Some words before I formally start this: I originally did not have a plan to launch a supplementary article series apart from The Weekly Khutbah. It has been a long while since I got to sit and write my Islamic sermons but over the few months I had been busy. I completed my Bachelor Degree on December last year and the next four months I was like applying hectically here and there to get into a Master Program. In the end Alhammdulillah, I got into the best University of my country, so yeah all my efforts paid off in the end. All this time my heart yearned to resume writing my Khutbahs, which has always been highly appreciated by people around the world. I honestly don’t promote this blog but I get around 20 – 50 readers on a daily basis, so Alhammdulillah, I don’t earn anything from writing my Islamic posts also I don’t pay anything in maintaining my blog, all I want is to provide authentic useful information to the Muslim Ummah and my ultimate reward rests upon my Lord, In Shaa Allah.
The Khutbahs I collect from Masjids around my place are usually really long and require high amount of research because the only thing I desire to provide my readers with are reliable data but since I am currently living in a “sensitive” period of my life, (I am yet to receive a job) I seriously don’t desire to destroy the credibility of my blog if I am to write articles with scantily researched materials. And then again, I thought that I presently got an urgency to inform my readers that my blog was not in fact dead. Then on the nick of time, with the mercy of Allah just two days back I thought to myself, “Why not write small articles which can be informative but then again with not much heavy research put forth to them” Then I wrote my first article which was my previous post but then again I thought I need to distinguish these posts from my khutbahs so I introduced this idea of posting them as a bunch of series based on their area of concentration. The post I am going to share now, I may sometimes sound sarcastic but the purpose of it is to maintain my readers’ interest not to mock the person involved in this post so please don’t misunderstand. Happy Reading and please do keep me in your prayers.
One or two months ago, a friend of mine over Facebook posted this particular TEDx Talks video- “What does the Quran really say about a Muslim woman’s hijab?” with the following caption- “She is such an amazing speaker!” I became curious so I clicked. To be frank I had always been a big fan of Ted for their dedication towards making good quality informative info-graphics as well as their much alluded motivational short speeches. So when I read the title, I thought- “Wow! So they also went into making Quran related speeches as well…” I have watched few of their videos where they invited Arabian refugees who went into describing the struggles in their life and Subahan Allah those were really thought provoking video speeches but the one I placed my latest click was something I never hoped of listening.
The video started off, and yeah, the speaker’s name was Samina Ali- A Muslim woman in the role of being “the Islamic expert” for this special edition of Ted Talk. At first she talked about taking us to a time travel to the period of the Prophet Muhammad (Sallahu Alaihi Wa Salam) and I was thinking- “Okay, a good way to start the video” and she talked about how women were being mistreated by men- well meh, nothing wrong with that as it was in fact true. Then she came to the point to discuss the Tafsir of the following Quranic verse:
O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.
Surah Al-Ahzab, Ayah 59 (33:59) Translation: Sahih International
It was during the discussion of this ayah, she mentioned that the women’s dressing should be based on two things- function and custom and this is the ayah which points out to her claim. Not only that she said Islamic scholars had recommended that a woman’s clothing should be based on her function and custom. I have read books on the hijab and modesty and no where have I actually come across this idea of function and custom. According to her, since the custom and role of working women in America requires her to dress up as per her work requirement, she can wear anything acceptable by the society. I was like- Nauzubillah…. What the heck am I hearing. Not only was this woman twisting the meaning of this verse with her own invented beliefs but she was also misleading the entire audience. I assumed most of her audiences were Non-Muslim and I am pretty sure they might be thinking how “extreme” we are on our customs over the veiling of the women. I went through all the English translation of this verse and not a single one of them mentioned about the veiling being dependent on the custom and function of the women.
To make matters worse she referred to the verses which ordered believing women to veil themselves as “VAGUE“, yes people she actually used this word and even went into claiming that since Allah made this verse “vague“, it implies that the veiling system is not as strict as we perceive it to be. To those who are reading this, I request you all to scroll up and read the verse in the quoted form. Does this verse actually sound vague to you? I am sure all of us here have a bit of English proficiency and even someone who is not that adept can actually understand that the verse mentioned in Surah Ahzab is quite “definite” rather than being “vague”. This was well enough to drive me to do a bit of research of my own because I knew from her words that she has the demonic power of derailing people away from the true religion of Islam.
I am now sharing the direct tafsir of Surah Al-Azhab, Ayah 59 to let you all know the true meaning of this ayah:
Allah Ta’la commanded women of the believers that, when they go out of their homes to take care of some need, they hide their faces with the long sheet (hanging down) from over their heads leaving only one eye open (to see the way).” – (Ibn Kathir)
And Imam Muhammad Ibn Sirin says: ‘When I asked ‘Ubaidah Salmani (Radhiallahu ‘anhu) about the meaning of this verse and the nature of Hijab, he demonstrated it by hiding his face with the long sheet pulled from the top of his head and left to hang in front of it – and thus, by keeping only his left eye open to see, he explained the words: idna’: (bring close) and: jilbab (long sheet or shawl) practically.’
‘To have the long sheet come from over the head and hand on, or in front of, the face’ which appears in the statement of Sayyidna Ibn ‘Abbbas (Radhiallahu ‘anhu) and ‘Ubaidah Salmani (Radhiallahu ‘anhu) is the explanation (Tafsir) of the Qur’anic word: ‘alaihinn’- ‘over them’, that is, the sense of bringing the sheet close over them is to let the sheet come from over the head and hang on, or in front of, the face.
This verse commands the hiding of the face with ample clarity which comprehensively supports what has been stated under the commentary on the first verse of Hijab appearing earlier. There it was said that, though the face and the palms of the hands are not included under satr as such but, under the apprehension of fitnah, hiding these too is necessary. Only situations of compulsion stand exempted.
A NECESSARY POINT OF CLARIFICATION
This verse instructs free women to observe Hijab in a particular manner, that is, they should hide their face by bringing the sheet from over the head to hang on, or in front of, the face so that they could be recognized as distinct from bondwomen in general, and thus could stay protected from the fitnah of wicked people. The statement referred to immediately earlier has already made it very clear that it NEVER MEANS that Islam has allowed some difference to exist between free women and bondwomen in the matter of providing protection to the chastity and honor, and has protected free women and left bondwomen (to fend for themselves). Instead, the truth of the matter is that this difference was made by these wicked and low people themselves, as they simply did not dare act high-handedly against free women, but chose to tease bondwomen. The Sharlah of Islam took a functional advantage from this difference put into practice by them by ordering the free women to distinguish themselves, so that the majority of women becomes automatically protected through their own standing conduct in this matter. As far as the matter of bondwomen is concerned, the protection of their chastity and honor is as much necessary in Islam as that of free women. But, it could not be carried out except by using the legal authority. So, the next verse spells out that those who violate the law will not be forgiven – in fact, as and where they are found, they will be caught and killed. This is what provided a security shield for the chastity and honor of bondwomen as well.
Reference: Mariful Quran, Volume 7. Tafsir of Surah Al-Azhab. pp. 240-241.
The background explained by Miss Ali for which this verse was revealed was to some extent true but there is something which she did dreadfully wrong. She tried to distinguish that the veiling of the slave women be different from the wives of their masters and so there is a need for a differences in the dressing based on the role and function of the women. This in fact from the wording of the tafsir is the task of the evil doers.
I must hand it to this woman that she is truly crafty in her words into blending the truth with her own imaginations and making a convoluted explanation of the Holy Quran as a whole and I honestly feel pity and concerned for those who actually feed on her lies. Islam views everyone equally, let that woman be a slave or even a prostitute, Allah loves us all equally and made an entire Deen based on ideal means of living our lives in peace and harmony. But there will always be troublemakers even within our religion and even those who may twist the truth and promote it for their own benefit. This woman may have won a floor at TedTalks but the thing she delivered, she will actually be held accountable for on the Day of Judgement unless she makes amends to her way, may Allah guide her Ameen.
After hearing her speech, I was feeling a bit dazed and confused regarding what I should do. I then asked my younger sister to watch it in order to see her reaction from a female’s point of view and being a Muslimah herself the first thing she uttered was also my own words, “Nauzubillah” and then she added an important fact which I had missed initially, she said, “This women did not even say, ‘(Sallahu Alaihi Wa Salam)’ after mentioning the Prophet’s name” and I was like, “Yeah, you are absolutely right, she did not mention it even once although this act is Wajib on us.’
My sister added, “Plus, she did not even mention any Hadith while explaining and did not make any proper reference, just based the Quranic verses based on her own interpretations and claimed them to have come from her own ‘Islamic scholars’.”
I nodded. “Hmm, I noticed that as well.”
“What does this woman think of herself actually?”
I smirked replying, “I guess you can take her being one of the signs of the Day of Judgement.”
We both laughed and then a Hadith suddenly sprang from my mind. The thing I said wasn’t just a joke, this is actually a true prediction made by our Prophet (Sallahu Alaihi Wa Salam). The Hadith goes like this:
Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin Al-`As (Radhiallahu ‘Anhu) reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (Sallahu Alaihi Wa Salam) saying: “Verily, Allah does not take away knowledge by snatching it from the people, but He takes it away by taking away (the lives of) the religious scholars till none of the scholars stays alive. Then the people will take ignorant ones as their leaders, who, when asked to deliver religious verdicts, will issue them without knowledge, the result being that they will go astray and will lead others astray.”
References: Sahih Al-Bukhari, Hadith 100 & Sahih Muslim, Hadith 2673
Commentary on the Hadith: It is a sign of the nearness of the Day of Judgement that the world will be deprived of genuine religious scholars, and illiterate people will become leaders who will have neither the knowledge of the Quran nor that of the Hadith. Despite their ignorance of the Quran and the Hadith, they will be called Mujtahid (jurist entitled to independent reasoning) and Imam (leader) and will mislead people with their legal opinions and self-created problems. Besides urging us to acquire religious knowledge with a view to producing more scholars in the society, this Hadith also warns us against the ignorant self-styled `Ulama’. It also warns us against entrusting religious leadership to them.
My eyes widened at the realized, I was no longer laughing, it is true, we have already entered the age where we give the floor to some ignorant woman wearing glossy makeup and high-heels to teach us about the ruling of veiling of Muslim women whereas we curse and harass women who posses true knowledge of Islam. I was scrolling down at the comment section of this youtube video and was appalled in seeing the people who were refuting her statement were being insulted and cursed. And it is with this, I draw a conclusion to this installment of the Warning Series. May Allah protect us from self-derailed scholars of Islam and give us the Hidayah of attaining the most authentic knowledge of our Deen from true scholars of Islam, Ameen.
Please watch this video to get your misconception cleared: