What is Hijab
To some this may be yet another Hijab post but this one is different, I want to look at the Hijab in the modern world. I also want to explore the emphasis of the word Hijab, how it’s commonly only referred to as the headscarf probably I need some Hijab lessons.
What is the Hijab?
The word Hijab comes from the Arabic root word ‘Ha Ja Ba’, which means to conceal or cover. In an Islamic context, this refers to the inner and the outer. Muslim females who have reached puberty are required to conceal their awrah; and by virtue of Islamic sources, this includes wearing a loose garment over the entire body with the exception of the face and hands. The Hijab is not required in situations where females and mahrams are present. As well as this, it relates to an individuals manner, this includes noble speech, modesty, and a dignified conduct.
Secondly, as much as it is undeclared, the Hijab also applies to men. Muslim men should dress to maintain their modesty and embody righteousness, especially by lowering their gaze i.e avoiding lustfulness towards strange women.
Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: That is purer for them; and Allah is well acquainted with all that they do. And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty. They should not display their beauty except that which is apparent; that they should draw their veils over their chests…Quran 24:30-31
Based on the above verse, it is clear that the Hijab has an Islamic basis. The foremost virtue of practising the Hijab is that it is an act of obedience; it brings one closer to their Lord. God, in His infinite mercy, revealed such verses to benefit and civilise society; just as we fast- the Hijab was ordained to create social balance. The primary reason behind the Hijab is to minimise sexual enticement and moral degradation in society for both men and women as much as possible. Other benefits include: modern hijabi
- Shields from unwanted advances (if observed correctly)
- Shields from superficial scrutiny and sexual exploitation
- Shields from temptations i.e. fornication
Tell the believing women to draw their outer garments around them (when they go out or are among men).Quran 33:59
Nobel Peace Prize winner, Tawakkul Karman, ‘The mother of Yemen’s revolution,’ when asked about her Hijab by journalists and how it is not proportionate with her level of intellect and education, replied:
“Man in early times was almost naked, and as his intellect evolved he started wearing clothes. What I am today and what I’m wearing represents the highest level of thought and civilization that man has achieved, and is not regressive. It’s the removal of clothes again that is a regression back to the ancient times.”
Islam teaches that a woman is elevated by her virtuous character and actions not her looks and charms. She does not have to use her body to gain recognition or acceptance in society. It’s evident that women are sold freedom of expression through sexual exploitation. The Hijab directs self-worth away from appearance and onto qualities such as integrity, proficiency and ability – attributes which are more equally accessible to all.
Furthermore, this is not to say the Hijab is foolproof or a sex preventing device, a rapist will rape, but it minimises unnecessary enticement. In an ideal world, the religion aims to create a society where we do not interact for sexual purposes but to become a productive society, where men and women can work alike. This may beg the question of how humans are supposed to get hitched, but Islam has an alternative for that too. Modern day dating involves lustfulness, we are blinded by what attracts us, but for Muslims, with the hijab in place, men and women can focus on qualities that really matter. This does not go to say attraction is discarded in Islam but it does not take precedence.
Mughirah bin Shubah wanted to marry a woman. The Prophet (ﷺ) said to him: “Go and look at her, for that is more likely to create love between you.” So he did that, and married her, and mentioned how well he got along with her.Ibn Majah, Hadith 1865
Candy Wrapper analogy
The second thing I want to cover is the the self-righteousness of some Muslims. There are many posts that put forward the idea that a ‘wrapped’ girl is purer and virtuous.
Examine the analogy below:
“Would you prefer an unwrapped candy or a wrapped one?”
The idea that the ‘wrappage’ makes a woman more preferable is irrational and smug and unislamic. Let me throw the candy analogy back at you. Would you prefer candy made in unsanitary conditions that is potentially tainted with hepatitis strains and then wrapped or candy that was made in sanitary conditions but sold unwrapped. It’s not all about the exterior.
This analogy also pivots on a man’s preference. Is that why the Hijab is worn? it must be worn for its prescribed purpose. Let us not encourage women to believe wearing a ‘hijab’ will make her more appealing and modest in the eyes of a ‘good’ man. A good man will appreciate a good woman, whether she wears Hijab or not.
Suggesting that being covered will prevent ‘flies’ or inappropriate advances towards them is also on the same track. Whilst the scarf does provide some form of barrier, it doesn’t stop all advances.
This analogy subliminally insinuates that a woman who doesn’t cover her head, is somehow inferior, attracts scummy lads and may apparently be someone everyone’s had a taste of. That in itself is against the Islamic doctrine. It may also provide a false sense of pride, superiority and satisfaction one gets from being a part of a self glorifying clique. The divide between Hijabis and non-Hijabis needs to be bridged.
Many describe the term Hijab and Fashion as an oxymoron. So let’s explore.
We have already defined the Hijab as a concept of modesty, inwardly and outwardly; and Oxford Dictionary defines fashion as ‘a popular or the latest style of clothing, hair, decoration, or behaviour.’ modern hijabi
In the present era, it is evident that there is a boom in creativity and design, fashion outlets are growing and many turn to wear the trendiest clothing. However, this is not limited to the west only, Muslims around the globe also feel the need to dress in the most fashionable way.
We all know people who like to dress well, regardless of their culture, religion or wealth, they will wear the best of the best and attempt to carry themselves in an elegant manner. For them the style, colour and fitting of the garment are all important. On the other hand there are those that who simply wear to cover up and keep warm, they are more practical than trendy. This goes hand to hand with the headscarf too; some will find the perfect pin to tie their scarf with whereas others will throw on a loose garment and head out.
Both sides of the coin are perfectly natural behaviour, the question is whether the fashion element crosses the line of modesty.
If you choose to wear a scarf then do you expect your tight dress to form part of it too? Skinny jeans are very trendy right now, and so is swaying in 4 inch heels. As we’ve said previously, the outwardly Hijab is to deter men. So do you feel your dress code is ‘Hijab’?
There is nothing to say that a Muslim woman cannot be trendy. After all there is an element of practicality to the common Hijab, if you’re in and out of the home all day or working in a professional environment, it can become impractical to take the scarf off and put back on again. Many then decide to wear one as a semi-permanent garment, and naturally will keep it to their taste. They will attempt to make it presentable, and match it with the rest of their clothes. To deny women of this consciousness, is in fact to deny women from having a personal taste.
Say, “Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He has brought forth for His bondmen, and the good food?”Aa`raf 7:32
It is also worth noting that the Hijab is a very subjective term, there are Muslims around the world who practise Hijab yet have their own cultural style. Women across Malaysia and Indonesia wear very colourful garments yet remain modest. Why are eccentric colours accepted in one culture and not in another? We know that Allah says, ‘We have made you into nations and tribes’, this outlines that people are different, individually and as a society. The Quran and Sunnah loosely tell us to dress modestly; but nothing so specific. You often see Muslimah converts wearing the Pakistani Salwar Kameez, but where is the requirement? The Salwar Khameez is a modest dress however nothing stops a woman from picking another style of clothing. The issue really lies where personal taste goes beyond the ‘hijab or not’ scale.
As mentioned, the primary purpose of the Hijab is to repel and stop men from being allured, if the fitting of your dress makes your curves more attractive, is your hijab, a hijab? Surely Muslimah’s need to make every effort to avoid the red zone.
Every way of life has a innate character. The character of Islam is haya.Prophet Muhammad ﷺ
But on another note, I do feel, you should let one be, the scarf, alongside many things is an individual choice. After all they will be questioned and so will you. We all do have a duty to warn, but this does not coincide with disrespect and ill-thought. Regardless of dress sense and appearance it is a Muslim’s duty to honour and respect each other.
To conclude this section, it is important to recognise that you cannot base a woman’s level of faith on her scarf (or lack of). The way you interpret the scarf and modesty may be different to the way they do, no one is perfect, and no one is complete. It is far healthier to discuss modesty as oppose to resorting to judgment and labeling.
Hijab is basically a concept – that goes far beyond the scarf that is worn on our heads.Anon
As for the vloggers out there – It would be interesting to see (make a video on this topic) how you avoid crossing the line. That’s to say on the one hand you have fashion and glamour, the world’s your oyster in creating the hottest look and the other hand your duty is to wear clothing that is modest and unalluring. How do you make the distinction? I think it’s important for you to outline this, because regardless of your intention, you are role models for many Muslim women. Do you feel you are showing a true representation of the ‘ideal’ Muslimah?
Hijab for Men
Although it is not obligatory on men to completely conceal their bodies like it is for women, the issue of modesty and humility cannot be neglected. Pride and boastfulness are among the greatest sins in Islam, and attempting to impress others (both males and females) using the physique and attracting attention in such a manner certainly falls into this category.
In today’s hypersexualized society, many ignore the concept of lowering the gaze. There is no harm in “just looking”, right? Yet one minor glance can have a spiritually disastrous effect on the human being. Prophet Isa (peace be upon him) once said to his disciples: “Beware of looking at forbidden things, for that is the seed of desire and leads to deviant behavior.” (Lantern of the Path) i.e fornication, adultery and masturbation.
Haircuts in Islam
There is also an increase in men feeling the need to associate openly with women, as purely friends, ‘as long as we don’t do anything Haram’ and ‘as long as she is wearing a scarf’! I’ve heard far too many regretful accounts.
Hijab and Bible
The modern Hijab is not something new. Muslim women follow the example of righteous women in the past such as Mary, the mother of Jesus. Some of the evidence from the bible includes the following two verses:
- “And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head.” 1 Corinthians 11:3-6
- “I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.” 1 Timothy 2:9-10
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