"O you Children of Adam! We have bestowed on you raiment to cover your shame as well as to be an adornment to you. But the raiment of righteousness, that is the best. Such are among the Signs of Allah, that they may receive admonition.” (Quran 7:26)
“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear therof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers, or their brothers' sons or their sisters' sons, or their women or the servants whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex, and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O you Believers, turn you all together towards Allah, that you may attain Bliss.” (Quran 24:31).
“O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad). That will be better, so that they may be recognised and not annoyed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.” (Quran 33:59).
This ‘covering’ was then explicitly clarified by the Prophet ﷺ in the hadith we will mention below. The narration of A’isha above also tells us how the Muslim understood the verse. It should also be noted that the words are directed at all believing women, not just slaves, free-women, or the Mothers of the Believers.
‘Aisha used to say: ‘When [the Verse]: ‘They should draw their veils over their necks and bosoms,” was revealed, (the ladies) cut their waist sheets at the edges and covered their heads and faces with those cut pieces of cloth.’
In Sahih Muslim, we find the hadith of Abu Huraira, who said, ‘I invited my mother, who was a polytheist, to Islam. I invited her one day and she said to me something about Allah’s Messenger ﷺ which I hated. I came to Allah’s Messenger ﷺ weeping and said: Allah’s Messenger, I invited my mother to Islam but she did not accept (my invitation). I invited her today but she said to me something which I did not like. (Kindly) supplicate Allah that He may set the mother of Abu Huraira right. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said: O Allah, set the mother of Abu Huraira on the right path. I came out quite pleased with the supplication of Allah’s Apostle ﷺ and when I came near the door it was closed from within. My mother heard the noise of my footsteps and she said: Abu Huraira, just wait. And I heard the noise of falling of water. She took a bath and put on the shirt and quickly covered her head with a headdress and opened the door and then said: Abu Huraira, I bear witness to the fact that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His bondsman and His Messenger.’
It is also narrated in al Bukhari that Hafsa said, ‘We used to forbid our young women to go out for the two `Id prayers. A woman came and stayed at the palace of Bani Khalaf and she narrated about her sister whose husband took part in twelve holy battles along with the Prophet (ﷺ) and her sister was with her husband in six (out of these twelve). She (the woman’s sister) said, “We used to treat the wounded, look after the patients and once I asked the Prophet, ‘Is there any harm for any of us to stay at home if she doesn’t have a veil?’ He said, ‘She should cover herself with the veil of her companion and should participate in the good deeds and in the religious gathering of the Muslims.’
It is clear from the above authenticated ahadith that covering the head and body were clearly understood as an obligation that applied to all Muslim women.
Other narrations regarding the hijab are weak, however, in aggregation, and with the support of other textual proofs and scholarly consensus, their meanings are valid. An example is the words of the Prophet ﷺ to Asma bin Abu Bakr, ‘O Asma’! When a girl reaches the menstrual age, it is not proper that anything should remain exposed except this and this. He pointed to the face and hands.’ [Abu Dawud]
Here is a brilliant short talk by Sheikh Hamza Yusuf regarding the Hijab, immediately addresses the issue, "Hijab is sharia, there is no doubt about that, it is not traditional."
Hijab; more than just a scarf.
The wisdom that comes to us through the quran and sunnah should never be underestimated. Allah swt has blessed our nation with his direct word through the Quran, and guidance on conduct through the prophet Saw in the form of hadith.
The hijab has been described for both men and women. Whereas today the word has been related to be just the covering of the hair, it is important to disconnect ourself from this misunderstanding and learn what the true nature of hijab is, and through wisdom; understand why it is important to follow the concept of hijab and to avoid falling into the dangers of past nations.
Corruption does not happen overnight, it happens over many years, eventually disconnecting one generation from the next and following the message of the forefathers (our elders that have passed), like a game of chinese whispers, only worse. If a nations foundations are weak, it can ultimately lead to its demise and collapse as we have seen routinely through history. Morality is at the core of this, and where nations have turned immoral, over years, they have demised, and where they have transgressed and treated one another unjustly in extremely immoral ways, this has raised Allahs displeasure and lead to the punishment of past nations.
From this we must remember that the hijab is the strongest foundation for morality. The concept of hijab strenghtens the foundations of our being and as a social group. It prevents us from slipping into the habits of past nations, and perhaps future nations.
The simple misguidance of removing a garment, can lead to a series of events over hundreds of years that may eventually lead to severe misguidance and corruption. This however does not mean that you do not take human nature into account, human nature is to beautify, to admire and aspire for beauty and greatness, therefore Allah has given us a means of moderation, the ability to do as humans do, but within rules, rules which help to keep us on a path worthy of an enlightened human, rather than a path of those nations destroyed before us.