Hijab – To Wear or Not to Wear

Bismillah Hirahaman Niraheem

With Hijab/Without Hijab

        In today’s world of growing so-called feminism, the most common question faced by muslim women is ‘Why should women wear hijab in Islam?’ Answers include that hijab protects women from evil glances, or evil thoughts of men; allows a woman to be treated with respect; liberalises women so she no longer is judged by her looks but by her actions,etc. There is no denying that all these reasons are completely true. But the only reason a women should wear hijab is because Allah (SWT) commanded them to do so and Allah (SWT) has a wisdom behind each of HIS commandments.


“Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity 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; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss.” [Surah Nur 24:30-31]

“O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies. That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allaah is Ever Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful” [Surah Ahzaab 33:59]


Some criteria for hijab according to Quran and Sunnah are as follows :

1) Extent: The first criterion is the extent of the body that should be covered. This is different for men and women. The extent of covering obligatory on the male is to cover the body at least from the navel to the knees. For women, the extent of covering obligatory is to cover the complete body except the face and the hands upto the wrist. If they wish to, they can cover even these parts of the body. There is a difference of opinion among scholars whether face veil is obligatory or not.

All the remaining five criteria are the same for men and women.

2. The clothes worn should be loose and should not reveal the figure.

3. The clothes worn should not be transparent such that one can see through them.

4. The clothes worn should not be so glamorous as to attract the opposite sex.

5. The clothes worn should not resemble that of the opposite sex.

6. The clothes worn should not resemble that of the unbelievers i.e. they should not wear clothes that are specifically identities or symbols of the unbelievers’ religions. eg. muslims cannot wear cross which is the sign of christianity or anything that is a specific sign of non believers


                As is the common misconception, hijab does not pertain only to women and neither is only covering oneself from head to toe. Hijab includes hijab of the eyes, hijab of the heart, hijab of the senses.
The ayat from Surah Nur is commonly misinterpreted by todays muslims who have fallen prey to westernisation. They argue that Allah (SWT) only ordered women to extend their veils over their bosoms and that wearing a head scarf is not compulsory. Before the revelation of this verse, women would wear a scarf but they would place the ends behind their head so that their earrings, neck and chest would be seen[like Christian nuns wear]. With the revelation of this verse, it became clear that they had to cover their ears, neck and chest with their head covering.

               Another common mistake is when sisters start wearing their hijab later in their life, they tend to practise it only when they go out. They forget their hijab in front of their cousins or uncles who are non-muharrim according to the Quran[24:31]. They feel hijab is not necessary since they grew up with these cousins or uncles. But we cannot pick and choose between the verses of Allah(SWT). We have to follow it in its entirety.

             May Allah (SWT) give us the strength to follow hijab to please HIM and guide us on the straight path. Ameen.

Image courtesy : http://www.facebook.com/MiraclesOfQuran


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