Sunday, April 5, 2009

Jewish and Christian "Hijab" I

PART ONE- JEWISH HIJAB
بِسْمِ اللّهِ الرَّحْمـَنِ الرَّحِيم
I am writing this post (one of two parts) to illustrate WHAT was revealed to the Jewish and Christian women in terms of hijab, so that we as Muslims can better understand what things we were commanded to do in addition to differentiate ourselves from the practices of the Jews (which the Qu'ran states incurred Allah subhahu wa ta'ala's wrath) and the Christians (who went astray), صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنعَمتَ عَلَيهِمْ غَيرِ المَغضُوبِ عَلَيهِمْ وَلاَ الضَّالِّين . Muslims and so-called Muslim scholars need to understand, that just because the majority of Christians and Jews have stopped wearing the hijab THEY are compelled to put on by THEIR deen, doesn't mean that Muslims can leave off the clear recomendations for our hijab in the Qu'ran , many of which the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam explained in various ahadith were for modesty, and to clearly differentiate ourselves from the practices of the Jews and the Christians, which were altered to suit mankind's whims in their histories. Ours are not to be. There are many documents of survivng dress that document what Jewish and Christian women wore throughout history, and some surviving practioners of their hijabs. This post is about the fard requirements of Jewish and Christian hijab. InshaAllah you will find it interesting.
JEWISH "Hijab" [Does the Torah command Jewish women to cover their heads and how does it mandate they do so?]

The Torah states that, like in Islam,when the people came to pray to the Lord they covered their shoulders and head. This is the opinion of most rabbis. Where does it say that it should not be done any longer?

‘‘Make for yourselves tassels [g'dilim] on the four corners of the cloak [k'sut] that covers you'' (Deuteronomy 22:11 MBV). The command noted from Deuteronomy 22:11, is that it is to be a k'sut, or covering, and it is emphasized twice to be a ‘‘cloak [k'sut] that covers [k'sut] you.''
The practice of hair covering amongst Jewish women has its source in the Mishnah. M. Ketubot 7:6 lists going out with unbound hair as one of the ways in which a woman forfeits her divorce settlement. The Talmud (B. Ketubot 72a-b) understood the source of this custom to be even more ancient. In the Bible (Numbers 5:18), a woman suspected of infidelity has her hair exposed as part of her punishment. This biblical passage seems to imply that as a matter of course a Jewish woman kept her hair covered.
The gemara in Ketubot 72a presents two categories of women who can be divorced without receiving the sum of money stipulated in their ketuba (marriage contract). In other words, these are cases where the women are deemed to have violated the terms under which they were married, and thus the contract is considered to be broken. The two categories are referred to as "Dat Moshe" and "Dat Yehudit." The former category includes cases when the woman causes her husband to violate Torah law (the religion of Moshe), while the second category seems to be more focused on issues of personal modesty. The latter category is called "Dat Yehudit" since it includes things that are not explicitly prohibited by the Torah, yet have been accepted by the women of Israel as a binding custom. The first item listed among those things considered to be "Dat Yehudit" is when a woman goes out with her hair uncovered. However, as the gemara notes, this is not simply a law that was accepted over time by Jewish women. Rather, we know from the case of the sotah (a woman suspected by her husband of committing adultery) that Jewish women have to cover their hair, since part of the process of humiliating the sotah in attempts to make her confess her sin is that the kohein uncovers her hair. Obviously, if this was considered to be a potentially effective means of shaming her into confession, it must be that it was the norm for her hair to be covered (see also Bamidbar Rabba 9:16)!

While there is a Halachic disagreement amongst Jewish scholars regarding the law that married women should cover their hair even inside their houses, all seem to agree that it is preferable and highly praiseworthy for a woman to cover her hair even in the privacy of her own home. There is no such thing for Muslim women. The Qu'ran makes clear our hijabs are worn in front of non-maharam men, and for salat. So we have no such confusion.

In the Talmud there is a famous story about a certain woman by the name of Kimchit who was careful that “the walls of her house should not see the hairs of her head.” She was rewarded with seven sons who served as High Priests. We see from this story that a woman’s covering her hair in private is highly praiseworthy. But is it a Torah mandate? Or is it simply a chumrah, a stringency? Must a woman cover her hair at home? King David says, “kol kevudah bat melech p'nimah.” Which Hebrew for "All the glory of the King’s daughter is internal."

One of the expressions of this inner glory is that, in Judaism in general, married women must cover their hair. But is there a halachic difference between going out in public and being at home? In the privacy of their own homes, seemingly, they should be able to “let their hair down.” Muslim women CAN if they are not around non-maharam men. By covering her hair (even with a wig, which may be mistaken for real hair---Muslim women are forbidden to wear wigs maybe because it is an imitation of this Jewish custom) a woman in Judaism is expressing her exclusive devotion, love for, and unique connection to her husband.

In order to fully answer this question, it is important to address two issues at play here: a) why does a Jewish woman need to cover her hair at all? b) Does the Torah expect (and allow) Jewish women to act differently in the privacy of their own homes than when they are outside in public?

Once a woman is married, she enters into a completely unique relationship with her husband. This transformation is alluded to by the Hebrew name for the wedding ceremony, “Kiddushin,” which means sanctification or holiness.

Through this act, the bride and groom are totally and utterly dedicated to each other in a holy coupling. This dedication manifests itself in both an internal and an external form, in many ways, and for both partners.

One of these ways is by a woman covering her hair, which is viewed by Judaism as a sensual and private part of a married woman’s appearance. By covering her hair (even with a wig, which may be mistaken for real hair) a woman is expressing her exclusive devotion, love for, and unique connection to her husband.

Even if others do not realize that she is covering her hair, she has the constant awareness and consciousness that she is one half of a unique and profound relationship, sanctified by God Himself.

Yet, the Torah, as usual, is not content to let the practioner of Judaism just “act natural.” Rather, it exhorts them to keep to high standards, and to maintain a high level of moral and ethical conduct, even when no other human beings are around. Even when a Jewish woman is getting dressed in a dark room, she are enjoined to do so in a modest manner. Similarily the Prophet Mohammed salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam suggested we cover our naked bodies with sheets even while we enjoyed the company of our husbands in the marriage bed, so that Jinn could not watch.

Why is this belief prevalent in Judaism? Because of the concept that God is omnipresent; and human beings are always under His scrutiny. (And in case a person does not have the constant awareness of God’s presence, the Jewish Shulchan Aruch prescribes meditation, in order to arouse feelings of love and awe)

However, the hair of a married woman does not have the same status as other private parts of the body that are usually covered in Judaism. As explained earlier, hair covering is primarily a symbol of marriage, a demonstration of her devotion to her spouse.

So, all that said: May a women uncover her hair in private? Halachah, Jewish law, addresses public, semipublic, and private settings:

Now, normally, the laws of modesty are not loosened in the privacy of home. The Code of Jewish Law, acknowledging human nature, states that it is natural for people to act differently when they are in the privacy of their own home then when they are around a group of people.

Public: The Torah states that a woman must completely cover her hair in a public place. Some opinions state that under a tefach (a handbreadth, about three inches total) of hair may show.

Semipublic: In a semipublic place, one opinion states that even if men are not usually found there, a married woman must cover her hair.

Private: The Biur Halachah writes that although originally it was permitted for married women to uncover their hair in the privacy of their homes, in more recent times “the prevailing custom in all places is for women to cover their hair, even in the privacy of their own homes.... Since our ancestors, in all localities, have adopted this practice, it has taken on the full force of Jewish law and is obligatory....”

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein disagrees with this ruling and writes that “[covering hair when in private] is praiseworthy, but not required.” Sources for these conclusions in Yuma 47a, Psalms 45:14, Beginning of Orach Chaim. With regards to other issues – such as the prohibition of a husband seeing private parts of his wife’s body when she is niddah – there is disagreement between halachic authorities as to the “status” of a married woman’s hair. Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv (highly respected modern-day Israeli halachic authority) says that a married woman’s hair is in the same category as other private parts of the body, while Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (author of the Igrot Moshe Responsa) writes that hair is not in the same category as other parts of the body that are normally covered. Sources: Halichos Bas Yisrael, by Rabbi Yitzchak Yaacov Fuchs. Targum Press, 1987. Beautiful Within, Modesty In Conduct and Dress As Taught By The Lubavitcher Rebbe. Sichos in English, 1995.

The Jews themselves are often guilty of making a law (such as a woman's hair having to be covered even in the privacy of her home or wearings wigs to do so) Biur Halachah writes that although originally it was permitted for married women to uncover their hair in the privacy of their homes, in more recent times “the prevailing custom in all places is for women to cover their hair, even in the privacy of their own homes.... Since our ancestors, in all localities, have adopted this practice, it has taken on the full force of Jewish law and is obligatory....” which did not originate with Allah subhabhu wa ta'ala, which is, to make something haraam that is halal. The Qu'ran, and even the Torah has remnants, have warnings for this.

Isaiah 30:1 says, "Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of My spirit, that they may add sin to sin."

In conclusion, from studies of Jewish historical costume and the Torah, and the opinions of Jewish scholars, a woman's hair must be covered and she must wear modest clothing that covers all of her skin. Nothing in Judaism specified that clothing could not be very decorated, or that the hair HAD to be covered in a certain manner, or that the clothing had to be loose and not see-through, or that an overgarment had to be worn, or that complete veiling (facial) was forbidden. Facial veiling was not a commandment in the Torah, nor was jilbab, nor was covering the neck and the breasts. That is why Jewish women are permitted to wear knee length skirts with tights and this counts as clothing that covers. Facial veiling was neither mustahaab, haraam, or fard for Jewish women but it was a cultural practice that was a symbol of wealth and social status, and the opinion of Jewish scholars is that it is halaal for Jewish women, but not part of their religion.

26 comments:

♥Tiffany Nicole♥ said...

Thanks for posting this. I'm 1/2 Jewish (lol..this I just discovered at the age of 27, apparently this was some sort of shameful secret that my father did not want my sisters and I to know but, when his adopted mother died the Rosh Hashanah Honey Cakes hit the fan when my Grandfather told us =)
I'm a Christian & will start covering my hair 6/01/09 it has been something that G*d put on my heart to do 2 years ago but, I have been stalling and being disobedient & asking a million questions including "Why do I have to, no one else at Church does?" but, who I am to question Him right?.

I'm like a kid I don't want to play with the toy car I want to take it apart and figure out what does what and why. So I am often looking to add to my knowledge library however I can. Thanks for such an informative post!!
(where is spellcheck when I need it?)

UniMuslimah said...

Salaam alaikum,
Thank you for posting this, it was a very interesting read! I knew that Jewish women were supposed to cover their hair once they got married, but I never knew all of the details about it!

I have heard that Hasidic Jews don't support the usage of wigs to cover the hair (for obvious reasons that it can appear that a woman is going bareheaded). Do you know anything about this or if it's true?

Cheers.

Pixie said...

Tiffany Nicole: Salam sis of the book:D InshaAllah you will find part II even more interesting cuz it's about Christian hijab:D

Pixie said...

UniMuslimah: I don't but I understand the basis because the Torah says to cover with cloth, not wigs.

Amber said...

Pixie,

I've been waiting for these posts since you mentioned you'd be doing them.

Very educational. :)

I can't wait for the one on Christian covering.

♥Tiffany Nicole♥ said...

Thanks Pixie =)
I have to say although I'm new to this I personally think that covering your hair with a wig is covering by a technicality.

I don't know, I just would'nt think that it would be acceptable.
I'll feel safer with a scarf.

Ahxuan said...

looking forward for more post on this.

Megan said...

Those first two pics are beautiful! They just need to rearrange their scarves and it'd be hijab :)

OumAmir said...

I respectfully request that the entirety of my post be published. Thank you.

Very interesting post, however there are a few points that need to be addressed.

First, there is a difference between the Torah and the Talmud which is the commentary and traditional carried through rabbinic Judaism. While modern rabbinic Judaism asserts that there is a written law, that given to Moshe and the other prophets, and an oral law passed through the priests. Interestingly, Yeshua railed against the religious leaders in his day for sitting in the seat of Moses and instituting tradition as God’s law when it is not in the scriptures. (See Matthew 23 and Mark 7 for in depth examples). I think you would agree that we cannot rely on the tradition of men, but rather what God has revealed. So when stating “. . .the majority of Christians and Jews have stopped wearing the hijab THEY are compelled to put on by THEIR deen . . .”, the individual making such a claim should stear clear of the traditions of men to determine was is deen and what is not.

Secondly, let’s examine the texts cited in the Tanakh for accuracy and context.
1.) Deuteronomy 22:12 (not 11 as noted). The overall context of this section of Deuteronomy is general (civic) law giving. There is nothing in the text that indicates a religious context that would indicate a covering on the head for prayer or any other religious purpose.
2.) Numbers 5:18. Some texts read as ‘And the priest shall set the woman before the Lord and unbind the hair of the woman’s head and place in her hands the grain offering of remembrance.’ This actually is countering productive to your argument because the unveiled woman is set before the Lord. Granted it might’ve been quite shameful in that culture to go about without a headcovering as a woman, but from a cultural standpoint, not a religious one.
3.) Isaiah 30:1 says, "Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of My spirit, that they may add sin to sin." I know this was quoted from the King James Version of the Bible, and I would recommend anyone wishing to quote a Bible to use a modern translation because this text isn’t actually talking about clothing or anything worn. The context is God rebuking King Hezekiah through Isaiah for making a treaty with the Egypt to rebel against the Assyrians. A better translation is: “"Woe to the rebellious children," declares the LORD, who execute a plan, but not Mine, and make an alliance, but not of My Spirit, in order to add sin to sin;

The rest of the citations in the posting refer to Rabbinic tradition and so I will not address them.

With that said, I think you’ll find you have a much weaker case.
I am looking forward to the posting on Christian headcoverings. I’m certain you will reference 1 Corinthians 11. I would requests that you deal with the entirety of the text including Paul’s concluding statement on the argument for a covering with this: “but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering.”

Najm-us-Sahar said...

very informative for me....I didn't know that jewish women are also directed to cover their hair and follow a modest covering pattern.......

Although i should know about the other three books also. This gave me a lot on information.

Thanks a lot........

Pixie said...

OumAmir: You are interpreting the Christian Bible (King James version, which is the only English translation I WILL use) the way many Christian scholars but from history we already know the Bible was not recorded in the time of Christ, and I do not take the the text of the Bible or Torah to be flawless (they are years out of date, picked up Middeleastern and African mythology,and were interpreted over and over again with political purpose [women were often written out of or put down by the Bible]). I grew up on so-called Christian history, and have studied its flaws quite actively when I decided I wasn't meant to be a nun OR a pagan witch:D

In Corinthians it also refers to a woman's hair being her covering, but this is the translation. In the text it was translated from "veiling" and covering are two very different words. Christian women were commanded to veil their heads (before English translation). I will add that in the Christian hijab post and where the translation error occurs from the Greek. What you write of Isiah is an interpretation of the meaning, but it is also a warning, like Yeshua's, and the Prophet S.A.W's that we should not as men, make haraam what is halaal since that is only for Allah S.W.T. to do. All of the examples Allah S.W.T made of of men in regards to an issue are examples to us as well when dealing with the same issue.

‘‘Make for yourselves tassels [g'dilim] on the four corners of the cloak [k'sut] that covers you'' (Deuteronomy 22:11 MBV). The command noted from Deuteronomy 22:11, is that it is to be a k'sut, or covering, and it is emphasized twice to be a ‘‘cloak [k'sut] that covers [k'sut] you.''
There is the reference to garements that cover for prayer here. The Torah and the Bible of course, are nowhere near as clear as the Qu'ran, because much has been purposely left out, changed, and lost in translation. But the fact is that covering remains despite. It was a command from God, in both Corinthians and Deuteronomy).

Pixie said...

BTW, everyone, I suggest you DON'T read a "modern" translation of the Bible as Oum Amir suggests because it even FURTHER distorted in meaning than the King James Bible (which was the FIRST English translation). The best is to be able to study the Greek and the Hebrew. Though thank you Oum Amir, lol it is 12 not 11.

Pixie said...

Modern translation of the Bible: "and they tied the shoe of Jesus." Um yeah, Isa didn't run around in sneakers lol. I HATE translations of translations. They always miss important details.

Anonymous said...

salam - great post! thoughtfully done, very accurate, and very interesting.

would you be so kind as to post your sources? would love to see what you have been drawing from.

thanks sis and salam alaikum; may Allah reward you for your very interesting research - food for thought!

btw one sister asked about orthodox jews and wigs v scarves - - it depends, some groups among the orthodox accept the use of wigs, a rabbinic concession due to when jewish women feared standing out in a non-jewish environment (by visibly covering their heads) and thereby being a target for hostility or violence.

but some rabbis/groups did not accept the practice of wearing wigs since it gives the wrong idea and permits men to think they are gazing upon a woman's hair and encourages people to leave a religious requirement by perpetuating the appearance of not observing it.

salam
sarah

Boxie said...

wow that was a long read, Thanx for all the info. I am looking forward to the Christian hijab. I may get my mom to read it. hope you have a nice night.

Amber said...

While I'm certainly not as learned as Pixie, from every translation I've read, or study on the passage (1 Corinthians 11) that didn't bend over backwards to make their preconceived case, it is clear that 'covering' and 'hair' are two very different things.

I very much look forward to Pixie's post on the subject.

♥Tiffany Nicole♥ said...

Anon wrote: 'a rabbinic concession due to when jewish women feared standing out in a non-jewish environment (by visibly covering their heads) and thereby being a target for hostility or violence.'

ahhh that make sense! I personally don't agree with it since the Bible says we are supposed to be 'seperate' from the world and if you are seperate then you will be noticably different & that we would be persecuted for doing so but, now I see why it was practiced in the 1st place.
Thank you for leting me know about that =)

Karakorom said...

As-salam alaykoum wa rahmatoullah wa barakatouh!

Great post and very instructive!
For the jewish women who wear the wig, I was once told that it was only as littre orthodox group that was doing that because "Once upon a time", a jewish princess was kipnaped by her long long hair...I don't know if it is truth though...but it was as sefarade jew man who told me that...

wasalam

OumAmir said...

“the way many Christian scholars but from history we already know the Bible was not recorded in the time of Christ, and I do not take the the text of the Bible or Torah to be flawless (they are years out of date, picked up Middeleastern and African mythology,and were interpreted over and over again with political purpose [women were often written out of or put down by the Bible]).”

Could you provide examples? I study textual criticism, and I would love to check the sources.

Again, the context for Deuteronomy is NOT in regards to prayer or any other religious context. Please reread that passage, that chapter, and that section of Deuteronomy.

In regards to the King James issue, which version of the King James did you use? The authorized version 1611 or one of the updates?

“Modern translation of the Bible: "and they tied the shoe of Jesus." Um yeah, Isa didn't run around in sneakers lol. I HATE translations of translations.”

Where is that verse and which translation? I couldn’t find it. And can you give an example that is a “translation of a translation” because I’m unsure which translation you’re talking about.

Pixie said...

Oum Amir: LOL why don't you start a blog on the subject with your source. I would be interested in reading your expertise:D

The translation was one (so bad) that i didn't care to keep track of bibliography, LOL but it really did say tie his shoelace rather than latch Isa's sandal:D Some modern translations are very bad. Translations of the translation of the King James (already quite far from the original Greek) really bug me. Which translation do you recommend?

As for Deautronomy, I believe much of what is contained in the Bible and Torah are metaphors and parables the cover more than just one historical situation in context , as is well known.

For the sources which show pagan influences from pagan myths in the Bible and Torah, there is for example the Crucifiction itself (similiar to myths about the "bleeding God" killed similiarily to the same day Horus form Egypt). That's a different post though:D Also, if one studies Roman architecture and etches they can see illustaration of even the holy symbols of the Jewish Temple covered in Pagan icons that were not Roman.

Suslique said...

salam aleykum! great post.
someone asked about hasidic jews, well from what i've seen, their accept wigs and wear them

American Muslima Writer said...

I'm with Lisa Yasemin You need to make a History of People of the Book and Islam, Pixie. You'd run it Fab. (Maybe can use the info to make ur own book :D )

Loved this LONG post and was amazed at soem of the info!

Lol I did a picture post on this subject glad you can back it up with the text.

Hope the CHristian one will be just as fab.

Anita said...

Pixie, you are incorrect. The King James Version of the Bible was NOT the first English translation. For instance the Douai Bible(the "Catholic" Bible) predates the King James, as does the Geneva translation (this was the translation the Pilgrims had when they came to the New World). The Wyclif Bible is an English translation dating back to the 14th century, obviously well before the 1611 KJV. Anyway, all that aside I find your blog entertaining and informative.

Anonymous said...

Hello. I am not a Muslim or a Jew, and I am no scholar, but a male Jewish friend (orthodox) once explained to me that the wearing of wigs as a head covering is acceptable to most orthodox Jews because (i) it is unobtrusive and therefore modest; and (ii) a wig may look nice but a man would have no desire to -- for example -- run his fingers through the false hair.

HTH. Please remember that I am no scholar!

AP

Anonymous said...

I am a little confused by your post. You typed married women must cover their hair, then you typed women must cover their hair. Are hair coverings required for just married women or all women? I'm a unmarried gentile woman. And ...what are your thoughts on women cutting their hair?

Anonymous said...

Just to simplify for those who are thoroughly confused by all the typos, misquotations, etc: Jewish women must cover their hair only once they're married. After that, whether married, divorced, or widowed, they must continue to cover their hair. The purpose of the hair covering is very different from that of Islam and is primarily for the husband's benefit. In Islam, our practice of hijab is between us and Allah (SWT) and the men in our lives also benefit ;) It's the focus on pleasing Allah (SWT)being of primary impostance that is the key difference here, I think. You can quote various texts all day long but at the end of the day, hijab is completely different from tzniut.