Surat an-Nur verse 31, 2nd part
Misinterpretations regarding “women’s adornments”
Another subject that God draws our attention in verse 31 of Surat an-Nur is women’s “adornments.” The passage in the verse that reads, ”... so that their hidden ornaments are known” means that they should not display their breasts, and is not a reference to their heads.
However, this is reflected very differently in some hadiths and in some commentaries on the Qur’an through additions in parentheses or the distortion of the meanings of words. Let us have a look at these:
The idea that women are instruments of trial
The true meaning of the first part of the word “zeenatahunna” in this verse is “adornment or ornament,” and the suffix “hunna” indicates that this is being addressed to women.
In their own opinions, some scholars say, “Women’s bodies are decorative and attractive, for which reason the verse is referring to their entire bodies.” From that starting point they claim that women should cover all their bodies up; in truth, the verse is actually saying no such thing.
Some people come up with a very different interpretation to what the Qur’an is saying and say, “This refers to the parts of the body where beads and decorations are displayed, for which reason it is unlawful to look at the regions where these are displayed.” Others go even further and say, “It is unlawful to look at a woman’s cut hair or nail clippings.” They then go on to produce very odd ideas such as, “Looking at just one part usually leads to looking at the whole.” (Ibn Hajar, al-Zawajir)
Even though the verse is perfectly explicit, countless very different and odd interpretations have been produced from the term ”... so that their hidden ornaments are known.” These interpretations vary according to people’s way of thinking, and sometimes depending on their perspective toward women. Mindsets that seek to shut women away, pacify them, make them ugly and keep them away from society and humanity, to make them second-class citizens and – may God forbid - turn them into entities that live only to serve men and not God, have tended to want to eliminate women entirely by means of the single word “ornament.” Through these false interpretations of verses of the Qur’an, many people have departed from the essence of the faith and have regarded the Qur’an as an incomprehensible book, and when these additions have been taken together with fabricated hadiths, the result has become an interpretation of faith very different to that seen in the Qur’an.
However, the term “hidden ornaments” in the verse is very clear, and refers to two areas that are kept hidden, the sexual organs and the breasts.