Date:25th August 2014
From:Students and Graduates of Islamic Studies,
AREES University, Malaysia Branch
TO:The Star Newspaper
Corporate Office - News
1) Devid Rajah
Chief News Editor (Ketua Pengarang Berita)
2) Esther Ng
Senior News Editor (Pengarang Berita Kanan)
Response to articles written by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf published by The Star on 19th and 20th August 2014.
As Muslims and students of Islamic knowledge, we feel compelled to respond accordingly to the articles published recently in The Star newspaper entitled “To wear scarf or not to wear scarf” and “Substance over form, intent over law” by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.
In summary, we believe that the following points and conclusion derived by Imam Feisal in his articles to be highly objectionable.
1. The Prophet said that differences of opinion among his ummah are a blessing to the community.
2. The mazhabs have differing opinions on whether women are required to wear headscarves and other coverings.
3. Classical jurists do not consider the niqab as applying to anyone except the wives of the Prophet. Classical jurists argue that the niqab was only intended for the Prophet’s wives.
4. Rules on `awrah for the Prophet’s wives differed from the average Muslim lady woman, which in turn differed from the rules for Bedouin women and slave women.
5. Islamic jurists generally do not lend as much credence to ahad hadiths as they do to mutawatir hadiths (reported by many sources). Some schools even reject ahad hadiths altogether as insufficient basis for legal judgments.
6. What constitutes `awrah in the presence of the opposite sex differs from `awrah for prayer.
7. The social customs and cultural norms of a given society, called `urf or `adah in Islamic jurisprudence, form one of the subsidiary sources of law. Muslim jurists deemed the local customs to be shar’i, meaning they are compliant with Shariah and have the force of law.
8. Conclusion of his two articles: Wearing headscarf is not obligatory and is subject to one’s own interpretation of the Quran and Sunnah.
To keep this response letter clear and precise, we summarise our point-to-point contentions in this letter, while the elaborated version with detail evidences can be read at https://www.facebook.com/pages/AREES-University/278016072370241
1) Imam Feisal began his discussion and molded it around the purported saying (i.e. hadith) of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that differences of opinion among his ummah are a blessing to the community. Scholars of hadith deemed this hadith as fabricated.
Shaikh Al Albaani mentions in Ad Da’eefah (1/141) that “It has no origin”. Hence Imam Feisal’s arguments in reference to this saying are outright not accurate.
2) It is a consensus among the 4 mazhabs (Syafie, Maliki, Hambali and Hanafi) that covering of a woman’s head is obligatory. There is no disagreement among them on this point and the suggestion that the requirement for a headscarf is cultural and optional, finds no support among the class of fuqaha as a whole.
Imam Qurtubi in his tafsir of Surah al-Ahzab ayah 53 stated, "The consensus of the Muslims is that all of a woman (is ‘awra) except her face and hands, but some disagree about these two". Covering the head is agreed upon!
3) No classical scholars considered the niqab (define here as the veil covering the face) as being limited to the wives and daughters of RasulAllah alone; on the contrary, there is clear evidence in the ahadith that female Companions who were NOT his wives or daughters, observed the niqab.
Asma’ bint Abi Bakr said: We used to cover our faces in front of men.
(Narrated by Ibn Khuzaymah, 4/203; al-Haakim, 1/62).
4) The verses of the Qur'an obligate "the believing women" in general to cover themselves with an *outer garment* and is not restricted to the wives and daughters of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
[al-Noor 24:31] “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze, and protect their private parts and not to show off their adornment except onlythat which is apparent, and to draw their veils all over ‘Juyoobihinna’ (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms) and not to reveal their adornment...”
5) Claiming that ‘Islamic jurists don’t give credence to ahaad hadiths’ is a fallacy; only the Hanafi school of thought rejects ahaad ahadith and ONLY in the field of ‘Aqeedah.
Ahaad ahadith are *not* limited to ‘just one source’ but are rather classified into three types: Mash’hoor (narrated by a minimum of THREE people per level of chain of narration); ‘Aziz (minimum of two people per level of chain); and Ghareeb (one person per level).
Imam Feisal himself quoted an ahaad ghareeb hadith, namely the first hadith reported in al-Bukhari’s Sahih, "All actions are judged by intention."
6) It is ridiculous to claim that the covering of the head in salah was merely a ‘cultural’ practice in light of the following ahadith:
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Allah will not accept the prayers of a woman unless she is wearing a khimār [hijab].” (Narrated by Imam Ahmad)
It is in fact the consensus of the scholars it is an obligation for all believing women to cover their heads when they pray!
7) The status of ‘urf and ‘adah are not a primary source of legislation, but in fact one of the secondary sources that are disagreed upon!
It is applicable to matters such as a woman’s mahr, whether or not she is entitled to a servant, and other secondary matters, but completely irrelevant when it comes to determining the obligation of divinely commanded act (such as prayer, inheritance, and hijab).
8) Our Conclusion: To wear headscarf is obligatory upon all Muslim women as an act of worship to Allah SWT.
To The Star, we trust that as a leading daily in Malaysia, your standard of reporting requires you to provide a balanced, unbiased view of issues in general; and in the case of one that involves religious rulings in particular, it should accurately reflect the views of the majority of scholars and classical jurists, so that your readers may have a realistic, holistic and balanced view of the matter at hand. It is with that in mind we submit this response and pray that this effort pleases our Creator.
Students and Graduates of Arees University, Malaysia Branch.
26th August 2014