Monday, October 12, 2009

What IS Important?

I'm not sure how to start this post. There are a lot of things running around in my head. I guess this all started a few days ago when someone told me about the head of Al Azhar humiliating a young woman into taking off her niqab and then basically called her ugly. Then a few days later, al Azhar made the move of banning niqab in the classroom. Read more about it here.

As a niqabbi I find this all really disturbing. I find it even more disturbing when I try to talk to other Muslims about it and they tell me I have to respect this man that called for the ban. Why should I? He obviously does not deserve my respect. He went as far as to say that niqab has no place in Islam? Really? So the mothers of the believers were wrong in wearing it? So the top scholars (Bin Bazz, Uthameen, Fawzaan) are wrong when they say its an obligation? I also get the same old lines from people when I discuss niqab. They always bring up that they know a niqabbi who does bad things AND that sometimes men disguise themselves in niqab to gain access to places they should not have access too. What do I say to that? So what! Just because some people do wrong things does that negate the right things? No, it doesn't.

One other response I get is that clothing does not make a Muslim. Yes, that is true, but following the commandments of Allah does. It is one of the same old arguments I get. When it gets down to it... people want to make excuses and throw up barriers. They want to tell me that dressing like an Arab is not required. I don't think I dress like an Arab, I dress like a Muslim, like I was commanded to dress. Just because abaya and niqab happen to fufill these requirements best does not mean it has anything to do with being arab.

Perhaps I'm delving in too deep here, but the resistance that is found at the level of clothing leads to much bigger issues. If you can't give up the fashion of this world for the sake of Allah you are pretty stuck aren't you? As an Ummah we spend so much time trying to redefine boundaries of Islam that we lose sight of what we should be doing. Worshipping Allah subhanna wa ta'alah. There is this wonderful guide book, its called the Quran.... it had everything we need to know. It also instructs us to listen to our Prophet, and we do that by following the hadiths... so whats the big problem here?

While there are other issues to be discussed in Islam, I find that if we can't get past the speed bump of covering properly that we are lost at the starting gate.


Amy said...

Assalaamu alaykum Jamilah,

I am so with you on this issue. I hate how such simple issues as clothing (niqab and also hijab) require so much discourse when it comes to Islam. When there are so many major problems affecting Muslims at large, and we have to stop dealing with them in order to worry about wardrobe.

I was pretty shocked that a scholar could say what he was reported to say. Since I read that he kind of denied it, I'd rather give him the benefit of the doubt and hope that the whole thing was blown out of proportion and that he doesn't think there's anything wrong with niqab. But traditionally the very very least that can be said about niqab is that it's permissible, while there are stronger opinions about it being recommended and as you mentioned, even obligatory.

I thought you might appreciate this article at MuslimMatters by Yasir Qadhi. I agree with his sentiments in the article and in the updates.

Jamilah said...

Asalamu Alaikum Amy

I did actually read that article, it was very good. Unfortunately I don't think it was blown out of proportion... if he said what he did and then moved to ban niqab at Al Azhar its a sad day for Muslims.

As an Ummah we need to get back to basics... what the companions did... and not make so many exceptions for our modern life styles.

zanjabil said...

I'm with you on this one too sis..there is a hadith...I'm paraphrasing...Islam began as something "strange" and it will return as something strange. To me things like that just confirm this in my mind. The more we muslims follow true, lets say "orthodox" Islam the stranger we are made out to be. I have no issue with living in this world as a stranger, but I do take issues with muslims who cause dissension within the Ummah. You said "If you can't give up the fashion of this world for the sake of Allah you are pretty stuck aren't you?" Wow, so true, that line really resonates with me.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

There are a lot of different ways that certain verses in the Quran can be interpreted. However, we know that historically Muslim women have worn various types of face-veils since the inception of Islam and even before. It seems ridiculous for a scholar who has studied these verses to say that wearing niqab today isn't a valid interpretation.
JazakAllah khayr and don't back down.

WhiteOrchid said...

I read that he called it a 'cultural pratise' . How could scholar of such status call it that? Surely he is aware of what the Quran has to say about the hijab. True it may not be waajib, but why consider banning it??

Stick to what you are doing and you will be rewarded for it Inshallah.

WhiteOrchid said...

I read that he called it a 'cultural pratise' . How could scholar of such status call it that? Surely he is aware of what the Quran has to say about the hijab. True it may not be waajib, but why consider banning it??

Stick to what you are doing and you will be rewarded for it Inshallah.

UmmTayyab said...

Assalamu Alaikum Sister,

Beautiful blog site, Masha'Allah.

We are organizing a protest march over this issue, especially in lieu of the recent call to ban the niqaab in Canada.

If you are in the GTA, please join us, or you and a few other sisters can organize a march in your city.

Please visit us at or our facebook at:

We needn't be modest with this issue. We have strength in numbers, we can represent ourselves in this struggle.

Maz said...

salaam alaikum Jamilah,

Although I agree with your views about the whole ban issue, I don't think that wearing the niqab is an obligation. I believe it is mustahaab (recommended) that's all.
I really think it's a matter of choice (or opinion if you prefer).

Anonymous said...

Yes true, it is about more than just niqab. One by one Islamic ways are being watered down and abollished. Soon our Deen will be purely ceremonial with no purpose except to look nice.

The head of al-Azhar has no right for our respect. Who is he working for?

Maintain the rage sisters!

OhSoMuslim said...

I don't think you delved too deep in this situation at all. The niqab is a religous badge of honor for the muslim women. So for Al-Ahzar to say such ridiculous things is actually quite sad.

A.H.Z said...

The action of Al-Azhar has left the muslims very much appalled. If they didn't believe niqaab to be part of the religion then that's their problem. They had no right to force the girl to take it off. Faith is personal. It is a human right.

Apart from that... Niqaab is obligatory. I have a report complied by the renowed scholars of South Africa with every background that proves that Niqaab is obligatory.

Slave of God said...

Assalamu alaikum

I have faith that my country, Misr (a.k.a. Egypt)will not allow something like this to actually become a rule. Masha'allah, over the years we have been returning to Allah and there are enough muntaqibas out there to stop it. Have faith, we shall not lose!

Hanan said...

seriously why does such a small piece of cloth cause such a commotion..?
it's ridiculus how niqab makes everyone judgmental..
reality check: behind the eyes you see in the slit.. there IS a face, there IS a human who DOES have feelings
i am a dental student who wears niqab on a daily basis and alhamdulilah i'm doing great .. if i'm not complaining why are they?

Gabby Hijabi said...

Bayhaqi relates in al-Madkhal and Zarkashi in the Tadhkira:

Al-Layth ibn Sa`d said on the authority of Yahya ibn Sa`id: "The people of knowledge are the people of flexibility (tawsi`a). Those who give fatwas never cease to differ, and so this one permits something while that one forbids it, without one finding fault with the other when he knows of his position."

ikhtilâfu ummatî rahmatun li-nnâs ”
"The difference of opinion among the
Companions of Muhammad is a mercy!"

The meaning of this is that they (the Companions) have opened wide for people the door of scholarly striving (ijtihad) and of the permissibility of difference in striving. If they had not opened it, the mujtahids would be in a bind, because the extent of ijtihad and that of opinions do not generally agree: the people who exert striving would then, despite their obligation to follow what they are convinced of, be obliged to follow what differs with them, and this is a kind of unbearable legal obligation and one of the greatest binds.

Allah therefore gave the Community generous leeway in the existence of disagreement in the branches of the law among them. This is the door that He opened for the Community to enter into this mercy. How then could they possibly not be meant by "those on whom thy Lord has mercy" in the verses "Yet they cease not differing, save those on whom thy Lord has mercy" (11:118-119)?! Therefore, their difference in the branches of the Law are like their agreement in them (in the fact that both consist in mercy), and all praise belongs to Allah.(5)

Gabby Hijabi said...

There is an obligatory (wajib) taqlid, a forbidden taqlid, and a permitted taqlid... The obligatory taqlid is the taqlid of those who know better than us, as when a person has not obtained knowledge of an evidence from the Qur'an or the Sunnah concerning something. Such a taqlid has been reported from Imam al-Shafi`i in many places, where he would say: "I said this in taqlid of `Umar" or "I said that in taqlid of `Uthman" or "I said that in taqlid of `Ata'." As al-Shafi`i said concerning the Companions -- may Allah be well pleased with all of them: "Their opinion for us is better than our opinion to ourselves."(14)

A clear proof that the fatwa of the leader overrules but does not invalidate the opinion of the Companions even if it directly contradicts it, is the fact that when `Umar ibn al-Khattab proposed to have all the hadith collected and written down he consulted the Companions and they unanimously agreed to his proposal; later he disapproved of it and ordered that everyone who had written a collection burn it. Yet `Umar ibn

`Abd al-`Aziz later ordered that hadith be collected and written.(15)

Those who think they are mujtahid but in reality are unqualified, when faced by the followers of madhahib, camouflage their deviation under the claim:

"We must follow Qur'an and Sunnah, not madhahib." When it is pointed out to them that to follow a madhhab is to follow Qur'an and Sunnah through true ijtihad, they become upset: "How can the four madhhabs differ and be right at the same time? I have heard that only one may be right, and the others wrong."

The answer is that one certainly follows only the ruling that he believes is right, but he cannot fanatically invalidate the following of other rulings by other madhahib, because they also are based on sound principles of ijtihad.

At this they rebel and begin numbering the mistakes of the mujtahids: "Imam Shafi`i was right in this, but he was wrong in that; Imam Abu Hanifa was right in this, but he was wrong in that..." They do not even spare the Companions. But when they are rebuked for this blatant disrespect "They become arrogant in their sin" (2:206).