THE EDITOR: There is much controversy today surrounding the “hijab” with respect to a Muslim woman’s wear. The fact is the word “hijab” means a veil, a screen, a barrier. It appears seven times in the Qur’an (7:46, 17:45, 19:17, 33:53, 38:32, 41:5, and 42:51) and nowhere does it refer to the clothing of a woman.
In chapter 38, verse 32, it is used to indicate when horses were veiled from Solomon’s eyes due to the approach of sunset. To refer to the clothing of a woman as “hijab” is therefore an anomaly.
In the Qur’an, the word which is used to refer to the head covering of a woman is “khimar” and it is found in chapter 30, verse 31. Here, women are asked to use their head covering to cover their bosoms.
In pre-Islamic times, when there were no bras, which were invented in 1914, women`s breasts were exposed and the command came that they should use part of their “khimar,” which extended to their back, to cover their bosoms in order to conceal them.
It could well be appreciated that in the desert of Arabia, head coverings were necessary to cover the head and face should there be a sand storm. They were designed to fit the environment.
IMAAM IQUBAL HYDAL