Why hijab is important in Islam

Updated 02 December 2012
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Why hijab is important in Islam

Hijab, or veil, takes the center stage whenever there is battle between truth and falsehood. It has always been a sensitive issue, but it recently received a great deal of attention due to legislation and proposed legislation in several European countries (e.g., France, Germany) that ban its use in government institutions as well as educational institutions. For women who wear hijab out of religious conviction, the truth is obvious and indisputable. For others with limited knowledge or understanding of Hijab, it can be confusing.
It is important to understand several points related to hijab and modesty. The first point is that modesty had been the norm in history, up until the later part of the past century. If one were to peruse historical books of various times and ages, one would find modest covering of women in almost every society. The other point is that modesty is a component in several world religions, particularly in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It may come as a surprise to many that it was not Islam that invented modesty or hijab. This existed in the laws of religions revealed before Islam, and remnants can still be found in the altered books of those faiths. With the final message given to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the order for Hijab was confirmed and finalized.
This is a reality since all of those revelations came from the same Source, Allah. Mary, mother of Jesus (may Allah exalt their mention), is rarely depicted without a traditional head-covering and one would assume her to be Muslim. (Which, of course, she was.) One can still find both Jewish and Christian women today who cover in much the same way as Muslim women. It is one of the common bonds that are shared by these three major faiths.

More than a religious symbol

Hijab represents a woman’s submission to her Creator and her connection with the faith. While referring to it, Allah Almighty says: “That is more suitable that they will be known...” But, while hijab is a symbol, in reality it is much more than that. The following purposes and functions of hijab will clarify this point.
Hijab is a test for the Muslim woman. It is clear from the Qur’an and the Hadiths that hijab is a religious obligation, which a woman has to undertake. There is no scholarly difference on this point and the Muslim Ummah has applied it for over 14 centuries. When a Muslim woman wears hijab she is obeying and submitting to Allah. The following verses of the holy Qur’an refer to the obligatory nature of hijab: “And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which (necessarily) appears thereof and to wrap (a portion of) their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.” [Qur’an, 24:31)
Also Allah says: “O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.” (Qur’an, 33:59)
A woman who wears hijab liberates herself from the vain and selfish desire to show off her beauty and to compete with other women around her.
This is an innate desire that is exacerbated by wanton display and tamed by modesty and covering. With the hijab, a woman does not have to live up to society’s expectations of what is desirable, and she no longer has to use her beauty to obtain recognition or acceptance from those around her.
In the chapter of Al-Ahzaab mentioned above, Allah Almighty Says what means “That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused.” Thus, one of the functions of hijab is to protect women from abuse and harm. This particularly includes various forms of sexual abuse and harassment, which are prevalent in societies in which few women cover. Men often get mixed signals and believe that women want their advances by the way they reveal their bodies. The hijab, on the contrary, sends a signal to men that the wearer is a modest and chaste woman who should not be annoyed.

To be continued next week

- Courtesy of www.islamweb.net 

 


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016
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The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.