Home Women's Issues Hayaa Handbook True Hijaab and Niqaab​

True Hijaab and Niqaab​


There was once a person who possessed a rare, exquisite piece of jewellery, studded with the finest of gemstones. Since he knew the value of the jewellery, and realised that there would be many unscrupulous individuals who would relish the chance to steal it from him, he ensured that he always kept it stored safely in a vault. On the odd occasion when he was forced to remove it from the vault, he employed guards and utilised every security measure imaginable to secure it from theft. However, in the back of his mind, he always acknowledged the stark reality – so long as it was out of the vault, it was at risk of being stolen, EVEN THOUGH he employed the best of guards and security. It was only within the recesses of the vault that his prized jewellery was truly secure. Hence, he knew, within his heart, that as far as possible, his jewellery would have to remain in the vault.

Since we all live in an age of insecurity, where burglaries and other forms of theft are rife and rampant, we can all relate to the example above. However, there is another example which is even more relevant than the one above – the example of the most valuable of all gems – the example of a Muslim woman. A Muslim woman and her hayaa are more valuable and precious than any gem or jewellery. Hence, just as jewellery remains in a vault for the sake of security, a Muslim woman is required to remain in the recesses of her home where her hayaa and imaan will remain safe and protected.

Allah Ta‘ala commands the Muslim women in the Quraan Majeed saying, “Remain firmly within your homes and do not leave your homes displaying your beauty and attraction in the manner it was displayed by the women in the former times of ignorance.” (Surah Ahzaab v33)

From the above verse of the Quraan Majeed, wherein Allah Ta‘ala mentions, “Remain within your homes”, it is clear that a Muslim woman should remain within the confines of her home as far as possible. This is the actual purdah and hijaab that is expected of a Muslim woman in Islam. It is only when a need arises that a Muslim woman may leave the home, in which case Allah Ta‘ala commands her to do so in a manner where she does not display any beauty or attraction. This has been further explained by Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) who mentioned that when a Muslim woman needs to leave her home, she should do so dressed in an unattractive manner. (Sunan Abi Dawood #565)

In light of the above, it is clear that wearing the hijaab and niqaab and ensuring that her body is concealed (in other words, being ‘in purdah’) is NOT a license for a Muslim woman to go where she pleases. Rather, the true purdah of the Quraan Majeed and hadeeth is for a woman to remain at home as far as possible. Thereafter, if a Muslim woman has a need to leave the house, she is not only required to AVOID beautifying herself – rather she has to make an effort to appear unattractive. Even after adopting these measures, the woman who is out of her home is vulnerable and at risk and in danger of her hayaa being attacked – just like the jewellery that is out of the vault.

Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) has mentioned, “A woman should be concealed (from the eyes of strange men). When she exits from her home, Shaitaan stares at her (i.e. he tries to mislead her and mislead men through her). The time that she is closest to her Rabb is when she is concealed within her home.” (Bazzaar – Majma‘uz Zawaaid #2144)

From this hadeeth, we understand that the very moment a Muslim woman steps out of her home, she is the target of Shaitaan. However, when she is within the home, she enjoys some degree of safety from Shaitaan.

Finally, it should be understood that remaining in the home does not, in any way, mean that a Muslim woman is at a disadvantage as far as striving for the Hereafter is concerned. Rather, it is IN THE HOME that a woman is at an advantage and is securing the greatest rewards. Hence, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) mentioned in the hadeeth above, “The time that she is closest to her Rabb is when she is concealed within her home.” Likewise, whereas a man is required to go to the masjid and perform salaah with jamaat, a woman acquires the greatest reward for her salaah by performing it not just in the home, but in the innermost recesses of the bedroom. (Sunan Abi Dawood #570) (For more on a woman’s advantage within the home, see here)

May Allah Ta‘ala bless us all with the true understanding of Deen and the courage to remain within the home.