Manners for Man-Woman Interaction (Part 2/3) - Dr Muhammad Farooq Khan

Manners for Man-Woman Interaction (Part 2/3)

Now we come to the second circle which includes all relatives, family friends and work-mates. The Quranic order in this context have been already presented through Surah Al-Nur, verses 27-31. Now we shall discuss further with reference to the Hadiths.       As per one Hadith recorded in the Muslim and the Bukhari once a very beautiful woman visited the Prophet for some query in religious matter.  At that time a handsome young man Fazal Ibn-e-Abas was present there. Both Fazal and the woman had repeatedly eye contacts with each other. On seeing this Prophet turned the face of the Fazal aside by holding his chin.

          This Hadith makes two things clear; the woman had her face uncovered and the Prophet taught the manner for being in the society of a woman.

          Another incident is relatd by Jabir and quoted in the Muslim and other books. Jabir related that once on Eid prayers the Prophet, after preaching the men went to the female side and gave away his pieces of advice. On hearing them, a woman turned faded and her complexion grew    dark and she further put a question regarding that matter. It is evident that the woman had not covered her face so that Jabir was able to witness her     facial expression and relate it afterwards.

Another Hadith is related by Sahl Ibne Saad and has been recorded in the Muslim and Prophet and Bukhari. Once a woman come to the requested him to marry her. The Prophet looked up towards her and his eyes stayed there for some time and then he kept his eyes low. It that the woman had not covered her face.

According to a reference recorded in Kitab-ul-Soum of Abu Daud and related by Ummi-I-Hani, the first cousin of the Prophet, on the day of the conquest of Makkah Ummi-I- Hani was sitting on the right side of the Prophet while his daughter, Fatima on the left side. A maid servant brought some drink and Umm-I-Hani presented it to the Prophet. The Prophet drank some of it and gave the rest to Umm-I-Hani and then they started talking. This proves that the first cousins can sit in the same place, chat and dine together without concealing the face while abiding by the manners described in Al-Nur.

Ayesha relates that when Sura Al-Nur was revealed, all women prepared shawls for themselves immediately. Next morning, all women present in the Prophet’s mosque for the Fajor prayer were taking in the shawl. The point to be noted here is that those women were taking shawls on their bosoms instead of Jalbab because they were at a safe place. This Hadith has been recorded in Kitab-ul-Libas of Abu Daud.

Another Hadith is recorded in Muslim, the Bukhari and other books. According to this an Ethiopian delegation came to Madinah in the 7th year of Hijrah. Some of the delegates gave their performance for recreation on Eid day. The Prophet let Ayesha see that performance. This indicates that women can watch players and can enjoy under the instructions of Al-Nur.

Tirmizi and other books have recorded a Hadith. Mughira Bin Shaaba relates that once he proposed a woman for marriage through some one. The Prophet advised him to see her first as it would have been better for both of them to breed love between them.

Abu Huraira relates that once he was sitting with the Prophet. A resident of Madinah came and told the prophet about his intention to marry a local woman. The Prophet asked him if he had seen his proposed wife.  The man answered in negative. The Prophet advised him to see her first as the madinites had, generally squint in their eyes. This Hadith has been recorded in the Muslim, Nisai and other books. 

According to a reference in Kitabul Nikah, Abu daud, Jabir bin Abdullah relates that the Prophet said, “whosever intends to proposed to a woman should possibly see her first whether she has something to attract the man to marry her”

The above instructions can only be implemented when there is a society practicing the directions laid down in Sura Al-Nur and covering of face in a safe place is not observed. If a woman covers her face all the time, it would not be possible for her to reveal her face to the suitor specially when the chances of getting the proposal materialized or not are equal.

We can also infer through the Quranic instructions that a man may propose a woman for marriage even directly. It has been told with clarity in the verses 234-235 of Al-Baqara that a woman becoming a widow must not marry till she spends a four months and ten days. After the lapse of this period she can marry again. Then men are informed that they may express their intentions of marriage before such a woman during this period in an indirect way and can marry them after the stipulated period of wait is over, with their consent.

Obviously, this instruction can be acted upon when the men and women had opportunities of meeting each other:

“And those of you who die and leave wives behind, such wives should keep in waiting for four months and ten days after their husband’s death. When they have reached the end of their waiting period, it shall be no offence for you to let them do whatever they choose for themselves provided that it is lawful. Allah is cognizant of what you do. It shall be no offence for you to propose marriage indirectly to such woman or to cherish them in your hearts. Allah knows that you will remember them. Do not arrange to meet them in secret and, when you propose them, speak to them honourably.” (Al-Baqara 2, 234-235)

According to reference recorded in Kital-ul-Salat of Abu Daud, the Prophet used to call on a woman Umm-I-Warqa. He had arranged for her a chanter of Adhan (Call for prayer) and she was allowed to lead the members of her family in prayer.

Sahl Bin Saad relates, as recorded in Kitab-ul-Jumah of the Bukhari, that a woman owned her farms and fruit gardens. She used to grow vegetables near the bank of freshet. On Friday, when Sahl and some other Prophet’s companions visited her, she used to serve those vegetables and maize to eat.

According to a reference recorded in the Muslim and Bukhari a companion of the Prophet Abu Usaid Saadi invited the Prophet and his companions on a marriage party. The food was served by Umm-I-Usaid, the wife of the host. She soaked some dry dates in a stone utensil for the whole night before the party and served it as drink to the Prophet after he had eaten the food.

According to a reference from the Muslim a woman named Faitma Bint-I-Qais was divorced. She did not know where to spend the waiting period of four months and ten days. The Prophet first suggested her to live at the house of Umm-I-Shareek as she was a rich woman and famous for her hospitality. But the Prophet changed his mind by saying that she wouldn’t feel comfortable there as that place was frequently visited by his companions. He gave her an alternative suggestion to live at the house of Ibn-e-Maktoom as he was blind man and she would live there comfortably. 

Uqba bin Amir relates that the Prophet advised not to visit women in isolation. One man enquired about the case of the brothers of a woman’s husband. The Prophet said, “They are just death” It has been recorded in Muslim and Bukari.

According to another reference of the Muslim the Prophet said, “ From now onwards no man will visit a woman in the absence of her husband unless he is accompanied by  one or two other persons.

The above quoted two references prove that normally there is no restriction upon the interaction of men and women within the code of conduct formed in Al-Nur. However, since the Quran is strictly against adultery, no man and woman without a blood relationship should stay in isolation with each other lest they should melt away. The husband’s brother can live in the same house, chat and dine together with their brother’s wife but should not stay alone with her in a bedroom. Some people argue that the woman should cover her face in front of her brother in Law but it is not mentioned at all in the Hadith.

If a man, in any case to go into a house where the husband is not present, the visitor may enter with the prior permission of the housewife. It is advisable that he should take one or two reliable persons with him in order to avoid any misunderstanding.

According to Islamic etchings, women are exempted from compulsory military training. However, Islam encourages women to render allied services like dressing of wounds, cooking and safe-guarding the camps during war. It is obvious that they need training to perform these services and they have to interact with men. All such services are performed by observing the interactions laid down in Al-Nur but covering of face is not possible at all in such a training.

Various Hadiths prove that the Prophet’s wives and women used to accompany the army and rendered the above services. This had been practice before and after the revelation of Al-Nur and Al-Ahzab. For instance a Hadith is recorded in Kitab-ul-Jihad of the Bukhari and related by Ayesha that the Prophet used to decide through draws which of his wives had to accompany him on any journey. Once she accompanied the Prophet as her name had come out through draw. This incident took place after the revelation of Quranic verses about Hijab (special instructions for the Prophet’s wives).

Anas relates as recorded in Kital-ul-Jehad of the Muslim that the prophet used to keep Umm-i-Saleem and certain other women in his company at the time of war. These women used to provide drinking water to the soldiers and dress their wounds.

Anas through Kitab-ul-Jihad of the Bukhari and Kitab-ul-Amarah of the Muslim that once the Prophet visited the house of a woman named Bint-e-Malham. He felt sleepy and kept sleeping for some time. On waking up, he smiled. Bint-e-Malham inquired the reason of smile. The Prophet told his dream to her. He had seen that some persons from his Ummah would be taking a voyage with an aim to participate in war. They would look like the crowned kings. Bint-e-Malham wished that she were among them and requested the Prophet to pray for the fulfillment of her desire. The Prophet told her that she would be among the leading ones. It is said that afterwards Bint-e-Malham participated in a battle and died  while returning  from war.

In other reference recorded in Bukhari and Kitab-ul-Jihad of the Muslim, Anas relates that on the day of the battle of UHAD Ayesha and Umm-i-Saleem were providing drinking water to the soldiers. They were gathering the hems of their shirts and their ornament worn round their ankles were visible.

Rabi Bint-e-Mauz relates through Kitab-ul-Jihad of the Bukhari that she along with other women used to participate in war by rendering the services like providing drinking water to the soldiers, shifting the wounded and the martyrs to Madinah and doing other useful services.

          According to Kitab-ul-Jihad of the Muslim Umm-i-Attiya relates that she had been with the Prophet during seven battles. She used to look after the tents of the soldiers, cook food for them, look after the wounded and provide medicine to them.

          It should be kept in mind that during the Madinite period, war was a matter of routine as the enemy had been always busy in hatching up conspiracies against the new Islamic state. Thus it was necessary for the assisting women to identify all Muslims as otherwise they could not have been able to make a difference between Muslims and the enemies because there was no distinction of dress and the battle were also fought hand to hand. In the same way the same duty can be performed today after having acquired necessary training. It is necessary to observe the instructions of Al-Nur but more restrictions would make this service impossible.

          In the previous pages, we have analyzed all Hadiths recorded in the most authentic books of Hadith like the Muslim and the Bukhari in the context of man-woman interaction. It is noteworthy that there is no contradictory Hadith. The Hadiths considered to be contrary to this erroneously are, in fact the description of the verse 53 of Al-Ahzab pertaining exclusively with the Prophet’s wives and a great number of them are weak in reliability. Their real context would be given on the coming pages.

          Now we have to consider the issue regarding the restriction of dress at the time of man-woman meeting. It is important to note that most of the Hadiths, in this context are unreliable. Only one Hadith is considered to be ‘Hasan’ (better). There is not even a single reliable Hadith in this context. The references about women have already been discussed. So far as men are concerned the first reference has been recorded in Darqutmi and is as under.

            “Abu Ayub Ansari relates through the Prophet that whatever is below the navel and ablove knees to be concealed”.

          In fact this is a very weak and unreliable reference because one of its relaters same  saeed Bin Rashid was unreliable according to Imam Bukhari and Imam Nisaiwas the case of another relater i.e Abad Bin Kaseer.

          Second Hadith has been recorded in Abu Daud and Ibn Majah. According to these books Ali relates a Prophet’s saying:

          “Never reveal your thighs.”

Abu Daud expresses that a middle link in this Hadith is missing. Ibne Majah

has recorded the name of Ibn Juraish who used to impart Hadith after having collected from the unreliable sources. Thus this is also a weak Hadith.

          Third is the reference of Tirmizi that the Prophet said, “Never be naked because you have angels with you with the exception that when you visit your wives or go to the toilet. So respect angels.”Tirmizi expresses that one of its relaters, Bass Bin Abi Salim was suffering from forgetfulness.

          Next is the reference recorded in Abu Daud and Tirmizi. Jarhad Aslami, one of the companions of Suffah relates that one day he was sitting in the company of the Prophet with open thighs. The Prophet disliked it and said, “Don’t you know your thighs are to be kept concealed and close?” Al-Mujam-al-Kabir, after having writing down this Hadith expresses that it is not considered authentic one because some of its relaters are not reliable.     

          However, if this Hadith is considered authentic even then it merely proves that no one should keep his thighs open in a mosque. As we know that the companions of Suffah used to stay in the mosque of the Prophet for the acquisition of knowledge. The Prophet was, in fact teaching the people at that time when Jarhad’s thighs were open, so the Prophet drew his attention towards it. It does not mean that thighs can not be opened in any case.

          After having analyzed all these Hadiths, now we find out what has been said in the Quran regarding manners of dress. Quran discusses this matter in Al-Aaraf-7: 20-33. We can get an impression about the desired meaning of the Quran through the study of above mentioned verses.

          According to the Quran, the Satan seduced man, first of all, through nakedness and the guilt of sin was realized by Adam and Eve after they became naked in front of each other. The Quran then addressing the whole mankind in general, says that dress is meant to conceal their parts of shame and to make them look nice. The dress worn in the fear of God is ideal. They must avoid being watched naked as it is obscenity. They must wear modest and full dress while they are in mosque. They can adorn themselves but should not wear obscene dress:

          “But devil tempted them, so that he might reveal to them that which had been hidden from them of their shame. He said: ‘Your Lord has forbidden you to approach this tree only to prevent you from becoming angels or immortals.’ Then he swore to them that he would give them friendly counsel. Thus he cunningly seduced them. After they had eaten of the tree, their shame became visible to them and they both covered themselves with the leaves of the garden. Their Lord called to them, saying: ‘Did I not forbid you to approach that tree, and did I not warn you that the devil was your sworn enemy?’ They replied: ‘Lord, we have wronged ourselves. Pardon us and have mercy on us, or we shall surely be among the lost?”


“Children of Adam! We have given you clothing with which to cover your nakedness, and garments pleasing to the eye, but the finest of all these is the robe of piety. That is one of Allah’s revelations. So that they take heed. Children of Adma! Let the devil not deceive your, as he deceived your parents out of Paradise. He stripped them off their garments to reveal to them their nakedness. He and his companions see you whence you cannot see them. We have made the devils supporters of the non believers. When they commit an indecent act, they say: ‘this is what our fathers used to do before us. Allah Himself enjoined it.’ Say: ‘Allah does not enjoin what is indecent. Would you tell of Allah what you do not know?”


          “Children of Adam! Dress well every time you pray. Eat and drink, but avoid exess. He does not love the intemperate. Say: ‘who has forbidden you to wear the nice clothes or to eat the good things which Allah has bestowed upon His servants? Say: ‘These are for the faithful in the life of this world, (though shared by others); but they shall be their alone on the day of resurrection; thus we make plain our revelations to people of understanding. Say my Lord has forbidden all indecent acts, whether overt or disguised, sin and wrongful oppression; He has forbidden you to associate with Him that wchich is not sanctioned by Him, or to tell of Allah what you do not know; (Al-A’raf-7,20-22,26-28,31-33)

The way the Quran has unified the philosophy of dress, wisdom, history and practical instructions, it could not have been possible had it not been a revealed book. Now we will concentrate on some of him directues of these verses.

          Firstly, one should wear a dress in normal circumstanced which is modest and covers the whole body except the parts used in performing the necessary works like face, head, hands, feet, and the arms partially. The dress should conceal the human parts of shame. Special heed should be paid to dress at the time of prayer.

          When more parts of body are required to be revealed for games or swimming, the dress worn should not be obscene. The women should cover the projected parts of their bodies even in such situations as directed in Al-Nur (It is worth mentioning that now-a-days such dresses are easily available that cover women’s bodies and they can participate in any game. Even they can swim).          


The special instructions for the Prophet’s wives have been described through quoting the verses 6, 30-34, 53, 55 and 60 of Al-Ahzab. Now we shall discuss the concerned Hadiths.

          Anas relaters through the Bukhari that Umar Bin Khattab repeatedly requested the Prophet to keep curtain on his wives’s rooms as all sorts of people used to visit him. Thus the Quranic verse about Hijab was revealed.

          Umar Relates through the Bukhari and the Muslim that he requested the Prophet to direct his wives to remain behind curtain as all sorts of people, good and bad used to visit him. Consequently, the verse about Hijab was revealed.

          The above two references make it clear that the verse about Hijab was exclusively revealed for the Prophet’s wives. Owing to this extraordinary significance of their status and the unusual circumstances, God directed that there must always be curtains on their doors which were adjacent to the Prophet’s Mosque and that no one except the closest relatives should enter their rooms.

          According to another Hadith, related by Anas and recorded in the Bukhari the Prophet invited people on dinner arranged at his home in connection with his marriage with Zainab. After having eaten the food, the people remained busy in chat for a long time. Zainab, the newly married bride of the Prophet was feeling very uncomfortable due to their presence. The Prophet realized it. In order to show his disapproval of their overstay, the Prophet cam out of the house. After some time when he re-entered the house, people were still there. However, they realized their mistake and dispersed. After a while, the Prophet came out of the house and related the just revealed Quranic verses relating to Hijab.

          The above quoted Hadith reveals the real motive behind the verse of Hijab. It also proves that this verse was only meant for the Prophet’s wives. Anas tells that after the revelation of this verse, curtains were hung on the doors of the Prophet’s wives.

          As recorded in the Bukhari Ayesha relates that the Prophet’s face was an expression of intense grief and shock when he received the news about the consecutive martyrdoms of different commanders of Muslim Army in the war of Mauta. Ayesha relates that she was observing all through a slit of her door.

          Ibn Umar relates through Bukhari that they heard Ayesha brushing her teeth and clearing her throat from inside her room while we were sitting and busy in chat in the Prophet’s Mosque.

          According to another Hadith recorded in the Bukhari, the Prophet gave some water to two of his companions and asked them to drink some of it and wash their faces with the rest of it. Umm-i-Salma, the Prophet’s wife was watching all from behind the curtain. She requested both of them aloud to save some of it for their mother (Umm-i-Salma).

          Anas relates through the Bukhari that once he and Abu Talha were accompanying the Prophet in a journey. The Prophet was on a camel’s back along with wife Safia. The Camel got unbalanced and fell down. Consequently the Prophet and his wife fell down as well. Abu Talha approached the |Prophet and enquired if he was alright. The Prophet asked him rather to make care of Safia. Abu Talha covered his face and approached Safia. He put a cloth on her and she got up.  

          It becomes clear through the above references that the Prophet’s wives, usually used to stay at home after the declaration of their special status. Other men were not allowed to visit their homes. The Prophet’s companions knew that those holy women were to be respected even when there was an unusual situation while they where outside homes. They did not cast their glances on them so as to avoid any scandal.

          Ayesha relates, as recorded in the Bukhari and the Muslim that once she was traveling in the company of the Prophet. When the Carvan set out, she lagged behind by chance. On finding that the caravan had left she sat down. She was so overpowered by sleep that she could not resist. In the morning when Safawan Bin Mtal passed from there by chance, he identified Ayesha as he had seen seen her before the revelation of the verse of Hijab. He recited a Quranic verse. Ayesha woke up on hearing voice and covered her face with a cloth.

          The above mentioned Hadith reveals the care taken by the Prophet’s wives after the revelation of the verse of Hijab.

          Through another Hadith from Abu Daud Ayesha relates that on her way to Makkah for the Prophet’s last Hajj with other companions, she used to draw the veil of her Ahram (dress used for Hajj) on her face on seeing the male passers by and uncovered it again when they went away.

          The above Hadith is not reliable because one of its relaters Hasheem refers it to Yazeed Bin Abi Ziadah while he had never met Yazeed through his life. (Thzeeb-ul-Tahzeeb) vol-11 page 329) However, if it be reliable it only proves that the rules for Hijab described in Al-Ahzab were exclusively for the Prophet’s wives. This is why they were so cautious even during Hajj whereas the Prophet had forbidden all men and women to cover their faces during Hajj.

          There is another Hadith recorded in the Muslim and the Bukhari and described in detail in the Nisai that the father of Saudah, the Prophet’s wife, had a son of his maid slave and thus a brother of Saudah. A person named Utbah claimed during the last moments of his life that the particular boy was his son. When this petition was filed in the court of the Prophet he dismissed it and laid down a legal statute that the son belongs to the person on whose bed he took birth. Since the boy had a close resemblance with Utbah, the Apostale advised Saudah not to allow that boy to enter her house.

          Though the brothers of the Prophet’s wives could enter the houses of their sisters as laid down in Al-Ahzab; verse-55 but the relationship of that boy with Saudah as her brother had become a dubious matter (surely the Prophet would have been intimated though revelation that the boy was not the real brother of Saudah). This was the reason that Prophet advised Saudah to observe Hijab from that boy.

          A long incident has been related in Kitab-ul-Khiraj of Abu Daud. A part of it says that two paternal cousins of Zainab, the Prophet’s wife came to the Prophet with the request of some job. They were sitting with the Prophet out side his room while Zainab was inside it. When needed Zainab talked to them from behind the curtain. Thus it proves that even the paternal and maternal cousins were not allowed to come before the Prophet’s wives as per verse 55 of Al-Ahzab.

          According to another Hadith once Aflah, the foster brother of Ayesha’s father came to her house and sought her permission to enter. Ayesha was a bit reluctant as she was not clear whether a foster uncle comes in the closest cirlcle in the light of verse 55 of Al-Ahzab. The Prophet told Ayesha that a foster uncle is like one’s father.

          According to a Hadith form the Bukhari, after his marriage with Zainab, when the Prophet was entering his room, Anas also tried to accompany him. The Prophet forbade him to enter as Al-Ahzab had already been revealed and consequently he remained outside.

          According to a Hadith recorded in the Muslim and the Bukhari, once Saudah, the Prophet’s wife went outside her home. Umar Bin Khitab, on seeing her, checked her and expressed his disapproval. Saudah, complained before the Prophet who told her that she could come outside her home to meet some necessity. Obviously. Umar had a confusion regarding the interpretation of the instructions issued through Al-Ahzab which was clarified by the Prophet.

          According to a narrative registered in Kitabul Fazal of the Muslim and the Bukhari the Prophet was sitting inside his room once. Some women from the Quraish sitting in the company of the Prophet and were talking loudly. Umar came there and sought the Prophet’s permission to enter the house. On being granted the permission to Umar, the women sitting there ran away and hid themselves behind a curtain. The Prophet smiled on watching all that. On the enquiring of Umar, the Prophet told him the whole story, Umar spoke loudly to those women and said, Enemies, of your souls.! You should rather fear the Prophet more than me.’ The women replied; you have a hot temper while the Prophet has polite temperament.

          The above incident is enough to show the difference between a religious principle and one’s temperament.

          According to another narrative Umm-i-Salma relates through Tirmizi and Abu Daud that once she was sitting with the Prophet. Maimoonah or Ayesha was also present. A Prophet’s companion, Ibn Maktoom came there. The Prophet directed both the women to go behind the curtain. Umm-i-Salma pleaded that Ibn Maktoom was blind man and thus he could neither see them nor identify them. The Prophet asked, “Are you both blind too? Can’t you see him?”

          The above narrative is weak as its middle narrator. Binhan, the liberated slave of Ummi-i-Salma is not considered authentic by most of the experts in Hadith except Ibn Hubban (Al-Jami-al-Ahkam-al-Ahkam-al-Quran chapter 12, page 228) Tirmizi has declared it not that weak. But Hafiz Zabibi says that other scholar’s don’t accept the verification of Tirmizi as most of his approved Hadiths prove to be weak on later ascertainments (Meezan-al.Eitadal) chapter -4 page 416)


          Now we tend towards the fifth topic regarding the precautionary measures to be adopted at unsafe pleaces’. It has already been made clear that God directed muslim women to take a big cloth round their bodies over their clothes at unsafe places, through Al-Ahzab verse 58- 60. It was customary in Arab society even before Islam that women of respectable families used to take a big cloth while going out of their houses. The Quran has directed to take this measure only at risky places. The women are not advised to cover their faces even through this verse. However, we can infer that the face can be partially covered if the nature of the risk is graver. Those days, women did not use ‘Jalbab’ for the purpose of covering their faces. The women desirous of covering their faces used to do so with another veil. Such women were known as ‘Manqabah’ (Taking veils). Women have not been directed any where in the Quran or Hadith to cover their faces. However, in some incidents. ‘Manqabah’ women are mentioned. We will discuss it later on.

          It is clear through history that taking of a big cloth and covering of face with a veil is an old custom and not merely order issued just fourteen hundred years ago. It was a tradition in several civilizations of the world. For example, 1200 years B.C, during the Ashori period, detailed legislation was compiled about the veil for women (this informative and interesting detail can be seen in any good encyclopedia). Not only this, some important men like kings etc also used to cover their faces to keep themselves away from their subjects, in some societies. Even today, the tradition of veil exists in some non-muslim societies. It  is observed very strictly among some factions of Hundus. In some areas like Rajhistan some non-muslim women conceal their faces completely even today according to their customs thousands of years old.

          In the same way several Arab women used to cover their faces with veil and women of noble families used Jalbab’ while going outside even before Islam. The pre-Islamic Arabic poetry testifies the above fact. A poet of that period, seerah Bin Qafsi says in a verse:

          ‘While fleeing away from the battle field your women’s faces were uncovered due to intense fear and anxiety as if they were slaves whereas they were your noble ladies.”      

          Another poet, Rabi bin Zaid says in an elegy written in the memory of Malik:

          “Our women kept their faces covered before the death of malik but they had to lift their veils afterwards.”

          Maulana Ameen Ahsan Islahi puts down a verse of a poetess from the tribe Huzail on page 269: vol -6 of ‘Tadabbar-i-Qura’ with the similar sense.

          Thus some women used to cover their faces and took ‘Jalbab’ even during the normal circumstances before the revelation of the Quran as well. Islam neither bade for anything nor forbade to do so because it has a policy of abstaining from interfering in the existing social practices of any society to the maximum possible level. Therefore Islam brought slight reformation by advising women to take ‘Jalbab’ at unsafe places. Rest was left as it was previously.

          Therefore, now some relating Hadiths  would be analysed.

According to a narrative recorded in Kitab-al-Jihad of Abu Daud a woman, Umm-i-Khalad lost her son in the war of Uhad. She came to the Prophet for enquiry about her son with her face covered. Some companions of the Prophet expressed their surprise over her veiled face while she was enquiring about her son. She  answered, “I have lost my son, not my modesty”

The first thing in this context is that it is a weak narrative. One middle narrator of this Hadith. Farj Bin Fazalah was, to the experts of Hadiths, an unreliable man who used to narrate wrong narratives. Thus his narratives cannot be accepted (Al-Jarah-w-al-Taaded, vol-7: 86 and Tareekh-al-kabir vol-6: 137)

However, if the above incident proves to be true, it only ascertains one thing; Ummi-Khalad was one of those women who used to cover their faces. Further, this is the incident of the Battle of Uhad when neither Al-Nur nor Al-Ahzab had been revealed as yet. Obviously, this incident does not become a precedent for the observation of veil. According to several most authentic narratives innumerable women used to appear before the Prophet with their faces uncovered.

The next narrative has also been registered in Abu Daud (Kitabul Tarjil). According to this narrative a woman, once handed over a paper carrying some request to the Prophet from behind a curtain. The Prophet inquired whether it was the hand of a man or a woman. She replied that she was a woman. The Prophet said that a woman’s hand should be at least coloured with myrtle.

The above narrative is also weak. The experts ascertain that a middle narrator of this Hadith, Safia Bint Asmah was an unknown and hence unreliable source. (Takreeb-al-Tahzeeb Page 480). Another  middle link in this narrative, Muteei bin Memoon was also an ureliable narrator. (Taqreeb-al-Tahzeeb Page 399)

The inner evidence of this Hadith also makes the incident doubtful. It seems strage that the Prophet did not know that it is always a woman who can hand over something from behind the curtain. Further more it also gives an impression that coloring of hands with myrtle is compulsory for every woman whereas it is not at all assential according to the religion.

The next narrative is registered in Kitab-al-Hajj of Mauta Imam Malik. It gives the narrative of a female successor of the companions of the Prophet, Fatima Bint-i-Munzar that she along with other women covered her face with her veil when she was wearing Ahram (the dress worn during Hajj) Asma Bint Abu Bakar was also traveling in the company.

In fact the Prophet had ordered women very clearly not to take veil or gloves during Hajj. So, the woman mentioned in the narrative wanted to express that there was no harm in taking the veil on face if needed (for intense heat or crowed of men). So they used to take veil on faces and even Asma did not forbid doing that.

Ayesha relates through kitabul Hajj of Fath-al-Bari as under:

“A woman should draw her Jalbab (the long cloth wrapped over clothes) down on her face”.

It is also a weak reference as two of its middle links, Hushaim and Aamash used to relate unreliable narratives (Taqreeb-al-Tahzeeb page 136, 365). Thus this narrative cannot be taken into account.

According to kitab-al-Bayan of the Bukhari Ayesha relates that the Prophet had declared the witness of a veiled woman as valid.

It can be explained as such that a veiled woman should not be asked to put her veil off to prove her identity when she presents herself in the court. The judge may verify her identity in private or adopt some other measure. In fact there were very few women during the Prophetic period who used to take veil to cover their faces. Therefore, the Prophet had to say this about them in special.

Through Bukhaari and Kitab-al-Fazail of the Muslim, Abu Saeed Khadree expresses that the Prophet was modest like a maiden in veil. He further says that we could observe the face of the Prophet when he disliked something.

It can be explained in the manner that some maidens are so modest that even a slight thing can make then blush. The Prophet was also such a modest man. Hence, this narrative is merely narrating a fact and not an order of the religion.

 Anas relates an incident from the Battle of Khyber as recorded in Kitab-al-Maghazi of the Bukhari. The Prophet had married Safia but muslims were not clear about that. Thus some persons were discussing whether Safia was the Prophet’s wife or a slave. Some of them said that she would be wife if kept behind the curtain otherwise the case would be opposite. When the Prophet set out, he placed Safia behind himself on the camel’s back and drew a curtain around her.

This narrative is making difference clear between the Prophet’s wives and other women. The Prophet’s companions knew that the restrictions of Hijab were only for the Prophet’s wife than the ordinary muslim women. Since they could not confirm the Prophet’s marriage with Safia direct from the Prophet due to hesitation, they judged the matter through the restriction of Hijab for Safia.

According to a narrative of Tirmizi the Prophet says, “Devil watches a woman when she steps our of her home”. This is also a weak narrative as one of its narrators, Fatedah Bin Ramma used to exaggerate while narrating a Hadith (Al-Naqdees by Ibn Dajar, page…… 102). An amportant point here is that Mufti Muhammad Shafi has quoted this narrative in his book “Ma’araf al Quran” vol-7, page 215 and has declared that according to Tirmizi this Hadith “good, and true but with single narrator”. In fact Mufti Shafi has erroneously misquoted Tirmizi who does not use the word ‘true’ for this Hadith. It must be borne in mind that the narratives called as ‘good’ by Tirmizi are generally weak. Same is the case here.

According to a narrative of Tibrani the Prophet says. “Women should not come out of their houses except in emergency.” It is also a very weak narrative because its middle narrator, Sawar Bin Musa’ab was an unreliable person. Imam Haismi declares the same (Majmah-al-Zawaba vol-2: page 200). Hence it is also a weak and unreiable narrative.

Ali narrates that once he was sitting in the company of the Prophet with companions. The Prophet enquired of his companions, “What was better for a woman?” The Prophet’s companions had no answer. Ali put the same question to his wife, Fatima when he went home, Later. Fatima said, ‘It is better for women neither to see men nor be seen by them’. Afterwards Ali told the reply of Fatima to the Prophet who verified it and said, “She said it true; surely she is a part of mine.” Mufti Muhammad Shafi has quoted this narrative in “Ma’arif-al-Quran vol-7 page 216 without any reference. This is another weak narrative because its narrators are not identified by the experts. Imam Haismi, after quoting it in ‘Majma-al-Zawaied vol-4 4:255 and vol-9, page 330) says, ‘It  has been copied by Bazaz and several of its narrators are unknown to me.’ It must be kept in mind that if an expert refuses to identify any narrator, the status of that narrative remains no more than a fiction.

Another narrative is attributed to Umar Ibn Abbas through Tafseer Ibn Jareer vol-22)

“God has ordered women to cover their faces with their veils except their eyes when they go out of their houses for some emergent business.”

This is a weak narrative. It has been narrated by Ali Ibn Tala’a with the reference of Ibn Abbas whereas both had never met each other during their life time. (Taqreeb-al-Tahzeeb: page 646). Another narrator of this Hadith, Abu Saleh was not a reliable man to some experts (Tareekh-i-Baghdad vol-9, page 481)

Through the above discussion, we have tried our level best to present all narratives which are important with reference to the topic of man-woman correlation. While pondering over these narratives, if they are studied free of Quranic references, they seem to be conflicting very badly. They convey their true sense and context only when studied in light of the Quran. This technique also provides us an opportunity to segregate the authentic narratives from the weak ones. It is important to note that during this discussion only those narratives could find their true contextual application which were taken from the two most authentic books of Hadith; Bukhari ande Muslim.


Courtesy: The family of Dr. Muhammad Farooq Khan


Author : Dr Muhammad Farooq Khan
Uploaded on : May 17, 2016
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