Wednesday, April 26, 2017

More Than A Headscarf: How Hijab Has Lost Its Soul

More Than A Headscarf: How Hijab Has Lost Its Soul

Shazia Ahmad

6-8 minutes

Hijab1 is a frequently discussed topic in our community and a practice dissected and opined over from many different angles. While it is talked about frequently, in many of the most important ways it is little understood. Our discourse on hijab is often devoid of any meaningful consideration of it as an act of devotion, which is its primary purpose. There is also little reflection on the foundational quality from which hijab emanates — haya’ (modesty). These are the heart and soul of hijab that we, individually and as a community, often overlook.  

The Inward and the Outward

Islam teaches that at its core, hijab should be a spiritual act done seeking God. More than a means of personal expression, or a cultural or political statement, it should be an act of ‘ubudiyyah (devotion), done out of one’s heart longing for God and His closeness.

Like so many other acts of devotion in the Islamic faith, hijab has both an inner component and an outer one. The inward component is the state of one’s heart and its genuine seeking of God, while the external is the action itself.

In its external form, hijab has certain rulings, guidelines and restrictions, just as prayer has a specific formulation, or fasting has specific rulings. In our day and age this external expression of spirituality — be it religious practice in general, or exact conformity to the particulars of fiqh2 — is often scorned and dismissed as archaic, petty and trivial. However in the Islamic tradition, the ‘petty’ is powerful, and is the means by which an act has spiritual traction and can move into the realm of Divine acceptance. Outward conformity to religious teachings is an indispensable first step to one’s spiritual development. We often set our eyes on a lofty mysticism or a more meaningful spiritual state, and fail to see the important relationship between the body’s disciplined conformity to sacred law and the heart’s ascendance to the Divine.

For many of us, our view of hijab must change; it is not solely an act of personal expression, but its soul is `ubudiyyah (devotion) which must be enacted correctly and in line with religious teachings, in order to attain its spiritual fruit.

The Lost Quality of Haya’

While ‘ubudiyyah, devotion, is the lost soul of hijab, I would argue that its heart, the inner core which gives it life, is haya’. In Arabic, the term haya’ connotes modesty, shyness, bashfulness, shame, and refraining from impropriety or indecency. Lane’s Lexicon states that haya’ refers to the shrinking away of the soul from foul things. In a more general sense, it implies a heightened awareness of God such that one becomes cautious in one’s deeds and words, and has an increased sensitivity to acts that are shameful, indecent or offensive to Allah, the angels or others of creation.

The Prophet ﷺ praised haya` in both men and women; he himself was described as more modest than a young unmarried woman in her private quarters3, a figure traditionally considered the paragon of chastity and shyness. Once, he heard a man rebuking his brother for having too much haya’, to which he ﷺ responded, “Leave him, for modesty comes from belief.”4 He affirmed this essential relationship between haya’ and belief frequently, saying in one instance, “Belief has seventy or so divisions, and haya’ is a division of belief.”5

In our times, we have reduced hijab to a headscarf that serves as a badge of one’s Muslim identity, and have removed it from a larger understanding of haya’ and how this beautiful quality should cultivate our behavior in the public sphere and in our relationships with others.

The trend of hijab/hijabi fashion in particular has, in many ways, effectively divorced haya’ from hijab. The hijabi fashion trend has also taken no strides to changing spiritually unhealthy cultural norms, or to recasting definitions of beauty and a woman’s worth. Instead, in many cases, it has simply put a headscarf on mainstream fashion with all of its failings, including an extremely narrow and exploitative view of beauty and sexuality.


The heart and soul of hijab is a sense of God-consciousness and awareness, devotion and love for God, and interacting with others with humbleness, modesty, and refined manners fitting for a seeker of God. In a culture where brashness, crudeness and sexualized entertainment are often the norm and shyness is literally considered a psychological illness6, we must go against the grain and recapture the lost essence of hijab, the beautiful quality of haya’, which is, as our Prophet ﷺ has taught us, the trademark quality of our faith7. We must also reaffirm hijab as a religious, spiritual practice — not merely a personal, social, cultural or political statement, and reconnect it with a vibrant inner spirituality. In a time when disciplined religious practice is considered nothing more than mindless ritual, we must also reaffirm the link between our spiritual state and deference to the guidelines and rules of our religion, and reconnect what we wear to our faith.

May Allah give us proper understanding of Islam and its teachings. May He perfect our manners, actions, and dress in a way that reflects the beautiful quality of haya’. May He help us to fulfill our obligations and to conform to sacred law out of love for Him, the Gracious and Wise. May He adorn us with the beauty of faith and the mantle of taqwa (God consciousness) and help us be people who wear hijab, honoring the heart, soul, and spirit of this practice.  Ameen.

1. Hijab is an Arabic word connoting privacy and partition.  In the context of this article, I will be using the word hijab to refer to the obligation of covering (referred to more specifically as khimar in the Quran) as it pertains to the modest dress of Muslim women, including covering one’s hair and body.
2. Fiqh largely centers on the detailed rulings or ‘dos and don’ts’ of Islamic practice.
3. Bukhari and Muslim
4. Bukhari and Muslim
5. (( إنَّ لكل دين خلقاً ، وخلق الإسلام الحياء )) ((موطأ مالك ، وسنن ابن ماجه ))
6. See the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
7. Bukhari and Muslim ((الإيمان بضع وسبعون شعبة ، أفضلها قول لا إله إلا الله ، وأدناها إماطة الأذى عن الطريق ، والحياء شعبة من الإيمان)) ((أخرجاه في الصحيحين ))

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Explanation of the denotation in Ahadeeth Laisa Minna (ليس منا) "Not From Us":

Explanation of the denotation in Ahadeeth Laisa Minna (ليس منا) "Not From Us":

This article is an attempt to explain the meaning and the ruling of the denotation Laisa Minna (Translated as: Not from us) which is used in ahadeeth. This is taken from the work of Shaykh Hatim al 'Awni (Professor of Hadeeth at Umm al Qura university, Makkah).

Note: This article is paraphrased for clear explanation and more references are added.
There are many ahadeeth which have this denotation I will quote two of them

عن أبي موسى عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال من حمل علينا السلاح فليس منا

1) The one who  takes up arms against us, is "Not from us" [Saheeh Bukahri: 7071]

2) The one who cheats is "Not from me"(من غش فليس مني ) [Saheeh Muslim: 102]

Now when laymen read this hadeeth or any other which has this term might interpret that the one who does these acts does not remain Muslim. Because the apparent meaning indicate towards it, while in reality its not like that rather this was the interpretation of Khawarij (deviant group).

Shaykh ul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah rahimahullah said:

وكذلك تفسير الخوارج والمعتزلة بأنه يخرج من الإيمان  بالكلية ويستحق الخلود في النار تأويل منكر

And likewise the interpretation of Khawarij and Mu'tazila (with the denotation Laisa Minna that the one who does it) is out of faith completely and deserves to be in hell forever then this is a rejected interpretation [Majm'oo al Fatwaa 7/525]

Now the question If he remains Muslim then what does "Not From us" mean? and what is the ruling on act mentioned with it?

Meaning of Denotation (Laisa Minna)

 When this denotation is used then it would mean "Not Completely over our Sunnah or our methodology or our way"

Ibn Hajr asqalani rahimahullah comments on the chapter of Saheeh Bukhari (باب ليس منا من شق الجيوب) Chapter: The one who tears his clothes is "Not from us" and says
قوله ليس منا أي من أهل سنتنا وطريقتنا وليس المراد به إخراجه عن الدين ولكن فائدة إيراده بهذا اللفظ  المبالغة في الردع عن الوقوع في مثل ذلك كما يقول الرجل لولده عند معاتبته لست منك ولست مني أي ما أنت على طريقتي 

Saying of Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم ) "Not From us" (then) it means "Not from our Sunnah or our way" it does not mean (that the one who does it) is expelled from religion and on the contrary the benefit of him referring this word (i.e denotation) is to intensify condemnation over occurence of such things, like (when) a person says to his son while rebuking I am not from you and you are not from me, (then) it means you are not on my way.[Fath al Baari 3/163]

Ibn al Jawzi rahimahullah while commenting on the hadeeth of Saheeh Muslim (He who learnt archery and then neglected it, is not from us, (or said) He has been guilty of disobedience) says:
 قوله ليس منا أي ليس على سيرتنا وهذا لأن الرمي من آلة الجهاد فإذا تركه من علمه نسيه

His saying "Not from us" (it means) "Not on our way and this is because archery is tool of jihaad so, when the one who knows it leaves (i.e stop practicing) it forgets it. [Kashf al Mushkil min Hadeeth as Saheehayn 1/1111]

Imam Nawawi rahimahullah says regarding this denotation

ومعناه عند أهل العلم أنه ليس ممن اهتدى بهدينا واقتدى بعلمنا وعملنا وحسن طريقتنا كما يقول الرجل لولده إذا لم يرض فعله لست مني وهكذا القول في كل الأحاديث الواردة بنحو هذا القول

Meaning of denotation (laisa minna) near people of knowledge is (that the one who does that act) is not from those who are guided to our way or not from the followers of our knowledge and actions or not from those who follow the splendidness of our way, like a person to says to his son when he does not accede his action, you are not from me. This is the saying for all the ahadeeth which has come with this denoatation [ Sharah Saheeh Muslim 1/109]

Ruling on the acts mentioned with this denotation.

The denotation "Not From us" is apparently (البراءة)  disavowal and absolute disavowal is only from Kufr(that's the reason khawarij deduced with it over their Takfeer) but a conditional disavowal from the one who believes in Allah and his Messenger apparently indicate towards prohibition(of the act mentioned) and a conditional disavowal over a thing which is not prohibited evince towards Makrooh Tanzeehi (dislike) or leaving a preferable act. 

To rule out all the acts mentioned with this denotation to be prohibited is not correct either because it is has been used for other than prohibition too. I will quote two hadeeth

 (ليس منا من لم يتغن بالقرآن)

1) The one who does not recite Qur'an in a beautiful voice is "Not From Us". [Sahih Bukhari 7527]

From Ijmaa(consensus) of Scholars reciting Qur'an in beautiful voice is preferable not obligatory. So, here this denotation is used over leaving a preferable act and not prohibition. When this denotation comes for the things which are not prohibited then it is for urging not to leave preferable acts 

(من لم يأخذ شاربه فليس منا)

2) The one who does not trim his moustaches is not from us [Sunan Nasa'ee: 5047]

So, this denotation comes for the things which is prohibited as well as those which are not prohibited so a muhaqqiq(researcher) stands in need to know that this probability has come in the meaning of this denotation before he rules anything as prohibited

If it comes for those prohibition whose evil is clear or whose prohibition remains still (Likes taking up arms against muslims and likes of it) then it will be Haraam. If it is from the chapter of etiquette or from the things for which there is evidence of it being not prohibited (Like reciting Qu'ran in beautiful voice) then it is not prohibited.