In Iran, observing hijab is required by law to a certain extent (see Wikipedia). This means women are forced to do it (to some degree), that observing hijab is ordinary, and that many women there seem to love and encourage observing hijab there. Many shops in Iran sell hijab-related clothing items, and it's easier to buy clothes that are both fashionable and modest.

In contrast, Australia doesn't have such a law, and a woman exposing her awrah is an everyday occurrence, with very few women doing otherwise. Indeed, observing hijab would render you the odd one out, and hijab-related shops are rare. Moreover, Australia has some unsettling anti-Islam prejudice, e.g. from anti-Islam groups (e.g. the True Blue Crew), and hijabis may be subject to harassment to violence:

...the headscarf has become a lightning rod for attacking Muslim women. -- Gillian Triggs, president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, The Guardian

(See also Islamophobia in Australia, Wikipedia.)

This makes me wonder if this difference in societal attitudes is taken into account...

Question: Is the reward for observing hijab in Iran the same as for observing hijab in Australia?

On one hand, observing hijab is practically far easier to do in Iran than in Australia. On the other hand, it's essentially the same act of worship.

2 Answers 2


Yes, indeed the reward is much higher; not only higher than people living in another place at the same time, but even higher than the companions doing a similar deed. The Prophet ﷺ told us that the time will come when we feel estranged wherever we live, and that holding on to our identity and teachings of Islam will be as tough as someone grabbing (yes, grabbing, not just touching) a piece of charcoal. The reward, though, is fifty times that of the companions of the Prophet ﷺ.

The Prophet ﷺ informed us that there will be a time (which we are living in now, or at least quickly approaching it) when Muslims will feel as estranged as they were during the early years of his message to Quraish:

حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ عَبَّادٍ، وَابْنُ أَبِي عُمَرَ، جَمِيعًا عَنْ مَرْوَانَ الْفَزَارِيِّ، قَالَ ابْنُ عَبَّادٍ حَدَّثَنَا مَرْوَانُ، عَنْ يَزِيدَ، - يَعْنِي ابْنَ كَيْسَانَ - عَنْ أَبِي حَازِمٍ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم:‏ بَدَأَ الإِسْلاَمُ غَرِيبًا وَسَيَعُودُ كَمَا بَدَأَ غَرِيبًا فَطُوبَى لِلْغُرَبَاءِ

It is narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: Islam initiated as something strange, and it would revert to its (old position) of being strange. so good tidings for the stranger.

Sahih Muslim » Book of Faith » Hadith 145

The Prophet ﷺ gives good tidings to those who are estranged. Being estranged is not due to having fewer Muslims (now numbering well over one billion), but due to fewer Muslims properly following the teachings of Islam. In another narration of this hadith, the Prophet ﷺ said: "They are a few righteous people among a lot of bad people." (Arabic: هم أناس صالحون قليل في أناس سوء كثير). However, the Prophet ﷺ gives good tidings to those who are strangers in their societies. See Islam Began as Something Strange on Islam Q&A for more information on this hadith.

The good tidings are in the reward being fifty times that of the companions of the Prophet ﷺ. Even the companions, when the Prophet ﷺ told them so, they questioned him: fifty folds of people among ourselves or among the companions. This is under the condition that we comply with the teachings of Islam, enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong. Read:

حَدَّثَنَا سَعِيدُ بْنُ يَعْقُوبَ الطَّالْقَانِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ الْمُبَارَكِ، أَخْبَرَنَا عُتْبَةُ بْنُ أَبِي حَكِيمٍ، حَدَّثَنَا عَمْرُو بْنُ جَارِيَةَ اللَّخْمِيُّ، عَنْ أَبِي أُمَيَّةَ الشَّعْبَانِيِّ، قَالَ أَتَيْتُ أَبَا ثَعْلَبَةَ الْخُشَنِيَّ فَقُلْتُ لَهُ كَيْفَ تَصْنَعُ فِي هَذِهِ الآيَةِ قَالَ أَيَّةُ آيَةٍ قُلْتُ قَوْلُهُ ‏:‏ ‏« يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا عَلَيْكُمْ أَنْفُسَكُمْ لاَ يَضُرُّكُمْ مَنْ ضَلَّ إِذَا اهْتَدَيْتُمْ ‏» قَالَ أَمَا وَاللَّهِ لَقَدْ سَأَلْتَ عَنْهَا خَبِيرًا سَأَلْتُ عَنْهَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ: بَلِ ائْتَمِرُوا بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنَاهَوْا عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ حَتَّى إِذَا رَأَيْتَ شُحًّا مُطَاعًا وَهَوًى مُتَّبَعًا وَدُنْيَا مُؤْثَرَةً وَإِعْجَابَ كُلِّ ذِي رَأْىٍ بِرَأْيِهِ فَعَلَيْكَ بِخَاصَّةِ نَفْسِكَ وَدَعِ الْعَوَامَّ فَإِنَّ مِنْ وَرَائِكُمْ أَيَّامًا الصَّبْرُ فِيهِنَّ مِثْلُ الْقَبْضِ عَلَى الْجَمْرِ لِلْعَامِلِ فِيهِنَّ مِثْلُ أَجْرِ خَمْسِينَ رَجُلاً يَعْمَلُونَ مِثْلَ عَمَلِكُمْ‏.‏ قَالَ عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ الْمُبَارَكِ وَزَادَنِي غَيْرُ عُتْبَةَ قِيلَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَجْرُ خَمْسِينَ رَجُلاً مِنَّا أَوْ مِنْهُمْ. قَالَ: ‏لاَ بَلْ أَجْرُ خَمْسِينَ مِنْكُمْ

Narrated Abu Umayah Ash-Sha'bani: "I went to Abu Tha'balah Al-Khushani and said to him: 'How do you deal with this Ayah?' He said: 'Which Ayah?' I said: 'Allah's saying: Take care of yourselves! If you follow the guidance no harm shall come to you (5:105).' He said: 'Well, by Allah! I asked one well-informed about it, I asked the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) about it.

[So] he said: "Rather, comply with (and order) the good, and stay away from (and prohibit) the evil, until you see avarice obeyed, desires followed, and the world preferred, and everyone is amazed with his view. Then you should be worried about yourself in particular, and worry of the common folk. Ahead of you are the days in which patience is like holding onto an ember, for the doer (of righteous deeds) during them is the like of the reward of fifty of those who do the like of what you do."

'Abdullah bin Al-Mubarak said: "It was added for me, by other than 'Utbah, that it was said: 'O Messenger of Allah! The reward of fifty men among us, or them?' He said: 'No! Rather the reward of fifty men among you.'"

Jami' at-Tirmidhi » Hadith 3058

For more information on this hadith, you may refer to The contrast between the deeds of the Sahaabah and the deeds of the people at the end of time on Islam Q&A.

One final note, the fifty-fold reward is related to equivalent acts, not at large. We all know that there is no way for us now to reach the same level of support that the first companions gave to Islam and to the Prophet ﷺ (effort, money, sacrifices, etc.). Also, we know that the best generation is that of the companions, then those who followed them, then those who followed them. In other words, those who hold onto an ember will get higher rewards than the companions per deed, but overall stance may not necessarily be as high.


You're asking a much more generic question that is:

Is the reward/punish of people with different circumstances the same or not?

Obviously it's not the same. The person who is observing hijab in Australia is more rewarded. Each person is rewarded/punished according the circumstances of that action.

Some Quranic verses:

Talaq 7 Let a man of wealth spend from his wealth, and he whose provision is restricted - let him spend from what Allah has given him. Allah does not charge a soul except [according to] what He has given it. Allah will bring about, after hardship, ease.

Fath 17: There is not upon the blind any guilt or upon the lame any guilt or upon the ill any guilt [for remaining behind]. And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger - He will admit him to gardens beneath which rivers flow; but whoever turns away - He will punish him with a painful punishment.

Baqara 236: There is no blame upon you if you divorce women you have not touched nor specified for them an obligation. But give them [a gift of] compensation - the wealthy according to his capability and the poor according to his capability - a provision according to what is acceptable, a duty upon the doers of good.

Tawba 91: There is not upon the weak or upon the ill or upon those who do not find anything to spend any discomfort when they are sincere. There is not upon the doers of good any cause [for blame]. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

A poor Muslim came to the Prophet and said:

"Last night I was working and my wage was 2 dates. I took one for myself and loan the other to Allah. The Prophet accepted his gift and placed among the good that were gathered. Some hypocrites saw this and mocked hi and said:

"Allah doesn't need his date! He won't touch the date!" and after this it was that Allah revealed the following verse:

Tawba 79: Those who criticize the contributors among the believers concerning [their] charities and [criticize] the ones who find nothing [to spend] except their effort, so they ridicule them - Allah will ridicule them, and they will have a painful punishment.

One of Imam Sadiq's followers asked: "Who are the greatest of believers?" Imam replied" Those who do charity both when they are rich and poor and continued: Oh Jamil! This isn't hard for the wealthy which is why Allah has praised the poor who help their brothers: give [them] preference over themselves, even though they are in privationHashr 59

An interesting story that perhaps best opens up the subject:

...The Abbasids approached Yahya ibn Aqsam and requested him to prepare a number of problems and put to Imam Taqi (AS) questions in the assembly of Mamoun (about those). Yahya acceded to their request. They came to Mamoun and announced the readiness of Yahya ibn Aqsam to him. He fixed a date for that. The Abbasids came along with Yahya to that aggregation. The assembly was a real grand one. All the chieftains and dignitaries were present. At this stage the Imam (AS) arrived there and all of them rose to their feet. He went ahead and took seat near Mamoun, who was not uninclined that Imam (AS) may be questioned and probably he might not be able to answer them. He said to Imam (AS), "Yahya ibn Aqsam wants to ask you some questions." He replied, "he may ask whatever he wishes to."

Yahya said, "what do you say about a person who puts on the dress of Ihram and goes to the house of God for pilgrimage, hunts and kills an animal over there?"

Imam said. "Oh Yahya this problem has many different dimensions. Which of them do you want to ask about? Was the person out of the Haram (area) or inside it? Was he informed and knew about the prohibition of this work or he was uninformed (ignorant of it)? Did he kill the animal purposely or forgetfully? Was he a slave or a free person? The doer of it repented upon it or he has the intention to carry on with it? Was it night or daytime? Was it his first time or second or third? Was the (hunted) animal a bird or otherwise? Was it small or big one?"

As you can see the punishment varies based on who/how/why committed the crime.

Rewards are obviously relative. Some sins are forgiven on sight. See The women who committed adultery but was forgiven

Additionally from other narrations I read from Foru' Al-Kafi: The punishment of a slave, is always less than the punishment of a free man. The punishment of one who steals $1000 from a person is different if he steals the same amount from the treasury (as he has a share from the treasury and is likely entitled to part of what he stole :/ ). The punishment of one who steals during the year of drought is less than one who steals in a normal year. It's common sense, but it's also the reason that being a judge is not an easy thing. Many inept judges/scholars apply previous judgements made by the Imams or prophets without having a wholistic understanding of their judgements.

  • Nice answer! Could you add some comments on the verses at: 4:97-98 "قَالُوا أَلَمْ تَكُنْ أَرْضُ اللَّهِ وَاسِعَةً فَتُهَاجِرُوا فِيهَا ۚ فَأُولَٰئِكَ مَأْوَاهُمْ جَهَنَّمُ ۖ وَسَاءَتْ مَصِيرًا" - The verses could be understood that if for instances a religious duty is so hard to be able to practice in a place (and you do not practice it), then it's in fact seen as something negative if you can travel to a place where its safe to practice that duty. So maybe someone will argue that you should move instead of living in a country where it is much harder
    – Kilise
    Jun 2, 2017 at 22:57
  • @Kilise True. I agree. To be honest. I don't know where the perfect balance is. I live in the US. I can see its difficulties. At the same time. I can see the need of Muslims in the west. I mean imagine if all the Muslims left the west...The media would have more of ISIS news without people seeing actual Muslims in their streets, neighborhoods. Additionally Muslims come here for better higher education which is a must...It's a must for a certain group of Muslims. For some others it's a maybe. For others it's a never. (I think I know which group I belong to...but can't say it with certainty)
    – Thaqalain
    Jun 3, 2017 at 5:22
  • @Kilise Having that said, these reasons shouldn't make have the mindset of: "I live in the west...and so I can sin slightly more". Your mindset should be "I live in the west...I know it will be harder. I need to prepare in a significantly different way. The way I socialize...what I do for my kids...what I do for my community, neighborhood, for my wife, all has to be different—from me living in middle east." Additionally for the exact same reason mentioned in my answer, solely from the perspective of guiding others to Islam...living in the west is likely more rewarding.
    – Thaqalain
    Jun 3, 2017 at 5:22

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