Hijab: Faith, Rebellion, and Identity

hijab.jpg Hijaab… a concept and a command from Allah that has fueled many discussions, hot debates, and provoked the passions of many – Muslim and non-Muslim alike. It seems that no matter how many times the issue is attacked, defended, or mused about, people will never run out of things to say about it.

This article published in the Slate by Andrea Useem, titled “Loving and Leaving the Head Scarf,”is a personal and anecdotal analysis of women and their journey towards – and away from – hijaab. I personally found it unique in that though the emphasis is more on those who stop observing hijaab, the author does make a point of mentioning why she and others wore it in the first place, and includes Allah’s commands regarding it in Surah an-Noor and al-Ahzab. Nonetheless, it seems that despite knowledge (and acknowledgement) of its obligation, many women still choose to remove the hijaab because they feel that the only reason they’re wearing it is to fit in with the rest of the community; or that other Muslims’ judgement of them based on hijaab (whether they wear it or not) took away from its real meaning and thus rendered the observation of hijaab insincere and to be re-evaluated.

Some may say that it’s better for a woman who, despite knowing the obligation of hijaab, still doesn’t wear it purely for the sake of Allah but rather moreso to fit in, to take it off… but recalling verse 14 of surah al-Hujaraat (The desert Arabs say, “We believe.” Say, “Ye have no faith; but ye say, ‘We have submitted our wills to Allah,’ For not yet has Faith entered your hearts. But if ye obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not belittle aught of your deeds: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”), I’m inclined to think that once it’s been established that Allah has ordered something, you do it – whether or not you’re entirely convinced of your own sincerity. Again, a question: would it not be better for someone to continue wearing the hijaab and struggle with it and related personal issues, than to remove it completely because it’ll relieve her of those issues she’s dealing with?

Personally, I say that once you have acknowledged the commands of Allah, then that’s it: you should be wearing it no matter what others say or how you look at it. If you’re rebellious enough to take off the hijaab, surely you can be rebellious enough to fight against whoever or whatever it is that’s making you want to take it off! However, this attitude is based on the assumption that the reason for wearing hijaab has been conviction in the orders of Allah – to wear it for His Sake for the reasons that He explained to us. I guess it’s different for those who wear/ wore it just because they’re told to or forced to, as an expression of rebellion or conformity, or to work out their identity issues.

Furthermore, what can we say of the intention/ sincerity of those who wear it as an expression of rebellion (or conformity, as the case may be)? Can we say anything about them? Should we say anything about it? Or should we instead be more understanding that an individual’s personal circumstances change and their emaan fluctuates, which is then reflected in their actions?

I’m sure many of us have heard stories of those who have just accepted Islam, or just started practicing the Deen fully, were immediately pushed to wear the hijaab and did so out of pressure – only to take it off later. Such anecdotes make me feel sad, yet a bit confused also: on one hand, I don’t want to be harsh and judgemental (the same attitude that caused such damage in the the first place); on the other hand, I’m fully convinced that hijaab is waajib upon women and that to not wear it is a sin. Wisdom is required to handle such a situation if we’re faced with it (either within ourselves, or with a family member or friend).

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If we look at this without focusing specifically on hijaab, we can see what the main point is: that of intention and sincerity.

Has anyone here gone through(or is going through) such a struggle with hijaab and related issues of faith, rebellion, and identity? How did you get through it? What was the final outcome?

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60 responses to “Hijab: Faith, Rebellion, and Identity”

  1. […] May 19, 2008 · Filed under Uncategorized &#183 Tagged Covering, Hijab, Muslims There is an interesting article published on Slate.com  entitled “Loving and Leaving the Head Scarf,” always an interesting topic of discussing for muslim women. There is also what I am sure will be an interesting discussion about the article on MuslimMatters.com […]

  2. Yus from the Nati says:

    Subhan’Allah. I love how you mentioned that it is a “concept” (as well as a command). I heard Sh. Y Birjas in Heavenly Hues state that and it hit me hard for some reason. As we start getting hip to the deen, we think more in terms of do this do that done. However, it’s beautiful to think of it as a concept…

    I feel if this idea of it being a concept was pushed rather than the actual physical piece of cloth covering your head/face/chest etc then it would be a good dawah/naseeha move.

    An example of this was when I was talking to one of my best friends… He’s always telling me, joking around “wassup with your people (desis)…they never wear hijab (headscarf)” I used to think the same thing until i started noticing that some cultures that are culturally inclined (of course Islamically as well) to wear hijab (headscarf)…they don’t push the fact of say wearing lose clothing? it’s weird to me. basically you’ll have like 3 groups.
    1. Don’t wear nothing islamic whatsoever
    2. Wear headscarf…but give up on the loose clothing? Stuff may be hanging all out…super bright and crazy types of clothes (i’m talking about the type where it’s really not the avg custom)
    3. Sunnah-ed out (doing what you supposed to be doing)

    Anyways…long story short. Reflecting up on it being a concept made me ponder of some of the different situations that arise.

  3. Asim says:

    There could conceivably be a society (don’t know if there is one in reality) where there is social pressure from family and friends on an individual to pray 5 times a day. If someone finds that they are praying mostly due to this pressure, should they give up the 5 fardh prayers altogether?

  4. One reason I’ve seen sisters take off hijaab – marriage. Many of them have been unable to find brothers who will marry them (or families who will accept them) if they wear hijaab, so they take it off to get married, and lo and behold, it works, and they do get married. Don’t ask me about what kind of guy they married, but it works for some of them.

    Siraaj

  5. SH says:

    Assalamu Alaikum AnonyMouse,

    Mashallah good questions as usual. First of all let me start by congratulating you on your Nikkah. May Allah SWT keep your marriage strong and enter you both into Janatul firdous hand in hand. Ameen!! I must say I don’t know you but as your sister in Islam I truly love all your posts and insights that you have on here. May allah SWT protect you from any pain in this life and the next Ameen!!!

    As far as your question is concerned when I first started wearing the hijab it was the BEST feeling ever I still remember the first day I wore it …it was an indescribable feeling….I FELT Allah SWT so close to me and I felt the sweetest emaanrush I have ever felt. As weeks went by it became a struggle …mainly because I didn’t feel beautiful and I would see lots of my Muslim sisters dressed in the latest styles and even the hijabiis looking good that I would feel envious (may allah forgvie me!) But you know what happened everytime I felt like that I looked at why am I doing this?? I remembered my intention and I remembered that someday someone IS going to see my full beauty and I have to be patient for that day….if I flaunt it all now I will earn the anger of Allah SWT (which I would never want) and I would remember how I used to felt when people did look at me without the hijaab I felt disgusting when they would see my beauty and I told myself that if I take off the hijaab I would feel like that again and I never wanted to feel like that again. So this struggle continued for a couple of months the shaytan would always whisper and I would turn to Allah SWT and alhamdullilah I kept it on and mashallah don’t ever feel the need to take it off now (in fact you’d have to kill me before I’d take it off)…now I look back on it I realize that it was an adjustment period and whenever you give up a sin Shaytan will come to you to entice you to do it again but you have to realize this is just the trick of the shaytan and that it won’t help to give in. You know the main thing that kept me going during those times is seeking knowledge I read everything I could including everything that interested me on this website and I just read and read and that helped tremendously to make me feel like I belonged somewhere and made me feel proud to be different and humbled to be guided by Allah SWT.

    I must also say that now I am on my way to perfecting the hijab and wearing the jilbab/abaya as well….inshallah I will get there one day as well. Please make dua!! Also it really helps to have like minded friends which I do now….and that makes wearing the hijab so much easier…alhamdullilah!!

  6. Gohar says:

    There are some (e.g. M Asad) who say that the hijaab verses ONLY speak about the breasts, and does not command the covering of the hair. That is, the breasts were the objects in the verse that had to be covered, while the reference to the headscarf was just a succinct illustration of how their covering could be accomplished (i.e. the headscarf was mentioned as a tool, but there was not command to actually cover the hair). I wonder whether such arguments carry any weight in the minds of those who choose to remove their hijaab.

  7. Gohar says:

    Another point which i find interesting is that in the West sisters know that brothers will not look down at them as being inferior, but that may not be the case were they to be ‘back home’. perhaps there are latent doubts as to what hijaab (as a concept for muslim women) can result in, and therefore ultimately latent doubts regarding its wisdom too.

  8. Miako says:

    I affirm the right, and not the obligation, of any person to sin. For we all sin, to one extent or another. There is none of us so close to G-d that we never do wrong.

    It is in this light that I bring this missive, and mourning: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/5/19/44642/0963/541/518147

  9. Ahmed Eid says:

    Excellent post…
    Jazakallahu Khayran

  10. ss says:

    The word “jilbab” and “khumur” (now called hijab) are clearly mentioned in the quran. You can find this on Sheikh Yaser Qadhi’s talk on hijab here: http://www.thedeenshow.com/show.php?action=detail&id=55

  11. Traveller says:

    Asalaamu Alaykum,
    Some parts of reading the hyperlinked article made me cringe, especially this part: , “believes she used hijab to prove to herself the depth of her faith. Now that she feels more secure with her faith she does not feel she needs it.”

    I have read of extreme sufis doing away with the five daily prayers as they claim to reach a lofty maqaam (station) which means that the ‘normal’ shariah does not apply to them, the above quote comes very close, although at a very different angle.

    As the sister pointed out in the well written article, intentions play a crucial role in guiding our actions; furthermore to this we know that two people could be performing the same action, but the difference (in reward) could be as the difference between the heavens and the earth, all this due to ones intentions. The inclination to form a common identity with others is quite strong within ourselves, overlying societal norms are governed this way. However to make this the ‘object’ of covering is far removed from the correct intention which would be to observe the command (concept) from Allah; the many benefits that we gain from it after is from the blessing of Allah (though not the objective of doing the action). Whilst our environment changes, with different societal mores entering into the foreground, a person whose intention is to mould a common identity with the people changes too, whilst if our objective is to identify ourselves as the humble slaves of Allah, by following His prescribed Way, then even within a tumultous tornadoe, our identity remains one and the same, as the One Who Revealed the Qur’an is still, and always will be, Allah azza wa jal.

    It is true that we must advise with wisdom, which usually lies in between reproaching and encouraging, and is very difficult to implement mind you. The face book group made by the sister that says that I do not wear Hijaab and am still a Muslim, is akin to making a group called ‘I drink alcohol and am Still a Muslim’/I eat pork and am still a muslim, not exactly something to shout about!

    I am interested to know the premise, if any, of not obeserving hijaab, apart from the flimsy subjective argument that it is a concept that is outdated compared to the present social reality. I hope i never came across as harsh here, I love my brothers and sisters, we all have faults, but when one begins to justify and broadcast transgression against Allah, without shame, then you really have to raise your eyebrows.

    Wassalaam

  12. WorkHalal says:

    Asalaam alaikum,

    It is a very important topic to write about. Jazak Allah khair.

    Hijab – Unveiling the Mystery
    http://www.whyislam.org/877/Services/Literature/8.asp

  13. anon. says:

    Thank you for this post.

    First, I’d like to agree with you regarding the meaning of ‘hijaab’: it is beyond a headscarf, for me, and is not only properly clothing AND a headscarf, but also a way of behaving. I believe for men, the concept of hijaab is the same, except for the headscarf :P
    However, of course, many people like to reduce it to the realm of females, and then reduce it even more to a simple cloth that covers someone’s head.

    I am concerned about the judgements that Muslims make, regarding women who choose to observe hijaab. This is between her and her Creator, and should not be something over which others have control or input. As we are told in Surah Al Baqarah, faith is a choice, which extends to all the obligatory deeds as well, so if someone chooses not to follow a certain rule, that is their choice. Allah swt will judge them; that is not our job (refer to the forward in Hamza Yusuf’s translation of “The Creed of Imam Al-Tahawi”).
    However, in the case of wearing it due to social pressures, it’s tricky. I believe social pressures can be used for bad, but also good. In the post by Asim regarding the 5 prayers, we see that if social pressures exist to ”keep us in check” and instill good habits in us, they are indeed good for us.

    Lastly, I do believe Islam works as a system: when we follow certain things, and not others, problems arise, as our actions are not in sync with this system of living. So, while I personally believe it is of benefit for women to observe hijaab, I believe the same for men. Men need to take a much more proactive role in respecting *all* women, regardless of creed, nationality, or way of dress.

    Lastly, I do believe the issue of hijaab has been discussed to death, and more often than not, ends in non-productive arguments. I really like the passage in this article, which reads as follows:
    “Furthermore, what can we say of the intention/ sincerity of those who wear it as an expression of rebellion (or conformity, as the case may be)? Can we say anything about them? Should we say anything about it? Or should we instead be more understanding that an individual’s personal circumstances change and their emaan fluctuates, which is then reflected in their actions?

    Well done on this article…I enjoyed the thought-provoking questions.

  14. zuneera says:

    i like to put this in basic terms: i walk out of my house with my hijab on solely for the sake of Allah Azawajal. SubhanAllah, Brother Asim, props, you summed up my feelings about this, ” i took it off because of my intention,” business. Whatever the case, if Allah commanded it, it must be done. period.

  15. Ayesha says:

    I’ve heard of a lot of girls having a tough time wearing hijab because they feel like they have the wrong intention. One of my own closest friends stopped because she felt like she was just trying to fit in with the other girls on campus, and make her presence known as a Muslimah in her classes. She stopped because she felt like both of these reasons were incorrect.

    Her mistake, one which is common to many girls, is that if they feel if the intention is wrong, the action must be stopped. This is a trick of shaytan! For example, if one wanted to pray sunnah after praying in congregation, shaytan may make one believe that he/she is only praying sunnah to impress those around him/her. So what do we do? Not pray sunnah anymore? No, re-evaluate our intentions, and pray that sunnah! The same goes for wearing hijab–if a girl feels her intentions to wear it are incorrect, she shouldn’t just stop; she should re-evaluate her intentions and dedicate her actions to pleasing Allah alone.

    All actions need to have their intentions renewed from time to time, and hijab isn’t any different. Sometimes I think I only keep wearing hijab because if I stopped almost everyone I know would throw a fit. Yea, I have these feelings, but I remind myself that I’m not wearing hijab to prevent any anger from family members… I’m wearing it to prevent any displeasing feelings from Allah, swt.

    May Allah make it easy for all women in Islam to embrace hijab. May He accept our sacrifices to come closer to Him. And may He increase us all in our modesty in our thoughts and actions.

  16. sincethestorm says:

    I started wearing hijab because there were some Arab students in my school who were ashamed of their heritage. By not wearing hijab, I felt like I was doing the same thing and not proud of being Muslim…so I started. Al-hamdulillah the minor difficulties don’t bother me as much anymore. Whenever I see a sister in niqab, I have so much respect for them because thats something really difficult in this country. Regardless of what your opinion is about niqab, I feel that our community doesn’t respect these sisters….they have a hard time as it is in a non-muslim environment and shouldn’t have a difficult time among the Muslims. So to all the sisters that wear niqab, hijab or trying…May Allah SWT make it easy for you.

    As far as Br. Siraaj comments, its true…unfortunately it’s the practicing Muslim brothers in that lot as well. They’d rather marry a girl not wearing hijab and persuade her to wear it later than marry someone wearing it already…..to each their own.

  17. ummafnaan says:

    Assalamu alaikum all,

    May Allah swt continue to reward all the authors for their efforts, masha’allah. In Nigeria where I come from, hijab means wearing any traditional Nigerian attire. Yap! As long as you are not wearing anything western, u are considered a good muslimah who is observing proper islamic dress. Mind you the piece of cloth used to cover the head which we call the ‘gele’ is large but as transparent as ever. This is a misconception that decades of da’wah has been unable to change. Instead the scholars who say hijab is jilbaab and khimar and is fard, remain as poor as curch rats and usually have the poor of the society as their followers; and those ‘scholars’ who say hijab is native attire and is optional, are raking in the dollars. Thats just it. I grew up in one of those homes where literally fatwas are purchased, so you can imagine how messed up my understanding of the deen was. And of course coming from a well to do home, it was unthinkable to mix with the ordinary ‘poverty stricken’ masses. I used to think they had no choice but to wear hijab cos they were too poor to afford ‘nice clothes’ like me.

    It wasn’t until I left Nigeria to the UK to do my A Levels and Degree that I came in contact with true islam. Veeerrry Ironic. In my second year of Uni, after years of roaming Allahs earth half naked, I came in contact with the sisters of the ISOC in my uni, and I was amazed that they believed to wear the hijab was an obligation. I couldn’t understand why. But Alhamdulillah with continuous explaining and encouragement from them, I started to observe full hijab and at present I even wear the niqaab. Alhamdulillah ala kulli ni’ma.

    I have never felt so honoured, so special and that feeling of men gawking at me all the time has been lifted. My family were so unhappy with the new me. ‘What wud people say?’ ‘Who will want to marry a ‘ninja’ a ‘penguin?’ Cos wearing hijab and practising the deen fully is considered to be a form of backwardness. I lost a majority of my old friends. They didn’t want to be seen with me. I however found solace and a safe haven in the company of those ‘poverty stricken’ masses that initially I wud have nothing to do with. And guess what?
    I did get married. Yap! To someone who loved my ‘ninja’ and ‘penguin’ look. And its been four wonderful years so far.

    I pray Allah ta’ala guides all the sisters to see the beauty and honor which the hijab gives ‘the fragile vessels.’

  18. OM says:

    AnonyMouse, how come you’re so full of questions for us when your dad is a shaykh? :D

  19. Brother says:

    that picture of the sister in the hijab kind of does the opposite of what the hijab is supposed to do

    We cant see her face, but the lighting/composition makes her look very, umm…

    lol

  20. Amy says:

    As-salaamu alaikum

    This post came at a neat time for me, subhanallah, and mashaaAllah you covered some of the things that have been on my mind lately, so I want to reply. When I first learned about Islam I inclined towards believing it but hated the hijab with such a passion (a fire undoubtedly tended by Shaytaan) that it served as a literal barrier for me. I was only able to accept the religion by rejecting hijaab altogether. Modest clothes didn’t bother me, but simply covering my head was just a major obstacle. So I embraced Islam saying “I won’t wear it,” and for a long time I didn’t tell anyone about my conversion. I didn’t socialize with Muslims or engage in any acts of worship like prayer or fasting. Ramadan came and went without me even trying to fast.

    But eventually I did start practicing, start socializing with Muslimahs, and I challenged myself with the hijab. After beginning to pray for a few weeks someone gently informed me that I need to cover my hair in prayer–which meant at the least I would have to carry a scarf with me, lest I miss a prayer. Some weeks after that, I challenged myself to wear hijab.

    I’ll admit, I wasn’t then convinced of its obligation (as I spent a lot of time refuting such obligation), but I thought the only reason I wasn’t wearing it was because I was afraid to show people that I was Muslim. So as a part of conquering that fear, I challenged myself to wear hijab–to the store a few times, on the bus, to class, to work… until I decided I would leave it on. I don’t think I started wearing it for the sake of Allah, but I am proud that I started wearing it, because it changed me, for the better. I didn’t want Shaytaan to get the better of me, so when I finally adopted the hijab it wasn’t as difficult or humiliating as I had once imagined it to be. And it was a while later before I started to understand the real beauty of hijab and really love it.

    Last night I was talking to friends about sisters who cover their hair but wear clothes so tight as to make it irrelevant–they were saying that unless a person is going to wear it correctly, they shouldn’t wear it at all. And because of my experience, I strongly disagree. I don’t care so much about the image of the Muslimah, that one promiscuous hijabi would threaten me, but I can always hope that she will see (or someone will show her) the inconsistency of her behavior.

    For me, my identity had to change–my family doesn’t like to be seen with me in public (some don’t like my presence even in private!) and hijab was never forced on me, it’s a real struggle. But my family thinks that I am being rebellious by wearing it–and I don’t see it that way at all. I am not rebelling against them, or society, but hijab for me has become an act of obedience. That is, an act of obedience which has helped me understand how to be a Muslimah.

  21. ijmari says:

    Subhan’Allah, I’m really happy this topic got brought up because after a recent encounter with a friend who when from Niqaab to No Hijab, I was left confused about the whole matter—not about the obligation of Hijab, but rather, how a person can justify disobedience for themselves. I’m sure most of us are aware of the well-known concessions, or types of ease Islam allows us to have when we are in a state of great difficulty. But can personal opinion, personal problems, intention problems, etc., be considered in this category too? I firmly believe no—but then how do you handle the situation? You don’t want to be judgemental, and usually the person who takes of her hijab is not in need of some self-righteous speech from you anyway. If you let it go, you see that the trend is spreading–almost justifying that this does happen. If you go after it, the rifts deepen and the sisters are almost “egged-on” to continue not wearing the Hijab.

    We know about submission to Allah, and having pure intention when doing good–but so do these sisters, but how do you help them understand, or should you bother?

  22. AnonyMouse says:

    As-salaamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh,

    SH: Jazaakillaahi khairan for your sweet words and ameen to the ad’iyah! :) Shukran for sharing your story… it’s certainly an inspiring one; may Allah keep you strong (and make you stronger!) upon the Deen, ameen.

    Gohar: I’ve heard those arguments before, and although I personally don’t consider that a valid interpretation of hijaab at all, I do know that there are many who do hold that opinion. You’re right, maybe that’s one of the things that makes it easier for some to stop wearing the khimaar.

    Traveller: Agreed, esp. regarding that paragraph! Excellent comment, jazaakAllahu khairan.

    anon: So, while I personally believe it is of benefit for women to observe hijaab, I believe the same for men. Men need to take a much more proactive role in respecting *all* women, regardless of creed, nationality, or way of dress. For sure! See here for my thoughts on the issue.

    Ayesha: Her mistake, one which is common to many girls, is that if they feel if the intention is wrong, the action must be stopped. This is a trick of shaytan! All actions need to have their intentions renewed from time to time, and hijab isn’t any different. Excellent points, and a great reminder!

    UmmAfnaan: I really enjoyed reading your comment, because it comes from a POV that I’m not familar with at all… subhanAllah, what an amazing difference and what an experience! Masha’Allah tabaarakAllah…

    OM: Being a sheikh’s daughter doesn’t provide all the answers… although I wish it did! Al-Hamdulillaah :)

    Amy: Jazaakillaahi khairan for your story! Inspiring and deep, masha’Allah… may Allah keep you strong upon the Deen, ameen!

    Ijmari: That’s an excellent question… and one I’m not too sure I know the answer to. Perhaps the first thing to do is find out WHY they are removing the hijaab… and then advise them, with wisdom, on how to deal with the circumstances that caused their decision… to be self-righteous and judgemental would no doubt push them further away, so maybe what they need most is someone to listen to them and gently advise them.
    In the end, if you try your best but they remain convinced of their reasons for removing the hijaab, I’m not sure what you should do besides continue advising them and then leave it up to Allah to guide them to what’s correct.
    Has anybody else dealt with someone who removed the hijaab? Does anyone have any advise on how to deal with the situation?

    BTW, I just realized that I hadn’t finished fully writing this post… but that’s okay, it looks like it passed the grade anyway, al-Hamdulillah :D

  23. career hijabi says:

    Salaam,
    One of the questions raised is about how, even after knowing of its obligation, women can take off the hijab? Anonymouse, as a teenager, you don’t have experience with the issue of career building.
    My perspective may have some generalizations, for which I apologize, but they are based off what I have seen personally.

    There seems to be an inherent assumption made in muslim communities that good muslim women dedicate themselves to the domestic sphere and religion, and that the purpose of education is more to instill a sense of self worth in the woman, and that careers, on par of those of men, are non-existent.
    However, there are also muslim women out there, who want to walk down the same corridors of corporate america as men, or be lawyers and doctors and serve their communities- not just muslim communities but wider, local communities. Whether they are right in wanting so is not the debate; the fact is, they exist, and are highly conflicted.

    The tussle becomes between two things: either you can fight internal battle with your conscience about the hijaab and ask God to forgive you-recognize that you are sinning and pray that things become easier for you, and that is between yourself and God, or you can carry on an external battle against judgement and stereotypes which you perceive may get in the way of you being a participating member of society which impedes your ability to make the most of ur passions/qualifications.

    There is a problem with assumptions that women make and don’t challenge here; they assume that they would never get the job because of their headscarf and take it off, but they never know for sure how people would’ve reacted to a hijab in the first place because they took it off before ever interacting with the co-workers. I wear a hijab, and when i interview at top firms, my resume and skill set speaks for itself, the hijab becomes irrelevant, and once I’m given a chance to speak, I prove my worth. However, I’ve been told many times by family and friends to take it off because I hurt my chances since it makes people pre-judge, to which my attitude is, if my interviewer will judge me based on 2.5 yards of fabric vs 8 years of post-high school education and 3 degrees from top notch universities, I’m not sure I want to work for them in the first place.

    If you’re not secure enough in your abilities however, you do your best to please people around you, hoping that God is understanding of your situation coz He knows what you are facing. Sometimes career women are looked down upon by other muslims because they tread a man’s world, and they dont want to adhere to that sort of group identity anymore. What we really need is more women in hijab everywhere (appropriate, that is), so that their presence is normal, whether its in the train stations in DC or the streets of Manhattan or San Francisco or hospitals in rural virginia, and communities that don’t make these women feel like outcasts.

  24. Assalamu Alaikum

    I think the above paints a negative image of what the reality on the ground really is. Yes a number of women may be removing their hijabs, but many more who are not given column inches are choosing to observe hijab! و لو كره الكافرون
    Despite what is being discussed here, in my experience, more women are coming to Hijab, not away from it in the Islamic awakening that we are experiencing. Alhamdulillah.

    It is sad that some people are even questioning its origin now and shows the lack of understanding people have in the idea that the Qur’an is not a book for people to open up and interpret as they will, rather, to understand it we must refer to those who understood it as it was revealed: the Sahabah and early Muslims. What was their understanding of the aayaat about the khimar covering ones bosom? What was their application of the verses? To look at aayaat without the interpretation of the great Mufassireen is to be a literalist and one could misconstrue and misinterpret many aayaat of the Qur’an if one followed that path and do away with much of the established Shari’ah.

    When we become Muslim we ‘submit’. Submission is not a conditional state, it is not a questioning state to be in, it implies doing as one is told, whether one likes it or not, because part of Tawheed is ones acceptance and acknowledgement that the Legislator (Allah) has the right to impose whatever He wills upon His creation. It is to acknowledge that if He has prohibited something, there is something filthy for us in that thing and if He has commanded something there is something beneficial in that thing, whether we can see it or not. Sami’naa wa ata’naa. We hear and we obey.

    Actually the way a woman appears in public is not just the woman’s responsibility. Her husband, her father, or any other menfolk who are Qawwam for her will be questioned about her appearance in public too. Just as a man is responsible for his family’s establishing of the salah, he is responsible for his womenfolks appearance in public and if need be he must pressure his womenfolk to comply with Allah’s commands or he may be counted as a Dayyooth, a man who doesn’t care how his women appear in public. Remember, apart from hijab being an act of ‘Ibadah, it has a social impact too. It stops certain harmful effects in society so a woman who wears hijab without conviction, may still be preventing certain bad effects on society which is a good thing.

    Sheikh Waleed al Basyouni mentioned to us a hadeeth of Aaisha when she saw a Christian woman making a dazzling display of herself in public. Aisha said to her “Enjoy it, for it is for you in this Dunya, and for us in the aakhirah”. Sheikh Waleed then said that women will not observe hijab as they had to on earth, in Jannah, because there will be no evil shahwah (desires) in Jannah and no fear of fitnah.

    You may like to listen to this short BBC Radio piece where a journalist spent a day with me experiencing hijab and niqab it was edited and so is not very long, but the discussion afterwards is interesting as hijab/niqab comes out as pretty much being a ‘feminist’ stand!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/programmes/sunday/archive/index.shtml?site=dec2007

  25. UA says:

    those who are complaining about hijaab…should ask those who wear niqaab.

    being muslim is difficult…very difficult…unless you taste the sweetness of eman.

  26. anonymous.. says:

    Sometimes sisters remove hijab because they don’t really understand why (I know the article says they know it’s a command from Allah (swt)) but personally speaking I’ve seen a sister remove her hijab because she never really understood it. Her parents told her to wear it because of what other people might think of her if she didnt. At other times she may know it’s a command from Allah (swt) but may not have a good understanding of what Islam is. The basics need to be taught first–tawheed/purpose in life etc. When the roots are strong – everything else comes more easily. Because from what I saw- the sister was totally lost- in a pool of darkness- not knowing her purpose and not really understanding what being a Muslim is about. When she understood the basics of Islam and other things- every thing else came. waLillahil Hamd.

  27. whawha says:

    As Salaam Alaikum,
    I wore a scarf on my head for 5 and a half years, and today I no longer wear it. I too am of the opinion that the stress is covering the breast. I am very content with my decision. Many of you all are so stressed over a woman covering her hair, that you all leave out women covering their breast. I have seen many “hijabis” walking around without covering their breast with their headscarf (which is what these Muslims believe the Quran specifically wants them to do).

    Also God uses “hijab” in the Quran, and never once used it in the manner that Muslims use it today (to indicate covering of so many different body parts).

    • Rama says:

      I strongly agree with you (whawha), Allah did mention al hijab in the Qur’an, but how did it become to be what women wear today? I don’t get why they need to cover all these parts of their body, especially the head… the hair!! El hijab to me is wearing descent cloths, and covering the head is a result of the social community and many many years of forming a habit (aadat wa taqaleed).. I am a muslim girl, and I live in a muslim country, and the way they use the hijab to control the girls over here is faaar away from al eman, they ask her or force her to wear it without even giving her the choice! I mean it’s a basic human need and right to do something when you want to and not when you are told to! What I am saying is, even if you think el hijab is wajeb in this way, you should leave it to her to decide whether to wear it or not! It’s her body after all! And Allah won’t judge you (father, brother, or husband) for her actions.

      I do pray the five prayers and I read Qur’an, and guess what, I never did when I was forced to in the past, it was my decision all alone and not my family’s, no matter how hard they tried. But still this only applies to me, it’s my story and not all people have the same outcome. Anyhow, I think of myself as a good muslim girl. But covering the hair is irrelevant with my faith! We people made this issue by making the cloths identify our beliefs! I strongly don’t agree with a piece of fabric identifying what I am, and what my beliefs are, that’s why it’s called Eman, it’s something inside you.

      We muslims are focusing on small issues and leaving what’s important, the muslim world is shuttering around us and all we do is talk about what a girl should or should not wear! I know what some would say, that we start with ourselves first but isn’t that what we think we’re doing for the paet 100 years!

      One other thing, I’m not disagreeing with girls who wear the head scarf, after all I don’t know what exactly it is told for us to do. It is completely their choice and no one should interfere.

  28. ummafnaan says:

    Assalamu alaikum,

    Whawha: There is a clear description of what the Hijab is from our pious predecessors. The qur’an came with commands in a condensed manner for Allah speaks to the point. We are meant to refer to the sunnah for the explanation of the Qur’an. And it is a consensus of the Sahaba and all the scholars of Ahlul Sunnah wal Jama’ah of the tabi’een and atba’tabi’een that the hijab consists of covering every part of the body except the face and hands and that includes the hair; some go as far as saying covering the face is also obligatory except the eyes to facilitate seeing; that was the opinion of Ibn Abbas whom Rasul blessed as ‘THE COMMENTATOR OF THE QUR’AN’ so he wud know beta than us all. lslam is not about what we feel content with, but what Allah has commanded whether we like it or not. That is the true istislaam.

    So even though the issue of niqab is debatable, the issue of covering the hair is not. This is clear also from Rasul (saw) admonishment of his sister in law Asma’ when she entered upon him wearing sth transparent. He (saw) said, ‘When a girl reaches the age of puberty, every part of her body shud be covered except the face and the hands.’ Nowhere did he say just the bossoms.
    And Allah Knows Best

  29. syed saboor says:

    The hijab is a must. Unforutunately many of these Ameircanized and Zionized Muslims are saying that Muslim women do not have to wear the hijab. Also, there are Muslims who are saying that homosexuality and lesbianism is permissible. What madness is this? The hijab is an integral part of Muslim culture as is the salah. It’s interesting that this whole debate about whether or not to wear the hijab is especially take place in the United States. It is also in the United States where a Muslim woman led prayers. Wake up, stop trying to secularize Islam and make it compatable with your lifestyles.

  30. Alima says:

    Masha’Allah amazing article!

  31. whawha says:

    As Salaam Alaikum UmmAfnaan,

    The qur’an came with commands in a condensed manner for Allah speaks to the point.

    Oh see this is where we differ. See I believe in the Quran and I believe that when it says that it is detailed enough, does not leave anything out, and gives us clear examples it means it. It is not a “condensed” version of what Allah really wants us to follow. This isn’t a matter of me following whatever I would like, you do that when you accept hadiths as “weak” and “strong” and allow man to confirm what is divine. You admit this when you say that wearing a niqab is “debatable” (as if it could be a command from God or not), which is why you are unclear of the issue because you follow hadiths which often contradict eachother and even the Quran itself. Even the niqabis say that the hadith you mentioned is “weak”… but obviously this system of what you believe in is allowing you to pick and choose what you want, you folllow some “weak” ones and “strong” ones. I only follow the Quran.

  32. ummafnaan says:

    Assalamu alaikum,

    Whawha: Now i see; you only follow the Qur’an. You shud have said so in the first place. I am just curious as to how you make wudu’ and how you perform your five daily prayers; cos the last time I checked it was not detailed in the Qur’an as to how many raka’at, how to bow, what to say in sajdah, etc. All these we got from HADITH of the PROPHET SAW. So why then do you chose to pick some teachings from Hadith and leave some? This is what I meant when I said Allah speaks in a ‘condensed’ manner. It wasn’t meant to be taken literally. Sunnah is also revelation. And true muslims take from both Qur’an and sunnah.

    When I said wearing the niqab is debatable, I meant that our ulama have interpreted the verse differently. But one thing I know for sure is that no respectable scholar on Allah’s earth today wud say that the verse excludes covering the hair. And whether we chose to accept it or not our prophet saw told us of how he saw women being hung by their hair in the hell fire when he went on his mi’raj. When he asked the angel Gabriel who these women were, he was told they were women who never used to observe hijab. Please make the connection between being hung by the hair and covering the hair.

    Anyway ukhti, I was only trying to give you advice from one muslim sister to another. Take it or leave it. Thats why its called advice.

  33. ummafnaan says:

    syed saboor : Asslamu alaikum brother, Jazaakallahu khairan. You hit the nail right on the head.

  34. whawha says:

    As Salaam Alaikum Ummafnaan,
    Once again the questions you pose really come down to if you believe that the Quran is sufficient enough when even God has declared that it is detailed and has given you clear examples. God tells you how to make wudu in the Quran, it’s just that men have ADDED things to it because once again— these people felt that God’s word’s weren’t enough for them and his suggestions were not the best options. This is the same for salat. Read the Quran and God talks about salat. You are use to doing it one way, this is why you don’t believe that the Quran isn’t enough— because you are so use to doing it the other way, because you believe that your way is right, what people have told you and claimed what the Prophet did. Read the Quran! Decide for yourself, despite what God says, if it is detailed enough (which is what he says). Once you believe in the Quran, believe what it actually says, you will see that all of that stuff that you follow (whichs isn’t from the Quran) is just added stuff that is not from God. Trust me, you aren’t going to find a lot of the rituals/traditions that you probably do from the Quran.

    salaam

  35. ibnabeeomar says:

    whawha – please check out the following articles, they discuss the root of this issue in more detail. further comments here will be moderated to keep the discussion on topic, as the issues you are raising are much different from the discussion here.

    http://muslimmatters.org/2008/03/03/authority-of-sunnah-hadithrevelation/

    http://muslimmatters.org/2008/03/07/authority-of-the-sunnah-part-2-hadithrevelation-qa/

    http://muslimmatters.org/2008/03/20/intro-to-uloom-al-hadeeth-navaid-aziz/

    http://muslimmatters.org/2008/03/31/authority-of-sunnah-part-3-status-of-sahaba-companions/

  36. UmA says:

    The Montreal Gazette profiles a report that concludes, amongst other things, that Quebecers should just accept the hijab and move on

    http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/story.html?id=0c2d653a-bedc-40c0-89fc-c53e01684b8e&k=45075&p=1

  37. Gohar says:

    In the hijaab verses, Allah mentions three areas of the body – private parts, the juyoob, and zeenat (item of attraction).

    Juyoob clearly refers to the breasts and no exception is given (in these verses) for mahrams. So it has to be covered whether you are in front of your grand dad or in front of your boss at work.

    When it comes to the Zeenat though, an exception is given for mahrams. Allah says the zeenat has to be kept covered in front of strangers, but can be left bare when just at home with your dad/brother etc. In addition, the zeenat can also left uncovered all the time by the more elderly lady. This quite clearly shows that there are two levels of dress for (young) women – one for family members and another for strangers.

    Revisionists may concede this point, but will argue that the word zeenat is not defined and so cannot be reliably said to include the hair. My response would be that the choice of the word zeenat (item of attraction) itself suggests hair being included, even if we decide to ignore the vast amount of historical information outside the Quran that seems to insist on the hair having also been covered religiously by the earliest muslims. I also note that zeenat is a umbrella word rather than a specific body part e.g. ‘cover you legs’.

  38. Dooda says:

    I had to laugh when I read this:

    As Salaam Alaikum Ummafnaan,
    Once again the questions you pose really come down to if you believe that the Quran is sufficient enough when even God has declared that it is detailed and has given you clear examples. God tells you how to make wudu in the Quran, it’s just that men have ADDED things to it because once again— these people felt that God’s word’s weren’t enough for them and his suggestions were not the best options. This is the same for salat. Read the Quran and God talks about salat. You are use to doing it one way, this is why you don’t believe that the Quran isn’t enough— because you are so use to doing it the other way, because you believe that your way is right, what people have told you and claimed what the Prophet did. Read the Quran! Decide for yourself, despite what God says, if it is detailed enough (which is what he says). Once you believe in the Quran, believe what it actually says, you will see that all of that stuff that you follow (whichs isn’t from the Quran) is just added stuff that is not from God. Trust me, you aren’t going to find a lot of the rituals/traditions that you probably do from the Quran.

    Bahahahahahah so you think that Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.s. was just “some man” who added to the religion of Allah s.w.t.?! Ooookay…

  39. nuqtah says:

    “man yuti’ arrasula faqad ‘ata Allah..”

    Really whats up with these new-age (anti) quraniyoon? They don’t know alif baa taa yet they can derive ahkam from abdullah yusuf ali’s translation???!!!

    That’s laughable.

  40. Tanvir says:

    lol!! that’s sooow very true!! wat’s alarming is that it has become too trendy these dayz, and many sisters are too content to ‘worship’ their own whims & desires out of sheer ignorance….rather than gain more knowledge about Allah’s Deen! Obviously this is not the first time that such a ludicrous statement has been made(about Hijab!) by a fanatic Qur’anite!! May Allah(swt) grant us the ability to eradicate such misconceptions about His Deen…..ameen.

  41. coolred38 says:

    As a former hijabi and now a hijabless Muslim woman…I struggled many years with wearing my hijab. Not because of cultural pressues etc(all though to some extent it existed) but more because no matter how many times I read the Quran I did not ever find one word of injustice in there concerning how God speaks to us and what God requires from us. God mentions the word justice over 50 times in the Quran so obviously its a very important issue for us to comprehend and understand. Every action we take against ourselves and against others should only be taken once we have decided on the most just course of action. The moment an injustice has occurred…we have stepped outside the bounds of Islam…in other words…we have committed a sin either against ourselves or against someone else.

    Now here is where my struggle came from. God mentions men and women in equal terms throughout the Quran…what God requires from one is required from the other…and what is forbidden for one is forbidden for the other. The only place where this differs in when it comes to plural marriages…but in fact where Muslims tend to think plural marriages are the right of the man…its really the right of the woman to be married to someone that is all ready married…because its forbidden to have sex with someone your not married to…its forbidden to commit adultery or fornication etc…which is what a Muslim woman would be doing if she married a man that was all ready married. So its her right to marry a man thats all ready married…not the right of an all ready married man to go find another wife….anyhow I digress.

    So, throughout the Quran we find ayat after ayat demanding us to remain modest…to guard our actions against indecent acts…to remember we are Muslims with everything we do or say…even if it means against ourselves or family etc. Also God commands that we lower our gaze and not step even close to fornication etc…do whatever we need to do to keep ourselves from straying from the straight path…and to remember God always. So, after telling us all that….ordering us to guard our modesty and lower our gaze…and how we are not treated unequally or with injustice anywhere in the Quran…would God then come back with one little ayat demanding women to cover up their entire bodies including their hair because we are beautiful and need to hide that from men? How exactly does that make sense or conform to the rules of justice that is a foundation of the Quran? The Quran is a book that espouses the “Middle Path”..we are encouraged to not go to extremes in laziness or rigidness…we are commanded to control ourselves and behave in modest fashion from the moment we are old enough to know the difference between right and wrong. And most importantly we are commanded to behave above all else. The many excuses Muslims will give as to why we are commanded to wear hijab is that our hair is beautiful and part of our sexiness…and since men find that sexy we must protect ourselves from the lusting eyes of men and hide our sexiness away…well the fact is men are visually delicate creatures…show them anything that remotely resembles sexiness and they are horny devils without shame…that is very true. But why is that our burden to bear? God made us what we are and made men what they are…slaves of God required to behave ourselves NO MATTER WHAT…so whether a woman is completely covered in niqab…or walking buck naked down the street…men are required to control themselves and lower their gaze. No where in the Quran does it say that they must maintain control…unless there is a valid reason not to…such as women in bikinis or not wearing hijab etc. Yes, women are sexy creatures…but then so are men. We can find them just as sexually enticing as men find us…and yet we are to believe that while God realizes as women we can control ourselves and remain modest etc in our behavoir towards men…men are inherently weak and need help to maintain themselves against us? Where is the justice in that? There is none.

    So where as I and many other Muslims (men and women) prefer to read those few ayat as referring to breasts…and when reading those ayat along with the history of the early ummah and knowing why the ayat was given at that time and for what reason…and realizing that the Arab society was very anit woman in those days(and still is in many ways today) and that God is not in the least unjust to His slaves and would not cause hardship for one in favour of the other…and lets be real, hijab is all about men…our beautiful sexy bodies are just too much for men to handle while out in public and so they need the visual stimulation of having to be around us and the added burden of behaving themselves as God commanded to be lightened and helped maintained. Women are sexy and men are weak…isnt that the belief? Yet according to God…we all have our burdens that we must deal with….if men are weak they need to struggle with that weakness and maintain control of it at all times…there are no exucses accepted. If women are sexy they must dress modestly and downplay to some extent the sexiness…but not completely hide it away from head to toe…we are human beings with human bodies the same as men….as much as we are sexy so are men…there is no justice in requiring one gender to hide away from the other as some sort of punishment or added burden because the other one is weak and unable to follow the commandents of God to mainain control at all times.

    Its commented here that there are many Muslim women who remove hijab even knowing in their hearts its a command from God…so they know they are sinning but are weak and giving into personal desires…is it impossible to believe that there are Muslim woman who dont believe that hijab is ordered at all…and thus dont believe it needs to be followed merely to conform and fit into the “consensus”…the consensus will not stand in front of me on Judgement Day and lighten my burden in anyway…so what I believe and what I do is all that matters to me…and I dont believe God is injust to me in the least tiny way…yes…modesty is required….covering our hair is just a cultural tradition that didnt even start with Arabs…it was borrowed from other cultures and brought into it….some 250 years after the prophets death.

    But in the end we get back to one tiny little phrase in which all our personal decisions are made….”to you your religion and to me mine”…if your religion of Islam requires you to cover your hair to be seen as a God fearing Muslim woman…then by all means do so and be happy with your choice….but if my religion of Islam requires me to maintain modesty and behave myself and remember God always…and does not add the burden of mens inability to control themselves into the mix…then that should be viewed by hijabis as my right…and not to equate my hijabless status as some form of sinning. Maybe you are sinning by following the whims of men in maintaining hijab when its clearly not ordered in the Quran…who knows. On judgement day…all is made clear….and to each her own. Just my thoughts on that.

    btw very nice blog….I like finding and reading blogs that Muslims maintain…Im glad we can get our thoughts out there concerning our religion etc…quite often only one brand of islam is protrayed to the world…the violent extreme kind….personal blogs are a form of dawa in my opinion. A difference of opinions is a mercy to the nation….right?

    coolred38

  42. OM says:

    I warn every single person who denies the obligation of hijab that to deny something that is obligatory and is well-known to belong to the religion is apostasy (I am NOT accusing anyone of it). This is something that there is no disagreement on whatsoever. MuslimMatters staff, and you please engage with people who deny this obligation? Jazakum Ullah Khayr.

    Coolred, ‘injustice’ to you is justice and faith and moderation to someone else. You need a more objective criterion than simply personal preference to judge what constitutes ‘injustice’. The ‘adl of Islam is true ‘adl, and any justice which does not conform to it is not justice. Allah guide you and us, ameen.

  43. DH says:

    Well said, Coolred38 – “to you your religion and to me mine..” The integral belief that God is the ultimate judge should be enough to guide our behavior in this life – thank you for articulating this perspective so intelligently & calmly.

    Before we start judging each other’s outward apparel, intentions, & level of faith…isn’t it of more importance that we each concentrate upon pleasing God to the best of our personal understanding? I fully respect a woman’s decision to wear OR not wear hijab – can’t we agree to disagree on this one matter & leave the judgment to God?

    Any talk of ‘sin’ worries me because it sounds like some Muslims being so convinced that they hold the monopoly on righteous behavior. I thought the only litmus test to being a Muslim was belief in God.

  44. coolred38 says:

    OM

    So disbelief in the commandment of hijab is tatamount to apostacy…is that how powerful that piece of cloth has become? There is disagreement with this issue…otherwise all Muslim women in all the world since the time of the prophet would wear the hijab and not ever have doubt with it or confusion about it. If the hijab is justice…please explain to me exactly what that justice is. i dont see it…and its my right as a thinking capable human being to believe differently then those that came before me…my religion and what i practice and believe is between me and God…unlike other religions that require go betweens in the forms of priests etc….my heart and soul is settled on the matter…there is no doubt within me that what I believe is correct. Its said that if we have doubt about something to leave it…in this case i doubted the validity of hijab…so left it…and my doubt departed….God tells us that our niya…or intention is sometimes even more important than the action or non action that we took. So my niya is please God with my actions and practice of His Word…His word to me is that i dress modestly and behave myself…what is so hard to believe about God only asking that of us and nothing more? Why the hair…please explain to me that basic fact…why the hair? God is so much more than hair…my life as follower of Islam..as a Muslim is so much more than my hair….I dont give a spit in the wind about what others believe to be true. My beliefs are mine…they belong to me…they shape me and make me the Muslim I am…why does that antagonize others and move them to pass judgement on me? I do not advocate women walk naked in the street…which for many seems to be what hijabless women do…I advocate modest behavoir and modest dress…again…whats wrong with that philosophy?

    I might also mention that there is no punishment prescribed for women that do not wear hijab. One would assume that if its considered as big a sin as some Muslims would like to believe…that woman are just asking for punishment that do not wear it….then where is the punishment prescribed for this rebellious act? Every sin in the Quran has stated consequences…we know what we will get if we lie, cheat, steal, kill, commit adultery etc…but there is no mention of what exactly our punishment will be if we fail to wear hijab. One would have to assume that God would leave us in no doubt as to the precarious step we are taking in ignoring the hijab order and practicing based only on our “feelings”. I abhor the fact that Muslims make claims that we are destined for the fires of hell for failure to wear hijab(not you specifically ok) and yet they cannot point to an ayat that clearly spells that out. And before you claim that its implied…nothing in the Quran is implied when it comes to commands and punishments for failure to follow the command. God makes things clear…so we dont have the excuse later to say God was ambiguous and confusing. There is nothing confusing in the Quran…we humans are the ones that confuse issues with culture….and we are the losers.

    btw I hope that by your comments about the staff here engaging people who differ in opinion that you…or even them…is not an attempt to shut the voices of those that disagree with you? I find that Muslims by and large tend to end arguments by either blocking the poster…or using nasty language to brand them kafir or apostate etc…basically either putting their hands over their ears like a child…or resorting to slander to maintain their “upper hand”. To each his or her own. Thanks for proving me right…once again.

  45. Amad says:

    salam
    I believe OM’s point is that not wearing the hijab, while recognizing that Allah ordained it, is a sin. But rejecting the hijab altogether is a different issue.

    Yes all actions are by intentions, but if one takes a few sips of wine to get in the “mood” to worship Allah, then “good intentions” at the time do not make the actions halal. In other words, the intentions have to be good, but the action also has to be in line with the religion. Good actions without good intentions are rejected, but equally good intentions without good action are rejected.

    There is a consensus of the Ummah’s mainstream scholars that the hijab is fard and obligatory, from all the madahibs. I think it is quite a statement to say that all the scholars of this Ummah were wrong and that somehow we found out a truth that was missed by the people of knowledge. Rather, just like other sins that Muslims commit, sisters who do not wear hijab should recognize that it is wrong that they are not, and try their best to change it. Not wearing the hijab doesn’t make them non-Muslims, and there are many non-hijabi sisters who are better in faith and practice than hijabi sisters (for instance if the former pray and the latter don’t pray), but it doesn’t change the obligation of the hijab. Yes, it is not the biggest part of a sister’s deen, but it isn’t trivial either…

    wallahualam

  46. ummafnaan says:

    Assalamu alaikum,

    One of our great pious predecessors (for now I can recall which one exactly) said, “Our greatest enemy is not the Shaytaan, but our greatest enemy is our Hawaa’ (evil and corrupted desires). Infact I believe one of Umar Ibn Al Khattaab’s most popular sayings was ‘You Enemy of Yourself’; and just reading some of the comments on this page just reinforces this fact that truly a person can be his own enemy.

    We seek refuge in Allah from the evil of ourselves and the evil of our words and actions, Whomsoever Allah guides non can misguide, and whomsoever Allah allows to go astray, non can guide.

    Sisters tread carefully!!! A word is enough for the wise.

  47. coolred38 says:

    Yes…whom ever God guides no one can lead astray….but your assuming those of us that dont believe in hijab…are the ones led astray. There are plenty of ayats in the Quran warning against following the religion of your forefathers…that doesnt necessarily mean non Muslims…Muslims also tend to follow the ways of those before them…thats called culture. So Muslims are not exempt from that warning. Read the history of hijab and how it came to be in the arab world…its not all clear cut and open as some would like to believe. there has always always been controversy about it. But whether Im viewed as a weak Muslim woman by others means little or nothing to me compared to what I pray God thinks of me. Im good with my choice…so leave the judgement of my actions to God…just as the judgement of your actions are left with God as well. We shall see if Gods Mercy extends to all of us in the end. Thats what should concern us most…not whether the Muslim women of the world covered their hair or not. I sincerely hope God thinks more of us than that…I know He does…its written on every page of the Quran.

    btw I really dont concern myself with the fact that “all” scholars before me claimed the hijab was fard…the great thing about Islam is that Im not required to follow their beliefs in order to be a good Muslim girl…Islam is an individual relationship between me and God…scholars are learned and give their opinions…we as Muslims can either accept their opinions and practice them…or not…there is nothing in the Quran that says everything that comes out of the mouths of scholars is sacred and unchangable. Even scholars of old realized that their opinions were not set in stone and could change with the times…its a pity Muslims these days tend to worship scholarly opinion rather than use their own brains and discover their truth for themselves. Having “all” scholars agree doesnt mean a thing…all scholars use to agree the world was flat…and when one man came along and claimed it was round…they demanded he recant that claim or face death….so sometimes the group can be wrong…truth is not necessarily in numbers. have a nice day.

  48. Charles says:

    There is a consensus of the Ummah’s mainstream scholars that the hijab is fard and obligatory, from all the madahibs. I think it is quite a statement to say that all the scholars of this Ummah were wrong and that somehow we found out a truth that was missed by the people of knowledge.

    Who determines who are the Ummah’s “mainstream” scholars? I imagine that the folks on this blog don’t pay much attention to Shi’a mainstream scholars. Aren’t we just saying that the group of scholars that I follow say something is required?

    I think it is quite a statement to assume that all the scholars of the “mainstream” Ummah were right. I imagine every Muslim assumes that all the scholars of mainstream Christianity were wrong. Whether 100% of a “mainstream” group of scholars agree on something or not is irrelevant . What is relevant is to give and discuss the evidence and reasons with the goal of determining the truth (as close as we can figure it out) on a particular matter.

    I asked this before without getting a response, but who gave scholars the right to proclaim what is fard and obligatory? Of course, as those who have spent their lives studying issues of Islam, they should give us their informed opinions about these issues. And of course, we should listen to and respect others who have studied issues more than we. In fact, if there’s a doubt in my mind about something, I would naturally follow their lead. But who gave them the authority to require others to abide by their opinions?

  49. Charles says:

    One more note. Two problems exist for accepting the fiats of scholars unquestioningly. The first is that if scholars from different groups (Shia, Sunni, Salafi, Ashari, Mutazila) disagree, then the evidence is probably not ironclad.

    The second is that expert opinion is not always better than the opinion of a novice in part because their bias leads them to ignoring facts that contradict their position (and there is research supporting this). Of course, novices are biased, too, but the focus here is on experts’ opinions.

    Here are some scattered and somewhat related readings on expertise:
    http://www.futurepundit.com/archives/001558.html
    http://www.psy.fsu.edu/faculty/ericsson/ericsson.exp.perf.html
    http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/060124_political_decisions.html
    http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2005/12/05/051205crbo_books1
    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=the-expert-mind

  50. Tanvir says:

    Salam! Aftr goin thru a few of these blogs…….one thing naturally popped up to ma mind….that important statement from Hamza Yusuf Hanson……”a woman not wearing the Hijab is a symptom of a much greater disease.” Now I know wat it means!! Without pointing fingers at ny1…i’d say vry fankly dat Hijab is jst a mere sample…..i’m sure there r loads of issues out there, on which Muslims r fretting about day & night. Wud sm1 plz “enlighten’ me on this issue…..how this Hijab is simply an Arab custom??? I’m not going to dawdle on this topic nymore, bcoz i got a humongous amount of work to do for establishing the Caliphate once again. So instead of bickering amongst ourselves lyk little children, let us work together to put an end to the miseries of our Muslim brothers and sisters across the globe. & as for those people who are ‘allergic’ to head-scarf…..no matter wat i say right now, i know it wud be pretty irrelevant to u all! God!! Luk at the plight of this ummah……ppl go to the extremes of rejecting the Sunnah, relegating the virtues of Hijab to just an ancient Arab custom, presenting their own brand of Islam after skimming thru some of the english translations of Allah’s Kalam………etc.!!!!! Oh Allah…..I seek refuge from all such misguidance! I say…….the real problem lies in our HEARTS! Our hearts r vry hard…..& this renders us inert to a comprehensive following of Allah’s Deen! We are an emasculated set of ppl today! Dynamism & the spirit of Islam has been wringed out of us! Allah alone knows the level of “intellectual calamities” that await us in the near future!!!

  51. Mary says:

    This was an extremely well-written and thought-provoking article. Earlier today, I had posted on another thread, as a question, “why does someone’s hair enter into the concept of modesty?”

    From reading the article, and readers’ comments, I now see that the hijab is a symbol of deeper commitment to Islam, for many Muslims. I respect that. Believe it or not, when I was small, it was a custom for the Christian denomination I was raised in for women to wear lace caps as a sign of devotion to Jesus Christ.

    I fully approve of modesty in dress. I mourn the widespread lack of morality in the culture driven, in large part, by too-scant clothing. But I just don’t get the hair thing. Clothing revealing bodies is one thing; women should not throw temptation into men’s path. But hair? Personally, I would find a scarf hot and uncomfortable. Plus, I suffer from a scalp condition that, if my head were encased, would aggravate it.

    I know that the Qu’ran is meant to be as much a practical guide to everyday life as a spiritual one. So, on a practical level, why is it necessary to cover up hair?

  52. AnonyMouse says:

    Hi, Mary! I’m glad you liked the post :)

    In Islam, hijaab isn’t just about covering the hair (although it does tend to be the most obvious part of it!)… it’s about the whole body and concealing it’s attractiveness. And really, when you think about it, hair IS a major factor of a woman’s attractiveness – just think about how much time we spend doing it up and fretting about it and spraying it with chemicals and all that stuff!
    BTW, scarves don’t have to be hot and uncomfy – you can get them in really light soft fabrics and in winter it’s nice to have something warm around your hair that doesn’t look as unflattering as earmuffs ;)

    However, in the case of medical conditions, then I’m not entirely sure about the exact Islamic ruling, but I’m sure there’d be some way to accomodate it without doing away with hijaab.

  53. Mary says:

    You’re very welcome, AnonyMouse — and thank you for the response.

    I’ve said before, but I’ll keep saying it until enough people listen — non-Muslims should start right here at this website to LEARN something about Islam before demonizing it. I tell everyone I speak with about your site, and hope they follow through and come here.

    Keep up the great work!

  54. Rani says:

    Asalam’

    Although we have been instructed to cover and observe hijab to cover our modesty and be known as believing women, the benefits and reasons for doing so do not stop there.
    For women who begin to wear hijab, the inclination and need to wear it arises for various reasons. But ultimately it comes from Allah SWT.
    The fact that a women has felt the need to cover is beautiful, that her inclinations are in line with that which Allah swt has ordainded for veher.ser
    It is a blessing for us as women, not just muslim women, believing women through out the ages have worn hijab, it is not a new thing. Pre

  55. hijabi says:

    Salamu Alaikum

    I’ve been wearing hijab for over 10 years now, alhamdulilah. however, recently, for the past 3 years I have started suffering from a very painful scalp condition. For the past 3 years, I have gone to doctors, gotten blood work, taken prescriptions, tried natural remedies for my scalp such as oils, shampoos, etc to try to find a way to reduce the pain and swelling from my scalp. Finally, I did not wear a hijab for 10 days straight, and found that all my symptoms significantly reduced. I am not trying to find a quick escape from hijab, in fact the opposite. I love hijab, and although my scalp condition has caused my hair to thin out significantly that was never enough to stop me from wearing a hijab. But now i suffer from red, swollen scalp, pain and open sores on my scalp. Even hair stylists are freaked out when they see it.

    I am now at a point where I want to stop wearing hijab, at least only while I am at work, since that is where I spend 10 hrs a day 5x a week. But I still want to wear hijab when going out for personal reasons. Is that acceptable? Does it have to be an all or nothing practice?

    thoughts welcome.

    • student of deen says:

      jee i see where you are coming from…
      have tried eveything?
      Allah Talah had revealed to Nabi [s.aw]: ““O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks over themselves.”
      so maaf if i am saying anything wrong, but sister please endure it for the sake of Allah and make Du’a that Allah makes it easier for you, and Allah will Inshallah reward you in the Hereafter! jazkillah

  56. muslima says:

    I
    Allah knows your situation.
    Have you tried different materials for your hijab?
    Maybe something more breathable, like the Egyptian cap style, your neck shows so you need turtlenecks
    .They have e some very transparent knit styles hijab that let air touch your scalp.
    Try to be a compliant as possible, InshAllah you will be cured. Sounds painful!

  57. student of deen says:

    masha allah, what a lovely article.
    alhamdullialh where i am from i get to wear my hijaab in the open, without worrying, may Allah make it is easy for all of those who are suffering in this world ameen.

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