Please explain the spiritual
dimension of Hijaab.
Hijaab or Purdah is the Islamic concept and system of modesty and shame. It has its outward (zaahiri) as well as inward (baatini) dimensions just as all the other ahkaam (laws) of the Shariah. Minus the baatini (spiritual or inward) aspect, every law becomes an empty ritual devoid of vitality and true effect. In the present era, while many females have adopted the zaahiri (outward) dimension of Hijaab, they are bankrupt regarding the baatini (inward) aspect. Their hijaab is restricted to partial body-concealment with types of dress which do not measure up to the standard demanded by both the baatini and zaahiri dimensions of Hijaab. The cause for the defective outward display of purdah lies in the defective baatini state. In otherwords, there is no true Purdah – no real modesty and shame – in the heart which is the seat or the source of Hijaab.
Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:“Hayaa (modesty or shame) is a branch of Imaan.”The receptacle in which Imaan resides is the heart. Just as the source of Imaan is the heart, so too is the heart the repository of all the lofty attributes of Imaan. As long as there is no true purdah in the heart, there will be no true purdah on the body. The zaahiri dimension of purdah will then be a deceptive facade to hoodwink or befuddle either oneself or the people.
According to the Qur’aan Majeed the purpose of Hijaab is moral purification and protection against immoral elements. By means of Hijaab Allah Ta’ala has provided a wonderful safeguard against all agencies of moral turpitude. However, if Hijaab is bereft of its rooh (its baatini dimension)—i.e. it is confined to an outward display. then it will not serve the divine purpose for which it was ordained.
Many of the ‘purdah’ ladies of today will be seen wandering in public places, believing that their hijaab-dress and the ‘niqaab’ which puts their eyes up for public exhibition, satisfy the Qur’aanic system of Hijaab. But they dwell in deception. This deception has constrained them to drive around in cars like males and their kuffaar counterparts. Such women are not in position to restrain their eyes from looking at haraam. Such evil gazes extinguish the baatini dimension – the soul – of Hijaab. The heart is then bereft of Purdah.
True purdah is possible only if there is khauf (fear) of Allah Ta’ala in the heart. When there is khauf of Allah Ta’ala in the heart of a Muslim female, she becomes the embodiment of hayaa (shame and modesty). Her natural attribute of haya will glitter with a Noor which is bestowed to her by Allah Ta’ala. The lesson of true Purdah can be adequately gained from Hadhrat Faatimah (radhiyallahu anhaa), the beloved daughter of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).
Once when Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) asked her: “What is best for women”. She spontaneously responded: “That no male sees her nor does she see any male.” So elated was Nabi-e-Kareem (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) with this apt response that he commented: “Faatimah is a piece of my flesh.” In other words, her opinion on this issue was in complete agreement with Rasulullah’s opinion. She said exactly what Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) had on his mind.
Her modesty was of such a lofty and pure standard that she felt greatly concerned with the type of purdah which will or will not be observed for her dead body. It should be understood that a dead body is not a medium of fitnah. On the contrary, it is a medium of fear and a reminder of Death. Furthermore, the body of a woman is draped in five large sheets which conceal the form of the body thoroughly. Yet she was ‘obsessed’ with a fear that ghair mahram males would see her dead body. It was precisely for this reason that she had made the wasiyyat that her enshrouded body be covered with a Purdah of date palms and that she be buried in the middle of the night with no man other than her husband, Hadhrat Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) being present.
Our sisters and mothers should take lesson from the advice and style of Purdah of Hadhrat Faatimah (radhiyallahu anha). They should understand that their appearance in the public, in supermarkets, in the streets, driving cars and donning a so-called niqaab which exposes the eyes and which defeats the very purpose of wearing a niqaab, are all in conflict with not only the baatini dimension of Hijaab, but also with the zaahiri dimension. May Allah Ta’ala bestow hidaayat to the ladies of Islam.