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Islamic dress (hijab)

Question 1: If a lady does her daily prayers (namaz) dressed in modest attire such as a baggy manteau, trousers and a large scarf or miqna’a,13 is this permissible or not?

 

Question 2: If a lady doing her prayers at home wears a thick, long chador while underneath she has on a sleeveless top or dress and wears no socks, are her prayers invalid?

 

Reply 1: There is no problem.

 

Reply 2: Her prayers are not invalid.

 

Istifta’at Vol. 1, p. 137.

 

Question: What are the rules governing the viewing of TV films which sometimes show unveiled women, and listening to a musical instrument being played?

 

Reply: There is no problem concerning the viewing of foreign films in which the actresses are not known and which do not have a corrupting influence. Dance music is forbidden, but there is no problem with other types of music.

 

Istifta’at Vol. 2, p. 17.

 

Question: I am a woman working as a hairdresser for Muslim women who observe the Islamic cover (hijab). I work in an environment closed off to men. Could you please state your esteemed opinion of income earned in this way?

 

Reply: Based on the conditions set out in the question there is no problem, and income earned in this way is religiously legal.

 

Istifta’at Vol. 2, p. 32.

 

Women are free to choose their activities, their destiny and also their manner of dress, providing it complies with the rules. Present-day experience in the action against the Shah’s regime shows that women have found more freedom than ever before in the mode of dress which Islam stipulates for them. (145)

 

1 November 1978 (10 Aban 1357 AHS)

 

Question: For a long time now Your Holiness has been criticising the Shah’s policies, to what extent will your policies, with regard to the following, differ from those of the Shah: Social issues, will Islamic laws be put into effect and what difference will they make to daily life in comparison with the present laws?

 

‘Beneath the banner of Islamic government’, could Your Holiness explain more precisely what this means? Will women have the right to freely choose between the veil and Western dress? Will cinemas continue to exist? If so, what kind of films will be selected for viewing? Will alcoholic beverages be banned? Finally, will Iran become another Saudi Arabia or Libya?

 

Reply: The implementation of penal laws in Islam depends on many conditions first being fulfilled and involves many preliminaries. Many aspects must first be justly considered and Islam must be implemented fully. If these conditions exist, it will be seen that Islamic laws are not as harsh as others. Women are free to choose their activities, their destiny and also their manner of dress, while complying with the rules.

 

Present-day experience in the action against the Shah’s regime shows that women have found more freedom than ever before in the mode of dress which Islam stipulates for them. We are opposed to cinemas whose programmes corrupt our youth morally and subvert Islamic culture, but we approve of programmes which educate society and which contribute to its healthy, scientific and moral development.

 

Alcoholic beverages, alcoholism and other narcotics, which are harmful to society, will be banned. The Islamic republic government that we have in mind will not be like any of the regimes mentioned (i.e. Saudi Arabia and Libya). (146)

 

1 November 1978 (10 Aban 1357 AHS)

 

Question: Some of the Islamic customs, such as the mandatory veil, have been abandoned. Will the veil be once again enforced in the Islamic republic?

 

Reply: The veil, in the form we commonly understand it to take and which goes by the name Islamic hijab, is not opposed to freedom. Islam is against indecency. We invite the women to accept the Islamic hijab. Indeed, our brave women are tired of the calamities that the West, in the name of civilisation, has brought upon them, and they have turned to Islam. (147)

 

28 December 1978 (7 Dey 1357 AHS)

 

In Islam women must dress modestly and wear a veil (i.e. have hijab), but that does not necessarily mean she has to wear a chador. Women can choose any kind of attire they like so long as it covers them properly and they have hijab. (148)

 

28 December 1978 (7 Dey 1357 AHS)

 

Women must not enter the Islamic ministries improperly dressed. They can work there, but they must have hijab and must observe shari‘a principles. (149)

 

6 March 1978 (15 Isfand 1357 AHS)

 

Question: This chador, is it right that these women hide themselves under a chador? These women took part in the revolution, they gave lives, they were imprisoned, [and] they fought. This chador is an old custom, the world has changed, is it right that they should have to hide themselves in this way?

 

Reply: First of all, this is something that is their choice, and they have chosen it for themselves. What right do you have to deprive them of their choice? If we tell the people to come out and demonstrate their approval for Islamic dress, whether the chador or some other form, out of our population of 35 million, 33 million would come out. What right do you have to stop them?

 

What kind of dictatorship is this you want to impose on the women? Secondly, we do not say a woman has to wear a specific type of dress, particularly in cases of women your age14 there are no specifications. We are concerned mainly with the younger women who when they make up and dress up draw hordes of young men after them. It is these women we are stopping. They don’t need your sympathy. (150)

 

12 September 1979 (21 Shahrivar 1358 AHS)

 

Imam Khomeini, the Leader of the Revolution and Founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in reply to a question about the attacks by a number of ignorant and possibly anti-revolutionary elements on women not properly observing the Islamic dress code, issued this edict: 

 

It is possible that the attacks on women in the streets, alleys and market places are being carried out by perverse elements opposed to the revolution. No one has the right to perpetrate such an attack and this kind of behaviour is unlawful (haram) for Muslims. The police and revolutionary committees must prevent such incidents. (151)

 

4 July 1980 (13 Tir 1359 AHS)

 

Whereas under the former regime one’s consequence and standing were measured by obnoxious make-up, by what one wore and in what kind of house one lived, the values found today in Islamic countries, particularly in Iran, are human, moral values. These values have come about because of the change that has taken place in the ladies.

 

Those who once liked to show off amongst the female community with their costly clothes and pernicious make-up are now condemned and stand shamefaced. In those days, our Muslim ladies were embarrassed wearing Islamic dress, and the deprived classes who observed the Islamic dress code felt ashamed of the way they dressed before the affluent, but corrupt, classes. Today the opposite is true, and now one of those people who once put on such corrupt displays of make-up and dress would be ashamed in your midst. (152)

 

16 March 1981 (25 Isfand 1359 AHS)

 

You must remember that the veil, which Islam has prescribed for you is to protect your status. Whatever God has decreed for man or for woman is to keep alive the true values they possess, values that may be destroyed by the devil’s insinuations or at the corrupt hands of imperialism and its agents.

 

12 March 1985 (21 Isfand 1363 AHS)

 

Questions put to Imam about television programmes by the managing director of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) organisation and member of the IRIB’s supervisory board:

 

1. On the airing of TV programmes in which the woman’s role requires her not to observe fully the rules of the Islamic dress code concerning the face, neck and hair.

 

2. On the airing of sports programmes such as wrestling and football in which some parts of the sportsmen’s bodies are uncovered.

 

3. On watching such programmes when broadcast on TV.

 

Reply: There is no problem from the point of view of the shari‘a to watching these kinds of films and plays, indeed many of them are educational and it is perfectly permissible to broadcast them. The same goes for sports programmes and music, most of them present no problem. On rare occasions transgressions do occur and greater care must be taken to avoid them.

 

Two points, however, must be heeded. Firstly, the person who does the actor’s make-up must be mahram15 for the person being made up. It is forbidden for anyone else to perform this task. Secondly, people watching the programmes mentioned above must not do so in a lustful manner. (154)

 

21 December 1987 (30 Azar 1366 AHS)

 

Most probably the struggle against the wearing of the veil by Muslim women in educational institutions is a perverse attempt to undermine this great manifestation of the Islamic world’s defence of the Most Noble Messenger, peace be upon him and his descendants. The issue is one which vexes the Islamic nations: why in the so-called free world forcing women and girls to remove their veils is considered pure democracy, yet when we simply state that anyone who insults the Prophet of Islam, peace be upon him and his descendants, should be sentenced to death, and the council of Islamic jurists issues an edict to this effect, this is considered undemocratic!

 

Why does the world sit back and remain silent in the face of people who do not allow Muslim girls who have chosen to wear Islamic dress into universities to attend classes or teach? Is it not that the interpretation of freedom and how it is used lies in the hands of people who are opposed to the fundamentals of a freedom which is sacrosanct. Today God has made us responsible, we must not be negligent. Today, we must struggle against apathy, inaction and silence and the enthusiasm and momentum of the revolution must be maintained. (155)

 

22 March 1989 (2 Farvardin 1368 AHS)

 

 

Adapted from: “The Position of Women from the Viewpoint of Imam Khomeini (r.a.)”

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