That old chestnut again. But there is a cosmic reason why we obsess over it so.
A sister (clad in an amazing tabby catsuit) came to the Tailor’s shop to purchase a hijab.
The Tailor said:
My apologies for propagating further hijab-debate (which is continual, often terribly boring and I understand, coming as it does from a man, often irritating to the sisters).
I am confused by your request to purchase a hijab: for clearly you are in full hijab – I can only see your hands, left and right. The same for your mother and your sister. You have both style and flare and no further progress is necessary: you are already there. Unless you wish to realize the law into the physical plane, but there are of course a multiplicity of such authentic realizations. However that is a process of purr-chasing a pair of rose tinted spectacles to see how the law has played out in front if you, rather than buying new garments.
The sister said:
I understand and, to an extent, agree with the idea that speech/perception is the hijab and that the feminine is some form of human creativity that requires shelter of a righteous hijab. However, does this mean that there is no need left for the physical scalf? This would be pushing the metaphor a little too much, don’t you think so? As Sufism teaches us, shariah is both internal and external, after all.
The Tailor then replied:
Of course in Sufism, there is a particular sense of internal and external that I won’t dispute. And certainly, in non-Prophetic life, the internal/external dialectic is unavoidable.
But I would like to say that, in my view, there is no internal/external dialectic within Shariah. In this case, there is only a hijab of speech — it isn’t a metaphor in the Shariah, because metaphors are signs substituted for signs, and the Shariah (being Divine) is signs, standing alone (not substituted). The particular property of these legal signs is that they provide a resonance with the Real via their own self-reference (the rulings on hijab “refer” to the nature hijab-as-ruling). The Prophet as lawbringer is one who finds complete coincidence of what we see as internal and external, because his reality is Truth: there is no longer a (external) woman wearing a hijab, just there is no longer a (metaphoric, internal) Feminine Creative clothed a garment of Protective Righteous Language. There is now a (neither external nor internal) a woman wearing hijab (a paradoxical, exceptional hijab, that simultaneously hides and reveals through the actual shelter of hiding).
What does that mean for us, living our lives in external/internal dialectic? Speaking philosophically, it is nice to know that, following Hegel, there is an exceptional, middle term to that dialectic, and, following Lacan, it is the impossible female. And it is nice that we can wear that comfort through encountering her (according to some form of marriage).
Speaking practically, there is sin on us for not wearing an external hijab. The sin is not one of wearing, but of failing to live the signs according to the sunnah (the way of Prophecy).
Thus, there is also sin on us for wearing an internal hijab. To follow the sunnah requires us to escape the dialectic, locate the middle term of the impossible, exceptional feminine and be clothed then in the hijab of paradox.