Casablanca – Last month at Al Azhar University, Sheikh Mustapha Mohamed Rashed defended a thesis that sparked a heated debate among religious scholars. The candidate concluded that Hijab, or the veil, is not an Islamic duty.
The claim is not the first of its kind, but the mere fact that it is adopted in Al Azhar University – the Sunni Islam’s foremost seat of learning –makes it controversial.
Sheikh Mustapha Mohamed Rashed argued that Hijab is not an Islamic duty. He stated that Hijab refers to the cover of the head, which is not mentioned in the Holy Quran at all. “Nonetheless, a bunch of scholars insisted vehemently that the veil is both an Islamic duty and one of the most important pillars of Islam,” he added.
In doing so, the PhD candidate points out, “they deviated from the purposes of the Islamic law and “Sahih Atafsir” or the true interpretation. They rejected reasoning and relied only on literal text.”
According to Mohamed Rashed, these scholars de-contextualized the verses of the Quran and interpreted them in their very own liking, following some ancient scholars, as if what they said is sacred and is no subject to Ijtihad.
Ijtihad is a technical term, which literally means “exertion” in a jurisprudential sense; it is the exertion of mental energy by a Muslim jurist to deduce legal rulings from Islam’s sacred texts.
The researcher continued that the scholars, who claim that Hijab is an important pillar of Islam, departed from “Al Minhaj Assahih,” or the true path, of interpretation and reasoning, which interprets the verses according to their historical context and the causes of revelation. These scholars “interpreted the verses in their general sense, overlooking the causes of their revelation, intentionally or due to their limited intellectual capacity resulted in psychological scourge.” Worse yet, they approached hundreds of important issues in the same way.”
“The supporters of Hijab as an Islamic duty base their arguments on inconsistent and wrong evidence. They would ascribe various meanings to the veil, from Hijab to Khimar to Jalabib, a fact which shows that they digressed from the true meaning they intended to address, the cover of the head,” he added. The researcher attempted to deconstruct the three claims that are derived from interpretations of the sacred texts.