19 February 2014 CE | 17 Rabbi al-Thanni 1435 AH

Hadith Explanation

Hijab Covers the Face

Aisha (radi Allahu anha) said: “I accompanied the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) to the battle of Ifk after the revelation of the Ayaat of Hijab…. I arrived back at the army camp after he had left with my camel. There was no one left to call or answer. Everyone had left with the army. I covered myself with my shawl and lay down. A little while later, Safwan bin Mu’attal passed by me. He was left behind due to some personal reason and had not spent the night with the rest. When he saw me, he came near and recognized me as he had seen me before the revelation of the Ayaat of Hijab. He recited loudly, ‘Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilaihi Rajioon.’ His voice woke me up and I covered my face immediately with my shawl.” [Muslim, Book of Taubah]

This Hadith proves in many ways that the Wives of the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) used to observe Hijab and that this included covering the face.

First, the reason that Aisha (radi Allahu anha) was left behind in the jungle when the army left, was clearly the fact that their Hijab was not limited to an overcoat/Burqa or wrapping a shawl around themselves. Instead, they used to travel in a Haudaj (palanquin) mounted on a camel’s back.  A Haudaj was a little covered room which was mounted on the back of a camel that women would travel in and it served as an enclosure for them.

In this incident, when the army was ready to march, the servants carried the Haudaj and mounted it on the camel thinking that Aisha (radi Allahu anha) was in it. She had left the Haudaj in the dark to answer the call of nature and was not back but since she had a very slim built in those days her absence from the Haudaj went unnoticed as her presence didn’t add much weight to it normally.

Second, the servants could not look inside the Haudaj to ensure that she was there because it was no longer permissible to do so after the revelation of the Ayaat of Hijab. Thus, the army left and she was left alone in the jungle.

Third, the statement of Aisha (radi Allahu anha) that Safwan bin Mo’attal (radi Allahu anhu) recognized her because he had seen her before the commandments of Hijab, also points to the fact that it was no longer possible for anyone to see the Wives of the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) after these commands were revealed.

Fourth, Aisha (radi Allahu anhu) stated that as soon as she was awoken by his voice, she covered her face with her shawl which clearly proves that it was necessary to cover her face as part of Hijab. This also proves that if someone has seen you prior to your starting Hijab it doesn’t make it permissible for them to continue seeing you without Hijab “because they already know what you look like”.

“Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilaihi Rajioon” is an Ayat of the Quran. It means, “We belong to Allah and to Him shall we return.” This Ayat is recited on facing any distressful event. Remembering Allah’s grandeur and our association with Him lightens the impact of worldly distress.
Now we know that Hijab means to cover the entire body and the face and for men and women to stay out of each other’s sight as much as possible.

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