Lack of interaction between men and women leads to thousands of misunderstandings in society, some of which can have severe consequences. One such incident is IFK, where a misunderstanding arose due to Islamic Hijab and Modesty:
- This misunderstanding escalated to a deadly level, causing a division among the Sahaba (companions) of Muhammad into two groups.
- The situation became so tense that these two groups were on the verge of fighting and killing each other.
- Furthermore, Muhammad himself contemplated divorcing 'Aisha, despite her being fully innocent, due to the impact of this misunderstanding.
- Some members of society became mentally ill and baselessly slandered innocent 'Aisha, resulting in severe punishment later on.
- This entire dramatic situation persisted for a whole month and finally came to an end only through divine revelation.
- Without the claim of revelation by Muhammad, the consequences of these misunderstandings in this incident could have been even deadlier.
'Aisha told how the misunderstanding in the incident of Ifk began:
Sahih Bukhari 4141 (Dar-us-Salam Ref):
Narrated `Aisha: ... I was carried (on the back of a camel) in my howdah and carried down while still in it (when we came to a halt). So we went on till Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) had finished from that Ghazwa of his and returned. When we approached the city of Medina he announced at night that it was time for departure. So when they announced the news of departure, I got up and went away from the army camps, and after finishing from the call of nature, I came back to my riding animal. I touched my chest to find that my necklace which was made of Zifar beads (i.e. Yemenite beads partly black and partly white) was missing. So I returned to look for my necklace and my search for it detained me. (In the meanwhile) the people who used to carry me on my camel, came and took my howdah and put it on the back of my camel on which I used to ride, as they considered that I was in it...They made the camel rise and all of them left (along with it). I found my necklace after the army had gone.
The incident reflects some unique problems that are unnecessarily created due to the Hijab:
- The Islamic concept of hijab enforces a complete separation between women and men in society. Any form of conversation or interaction between men and women is deemed inappropriate and against 'Islamic Modesty'.
- During the journey, 'Aisha had to conceal herself behind the curtains of her camel's howdah, ensuring she remained hidden from the sight of men. The strict separation of genders prevented the men lifting her howdah from even greeting her, making it difficult for them to ascertain her presence inside.
This lack of interaction is evident in the incident of Ifk when Safwan found 'Aisha. The cultural norms dictated that men and women should remain distanced, adding to the complexities of the situation.
(The Hadith of Ifk incident continues)
Sahih Bukhari 4141 (Dar-us-Salam Ref)
Narrated 'Aisha: ... While I was sitting in my resting place, I was overwhelmed by sleep and slept. Safwan bin Al-Muattal As-Sulami Adh-Dhakwani was behind the army. When he reached my place in the morning, he saw the figure of a sleeping person and he recognized me on seeing me as he had seen me before the order of compulsory veiling (was prescribed). So I woke up when he recited Istirja' (i.e. "Inna li l-lahi wa inna llaihi raji'un") as soon as he recognized me, I veiled my face with my head cover at once, and by Allah, we did not speak a single word, and I did not hear him saying any word besides his Istirja'. He dismounted from his camel and made it kneel down, putting his leg on its front legs and then I got up and rode on it. Then he set out leading the camel that was carrying me till we overtook the army in the extreme heat of midday
Hence, how can Islam claim to be a 'religion of nature' when it imposes such stringent restrictions that even in emergencies, men and women cannot exchange a single word?
What harm would it have caused if Safwan had greeted 'Aisha and inquired about her situation? He could have offered assistance or asked if she needed any help in that particular situation.
Even in the present day, Muslim women and girls struggle to seek help without hesitation from men, be it male doctors, teachers, or others. These unnatural restrictions consume significant societal energy and render half of the Islamic society (i.e., women) practically limited in their ability to contribute productively.
Dire Consequences of Misunderstanding that took place in Ifk due to Islamic Hijab and Modesty:
The incident of Ifk resulted in a situation where Muhammad was on the verge of divorcing 'Aisha, despite her being entirely innocent. Additionally, some members of society faced severe punishment due to their involvement, and the entire episode extended for a full month, only concluding when divine revelation intervened. (i.e. without the claim of revelation by Muhammad, the consequences of misunderstandings in this incident would have become even deadlier).
(The Hadith of Ifk conitnues)
Sahih Bukhari 4141 (Dar-us-Salam Ref):
(Because of the event) some people brought destruction upon themselves and the one who spread the Ifk (i.e. slander) more, was `Abdullah bin Ubai Ibn Salul." (Urwa said, "The people propagated the slander and talked about it in his (i.e. `Abdullah's) presence and he confirmed it and listened to it and asked about it to let it prevail." `Urwa also added, "None was mentioned as members of the slanderous group besides (`Abdullah) except Hassan bin Thabit and Mistah bin Uthatha and Hamna bint Jahsh along with others about whom I have no knowledge,...
`Aisha added, "After we returned to Medina, I became ill for a month. The people were propagating the forged statements of the slanderers while I was unaware of anything of all that, but I felt that in my present ailment, I was not receiving the same kindness from Allah's Messenger as I used to receive when I got sick. (But now) Allah's Messenger would only come, greet me and say,' How is that (lady)?' and leave. ...
('Aisha further said) When the Divine Inspiration was delayed, Allah's Messenger called `Ali bin Abi Talib and Usama bin Zaid to ask and consult them about divorcing me ...
(Muhammad also asked Barira, the maid-servant) and Barira said to him, 'By Him Who has sent you with the Truth. I have never seen anything in her (i.e. Aisha) which I would conceal, except that she is a young girl who sleeps leaving the dough of her family exposed so that the domestic goats come and eat it.' So, on that day, Allah's Messenger got up on the pulpit and complained about `Abdullah bin Ubai (bin Salul) before his companions, saying, 'O you Muslims! Who will relieve me from that man who has hurt me with his evil statement about my family? By Allah, I know nothing except good about my family and they have blamed a man (i.e. Safwan) about whom I know nothing except good and he used never to enter my home except with me.
' Sa`d bin Mu`adh the brother of Banu `Abd Al-Ashhal got up and said, 'O Allah's Messenger ! I will relieve you from him; if he is from the tribe of Al-Aus, then I will chop his head off, and if he is from our brothers, i.e. Al-Khazraj, then order us, and we will fulfill your order.' On that, a man from Al-Khazraj got up. Um Hassan, his cousin, was from his branch tribe, and he was Sa`d bin Ubada, chief of Al-Khazraj. Before this incident, he was a pious man, but his love for his tribe goaded him into saying to Sa`d (bin Mu`adh). 'By Allah, you have told a lie; you shall not and cannot kill him. If he belonged to your people, you would not wish him to be killed.' On that, Usaid bin Hudair who was the cousin of Sa`d (bin Mu`adh) got up and said to Sa`d bin 'Ubada, 'By Allah! You are a liar! We will surely kill him, and you are a hypocrite arguing on the behalf of hypocrites.' On this, the two tribes of Al-Aus and Al Khazraj got so much excited that they were about to fight while Allah's Messenger was standing on the pulpit. Allah's Messenger kept on quietening them till they became silent and so did he.
... ('Aisha further told that she went to her parents house and stayed there. And after one month) Allah's Messenger came, greeted us and sat down. He had never sat with me since that day of the slander. A month had elapsed and no Divine Inspiration came to him about my case. Allah's Apostle then recited Tashah-hud and then said, 'Amma Badu, O `Aisha! I have been informed so-and so about you; if you are innocent, then soon Allah will reveal your innocence, and if you have committed a sin, then repent to Allah and ask Him for forgiveness for when a slave confesses his sins and asks Allah for forgiveness, Allah accepts his repentance.' ...
('Aisha further said) Then I said to my mother, 'Reply to Allah's Messenger on my behalf concerning what he has said.' She said, 'By Allah, I do not know what to say to Allah's Messenger .' In spite of the fact that I was a young girl and had a little knowledge of Qur'an, I said, 'By Allah, no doubt I know that you heard this (slanderous) speech so that it has been planted in your hearts (i.e. minds) and you have taken it as a truth. Now if I tell you that I am innocent, you will not believe me, and if confess to you about it, and Allah knows that I am innocent, you will surely believe me. By Allah, I find no similitude for me and you except that of Joseph's father when he said, '(For me) patience in the most fitting against that which you assert; it is Allah (Alone) Whose Help can be sought.' Then I turned to the other side and lay on my bed; ...
('Aisha further said after that immediately revelation started coming to Muhammad and he said to her) 'O `Aisha! Allah has declared your innocence!' Then my Mother said to me, 'Get up and go to him (i.e. Allah's Messenger). I replied, 'By Allah, I will not go to him, and I praise none but Allah.
The consequences of this incident were severe:
For a complete month, 'Aisha endured emotional distress and pain, despite her innocence. Even Muhammad harbored suspicion in his heart and showed no compassion towards her.
The incident divided the Muslims into two factions, on the brink of violence against each other.
Moreover, these 'restrictions' imposed in the name of 'Islamic Modesty' are contrary to human nature, leading to a paranoid and skeptical society that verges on becoming a psychological case.
The reasons behind the slander against 'Aisha by the two companions, Hassan bin Thabit and Mistah, remain unclear. However, it appears that these unnatural restrictions are fostering paranoia and transforming members of the Islamic society into individuals believing in unfounded notions.
Today, thousands of killings occur in Islamic societies in the name of 'Honour Killing', solely based on doubts and paranoia.
The entire one-month-long drama stemmed from the restrictions on the interaction between men and women in the guise of 'Islamic Modesty'. Unfortunately, these same restrictions continue to plague Islamic society even today.