A Woman's Khimaar and Covering of Hair

QDear Brother, Asalaam Alaikum, Thankyou for the email. It was a very interesting read.

Anyway, I would like to share with you the following points of research I have undertaken in the hope that you may be able to see things from where I am standing and help me understand the other side better.

Firstly with regards to the translation of surah An-Nur (24) ayah 30-31.

The word Khimaar (Khumur) in my understanding means cover. Now linguistically the majority of scholars have identified this as meaning head cover but the word Khimaar is mentioned a number of times meaning simply 'a cover' as stated in the hadith

Book 023, Number 5000: Jabir b. 'Abdullah reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Cover the vessels and tie the waterskin, for there is a night in a year when pestilence descends, and it does not pass an uncovered vessel or an untied waterskin but some of that pestilence descending into it. (sahih muslim)

The word Khummer is from the root "Kh Ma Ra", which is also the root for "Khimaar" (the word in Arabic that describes intoxicants). KhMaRa means something that COVERS, which is why intoxicants are described as "Khimaar" as they COVER(or beffog) the mind. The word "Khummer" simply means a piece of cloth that covers - there is NO indication in this word that says that the word means to cover the hair. Actually, the Muslim scholar Al-Jawhari in his "Sihah" defines the word "khimaar" as 'kullu ma khamara shayyan' that is 'anything which covers something' is called its khimaar - thus a table cloth is called the khimaar of the table, etc. What is semantically clear, even after an analysis of various translations and even if one uses the word veil in translation (and one doesn't have to have a superb command of the Arabic language for this) is an order that the woman's bosom be covered, not that the woman's head be covered. The emphasis or concern is about the exposed bosom, not uncovered head. The woman must take her cloth, shawl, whatever she is wearing, and cover or shield her bosom from view.

The second mistranslated word is "Juyub", which is from the root word "Jayb", i.e. chest pocket that people have on their shirts. This word has been used in the Qu'ran elsewhere to mean the CHEST: "And enter your hand into your bosom , it shall come forth white without evil; among nine signs to Firon and his people, surely they are a transgressing people." (27:12)

The Arabic words for HEAD, (RAAS) or HAIR, (SHAAR) are NOT in the verse. The commandment in the verse is clear - COVER YOUR CHEST OR BOSOMS, but also the fabrication of the scholars and most of the translators is clear by claiming- cover your head or hair.

Nowhere in Qu'ran, hadith is there any mention of specifically covering the head or hair. Even IF we take into account that 'Khimaar' linguistically was a head covering for women in arab times how does that translate into covering every single hair like most scholars recommend.

With regards to the word 'Ziina' which translates as beauty. Surely this is down to interpretation. Taking the whole ayah into account I translate this as meaning the beauty of the body. If we say that a womans hair is beauty then we can also say that a womans eyes are beauty, her lips, her nose etc. Where do we draw the line?

Secondly: With regards to a hadith regularly quoted: `A'isha said: Asma', daughter of Abu Bakr, entered upon the Apostle of Allah (May peace be upon him) wearing thin clothes. The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) turned his attention from her. He said: O Asma', when a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it does not suit her that she displays her parts of body except this and this, and he pointed to her face and hands. (Abu Dawud)

Abu Dawud said: This is a mursal tradition (i.e. the narrator who transmitted it from `A'isha is missing) Khalid b. Duraik did not see `A'ishah).

It is very interesting to note that no one- neither the Muslim Scholars nor the Muslim Ummah ever pointed out that this Hadith is a m u r s a l Hadith or weak hadith, although it is imperative that when one uses a weak Hadith for any reason then one should explain it to the people that this is a weak Hadith. As stated above that Imam Abu Dawud himself said that this is a mursal tradition (i.e. the narrator who transmitted it from `A'isha is missing). What I interpret is that the narrator of this Hadith is Khalid b. Duraik who did not see 'A'ishah (Radhi Allahu Anha (May Allah be pleased with her)). As this is a weak Hadith, it has no value for the purpose of Shari'ah, that means no Muslim or Islamic Republic or government can pass laws punishing a Muslim woman who does not observe Hijab (as is known, covering the hair on their head)

Ayesha (Radhi Allah anho) has been known to have quoted 12,000 hadith out of which only 300 are sahih.

How can we take a weak hadith and translate it into a command from Allah and furthermore how can we translate this to mean cover every single hair on your head? Surely Allah Says what He means and does not leave anything unsaid so if He commanded covering the chest then why didn't He mention hair.

I am all for modesty as stated in the Qu'ran and for covering what is required. But it is important to me that we follow Allahs command as He wanted us to. I am not going to rush into any decision and I want to make certain that what I do I do according to Allah's will, and not just based on Interpretaions of scholars. Scholars in their own right are very important but they cannot make any law over the law of Allah.

I would be interested on reading your thoughts regarding this. Wa'salaam, Eiliyah

(Note: as a matter of principle, we do not correct mistakes in the emails of the readers.)

ADear sister Eiliyah, My dear brother Yawar has asked me to share my ideas and thoughts with you on the points mentioned in your email.

Sister, let me start with your ending paragraph, in which you said:
I am all for modesty as stated in the Qu'ran and for covering what is required. But it is important to me that we follow Allahs command as He wanted us to.

Sister, I am so glad that you have this right, healthy attitude. That is what we all should do as believers in Allaah and His Book.

I am not going to rush into any decision and I want to make certain that what I do I do according to Allah's will, and not just based on Interpretations of scholars. Scholars in their own right are very important but they cannot make any law over the law of Allah.

Again, I agree with you. It is the law of Allaah that we follow, not the opinions of people. Any scholar must support his / her opinion from explicit injunctions of the Qur-aan and Hadeeth. And it is incumbent upon us that we honestly and truly determine what Allaah SWT really wants us to do.

However, one of the critical attribute we need in order to understand Allaah’s commands correctly and to seek guidance from His words is that: Before we approach the Qur-aan and Hadeeth, we empty our brains from all pre-conceived ideas or notions that we may have on the subject in which we want Allaah’s guidance. We must start with a clean slate, as if we do not have any opinion on that subject at all. This is a very critical point for obvious reasons. For example, if we start with an opinion, we may tend to read our own ideas in the text of the Qur-aan or Hadeeth, instead of understanding the message of the text we are reading. That is how we human beings are!

Also, human mind is very powerful when it comes to justify anything. People commit big crimes and are able to justify in their minds that they are doing the right thing. That is why shaytaan succeeds in misguiding people, because he suggests them justifications for violating the commands of Allaah. That is another reason that we must empty our mind from pre-held opinions, if we want to find the commands of Allaah as they were intended to be. Otherwise, if we start with a strong opinion, we will keep justifying our position although the verses of the Qur-aan may be saying something different.

Many people forget these two critical points.

Another important point is that often a certain word has a certain usage and is understood in a certain way in the society. Usually, that kind of usage is not indicated by the literal meaning of the word. I am sure that you can come up with many examples of such words. I think Khimaar is to some extent one of those words. In that sense, I agree with you that:
'Khimaar' linguistically was a head covering for women in arab times

It was actually a cloth that was used to cover head and the rest of it was left hanging in the back. So Allaah SWT taught the Muslim women that in addition to the current use of your khimaar (covering your head), you should ensure that it is used to cover your upper body such that all your zeenah (adornment / attraction) is hidden from all males except for certain males whose list was given in the verse. You are right that facial features of women can also be attractive, but the covering of the zeenah (adornment / attraction) intended in this verse is the covering of the collective attraction of the hairstyle and the bust. The reason the verse mentions only bosom and not the head is that the head was already covered by Arab women’s Khimaar, Allaah SWT ordered them to wrap it around to cover the upper body as well.

Like you, I also have never understood why some people put so much emphasis on the point that no hair should be visible. This emphasis clouds the real teaching. In fact, my wife has noticed some cases where women cover their hair so faithfully with a kerchief that no hair is visible, but beneath they have such tight and low-cut immodest clothing that is totally against the commands of Allaah and his Messenger.

So, as long as the head, neck, shoulder and bust are properly covered so that body shape, hairstyle and other attractions are hidden, the purpose of the command is fulfilled even if a little bit of hair are visible. On the other hand, if all of the hair are covered but the rest of the body is attracting attention, the purpose of the command is not served.

I have written a booklet on this topic called, “Unveiling the truth about Hijaab, Khimaar and Jilbaab”. If you like, I can send an electronic copy of that booklet for your study. I will be pleased to discuss its content with you, after you have read it.

May Allaah bless you for your good intentions. I will be looking forward to hear more from you.

Ayub Hamid

July 15, 2004
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+2 #1 2010-11-15 14:24
Assalam O' Alaikum!
Brother, is it possible to have your booklet "Unveiling the truth about Hijaab, Khimaar and Jilbaab" be made available online on your site as an electronic version to all who can get benefit from it?
Jazak Allah Khair,

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