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Monday, 28 November 2011

Etymology and Meaning of Hijab



You can buy this hijab at www.hijabplanet.com

According to the Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World, the meaning of hijab has evolved over time:
The term hijab or veil is not used in the Qur'an to refer to an article of clothing for women or men, rather it refers to a spatial curtain that divides or provides privacy. The Qur'an instructs the male believers (Muslims) to talk to wives of Prophet Muhammad behind a hijab. This hijab was the responsibility of the men and not the wives of Prophet Muhammad. However, in later Muslim societies this instruction, specific to the wives of Prophet Muhammad, was generalized, leading to the segregation of the Muslim men and women. The modesty in Qur'an concerns both men's and women's gaze, gait, garments, and genitalia. The clothing for women involves khumūr over the necklines and jilbab (cloaks) in public so that they may be identified and not harmed. Guidelines for covering of the entire body except for the hands, the feet and the face, are found in texts of fiqh and hadith that are developed later.

Alternative views

Other Muslims take a relativist approach to ħijāb. They believe that the commandment to maintain modesty must be interpreted with regard to the surrounding society. What is considered modest or daring in one society may not be considered so in another. It is important, they say, for believers to wear clothing that communicates modesty and reserve.

Other verses do mention separation of men and women but, however, they refer specifically to the wives of the prophet:

Abide still in your homes and make not a dazzling display like that of the former times of ignorance[Quran 33:32–33]
And when ye ask of them [the wives of the Prophet] anything, ask it of them from behind a curtain.[Quran 33:53]

According to Leila Ahmed, nowhere in the whole of the Qur'an is the term hijab applied to any woman other than the wives of Muhammad.

According to at least two authors (Reza Aslan and Leila Ahmed), the stipulations of the hijab were originally meant only for Muhammad's wives, and were intended to maintain their inviolability. This was because Muhammad conducted all religious and civic affairs in the mosque adjacent to his home:

People were constantly coming in and out of this compound at all hours of the day. When delegations from other tribes come to speak with Prophet 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 Prophet Muhammad's wives slept. And new emigrants who arrived in Yatrib would often stay within the mosque's walls until they could find suitable homes.

According to Ahmed:

By instituting seclusion Prophet Muhammad was creating a distance between his wives and this thronging community on their doorstep.

They argue that the term darabat al-hijab ("taking the veil"), was used synonymously and interchangeably with "becoming Prophet Muhammad's wife", and that during Muhammad's life, no other Muslim woman wore the hijab. Aslam suggests that Muslim women started to wear the hijab to emulate Muhammad's wives, who are revered as "Mothers of the Believers" in Islam, and states "there was no tradition of veiling until around 627 C.E." in the Muslim community.

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