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Allah's Hijab

Qa'im

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Allah has placed important symbols in our religion that we must seek to understand.

The word "hijab" appears seven times in the Quran. In 7:46, the hijab is a "barrier" that divides Paradise from the Fire. In 19:16-17, Mary "secludes" herself from her family to devote herself to God in solitude. In 33:53, a "screen" protects the Prophet's wives from onlookers. In 41:5, a "barrier" prevents the disbelievers from heartfelt belief. In 42:51, a "veil" prevents Allah from being seen by those He reveals to. In 17:45, a "partition" prevents the disbelievers from comprehending the Quran. In 38:32, a "curtain" prevents Solomon from seeking his prescribed prayers.

The Quran never refers to the Muslim headdress as a hijab. In our traditional literature, the garment is instead referred to as a khimar, a jilbab, or a kisa'. So this begs the question: what is a hijab in Islamic terminology? A hijab primarily is a barrier that prevents or protects one thing from another. It can be both physical (like a curtain) or metaphysical. A physical hijab may be a simple covering that prevents unwanted access to an object or a person - much like the curtain that would prevent strange men from seeing the Prophet's wives. A metaphysical hijab could be an attitude that a person has - like Mary's seclusion from her people, or like the "social hijab" that prevents unnecessary mixing between men and women. But a metaphysical hijab can also be a boundary that Allah has set between two things.

The precious pearl hides inside the oyster's mysterious shell. In all instances, the hijab protects something of value from those who have not demonstrated a sincerity to it. It prevents both intentional and accidental harm from coming to the object of value. Only those who have demonstrated a sincerity to the gem beyond the barrier can access its excellence. For example, faith, which is a precious light of Paradise ( الايمان في الجنة ), can only be attained by those who seek it and are open to its reception. If one is insincere to faith, a barrier will be put up to protect it from him, preventing him from its understanding and its benefits. Furthermore, inner understandings of the Quran cannot be attained by a cursory reading of it - the esoteric can only be gained by deep reflection and devotion. Through this hijab, God protects the most priceless secrets from the misunderstanding and misuse of those who seek to abuse them.

Likewise, even the hijab (both physical and social) of a woman from a stranger protects her from complete objectification. The only ones that can access her feminine energy, her motherhood, her personality, and her physical beauty are (1) her direct relatives, or (2) a man who has sought her expressed consent, the permission of her guardian, and has devoted himself to her sustenance. Once that sincerity is established, the barriers are gradually removed, one after the other, and the sincere man becomes overwhelmed at her marvel.

The hijab is a Sunna of Allah. It is something that He Himself has enacted, both upon Himself and upon others. Allah has been inclined to put veils in His creation and His religion (الله ستار يحب الستر). He has also created veils for Himself - He created seven veils of light between Himself and the creation ( إن الله خلق السماوات سبعاً والأرضين سبعاً والحجب سبعاً ). This light is said to inspire the creation with His greatness, His guidance, and His love ( لما اسري بي إلى السماء بلغ بي جبرئيل مكانا لم يطأه قط جبرئيل فكشف له فأراه الله من نور عظمته ما أحب ). The purpose of these veils is twofold: (1) to prevent His recognition and His presence from the insincere disbelievers, and (2) to manifest His signs to those who recognize Him. Allah's veils are the epitome example for veiling in Islam - they both prevent and inspire. All other hijabs are a symbol of His ultimate and primordial hijab - a hijab is to be beautiful, inspiring guidance and awe, but also purposeful in providing the security of an object or an idea.

Allah's essence is a mystery. It cannot be compared to anything, and it is contrary to all that comes to mind. The divine mystery of God's nature is called "the secret" (al-sir) in our literature. One of the roles of the Guide is to protect this secret from corruption - meaning, to prevent the people from generating a polytheistic understandings of Allah's nature. The Guide goes through extra trouble to make sure that God's mystery is kept with distance to prevent it from being defiled. Pure monotheism is their priority.

At the same time, Allah has one more very important luminous hijab: the Prophet Muhammad (s). In al-Kafi, the Prophet is called the hijab of Allah ( محمد حجاب الله تبارك وتعالى ), and the same is said in Tafsir al-`Ayashi ( بمحمد صلى الله عليه وآله تطمئن وهو ذكر الله وحجابه ). This is because the Prophet is the ultimate guardian of Allah's essence, protecting monotheistic theology from any and all corruption. Indeed, the Prophet was raised beyond all of Allah's other veils of light during the mi`raj ( فلمّا اُسرى بالنبيّ ( صلّى الله عليه وآله ) فكان من ربّه كقاب قوسين أو أدنى رفع له حجاب من حجبه فكبّر رسول الل ), and was brought closer to Allah than any other creation. The Prophet also fulfills the other function of God's light hijabs, which is to guide and to inspire the creation to God. Everything about his form and his personality has been made for us to approach Allah and understand His attributes better. He is called "the Reminder" (al-Dhikr) because he is the ultimate proof of Allah and His most luminous light. It is not a coincidence that the Ahl al-Kisa' are the "People of the Cloak" - they are a sacred and primordial union that simultaneously protect the hidden and manifest the wisdom of God.

Likewise, Lady Fatima put extra veils between her and those who had oppressed her - she wrapped her scarf around her head, covered herself in her cloak, surrounded herself with her family, stepped on the ends of her dress, and placed a curtain before her and the Caliphal elites ( لما أجمع أبوبكر وعمر على منع فاطمة عليها السلام فدكا و بلغها ذلك لاثت خمارها على رأسها و اشتملت بجلبابها وأقبلت في لمةٍ من حفدتها ونساء قومها تطأ ذيولها ما تخرم مشيتها مشية رسول الله ( ص ) حتى دخلت على أبي بكر وهو في حشد من المهاجرين والأنصار وغيرهم فنيطت دونها ملاءة فجلست ).

It is important that we do not just relegate this beautiful concept of hijab to a headdress. A headdress without the intention and practice of hijab is just another piece of cloth. But a modest dress can be a small part of a larger, more meaningful dynamic. We are to carry out the hijab in all of our practices: we cover our good deeds, we protect our family members from insincere people, we protect the secrets of Ahl al-Bayt from their enemies, we recognize that the hidden intentions are more important than the apparent actions, we seek the esoteric understandings of our religion, and we recognize the limits in both theology and in society.

May Allah plant the needed humility in the garden of our hearts, so that the veil of occultation is lifted between us and our Imam for a nourishing relationship with him.



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Salam 

Thank you. Very thoughtfully written. Just an interesting thing, a women is called Kaneez of Allah, a man is normally refered to as Abd of Allah.

Kaneez comes from the word Kunz which means treasure.

Kaneez means the treasurer.

Allah says in Hadith al Qudsi :

«کنت کنزاً مخفیاً فأحببت أن اُعرف فخلقتُ الخلق لکَی اُعرف»

" I was a hidden Treasure  then I desired to be known so I created a creation to which I made Myself known; then they knew me "

So a woman can be closer to this hidden treasure if she observes the symbol of both internal and external treasure.

That is why a devoted women is given the title of Kaneez of Allah, because they can reach the secret of Allah better, only if they know their own worth.

Edited by certainclarity

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Imam ar-Rida [a] said, "He is veiled with a barrier that does not cover Him, and He is cloaked without a cloak sheltering Him." ( احتجب بغير حجاب محجوب واستتر بغير ستر مستور )

Meaning, Allah's hijab does not limit Him in any way, nor does He have any physical properties for it to encompass Him. His veils, which are the Ahl al-Bayt and His divine light, are all created things with a special function: they represent and reflect God whilst protecting His mystery.

Imam as-Sadiq [a] said, “The Sun is one seventieth of the light of the Seat (kursi), and the Seat is one seventieth of the light of the Throne (`arsh), and the Throne is one seventieth of the light of the Veil (al-hijab), and the Veil is one seventieth of the light of the Cloak (al-sitr). So if they were truthful, let them fill their eyes with the unclouded Sun.” ( الشمس جزء من سبعين جزءا من نور الكرسي والكرسي جزء من سبعين جزءا من نور العرش والعرش جزء من سبعين جزءا من نور الحجاب والحجاب جزء من سبعين جزءا من نور الستر فإن كانوا صادقين فليملاوا أعينهم من الشمس ليس دونها سحاب. )

This narration teaches us several things. The first is that Allah cannot be seen due to His great and limitless essence. As humans, we can barely look to the Sun, so to suggest that we will be able to see God's essence with our eyes is void of any reality. We do not even share a "setting" with God for us to see Him, and even then, there are many objects that share our world that we cannot see. To say that we will be able to see God would mean that God would be in our third dimension, subject to time and space.

Secondly, the metaphysical structures are greater in magnitude and brighter in illumination than the Sun. The Seat is a representation of God's authority over the heavens and the Earth. The Throne, which is far more vast and more bright than the Seat, represents God's religion and the knowledge He has shared. The Veil is that Muhammadan Light, the Light of Guidance, which encompasses the authority of creation and the knowledge of Islam. It is for Muhammad's sake that the universe was created, and it is from His light that the other lights were created. The last object is the Cloak - we know that the knowledge and status of the Prophet is insignificant next to Allah - the Prophet is His slave. Although the Prophet is closer to Him than any other thing, less than two bow lengths away (53:29), there is still knowledge and power that Allah has that has been kept from the Prophet. Allah has no partners, and His essence is beyond even the sight of the Holy Prophet, and thus there must be this space in between the Hijab of Allah and the divine essence.

Imam al-Baqir [a] said, "Through us, Allah is worshiped. Through us, Allah is recognized. Through us, Allah is considered One. And Muhammad is the veil (hijab) of Allah."  ( بنا عبد الله، وبنا عرف الله، وبنا وحد الله تبارك وتعالى، ومحمد حجاب الله تبارك وتعالى (3) )

The Ahl al-Bayt's recognition is necessary for Allah's recognition. Not only do they transmit the correct knowledge of God, but they reflect His truth, His power, His wisdom, His mercy, His justice, etc. In understanding Ahl al-Bayt, we develop a more personal relationship with Allah. Not just a recognition of His cosmological role, but actually understanding the attributes of His essence. Furthermore, it is subservience to the Guide that constitutes worship in Islam - such as the prostration to Adam. He who does not recognize the Imam of his time dies the death of jahiliyya - i.e., Imamate is tied directly to monotheism, and he who does not recognize his Imam has followed Satan, even if he believes in one God. In the time of the Prophet, those who blindly took the authority of the rabbis and priests over the Prophet were considered polytheists, not because they believed in multiple gods, but because their allegiance is to other than God. Keep in mind, also, that the Ahl al-Bayt were the first to worship God. When the angels were created, they simply emulated the actions of the Ahl al-Bayt.

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Imam al-Baqir [a] said, "Whoever would want no veil between him and Allah on the Day of Resurrection, so that he may look towards Allah and Allah may look towards him, then he should take the Family of Muhammad (s) as his wali, disassociate from their enemy, and unite with the Imam from them. When he is like that, then he will look towards Allah and Allah will look towards him." ( الشيخ أبو محمد هرون بن موسى بن احمد بن ابراهيم التلعكبري ايده الله قال حدثنا محمد بن همام قال حدثنا حميد بن زياد الدهقان قال حدثنا أبو جعفر احمد بن زياد بن جعفر الازدي البزاز قال حدثنا محمد بن المثنى بن القاسم الحضرمي قال حدثنا جعفر بن محمد بن شريح الحضرمي عن حميد بن شعيب السبيعي عن جابر بن يزيد الجعفي قال قال أبو جعفر محمد بن علي عليهما السلام من سره ان لا يكون بينه وبين الله حجاب يوم القيمة حتى ينظر إلى الله و ينظر الله إليه فليتول ال محمد (ص) ويبرء ( ويتبرء خ د ) من عدوهم وياتم بالامام منهم فانه إذا كان ذلك نظر إلى الله ونظر الله إليه )

This narration is a clear example of the hijab as a principle. Only those who demonstrate a sincerity to Allah will have the veil between he and Allah lifted. Otherwise, the veil remains. This demonstration of sincerity is made through upright devotion to Ahl al-Bayt. This is reflected in 3:31 - if you love Allah, then follow the Prophet, and Allah will love you. It is an equation: we first recognize Allah's cosmological and ontological reality, then we establish a devoted relationship with His representatives, then we are rewarded. Lastly, this "looking" towards Allah is manifold. Of course, we will not be able to see Allah with our eyes, but our literature says that we will be able to recognize Him in our hearts through the realities of faith.
Furthermore, we will be able to see the "Face of Allah" in the Hereafter. His Face is not a physical body part, but rather it is a creation and a symbol of Him. In our literature, Allah's Face is that which through He is known and recognized. His Face includes His religion, His signs in the world, His Prophet, His representatives, and the righteous worshipers. Through these objects, we are reminded of Allah, and Allah is made known. In Paradise, one of the rewards of the believers will be to see this Face - meaning, the knowledge and the representatives of God.

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A thoughtful comment from fellow reader:

perhaps we can understand the concept of hijab as an ontological marker for the necessity of a medium to negotiate the relationship between a cause and its effects

1) when it comes to Allah, the divine nur muhammadi negotiates between the singular limitless cause and His multiple, limited effects. Hence Muhammad is the Hijab of Allah. Because Allah's essence cannot be perceived, His actions- that is His direct effect (the Ahlul Bayt) negotiate and make possible the rest of mankind's perception of Him such that their purpose of existence can be fulfilled.

2) regarding the female's hijab- perhaps the veil is a marker for the medium of the womb which negotiates contact between the female and the rest of society- where her relationship with society is determined by their contact with her womb (either as offspring or progenitors) - haven't really thought this one out clearly yet.

3) regarding fatima al-zahra: her manifestation on earth as a unique ontological category of hawra al Insiyyah negotiates between her unknowable essence and her tangible and perceivable Worldly effects.

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      Such has been the irony of globalisation that a few weeks ago eating at Dishoom restaurant in London’s East End I saw the Thums Up logo once more. A symbol of rejecting western capitalism had itself become a brand, with a consumerist meaning, evoking a carbonated essence of India. 
      Like all children of Asian immigrants on visits to their parents’ country of origin, I was also overwhelmed with the extensivity and density of familial connections. There were first cousins, second cousins, and quite a lot more complicated combinations, for which there are no words in English. Added to this, a matriarchal aunt could also be a cousin. My wife came up with a novel way of explaining one such relationship to me. “If that aunt were Mary Queen of Scots, your mum would be Elizabeth I”. Indeed, an artefact of such complex and inter-related ties was the obvious existence of rivalries, jealousies, and squabbles spanning generations. In England, my younger brother and I had been protected from this aspect of extended family life. The protection came at a price: we didn’t know how to deal with it at all. At the age of 10 this did not matter, but on future visits, it would become more significant and certainly by the time my brother and I reached marriageable age. For the time being, it was just nice that as I wandered from apartment to apartment in the mahal, everyone I met was a relative and I was too young to understand any political dimension of that relationship. It would also be in subsequent visits to the mahal, when I was older, that I’d appreciate the tensions with the communities who lived outside the mahal.
      On my daily walks, I’d see hand powered sewing machines and food being prepared more laboriously than anything I had seen at home. The dirt floor did not afford the comfort of sitting cross legged and sitting on my haunches was not something my leg muscles were prepared for. Unlike the urban homes, I had come across in the sub-continent, the toilet here was a platform raised above the multi-coloured offerings beneath. So large was the place that any smells remained distant from any other rooms.
      The cold had not left us in Fatehpur. At night, they would light braziers which were wonderful for bringing around family members, sitting together on the Indian style wooden beds, sharing each other’s warmth, stories and gossip. 
       
       
       
       
    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
         3
      There is a populist theory that the pyramids must have had an alien inspiration. This is because of the range of innovations that they represent and knowledge across multiple disciplines and their orientation towards certain constellations.
      My problem with this theory is the bent pyramid at Dahshur. It's bent, because they got the maths wrong. Weird that aliens who managed to get to this planet but then got their measurements for a stone structure wrong. Seems pretty clear to me that the pyramids we see represent the refinement and development of Egyptian technology, rather than discrete alien intervention.
      In contrast, this planet is stuffed full of interesting resources in quantities just right for exploitation at the time that they'd be needed and human development would have reached a stage to take advantage. That's a far more likely candidate as evidence of extra-terrestrial involvement in the seeding of this planet with the correct quantities of resources at the time of its creation. Given the nature and extent of such material, it's likely to have been something more advanced than aliens doing the seeding.
      I was reminded of this by the current horseshoe crab shortage affecting north America. It seems as if they have been over-exploited because their blood contains a substance used to test medical products for the presence of bacteria.
    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
         1
      Summary
      The factors which allow countries to produce lots of brains may be the very factors that mean such brains will find better opportunities in countries that are better able to pay brains.
      Whether the countries producing the brains are able to benefit from their education-positive actions depends on whether the brains who leave for better opportunities consider their success to be a function of their childhood country or their own hard work.
      Countries that produce brains need to work hard in order to ensure that people recognise the source of their success.
      Brain drainees
      Brain drainees are countries that lose qualified people to other countries. Brain drainees typically need to create the brains in the first place and typically there are some conditions that need to be met in order to do this. In order to develop an educated population you need pupils who have enough to eat and drink, feel secure and who are not compelled to work as child labourers. Ideally, they should not have so much wealth that they have too much access to distractions that will keep them away from their studies. 
      You need parents who are willing to provide the time and attention needed for children to learn i.e. people who don't feel compelled to work excessive hours in their employment activities either because such work is badly paid or because it is so well paid but competitive that they have to work those hours to keep up with their peers. You need a social system that keeps parents with children rather than in bars.
      You need teachers who are qualified, i.e. those who know their subjects well enough that they want to impart knowledge rather than rote learning. And you need education leaders who see their leadership positions as ones that serve society rather than their own pockets.
      Countries can create brains for export without the above conditions, but the above represent an ideal, a sort of goldilocks zone. Societies that are neither too dysfunctional or too successful.
      Being in the goldilocks zone also means that parents, teachers and children see the value of utilitarian, functional subjects such as maths and engineering. In contrast in more developed societies there may be a tendency to study more values-expressive subjects such as the arts and social sciences.
      Brain drainers
      These are societies that systematically draw brains from other countries. Typically these societies are rich. People with brains do not move to poor countries unless they are on a World Bank or an NGO contract.
      The wealth of these societies means that the children within them have access to distractions, X-boxes do not play themselves, this means that they don't create as many brains as they could. There are other factors at play as well. Parents may find it more economically beneficial to spend time at work rather than with kids and they may also find it more productive to have less kids to begin with. Both factors reduce brains. 
      In such societies, there are good teachers, (obviously). But supply may be limited, this is because people who are well-qualified have a lot of other employment opportunities that are typically better paid than education. Teachers could be paid more, but typically these societies find it more effective to reduce tax rates in order to encourage commerce and enterprise and/or spend their budgets on the military which in turn create non-education job opportunities.
      The lack of parental support at home, the availability of distractions and other social forces that challenge traditional teacher/pupil relationships can also mean that teaching becomes more demanding and challenging.
      Because these societies are rich, however, it remains relatively easy to recruit qualified people in a range of different activities from other countries that are effective at producing them.
      Assessments of cause and effect
      It may well be that the very factors that allow countries to produce brains are the ones which reduce the opportunities for those brains to exploit the skills that they have developed in their home countries.
      Crucial to this issue is the perception of the brains themselves. If they attribute their success to their own labours and that of the brain drainee country that allowed them in, then there will be a net loss to the brain drainee country, it may be less likely to see any future returns to its investment.
      If however, the brains feel that they either owe a debt to the drainee country and/or that the drainee country offers opportunities in the long-term they may make a contribution to it.
    • By Qa'im in Imamology
         5
      The idea that the world is composed of four or five elements (fire, water, earth, wind, and aether) was almost universal in the ancient world. The science and mythology of many ancient civilizations, from Greece to Japan, operated on this understanding.

      While Islam is not really married to the idea of four elements (it is not supported in an explicit way in the Quran or hadiths), it is interesting to note that Islamic metaphysics and cosmology use this system.

      This is especially the case in the spiritual world. The jinn are made from a smokeless Fire, the humans are made from Earth (Teen), and the soul (ruH) comes from the word for Wind (reeH). The Throne of Allah was settled upon Water (11:7), until that water was separated into the heavens and earth. The angels are from light (Noor, a word related to Nar).

      Allah does not raise a prophet except that he speaks the language of his people. He may have used these literary devices to explain a realm that is ultimately beyond our understanding (ghayb). The Quran is a book that needs to be intelligible to people, especially when speaking on the unseen and unknown.

      While the universe is simply not made up of H2O, the image of Water as a fluid, clear, shapeless structure is befitting to understanding the world. In physics, the concept of fields (gravitational, spatial) operate largely on fluid mechanics. “Water” is a chaotic substance that was then categorized, compartmentalized and distinguished into the world we know today.

      Similarly, a simple sample of the water (saliva) in your body can create an entire profile of who you are: your DNA, and therefore, your family lineage, your appearance, your susceptibility to diseases, and even parts of your personality.

      There are some things that are beyond literal and metaphorical. The dichotomy of literal and metaphorical is sometimes not just inaccurate, but harmful to our readings of scripture.
    • By 3wliya_maryam in deep poetry
         6
      Why am I always agitated
      To the point where I'm just irritated
      At every small thing that comes my way
      I throw a tantrum not realising what I say
      Sometimes I reassure myself
      It's okay, your human, you can control yourself
      But everytime I try, its only temporary
      And I try to push away the guilt that I carry
      No matter how many times you fall
      Keep breaking through that strong immense wall
      Even if you still haven't been able to and you just wanna stop
      Be proud that you still didn't drop
      That you still haven't given up.
    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
         0
      and there is no one around to hear it, does it make a sound?
      I think it most likely does, but I think the issue misses the point about the significance of that tree to our existence.
      There are lots of things happening in the universe that we cannot observe when they happen, but they are important for our understanding of natural history when we reach a point in our own development when we can observe their effects.
      So millions of years ago there were trees that were falling that we could not hear or observe, but we see their effects today when we dig and drill for hydrocarbons and we can reconstruct their ecosystem in such a manner that it provides us with a scientific understanding of why we are where we are today together with clues as to where we may be heading.
      At the level of the individual plant, then, we may never have been able to hear or see what happened to it. But the important aspect of its life, what it left behind has been useful for us.
      In the case of frozen mammoths, the evolution life and death of an entire species may have been of value to us in the form of the handful of specimens that have been observed. Had the millions of other mammoths not lived (whose sounds we'd obviously never hear) we would not have been able to acquire those specimens that serendipitously died in a manner that preserved them and learn more about them.
      The same point applies to the stars and the universe. Many of them have existed for billions of years, it seems, for the exclusive benefit of us being able to see them at this point in time, when their light could reach us.
       
    • By shadow_of_light in From Earth to Heaven
         0
      "Sardaar" by Ali Ashabi
       
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