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Hijab: Personal Freedom and Human Identity

Today we are facing an increasing wave of tendency toward Islam and discovery of the true nature of missing human identity in this age of manmade civilization. While the generality of mankind are negligent of their true nature and their inmate dignity and values, it is remarkable to see the phenomenon of return to Islamic dress by the women who have experienced the difficulties arising from the manmade culture and civilization. These women are seeking their deliverance and human identity in ‘Hijab’. At the same time we witness the oppositions of some governments against Islamic dress and further observe how Hijab turns out to be something more than a mere mandatory Islamic duty. Now it is being discussed as a political and religious symbol.
Being aware of the importance of Islamic veil and its role in shaping the identity of a Muslim individual, alert Muslim sisters all over the world voice their protests in opposition to the anti-Hijab secular movements. These protests provide a good opportunity for us to pay more attention to this Islamic standard and think of it with a more attentive approach.
Among the Islamic teachings to which Hadrat Fatima Zahra (A.S.) gave special attention, was protecting women's honor and beauty through observing the Islamic way of dress. Hadrat Fatima Zahra (A.S.) realized that crimes, social disasters, and humiliations were mostly due to unveiling, debasement, dissoluteness and mixture of the sexes. These social crimes are now called freedom and civilization by various publications that are scattered throughout Muslim and non-Muslim countries.
It should not be forgotten that less than one-tenth of such crimes and debasements, used to occur to Muslim women when they observed the Islamic covering and exalted themselves from exhibiting their bodies to men. That day when they used to bestow themselves in the garments of honor and modesty, when they truly believed in that which is forbidden and permitted. But as time passed, they exhibited their privacy to thousands of men from all walks of life and with many different faiths; Muslim women lost their honor and dignity... and reached the point of disgrace where they stand today!!
The following are two reports, which explicitly present the Messenger's admiration of Hadrat Fatima Zahra's (A.S.) stands regarding women:
A. Abu Nu'aym reports in Hilyat al-Awliya v.2. p.40, that Anas Ibn Malik said:
"The Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) asked: `What is best for women?' We did not know how to answer the Prophet, so Ali (A.S.) asked Fatima (A.S.) about the Prophet's question.
Hadrat Fatima Zahra (A.S.) answered: `It is best for them not to see men and not to let men see them.'
Ali (A.S.) returned to Allah's Messenger and conveyed Hadrat Fatima Zahra's (A.S.) answer to him. When the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) had heard the answer, he said:
`Surely she has spoken the truth, for she is part of me.'
B. Ibn al-Maghazili mentions in his book Manaqib that Ali Ibn al-Hussain Ibn Ali (A.S.) said:
"Once a blind man asked for permission to enter Fatima's house, but she kept a veil between them. The Messenger of Allah noticed her actions and asked:
`Why did you keep a veil between you when he can not see you?'
Hadrat Fatima Zahra (A.S.) answered: `Messenger of Allah, it is true that he cannot see me, but I can see him and he can smell my fragrance.'
At this, the Prophet (S.A.W.) said: 'I bear witness that you are part of me.'
In addition to these narrations, many prayers and supplications have been reported on Hadrat Fatima Zahra's (A.S.) account; among them is the famous supplication for the relief of fever and headaches. This supplication is mentioned below as an example of Hadrat Fatima Zahra's (A.S.) prayers.
Hadrat Fatima Zahra (A.S.) taught the following supplication to Salman al-Farsi (may Allah be pleased with him) and said to him:
"If it pleases you not to be inflicted with fever as long as you live in this world, then read these words, which my father, Muhammad, taught me and I say every morning and evening:
'In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, Most Merciful
In the Name of Allah the light; In the Name of Allah the light of light
In the Name of Allah, light upon light
In the Name of Allah, the planner of affairs
In the Name of Allah, Who created light from light
Revealed light upon the Turr By a decree inscribed In a scroll unfolded According to a decree fore-ordained Unto a Learned Prophet Praise be to Allah, Who is known with Might Whose Glory is established Who is praised during times of prosperity and infliction And may Allah's grace be upon our Master, Muhammad And his purified progeny'
Salman later said:
"By Allah, I have taught this supplication to more than a thousand souls in Mecca and Medina who were inflicted with fever, and they were all relieved by the will of Allah."
Ibn Tawoos (may Allah bless his soul) wrote in his book Muhaj Ad-Da'awat, that Allah's Messenger (S.A.W.) taught Hadrat Fatima Zahra (A.S.) the following supplication:
'O Allah, Our Lord and the Lord of Everything (He) Who revealed Tawrat, Injeel and Furqan (Quran)
(He) Who causes the seed-grain and the date-stone to split and sprout I seek refuge in You from every beast that you shall seize by its forelock Surely You are the First, where nothing has succeeded (You)
And the last, where nothing shall come after (You)
You are the Evident, there is nothing more Manifest than You And the Eminent, there is nothing more Eminent than You Send your grace upon Muhammad and his Ahlul-Bayt May Peace be upon them And settle my debts for me Make me free from poverty And decree easy for me all my affairs
O You! Most Merciful of all'
In conclusion, we can easily state that had Hadrat Fatima Zahra (A.S.) been given the chance to manifest her knowledge and had she lived for fifty or sixty years, we would have been able to inherit a treasury of knowledge and information pertaining to various subjects and sciences. Unfortunately, Hadrat Fatima Zahra (A.S.) was neither given the chance to teach us, nor did she live more than eighteen years.

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