Hijab

 


The word "hijab" comes from the Arabic word "hajaba" meaning to hide from view or conceal. In the present time, the context of hijab is the modest covering of a Muslim woman. To the non Muslims the hijab is simply a piece of cloth covering a woman's hair and neck but to us Muslim women it is much more than that. The subject of hijab is one I feel very strongly about. Having grown up as a non Muslim I have been 'on the other side' so to speak. I am all too aware of the constant attention women give to hairstyles, make up, perfume, mini skirts and revealing clothes, competition between the young girls about who gets the most attention from the opposite sex, etc. etc. but wearing the hijab you are shielded from all of that, and what a liberation that is...we Muslim women of course dress up and make ourselves as beautiful and pleasing as possible but only in front of our husbands, I think that is very special. Non Muslim women have the freedom to undress and Muslim women have the freedom to dress with dignity and modesty. Some non Muslims might disagree but I would tell them to go and ask any man they know what it is they first notice about a woman...

It is said in the Quran (33:59)  "O Prophet, tell your wives and daughters and the believing women to draw their outer garments around them (when they go out or are among men). That is better in order that they may be known (to be Muslims) and not annoyed..." 

Further the prophet said about this: "When a girl reaches the menstrual age, it is not proper that anything should remain exposed except this and this". He pointed to the face and hands. (Abu Dawood).

A Muslim woman who covers her head is making a statement about her identity. Anyone who sees her will know that she is a Muslim and has a good moral character. Many Muslim women who cover are filled with dignity and self esteem; they are pleased to be identified as a Muslim woman. As a chaste, modest, pure woman, she does not want her sexuality to enter into interactions with men in the smallest degree. A woman who covers herself is concealing her sexuality but allowing her femininity to be brought out.

The hijab is an act of obedience to Allah and to the prophet and to not wear it is a sin: `It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His messenger have decreed a matter that they should have an option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, has indeed strayed in a plain error.' (Quran 33:36).

Hijab is beautiful when you know its true meaning, I will try to explain what the hijab means, as it is much more than just a piece of cloth.

Firstly I will make it clear that a Muslim woman's dress must be non transparent, it must be loose enough to not show her figure, free from patterns of animals and humans, perfume free, it should not resemble men's clothing, it should cover the whole body apart from hands and face. When these guidelines are met you are free to wear anything, any colour, any style. Some Muslim women wear headgear which resembles the hijab like a piece of cloth which is half covering the head, tucked behind the ears, sometimes falls down and has to be put into place again and again, this is not hijab, this is ignorance on the woman's part and it is not the proper way to dress for Muslims.

The hijab doesn't only apply to clothing:                

There is a whole attitude and way of behaving which goes with the dress code, like shyness and modesty.

The voice must be friendly but not luring and we must not laugh out loudly.

Hijab is a statement from the woman to the outside world, that she is a Muslim and proud of it.

Wearing the hijab you remind everyone who sees you of our creator.

Hijab is a shield/protection against the sexual looks of men, which in itself is a liberation..

Hijab reminds you all the time about being on your best behaviour.

Also hijab is the perfect way to tell others about Islam, people will come and ask you about it and many will be interested in learning more.

 

 

Hijab is not just for Islam, it is also a requirement in Christianity, and not just for the nuns.:

Corinthians 11:5-10 'but every woman that prayeth of prophesieth with her head uncovered, dishonoureth her head'.

Corinthians 11:13 'judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman prays unto God (with her head) uncovered'.


Hijab is also for the Jews:

Jewish women should cover their head. Ancient rabbis said 'it is not right for the daughters of Israel to walk out with their heads uncovered'. 'Cursed be the man who lets the hair of his wife be seen'. 'Uncovering the woman's hair is considered nudity' (Ibid pp. 316-317). (Swindler op. cit. pp. 121-123) If a woman's hair was uncovered during the Tannaitic period the Jewish woman might be fined 400 zuzim for this offence.


 

The revealing western style dress of today is a relatively new invention. If you go back in time only about 70 years or so you will find even western women wearing clothes which resemble hijab and you will find that when even nowadays when women want to dress decently they cover themselves up.

 


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                                                                                                      page updated 27/08/07