First of all, we have to bear in mind that prayer and fasting are two basic pillars of Islam. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Islam is built upon five pillars: testifying that there is no true god except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, perfor
ming prayer, paying the Zakah, making the pilgrimage to the Sacred House (Hajj), and fasting the month of Ramadan.”
(Reported by Al-Bukhari)
Also, it should be clear that hijab is an obligation and every Muslimah is required to wear it. All Muslim jurists agree on this and Allah has made it clear in Surat An-Nur: “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms.” (An-Nur: 31)
As far as the issue of not wearing hijab while observing fasting and prayer is concerned, Sheikh `Atiyyah Saqr, former head of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, states:
“If an act of worship is done, it is hoped that Allah will accept it as long as it is done for His sake. However, we should not be sure regarding its acceptance, as this matter is referred to Allah Almighty, Who says in His Glorious Qur’an: “… Allah accepteth only from those who ward off (evil).” (Al-Ma’idah: 27)
As for the believers who do some kinds of sins, Allah will not deprive them of the reward of their good deeds. He (Glorified and Exalted be He) says: “And whoso doeth good an atom’s weight will see it then. And whoso doeth ill an atom’s weight will see it then.” (Az-Zalzalah: 7-8)
As far as the woman who does not wear hijab and offers prayer and fasting in Ramdan is concerned, her acts of worship are hoped to be accepted. However, she will be punished for not wearing hijab, as it is a sin.
The believer should not depend on Allah’s mercy and forgiveness while not fearing Allah and continuing to do more sins. Rather, the believer who did a sin is obligated to repent and ask Allah for forgiveness and stop doing this sin so that Allah may forgive him. Almighty Allah says: “And lo! verily I am Forgiving toward him who repenteth and believeth and doeth good, and afterward walketh aright.” (Taha: 82)
Also, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said: “Fear Allah wherever you are and follow up a bad deed with a good one as it will erase it. And, observe good manners in dealing with people.” (Reported by At-Tirmidhi)
Not wearing hijab is a sign of not fearing Allah’s punishment, for if she did fear Allah she would abide by His commands. So, how does Allah accept the prayer and fasting of one who does not fear Him? It should be clear that there is a difference between the validity of an act of worship and its acceptance. One’s prayer and fasting may be valid if the conditions of prayer and fasting are fulfilled. We cannot say that they are invalid, as there is no relation between their validity and acceptance. But, we say that their acceptance is referred to Allah. It is reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “The man may leave (the mosque after performing prayer) and he has nothing of its reward but one tenth, one ninth, one eighth, one seventh, one sixth, one fourth, one third, or one half.” (Reported by Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’i, and Ibn Hibban)”
The eminent Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi states:
“If a Muslim woman does perform prayer and observe fasting, but still does not wear the hijab, this does not mean that one tells her to stop praying or fasting till she wears her hijab. Instead one should encourage her to adhere to her religious practices and advice her not to delay wearing hijab, in shaa’ Allah. Therefore, one can conclude that her Salah (prayer) is valid as long as she wears the hijab in the Salah and performs it in the proper manner. Also, her fasting is valid as long as she stops eating, drinking and sexual intercourse from dawn till sunset.”
At this point, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi relates an indicative story. He said that once he was delivering a speech before thousands of female students in Constantinah, Algeria. The majority of the attendants were without hijab. A female student asked him: What do you think of female students who attend Islamic lectures without wearing the hijab? The answer was expected to be harsh. However, Sheikh Yusuf replied that we should not only welcome her but also encourage her to attend. Any woman’s motive to attend such lectures is a clear sign of inward faith that needs to be stimulated in order to come to the surface.
Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi concludes that we should not reject the Muslim woman who offers prayer, fasts, and is keen to do her religious duties because she has a weak point and does not wear the hijab. Rather we invoke Allah to strengthen her will and help her commit fully to her Islam.
Finally, we would like to remind the woman who observes prayer and fasting while not wearing hijab to fear Allah and hasten to Him by repentance and start wearing hijab immediately.