Islamic University Scholar Finds Headscarves Not Required


Al-Azhar University has awarded Sheikh Mustafa Mohammad Raashed a doctorate in Shariah and law with honors. His thesis discussed the hijab (veil) within Islamic jurisprudence. He asserted that the hijab “is not an Islamic obligation.”



In a landmark doctoral dissertation, Sheikh Mustafa Mohammad Raashed says his studies found that Islam never required women to wear a headscarf, Al-Nahar reports. Egypt’s Al-Azhar University endorsed his conclusions, including that a lack of “analytical capabilities due to psychological problems” led to wrong interpretations.

Publisher: An-Nahar (Lebanon)
Original Title:
Al-Azhar: Islam Did Not Impose the Hijab
Published on: Friday, Jul 20, 2012
Translated On: Friday, Jul 20, 2012
Translator: Naria Tanoukhi

Categories :  Egypt   Analysis & Opinion Culture & Society

In his dissertation, Raashed said that “the interpretation of verses outside their historical context” has led to widespread confusion and misconceptions about the head scarf, which he claims “in the Quran is not even mentioned once.”

According to Sheikh Raashed, some of those who have interpreted religious texts refused to approach them with reason, taking passages out of context. He said that each scholar interpreted these passages as they wished, away from their true meanings. He claimed that this may have been due to a lack of “analytical capabilities due to psychological problems.” What’s more, he continued, even if amujtahid (scholar) commits in error in interpreting religious texts, he receives the grace of God for his work. A final reason for misinterpretations surrounding religious passages may lie in thatmujtahids “prefer to cite verses rather than truly interpret them.”

Those who reject the notion that Islam requires women to wear the hijab base their arguments on what they see as an incorrect interpretation of Verse 53 of the Al-Ahzaab Surah:

But Allah is not ashamed of speaking out the Truth. And if you were to ask the wives of the Prophet for something, ask from behind a curtain. That is more apt for the cleanness of your hearts and theirs. It is not lawful for you to cause hurt to Allah’s Messenger, nor to ever marry his wives after him. Surely that would be an enormous sin in Allah’s sight.

They argue that this is only referring to the mothers of believers, and the need to put a barrier between them and the Prophet’s companions. Verse 59 of the same Surah says: “O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons [when abroad]: that is most convenient, that they should be known [as such] and not molested. And Allah is oft-forgiving, most merciful.”

According to those who reject that the hijab is required by Islam, this verse merely encouraged more liberal women to cover up their faces so that they would not to be susceptible to the stares of men who look at them as though they were prostitutes.

Those who share the same point of view assert that Verse 31 of the Al-Nour Surah notes the need to cover up the top of the chest and neck, due to the spread of a certain style that became common among Arab women, but was not sanctioned by Islam.

Verse 31 of the Al-Nour Surah reads: “And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what [must ordinarily] appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex, and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye believers! turn ye all together toward Allah, that ye may attain bliss.”

According to observers, Al-Azhar asserted its position on the discussion, and put an end to the ongoing debate over whether wearing the hijab is a tradition or a religious obligation. The university unequivocally declared that Islam does not impose the hijab as an obligation.


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About W

Wissam, Wesley, or simply W, is an educator, writer, entrepreneur, engineer, activist, ex-Imam, humanist, liberal thinker with interest and mediocre attempt at many takes of life. A modern confused Renaissance man, who uses doubt as a path for emancipation and science as a road towards enlightenment.

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