miscarriageThe Arabic word ‘Islaam’ simply means to 'surrender (to Allah)'. Hence, the essence of our religion is this surrender or submission, which requires trust on our part. Trust that Allah (Subhaanahu wa ta'ala) will be there for us, trust that He knows what is best for us.

Submission to Allah ('azza wa jall) requires that we put Him before ourselves. That we put our desires second to His desire for us. That we acknowledge that He knows better than we do what is right for us.

Very often, such submission is difficult. Sometimes it seems that everything that happens is bad, and we wonder h ow Allah ('azza wa jall) could desire this for us. And sometimes the things He asks of us are difficult to do, either because it seems too much to ask, or because it seems pointless or out of date. In times like this, submission becomes a struggle. We really have to work to find our trust in Allah (a'zza wa jall). We really have to do battle with our souls to admit that what we want or what we think doesn't seem to be what's right or best.

Allah ('azza wa jall) tests us. He sends difficulties our way to see how we cope. He wants to see if we will keep trying even when it's a challenge. He wants to see if we will maintain our faith in Him, and trust in Him. If we do continue to have faith and to trust in Him, then our reward is Jannah, inshaa’ Allah [if Allah wills], an everlasting reward. Any difficulty we face in the world will seem as fleeting as a nightmare when we look back from the Hereafter, and any ease we face in the world will also seem as fleeting as a dream. We shouldn't set these fleeting states as our goal; we should set the ultimate happiness as our goal. And the ultimate happiness is Jannah.

So if we have hope of Jannah, we should persevere even when it's a struggle for us, and we should keep on trying to perfect our submission to Allah ('azza wa jall). This is what the religion is about: Sabr (patience), Jihaad [struggle], and Islaam (submission).

The way that Allah ('azza wa jall) has commanded

jilbaab657I mentioned above that part of Islam is trusting that Allah ('azza wa jall) knows what is best for us, and it is submitting to His judgment even if we don't think we agree. If Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) has commanded something that we don't understand or don't like, we shouldn't reject that thing. Instead, we should try to seek its wisdom for ourselves and to change our own minds.

Now, the testimony of faith that we make to become Muslims, or when we assume adult status in the deen [religion], has two parts: ‘laa ilaha ill'Allah’ and ‘Muhammadan rasul Allah’. The first of these, none has the right to be worshiped except Allah, is a statement of our belief that Allah ('azza wa jall) is the Ruler of All, Judge of All, All-Knowing, All-Powerful. It is He who must be obeyed, and obedience to anybody else is merely conditional and must not be done if they ask us to disobey Allah ('azza wa jall). And Allah (Subhaanahu wa ta'ala)has given us everything we have, our existence, our life, our capabilities, our goodness. If He took any of it away, there is no power that could help us get it back. And we could never repay Him to match what He has given us, or even begin to. However, in his infinite mercy, Allah ('azza wa jall) asks of us only that we obey Him. Isn't it the least that we can do for Him after all that He has done for us?

There is also the second testimony: ‘Muhammad is the messenger of Allah’. The Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) would not be a messenger if he did not come with a message. And his message is the Qur’aan. Therefore, by saying this statement we are really also testifying that the Qur’aan is a message from Allah, the Most High, and therefore, obedience to Allah ('azza wa jall) entails obedience to the Qur’aan, because it is His Word.

The Qur'aan also tells us to obey the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) as well as Allah ('azza wa jall) (see for example Surah an-Nisa ayah 59). It tells us that if we have faith we will take the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) as our judge in any dispute (Surah an-Nisa ayah 65). It tells us that when both Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) and the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) have decided a matter it is not for a Muslim or Muslimah to have any further say in that matter (Surah al-Ahzab ayah 36). It tells us that what the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) has given us, we should take and what he has prohibited us, we should refrain from (Surah al-Hashr ayah 7). And it tells us that the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) has been sent not just to deliver the Qur'aan but also to explain it (Surah an-Nahl ayah 44).

Now the questions arise:

  • question_mark_cloudHow do we determine what the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) has ordered, in order to obey it?
  • How do we find out what he judged in disputes so that we can abide by it?
  • How do we know what he has decided on matters, so that we can submit to it?
  • How do we discover what he has given, so that we can take it, or what he has prohibited, so we can abstain from it?
  • How do we learn how he has explained the Quran, so that we can follow that explanation and not other explanations?

The answer to all these questions is that we look at the Sunnah. The Sunnah is the Qur’aan put into action by the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam). It shows what he ordered, judged, and decided. It shows what he has given us and what he has prohibited for us. Yes, it shows how he explained the Qur'aan. If we do not obey what the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) has ordered, or abide by what he has judged, or submit to what he has decided, or take what he has given, or refrain from what he has prohibited, or follow his explanation of the Qur’aan - then we have indeed disobeyed Allah ('azza wa jall).

That is why, if we are sincere about obeying Allah ('azza wa jall) and following His commandments, we should follow both the Qur’aan and the Sunnah.

Hijab: A commandment of the Qur’aan and Sunnah

In the first part of this article, we learnt that a part of our commitment to Allah ('azza wa jall) is to trust that He knows what is best for us and that what He has commanded is what is right and if we find ourselves disliking the way that He has set for us, our challenge is not to ignore or to try to change His command, but rather it is to seek for ourselves the wisdom in the command and to surrender to His will. If we don't like what He has commanded, we should try to change ourselves, for the word of Allah cannot be changed. In such a situation we should try to find reasons why His command is right and will be beneficial for us, and we should try to motivate ourselves through this to obey the command.

In the second part of the article, we established how the Qur’aan and Sunnah are where we must look in order to find out what Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'aala) has commanded. Neither one can be taken alone; both must be taken together.

Now we will cover what the Qur’aan and Sunnah says about the Hijaab and Jilbaab. There are two verses of the Qur'aan that deal with Hijaab. These are Surah an-Nur, verse 31 and Surah al-Ahzab verse 59. Let's look at what these verses say, and then how the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) has explained them.

Surah an-Nur, verse 31 says, {And say to the faithful women to lower their gazes, and to guard their private parts, and not to display their beauty except what is apparent of it, and to extend their head-coverings (khumur) to cover their bosoms (jaybs), and not to display their beauty except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband's fathers, or their sons, or their husband's sons, or their brothers, or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their womenfolk, or what their right hands rule (slaves), or the followers from the men who do not feel sexual desire, or the small children to whom the nakedness of women is not apparent, and not to strike their feet (on the ground) so as to make known what they hide of their adornments. And turn in repentance to Allah together, O you the faithful, in order that you are successful.}
Surah al-Ahzab ayah 59 says, {O Prophet! Say to your wives and your daughters and the women of the faithful to draw their outer-garments (jalaabeebihinna) close around themselves; that is better that they will be recognized and not annoyed. And God is ever Forgiving, Gentle.}

Together, these two verses lay out seven commandments for Muslim sisters:


1. To lower the gaze.

2. To guard the private parts.

3. Not to display beauty except what is apparent of it.

4. To extend head-coverings to cover their bosoms.

5. Not to display beauty except to husbands or their fathers...

6. Not to strike ones feet (on the ground) so as to make known what they hide (such as anklets etc)

7. To draw outer-garments close around ourselves.

It can be seen that three of these commandments relate to behaviour. These are:

1. Lowering the gaze.

2. Guarding the private parts.

3. Not striking the feet on the ground so as to give knowledge of what is hidden.

Lowering the gaze means not looking at what is forbidden to be seen of others. Guarding the private parts means that only the husband is allowed to see or touch them. Not giving knowledge of what is hidden means not posturing or strutting around so as to jangle hidden jewellery or make men think about hidden body parts. All of these are part of what Allah ('azza wa jall) has commanded with regards to the Islamic Hijaab.

The other four commandments relate to dress, and can really be expressed as three rules:

1. Not displaying the beauty beyond "what is apparent of it" except to the people listed in 24:31.

2. Extending the head-covering to cover the bosom.

3. Drawing the outer-garment close around.

Imaam Abu 'Abdillah Qurtubi (may Allah have mercy on him) said,

"Women in those days used to cover their heads with the Khimaar (head-cover), throwing its ends upon their backs. This left the neck and the upper part of the chest bare, along with the ears, in the manner of the Christians. Then Allah commanded them to cover those parts with the Khimaar."

Imaam Abul-Fida ibn Katheer (may Allah have mercy on him) said,

"'Extend their khimars to cover their bosoms" means that they should wear the Khimaar in such a way that they cover their chests so that they will be different from the women of the Jaahiliyyah (time of ignorance) who did not do that but would pass in front of men with their chests uncovered and with their necks, forelocks, and earrings uncovered."

There is also the commandment in Surah al-Ahzaab, verse 59 to wear the Jilbaab (outer-garment). The Jilbaab is a modest Islamic coat that goes over our home-clothes.

The Jilbaab must meet the following conditions:

*An outer-garment, an extra layer, something worn over the clothes.

*Thick and opaque and loosely cut so that it conceals what is underneath it.

*It is worn with a Khimaar, socks and shoes. It should cover from the head/shoulders to the ankles, like a cloak.

*It must be worn around non-Mahram men (this would exclude the husband, brother, father etc; i.e. men to whom marriage is not allowed, aswell as the husband), even if it’s in the home.

In Summary

path1According to the Qur’aan and Sunnah, Hijaab consists of

1. Modest behaviour in lowering the gaze, guarding the private parts and avoiding showing off.

2. Modest dress.

Each of these obligations is clearly set out in the Qur'aan and has been explained by the Prophet (sallallahu 'alyhi wa sallam). The obligation of the Hijaab and Jilbaab is therefore clear, explicit, and detailed for anyonewho  turns towards both the Qur’aan and Sunnah for their guidance.

The following are some important questions for sisters who are feeling weak in putting/ keeping on the Hijaab and Jilbaab:

  • Do you believe that Allah ('azza wa jall) knows what is best for you?
  • Do you think that if you dislike what He has commanded, you should be the one to change, not Him?
  • Are you willing to set aside your dislike and to try to seek the wisdom in what He has commanded?
  • Are you motivated to try to surrender to Him even though it may be difficult for you?
  • Is the promise of Jannah worth going through some hardship now?

Please consider each of these questions. If you are sincere in your commitment to Allah ('azza wa jall), and in your choice of Islam as a religion, don't you think that you should give the Hijaab and Jilbaab a try or atleast become stronger in your conviction in wearing it?

May Allah ('azza wa jall) fill all our hearts with strong faith, conviction and steadfastness in that which he loves. Aameen.