I sometimes come across claims that many of the obligations that Muslims have in Islam are a purely personal matter and were not legally enforced, historically. It's not quite clear to me which obligations fall into which category ("purely personal" vs "can/used to be legally enforced"), or whether it's even the case that all behaviors that are fardh can be legally enforced via tazir punishments in case someone does not act on those obligations. I might ask about that in a separate question.

Here I'm specifically wondering about whether the obligation to wear hijab in public can be enforced legally in sharia by the government, perhaps via tazir punishments (or any other way), and when and where it generally was enforced, historically?

  • Probably it is allowed to do so, just look at Saudi-Arabia back in 2016. They even wanted to execute a woman because she refused it. But now Muhammamed bin Salman is changing that policy slightly. Other Asian countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan would still do this to this day forward. I don't think it was enforced in one country but in group of countries as most of the Asian islamic countries (more like Arabic Asian islamic countries)
    – user24306
    Commented Jul 6, 2018 at 21:45
  • Can you specify premodern times? Are you talking about the early period in the modern era (like 1500 AD till 1800 AD)?
    – user24306
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 9:46
  • @Tarik I'm happy with anything before the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
    – G. Bach
    Commented Jul 27, 2018 at 12:10
  • Maybe not, but because it was enforced culturally so that a woman couldn't even imagine appearing without hijab without completely destroying his social standing for she would've been treated like slave girls ever since or deemed irredeemably impious. Things get legally enforced only when there is a tendency for noncompliance in society. That's why a ruling jurist may decide to enforce it legally in modern times.
    – infatuated
    Commented Aug 2, 2019 at 19:08

3 Answers 3


Hijab is Fard, meaning it was instructed by Allah in The Qur'an. So it's Compulsory for All. Islamic government should enforce it.

'O believers; follow not the footsteps of the devil (Satan). And who-ever follows the footsteps of the devil(Satan) then he will indeed tell you only indecency and evil things. And if there had not been the grace of Allahand His mercy upon you, no one of you could have ever been cleansed, Yes Allah cleanses whosoever He like.And Allah is Hearing, Knowing'

Surah Al-Noor Verse No 21.

And the Verse no 31 order the womens about hijab in the following words

And order the Muslim women to lower down their sights a little and guard their chastity and show not theiradornment but as much which is itself apparent and remain putting their head coverings over their bosoms.And disclose not their adornment but to their husbands, or to their fathers, or the fathers of their husbands, orto their or the of sons husbands or their brothers or the sons of their brothers or the sons of their sisters or thewomen of their religion or their handmaids who are the property of their hands or servants provided they arenot men of sexual desire or the children who are unaware of the private parts of the women; and put not theirfeet forcibly on the ground that hidden adornment may be known. And repent to Allah, O Muslims all together,haply you may get prosperity.

So a fard can be enforced by the government. In premodern times campaign like feminism and liberalism doesn't exists, so women themselves like to wear the hijab but now a days women feel oppressed in wearing hijab.

May Allah guide us all!

  • 1
    This does not answer the actual question! See How to Answer.
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 6:07
  • @Medi1Saif if it is a fard according to the above mentioned verses, then the authorities can enforce it. Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 6:11
  • 1
    They can but have they? Any proof for that?
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 6:12
  • @Medi1Saif i haven't said that authorities have enforced the hijab. I have edited my answer to be more clear. Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 6:14
  • The question asks whether authorities did enforce the hijab not whether they can or cannot. The answer should address what is being asked.
    – Crimson
    Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 6:36

Basis for legal enforcement:

Hijab is obligatory. It has been commanded in the Quran and ahadith, and there is Ijma' on its obligation.

Refraining from an obligation is a sin. Sins can be stopped by force under the umbrella of Nahi 'an al-Munkar (forbidding wrong) and Ta'zir. This includes every sin since there is no text which differentiates between one sin and another in this regard.

The means of stopping wrongdoing include advise, censure, threat and eventually more severe Ta'zir punishments like imprisonment or flogging depending on severity of the sin and persistence of the sinner etc. And some madhabs also allow for Ta'zir in the form of financial penalties but this is disputed.

أجمع العلماء على أن التعزير مشروع في كل معصية لا حد فيها ولا كفارة والمعاصي فرعان: ترك واجب وفعل محرم

The scholars have a consensus that Ta'zir is prescribed for every sin for which there is no Hadd or Kaffarah. And sins include: leaving an obligation or doing a haram act

Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa - Ibn Taymiyya

There are several verses and ahadith which form the basis for this, I will mention only two:

الذين إن مكناهم في الأرض أقاموا الصلاة وآتوا الزكاة وأمروا بالمعروف ونهوا عن المنكر

Those who, if We give them authority in the land, establish prayer and give zakah and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong.

Quran 22:41

من رأى منكم منكرا فليغيره بيده

Whoever among you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand


Examples of enforcement in the views of pre-modern scholars:

  • وتمنع المرأة الشابة من كشف الوجه بين الرجال لا لانه عورة بل لخوف الفتنة

    Young women will be stopped from uncovering their faces in the presence of men, not because it is 'awrah but because of the fear of fitnah

    Durr al-Mukhtaar- al-Haskafi

    When this applies to veiling the face then logically it applies more strictly to the minimal hijab which covers the 'awrah and is obligatory by consensus.

  • ويجب عليه منع النساء من الخروج متزينات متجملات، ومنعهن من الثياب التي يكن بها كاسيات عاريات، كالثياب الواسعة والرقاق، ... وإن رأى ولي الأمر أن يفسد على المرأة - إذا تجملت وتزينت وخرجت - ثيابها بحبر ونحوه، فقد رخص في ذلك بعض الفقهاء وأصاب، وهذا من أدنى عقوبتهن المالية.وله أن يحبس المرأة إذا أكثرت الخروج من منزلها، ولا سيما إذا خرجت متجملة

    It is obligatory on the ruler to stop women from going out while adorned and beautified. And to stop them from (going out when) wearing clothes in which they seem naked such as clothing made from a thin fabric ... If the ruler considers it appropriate he can ruin such clothes by pouring ink etc. over them, some jurists have considered this permissible and correct, and this will be considered as a minor financial penalty. And he may imprison a woman who goes out too often from her home (without a valid need), especially if she who goes out while adorned

    Al-Turuq al-Hukamiyyah - Ibn al-Qayyim

    Exposing adornments means not having proper hijab. And when these things can be corrected then so can more severe lapses in hijab.


You might need to know some basics first.

Fard - Instructed by Allah in The Qur'an - Compulsory for All
Wajib - Instructed by Allah through Hadith - Compulsory for All
Sunnah Muakkadah - Established Sunnah (Act) by our Prophet (Peace be upon him) - Recommended for All Sunnah - Sunnah (Act) by our Prophet (Peace be upon him) - Voluntary Act of worship

Hijab is Fard, meaning it was instructed by Allah in The Qur'an. So it's Compulsory for All. Islamic government should enforce it.

Fun fact: The only man used to do Hijab was our Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) Peace be upon him.

Surah Yusuf [12:31] - Al-Qur'an,
So when she heard of their scheming, she sent for them and prepared for them a banquet and gave each one of them a knife and said [to Joseph], "Come out before them." And when they saw him, they greatly admired him and cut their hands and said, "Perfect is Allah ! This is not a man; this is none but a noble angel."

So he had to cover himself when he was in presence of women.

Was hijab in public enforced legally in premodern times? Of course it enforced legally, any instruction given in Qur'an is a Law and it was legally enforced.

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