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Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

Allah says in the Quran:

قَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ فِي أَحْسَنِ تَقْوِيمٍ

“We have certainly created man in the best of stature;”

Al-Tin (4)

To have better understanding on this verse, we have to read it together with the next verse as a reminder for us to always remember that we are the servants of Allah, in which we are accounted to His orders. Allah says:

ثُمَّ رَدَدْنَاهُ أَسْفَلَ سَافِلِينَ

“Then We return him to the lowest of the low,

Al-Tin (5)

We have read statements given from Mrs Latheefa Koya in her Facebook account, in which her statement generally said that Muslim women are not supposedly forced on wearing hijab.

Based on our observation, there are some points in her statement should be enlightened because it may cause some misunderstandings in both Muslims and non-Muslims community.

  1. “However, I totally disagree with the compulsion on wearing hijab! It is not the Islam’s way. There is no compulsion in Islam. Where has this principle go?”
  2. “Just because a person does not wear hijab, does that mean she will go to hell? Will she become an apostate? Will she become a promiscuous woman? Come on lah [sic]... this is an extremist view,” 

Here, there are some enlightenments for the issue:

First: The interpretation of phrase la ikraha fi al-din (لَا إِكرَاهَ فِي الدِّيْنِ)

لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ ۖ قَد تَّبَيَّنَ الرُّشْدُ مِنَ الْغَيِّ ۚ فَمَن يَكْفُرْ بِالطَّاغُوتِ وَيُؤْمِن بِاللَّـهِ فَقَدِ اسْتَمْسَكَ بِالْعُرْوَةِ الْوُثْقَىٰ لَا انفِصَامَ لَهَا ۗوَاللَّـهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

“There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing”

Al-Baqarah (256)

If we read the prominent tafseer like Tafsir al-Quran al-‘Azhim for example, this verse clearly speaks on people entering Islam. Imam Ibnu Kathir clearly stated the relation between the phrase ‘no compulsion in religion’ and the next phrase: قَد تَّبَيَّنَ الرُّشْدُ مِنَ الْغَيِ ‘The right course has become clear from the wrong’, is that when the information is made clear and Islam is well explained to the people, then there is no compulsion either to accept it or not.

It means that this verse is not suitable to be referred to those already in this religion, which is Islam (Muslims). This verse is a prohibition of compulsion towards the non-Muslims to convert to Islam.

Second: Straw man fallacy (المغالطة رجل القش)

In the theory of straw man fallacy, one substitutes a person’s actual position or argument with a distorted, exaggerated, or misrepresented version of the position of the argument, which seen as fragile like the straw man. In fact, it is not the argument of the opponent.

In our view, Mrs. Latheefa Koya applied the exact same fallacy in this context, as there are neither scholars, nor those who are taking advantage from the religion whom stated that Muslim women that choose not to wear hijab as apostate, be in hell and a promiscuous woman. In fact, this saying is totally against the two major sources in Islam which are the Quran and al-Hadeeth (Prophetic traditions).

Third: Understanding the Wisdom of Shari’a

We would like to state a prominent legal maxim:

أَحْكَامُ الشَّارِعِ مُعَلَّلَةٌ بِالأَسْبَابِ مُرْتَبِطَةٌ بِالمصَالِحِ

“The rulings are based on its generic causes of revelation, tied by the benefits (maslahat)”

It means, we cannot make rulings based on the exoteric or apparent meaning only, but to take into account its benefits (maslahat) as well. The rulings are tied with benefits which cannot be think of by our mind and our logics for some of the time, but may be revealed by some person who are given the understanding of the Syara’ by Allah. This is wisdom; which is given to particular selected people. It is absolutely the best gift of all. As what is said by Allah in the Quran:

يُؤْتِي الْحِكْمَةَ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَمَن يُؤْتَ الْحِكْمَةَ فَقَدْ أُوتِيَ خَيْرًا كَثِيرًا ۗ وَمَا يَذَّكَّرُ إِلَّا أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ

“He gives wisdom to whom He wills, and whoever has been given wisdom has certainly been given much good. And none will remember except those of understanding.”

Al-Baqarah (296)

Fourth: Wearing Hijab, but are Raped/Harassed

Some may argue that covering awrah does not claim safety for the women from sexual harassments and other heavy crimes like rape. We do not deny this, and in fact, so much agree to it. However, a sound and logical mind may understand that this is a collateral damage caused by men’s desire of seeing the body shape of a woman.

According to Journal of Adolescent Health, excessive exposure to pornography may results on 8 problems. Some of them are excessive sexual perception in the society and made them believe that promiscuity is normal. Based on a research made by Jill Manning, a sociologist, pornography may lead to some habits towards the addict. One of them is increase in desire of visual pornography and sexual activities related to violence, illegal and unsafe sex.

Hence, does it a clear sign for Muslim women to wear hijab as an act of obedience towards Allah as well as protecting themselves from those evil eyes?

Conclusion

Does Muslim women are forced to wear hijab? In the Islamic jurisprudence's (Fiqh) perspective, the government has power to impose on it, but as the expansion of dakwah increases, we see that religious institutions as well as Islamic NGOs play an important role in spreading awareness on the importance of obeying the Shari’a, especially on the issue of clothing.

Dehijabing is their choice, but promoting it in the form of forum or any open discussion is against the Islamic lifestyle. In the context of intellectual discussion related to religious matters, it is not in our preferences to use some clause from legal jurisdictions that may be misinterpreted as “oppression” and “violence”. However, discussion on religious matters without having any credentials (tauliah) is clearly an offense.

According to ACT 559, Syariah Criminal Offences (Federal Territories) Act, 1997, Part iii - Offences Relating to The Sanctity of The Religion of Islam and its Institution (Section 11. Religious teaching without tauliah.):

  • 1) Any person who teaches or professes to teach any matter relating to the religion of Islam without a tauliah granted under section 96 of the Administration Act shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding five thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to both.
  • 2) Subsection (1) shall not apply to or any person or class of persons exempted by the Majlis under section 98 of the Administration Act; or any person who teaches or professes to teach any matter relating to the religion of Islam in his own residence to members of his own household only.

We are not inclined to the groups which only put the blame on women on this issue and let the men be free. In issue pertaining awrah, men are also liable to it by lowering their gaze and not only offending women with words which are offensive. This is what being taught by Islam. Both men and women have their own role in practicing the Sharia’.

Rasulullah PBUH himself educates the men to lower their gaze. From a hadeeth narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas, he said:

أَنَّ امْرَأَةً مِنْ خَثْعَمَ اسْتَفْتَتْ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي حَجَّةِ الْوَدَاعِ وَالْفَضْلُ بْنُ عَبَّاسٍ رَدِيفُ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَتْ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنَّ فَرِيضَةَ اللَّهِ فِي الْحَجِّ عَلَى عِبَادِهِ أَدْرَكَتْ أَبِي شَيْخًا كَبِيرًا لاَ يَسْتَوِي عَلَى الرَّاحِلَةِ فَهَلْ يَقْضِي عَنْهُ أَنْ أَحُجَّ عَنْهُ فَقَالَ لَهَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ "‏ نَعَمْ ‏"‏ ‏.‏ فَأَخَذَ الْفَضْلُ بْنُ عَبَّاسٍ يَلْتَفِتُ إِلَيْهَا وَكَانَتِ امْرَأَةً حَسْنَاءَ وَأَخَذَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم الْفَضْلَ فَحَوَّلَ وَجْهَهُ مِنَ الشِّقِّ الآخَرِ

a woman from Khath'am asked the Messenger of Allah a question during the Farewell Pilgrimage, when Al-Fadl bin 'Abbas was riding behing the Messenger of Allah She said: "O Messenger of Allah! The command of Allah has come for His slaves to perform Hajj, but my father is an old man and cannot sit upright in the saddle. Will it be paid off on his behalf if I perform Hajj on his behalf?" The Messenger of Allah said to her: "Yes." And Al-Fadl started to turn toward her, as she was a beautiful woman, but the Messenger of Allah took hold of Al-Fadl's face and turned it to the other side.

Sunan an-Nasa'i (2642)

اللَّهُمَّ أَرِنَا الْحَقَّ حَقًّا، وَارْزُقْنَا اتِّبَاعَهُ، وَأَرِنَا الْبَاطِلَ بَاطِلًا، وَارْزُقْنَا اجْتنِاَبَهُ، وَلَا تَجْعَلْهُ مُلْتَبِسًا عَلَيْنَا فَنَضِلَّ، وَاجْعَلْنَا لِلْمُتَّقِينَ إِمَامًا

“O’ Allah! Enable us to see the Truth as Truth and give us the ability to follow it. And show us the falsehood as false and give us the ability to refrain from it. And do not make us be confused by them, which makes us go astray. And make us the leaders of righteous people.”

Lastly, we would like to apologize to Mrs. Latheefa Koya if this writing offends you in any way. Just like any other articles in the website www.muftiwp.gov.my – they are written only in the purpose of correcting the misunderstandings among the Muslims, as Fiqh’s depository as well as being references in religious matters, not only for Malaysians, it is also meant for the international audience as well. There is no other intention than hoping for us to live in peace and harmony for the sake of Allah.

For further reference, kindly click on the following link:

BAYAN LINNAS SIRI KE-169: FENOMENA "TIDAK BAHAGIA BILA BERTUDUNG"

Akhukum fillah,

His Eminence Dato' Seri Dr. Zulkifli bin Mohamad al-Bakri

Mufti of Federal Territories

23 April 2019