I do not find anything blasphemous in your
question. Leading a life without ambiguities and attaining intellectual
satisfaction and confidence is the right of every individual.
Your query pertains to that part of Islam which constitutes
social fabric of the Muslim society. Before responding to your specific
question, I would like you to have a look at the verses relevant to male and
Say to the believing men that they should guard their
gaze and cover their private parts. This is purer for them. And Allah is well
acquainted with all that they do. And say to the believing women that they
should guard their gaze and cover their private parts; that they should not
display their ornaments except what [must ordinarily] appear thereof; that they
should draw their head covering over their bosoms and not display their beauty
except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons,
their husbands’ sons, 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 needs, or small children who have no sense of the
shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw
attention to their hidden ornaments. And O you who believe turn you all together
towards Allah that you may succeed. (24:30-31)
It is evident from these verses that the Muslim men and
women should abide by the following.
1. In case of mixed gatherings, men and women should guard
2. Their dress should properly cover their private parts.
3. Women should not display their ornaments except for what
is worn on hands, face and feet since these are not ordinarily covered. They may
also display their ornaments before the list of relatives mentioned in the
4. Women must cover their bosoms.
5. Women should also not adopt ways which are bound to
attract the attention of the opposite sex.
You must have noted that covering the head has not
explicitly been mentioned in these directives.
In spite of the above fact the question still stands why
Muslim women have been wearing head coverings. Should they still do?
Actually it needs to be appreciated that these directives
are the manifestation of that minimum level which is required at any rate. The
Sharī‘ah does not give us a comprehensive list of all that is good and bad; all
the decent acts which should be adopted and all the bad deeds which should be
renounced. No doubt, the Law of Allah does guide us; its directives are
indicative of the overall spirit which should reflect in our social, political
and economic life. We are not provided with meticulous details about the
structure of the Muslim civilization. Head covering is nothing but a
manifestation of this spirit which has perpetuated all through the ebbs and
flows of Muslim civilization. In other words, the head covering has not been
promulgated by the Law yet its perpetuation exhibits the inclinations of Muslims
in matters of Hayā (modesty).
Just a handful of dust shows the direction of wind;
similarly a minor thing like dress or observance of some other social norm can
indicate what a particular person is all about.
The ultimate aim of the religion is the purification of the
soul; towards this end it urges and guides its followers. But this purification
is not merely an abstract thing. Our outer being plays a major role in
achievement of this end; and therefore the choice of ‘forms’ is essentially
important to retain and nourish the substance. Hence proper dress code is a
fundamental thing for cleansing and purifying our soul.
One can argue that scarf is not included in the proper
dress code and people may differ upon the definition of what is proper. In this
regards, our parents and the society in general does help us decide what is
proper; our conscience no doubt also facilitates us in choosing what is right
since as we contradict what our conscience says ‘proper’, it pricks us terribly.
However, if a Muslim lady decides most sincerely that head covering does not
fall within the ambit of proper dress, she will not be held accountable since
what she decided was based on her sincerity as the matter has not been addressed
directly by the Sharī‘ah.
You tell us that you stopped wearing the scarf a year ago
and you have been the same person throughout and that you have still not done
anything extremely sinful whereas these girls who wear headscarf do bad things.
I say you should be thankful to God, like we all should,
that He has saved you and covered you; I wish you the same in future also.
Wearing or abandoning the scarf has nothing to do with sins or virtuosity
directly. It has been your commitment and perseverance which has helped you a
lot. Scarf is just a symbol of such commitment which a Muslim woman nourishes
inside. I therefore feel that this symbol should be preserved. If one already
possesses a furnished house, well and good; but without proper ‘façade’, how
would it look like? Façade has its own importance and that importance should be
given due weight.
We need to remember that things do not lose their values
just for the malpractice of some ignorant people. Values are values, and they
remain so forever. The deeds of some girls cannot deprive headscarf of its
value. Everyone is responsible for his acts and what disposition he adopts. The
deeds of others are no excuse for letting go of good deeds. A person who offers
prayers five times a day regularly but also deceives others does not provide me
with an excuse to renounce the prayers. We should never underestimate a virtue.
Small virtues sometimes lead to the bigger ones. We ought not to forsake
anything good we possess; we must always nourish it. For now, you have been
wearing scarf for the sake of your mother; it will become beneficial when you
wear it on your own being conscious of its value in the perspective of Hayā and
You tell us that a person is good with good intentions
otherwise not. No doubt good intention is a prerequisite for each and every
action but mere intentions are not sufficient. It is the deeds, which prove the
veracity of the intentions. Why do you want to maintain yourself at the minimum
level when you have the capacity of higher one? You feel that you don’t need the
scarf to purify your soul but if a lady feels ‘shorts’ are good enough for
purification then what will happen. Other people cannot judge purification from
your feelings or claims. Should there not be something palpable?
Finally, I would like to add that preserving and protecting
our Īmān (faith) is the core issue about which we must be very sensitive. Īmān
is like a candle, if you put it amidst the blowing winds you will end up
putting it out; and if you put it in a room away from the winds, it will live
long. Similarly if you build around your Īmān the walls of optional acts it will
save and strengthen the obligatory ones; which are obviously the primary
requirement of Īmān. Wearing of scarf is among the optional acts and we should
not underestimate it.