The Sunnah Hijab; a living or forgotten legacy


Bismillahir-rahmanir raheem. This article is firstly for all the good sisters out there trying to help others sisters wear the hijab in ways that would suit their needs and also for every muslim who wants to learn about the hijab of the sunnah.

Promiscuity, prostitution and sexual harassment of women used to be rampant in the pre-islamic era. Islam came and reformed these and inculcated decency in both muslim men and women. Then came a time in madina when the hypocrites started creating problems for them. They began spreading rumours and slander about muslims as well as using using vulgar, flirtatious words seeking adultery with their women.

Allah (swt) then sent down these verses:

“O prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves of their outer garments. That will be better for them,  that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allah is ever forgiving, Most Merciful. If the hypocrites and those in whose hearts is a disease and those who spread rumours in al-Madina do not cease, we will certainly incite you against them, then they will not remain therein except for a little. (Q33:59-60)

‘So as not to be annoyed’ meaning if they do that (cover up themselves), they will be known as free respectable women and not prostitutes or slaves (Tafsir Ibn khatir)

And those in whose hearts is a disease’: this instance means the adulteres in madina (i.e those seeking adultery)” (Tafsir ibn khatir)

These verses reveals the main reason hijab was commanded during the golden era of the prophet  (saw) i.e in the sunnah. Our hijab came to uphold the dignity of women and liberate them from being thought of as sex objects (a punch in the face to those who say muslim women are not liberated). How then did the women of the times of the prophet (saw) cover themselves?

A part of the previous verse read: “to bring down over themselves of their outer garments (their jalaabib)” then what is a “jalaabib”. Jalabib is plural for jilbab. ‘which is defined as a cloak covering the head and reaching the ground, thereby covering the woman’s entire body’. (Commentary,  sahih international Qur’an translation).

In the other verse that spoke about hijab in the qur’an, Allah (swt) said:

“And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision their gaze (looking only at what is lawful) and guard their private parts (from illegal sexual acts, etc.) and not to expose their adornment (except that which (necessarily) appears thereof, and to draw down (a portion) of their headcovers over their chests and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husband’s sons, their brothers, their brother’s sons, their sister’s sons, or their women  that which their right hands possess (i.e slaves) or those male attendants  having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women…..(Q24: 31).

And not to show off your adornments except that which is apparent’  meaning both natural beauty such as hair or body shape, and that with which a woman beautifies herself of clothing, jewelry e.t.c (Commentary of verse, sahih international Qur’an translation)

‘To draw their  headcovers (khumur) all over their juyub (necks, chest e.t.c)’. Khumur is the plural of khimar which means something that covers and is what is used to cover the head. This is what is known amongst the people as veil.  This means they should wear the khimar in such a way as to cover their chests and ribs so that they will be different from the women of jahiliyyah (pre-islamic era) who did not do so but would pass in front of men with their chest uncovered and with their necks, forelocks, hair and earrings uncovered(Tafsir ibn khatir).

Aisha (RA) said: may Allah (swt) have mercy on the women of the early emigrants, when Allah (swt) revealed the ayah ‘to draw their veils all over their juyub’ they tore their aprons and covered all over themselves with them (Al-Bukhari).

Subhanallah, that was the hijab the sunnah. That was the hijab that was worn by the most noble of women to have ever walked the surface of this earth. This was the hijab of Khadeejah, A’isha and Hafsah, the mothers of the believers.

These descriptions tells us that the sunnah hijab was either a jilbab which is an outer garment (i.e jilbab) that covers from head to toe, or an outer garment (e.g abaya)to cover the body plus a veil (khimar) which covers the head upto the chest area. Though no one type of hijab is a status quo in islam, especially since what is available differs from place to place, but in essence, it has to fulfill the conditions of hijab, and who will fulfill them better than the best women on this earth.

And most iymportantluy, these  descriptions clears alot of misconceptions about the hijab;

The hijab is just a head cover: the hijab doesn’t cover the head only but rather that which covers the head and the whole body as well.

Our fitting clothing can serve as hijaab: The hijab is supposed to drape all over our body while clothes our size sits on our body. A hijab that reveals the body curves and or is just plain tight is therefore not a hijab.

The hijab cannot be a source of  attraction in of itself: The reason for the  hijab as we’ve seen in the first verse is to divert attention from muslim women while in the second Allah (swt) commanded us to hide our adornments. So beautifying the hijab with bright colours, patterns and stones is therefore not right.

Hence, i want to use this medium to call my sisters who have fallen into the fitnah of  wearing the hijab as is suitable for them and not that of the sunnah, and calling others to do the same to please desist. We wear the hijab for Allah’s sake, so let’s do it as He (swt) commanded. Remeber, as an underlying principle in our deen; deeds are only accepted when done according to the sunnah and for Allahs sake alone. It is okay to struggle to wear the correct hijab, as many people go through that phase at first (myself included), but justifying it for others to copy is very wrong. For every bad deed one calls to, he has an equivalent sin as the one who performs it. So let’s not create websites, fashion houses and runways, and skin tight burkinis in the name of hijab. The hijab already came to liberate us, so why we do have to compete with other women of textgram_1491772881different religion to show that we are liberated.

“….And whosoever initiates an evil practice (sunnah sayyi’ah) in Islam and is emulated by others will bear the sin of it and the sin of all those who act on it without their burden being diminished in the least. ” [Sahîh Muslim: (1017) Book 34, Hadith 6466 ]

[It will be said], “Read your record”. Sufficient is yourself against you this day (Q17:14).

Try the sunnah hijab today, together me and you can make it a living legacy in shaa Allah.


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