Does a woman have to wear a headscarf while reciting the Quran?
Wearing a headscarf while reciting Quran has no basis in the religion. It is noteworthy that in other religions women wear a headscarf (e.g Sikhism, Hinduism) to show respect. Due to many Muslims sharing geographical/cultural roots with these religions, the idea that a woman’s head must be covered to recite Quran seems to be rooted in culture. Cultures where covering the head is a mark of respect.
Culture is based upon repeated traditions. Religion however is more scientific – it is based upon evidence and in this case, there is none.
How am I to understand the narration related to the story of Ifk, when Aisha covered herself when the sahabi saw her? Isn’t this proof that women should cover their heads and faces?
You refer to the following (I have only included the relevant part as the story of the ifk is a very long narration (from Bukhari).
وَكَانَ صَفْوَانُ بْنُ الْمُعَطَّلِ السُّلَمِيُّ ثُمَّ الذَّكْوَانِيُّ مِنْ وَرَاءِ الْجَيْشِ، فَأَصْبَحَ عِنْدَ مَنْزِلِي فَرَأَى سَوَادَ إِنْسَانٍ نَائِمٍ، فَعَرَفَنِي حِينَ رَآنِي، وَكَانَ رَآنِي قَبْلَ الْحِجَابِ، فَاسْتَيْقَظْتُ بِاسْتِرْجَاعِهِ حِينَ عَرَفَنِي، فَخَمَّرْتُ وَجْهِي بِجِلْبَابِي،
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 used to see me before ‘hijab’. 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. So I covered my face with my jilbaab.
Firstly, A’isha mentioned Safwan bin Al Muattal recognized her because he was used to seeing her before ‘hijab’. Now, the ONLY verse (See 33.53) which mentions ‘hijab’ in connection to women is the verse about the wives of the Prophet.
Following on from this, in the same Surah – Surah Al Ahzaab, verse 32, Allah tells the wives of the Prophet that they are not like other women and it is to go against the evidence if we take verses Allah (Azza wa jall) made specific to the wives and apply it to all women.
Secondly, it is very relevant that we take note that A’isha said she covered her face with her jilbaab. She did not use the word ‘khimaar’ (which is used in common day Arabic to mean ‘a headscarf’. In other words, she used her clothing to cover her face as the verse had ordered people to interact with the wives of the Prophet through a screen/barrier.
In other words, the story of the ifk actually indicates the implementation of the verse of ‘hijab’ for the wives of the Prophet. It has nothing to do with covering the head.