Saturday 27 July 2019

Surah An Nur - The Light: Exegesis of 24th Chapter of Holy Quran - Part III

Sūrah An-Nūr "الْنُّور" is the twenty fourth surah with 64 ayahs with nine rukus, part of the 18th Juzʼ  of the Holy Qur'an. The title of the surah is taken from verses 35 in which is often referred to as " Ayat an-Nur or the Light Verse", or "the Parable of Light":
"Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His light is as if there were a niche and within it a lamp: the lamp enclosed in glass: the glass as it were a brilliant star: lit from a blessed tree, an olive, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil is well-nigh luminous, though fire scarce touched it: Light upon Light! Allah doth guide whom He will to His light: Allah doth set forth parables for men: and God doth know all things."
As already mentioned in the Overview, Surah An Nūr is one of the most important surahs of the Holy Qur'an for it concentrates on establishing the good manners and morals that will ultimately benefit the new Muslim society.  It establishes regulations for marriage, modesty, appropriate household behaviour, and the manners and necessity of obedience to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).  While the central theme of this chapter is educating the Muslim community, it flows effortlessly from prescribing mandatory punishments to gently inviting us to reflect on the signs God has placed for us throughout the universe.

In view of the sensitivity of subjects discussed in the surah, it is of utmost importance to understand the historical background of the revelation of the surah and the theme before reading its translation  and exegesis / tafseer. The passages shared herein under are  'unedited'  and direct from the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, so as to present detailed explanation of laws concerning issues discussed in the surah, presenting view point of different scholars for better understanding.

Since these explanations are quite lengthy due to sensitivity of the subjects so discussed so as to leave no ambiguity in understanding, the exegesis has been divided into many parts to keep the interest of readers alive:
  • Part I   : Rukhu 1 [verses 1-10] - fornication / extra matrimonial relations and punishments. 
  • Part II  : Rukhu 2-3 [verses 11-26] - Slander against Aisha, wife of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and her exoneration by Allah of the slander charges
  • Part III     : Rukhu 4 [verses 27-34] - Special instructions / manners
  • Part IV   : Rukhu 5-7 [verses 35-57] Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth, misdeeds of disbelievers and qualities of true believers
  • Part V    : Rukhu 8-9 [verses 58-64] - Etiquette of seeking permission to enter the room of married couple, Etiquette of eating at houses other than your own, Requirement of attending meetings which require collective action
We have already completed Parts I & II of the Surah An Nur exegesis. Let us now read the translation and exegesis / tafseer in English of the Part III of the Surah Rukhu 4 [verses 27-34] which spell out some special instructions / manners. For Arabic Text, please refer to the references given at the end and may also listen to its recitation in Arabic with English subtitles:

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"

Rukhu 4 [verses 27-34] - Manners
Rukhu 4 spells out some special instructions on manners. Allah tells the believers not to enter homes other than their own unless they have been granted permission.  However there is no harm in entering uninhabited places if there is a good reason to do so.  Men are told to lower their gazes and guard their modesty and then women are exhorted to do the same including not revealing their charms, beauty or adornments to any men except those who are not strangers to them such as, husband, father, sons, brothers, father-in-law, stepsons and nephews.  Women should also not draw attention to themselves in such a way that will tempt another person to sin.

Men and women are encouraged to marry.   However they should abstain from sexual relations until God provides them with the means to marry.  A slave wishing to buy his or her freedom should be encouraged and aided with some of the wealth God has provided.  Do not force slave girls into prostitution.  The fate of earlier communities demonstrates what happens to those who deviate from God’s laws.
( 27 )   O you who have believed, do not enter houses other than your own houses until you ascertain welcome and greet their inhabitants. That is best for you; perhaps you will be reminded.
The commandments given in the beginning of the Surah were meant to help eradicate evil when it had actually appeared in society. The commandments being given now are meant to prevent the very birth of evil, to reform society and root out the causes responsible for the creation and spread of evil. Before we study these commandments, it will be useful to understand two things clearly:

First, the revelation of these commandments immediately after the divine appraisal of the incident of the slander clearly indicates that permeation of a calumny against the noble person of a wife of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the society, was the direct result of the existence of a sexually charged atmosphere, and in the sight of Allah there was no other way of cleansing society of the evil than of prohibiting free entry into other people’s houses, discouraging free mixing of the sexes together, forbidding women to appear in their make up before the other men, excepting a small circle of close relatives, banning prostitution, exhorting men and women not to remain unmarried for long, and arranging marriages even of the slaves and slave-girls. In other words, the movement of the women without hijab and the presence of a large number of unmarried persons in society were, in the knowledge of Allah, the real causes that imperceptibly give rise to sensuality in society. It was this sexually charged atmosphere which kept the ears, eyes, tongues and hearts of the people ever ready to get involved in any real or fictitious scandal. Allah in His wisdom did not regard any other measure more suitable and effective than these commandments to eradicate this evil; otherwise He would have enjoined some other commandments.

The second important thing to remember is that divine law does not merely forbid an evil or only prescribe a punishment for the offender, but it also puts an end to all those factors which provide occasions for the evil, or incite or force a person to commit it. It also imposes curbs on the causes, incentives and means leading to the evil so as to check the wrongdoer much before he actually commits the crime. It does not like that people should freely approach and loiter about near the border lines of sin and get caught and punished all the time. It does not merely act as a prosecutor but as a guide, reformer and helper, too. So it uses all kinds of moral, social and educational devices to help the people to safeguard themselves against evil and vice.

The Arabic word tasta nisu in the text has been generally interpreted to mean the same as tasta zinu. There is, however, a fine difference between the two words which should not be lost sight of. Had the word in the text been tasta zinu, the verse would have meant: Do not enter other people’s houses until you have taken their permission. Allah has used tasta nisu which is derived from the root uns, meaning fondness, affection, regard, etc. According to this, the verse would mean: Do not enter other people’s houses until you are sure of their affection and regard for yourself. In other words, you should make sure that your entry in the house is not disagreeable to the inmates and you are sure of a welcome. That is why we have translated the word into approval of the inmates instead of permission of the inmates, because the word approval expresses the sense of the original more precisely.

According to the Arab custom of the pre-Islamic days, people would enter each other’s house freely without permission just by pronouncing good morning or good evening. This unannounced entry sometimes violated the privacy of the people and their women folk. Allah enjoined the principle that everybody has a right to privacy in his own house and no one is entitled to force his entry unannounced and without permission of the inmates. The rules and regulations enforced by the Prophet (peace be upon him) in society on receipt of the above commandment are given below serially.
  • (1) The right of privacy was not merely confined to the question of entry in the houses, but it was declared as a common right according to which it is forbidden to peep into a house, glance from outside, or even read the other person’s letter without his permission. According to Thauban, who was a freed slave of the Prophet (peace be upon him), the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: When you have already cast a look into a house, what is then the sense in seeking permission for entry? (Abu Daud). Huzail bin Shurahbil has reported that a man came to see the Prophet (peace be upon him) and sought permission for entry while standing just in front of the door. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to him: Stand aside: the object of the commandment for seeking permission is to prevent casting of looks inside the house. (Abu Daud). The practice of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was that whenever he went to see somebody, he would stand aside, to the right or the left of the door, and seek permission as it was not then usual to hang curtains on the doors. (Abu Daud). Anas, the attendant of the Prophet (peace be upon him), states that a man glanced into the room of the Prophet (peace be upon him) from outside. The Prophet (peace be upon him) at that time was holding an arrow in his hand. He advanced towards the man in a way as if he would thrust the arrow into his belly. (Abu Daud). According to Abdullah bin Abbas, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Whoever glances through the letter of his brother without his permission, glances into fire. (Abu Daud). According to Muslim and Bukhari, the Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said: If someone peeps into your house, it will be no sin if you injure his eye with a piece of stone. In another tradition, he has said: The inmates of a house, who injure the eye of the man peeping into their house, are not liable to any punishment. Imam Shafai has taken this commandment literally and permits smashing of the eye of the one who casts a glance like this. The Hanafis, however, do not take the command in the literal sense. They express the opinion that it is applicable only in that case where an outsider forces his entry into a house in spite of the resistance from the inmates and has his eye or some other limb smashed in the scuffle. In such a case, no penalty will lie on the inmates. (Ahkamal-Quran, Al-Jassan, Vol. III, p. 385). (2) The jurists have included hearing also under glancing. For instance, if a blind man enters a house without permission, he will not be able to see anybody, but he will certainly be able to hear whatever is going on in the house. This also amounts to violation of the other person’s right of privacy.
  • (3) The command to seek permission is not only applicable in cases where a person wants to enter the other people's houses, but it also applies to entry in the house of one’s own mother or sister. A man asked the Prophet: Should I seek permission to enter my mother’s house also? The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied that he should. The man stated that there was nobody beside him to look after her, and asked whether it was necessary to get permission every time he wanted to go in. The Prophet replied: Yes; would you like that you should see your mother in a naked state (Ibn Jarir quoting from Ata bin Yasar). According to a saying of Abdullah bin Masud, one should seek permission even when going to see one’s own mother or sister. (Ibn Kathir). He has suggested that even when a person goes to visit one’s wife in one’s own house, he should announce his arrival by coughing, etc. It is related by his wife Zainab that Abdullah bin Masud would always announce his arrival by coughing, etc. and never liked that he should enter the house unannounced all of a sudden. (Ibn Jarir).
  • (4) The only exception to the general rule is that no permission is needed in case of an emergency or a calamity like theft, fire, etc. One can go for help without permission in such cases.
  • (5) In the beginning when the system of seeking permission was introduced, people did not know the exact procedure to be followed. Once a man came to the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) house and shouted at the door: Should I be in? The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to his maid servant, Roudah: Go and instruct him about the correct way. He should say: Assalam-o-alaikum (peace be upon you): May I come in? (Ibn Jarir, Abu Daud). Jabir bin Abdullah says that once he went to the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) house in connection with certain liabilities of his father and knocked at the door. The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked: Who is it? I replied: It’s me. The Prophet (peace be upon him) thereupon repeated twice or thrice: It’s me, it’s me! That is, how can one understand from this, who you are? (Abu Daud).
A man named Kaladah bin Hanbal went to see the Prophet (peace be upon him) and got seated without the customary salutation. The Prophet (peace be upon him) told him to go out and come in again after calling: Assalamo- alaikum (peace be upon you). (Abu Daud). Thus, the correct method of seeking permission was to disclose one’s identity first and then ask for permission. It is related that whenever Umar went to see the Prophet (peace be upon him), he would say: Assalam-o-alaikum ya Rasul-Allah, I am Umar: May I enter! (Abu Daud). The Prophet (peace be upon him) enjoined that permission should be asked thrice at the most. If there is no reply even at the third call, one should go back. (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dud). The same was his own practice. Once he went to the house of Saad bin Ubadah and sought permission twice after greeting with: Assalam-o-alaikum wa Rahmatullah (peace be upon you and mercy of Allah), but there was no response. After calling for the third time when he received no response, he turned back. Saad came out running from the house, and said: O Messenger of Allah, I was hearing you all right, but I desired to have Allah’s peace and mercy invoked upon me through your sacred tongue as often as possible; therefore, I was replying to you in a low voice. (Abu Dud, Ahmad). The three calls as enjoined above should not be made in quick succession, but at suitable intervals so as to allow sufficient time to the inmates to make the response in case they are not free to do so.

Continuing with manners from sub para (5) above:
  • (6) The permission for entry should come from the master of the house himself or from some other reliable inmate like a servant or a responsible person, who gives permission on behalf of the master. One should not enter the house on the word of a mere child.
  • (7) Undue insistence for permission to enter or to keep standing at the door obstinately even after refusal, is not permissible. If no entry is permitted even after three calls, or the master refuses to see, one should go back. 
The conventions of propriety and privacy are essential to a refined life of goodness and purity. The English saying that an Englishman's home is his castle, suggests a certain amount of exclusiveness and defiance. The Muslim principle of asking respectful permission and exchanging salutations ensures privacy without exclusiveness, and friendliness without undue familiarity.
( 28 )   And if you do not find anyone therein, do not enter them until permission has been given you. And if it is said to you, "Go back," then go back; it is purer for you. And Allah is Knowing of what you do.
Entry into an empty house is not allowed unless permitted as such by the master of the house. One may, for instance, have told a visitor or sent him a message to wait in his room till his arrival. The mere fact that there is nobody in the house, or the call is not answered does not entitle anybody to enter without permission.

That is nobody should mind if entry is refused, for everybody has a right to refuse to meet another person, or offer a plea if otherwise busy. The command “Go back”, according to the jurists, means going back in the literal sense and moving away from the door. Nobody has any right to compel the other person for a meeting or to embarrass him by standing obstinately at his door.
( 29 )   There is no blame upon you for entering houses not inhabited in which there is convenience for you. And Allah knows what you reveal and what you conceal.
Houses which are not dwelling place are the hotels, inns, guest houses, shops, staging bungalows, etc. which are generally open to all people.

The rule about dwelling-houses is strict, because privacy is precious, and essential to a refined, decent, and well-ordered life. Such a rule of course does not apply to houses used for other useful purposes, such as an inn or caravanserai, or a shop, or a warehouse. But even here, of course, implied permission from the owner is necessary as a matter of common-sense. The question in this passage is that of refined privacy, not that of rights of ownership.
( 30 )   Tell the believing men to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what they do.
The rule of modesty applies to men as well as women. A brazen stare by a man at a woman (or even at a man) is a breach of refined manners. Where sex is concerned, modesty is not only "good form": it is not only to guard the weaker sex, but also to guard the spiritual good of the stronger sex.

Lower down gaze does not imply that the gaze should always be kept lowered. It only means to imply that one should restrain his gaze and avoid casting of looks freely. That is, if it is not desirable to see a thing, one should turn the eyes away and avoid having a look at it. The restriction of a restrained gaze is applicable only in a limited sphere. The context in which the words occur shows that this restriction applies to the men’s gazing at women, or casting looks at the satar of the other persons, or fixing the eyes at indecent scenes.

The details of this divine commandment as explained in the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) are given below.
  • (1) It is not lawful for a man to cast a full gaze at the other women except at his own wife or the mahram women of his family. The chance look is pardonable but not the second look which one casts when one feels the lure of the object. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has termed such gazing and glancing as wickedness of the eyes. He has said that man commits adultery with all his sensory organs. The evil look at the other woman is the adultery of the eyes; lustful talk is the adultery of the tongue; relishing the other woman’s voice is adultery of the ears; and touching her body with the hand or walking for an unlawful purpose is adultery of the hands and feet. After these preliminaries the sexual organs either bring the act of adultery to completion or leave it incomplete. (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Daud).
According to a tradition related by Buraidah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) instructed Ali: O Ali, do not cast a second look after the first look. The first look is pardonable but not the second one. (Tirmizi;, Ahmad, Abu Daud). Jarir bin Abdullah Bajali says that he asked the Prophet, What should I do if I happen to cast a chance look? The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: Turn your eyes away or lower your gaze. (Muslim, Ahmad, Tirmizi, Abu Daud, Nasai). Abdullah bin Masud quotes the Prophet (peace be upon him) as having said: Allah says that the gaze is one of the poisonous arrows of Satan. Whoever forsakes it, out of His fear, he will be rewarded with a faith whose sweetness he will relish in his own heart. (Tabarani). According to a tradition related by Abu Umamah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: If a Muslim happens to glance at the charms of a woman and then turns his eyes away, Allah will bless his worship and devotion and will make it all the more sweet. (Musnad Ahmad). Imam Jafar Sadiq has quoted from his father, Imam Muhammad Baqir, who has quoted Jabir bin Abdullah Ansari as saying: On the occasion of the Farewell Pilgrimage, Fadal bin Abbas, who was a young cousin of the Prophet (peace be upon him), was riding with him on the camel-back during the return journey from Masharal-Haram. When they came to a few women passing on the way, Fadal started looking at them. Thereupon the Prophet (peace be upon him) put his hand on his face and turned it to the other side. (Abu Da'ud). On another occasion during the same pilgrimage, a woman of the clan of Khatham stopped the Prophet (peace be upon him) on the way and sought clarification about a certain matter pertaining to Hajj. Fadal bin Abbas fixed his gaze at her, but the Prophet turned his face to the other side. (Bukhari, Abu Daud, Tirmizi). (2) Nobody should have the misunderstanding that the command to restrain the gaze was enjoined because the women were allowed to move about freely with open faces, for if veiling of the face had already been enjoined, the question of restraining or not restraining the gaze would not have arisen. This argument is incorrect rationally as well as factually. It is incorrect rationally because even when veiling of the face is the usual custom, occasions can arise where a man and a woman come face to face with each other suddenly, or when a veiled woman has to uncover her face under necessity. Then even if the Muslim women observe hijab, there will be non-Muslim women who will continue to move about unveiled. Thus, the commandment to lower the gaze or restrain the eyes, does not necessarily presume existence of a custom allowing the women to move about with unveiled faces. It is incorrect factually because the custom of hijab which was introduced after the revelation of the commandments in Surah Al- Ahzab included veiling of the face, and this is supported by a number of traditions relating to the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself. Aishah in her statement relating to the incident of the slander, which has been narrated on the authority of reliable reporters, has said: When I came back to the camp, and found that the caravan had left, I lay down and was overpowered by sleep. In the morning when Safwan bin Muattal passed that way he recognised me because he had seen me before the commandment of hijab had been sent down. On recognising me he exclaimed: Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rajiun: To Allah we belong and to Him we shall return; and I awoke and covered my face with my sheet. (Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad, Ibn Jarir, Ibn Hisham). Abu Daud contains an incident that when the son of Umm Khallad was killed in a battle, she came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) to enquire about him and was wearing the veil as usual. It was natural to presume that on such a sad occasion one is liable to lose one’s balance and ignore the restrictions of hijab. But when questioned she said: I have certainly lost my son but not my modesty. Another tradition in Abu Daud quoted on the authority of Aishah relates that a woman handed an application to the Prophet (peace be upon him) from behind a curtain. The Prophet enquired: Is it a man’s hand or a woman’s? She replied that it was a woman’s. Thereupon the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: If it is a woman’s hand, the nails at least should have been coloured with henna! As regards to the two incidents relating to the occasion of Hajj, which we have mentioned above, they cannot be used as an argument to prove that the veil was not in vogue in the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him). This is because wearing of the veil is prohibited in the state of ihram. However, even in that state pious women did not like to uncover their faces before the other men. Aishah has stated that during the Farewell Pilgrimage when they were moving towards Makkah in the state of ihram, the women would lower down their head sheets over their faces whenever the travellers passed by them, and would uncover their faces as soon as they had passed by. (Abu Daud). (3) There are certain exceptions to the command of lowering the gaze or restraining the look. These exceptions relate to occasions when it is really necessary to see a woman, for instance, when a man intends to marry her. It is not only permissible to see the woman in such a case but even commendable. Mughirah bin Shubah has stated: I wanted to marry in a certain family. The Holy Prophet asked me whether I had seen the girl or not. When 1 replied in the negative, he said: Have a look at her; this will enhance harmonious relationship between you two. (Ahmad, Tirmizi, Nasai, Ibn Majah, Darimi). According to a tradition related by Abu Hurairah, a man wanted to marry in a family of the Ansar. The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked him to have a look at the girl, for the Ansar usually had a defect in their eyes. (Muslim, Nasai, Ahmad). According to Jabir bin Abdullah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: When a person from among you wants to marry a woman, he should have a look at her to satisfy himself that there is some quality in the woman which induces him to marry her. (Ahmad, Abu Daud). According to another tradition emanating from Abu Humaidah and quoted in Musnad Ahmad, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said that there was no harm in such a procedure. He also permitted that the girl may be seen without her being aware of it. From this the jurists have concluded that there is no harm in looking at a woman when it is really necessary. For instance, there is no harm in looking at a suspect woman when investigating a crime, or in the judge’s looking at a female witness, who appears in the court, or in the physician’s looking at a female patient, etc. (4) The intention of the command to restrain the gaze also implies that no man or woman should look at the private parts of the other man or woman. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has said: No man should look at the satar of another man nor a woman at the satar of another woman. (Ahmad, Muslim, Abu Daud, Tirmizi). Ali has quoted the Prophet (peace be upon him) as saying: Do not look at the thigh of another person, living or dead. (Abu Daud, Ibn Majah).

Guard their private parts: Abstain from illicit sexual gratification and from exposing their satar before others. For males, the satar is the part of the body from the navel to the knee, and it is not permissible to expose that part of the body intentionally before anybody except one’s own wife. (Daraqutni, Baihaqi). Jarhad Aslami states that once he was sitting in the company of the Prophet (peace be upon him) with his thigh exposed. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Do you not know that the thigh has to be kept concealed. (Tirmizi, Abu Daud, Muatta). AIi reports that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Do not expose your thigh. (Abu Daud, Ibn Majah). Not only is the satar to be kept concealed before others but even when alone. The Prophet has warned: Beware, never remain naked, for with you are those (that is, the angels of goodness and mercy), who never leave you alone except when you ease yourself or you go to your wives. So feel shy of them and give them due respect. (Tirmizi). According to another tradition, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Guard your satar from everybody except from your wife and your slave-girl. The questioner asked: Even when we are alone? The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: Yes, even when alone, for Allah has a greater right that you should feel shy of Him. (Abu Daud, Tirmizi, Ibn Majah).
( 31 )   And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their head covers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers, their brothers' sons, their sisters' sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.
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 Umm Salamah and Umm Maimunah, wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him), were sitting with him when lbn Umm Maktum, a blind companion, made his appearance. The Prophet (peace be upon him) 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 Prophet (peace be upon him) remarked: Are you two also blind? Do you not see him? Umm Salamah has clarified that this incident occurred at a time when the commandments about the observance of hijab had already been sent down. (Ahmad, Abu Daud, Tirmizi). This is also supported by a tradition in Muatta saying that a blind man came to see Aishah and she observed hijab from him. When asked as to why she observed hijab when the man could not see her, she replied: But I do see him. On the other hand, there is a different tradition from Aishah. 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 Prophet (peace be upon him) himself showed their performance to Aishah. (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 Prophet (peace be upon him) 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 Sharik because she was a rich lady and her house was frequented by the companions whom she entertained generously. (Muslim, Abu Daud). Read together these traditions show that the restrictions about the women’s looking at men 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 harm 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 (Vol. Vl, p. 101) 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.. 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 Aishah, once her sister Asma came before the Prophet (peace be upon him) in a thin dress. The Prophet (peace be upon him) 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 Daud). Ibn Jarir has related a similar incident from Aishah 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 Prophet (peace be upon him) entered the house, he saw her but turned his face to the other side. Aishah said: O Messenger of Allah, she is my niece. Thereupon the Prophet (peace be upon him) 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 Abdullah bin Masud, Hasan Basri, Ibn Sirin and Ibrahim Nakhai. 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 Ibn Abbas and his followers, and a large number of the Hanafi jurists have accepted it. (Ahkam-ul-Quran, Al Jassas, 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 Prophet (peace be upon him) after the commandments of hijab 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 hijab 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 hijab it is over and above satar which is meant to segregate women from non mahram males; the discussion here relates to the commandments of hijab and not to satar.

In the pre-islamic 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 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 Aishah in a vivid manner. She states that when Surah An- Noor was revealed and the people learned of its contents from the Prophet (peace be upon him), 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 Aishah says that thin cloth was discarded and the women selected only coarse cloth for the purpose. (lbn Kathir, Vol. III, p. 284, Abu Daud).

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 Prophet (peace be upon him). 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 Daud).

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. All others, even the real paternal and maternal uncles, are excluded from this list and a woman should observe hiab from them because they have not been mentioned in the Quran. This is, however, not a correct view. Let alone the real uncles, the Prophet (peace be upon him) disallowed Aishah to observe hijab even from her foster uncles. A tradition quoted in Sihah Sitta and Musnad Ahmad on the authority of Aishah says that once Aflah, brother of Abul Quais, came to see her and sought permission to enter the house. But since the commandment of hijab had been received, Hadrat Aisha refused him permission. On this Aflah sent back the word saying, You are my niece: you were suckled by my brother Abul Quais’s wife. But Aishah still was hesitant whether it was permissible to appear unveiled before such a relative or not. In the meantime the Prophet (peace be upon him) arrived and he ruled that he could see her. This shows that the Prophet (peace be upon him) 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 hijab need not be observed from those relatives with whom marriage is prohibited, for instance, paternal and maternal uncles, son-in-law and foster relatives. 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- Quran. (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 hijab from them as from others. What should be the right course between the two extremes has not been determined by the Shariah for such a course cannot possibly be determined. The observance of hijab 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 Prophet (peace be upon him) himself in this matter gives us the same guidance. A large number of traditions confirm that Asma, daughter of Abu Bakr, who was a sister-in-law of the Prophet (peace be upon him), appeared unveiled before him and no hijab, 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 Prophet (peace be upon him). (Abu Daud). Similarly Umm Hani, daughter of Abu Talib and a first cousin of the Prophet (peace be upon him), appeared before him till the end without ever observing hijab of the face and hands. She herself has narrated an incident pertaining to the conquest of Makkah, which confirms the same. (Abu Daud). On the contrary, we see that Abbas sends his son Fadal, and Rabiah bin Harith bin Abdul Muttalib, a first cousin of the Prophet (peace be upon him), his son Abdul Muttalib before the Prophet (peace be upon him) with the request for a job, as they could not be married till they became earning members of the family. They both see the Prophet (peace be upon him) 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 Rabiah. But she does not appear before them and talks to them from behind a curtain in the presence of the Prophet (peace be upon him). (Abu Daud). 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, hijab should be observed even from the mahram relatives. Bukhari, Muslim and Abu Daud have related a case where Saudah, a wife of the Prophet (peace be upon him), had a brother born of a slave woman. Utbah, the father of Saudah and the boy, left a will enjoining his brother, Saad bin Abi Waqqas, to look after the boy as a nephew for he was from his own seed. When the case came before the Prophet (peace be upon him), he rejected the claim of Saad, 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 Saudah to observe hijab 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 annisa, 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 hijab 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: Umar wrote to 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 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-ihinna. The third opinion, and this appears to be reasonable and nearer the Quranic 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 and 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 Prophet (peace be upon him). 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 hijab 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 unknown, 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 hijab, he is to be treated just like a free male stranger. This is the view of Abdullah bin Masud, Mujahid, Hasan Basri, Ibn Sirin, Said bin Musayyab, Taus and Imam Abu Hanifah, and a saying of Imam Shafai also supports this. They argue that the slave is not a mahram to the lady. If he is freed, he can marry his former owner. Therefore the 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 make 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 male slaves and the slave girls. This is the view of Hadrat Aisha, Umm Salamah and some learned scholars of the house of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and also of Imam Shafi. 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 Prophet (peace be upon him) went to the house of his daughter, Fatimah, along with his slave Abdullah bin Musadah 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 Prophet (peace be upon him) felt her embarrassment and said: No harm: there are only your father and your slave! (Abu Daud, Ahmad, Baihaqi on the authority of Anas bin Malik). Ibn Asakir has stated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had given that slave to 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 Ali and a zealous supporter of Amir Muawiyah). They also quote the following words of the Prophet (peace be upon him) 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 hijab from him. (Abu Daud, 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. According to Ibn Abbas: This implies a man who is a mere simpleton and has no interest in women. According to Qatadah: A poor man who is attached to you merely for his sustenance. According to Mujahid: A fool who only needs food and has no desire for women. According to Shabi: The one who is a subordinate and entirely dependent on his master, and cannot have the boldness to cast an evil look at the womenfolk of the house. According to 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. According to Taus and Zuhri: One who does 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 at the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), which has been quoted by Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Daud, Nasai and Ahmad on the authority of Aishah and Umm Salamah. There was a certain eunuch in Madinah who was allowed free access to the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) 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 Prophet (peace be upon him) 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 (peace be upon him) said: O enemy of Allah, you seem to have seen her through. Then he ordered that the women should observe hijab 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 to 12 at the most. Older boys start having sex feelings though they may still be immature otherwise.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) 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 Abu Hurairah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Do not stop the bondmaids of Allah from coming to the mosques, but they should not come with perfumes. (Abu Daud, Ahmad). According to another tradition, 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 (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 Daud, Ibn Majah, Ahmad, Nasai). Abu Musa Ashari has quoted the Prophet (peace be upon him) 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 Daud, Nasai). His instruction was that women should use scents with bright colors but light odors. (Abu Daud). Similarly the Prophet (peace be upon him) disapproved that feminine voices should enter the ears of men unnecessarily. In case of genuine need the Quran itself has allowed women to speak to men, and the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) 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 Daud, Nasai, 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 (peace be upon him).

It would be useful to give here a resume of the other reforms which the Prophet (peace be upon him) introduced in the Islamic society after the revelation of these commandments.
  • (1) He prohibited the other men (even if they are relatives) to see a woman in privacy or sit with her in the absence of her mahram relatives. Jabir bin Abdullah has reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Do not visit the women whose husbands are away from home, because Satan circulates in one of you like blood. (Tirmizi). According to another tradition from Jabir, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should never visit a woman when alone unless she has a mahram relative also present, because the third one would be Satan. (Ahmad). Imam Ahmad has quoted another tradition from Amir bin Rabiah to the same effect. The Prophet (peace be upon him) himself was extremely cautious in this regard. Once when he was accompanying his wife Safiyyah to her house at night, two men of Ansar passed by them on the way. The Prophet (peace be upon him) stopped them and said: The woman with me is my wife Safiyyah. They said: Glory be to Allah! O Messenger of AIlah, could there be any suspicion about you? The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Satan circulates like blood in the human body; I was afraid lest he should put an evil thought in your minds. (Abu Daud).
  • (2) The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not approve that a man’s hand should even touch the body of a non-mahram woman. That is why while administering the oath of allegiance, he would take the hand of the men into his own hand, but he never adopted this procedure in the case of women. Aishah has stated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) never touched the body of any other woman. He would administer the oath verbally to them; when this was done, he would say: You may go, Your allegiance is complete. (Abu Daud).
  • (3) He strictly prohibited the woman from proceeding on a journey alone without a mahram or in company with a non-mahram. A tradition from Ibn Abbas has been quoted in Bukhari and Muslim saying that the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave a sermon and said: No man should visit the other woman when she is alone unless she has a mahram also present, and no woman should travel alone unless accompanied by a mahram. A man stood up and said: My wife is going for Hajj, while I am under orders to join a certain expedition. The Prophet said: You may go for Hajj with your wife. Several other traditions on the subject, emanating from Ibn Umar, Abu Said Khudri and Abu Hurairah, are found in authentic books of traditions, which concur that it is not permissible for a Muslim woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day that she should go on a journey without a mahram. There is, however, a variation with regard to the duration and the length of the journey. Some traditions lay down the minimum limit as 12 miles and some lay down the duration as one day, a day and night, two days or even three days. This variation, however, neither renders the traditions unauthentic nor makes it necessary that we should accept one version as legally binding in preference to others. For a plausible explanation for the different versions could be that the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave different instructions at different occasions depending on the circumstances and merit of each case. For instance, a woman going on a three-day journey might have been prohibited from proceeding without a mahram, while another going on a day’s journey might also have been similarly prohibited. Here the real thing is not the different instructions to the different people in different situations, but the principle that a woman should not go on a journey without a mahram as laid down in the tradition quoted above from lbn Abbas.
  • (4) He not only took practical measures to stop free mixing of the sexes together but prohibited it verbally as well. Everyone knows the great importance of the congregational and the Friday prayers in Islam. The Friday prayer has been made obligatory by Allah Himself; the importance of the congregational prayer can be judged from a tradition of the Prophet (peace be upon him), which says: If a person does not attend the mosque without a genuine reason and offers his prayer at home, it will not be acceptable to Allah. (Abu Daud, Ibn Majah, Daraqutni, Hakim on the authority of Ibn Abbas). But in spite of this, the Prophet (peace be upon him) exempted the women from compulsory attendance at the Friday prayer. (Abu Daud, Daraqutni, Baihaqi). As for the other congregational prayers, he made the women's attendance optional, saying: Do not stop them if they want to come to the mosque. Then at the same time, he made the clarification that it was better for them to pray in their houses than in the mosques. According to Ibn Umar and Abu Hurairah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Do not prohibit the bondmaids of Allah from coming to the mosques of Allah. (Abu Daud). Other traditions from Ibn Umar are to the effect: Permit the women to come to the mosques at night. (Bukhari, Muslim, Trimizi, Nasai, Abu Daud). And do not stop your women-folk from coming to the mosques though their houses are better for them than the mosques. (Ahmad, Abu Daud). Umm Humaid Saidiyyah states that once she said to the Prophet (peace be upon him): O Messenger of Allah, I have a great desire to offer my prayer under your leadership. He replied: Your offering the prayer in your room is better than your offering it in the verandah, and your offering the prayer in your house is better than your offering it in the neighboring mosque, and your offering the prayer in the neighboring mosque is better than offering it in the principal mosque (of the town). (Ahmad, Tabarani). A tradition to the same effect has been reported from Abdullah bin Masud in Abu Daud. According to Umm Salamah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The best mosques for women are the innermost portions of their houses. (Ahmad, Tabarani). But when Aishah saw the conditions that prevailed in the time of the Umayyads, she said: If the Prophet (peace be upon him) had witnessed such conduct of the women, he would certainly have stopped their entry into the mosques as was done in the case of the Israelite women, (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Daud). The Prophet (peace be upon him) had appointed a separate door in his mosque for the entry of women, and Umar in his time had given strict orders prohibiting men to use that door. (Abu Daud). In the congregational prayers the women were instructed to stand separately behind the men. At the conclusion of the prayer, the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his followers used to remain sitting for a while so that the women could leave the mosque before the men. (Ahmad, Bukhari). The Prophet (peace be upon him) would say: The best row for the men is the front row and the worst the last one (nearest to the women’s row); and the best row for the women is the rearmost row and the worst the front one (just behind the men’s). (Muslim, Abu Daud, Tirmizi Nasai, Ahmad). The women joined the Eid congregational prayers but they had a separate enclosure from men. After the sermon the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to address them separately (Abu Daud, Bukhari, Muslim). Once outside the Mosque the Prophet (peace be upon him) saw the men and women moving side by side in the crowd. He stopped the women and said: It is not proper for you to walk in the middle of the road; walk on the sides. On hearing this the women immediately started walking along the walls. (Abu Daud). All these commandments clearly show that mixed gatherings of the men and women are wholly alien to the temper of Islam. It cannot therefore be imagined that divine law which disallows the men and women to stand side by side for prayers in the sacred houses of Allah, would allow them to mix together freely in colleges, offices, clubs and other gatherings.
  • (5) He permitted the women to make modest use of the make-ups, even instructed them to do so, but strictly forbade its overdoing. Of the various types of makeup and decoration that were prevalent among the Arab women in those days, he declared the following as accursed and destructive of communities:
(a) To add extra hair to one’s own artificially with a view to make them appear longer and thicker.
(b) To tattoo various parts of the body and produce artificial moles.
(c) To pluck hair from the eyebrows to give them a special shape, or to pluck hair from the face to give it a cleaner look.
(d) To rub the teeth to make them sharp or to produce artificial holes in them.
(e) To rub the face with saffron or other cosmetic to produce an artificial complexion.
These instructions have been reported in Sihah Sitta and in Musnad Ahmad on the authority of Aishah, Asma bint Abu Bakr, Abdullah bin Masud, Abdullah bin Umar, Abdullah bin Abbas and Amir Muawiyah through reliable narrators.

After having the knowledge of these clear commandments from Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him), 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 (peace be upon him) 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 Quran and Sunnah, and then try their utmost to prove them Islam itself, and openly claim that there is no such thing as hijab 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.
( 32 )   And marry the unmarried among you and the righteous among your male slaves and female slaves. If they should be poor, Allah will enrich them from His bounty, and Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.
The subject of sex ethics and manners brings us to the subject of marriage. Single (ayama, plural of Aiyim) here means any one not in the bond of wedlock, whether unmarried or lawfully divorced, or widowed. Allah's mercy is for all: it is not confined to a class or grade of people.

That is, those who show the right attitude in their dealings with you and in whom you find the capability of discharging the responsibilities of married life. The owner whose slave does not show the right attitude nor seems to possess the necessary capability and temper to lead a reasonably happy married life, has not been required to arrange his or her marriage. For in that case he would become the cause of ruining another person’s life. This condition, however, has not been imposed on free persons because in their case the people who promote marriages are no more than mere advisers, associates and introducers. The actual marriage depends on the mutual willingness of the bride and the bridegroom. In the case of a slave, however, the entire responsibility lies on the owner, and if he makes the mistake of marrying a poor person with an ill-natured, ill-mannered spouse, the responsibility for the consequences will be entirely his.

The imperative mood of the verb “Marry: Arrange marriages....the righteous”, has led some scholars to assume that it is obligatory to arrange such marriages; whereas the nature of the problem indicates that it cannot be so. Obviously it cannot be obligatory for somebody to arrange the marriage of the other person. Marriage is not a one sided affair; it needs another party also. If it were obligatory, what would be the position of the person who is going to be married? Should he willingly accept to be married wherever others arrange it? If so, it would mean that he or she had absolutely no choice in the matter. And if the one has a right to refuse, how are the others going to discharge their responsibility? Taking all these aspects into account the majority of the jurists have held that the commandment is not obligatory but recommendatory. The intention is that the Muslims should ensure that none in the society should remain unmarried. The people of the house, friends and neighbors, all should take necessary interest in the matter, and where no such help is available, the state should make necessary arrangements.

This does not mean that Allah will certainly bestow wealth on anybody who marries. The intention is to discourage a calculative approach. This instruction is both for the parents of the girl and of the boy. The former should not reject a pious and virtuous suitor merely because he happens to be poor. Similarly the boy's parents should not go on postponing his marriage because he is not yet a full earning member or is not yet earning sufficiently. Young men have been advised not to go on postponing their marriage unnecessarily waiting for better times even if the income is not yet sufficient, one should marry with full faith in Allah. Very often the marriage itself becomes the cause of improving strained circumstances. The wife helps to control the family budget, or the husband starts to exert himself more to meet the new challenges and responsibilities. The wife can also earn to supplement the family budget. Then, who knows what the future holds in store for him. Good times can change into bad times and bad into good. One should therefore refrain from being too calculative in this regard.
( 33 )   But let them who find not [the means for] marriage abstain [from sexual relations] until Allah enriches them from His bounty. And those who seek a contract [for eventual emancipation] from among whom your right hands possess - then make a contract with them if you know there is within them goodness and give them from the wealth of Allah which He has given you. And do not compel your slave girls to prostitution, if they desire chastity, to seek [thereby] the temporary interests of worldly life. And if someone should compel them, then indeed, Allah is [to them], after their compulsion, Forgiving and Merciful.
A Muslim marriage requires some sort of a dower for the wife. If the man cannot afford that, he must wait and keep himself chaste. It is no excuse for him to say that he must satisfy his natural cravings within or outside marriage. It must be within marriage. The best commentary on these verses are the traditions which have been reported from the Prophet (peace be upon him) in this connection. Abdullah bin Masud has related that the Prophet (peace be upon him) once said:
O young men, whoso among you can afford to marry, he should marry, because this will be a means of restraining the eyes from casting the evil look and of keeping one pure and chaste, and the one who cannot afford, should fast, because fasting helps cool down the passions. (Bukhari, Muslim).
According to Abu Hurairah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
Allah has taken upon Himself to succor three men: (a) the one who marries with a view to guarding his chastity, (b) the slave who works to earn his freedom, and (c) the one who goes out to fight in the way of Allah." (Tirmizi, Nasai, Ibn Majah, Ahmad) For further explanation, see (Surah An-Nisa, Ayat 25).
The law of slavery in the legal sense of the term is now obsolete. While it had any meaning, Islam made the slave's lot as easy as possible. A slave, male or female, could ask for conditional Mukatabat [manumission (release from slavery)] by a written deed fixing the amount required for manumission and allowing the slave meanwhile to earn money by lawful means. Such a deed was not to be refused if the request was genuine and the slave had character. Not only that, but the master is directed to help with money out of his own resources in order to enable the slave to earn his or her own liberty.
In the time of Umar, the second caliph, a slave entered into such an agreement with his lady owner, but managed to collect the amount in advance of the time limit. When the amount was offered to the lady, she refused to accept it on the ground that she would like to have it in monthly and yearly installments. The slave complained to Umar who ordered that the amount be deposited in the state treasury and the slave be set free. The lady was informed that her money lay in the treasury and she had the option to take it in a lump sum or in yearly or monthly installments. (Daraqutni).
Where slavery was legal, what is now called the "white slave traffic" was carried on by wicked people like 'Abdullah ibn Ubai, the Hypocrite leader at Madinah. This is absolutely condemned. While modern nations have abolished ordinary slavery, the "White Slave Traffic" is still a big social problem in individual States. Here it is absolutely condemned. No more despicable trade can be imagined. "Compelling or Forcing" a person necessarily means that it is against the wish or inclination of the person forced. Even if they were to give a formal consent, it is not valid.

The poor unfortunate girls, who are victims of such a nefarious trade, will yet find mercy from Allah, whose bounties extend to all His creatures.

Since slavery in its traditional sense has ceased to exist almost all over the world, many details have been omitted here. However, those interested of knowing the details may refer to reference [2], end notes related to verse 34 [End notes 55-59].
( 34 )   And We have certainly sent down to you distinct verses and examples from those who passed on before you and an admonition for those who fear Allah.
This verse is not only connected with the verse immediately preceding it but with the entire discourse right from the beginning. Revelations giving clear guidance are those verses which: (1) State the law concerning zina, qazf and lian. (2) Forbid the believers to marry impure men or women. (3) Prohibit the slandering of chaste people and propagating indecencies in society. (4) Lay stress on men and women to restrain their gaze and guard their private parts. (5) Prescribe the limits of Hijab for women. (6) Disapprove of the marriageable people’s remaining unmarried. (7) Lay down the rule for slaves to earn their freedom through written agreements. (8) Ban prostitution to purify society. After all these commands and instructions, a warning is being given that now if the people violated these instructions it would only mean that they wanted to meet with the same doom as had been the lot of the wretched communities before them, whose stories have been related in the Quran itself. There could probably be no severer warning at the end of an edict. But it is a pity that a people who profess to be believers, and recite the holy edict and hold it sacred, yet continue to defy and violate its provisions in spite of the severe warning

This prepares the way for the magnificent Verse of Light that follows, the 35th verse of the surah, and its sublime meaning. The next Part IV covering Rukhu 5-7 [verses 35-57] will begin with the Verse of Light "Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth," which will be followed by misdeeds of disbelievers and qualities of true believers.

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Sūrah An-Nūr with English subtitles:

You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary / exegesis of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Juzʼ / Part backwards for chapters in 30th Juzʼ / Part are shorter and easier to understand). 

Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |
Reading the Holy Quran should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
  • The plain translation has been taken from the Holy Quran officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [1] 
  • The exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. [2] and partly [1]
  • In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites. 
If you like Islam: My Ultimate Decision, and to keep yourself updated on all our latest posts to know more about Islam, follow us on Facebook

Please share this page to your friends and family members through Facebook, WhatsApp or any means on Social Media so that they can also be benefited by it and better understand Islam and the Holy Qur'an - Insha Allah (Allah Willing) you shall be blessed with the best of both worlds.


Post a Comment

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More