islamic Ethics exhorts you to share that little food
with them. Of course, your family will remain half-hungry; but it not better
that ten people should share in that little food, rather than five eating their
fill while the other five remain starving? Allah says:
“…and they prefer
(other) over themselves though poverty may afflict them.” 
This stage of charity is high commendable and is a hallmark of Islam. Yet, it
is not the ultimate destination, the final goal. If we want to see the ideal
charity, we will have to study the lives of the Holy Prophet and his family
members (peace and mercy of Allah be on them all). Look at the verses of the
Chapter 76 ad-Dahr, and you will see ‘Ali, Fatimah, al-Hasan, al-Husayn and the
maid Fiddah, fasting three days consecutively without taking any food and every
night giving their breads to a poor man, an-orphan and a captive. Three nights
they fed hungry persons and stayed for more than 72 hours without a single
morsel. Allah praises them in these words:
“They fulfill vows
and fear a day the evil of which shall be spreading far and wide. And they give
food out of love for Him to the poor and the orphan and the captive. We only
feed you for Allah’s sake; we desire from you neither reward nor thanks.”
Many orient lists, who are generally oblivious or ignorant of this
inter-relation of the Islamic Laws and the Islamic Ethics, take it upon
themselves to pronounce judgment on Islam, unfavorably comparing it Laws (i.e.
the minimum requirements) with “the highest ethical stand points” of
Christianity, and then pontificating that Islamic “moral teachings” have
And unfortunately the same disoriented outlook is inculcated in most of those
students who study Islam directly or indirectly under these non-Muslim orient
lists. They look at Islam not as a single living entity, but as a lifeless
collection of disjointed limbs. Not surprisingly, when such people look at Fiqh
(jurisprudence), they do not see it as an essential part of the whole Islam,
but consider it the Alpha and Omega of Islam, the total Islam.



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