Importance of Pardah (veil) for women

Chapter No.: 

To overcome or end the evil effects of sight, it was made obligatory for a woman to remain under cover so that no opportunity is left for anyone to have a look at her. A woman was further regarded as a cause of disorder if she comes out of her residence without any valid reason.

مَا تَرَكْتُ بَعْدِى فِتْنَةً أَضَرَّ عَلَى الرِّجَالِ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ

“The most harmful and damaging ordeal for the men is that of women”

Another Hadith in this respect is:

عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ عَنِ النَّبِىِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ
الْمَرْأَةُ عَوْرَةٌ فَإِذَا خَرَجَتِ اسْتَشْرَفَهَا الشَّيْطَانُ.

Hadhrat Abdullah ibn Masood narrated from Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) that: “A woman is as if Satr (i.e., since the Satr is required to be concealed, similarly a woman should remain under cover in her home). When she comes out, the devils keep ogling at her and make her a target of their eyes”.

While commenting on this Hadith, Mawlana Manzoor Nomani (RA) writer:

According to the Arabic language, the word “Awrah” represents that part of the body which is necessarily to be kept under cover and which if revealed, is regarded as blameworthy. In this Hadith it is said, “المرأة عورة” i.e., the nature of female gender is that it should remain under cover. Further it has been said that when a woman comes out of her home, the devils keep on ogling at her. The purpose and objective of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is that the women should as far as possible avoid to come out of their homes so that the devils and their followers may not get any kind of opportunity to make a mischief or a devilish act. If it becomes necessary for them to come out, they should be properly covered and without any show of adornment or decoration. An Aayat of the Holy Qur’an also guides towards the same issue. Allah Ta’ala says:

وَقَرْنَ فِي بُيُوتِكُنَّ وَلَا تَبَرَّجْنَ تَبَرُّجَ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ

“And stay quietly in your houses, and make not a dazzling display, like that of the former times of ignorance”. (33:33)

Similarly, it has been strictly prohibited to look at the Satr (private parts) of any person. it is worth mentioning here that usually people consider only the sex organs as Satr, whereas the Satr of a man is from below the knee up to the navel and the Satr of a woman is her whole body. Some people carelessly or unknowingly, while revealing their knees and thighs, tie a little cloth below the navel (i.e., loin cloth) only, this is not right.

There is a clear statement of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) regarding the emergence of women from their homes, which says:

إِنَّهُ قَدْ أُذِنَ لَكُنَّ أَنْ تَخْرُجْنَ لِحَاجَتِكُنَّ (معارف الحديث)

“i.e., they have been allowed to come out in case of necessity” (Ma’aariful Hadith)

But this should be limited to the level of necessity and compulsion and she should not beautify herself or wear such kind of garments which may attract one towards her. Further, it is to be kept in mind that the necessity or compulsion is only that which is considered so by the Islamic Shariah. This is not an issue which everyone can decide, but is to be sorted out according to the Shariah. The present day fashion wherein a woman comes out with all kinds of make up and adornment to attend the schools, colleges, other educational institutions and similarly the offices, trade centers or the like and further to shopping, fares, marriages, anniversaries etc., is simply unfair and unjust if interpreted as a necessity or compulsion. Similarly, it is also being wrongly interpreted as a necessity to work jointly with men folk in the fields especially in wilderness and forests. This is a severe injustice and also the main reason behind the fact that since the woman came out of her cover, the trials and tribulations increased considerably. This is the root cause of ailment and also the resulting tests and tribulations (e.g., the elopement of girls from their homes, their abduction by the strangers, incompatible marriages, marriages without the consent of a caretaker, etc.,) that have surfaced because of it, which the so-called intellectuals are irrigating. These trials and tribulations are only like the branches and fruits which these so-called intellectuals are trying to set right and in doing so look for the modifications in the Shariah. (May Allah protect us from doing so).

In case of exigency, if a woman has to come out of her home and she will do so while observing due Islamic cover, nobody will be able to look at her. Also, when she will remain indoors, clearly there will be no apprehension of tests. (Here it should be kept in mind that the cover used by the women nowadays is by name definitely a cover but according to its adornment and decoration, it is a civilized portrayal of exposure which serves as an invitation of display to a stranger. It cannot be considered as a true Islamic cover). Anyhow, in whichever condition a woman comes out of her home, it is incumbent upon men to protect their own eyes. If while protecting themselves, unintentionally and suddenly any person has a look at a lady, then decree for this has been mentioned in a Hadith as:

عَنْ جَرِيرِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ قَالَ سَأَلْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَنْ نَظَرِ الْفُجَاءَةِ فَأَمَرَنِى أَنْ أَصْرِفَ بَصَرِى.

Hadhrat Jaabir bin Abdullah (RA) narrates that I asked Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) about the sudden look. He commanded me that I should divert my sight”. (Muslim)

There is another clear Hadith on this issue, which says:

عَنِ ابْنِ بُرَيْدَةَ عَنْ أَبِيهِ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم لِعَلِىٍّ
يَا عَلِىُّ لاَ تُتْبِعِ النَّظْرَةَ النَّظْرَةَ فَإِنَّ لَكَ الأُولَى وَلَيْسَتْ لَكَ الآخِرَةُ

Hadhrat Buraida (RA) narrates that once Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said to Hadhrat Ali (RA): “O Ali! (if you have a look at a Gair-Mahram woman) then don't cast your look again at her. It is permissible (i.e., there will be no accountability or sin) for you once (since it was unintentional) but not the second time”. (Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi)

If after a sudden look ones heart desires to continue ogling; the struggle he undertakes to divert his gaze for the safety of his Imaan and because of the fear of disobedience towards Allah Ta’ala, not only will he be saved from this sin by the blessings of Allah Ta’ala but the love and the generosity of Allah Ta’ala on His slave is such that He has promised to reward him for this act. And what is that promise? The true and trustworthy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) says:

أَبِى أُمَامَةَ عَنِ النَّبِىِّ
-صلى الله عليه وسلم- قَالَ مَا مِنْ مُسْلِمٍ يَنْظُرُ إِلَى مَحَاسِنِ امْرَأَةٍ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ ثُمَّ يَغُضُّ بَصَرَهُ إِلاَّ أَحْدَثَ اللَّهُ لَهُ عِبَادَةً يَجِدُ حَلاَوَتَهَا - (مسند أحمد)

“Hadhrat Abu Umama (RA) narrates the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) as saying: A Muslim man who catches the sight of a beautiful and charming woman for the first time and then lowers his gaze (to avoid looking at her again), Allah Ta’ala will bless him with such an Ibaadah, the sweetness of which he will experience himself”. (Musnad Ahmad)

Not to meet a Gair-Mahram alone even during necessity

Nowadays it is regarded as a part of culture and civilization to chat, be informal, correspond etc., with a Gair-Mahram (a person with whom Islamic pardah is to be observed). However the evils that these things carry with them do not remain concealed before any sensible person. That is why Allah Ta’ala has forbidden it, and this is the reason that if a person does not look at a woman or that she is under cover, still it is not permissible for him to listen her voice. The reason behind this is that to listen to her voice might tempt him to see her and then he might move on step by step, the result of which is nothing but destruction and ruin. (
اللهم احفظنا منه—May Allah save us from it). Unfortunately, nowadays it has become a fashion that meetings in form of conversation and correspondence take place with a Gair-Mahram, which is in no way is allowed by the Islamic Shariah. A statement of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is narrated from Hadhrat Umar (RA) as:

لاَ يَخْلُوَنَّ رَجُلٌ بِامْرَأَةٍ إِلاَّ كَانَ ثَالِثَهُمَا الشَّيْطَانُ (ترمزي.مشكاة)

“It cannot happen that a Gair-Mahram man meets a woman in solitude and the third one i.e., devil is not present there” (Tirmidhi, Mishkaat)

This means that when a Gair-Mahram man meets a woman in solitude, the devil will definitely try to involve them in a sinful act, therefore, this cursed creature and the enemy of Imaan should not be given any such opportunity. (Ma’ariful Hadith)

Another narration, more detailed than the previous one in this respect is narrated by Uqba bin Aamir (RA), which says:

أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ إِيَّاكُمْ وَالدُّخُولَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ فَقَالَ رَجُلٌ مِنَ الأَنْصَارِ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَفَرَأَيْتَ الْحَمْوَ قَالَ الْحَمْوُ الْمَوْتُ (بخاري)

Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “Keep yourselves away from (Gair-Mahram) women (i.e., be extremely careful in this matter). A man asked, O Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)! “(for a woman) What is the command regarding her brother-in-law (i.e., her husband brother)? Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “He is simply a death (and destruction)”. (Bukhari)

While commenting on this Hadith, Hadhrat Mawlana Muhammad Manzoor Nomani (RA), writes:

Among the close relatives of husband, his father and children (if from another wife) are Mahram to her. All other relatives except them including the true brother of her husband are Gair-Mahram to her. This person (i.e., the brother-in-law of a woman) is not allowed to freely enter into her house or talk or look at her, which according to the commandments of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is extremely dangerous and a deadly poison for chastity and integrity.

The Islamic Shariah has on one side commanded to look after and sympathize with ones brother, but at the same time, it has also prohibited him to enter into the house of such a brother where his wife is alone and he is out, so that there is no adverse effect on ones Imaan.

Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) says in a Hadith:

لاَ تَلِجُوا عَلَى الْمُغِيبَاتِ فَإِنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ يَجْرِى مِنْ أَحَدِكُمْ مَجْرَى الدَّمِ (ترمزي)

“Don’t visit the homes of those women whose husbands are out because the devil streams (i.e., his invisible influence and insinuation) in you like the blood in veins”. (Tirmidhi)

Cautiousness in neighbourhood

It is extremely necessary to remain cautious in this matter because there is extreme danger of getting involved in sin in such a situation. The heinousness and harshness of this sin increases especially when the concerned is a neighbour, because it is the right of a neighbour that a person guards his life, property and honour, in the same way as he does his own. But at the same time one should remain very careful from other things and not land into the quagmire of sins while paying due attention to the rights of his neighbour.

There is a Hadith in Tirmidhi which says:

ألزنا مع امرأة الجار من اكبر الكبائر

“It is among the Akbar-ul-Kabaa’ir (graver than the grave sin) to commit adultery with a next door woman”.

In another Hadith it is narrated that a Sahaabi asked Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam):

يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَىُّ الذَّنْبِ أَعْظَمُ

“Which is the gravest of sins”

Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:

أَنْ تَجْعَلَ لِلَّهِ نِدًّا وَهُوَ خَلَقَكَ

“that you set up a rival (in worship) to Allah whereas it is He, Who created you”.

ثُمَّ مَاذَا

He again asked, “which next?”.

أَنْ تَقْتُلَ وَلَدَكَ خَشْيَةَ أَنْ يَطْعَمَ مَعَكَ

Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:

“that you kill your child being afraid (because of poverty) that he may share your meals with you”.

ثُمَّ مَاذَا

He further asked again, “which next?“

Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:

أَنْ تَزْنِىَ بِحَلِيلَةِ جَارِكَ

“that you commit adultery with your neighbour’s wife”.

In another narration while answering the question, “which next?”, it has been narrated that:

أَنْ تَزْنِىَ بِحَلِيلَةِ جَارِكَ ثم تلا هذه الآية وَالَّذِينَ لَا يَدْعُونَ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلَهًا إلى قوله مُهَانًا

The Prophet said:

“to commit adultery with your neighbour’s wife” and then the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) recited the following verses of Surah Furqaan:

“And they who do not call upon another god with Allah and do not slay the soul, which Allah has forbidden except in the requirements of justice, and (who) do not commit fornication and whoever does this shall find a requital of sin; The punishment shall be doubled to him on the day of resurrection, and he shall abide therein in abasement.” (25:68,69)

This type of Hadith is also quoted in Bukhari with the following words:

عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ رضى الله عنه قَالَ سَأَلْتُ أَوْ سُئِلَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَىُّ الذَّنْبِ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ أَكْبَرُ قَالَ أَنْ تَجْعَلَ لِلَّهِ نِدًّا وَهْوَ خَلَقَكَ قُلْتُ ثُمَّ أَىٌّ قَالَ ثُمَّ أَنْ تَقْتُلَ وَلَدَكَ خَشْيَةَ أَنْ يَطْعَمَ مَعَكَ قُلْتُ ثُمَّ أَىٌّ قَالَ أَنْ تُزَانِىَ بِحَلِيلَةِ جَارِكَ قَالَ وَنَزَلَتْ هَذِهِ الآيَةُ تَصْدِيقًا لِقَوْلِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ( وَالَّذِينَ لاَ يَدْعُونَ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلَهًا آخَرَ وَلاَ يَقْتُلُونَ النَّفْسَ الَّتِى حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ إِلاَّ بِالْحَقِّ )

Narrated 'Abdullah bin Masood narrates that I or somebody else, asked the Apostle of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), "Which is the gravest sin near Allah?" He said, "That you set up a rival (in worship) to Allah though He alone created you." I asked, "What is next?" He said, "that you kill your child, being afraid that he may share your meals with you." I asked, "What is next?" He said, "That you commit illegal sexual intercourse with your neighbour’s wife." Then the following verse was revealed to confirm the statement of Allah's Apostle: "Those who invoke not with Allah, any other god, nor kill life as Allah has forbidden except for just cause, nor commit illegal sexual intercourse." (25.68)