The Question of Hijab These Days
gratefully acknowlege and thank the Zaytuna
Institute for permission to reprint this.
After the tragedy of September 11, many Muslim
women have been feeling a sense of fear, and, unfortunately, some have
even experienced aggression due to the misdirected backlash that
has resulted from the tragedy. According to Shaykh Hamza,
as per the advice of Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah, if a woman is certain
or feels a high probability of danger when outside of her home,
particularly in some areas of this country, then the best place for her
at this time is in her home. If she must go out by necessity and
feels a real sense of fear, then in such circumstances, especially
if she does not have a male to protect her, she is permitted by shari'ah
protect herself. Necessities have their own rulings. Much of the Prophetic
Law of Islam is based upon maslahah, or the Common Good, and it
is rational and merciful. The essential reason for the ruling of
is to protect women. Since wearing the hijab may not serve that
purpose these days in some areas and may in fact put a woman in danger,
then the ruling changes under such circumstances. A fatwa written
by Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah concerning this is being translated
for distribution and will hopefully be available as soon as it is ready.
Another aspect of this issue is that Muslims should
not knowingly elicit wrong actions such as harm and harassment from
others because in Islam there is a very strong emphasis on Muslims not
being the cause of fitnah for the disbelievers. In fact, there is
a verse in the Qur'an in which the believers seek protection from this:
"Our Lord! Do not make us a trial for those who disbelieve, and
forgive us, our Lord! Surely, You are the Mighty, the Wise" (60.5).
Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah stressed that this ruling is not something new
based on ijtihad but that this is, in fact, based upon the hukm
of Allah (an injunction on all Muslims regardless of school of
thought). In the circumstances mentioned above, Shaykh Hamza suggests as
an alternative that Muslim women consider wearing hats, etc. The
point is that a woman does not have to go out looking obviously like
a Muslim these days if she feels she would be the object of harm and
Shaykh Hamza recommends that, at this time in
particular, we redouble our efforts to reach out to others and to
educate them about Islam. He notes that, generally, the response has been
positive; many of our fellow Americans are sensitive to the present
situation and are troubled by bigotry and hate crimes.
also advises the following:
-doing a great deal of istighfaar
-increasing prayer on the Prophet,
'alayhi wa sallam
-calling on Allah by His name "al-Latif"
-reciting the Du'ah an-Nasiri
-reciting the adhkar found
in The Prophetic Invocations by Imam al-Haddad
-reciting the hizb of Imam
-performing each salat with
(presence of mind and heart)
-praying for all of humanity
following is an excerpt from a question and answer session from a talk
given by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf (called America's
Tragedy) at the Zaytuna Institute in Haywood California
should women wear the hijab?
I think that the area that we are in [the Bay area in California] is probably
one of the safest areas in America, but there are other areas where it
is dangerous. Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah gave a fatwa, and it was
a very good, sound fatwa. His point was that if Muslim women were
in danger of being harmed or accosted, they should not go out, and if they
have to go out, he said that they are not obliged to wear the hijab.
That is what he said. He gave all his usuli proofs for it, so I
would stipulate with that that if there are dire circumstances, then that
is a dire rukhsa from a person with a valid license in Islamic law
because Islam is an intelligent religion. The laws are there to serve human
beings; we are not there to serve the law. We are there to serve Allah,
and that is why whenever the law does not serve you, you are permitted
to abandon it, and that is actually following the law. That is where the
confusion lies because people do not realize that. The law is for our benefit,
not for our harm. Therefore, if the law harms us, we no longer have to
abide by it. For example, pig is prohibited because it harms us, but if
we are going to die without eating pig, we do not follow the law anymore
because now the law says eat the pig. If you are worshipping the law, then
you cannot understand that. You cannot worship the sacred law because the
law is there to serve you; it is for your maslaha, your benefit,
and that is our fiqh.
At night, especially, people
have to be careful. It is always better to be in groups. Generally in most
places, people will come to your defense. There is a lot of sensitivity
in this area. There are non-Muslim women all over the country who have
been wearing scarves in solidarity with the Muslim women. It has been shown
all over. I would recommend having a PR campaign. Show pictures of Mary
Magdalene or the Virgin Mary since they are basically wearing the hijab,
and explain that this is a sign of purity as it always has been, so people
should not desecrate it. Do this to remind them that it is from their own
tradition. Also, have a picture of a nun next to a Muslim woman, and ask
why is one pure and the other impure? By what criteria are you judging?
You can do things like that just to take things home to people.
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf is the
director of the Zaytuna Institute.