Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And tell the believing women) O Muhammad (to lower their gaze) from men, that which is unlawful as far as men are concerned (and be modest) and be chaste, (and to display of their adornment) their bracelets and ornamented belts (only that which is apparent) of their clothes, (and to draw their veils over their bosoms) and they should tie that; and then Allah mentioned the adornment again, and said: (and not to reveal their adornment) their bracelets and ornamented belts and other things (save to their own husbands or fathers) blood fathers or stepfathers (or husbands fathers, or their sons) real sons or milk sons (or their husbands' sons) from other women, (or their brothers) their milk brothers or blood brothers (or their brothers' sons) their real sons or stepsons (or sisters sons) their real sons or milk sons, (or their women) i.e. Muslim women who belong to their own religion, because it is unlawful for Jewish, Christian or Magian women to see them without their clothes on, (or their slaves) female slaves, not male slaves, (or male attendants who lack vigour) or male attendants who belong to their husbands who have no desire for women: i.e. eunuchs and elderly men, (or children who know naught of women's nakedness) children who are too young to sleep with women and do not understand what goes on between men and women, such as these can see the adornment of women without there being any doubt. (And let them not stamp their feet) their anklets (so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment) so that strange men know what they hide of their adornment. (And turn unto Allah together) and repent of all sins whether great or small, (O believers, in order that ye may succeed) in order that you escape Allah's wrath and chastisement.
And say to the faithful women that they cast down their eyes, guard their private parts, and not show their adornment, save what is outward thereof.... And repent all together to God, O you who have faith!
The allusion is that the servant has an adornment that it is not permissible to make manifest, just as women have private parts and that it is not permissible for them to show their adornment. In the same way, if someone makes manifest to the people the adornment of his secret core, such as the limpidness of his states and the purity of his acts, the adornment turns into a stain, unless he makes manifest something to someone that he did not do on his own or undertake. That is an exception, because he will not be taken to task for something that he did not himself determine or undertake. And repent all together to God, O you who have faith! He commands the faithful generally to repent. The repentance of the common people is from slips, the repentance of the elect from heedlessness, and the repentance of the elect of the elect from observing the attributes of mortal nature. The repentance of the common people is to turn from disobedience to obedience. The repentance of the elect is to come from seeing obedience to seeing success-giving; instead of seeing their own obedience, they see the Real's success-giving. The repentance of the elect of the elect is to turn from the contemplation of success-giving to the contemplation of the Success-Giver.
The limit of the gaze of the common people is their own acts. The field of the gaze of the elect is the attributes. The locus of the gaze of the elect of the elect is the majesty of the Essence. “I seek refuge in Thy pardon from Thy punishment” is an allusion to the gaze of the common people. “I seek refuge in Thy approval from Thy anger” is an allusion to the gaze of the elect. “I seek refuge in Thee from Thee” is an allusion to the gaze of the elect of the elect.
It has also been said that He commanded all to repent so that the disobedient would not be shamed by turning back to Him alone. In the same way, at the Resurrection both the obedient and the disobedient will enter the Fire, according to His words, “And none of you there is but will enter it” [19:71]. Thus He will conceal the disobedient with the obedient, and their defects will not be unveiled.
And tell believing women to lower their gaze, away from what is not lawful for them to look at, and to guard their private parts, from what is not lawful for them to do with them, and not to display their adornment except for what is apparent, namely, the face and the hands, which may be seen by a stranger, when there is no danger of [either or both falling into] temptation — this being one of two opinions. The second [of these] is that [even] this is forbidden because there is a presumption that these [parts] will cause temptation — and this is the preferred opinion, if one must settle this topic [with a definitive opinion]; and let them draw their veils over their bosoms, that is, let them cover up their heads, necks and chests with veils, and not reveal their, hidden, adornment, namely, all that is other than the face and the hands, except to their husbands (bu‘ūl is the plural form of ba‘l, ‘male spouse’) or their fathers, or their husbands’ fathers, or their sons, or their husbands’ sons, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or what their right hands own, all of whom are permitted to look thereat, except for the part from the navel down to the knees, which is unlawful for any other than their husbands to see; ‘their women’, however, excludes disbelieving women, for it is not permitted for Muslim women to reveal themselves to these; ‘what their right hands own’ comprises slaves; or such men who are dependant, on what food may be left over, not (ghayri, read as an adjective, or read ghayra as an exceptive) possessing any sexual desire, [not] those men who are in [sexual] need of women, so for example those whose male member cannot become erect; or children who are not yet aware of women’s private parts, in [the context of] sexual intercourse, and so to these they may reveal themselves except for that part from the navel to the knees. And do not let them thump with their feet to make known their hidden ornaments, as in a rattling anklet [and the like]. And rally to God in repentance, O believers, [repenting] of the occasions on which you may have looked at what is forbidden [to look at] of such [parts] and otherwise, so that you might be prosperous, [so that you might] be saved from such [sinful acts] when your repentance thereof is accepted — in this verse the prevalent address is to males over females.
This is a command from Allah to the believing women, and jealousy on His part over the wives of His believing servants. It is also to distinguish the believing women from the women of the Jahiliyyah and the deeds of the pagan women. The reason for the revelation of this Ayah was mentioned by Muqatil bin Hayyan, when he said: "We heard -- and Allah knows best -- that Jabir bin `Abdullah Al-Ansari narrated that Asma' bint Murshidah was in a house of hers in Bani Harithah, and the women started coming in to her without lower garments so that the anklets on their feet could be seen, along with their chests and forelocks. Asma' said: `How ugly this is!' Then Allah revealed:
(And tell the believing women to lower their gaze) meaning, from that which Allah has forbidden them to look at, apart from their husbands. Some scholars said that it is permissible for women to look at non-Mahram men without desire, as it was recorded in the Sahih that the Messenger of Allah was watching the Ethiopians playing with spears in the Masjid on the day of `Id, and `A'ishah the Mother of the believers was watching them from behind him and he was concealing her from them, until she got bored and went away.
(and protect their private parts). Sa`id bin Jubayr said: "From immoral actions.'' Abu Al-`Aliyah said: "Every Ayah of the Qur'an in which protecting the private parts is mentioned means protecting them from Zina, except for this Ayah --
(and protect their private parts), which means protecting them from being seen by anybody.''
(and not to show off their adornment except that which is apparent,) means, they should not show anything of their adornment to non-Mahram men except for whatever it is impossible to hide. Ibn Mas`ud said: "Such as clothes and outer garments,'' Meaning what the Arab women used to wear of the veil which covered their clothes and whatever showed from underneath the outer garment. There is no blame on her for this, because this is something that she cannot conceal. Similar to that is what appears of her lower garment and what she cannot conceal. Al-Hasan, Ibn Sirin, Abu Al-Jawza', Ibrahim An-Nakha`i and others also had the same view as Ibn Mas`ud.
وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَى جُيُوبِهِنَّ
(and to draw their veils all over their Juyub) means that they should wear the outer garment in such a way as to cover their chests and ribs, so that they will be different from the women of the Jahiliyyah, who did not do that but would pass in front of men with their chests completely uncovered, and with their necks, forelocks, hair and earrings uncovered. So Allah commanded the believing women to cover themselves, as He says:
(O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks all over their bodies. That will be better, that they should be known, so as not to be annoyed) 33:59 And in this noble Ayah He said:
وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَى جُيُوبِهِنَّ
(and to draw their (Khumur) veils all over their Juyub) Khumur (veils) is the plural of Khimar, which means something that covers, and is what is used to cover the head. This is what is known among the people as a veil. Sa`id bin Jubayr said:
(and to draw) means to pull it around and tie it securely.
بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَى جُيُوبِهِنَّ
(their veils all over their Juyub) means, over their necks and chests so that nothing can be seen of them. Al-Bukhari recorded that `A'ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said: "May Allah have mercy on the women of the early emigrants. When Allah revealed the Ayah:
وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَى جُيُوبِهِنَّ
(and to draw their veils all over their Juyub), they tore their aprons and Akhtamar themselves with them.'' He also narrated from Safiyyah bint Shaybah that `A'ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, used to say: "When this Ayah:
وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَى جُيُوبِهِنَّ
(and to draw their veils all over their Juyub) was revealed, they took their Izars (waistsheets) and tore them at the edges, and Akhtamar themselves with them.''
(and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband's fathers, or their sons, or their husband's sons, or their brothers or their brother's sons, or their sister's sons,) All of these are a woman's close relatives whom she can never marry (Mahram) and it is permissible for her to show her adornments to them, but without making a wanton display of herself. Ibn Al-Mundhir recorded that `Ikrimah commented on this Ayah,
(and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband's fathers...), "The paternal uncle and maternal uncle are not mentioned here, because they may describe a woman to their sons, so a woman should not remove her Khimar in front of her paternal or maternal uncle.''With regard to the husband, all of this is for his sake, so she should try her best when adorning herself for him, unlike the way she should appear in front of others.
(or their women,) this means that she may also wear her adornment in front of other Muslim women, but not in front of the women of Ahl Adh-Dhimmah (Jewish and Christian women), lest they describe her to their husbands. This is prohibited for all women, but more so in the case of the women of Ahl Adh-Dhimmah, because there is nothing to prevent them from doing that, but Muslim women know that it is unlawful and so, would be deterred from doing it. The Messenger of Allah said:
(No woman should describe another woman to her husband so that it is as if he is looking at her.) It was recorded in the Two Sahihs from Ibn Mas`ud.
أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَـنُهُنَّ
(or their right hand possessions. ) Ibn Jarir said, "This means from among the women of the idolators. It is permissible for a Muslim woman to reveal her adornment before such a woman, even if she is an idolatress, because she is her slave-girl.'' This was also the view of Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib. Allah says;
(Tabi`in among men who do not have desire,) such as hired servants and followers who are not at the same level as the woman and are feeble-minded and have no interest in or desire for women. Ibn `Abbas said, "This is the kind of person who has no desire.'' `Ikrimah said, "This is the hermaphrodite, who does not experience erections.'' This was also the view of others among the Salaf. It was narrated in the Sahih from `A'ishah that a hermaphrodite, used to enter upon the family of the Messenger of Allah and they used to consider him as one of those who do not have desire, but then the Messenger of Allah came in when he was describing a woman with four rolls of fat in front and eight behind. The Messenger of Allah said,
(or children who are not aware of the nakedness of women. ) Because they are so young they do not understand anything about women or their `Awrah or their soft speech or their enticing ways of walking and moving. If a child is small and does not understand that, there is nothing wrong with him entering upon women, but if he is an adolescent or approaching adolescence, so that he knows and understands these things, and can make a distinction between who is beautiful and who is not, then he should not enter upon women. It was recorded in the Two Sahihs that the Messenger of Allah said:
«إِيَّاكُمْ وَالدُّخُولَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ»
(Avoid entering upon women.) It was said, "O Messenger of Allah, what do you think about the male in-laws'' He said:
(The male in-law is death.)
The Etiquette of Women walking in the Street
وَلاَ يَضْرِبْنَ بِأَرْجُلِهِنَّ
(And let them not stamp their feet...) During Jahiliyyah, when women walked in the street wearing anklets and no one could hear them, they would stamp their feet so that men could hear their anklets ringing. Allah forbade the believing women to do this. By the same token, if there is any other kind of adornment that is hidden, women are forbidden to make any movements that would reveal what is hidden, because Allah says:
وَلاَ يَضْرِبْنَ بِأَرْجُلِهِنَّ
(And let them not stamp their feet...) to the end of it. From that, women are also prohibited from wearing scent and perfume when they are going outside the home, lest men should smell their perfume. Abu `Isa At-Tirmidhi recorded that Abu Musa, may Allah be pleased with him, said that the Prophet said:
(Every eye commits fornication and adultery, and when a woman puts on perfume and passes through a gathering, she is such and such) -- meaning an adulteress. He said, "And there is a similar report from Abu Hurayrah, and this is Hasan Sahih.'' It was also recorded by Abu Dawud and An-Nasa'i. By the same token, women are also forbidden to walk in the middle of the street, because of what this involves of wanton display. Abu Dawud recorded that Abu Usayd Al-Ansari said that he heard the Messenger of Allah, as he was coming out of the Masjid and men and women were mixing in the street, telling the women:
(Keep back, for you have no right to walk in the middle of the street. You should keep to the sides of the road.) The women used to cling to the walls so much that their clothes would catch on the walls.
(And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.) means, practice what you are commanded in these beautiful manners and praiseworthy characteristics, and give up the evil ways of the people of Jahiliyyah, for the greatest success is to be found in doing what Allah and His Messenger command and avoiding what He forbids. And Allah is the source of strength.
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
The Commandments of restraining the gaze for women are the same as for men. They should not glance intentionally at the other men, and if they happen to cast a chance look, they should turn their eyes away; and they should abstain from looking at the satar of others. However, the Commandments relating to the men's looking at women are a little different from those relating to the women's looking at men. On the one hand, there is an incident related in a Tradition saying that Hadrat Umm Salamah and Hadrat Umm Maimunah, wives of the Holy Prophet, were sitting with him when lbn Umm Maktum, a blind Companion, made his appearance. The Holy Prophet said to his wives: "Conceal your faces from him." The wives said, "O Messenger of Allah: Is he not a blind man '? Neither will he see us nor recognize us." Thereupon the Holy Prophet remarked: "Are you two also blind? Do you not see him?" Hadrat Umm Salamah has clarified that this incident occurred at a time when the Commandments about the observance of purdah had already been sent down. (Ahmad, Abu Da'ud, Tirmizi. This is also supported by a Tradition in Mu'atta saying that a blind man came to see Hadrat 'A'ishah and she observed purdah from him. When asked as to why she observed purdah when the man could not see her, she replied: "But I do see him." On the other hand, there is a different Tradition from Hadrat `A'ishah. In 7 A.H. a deputation of the Africans came to Al-Madinah and they gave a performance of physical skill in the compound of the Prophet's Mosque. The Holy Prophet himself showed their performance to Hadrat 'A'ishah. (Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad). In another case, we find that when Fatimah bint Qais was irrevocably divorced by her husband, the question arose as to where she should pass her 'Iddah (the prescribed waiting term after divorce or death of husband). The Holy Prophet first told her to stay with Umm Sharik Ansari, but then instructed her to stay in the house of Ibn Umm Maktum, where she could stay with greater freedom as he was a blind man. He did not approve of her staying in the house of Umm Shank because she was a rich lady and her house was frequented by the Companions whom she entertained generously. (Muslim, Abu Da'ud). Read together these Traditions show that the restrictions about the women's looking at melt are not so hard as about the men's looking at women. While it is forbidden for women to sit face to face with men, it is not unlawful if they cast a look at men while passing on the way or see a harmless performance by them from a distance. There is also no hams for women to see the other men in case of real need if they are living in the same house. Imam Ghazzali; and lbn Hajar `Asqalani have also reached almost the same conclusion. Shaukani in his Nail al-Autar has quoted Ibn Hajar as saying: "Such a permission in respect of women is also supported by the fact that they have always enjoyed this type of freedom in outdoor duties While they came out veiled when visiting the mosques, or moving in the streets, or during the journey, so that men may not gaze at them, the men were never commanded to use the veil so that women may not gaze at them. This shows that the Commandments in respect of the two sexes are different." (Vol. Vl, p. 101). However, it is not at all permissible that women should gaze leisurely at men and draw pleasure of the eye in doing so.
That is, they should abstain from illicit gratification of their sex desire as well as from exposing their satar before others. Though the commandments for men in this respect are the same as for women, the boundaries of satar for women are different from those prescribed for men. Moreover, the female satar with respect to men is different from that with respect to women
The female satar with respect to men is the entire body, excluding only the hand and the face, which should not be exposed before any other man, not even the brother and father, except the husband. The woman is not allowed to wear a thin or a tight fitting dress which might reveal the skin or the outlines of the body. According to a Tradition from Hadrat 'A'ishah, orate her sister Asma' came before the Holy Prophet in a thin dress. The Holy Prophet immediately turned his face away and said: "O Asma', when a woman has attained her maturity, it is not permissible that any part of her body should be exposed except the face and the hand." (Abu Da'ud). Ibn Jarir has related a similar incident from Hadrat 'A'ishah saying that once the daughter of `Abdullah bin Tufail, who was her mother's son from her former husband, came to her house on a visit. When the Holy Prophet (Allah's peace be upon him) entered the house, he saw her but turned his face to the other side. Hadrat `A'ishah said: "O Messenger of Allah, she is my niece." Thereupon the Holy Prophet remarked: "When a woman reaches the age of puberty, it is not lawful for her to display her body except the hand and the face. (Then he indicated what he meant by the hand by gripping his own hand from the wrist so that there was hardly a breadth left between his grip and the palm of the hand)." The only relaxation permitted in this connection is that a woman can uncover only that much of her body before her close relatives (for example, her brother, father, etc.) as is absolutely necessary for attending to the household duties. For instance, she can roll up her sleeves while kneading the flour, or tuck up her trousers while washing the floor.
The boundaries of female satar with respect to women are the same as the boundaries of the male satar with respect to men, which is the part of the body from the navel to the knee. This does not, however, mean that a woman should appear half naked before other women. It only means that while it is obligatory to keep the part of body from the navel to the knee duly covered, it is not so in case of other parts.
It should be carefully noted that the demands that Divine Law makes from women are not only those it has made from men, that is restraining of looks and guarding of the private parts, but it makes some other demands from them also, which it has not made from men. This shows that men and women are not identical in this respect.
"Adornment" includes attractive clothes, ornaments and other decorations of the head, face, hand, feet, etc. which the women usually employ, and is expressed by the modern word 'make-up'. The injunction that this `makeup' should not be displayed before others is discussed in detail in the following Notes.
Different interpretations given by different commentators of this verse have greatly confused its real meaning. All that is obviously meant is that "women should not display their make-up and adornment" except that "which is displayed of itself" and is beyond their control. This clearly means that women should not purposely and intentionally display their make-up, but there is no accountability if the make-up becomes displayed without any purpose or intention on their part; for instance, the head-wrapper's being blown aside by the wind thus exposing the adornment,,or the outer-garment itself which cannot be concealed but which nevertheless has attraction being a part of the female dress. This very interpretation of this verse has been given by Hadrat `Abdullah bin Mas'ud, Hasan Basri, Ibn Sirin and Ibrahim Nakha`i. On the contrary, some other commentators have interpreted the verse to mean "all those parts of the body which usually remain exposed or uncovered" and in this they include the hands and the face with all their adornments. This is the view of Hadrat Ibn `Abbas and his followers, and a large number of the Hanafi jurists have accepted it. (Ahkam-ul-Qur'an, AlJassas, Vol. III, pp. 388-389). Thus, according to them, it is permissible for a woman to move out freely with the uncovered face in full make-up and adornment of the hands
We are, however, unable to subscribe to this view. There is a world of difference between "displaying something" and "its becoming displayed of itself." The first implies `intention' and the second 'compulsion' and a state of helplessness. Moreover, such an interpretation also goes against the traditions which state that the women never moved out with open and uncovered faces in the time of the Holy Prophet after the Commandments of purdah had been sent down. These Commandments implied veiling of the face as well, and the veil had become a part of the female dress except during Hajj when one has to be in the prescribed state of ihram and keep the face uncovered. Another argument that is advanced in support of this view is that the hands and the face are not included in the satar of the woman, whereas satar and purdah are two entirely different things. Sanctity of satar is such that it cannot be violated even before the mahram males like the father. brother, etc. As for purdah it is over and above satar which is meant to segregate women from non mahram males; the discussion here relates to the Commandments of purdah and not to satar.
In the pre-lslamic days of ignorance, women used to wear a sort of head-band, which was tied in a knot at the rear of the head. The slit of the shirt in the front partly remained open exposing the front of the neck and the upper part of the bosom. There was nothing except the shirt to cover the breasts, and the hair was worn in a couple or two of plaits hanging behind like tails. (AI-Kashshaf, Vol. II, p. 90, and Ibn Kathir, Vol. III, pp. 283-284). At the revelation of this verse, the head-wrapper (dopatta) was introduced among the Muslim women, which was meant to cover the head, the breasts, and the back, completely. The way the Muslim women responded to this Command has been described by Hadrat 'A'ishah in a vivid manner. She states that when Surah An-Nur was revealed and the people learned of its contents from the Holy Prophet, they immediately went back to their houses and recited the verses before their wives, daughters and sisters. There was an instantaneous response. The Ansar women, one and all, immediately got up and made wrappers from whatever piece of cloth that was handy. The next morning all the women who came to the Prophet's Mosque for prayers were dressed in wrappers. In another tradition Hadrat `A'ishah says that thin cloth was discarded and the women selected only coarse cloth for the purpose. (lbn Kathir, Vol.III, p. 284, Abu Da'ud).
The very nature and object of the Command demanded that the wrapper should not be made out of fine and thin cloth. The Ansar women immediately understood the real object and knew what type of cloth was intended to be used. The Law-Giver himself clarified this and did not leave it to be interpreted by the people. Dihya Kalbi states: "Once a length of fine Egyptian muslin was presented to the Holy Prophet. He gave a piece of it to me and said, `Use one part of it for your shirt, and give the rest of it to your wife for a wrapper, but tell her that she should stitch another piece of cloth on the inner side so that the body may not be displayed through it." (Abu Da'ud).
This verse describes the circle in which a woman can move freely with all her make-up and adornment. Outside this circle she is not allowed to appear with make-up before the other people, whether they are relatives or strangers. The Commandment implies that she should not display her embellishments outside this limited circle, intentionally or through carelessness. However, what becomes displayed incidentally, in spite of care and concern, or what cannot be concealed, it is excused by Allah.
`Fathers' include grandfathers and great grandfathers as well, both paternal and maternal. Accordingly a woman can appear before her own and her husband's grandfathers just as she can appear before her own father and father in law.
`Sons' include grandsons and great grandsons from the male or female offspring. No distinction is to be made between the real sons and the step-sons.
Brothers' include real and stepbrothers.
'Sons of brothers and sisters' include sons, grandsons and great grandsons of all the three kinds of brothers and sisters.
After the relatives the other people are now being mentioned. But before we proceed further, it would be useful to understand three things in order to avoid confusion.
First, some jurists hold that the freedom of movement and display of adornment by a woman is restricted to the circle of relatives mentioned in this verse. AII others, even the real paternal and maternal uncles, are excluded from this list and a woman should observe purdah from them because they have not been mentioned in the Qur'an. This is, however, not a correct view. Let alone the real uncles, the Holy Prophet disallowed Hadrat `A'ishah to observe purdah even from her foster uncles. A tradition quoted in Sihah Sitta' and Musnad Ahmad on the authority of Hadrat `A'ishah says that once Aflah, brother of Abul Qu'ais, came to see her and sought permission to enter the house. But since the Commandment of purdah had been received, Hadrat `A'ishah refused him permission. On this Aflah sent back the word saying, "You are my niece: you were suckled by my brother Abul Qu'ais's wife." But Hadrat `A'ishah still was hesitant whether it was permissible to appear unveiled before such a relative or not. In the meantime the Holy Prophet arrived and he ruled that he could see her. This shows that the Holy Prophet himself did not interpret the verse in the way these jurists do that it was lawful to appear unveiled only before those relatives who have been mentioned in the verse and not before others. He interpreted it to mean that purdah need not be observed from those relatives with whom marriage is prohibited, for instance, paternal and maternal uncles, son-in-law and foster relatives. Hadrat Hasan Basri from among the followers has expressed the same opinion and the same has been supported by `Allama Abu Bakr al-Jassas in his Ahkam-ul-Qur an. (Vol. III, p. 390).
Secondly, there is the question of those relatives with whom marriage is not permanently prohibited; they neither fall in the category of mahram relatives (that women may freely appear before them with adornment) nor in the category of complete strangers that they should observe full purdah from them as from others. What should be the right course between the two extremes has not been determined by the Shari `ah for such a course cannot possibly be determined. The observance of purdah or otherwise in such cases will inevitably depend on the mutual relationship, age of the woman and of men, family relations and contacts and other circumstances (e.g. residence in the same house or in different houses). The personal example of the Holy Prophet himself in this matter gives us the same guidance. A large number of traditions confirm that Hadrat Asma', daughter of Abu Bakr, who was a sister-in-law of the Holy Prophet, appeared unveiled before him and no purdah, at least of the face and hands, was observed by her. This same position continued till the Farewell Pilgrimage which took place just a few months before the death of the Holy Prophet. (Abu Da'ud). Similarly Hadrat Umm Hani, daughter of Abu Talib and a first cousin of the Holy Prophet, appeared before him till the end without ever observing purdah of the face and hands. She herself has narrated an incident pertaining to the conquesh of Makkah, which confirms the same. (Abu Da'ud).On the contrary, we see that Hadrat `Abbas sends his son Fadal, and Rabi'ah bin Harith bin `Abdul Muttalib (a first cousin of the Holy Prophet) his son 'Abdul Muttalib before the Holy Prophet with the request for a job, as they could not be married till they became earning members of the family. They both see the Holy Prophet in the house of his wife Zainab, who is a first cousin of Fadal and is similarly related to the father of 'Abdul Muttalib bin Rabi'ah. But she dces not appear before them and talks to them from behind a curtain in the presence of the Holy Prophet. (Abu Da'ud). Taking the two kinds of precedents together we come to the same conclusion as we have stated above.
Thirdly, in cases where the relationship itself becomes doubtful, purdah should be observed even from the mahram relatives. Bukhari, Muslim and Abu Da'ud have related a case where Saudah, a wife of the Holy Prophet, had a brother born of a slave woman. `Utbah, the father of Saudah and the boy, left a will enjoining his brother, Sa`d bin Abi Waqqas, to look after the boy as a nephew for he was from his own seed. When the case came before the Holy Prophet, he rejected the claim of Hadrat Sa 'd, saying: "The boy belongs to him on whose bed he was born; as for the adulterer, let stones and pebbles be his lot." But at the same time he told Hadrat Saudah to observe purdah from the boy because it was doubtful whether he was really her brother.
The Arabic word nisa-i -hinna means "their female associates". Before we consider what women are exactly meant, it is worth noting that the word used here is not an-nisa, which merely means "women", but nisa i-hinna which means "their female associates". In the former case, it would be quite permissible for a Muslim woman to appear unveiled before all sorts of women and display her adornment. The use of nisa-i-hinna, however, has circumscribed her freedom within a specific circle. As to what specific circle of women is implied, the commentators and jurists have expressed different opinions.
According to one group, the "female associates" mean only the Muslim women; as for the non-Muslim women, whether zimmis or otherwise, they are excluded and purdah should be observed from them as from men. Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and Ibn Juraij hold this opinion and cite the following incident in support thereof: Caliph `Umar wrote to Hadrat Abu `Ubaidah: "I hear that some Muslim women have started going to public baths along with the non-Muslim women. It is not permissible for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day that she should expose her body before the women other than of her own community." On receipt of this letter Hadrat Abu `Ubaidah was much upset, and he cried out: "May the face of the woman who goes to the public baths to whiten her complexion be blackened on the Last Day!" (Ibn Jarir, Baihaqi, Ibn Kathir).
Another group, which includes Imam Razi, is of the view that "female associates" are all women without exception. But it is not possible to accept this view as in that case an-nisa should have sufficed and there was no need to use nisa-i-hinna.
The third opinion, and this appears to be reasonable and nearer the Qur'anic Text, is that "their female associates" mean those familiar and known women with whom a woman usually comes into contact in her daily life and who share in her household chores, etc. whether they are Muslim or non-Muslim. The object here is to exclude those women from the circle who are either strangers whose cultural and moral background is not known or whose antecedents are apparently doubtful, which make them unreliable. This view is also supported by the authentic Traditions which state that zimmi women used to visit the wives of the Holy Prophet. The real thing to be considered in this connection would be the moral character and not the religious belief. Muslim women can meet and have intimate social contacts with noble, modest and virtuous women, who come from well-known and reliable families even if they are non-Muslim. But they must observe purdah from immodest, immoral and vulgar women even if they happen to be "Muslims". Their company from the moral viewpoint is as dangerous as of other men. As for contacts with un-known, unfamiliar women, they may at the most be treated like non-mahram relatives. A woman may uncover her face and hands before them but she must keep the rest of her body and adornments concealed.
There is a good deal of difference of opinion among the jurists about the correct meaning of this injunction. One group holds that this refers only to the slave girls owned by a lady. Accordingly they interpret the Divine Command to mean that the Muslim woman can display her adornment before a slave girl, whether she is an idolatress or a Jew or a Christian, but she cannot appear before a slave man even if he is legally owned by her; for purposes of purdah, he is to be treated just like a free male stranger. This is the view of `Abdullah bin Mas`ud, Mujahid, Hasan Basri, Ibn Sirin, Said bin Musayyab, Ta`us and Imam Abu Hanifah, and a saying of Imam Shafi`i also supports this. They argue that the slave is not a mahram to the lady; if he is freed, e can marry his former owner. Therefore the there fact of his being a slave cannot by itself entitle him to be treated like the male mahrams and allow the lady to appear freely before him. The question why should the words" those in their possession" which are general and applicable to both slaves and slave girls, be restricted to mean only slave girls, is answered by these jurists like this: Though the words are general, the context and background in which they occur snake them specifically applicable to slave girls only. The, words "those in their possession" occur just after "their female associates" in the verse; therefore one could understand that the reference was to a woman's relatives and other associates; this could lead to the misunderstanding that the slave girls perhaps were excluded; the words "those in their possession". therefore were used to clarify that a woman could display her adornments before the slave girls as before her free female associates.
The other group holds that the words "those in their possession" include both the slaves and the slave girls. This is the view of Hadrat `A'ishah, Umm Salamah and some learned scholars of the house of the Holy Prophet and also of Imam Shafi`i. They do not argue merely on the basis of the general meaning of the words, but they also cite precedents from the Sunnah in support of their view. For instance, the incident that the Holy Prophet went to the house of his daughter, Hadrat Fatimah, along with his slave 'Abdullah bin Musa'dah al-Fazari. She was at that time wearing a sheet which would leave the feet exposed if she tried to cover the head, and the head exposed if she tried to cover the feet. The Holy Prophet felt her embarrassment and said: "No harm: there are only your father and your slave!" (Abu Da'ud, Ahmad, Baihaqi on the authority of Anas bin Malik). Ibn 'Asakir has stated that the Holy Prophet had given that slave to Hadrat Fatimah, who brought him up and then freed him. (But the man turned out to be an ungrateful wretch; in the battle of Siffin, he was the bitterest opponent of Hadrat 'Ali and a zealous supporter of Amir Mu`awiyah). They also quote the following words of the Holy Prophet in support of their stand: "When any of you agrees to a deed of emancipation with her slave, and the slave has the necessary means to buy his freedom, she (the owner) should observe purdah from him." (Abu Da'ud, Tirmizi, Ibn Majah on the authority of Umm Salamah).
The literal translation of the Text would be: "those from among the men who are your subordinates and have no desire." The obvious meaning is that apart from the mahram males, a Muslim woman can display her adornment only before the man who satisfies two conditions: firstly, he should be in a subordinate capacity, and secondly, he should be free from sexual urges either due to advanced age, impotence, mental weakness, poverty or low social position, so that he cannot cherish the desire or have the boldness to think evilly of his master's wife, daughter, sister or mother. Anybody who studies this injunction in the right spirit with a view to obeying it, and not for the sake of finding ways and means of escaping from or violating it, will readily appreciate that the bearers, cooks, chauffeurs and other grown up servants employed these days in the houses do not fall in this category. The following clarifications given by the commentators and the jurists of this point would show the type of men envisaged in the verse: Ibn 'Abbas: This implies a man who is a mere simpleton and has no interest in women. Qatadah: A poor man who is attached to you merely for his sustenance. Mujahid: A fool who only needs food and has no desire for women. Sha'bi: The one who is a subordinate; entirely dependent on his master, and cannot have the boldness to cast an evil look at the womenfolk of the house. lbn Zaid: The one who remains attached to a family for such a long time that he is regarded as a member brought up in that house, and who has no desire for the women of the house. He is there merely because he gets his sustenance from the family. Ta'us & Zuhri: An idiot who dces not cherish the desire for the women nor has the courage to do so. (Ibn Jarir, Vol. XVIII, pp. 95-96, Ibn Kathir, Vol. III, p. 285).
The best explanation in this regard is the incident that happened in the time of the Holy Prophet, which has been quoted by Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Da'ud, Nasa'i and Ahmad on the authority of Hadrat `A'ishah and Umm Salamah. There was a certain eunuch in Madinah who was allowed free access to the wives of the Holy Prophet and the other women of the city, on the assumption that he being incapable of sex was free from the sexual urge. One day when the Holy Prophet went to the house of his wife, Umm Salamah, he heard him talking to her brother, 'Abdullah bin Abi Umayyah. He was telling `Abdullah that if Taif was taken the following day, he should try to have Badia, daughter of Ghailan Thaqafi. And then he started praising Badia's beauty and her physical charms and even went to the extent of describing her private parts. On hearing this the Holy Prophet said: "O enemy of Allah! you seem to have seen her through." Then he ordered that the women should observe purdah from him and he should not be allowed to enter the houses in future. After this he turned him out of Madinah and forbade the other eunuchs also to enter the houses, because the women did not mind their presence, while they would describe the women of one house before the other men of other houses in the society. This shows that the word "incapable of sex desire" do not merely imply physical impotence. Anyone who is physically unfit but cherishes sex desire in the heart and takes interest in women, can become the cause of many mischiefs.
That is, the children who do not yet have their sex feelings aroused. This may apply to boys of 11 to12 at the most. Older boys start having sex feelings though they may still be immature otherwise.
The Holy Prophet did not restrict this injunction to the jingle of the ornaments, but has derived from it the principle that besides the look, anything which tends to excite any of the senses, is opposed to the objective for which Allah has forbidden the women to display their adornment. Therefore he ordered the women not to move out with perfumes. According to Hadrat Abu Hurairah, the Holy Prophet said: "Do not stop the bondmaids of Allah from coming to the mosques, but. they should not come with perfumes." (Abu Da'ud, Ahmad). According to another tradition, Hadrat Abu Hurairah passed by a woman who was coming out of the mosque and felt that she had perfumed herself. He stopped her and said: "O bondmaid of Allah, are you coming from the mosque?" When she replied in the affirmative, he said: "I have heard my beloved Abul Qasim (Allah's blessings and peace be upon him) say that the prayer of the woman who comes to the mosque with perfumes, is not accepted till she purifies herself with a complete bath as is done after a sexual intercourse." (Abu Da'ud, Ibn Majah, Ahmad, Nasa'i). Abu Musa Ash'ari has quoted the Holy Prophet as saying: "A woman who passes on the way with perfumes so that people may enjoy her perfumes, is such and such: he used very harsh words for her." (Tirmizi, Abu Da'ud, Nasa'i). His instruction was that women should use scents with bright colors but light odors. (Abu Da`ud). Similarly the Holy Prophet disapproved that feminine voices should enter the ears of men unnecessarily. In case of genuine need the Qur'an itself has allowed women to speak to men, and the Holy Prophet's wives themselves used to instruct people in religious matters. But where there is no necessity, nor any moral or religious objective, the women have been discouraged to let their voices be heard by men. Thus if the imam happens to commit a mistake during a congregational prayer, and he is to be warned of the lapse, the men have been taught to say Subhan-Allah (Glory be to Allah), while the women have been instructed to tap their hands only. (Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad, Tirmizi, Abu Da'ud, Nasa'i, Ibn Majah).
"Turn towards Allah": Repent of the lapses and errors that you have been committing in this regard so far, and reform your conduct in accordance with the Commands given by Allah and His Prophet.
After having the knowledge of these clear Commandments froth Allah and His Prophet, a Muslim has only two courses open before him. Either he should follow these Commandments practically and purify himself, his family life and the society at large of the moral evils for the eradication of which Allah and His Prophet have given such detailed Commandments, or if due to some weakness he violates one or more of these Commandments, he should at least realize that he is committing a sin, and regard it as such, and should abstain from labeling it as a virtue by misinterpretation. Apart from these alternatives, the people who adopt the Western, ways of life against the clear injunctions of the Qur'an and Sunnah, and then try their utmost to prove them Islam itself, and openly claim that there is no such thing as purdah in Islam, not only commit the sin of disobedience but also display ignorance and hypocritical obstinacy. Such an attitude can neither be commended by any right-thinking person in this world, nor can it merit favor with Allah in the Hereafter. But among the Muslims there exists a section of modern hypocrites who are so advanced in their hypocrisy that they repudiate the Divine injunctions as false and believe those ways of life to be right and based on truth, which they have borrowed from the non-Muslim communities. Such people are not Muslims at all, for if they still be Muslims, the words 'Islam' and 'unIslam' lose all their meaning and significance. Had they changed their Islamic names and publicly declared their desertion of Islam, we would at least have been convinced of their moral courage. But in spite of their wrong attitudes, these people continue to pose themselves as Muslim. There is perhaps no meaner class of people in the world. People with such character and morality cannot be unexpected to indulge in any forgery, fraud, deception or dishonesty.
…And rally to God in repentance, O believers…[Sahl] was asked: ‘What is repentance (tawba)?’ He replied:It is that you exchange your ignorance for knowledge, your forgetfulness for remembrance and your disobedience for obedience.His words, Exalted is He: