World Hijab Day: A Bid‘ah?

By Mawlānā Zameelur Rahman

The official website of the World Hijab Day initiative describes it as follows:

“February 1st, 2013, marked the first annual World Hijab Day in recognition of millions of Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab and live a life of modesty.

“The brainchild of this movement is a New York resident, Nazma Khan, who came up with the idea as a means to foster religious tolerance and understanding by inviting women (non-Hijabi Muslims/non-Muslims) to experience the hijab for one day.

“For many people, the hijab is a symbol of oppression and segregation. By opening up new pathways to understanding, Nazma hopes to counteract some of the controversies surrounding why Muslim women choose to wear the hijab.

“Nazma knows exactly what she’s talking about. The social activist came to this country from Bangladesh at the tender age of eleven where she found herself being the only hijabi in middle school. She remembers her experience as a difficult one.”

The purpose of the initiative is to show solidarity amongst various religious groups by encouraging all women, Muslims and non-Muslims, to adopt one of the famous symbols of Islam: the hijab. Through this, it is aimed that Muslim women will feel more confident and safer with wearing the hijab in non-Muslim majority countries, like America, and stereotypes amongst non-Muslims of the hijab as symbols of “oppression” and “segregation” will be challenged and overcome.

However, it must be borne in mind that this should only be done in ways the Sharī‘ah considers mubāh (permissible), and must not entail any impermissible activities, which only serve to deprive it of divine help. The highest aim of a Muslim is attaining the pleasure of Allah, and that will only happen by following through with His orders and staying within the boundaries He has prescribed. Success and victory lie in the hands of Allah, and if a Muslim does not compromise on his basic religious values in striving for some worldly or religious objective, he is successful in the sight of Allah, regardless of apparent success or failure. Unfortunately, many Muslims today disregard this very important principle when engaging in “social” or “political activism”. When attempting to change any negative aspects of society, the means that are adopted are just as important as the ends, if not more so. The ends cannot justify clear sins, like lying, cheating, fraud, backbiting, treachery, spying, suspicion or any other haram activities. An impermissible action does not become permissible based on one’s good intentions. The objective must always be to please Allah and support His Deen. When this becomes the guiding principle, Allah’s help will naturally come.[1]

Muslims who wish to promote World Hijab Day or participate in some way must keep this principle in mind. For example, photos are not permissible in Sharī‘ah[2]. Muslim women are not permitted to unnecessarily come out of their homes[3]. Intermingling of sexes is also impermissible[4]. These, and any other haram activities, must be avoided. At the same time, it should be realised that although these initiatives go some way in creating awareness and lifting stereotypes, they are not solutions or end-goals. Rather, they must be stepping-stones to more sustained efforts to, firstly, teach Muslim women who are neglectful of the hijab of its religious obligation, and secondly, interact with non-Muslim neighbours and educate them on a personal level about Islam, and practically demonstrate to them its beauty. It should not become a cyber-phenomenon or a short-lived annual event, but something that creates avenues and openings to more sustained efforts for religious, moral and social change.

The World Hijab Day initiative is not a bid‘ah in Sharī‘ah, as it is not a ritual practice, nor do people regard it as an intrinsically praiseworthy act in Islam. It is important for Muslims living in non-Muslim countries to exercise legitimate channels to campaign for their cause and make the practice of Deen as feasible as possible.  

And Allah Ta‘ālā Knows Best

Zameelur Rahman

Student Darul Iftaa

Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.

[1] أحسن الفتاوى، سعيد، ج٦ ص١٢٨، ٣٧
قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: لا طاعة لمخلوق في معصية الله (مسند أحمد، مؤسسة الرسالة، ٢:٣٣٣)

قال الحافظ ابن حجر العسقلاني: الإمام يسوس رعيته بما فيه إصلاحها ولو كان مفضولا ما لم يكن محرما (فتح الباري، دار السلام، ج١ ص٢٩٧)

[2] وظاهر كلام النووي في شرح مسلم الإجماع على تحريم تصوير الحيوان وقال: سواء صنعه لما يمتهن أو لغيره فصنعته حرام بكل حال لأن فيه مضاهاة بخلق الله تعالى …هذا كله فى اقتناء الصورة وأما فعل التصوير فهو غير جائز مطلقا لأنه مضاهاة لخلق الله (رد المحتار، ايج ايم سعيد، ج١ ص٦٤٧-٥٠)

والواقع أن التفريق بين الصور المرسومة والصور الشمسية لا ينبغي على أصل قوي، ومن المقرر شرعا أن ما كان حراما أو غير مشروع في أصله لا يتغير حكمه بتغير الآلة…فكذلك الصورة، قد نهى الشارع عن صنعها واقتنائها فلا فرق بينما كانت الصورة قد اتخذت بريشة المصور أو بالآلات الفوتوغرافية (تكملة فتح الملهم، دار إحياء التراث العربي، ج٤ ص١٤٢)

[3] قال تعالى: وقرن في بيوتكن

قال الفقيه أبو الليث: حق المرأة على الزوج أن يخدمها (بقضاء حوائجها خارج البيت) ولا يدعها أن تخرج من الستر، فإنها عورة، وخروجها إثم (الدرر المباحة، دار ابن حزم، ص ٢٨٦)

[4]  عَلَيْهَا أَنْ تَتَحَرَّزَ عَنْ الْفِتْنَةِ، وَفِي اخْتِلَاطِهَا بِالرِّجَالِ فِتْنَةٌ (المبسوط، دار المعرفة، ج٤ ص١١١

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