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Islam: The Origin of Hijab

Although long seen as the most distinctive emblem of Islam, the veil is, surprisingly, not enjoined upon Muslim women anywhere in the Quran. The tradition of veiling and seclusion (known together as hijab) was introduced into Arabia long before Muhammad, primarily through Arab contacts with Syria and Iran , where the hijab was a sign of social status. After all, only a woman who need not work in the fields could afford to remain secluded and veiled.
In the Ummah, there was no tradition of veiling until around 627 C.E., when the so-called “verse of hijab” suddenly descended upon the community. That verse, however, was addressed not to women in general, but exclusively to Muhammad’s wives:
“Believers, do not enter the Prophet’s house…unless asked. And if you are invited…do not linger. And when you ask something from the Prophet’s wives, do so from behind a hijab. This will assure the purity of your hearts as well as theirs” (33:53).
This restriction makes perfect sense when one recalls that Muhammad’s house was also the community’s mosque: the center of religious and social life in the Ummah. People were constantly coming in and out of this compound at all hours of the day. When delegations from other tribes came to speak with Muhammad, they would set up their tents for days at a time inside the open courtyard, just a few feet away from the apartments in which Muhammad’s wives slept. And new emigrants who arrived in Yathrib would often stay within the mosque’s walls until they could find suitable homes.
When Muhammad was little more than a tribal Shaykh, this constant commotion could be tolerated. But by 627 C.E., when he had become the supremely powerful leader of an increasingly expanding community, some kind of segregation had to be enforced to maintain the inviolability of his wives. Thus, the tradition, borrowed from the upper classes of Iranian and Syrian women, of veiling and secluding the most important women in society from the peering eyes of everyone else.
That the veil applied solely to Muhammad’s wives is further demonstrated by the fact that the term for donning the veil, darabat al-hijab, was used synonymously and interchangeably with “becoming Muhammad’s wife.” For this reason, during the Prophet’s lifetime, no other women in the Ummah observed hijab. Of course, modesty was enjoined on all believers, and women in particular were instructed to
“draw their clothes around them a little to be recognized as believers and so that no harm will come to them” (33:60).
More specifically, women should
“guard their private parts…and drape a cover (khamr) over their breasts” when in the presence of strange men (24:31-32).
But, as Leila Ahmed observes, nowhere in the whole of the Quran is the term hijab applied to any woman other than the wives of Muhammad.
It is difficult to say with certainty when the veil was adopted by the rest of the Ummah, though it was most likely long after Muhammad’s death. Muslim women probably began wearing the veil as a way to emulate the Prophet’s wives, who were revered as “the Mothers of the Ummah.” But the veil was neither compulsory, nor for that matter, widely adopted until generations after Muhammad’s death, when a large body of male scriptural and legal scholars began using their religious and political authority to regain the dominance they had lost in society as a result of the Prophet’s egalitarian reforms.

54 thoughts on “Islam: The Origin of Hijab

    1. quran ordains both men and women to “Gazze basar” that is to lower your eyes. while the gospels say dont look with bad intentions but to see with good intention is also very dangerous like slipping from the edge. quran closes the door of sins and gospels permitt and opens the door but punishes on the consequences

      1. So the muslim priests teaching women to coverup, to hate other religious groups,to commit suside bommings harm inocent women and children, in the name of Allah, are holy men?

  1. I think, scholars should study and guide the Muslim Umma accordingly. Particularly the role of women, in the days after the Profit. ( At the time of Abu Baker, Umar, Usman and Ali).

  2. There are two things: taqwa and fatwa

    Fatwa is what the writer has narrated here, which is a surface reading of the veil verse,that it was enjoined upon the wives only. Ok if somebody wants a fatwa, this will work.

    The second things is taqwa, it is to read this verse and to think..the wives are the mothers of the momineen, the companions are ashra mubashra (those to whom heaven and Allah ta’la’s happiness has been promised already) and they are being instructed to observer pardah, and i, a sinful, man/woman whose gaze constantly goes from one forbidden thing to another am doing as i please while interacting with members of the opposite sex? Am i,in present day and age more likely to commit immodesty or naawzubillah were the mothers and the companions more likely?

    Both takes are correct. But Allah Ta’la says that all of us are equal, except those who practice taqwa.

    just saying. Allah Ta’la knows best.

      1. There are a lot of strange elements in all religions … but I hear what you’re saying. After doing a lot of research … there are countries, like Turkey … who are all Moslem … but yet … you don’t hear about Turkish terrorists. If anything, Turkey is also a terror target, particularly by ISIS and Kurds (PKK). I find, predominantly … it’s not the religion, but people of Arab decent … African’s (Nigerians), Pakistanis, Iraqis, Afghans, and Syrians … are behind most terror attacks … using religion as a guise … as it’s been done since time immemorial.. I know it’s hard, particularly when there are so many things in Islam that is odd, foreign to us, but please try to see it as extremism … and blame the people from these countries … rather than the religion itself. 🙂

    1. U have given the best answer.the teachings of quran were not only for the prophet’s family but for every human on this earth…the writer should read the whole quran first and then give such fatwas….

  3. The Noble Qur’an …….. Surah Al-Ahzaab, Verse#59 ‘O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughtersand the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (“Jalabib”) veils all over their bodies (screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way Tafseer Al-Qurtabi) that is most convenient that they should be known (as such) and not molested: and Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful.” Surah An-Nur, Verses #30 and #31 ‘And Say to the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things) , and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts) and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent (like both eyes for necessity to see the way, or outer palms of hands or one eye or dress like veil, gloves , head cover, apron) , and to draw their veils all over Juyubihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces , necks and bosoms) From the Hadith….. Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Hadith # 282 Narrated Safiya bint Shaiba ( Radhiallaahu Ánha) “Aisha ( Radhiallaahu Ánha) 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 faces with the cut pieces. Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 1, Book 8, Hadith # 368 Narrated ‘Aisha ( Radhiallaahu Ánha) Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) used to offer the Fajr prayer and some believing women covered with their veiling sheet s used to attend the Fajr prayer with him and then they would return to their homes unrecognized . Shaikh IbnUthaimin in tafseer of this hadith explains “Thishadith makes it clear that the Islamic dress is concealing of the entire body as explained in this hadith.  Only with the complete cover including the face and hands can a woman not be recognized.  This was theunderstanding and practice of the Sahaba and they were the best ofgroup, the noblest in the sight of Allah (swt) with the most complete Imaanand noblest of characters.  so if the practice of the women of the sahaba was to wear the complete veil then how can we deviate from their path? (Ibn Uthaimin in the book “Hijaab” page# 12 and 13) Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 1, Book 4, Hadith # 148 Narrated ‘Aisha ( Radhiallaahu Ánha) : The wives of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) used to go to Al-Manasi, a vast open place (near Baqia at Medina) to answer the call of nature at night. ‘Umar used to say to the Prophet “Let your wives be veiled,” but Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) did not do so. One night Sauda bint Zam’a the wife of the Prophet went out at ‘Isha’ time and she was a tall lady. ‘Umar addressedher and said, “I have recognized you, O Sauda.” He said so, as he desired eagerly that the verses of Al-Hijab (the observingof veils by the Muslim women) may be revealed.So Allah revealed the verses of “Al-Hijab” ( A complete body cover excluding the eyes) . Tirmidhi with a SAHIH chain reports… “Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) said “ All of a woman is ‘awrah. ” ( Shaikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid quotes this hadith narrated by Tirmidhi with a sahih isnaad and says this is a direct hadith from Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam ) and has made it clear that a woman must cover everything including the face and hands!) Abu Dawood Book 14, Hadith # 2482 Narrated Thabit ibn Qays ( Radhiallaahu Ánhu) : A woman called Umm Khallad came to the Prophet (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) while she was veiled. She was searching for her son who had been killed (in the battle) Some of the Companions of the Prophet (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) said to her: You have come here asking for your son while veiling your face? She said: If I am afflicted withthe loss of my son, I shall not suffer the loss of my modesty. Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) said: You will get the reward of two martyrs for your son. She asked: Why is that so, oh Prophet of Allah? He replied: Because the people of the Book have killed him. Abu Dawood Book 32, Hadith # 4090 Narrated Umm Salamah, Ummul Mu’minin ( Radhiallaahu Ánha) : When the verse “That they should cast their outer garments over their persons” was revealed, the women of Ansar cameout as if they had crows over their heads by wearing outer garments. Abu Dawood Book 32, Hadith # 4091 Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin ( Radhiallaahu Ánha) “May Allah have mercy on the early immigrant women. When the verse “That they should draw their veils over their bosoms” was revealed, they tore their thick outer garments and made veils from them. Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalanee, who is known as Ameer Al-Mu’mineen in the field of Hadith, said that the phrase, “covered themselves”, in the above Hadith means that they “covered their faces”. [Fath Al-Bari]
    Imaam Malik’s MUWATTA Book 20 Hadith # 20.5.16 Yahya related to me from Malik from Hisham ibn Urwa that Fatima bint al-Mundhir ( Radhiallaahu Ánha) said, “We used to veil our faces when we were in Ihram in the company of Asma bint Abi Bakr As-Siddiq ( Radhiallaahu Ánha) . “This again proves that not only the wives of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) wore the Niqaab and that even though in Ihram women are not supposed to wear Niqaab but if men are there they still have to cover the face. Abu Dawood Book 10, Hadith # 1829 Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin: (Radhiallaahu Ánha) who said, “The riders would pass us while we were with the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) . When they gotclose to us, we would draw our outer cloak from our heads over our faces.  When they passedby, we would uncover our faces. Recorded by Ahmad, Abu Dawood and Ibn Majah, Narrated ‘Aisha. [In his work Jilbab al-Marah al-Muslimah, al-Albani states (p. 108) that it is hasan due to corroborating evidence.  Also, in a narration from Asma {who was not the wife of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam)}, Asma also covered her face at all times in front of men.]  Shaikh Ibn Uthaimin in his tafseer of this hadith explains “This hadith indicates the compulsion of the concealing of the faces as an order of Shariah, because during the Ihram it is “wajib” (compulsory) NOT to wearthe Niqaab.  So if it was only mustahab (recommended) to cover the face then Aisha and Asma (Radhiallaahu Ánha) would have taken the wajib over the mustahab.  It is well known by the Ullima that a wajib can only be left because of something that is also wajib or fardh.  So Aisha and Asma (Radhiallaahu Ánha) covering the face even in Ihram in the presence of strange (ghairMahraam) men shows that they understood this to be an act that was wajib or fardh or they would not have covered the face in Ihraam.

    1. Where in the Qu’ran does it talk about the hijab?

      One of the most frequently cited Qu’ranic verses used to defend the wearing of the hijab is the surah 24:30-31:

      The believing men are enjoined to lower their gaze and conceal their genitals and the believing women are enjoined to lower their gaze and conceal their genitals, draw their headdress to cover their cleavage, and not to display their beauty, except that which has to be revealed, 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 their slaves, or eunuchs or children under age; and they should not strike their feet to draw attention to their hidden beauty. O believers, turn to God, that you may know bliss. (Qur’an 24:30-31)

      In the following verse, Muslim women are encouraged to draw their jilbab around them in public, as a means of distinguishing them from others and as a way of avoiding harassment:

      Those who harass believing men and believing women undeservedly, bear (on themselves) a calumny and a grievous sin. O Prophet! Enjoin your wives, your daughters, and the wives of true believers that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): That is most convenient, that they may be distinguished and not be harassed. (Qur’an 33:58–59)

      There are various interpretations applied to the reading of these verses. There are also several hadiths, or narrations describing the words and deeds of the prophet Muhammad, believed to clarify and supplement the Qu’ranic description of the hijab.

  4. I’m sorry to say but it is incorrect to say that the Hijab was only for the wives of the prophet. They were the example for all the rest of women in Islam, meaning that through them the order was to everyone

      1. of course allah said all females to wear hijab it a obligation you didnt read the quran cuz if you did you would of seen that

      2. if Allah wanted all women to wonder around veiled and without an identity … then why’d he give them faces? Pft!

  5. Sorry about the previous comment in fact in verse 59 surah Ahzab tells the wives of the prophet and the believing women as well.

    1. There were believing women living with the prophet who were not Muslims – that is what is referred to as believing women. Otherwise Allah would have said all believe women without wives of the Prophet.

      1. I agree with jdsu1234. To add I will say that in the Quran Allah is asking for the moral Hijab than the physical Hijab. Allah knows if you can understand modesty than automatically all your actions will reflect Hijab. You don’t have to so called wear Hijab to be modest but in fact it should be other way round, first you have to understand modesty and then become that character. Too much do’s and don’ts, as if it’s going to take them into paradise. The process is not simple, it’s all about understanding, the more you become a good character the closer you come to paradise.

  6. A.H may Allah forgive ur mistake and shower His mercey upon You! Always read twice before you post any thing i.e comment etc.

    1. Who are you to tell forgive you and mercy upon you. Don’t be a self-righteous. you should always say “forgive us and mercy upon us”.

  7. What about women who live in a loose society such as North America where women are walking around half naked all the time. Compared to them we are modesty even without covering our faces. What about the mans duty to lower his gaze? Why is all the emphasis put upon the women of Islam when we live in a society that promotes promiscuity. Even if we cover ourselves with a wall the men here in Ametica are still under attack and influence of seduction by all the loose women, so if being exposed is such a sin, why don’t the men make some noise about all these loose women constantly seducing them. They are not going to because they enjoy it.

  8. there are some verses in the Holy Qur’an in which Allaah ordered to the women not to show their satr (parts of the body that should be covered properly in the light of Holy Qur’an) to anyone except husband. Also, a women is not allowed to show their shrigaar (beautifications) to the Gaer mehram (to whom a woman can marry). Now tell me what is the way or in what way a women should wear his clothing so that her satr & shringaar could not be visible to Gaer mehrams?

    1. To say that only men look at women in a seductive way is ridiculous. Women have feelings and can look at men and be even more arroused under their covering from head to toe. Covering one’s head is a tradition made by man,
      Women and men are all equal in the sight of God. Muslim women are being controlled bvy their mail counterpars.

  9. these comments about hijab in islam are totally wrong interpretaion of islam and based on misconception. if you want to know the exact facts and logics of women’s hijab, then you have to read islam religions and also consult ulma ikram haque of islam. then you have nothing wrong with hijab. for further info you can visit

  10. these comments about hijab in islam are totally wrong interpretaion of islam and based on misconception. if you want to know the exact facts and logics of women’s hijab, then you have to read islam religions and also consult ulma ikram haque of islam. then you have nothing wrong with hijab. for further info you can

  11. Our Holy Prophet (May Peace be Upon Him) is our leader, the king of both worlds, Rehmatul lil Alameen…

    Please please, when his name is mentioned, pay your due respects. Write saws, or May Peace be Upon Him…

    Edit the current post.. May Allah bless you, to Him we have to return..

    1. If Mohamed was a holy man,with several wives, sent from Alah, peace is already upon him. You have to worry about yur peace with your Allah

      1. I think it is the other way round. Mostly we thinking westerners live by the golden rule. One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself
        Or live and let live. I could not care less what Muslim women wear.
        But, of course you mess with us and go too far. Then eventually we will annihilate those who will not leave us alone. We have science on our side. At one time we did not, however we finally made laws that made sense and rejected the catholic doctrines.
        I have utmost respect for all women. After all a woman created the first university.The oldest existing, and continually operating educational institution in the world is the University of Karueein, founded in 859 AD in Fez, Morocco.
        You should be more concerned with powerful groups who think the world is over populated and own the patents that create infertility in men

    1. In the West covering one’s face has always been what criminals do. There is no other use for face covering in our tradition. Robbers and other villains hide their faces, honest people do not. As for nudity, it has never been acceptable, artworks with nudity were routinely condemned. Only since the 1960s have people in the west been so casual about dress. Look at any photo of a street scene from, say, a hundred years ago and you will see people very moderately dressed is women’s hair covered and floor length skirts. All the freedoms we won in the West (at a huge cost in blood and lives) mean precisely that. One is free to think any way one wants and to act in almost any way that does not reasonably impinge on others.These freedoms are VERY recent, beginning only after world war 2.

  12. The Quran should not be quoted in bits and pieces. Please don't assume your minority view trumps that of the majority of scholars who confirm that hijab is Fard. Please retread the Quran and tell us where it says " a little " in 33:60? says:

    The Quran should not be quoted in bits and pieces. Please don’t assume your minority view trumps that of the majority of scholars who confirm that hijab is Fard. Please reread the Quran and tell us where it says ” a little ” in 33:60? In addition the nuances of a language cannot be understood by nonnative speakers, particularly classical Arabic. That is why experts are required across disciplines so that superficial interpretations are not accepted as the final dictate. My Allah (SWT) guide us all.

  13. As a muslim we do believe in Quran Hadees and sunnah and what Hazrat Muhammad PBUH and Mother’s of ummah have done in there lives is guide line for us to success that is seeratay mustakeem means right path which leadsr us to happines of Almighty Allah ! Its in good interest of muslim masses and other in general to do hijab an arabic word means to hirde, to avoid from exposing your body parts which are source of facination or attraction for opposite gender. And parda equally stands for all muslim women practicing Islam and nevertheless muslim men are also required to down there eyes

  14. Thanks for your write-up. What I want to say is that when you are evaluating a good on the net electronics shop, look for a web-site with full information on important factors such as the privacy statement, safety details, any payment procedures, and other terms and also policies. Generally take time to investigate the help in addition to FAQ sections to get a much better idea of how a shop is effective, what they are capable of doing for you, and in what way you can make use of the features.

  15. Assalamualaikum
    these blog very impresive, and this post one of the most inspired content, thank you for sharing.
    i want to invite u to share your hijab store, currently i am building site about hijab, and hijab stories content is one of my priority.
    send you story here , and we will publish.

  16. thank you so much for this elaborate explanation on the use of hijab which some Muslims tagged to be part of their religion or was descended from God .

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