One of the most popular hadiths displaying the beautiful hijab of Sayeda Fatima (as) is the incident with the blind man, which is just as much an example for men as it is for women.
Musa bin Ja’far, from his fathers, from Imam Ali (as) who said: “Once, a blind man asked permission to visit Fatima (as), but she asked him to stay behind a screen.
The Messenger of Allah (sawa) asked Fatima (as): “Why did you screen him though he is blind and could not see you?”
She (as) said: “He could not see me, but I could see him.”
The Prophet (sawa) said: “I witness that you are a part from me.”
Source: Bihaar al-Anwaar, al-Majlisi, Volume 43, page 91 (See Image below); Nawaadir al-Raawandi, Pages 13-14.
As we can see, Sayeda Fatima (as) shows that the correct hijab is independent upon the other person and we should not be concerned so much with the other gender when it comes to our own responsibilities.
Often we find ourselves making excuses for ourselves to drop our standards in our hijab. “She is asking for it, look at the way she dresses.. if she didn’t dress like that I wouldn’t look. It’s her fault” – or – “Why should I wear hijab just because he can’t control himself.” Sayeda Fatima (as) here is teaching us a very important lesson.
A man must hold strong onto lowering his gaze whether the other gender is observing their hijab properly or not. We must first maintain our own hijab first and foremost before looking at others. Likewise, the woman must also always maintain her hijab to the best possible way, whether the other gender is observing theirs or not. This also highlights the significance of the female gender also needing to lower the gaze, which is often overlooked. Does this mean that Fatima (as) was tempted? No, of course it does not necessitate this – rather it signifies the importance Lady Fatima (as) places on the need to always uphold the best example of hijab regardless of circumstances, so that we may learn from her example.
Also, the next time someone says that putting a curtain between the genders at a gathering is “backwards” or “outdated”.. remind them of this beautiful story.
This does not mean one should be ignorant or heedless of other genders struggles and personal tests. One should do the best they can to help out our brothers and sisters in faith and not be a test for them. In some cases, if you know your actions will be a cause of trial or fitna for the other gender, it becomes forbidden to do so (i.e. a man walking around topless, or a female wearing attractive perfume outside). We should work as one team, one ummah, with one mission – to help eachother, and not make it a competition of the genders.
One may argue that this story does not make sense, since Fatima (as) went out and spoke against the ones who usurped her rights in the incident of Fadak. In a hadith in al-Ihtijaaj, it shows that even during this incident Fatima (as) was stern in maintaining her hijab.
Abullah son of Imam al-Hassan (as) quotes his forefathers saying that Abu Bakr and ‘Umar decided to prevent Fatima (as) from her Fadak property. When she came to know about it, she put her veil on her head, wrapped herself with her outer cloak and, accompanied by some of her relatives and men of her folks, stepping on her gown, her walk not differing from that of the Messenger of Allah (sawa), went till she entered [the Mosque of the Prophet] where Abu Bakr was.
Abu Bakr was in the company of a crowd of the Muhajirun and Ansar and others. She requested a curtain to be placed between them where she sat and wailed. Hearing her thus wailing, everyone present burst in tears, so much so that the meeting place shook. She waited for a moment till the sobbing stopped and the fervor abated. She started her speech by praising Allah and lauding Him, sending blessings to His Messenger, whereupon people resumed their cries. When they stopped, she resumed her speech saying… (Sermon of Fadak begins).
Reference: al-Ihtijaaj, Volume 1, Pages 97-98 (See Image below).