Hijab: The Head Cover – Unveiled

By Saulat Pervez

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American Muslim women today are rediscovering the pristine Islam as revealed by Allah, (God), to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh1), more than 1400 years ago, but without any of the contradictions of ancestral culture. Consequently they are essentially engaging in a life-long exercise of rediscovering their own selves , what it means to be a human, a Muslim, and more so, a Muslim woman. Wearing a head-covering (hijab) is an important part of their spiritual journey.
One of the most common questions today, asked by Muslims and non-Muslims alike, is: .Why do Muslim women cover their heads? The answer is very simple – Muslim women observe hijab because Allah has told them to do so:

.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…. (Qur.an 33:59).

Muslims believe that their sole purpose in life is the worship of God alone, according to His instructions, as revealed in the Holy Quran, and through the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh). As such, wearing the hijab is an act of obedience to God and, hence, forms the primary basis for wearing it.

Generalizations about Islam and Muslims are replete in todays media. Muslim women in headscarves are frequently unfairly stigmatized. They are regarded on the one hand as oppressed, and on the other, as fanatics and fundamentalists. Both depictions are grossly wrong and imprecise. Such portrayals not only misrepresent these womens strong feelings towards hijab, but also fail to acknowledge their courage and the resulting identity hijab gives them. There are even bans on wearing the hijab in some countries. When asked about this, Aminah Assilmi, a Christian convert to Islam, said: To ask me to go out without my hijab would be like asking a nun to go topless. It amazes me, and I cannot help but wonder, if they would have ordered Mary, the mother of Jesus (pbuh) to uncover her hair.

Another misconception is the belief that Muslim women are forced to wear hijab. For the vast majority of Muslim women, nothing could be farther from the truth. Indeed, deciding finally to wear hijab is often difficult. Days of meditation, fear of negative consequences and reactions from family and/or the wider American society, and ultimately, the need for plenty of courage weigh heavily in reaching the decision. Wearing hijab is a very personal and independent decision, coming from appreciating the wisdom underlying Allahs command and a sincere wish to please Him.

For me, the lead up to the decision to wear hijab was more difficult than actually wearing it. I found that, al hamdulillah (praise be to God), although I did receive negative comments from people, I appreciated the feeling of modesty wearing the hijab gave me, and ironically, the negative attention made me feel more proud to be identified as a Muslim, remarked Katherine Bullock, a Canadian convert to Islam.

To me hijab is a gift from Allah. It gives me the opportunity to become closer to Allah. Also quite importantly, (it provides me) the chance to stand and be recognized as a Muslim,. Fariha Khan of Rockville, Maryland, said.

While the hijab identifies women as followers of Islam, with it comes tremendous responsibility. Hijab is not merely a covering dress, but more importantly, it is behavior, manners, speech and appearance in public. The headscarf is an outer manifestation of an inner commitment to worshipping Allah , it symbolizes a commitment to piety. Self or inner morality is what gives meaning to the external scarf. This can be perceived from the overall demeanor of any Muslim woman, how she acts, dresses, speaks, and so on. In a land where misinformation about Islam and Muslims abounds, Muslim sisters have the opportunity to portray Islam in its true light

Saba M. Baig, a graduate of Rutgers University, NJ, was 17 when she seriously started wearing hijab. She feels that she is still in the process of learning internal hijab. .My biggest realization was that hijab was not just about wearing a scarf on my head, but more of a (veil) on my heart,. said Baig. .Hijab is more than an external covering. Thats the easy part of it all. It has a lot (more) to do with modesty and just the way you present yourself..

Imaan, a convert to Islam, adds, .Unfortunately, it also has its down side: you get discriminated against, treated as though you are oppresse. I wear it for (Allah), and because I want to. Period..

Katherine Bullock observed that after I started wearing hijab, I noticed that people would often behave more circumspectly with me, like apologizing if they swore. I appreciated that. I feel that wearing hijab has given me an insight into a decent and upright lifestyle.

Hijab is an Act Of Modesty

Modest clothing and hijab are precautions to avoid social violations. The following verses of the Quran highlight that this is not limited to women only.

.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; and 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…. (Quran 24:30-31)

According to Jabir ibn Abdullah, when he asked the Prophet (pbuh), about a mans gaze falling inadvertently on a strange woman, the Prophet replied, .Turn your eyes away. (Muslim). In another tradition, the Prophet (pbuh) chided for looking again at a woman. He said, the second glance is from Satan.

So, contrary to popular belief, Muslim and nonMuslim, hijab is not worn for men; to keep their illicit desires in check, that is their own responsibility, as the above verse and Prophetic sayings show. Rather, Muslim women wear it for God and their own selves. Islam is a religion of moderation and of balance between extremes. Therefore, it does not expect women alone to uphold societys morality and uprightness. Rather, Islam asks men and women mutually to strive to create a healthy social environment where children may grow with positive, beautiful, constructive and practical values and concepts.

In fact, for many women hijab is a constant reminder that they should not have to design their lives and bodies for men. .Before I started covering, I thought of myself based on what others thought of me. I see that too often in girls, their happiness depends on how others view them, especially men. Ever since, my opinion of myself has changed so much; I have gained (a lot of) self-respect. I have realized whether others may think of me as beautiful is not what matters. How beautiful I think of myself and knowing that Allah finds me beautiful makes me feel beautiful,. Baig recounts.

The concept of modesty and hijab in Islam is holistic, and encompasses both men and women. The ultimate goal is to maintain societal stability and to please God.

Since Muslim women are more conspicuous because of their appearance, it is easier for people to associate them with the warped images they see in the print and broadcast media. Hence, stereotypes are perpetuated and Muslim women often seem .mysterious. to those not acquainted with the religious meanings of hijab. This aura of .mystery. cannot be removed until their lifestyles, beliefs and thought-systems are genuinely explored. And, this cannot be achieved until one is not afraid respectfully to approach Muslim women or men for that matter. So, the next time you see a Muslim, stop and talk to them. Youll feel, God-Willing, as if youre entering a different world, the world of Islam: full of humility, piety, and of course, modesty!

1. (pbuh) here stands for peace be upon him

55 Comments

  1. Roshat Brown says:

    This was what my Speech was about and it Truly Touched me Heart!!!

  2. I appreciate every muslim women whom stand toll on wearing of her hijab irrespective of discrimination by other believer who see them as a treat ,but to be in the side of ALLAH is the best.

  3. Mohd Rafi says:

    Hi,

    While going through the verses from Quran and Hadees, I cannot see anywhere explicitly saying to cover the head. Most of the commentary about Hijab discuss the benefits and identity etc, but I need a clarification regarding covering the head or wearing particular clothing. Please enlighten me

  4. There isn't. The Koran only states "covering your body modestly". It does NOT explicitly or implicitly mention covering the head of a woman. Such a conclusion has been drawn by so-called Moslem scholars who have basically put words into the mouth of God himself.

  5. Alan Simms says:

    THEY WEAR THEM BECAUSE MUSLIM MEN WANT TO CONTROL THEM. NOT RELIGIOUS AT ALL. SHOULD BE BANNED ALONG WITH THE TENT THEY ARE MADE TO WEAR BY THE MEN. THEYRE LIVING IN THE DARK AGES AND WE STRONGLY OBJECT TO THEIR FORM OF DRESS IN BRITAIN AS ITS UGLY ,AND WE DONT LIKE DECIEVERS WHO HIDE INSIDE THIS GARB.. THESE TENTS ARE ALSO FOR SHOPLIFTING, ITS HAPPENED IN MY SHOP MANY TIMES, EVEN HAD A MAN WEARING ONE STEALING ALCOHOL.

  6. Suhaib Aadil says:

    Aurton Or Larkiyon Mein sar
    Dhanpnay ki
    Aadat Dalen
    Rasool_e_Paak S.A.W.W
    Nay Farmaya
    Jab Mujhay
    Meraaj Pr Lay
    jaya Gia To Main
    Nay Dekha k
    Meri Ummat ki
    Bahut Si Aurtein Sakht Azaab
    Mein Mubtila thin
    Un k Sr k “BAAL”
    Jahanum ki
    Diwaron Say
    Bandhy Houay
    Thay Ye wo
    Auratein Thin jo Apny sar k
    Baal
    Na_Mehramon
    Sey Nahi Chhupati Thin
    Qayamat k Din
    jb Parday ka
    Swal kia ja’ey Ga To Aik Aurat
    4 jannti Mardon ko Dozakh
    Mein Ley kr ja’ey Gi
    1= Baap
    2= Bhai
    3=Shohar
    4= Beta
    Agar AAp Yeh
    Malomaat kisi
    Bhi Muslim tk
    Poncha Sakty
    Hn To Plz Frwd to all..

  7. Hana Hammoudeh says:

    it states in Koran the word veil which is the covering of the head

  8. Mishal Tarik says:

    haha lol my parents dont want me wearing a hijab but its my choice. What u Americans dont understand is that hijab is a free choice. And it cannot be forced upon. Yet yes there are some very minute rareties that people in uneducated areas foce it. But this is very rare.

  9. Anum Arif says:

    read surah ahzab… it states clearly to cover face

  10. Anum Arif says:

    we cover because OUR ALLAH want us to cover. we cover because we like to be covered. we cover because we dont want any stranger to look at us, to see even our faces. we cover because we are Muslims. and please break the taboo cu we are not forced upon this

  11. Mohd Rafi says:

    Anum Arif Please provide me the verse so that I can understand it.

  12. By wearing a hijab
    it's bring you the modesty. ..right
    it's still have modesty wearing hijab with the tights pants. .
    heel. .and a mini blouse. ….

    absolutely, I'm just wonder sum of them wearing hijab
    not all polite. ..Most I observed today they let the hair out
    now where us the attitude of that. .

  13. Kelly Digh says:

    Alan Simms , it is religious. Muslim women wear the hijab to show their faith, just like you might wear a crucifix. Everything else is just hate; where in the Bible (yes, the Bible; I assume you know what that book is) does it say to embrace hate? I remember it saying something about loving thy neighbor as thyself.

  14. Rehan Rafeek says:

    Dear sister,
    First of all you didn't understand what is hijab,Hijab is not just covering your head.It is to dress modestly and not to reveal body parts.That includes not wearing tight or small clothes or other clothes that may reveal body parts or shape.

  15. Zayn Rajput says:

    Basically the thing is people are changing it according to them but Hijab is the name of covering something which cant be cover normally like *Head or face*
    the thing is to cover up yourself .. :)

  16. dear friend,
    we wear 'them' in the name of Allah. we wear 'them' because He protects our dignity, uphold hour honor and upgrade our status through 'them'. not because of men.
    i don't blame you if you hate 'them' so much,. it may be due to the bad experiences you had with muslims that do not practice islam though they appear islamic, or muslims who uses hijab not to protect their dignity but to cover their sins.
    you seem to judge islam from what you see. maybe its time for you to judge islam from what islam really is.
    good luck discovering…

  17. Mec Heyes says:

    The word "veil" is an English word, not in the Koran.

  18. Hana Hammoudeh says:

    Khimar is an arabic word in english its veil

  19. Mec Heyes says:

    Anum Arif – no, Surat Al-'A?z?b 33:33 does NOT state clearly to cover face. It says nothing about "face."

  20. Mec Heyes says:

    Re the closing paragraph; Muslim women are totally stereotyped by the wearing of hijab. Wearing the hijab perpetuates the stereotype. The "aura of mystery" attracts attention, just begs to be explored, to find out what the mystery is. A truly modest woman would abstain from attracting attention, would shun conspicuous appearance.

  21. Gru Bhai says:

    am not islamic scholar but a little bit i know is that in sura ehzaab, it is said for muslim females that when you go outside cover your self with long orhani which we called in Pakistan as dopatta means cover youself that no one see your beauty and when talk to unknown males, be strick firm and strong voice. and don't use the jewelry which produces sound or seeks attention of others.

  22. Myra Easton says:

    Nice piece of historical bull dust

  23. Yes we do wear hijab becoz I fear Allah and not becoz someone wants me to wear

  24. Why you think wearing a hijab makes a Muslim Woman Conspicuous,takes it as a dress code for Muslim girl.A girls with swimming suit does not get attention by all?

  25. Amatullah Abdallah says:

    Surah an-Nur ayah 31 says:

    And say to the faithful women to lower their gazes, and to guard their private parts, and not to display their beauty except what is apparent of it, and to extend their headcoverings (khimars) to cover their bosoms (jaybs), and not to display their beauty except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband's fathers, or their sons, or their husband's sons, or their brothers, or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their womenfolk, or what their right hands rule (slaves), or the followers from the men who do not feel sexual desire, or the small children to whom the nakedness of women is not apparent, and not to strike their feet (on the ground) so as to make known what they hide of their adornments. And turn in repentance to Allah together, O you the faithful, in order that you are successful

    Surah al-Ahzab ayah 59 says:

    O Prophet! Say to your wives and your daughters and the women of the faithful to draw their outergarments (jilbabs) close around themselves; that is better that they will be recognized and not annoyed. And God is ever Forgiving, Gentle.

    The Quran is crystal clear about hijab, those putting words"in the mouth of God" are people like contest chris. Before the verse about hijab came down, the women would cover part of their hair as part of their culture, it would show the ears, neck, clevage and so on, then Allah sent down a verse ordering women to lengthen their headcoverings to cover their bosoms.

  26. Susan Skorc says:

    How do people get "tell your wives and daughters to draw their outer garments around them" to mean to cover their heads? I don't get it. Also, how in the world do you know what Allah said thousands of yrs. ago? Do you really believe that all things written and rewritten over that many yrs. actually are what was originally said? You can tell several people one thing today, and they will all tell it a different way tomorrow, so what do you think happens over many many yrs? This is all BS.

  27. Susan Skorc says:

    I am sorry you fear Allah. You should not have to fear someone who is suppose to love you. Same as some Christians fear God. I am thankful that I don't believe in either one, and I fear religion more than anything as it keeps people ignorant and fearful. They will do unreasonable things for their religion but the worse thing they do is force people to believe as they do.

  28. Susan Skorc says:

    I am glad that I am not a follower of Allah or any other god and that I can wear what I want and what I feel comfortable in without living in fear.

  29. Susan Skorc Hi Susan, do you andustand afterlife?

  30. Susan Skorc Hi Susan, exactly we Muslim women covering our head feeling the same way like you do..liberated …free from the all the things society impose on you…most importantly it is a declaration of our faith, otherwise who would know the differences and may receive inappropriate invitations , etc.. It means i don't do alcohol, play gambling, wont come to your house if asked by man, etc… we are protecting our dignity by giving this signals, we are been giving this oppurtunity and wisdoms by Allah , such a nice path to follow….I am liberated not oppressed sister Susan…

  31. Susan Skorc yes you have the right to dont fear, but you are living in the world that you are not dwelling on your own way, but you are sharing the spaces with other peoples with the believer of God and the people who have chose to chose to not believe in God, even they know God do existed and the sustainer of all whole things and creation

  32. @Susan: The Holy Qur'an is the ONLY holy book that has not been distorted as Allah Himself has protected and preserved it. And through this book of guidance, we know today (after 1400 years) what Allah has commanded us to do. It is not a told tale to have been manipulated or altered by people. It is well documented and no one can reproduce it, even in parts (though many have tried to do it, unsuccessfully). And since it is the word of our creator, we follow it blindly, because only He knows what is best for us. May Allah guide and protect all of us.

  33. Susan Skorc Yes, we all should fear ignorance and people who claim to follow the teachings of people they consider religious and not the word of Allah or our beloved prophet. These people are wrong and they will be judged accordingly. What we as humans need to do is to find out what is the true teachings of our beloved prophet regarding the word of Allah. Because we have been blessed with a 'brain'.

  34. Susan Skorc No muslim woman wears a hijab out of fear, but out of love for Allah. When you love someone, you would do things to please him/her, then why not the Creator?

  35. Yes, and what about the nuns?

  36. Saliha Safak Sanli I don't fully agree with Susan Skorc's comments; I think she's generalizing and painting all religions and all followers with the same brush, and I don't think that is fair or accurate. But in response to your reply, I just wanted to point out that while you may have strong beliefs about what to expect in the afterlife, and I can respect that these are your beliefs, you have to understand that not everyone actually believes in such an afterlife, certainly not of paradise or hell.

    People hold all sorts of beliefs or admit to simply not knowing, which means that your comments do not really have any relevance or impact on what they believe, For example, your beliefs are those you have accepted from your religious teachings and therefore to you they are undoubtedly true. However if I have not accepted any one religion's beliefs about the meaning, the importance or the existence of an afterlife, of paradise, of hell, or the idea of a judgement that is to take place after physical death, then your comments really don't actually mean anything for me, as I do not share those beliefs.

    Basically, while your beliefs in afterlife may be an important motivation to do good during your life, it does not hold the same role or importance in mine. That's not to say I don't also believe in doing good, treating others well, being kind and helping… I hold the same beliefs you do in this respect. But my motivations or my reasons for believing and acting based on this belief are different from you and do not relate to afterlife or any belief I may have about afterlife.

    Not sure if my explanation makes sense but just wanted to point out that what motivates you about an afterlife may not mean anything to someone else and is therefore not a convincing or relevant argument for such people.

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  38. Jon Keck says:

    A little muslim girl just told my wife today at the park that she was not wearing a hijab and that it was punishable. Stop feeding people that it's part of a spiritual journey to honor god in any way. It is oppressive and despicable and is a practice in slavery.

  39. There have been instances where women have been forced to wear a hijab. My guess is that it is more cultural than anything. One can be modest without wearing a hijab. Why aren't men required to cover themselves? As long as the custom continues women will always be second class citizens.

  40. Majida Shaheen
    I wanted to convert but back out because of a number of issues.
    Perhaps you can clarify…
    The Koran is said to be unchanged even though it is duplicated over the centuries.
    After the Prophet (PBUH) died (many Muslims sect/schools of thoughts were formed.
    If the Holy Quran is NOT DISTORTED…
    Question 1: How come so many sects/schools of Islam?
    Question 2: Why do they hurt each other?

  41. we are like a Queen in the eyes of Allah, in the eys of our husbands and the communities… it is a declaration to state we are believers…. no alcohol, no gambling, no exploitation our women dignity allowed, how come we are second class Mr Pattie , we are normal human being married but pure and clean…

  42. Susan Skorc , Yes Allah is most merciful,and forgiving, Allah would like us to achieve the Cennet (heaven), it is us we put ourself to hell…. we drunk alcohol commit crimes, abuse our dignity, abuse other people, gamble, exploit our dignity, nasty to others, so we MUST FEAR FROM GOD, THE ALLAH…BECAUSE WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR ACTION… OTHER WISE YOU DON'T NEED TO FEAR… IF YOU RESPECT ALLaH BELIEVE HIS ONENESS, AND DO GOOD THINGS…ALLAH IS MOST LOVING ….

  43. surely her mother is copy cat… she does not understand the true meaning of Hijab….. Hjab is a declaration to identify ourself within the community… to stand out to claim, We are believers, believers of Allah is the only God… no association … we don't drink alcohol, no gambling, no undignified behaviours, modest, clean, pray 5 times, we don't harm, we are trustworthy, not allowing other people to exploiting our body and dignity, no way… etc… Allah is loving God…want us to be as clean as pure as possible…

  44. Let Out says:

    Thomas A C Tan I will explain your query by the example of Namaz.
    The Quran IS unchanged. But as you might know, a lot of things in the Quran were practically explained by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) through his sayings and actions. For example, the Quran commands to offer Namaz but how to offer Namaz, this was explained by the Prophet (PBUH). Now the Prophet, under different circumstances and on different occasions offered Namaz in slightly different ways. All are correct. Some Muslims adopted one way and so on.
    Sects/Schools formed when people started to argue that their way is better than the others'.
    All sects/schools of Islam agree on the basic ideology and principles. But as different people have different opinions and different ways of perceiving things, they disagree on some aspects. We are all human and faulted, after all.
    Islam DOES NOT allow Muslims to hurt one another or to hurt other human beings or animals etc. It is strictly forbidden. Those who do hurt others are not following Islamic teachings in their true sense.
    Islam is perfect, the Muslims however, are not.

    I hope I have answered your question. :)

  45. Saliha Safak Sanli, seriously? Yeah I agree with you but that has nothing to do with what she said.

  46. Zuz Baytiye says:

    Thomas A C Tan I disagree with one point made by "let out", firstly, not all sects agree on the same principles. there are sects that have completely deviated and hence left the religion. The large number of sects in Islam was predicted by the Prophet Muhmmad (PBUH). The way to find the true way of Islam is to follow Islam in the very same way it was followed by Muhmmad (PBUH), and the ways of ALL his companions look at his says and teachings – more specifically through books of "Bukhari" and "MUSLIM". They are considered to be the most authentic narrations of the beloved Messenger of Allah. Ultimately, "sunnah" means any teaching of the Messenger (PBUH) whether it is a saying or an action. And finally, ask your creator to guide you.

  47. Thank you for the insight into your beliefs. I work with several Muslim men and women. I am Christian. I understand, appreciate, and respect your visible expression of your love for Allah, it is the same love I have for God though my belief in God is NOT as visible. The choice to wear hijab is a code of conduct in which you choose to live your life in the name of Allah. As a woman who wears hijab, you are truly recognized for your intelligence, kindness toward others and love of Allah instead of being recognized for how your body looks. Correct?

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  50. Im a new convert and really would like to know how to get the proper hajibs and learn how to wear them

  51. Gina Duggan says:

    Saliha Safak Sanli Yuo this implies that non-Muslims are not all these things, not all Muslims are trustworthy not all Muslims behave with dignity and its ridiculous to say that is true, that is the problem with your and all religions, you all see yourselves as better or higher than those who do not share your faith.

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