Current News Coming Soon

Please note that this website is still Under Construction.


The Pardah System 

The Pardah is the name of a special dress that prevails in certain Muslim countries. It fulfils the requirements of Islamic dress, but it is not the only type to do so.  In other Muslim areas, the Pardah is not known, but Muslim women there have a little different type of dress which also fulfils the requirements outlined by Islam.  What every Muslim woman should do is not to appear before any man who is neither her husband nor a relative to whom she may not be married, unless she wears something which meets the requirements of Islam.  She has to cover all her body, from head to foot, with the exception of her eyes. Her dress must be modest, somewhat loose so as not to describe the shape of her body. It is also important that her dress must not be transparent or eye catching. It should not be an imitation of the dress distinctive of non-believing women. Anything that meets these requirements is appropriate.   

She must wear her Islamic dress in front of all people. There is no distinction between men of her own age group or other men. The only exceptions are her father, brother, paternal and maternal uncles, nephews, her father-in-law, and men who have the same sort of relationship with her through breast-feeding. 

The Holy Quraan says: “O Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam)! Tell your wives and daughters and believing women to wear their outer garments over themselves (over their faces).” The verse demands Muslim women to lengthen their dresses so that they are distinguished from other women.  The type of dress with which it is concerned is the normal dress a woman wears. That dress cannot be made to cover her head, her face and her body. What the Quraanic verse tells Muslim women is not to have their dresses short. They should lengthen them so as to cover their legs right down to their ankles. Sayyidah Asma (radi Allahu anha), the Holy Prophet’s (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) sister-in-law, once entered his home wearing a dress of transparent material. Sayyiduna Rasoolullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said to her: “Asma, when a woman attains puberty, nothing should be seen of her body except this and this” (pointing to his face and forearms) 

In the Holy Quraan, verse 31 of Sura “An-Noor” deals specifically with how women should appear in public and which groups of relatives are exempted from the general rule that governs women’s dress. They may reveal their adornment in the presence of their husbands, fathers, and fathers-in-law, sons, and sons-in- law, brothers, nephews, other women, etc. The same verse includes the order that women must draw their head-covering which should be of ample length to be used to cover their bosom, in case her dress is of such style as to reveal a part of her bosom. If her dress or blouse covers her bosom and is not tight, then it is good enough. But that does not mean that a woman does not cover her hair in such a case. There are several Hadith, which make it abundantly clear that a woman must cover her head when she goes out in public. If there is no Quraanic statement to this effect, then these Hadith are sufficient to make the order an obligation, which must be fulfilled.  

Many of the Islamic scholars have commented upon Verse 31 of Sura 24, which is incidentally the verse stating the nature of dress of Muslim women in public, and they explain that a Muslim woman may reveal her face and the lower part of her hands, up to the wrists. In translation this verse may read: “Enjoin believing women to turn their eyes away from temptation and to preserve their chastity; to cover their adornment (except such as is normally displayed); to draw their head-covering over their bosoms, etc.” It is the meaning of the term “adornment” that needs explanation.  

Al Jassas, a leading authority in the Hanafi school of thought, says: “Our scholars say that this denotes the woman’s face and lower hands.”  

Al-Qurtabi, a leading Maliki scholar, says: “Since the normal case is that a woman’s face and lower part of her hands are revealed by the force of habit and for worship, as this is the case in prayer and pilgrimage, then it is appropriate to say that the exemption here applies to them.”   

Al-Khazin, a Shafi’i commentator on the Quraan, quotes early authorities as saying that the exemption applies to a woman’s face and hands.  

Ibn-e-Qudamah, a most prominent Hanbali authority, says: “The whole body of a woman must be covered except her face. With respect to her hands too, there are two views.”  

Furthermore, Imam Ibn Hazm says: “The part of woman’s body, which must be covered, is the whole of it except her face and the lower part of her hands.”  

A Hadith says: “A woman came to the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam)! I have come to make myself a gift to you’.  The Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) looked at her and assessed her then looked down, (i.e. he did not answer to her). When she realized that he did not wish to say anything, she sat down.”  Another version of this report says that one of the Prophet’s (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) companions proposed to her but he had nothing to give her as dowry, or Mehr. The Glorious Prophet of Islam (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) told him to give her something even though it is a ring made of iron to wear in her finger. He then married her. The point her is that the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) looked at her and evaluated her because she was not fully garbed as required by the Sharee’ah. The reason for the Beloved Nabi (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) to caste a glance at her and remain silent was not to evaluate her beauty, but to express his dislike on her incorrect dressing.[1]  

Sayyiduna Jaabir bin Abdullah (radi Allahu anhu) quotes the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) as saying: “If any of you sees a woman and likes her, let him go to his wife, because that is enough to satisfy him.  If he is unmarried, let him remember what Allah says, ‘Let those who cannot afford to marry live in self-restraint until Allah shall enrich them with His bounty’.”  

A young companion of the Beloved Rasool (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam), Sayyiduna Fadhl Ibn-e-Abbas (radi Allahu anhuma) was riding behind him when a woman stopped the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) to inquire about something. Sayyiduna Fadhl (radi Allahu anhu) looked at her and she looked at him.  The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) turned Sayyiduna Fadhl’s (radi Allahu anhu) face to the other way… Here we have a noble Sahaba looking at a woman and the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) does not even tell him not to look at her. The fact that he turned his face away with his hand does not mean more than the gesture itself.  These incidents took place in the presence of the Beloved Habeeb (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) and his reactions were training and lessons for the Ummah. This does not mean that the noble Sahabiyyah did not wear a Hijaab. Yes, they certainly did, but the above incidents were before the restrictions of Hijaab were revealed or in cases where poverty restricted some individuals from making available cloth for a Hijaab.  

On the contrary, if a Muslim male by chance looks at a foreign female and immediately turns his face away then the Sharee’ah will not penalize him as it was unintentional. But if he looks at her the second time then he will be liable for that glace because it was due to his lust. However, it is important for the Muslim female to be on guard at all times and take special care to cover the face when there chances of Fitna and immoral interferences. My view is that the time of Fitna has arrived and we live in a very immoral society that has lost respect for the women and visa versa. Hence, the time has come where Muslim women have to be more careful about their modesty.      

In Sura 33, verse 59, Almighty Allah says: “O Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam)! Enjoin upon your wives, your daughters and women believers to draw their clothes around them. That is more proper, so that they may be recognized and not be molested.” The point is that a Muslim woman will be recognized by the fact that she is totally dressed and people realize that they have to respect her and dare not molest her. The verse does not suggest in any way that her head-cover or shirt or clothing or whatever meaning we give to the word ‘Jibab’, should be used to cover her face.  

The Beloved Habeeb (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) is quoted to have condemned the women who, “although clothed, are yet naked, seducing and being seduced, their hairstyle is like the tilted humps of camels. These will not enter Paradise nor will its fragrance even reach them, although its fragrance reaches a very great distance.”  It is not merely a specific hairstyle that is censured by the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam). It is the fact that a woman tries to attract the attention of other people when she goes out or appears in public. This is what is meant by the description by the Holy Prophet of Islam (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) of such women as “clothed are yet naked”. 

They certainly wear clothes, but their attire is meant to be attractive, or even seductive. In this way, they help promote indecency in society. A Muslim woman should dress in a decent and modest fashion. Her dress should cover all her body with the exception of her face and forearms. When a woman reveals any other part of her body in front of men, she violates Islamic teachings.  

The Divine Commandment regarding the Pardah is contained in Chapter 22 of the Holy Quraan. It says: “Confine yourselves within your home and come out not openly without a veil as the women of the era of ignorance used to wander without a veil”.  The verse enjoins upon Muslim women not to go out without a legitimate reason. If this ‘outing’ is inevitable, then they should cover themselves properly. The Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) has said: “A woman should stay in Pardah. When she comes out of her house without covering herself, the Shaytaan gazes at her”. [2]  

Sayyiduna Abu Musa Ash’ari (radi Allahu anhu) reports that the Beloved Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “The woman, who after applying perfume passes by men with the intention that they should smell the fragrance, is a woman of loose character.” [3] Another Hadith says: “The woman who adorns herself and walks with pride is just like a darkness that has no ray of light.” [4] 

Today, some so-called Muslim reformers are misleading the innocent Muslim women saying that by confining them in Pardah, Islam has deprived them of their fundamental right to freedom.  These reformers are instigating the women to raise their voice that they should have equal rights in praying in the Mosques. Some women organizations in the Southern India have filed suits in Courts demanding women’s entry into the Mosques. The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) has said that if a woman performs Salaah in the Jameh-Masjid of her town, it is better that she should perform Salaah in the Mosque of her locality; if she is performing Salaah in the Mosque of the locality, it is better for her to perform Salaah in the courtyard of her house; if she performs Salaah in the courtyard of her house, it is better that she prays in an exclusive cell of the house.   

There is a reason for this. If the woman performs Salaah in the Jameh- Musjid, residents of that locality must be watching her going to the Mosque regularly. But during her periods, she would be unable to go to the Mosque. Thus, the people who have been regularly watching her would come to know that she is having her menses, and hence, she is unable to go to the Mosque. Similarly, the neighbours would come to know the reason of her inability to go to the Mosque. If she were performing Salaah in the courtyard of her house and stops performing Salaah during her menses, the house people would come to know this. Thus, every body in the town or neighbourhood or house knows a thing that should have been known to her husband only.  

Pardah is, therefore, obligatory for a woman as it saves her from coming in touch with strange men. The woman should cover herself from all males except those whom she can never marry like her father, grandfather, father’s brother, mother’s brother, mother’s father, brother, nephew, sister’s son, grandson, and father-in-law. These are called the Mehram, while others are called Na-Mehram or Ghair-Mehram. They include all cousins, husband’s brothers, younger or elder. A woman should cover herself from these persons.   

A wrong tradition prevails in India and Pakistan that the women do not cover themselves from the younger brothers of their husband who are called “Devar”.  They are very free with their Devar. The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) has said that the woman should run away from Devar as people run away from death.[5]  Similarly, Muslim woman should cover herself from non-believing women and should not allow them to enter her house.  

The woman should also cover herself from her Peer or Murshid (Spiritual Guide), as he is a Ghair-Mehram for her. It is Haraam for a Murshid to hold the hand of the women when taking her Baith. It is also Haraam for the Sheikh to allow foreign women to touch, shake or kiss his hands or feet. At the time when making a woman Mureed, the Sheikh must extend a towel or Turban or other cloth, with him holding one end and the female holding the other end. In this way the Murshid will take the vow of Baith from the women.   

[1] We must note that the Beloved Rasool of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) never possessed any personal desires and lust as found in ordinary human beings. He was absolutely unique with impeccable qualities exclusive to him. His every physical movement or verbal utterance was in accordance to the instruction of his Sublime Lord. So if he looked at anything it was by the command of Allah and if he made a statement it was also by the command of Allah. The simplicity of the beloved Prophet and his life-style is clear evidence of the purity of his Soul and rejection of personal and worldly pleasures. It is recorded in the Hadith Shareef that once Sayyiduna Jibra’eel (alaihis salaam) came with a order from Allah to turn the mountains into gold and follow him if His Beloved Habeeb (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) desired. The Noble Prophet declined as he had no inclination whatsoever with the pleasures of this world. As far as looking at women as mentioned in the Hadith, his vision caste on any individual was actually an honor and mercy for the individual.  No beauty or attraction in the universe can have any impact or attraction on the sacred heart of Sayyiduna Rasoolullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) because all beauty found in the universe is but an insignificant portion of charity of the real beauty of the beloved Habeeb (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam). There is nothing more attractive or beautiful created by Allah than His Beloved Habeeb (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam). The restrictions of the Sharee’ah were formulated by Allah and His Rasool (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) and are binding on the Ummah. Therefore, everyone will be questioned in the grave about Allah and His Rasool (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam). The Prophets will not be asked these questions. So, one must not apply the general rule of morality to a Prophet of Allah as applied to any individual.     

[2] Tirmidhi, Vol. I, pg. 140

[3] Nisaai

[4] Tirmidhi, Vol. 1, pg. 139

[5] Mishkat, Vol. 2, pg. 268