Hijab and Islam
We have received a question in which the inquirer asks for a clarification of the legal ruling regarding hijab1 and whether it is obligatory in the Shari‘ah?2
It is obligatory for every Muslim woman who has reached the age of legal accountability (which is the age when a woman first begins menstruation), to wear the hijab. This ruling is established in the Quran, Sunnah, and by the consensus of the Muslim community. In the Quran, God the Almighty says, "O Prophet, tell your wives, your daughters, and women believers to make their outer garments hang low over them" (33:59).
In the chapter of Light (al-Nur), God the Almighty says, "And tell believing women that they should lower their glances, guard their private parts, and not display their charms beyond what [it is acceptable] to reveal; they should let their headscarves fall to cover their necklines and not reveal their charms" (24:31).
In the Prophetic traditions, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “O, Asmaa! If a woman reaches menarche nothing should be seen [of her body] except this and this,” and he pointed to her face and hands."3
This is also the consensus of the Muslims from the earliest generations and their successors. It is necessarily known to all Muslims to be obligatory in religion.4
God the Almighty knows best.
1. Often translated as veil, it refers to the covering all of the body except for specific areas, such as the hands and face. (translator’s note)
2. Both the question and answer are referring to when a woman is around men who are not her maharim (men with whom marriage is forbidden, such as fathers, brothers, sons, uncles, nephews, etc.) Thus, hijab is not required when at home, alone with her maharim. (translator’s note)
3. Abu Dawud, al-Sunan.
4. That which is so well established that rejecting its legal basis is extremely blameworthy, as if the person is rejecting the Quran, or Sunnah, or Islam itself. (translator’s note)