This issue has been a matter of controversy for centuries. I tried to research it so many times before to answer these question :
1- Did Islam actually set 7ijab (covering all women’s body except for the face and the hands) as a must ( (واجب )for Moslem women?
2- What are the punishments/ rewards that a woman is getting if she refuses to wear 7ijab provided that she is dressed decently?
In my quest I only found two verses in Quran which were vaguely addressing this issue:
– “Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that will make for greater purity for them; and Allah is well acquainted with all that they do. And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; and that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their chests and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers…” [continuing list of family members and others in front of whom women are exempt from covering] (Qur’an 24:30-31
– “O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons…that they should be known and not molested.” [Chapter 33, verse 59]
First; in both verses I believe God is addressing the prophet regarding his women (omahat elmo’mineen) especially in the second verse, but let’s say for the sake of argument that the quote “believing women” is an address to all Moslem women, but where does it say that the head and the entire body should be covered except for the face and hands?
Second; to me; both verses are addressing virtue in society as a whole, and specifically asking women to be virtuous and decent with their clothing. In the first verse there was a direct address to cover the bosom and I don’t see any thing about the head or any other parts of the body.
Then where did the notion of 7ijab as is worn today come from?
The only explanation I received was what mentioned in the verse “and that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear” which, in my opinion, was left short for man to contemplate as he wishes. And that’s what most Islamic preachers used for stating a rule that was not clearly mentioned in Quran. And the fact that all 3olama were men, actually until today, that explains why so much stress was exerted on women when it comes to the issue of 7ijab.
As it came to my knowledge that these preachers took their rules from tradition (7adeath), mostly from this one:
“Ayesha (R) reported that Asmaa the daughter of Abu Bakr (R) came to the Messenger of Allah (S) while wearing thin clothing. He approached her and said: ‘O Asmaa! When a girl reaches the menstrual age, it is not proper that anything should remain exposed except this and this. He pointed to the face and hands.” (Abu Dawood)
And although a lot of Moslem refer to 7adeath as their base in explaining facts in Quran, I don’t see why rules should be applied as per 7adeath, especially when it’s not clearly stated in Quran, for many reasons:
First; Quran is explicit in its rules; for each and every action of all social issues was clearly explained and rules were set, moreover punishment and reward is stated for each and every action. Then why were the rules of 7ijab left to man? unless it was put by man and not by God.
Second; it is ironic that the 7adeaths that were documented in the most reliable source; AlSaheeh for example were mostly written on the tongues of people who hardly accompanied the prophet for long. For example; Abo Horayra who wrote more that 5,000 7adeaths did not accompany the prophet more than a year, while the rest like the prophet’s students (elkholafas and others) who accompanied him all his life did not write one tenth of those 7adeaths mentioned in AlSa7a7.
And let me quote Dr.Kamel AlNajar in his book “ قراءة نقدية للإسلام click here” and his logical analysis for not considering 7adeath as a credited source:
“وهناك بلا شك احاديث عديدة ملفقة ومنسوبة للنبي، باسنادٍ جيد. وحتى كتب الحديث المشهورة مثل صحيح البخاري ( توفي عام 238 هجرية)
يصعب الاعتماد عليها لانه جمعها بعد حوالي مائتين عاماً بعد وفاة الرسول ويقول المستشرق جولدزرGoldziher )
أنه لا يمكن القول ان أي حديث هو حديث صحيح قاله النبي، لان صناعة الحديث وصلت ذروتها في الدولة العباسية التي حاول خلفاؤها تبرير اغتصابهم الحكم من الامويين، فأوعزوا الى علمائهم باختراع احاديث تساندهم وتذم العلويين. وقد جمع بعض رواة الحديث أكثر من ثلاثمائة ألف حديث، بعضها مناقض لبعض. وأعتمد البخاري ألفين فقط من كل هذه الاحاديث واعتبر البقية منحولة. فإذا كذب الناس في الاحاديث المنسوبة للنبي، كيف نصدق رواياتهم عن جمع القرآن؟”
My conclusion to the first question is that 7ijab is not a must (واجب) as women are lead to believe, although virtue is, God did not enforce it on women, why did man do that?
Most probably because we never had a woman preacher (3alimah) throughout the history of Islam, and if you can convince me otherwise, please feel free to do so.
As for the second question I personally did not find any directed punishment toward the refusal of wearing 7ijab (covering all but hands and face).