Jazakallah ker for your response on the issue of women covering their heads. Although I am in agreement with you, I do have some questions, which I would like to ask to clarify my understanding on this issue. You made it clear that the requirement for the head covering is assumed, but from my understanding not explicitly stated. The injunction you cited states that women should cover their bosoms with the head covering.
However, does this mean that the head covering is required as well? It would seem that the implication is for the women to use the only piece of free cloth on their persons to cover their bosoms? I am also unsure of the exact dress of women during that time.
As I have stated earlier, in my previous responses to similar questions, the words used by the Qur’an are such that one is inclined towards believing that the Qur’an wants Muslim women to cover their heads when they have to interact with men.
A careful reading of one of my earlier replies shall evidence that in my opinion, the Qur’an does require women to keep their heads covered. The words: “They should spread their head coverings over their bosoms”, in my opinion, imply that the piece of cloth used as head coverings should be spread over the bosom while keeping the head covered. If the Qur’an wanted women to cover only their bosoms with a piece of cloth, I think it would then have been more appropriate to give the directive without any reference to the head coverings. It seems that Arab women used to cover their heads with a long piece of cloth and let the sides of that cloth hang behind them. What the Qur’an has directed them to do in the referred verse is to cover their bosoms with that part of their head coverings, which was left hanging.
As far as my reference to the dress of the Arab women is concerned, it was basically to imply that because she was the first addressee of the Qur’an , and the Qur’an gave its directives regarding women’s covering keeping her in perspective, it is therefore essential to know what was the dressing of the Arab women, in general. This does not mean that the style of dress worn by the Arab woman is an Islamic standard, but that the coverings of the Arab woman are the perspective in which the Qur’an has given its directive. This covering, as I have mentioned in one of my previous replies was: “Women (who already had their heads, arms and legs covered) should observe…”.
Thus, the directives in the referred part of the Qur’an were primarily meant for women who already had their heads, arms and legs covered (which was the covering of the noble Arab women). In my opinion, the correct application of the referred directives of the Qur’an shall only be possible if we keep this perspective in mind while determining the dress code of a Muslim woman.
31st December 1998