Habeeba Husain

I recently asked some friends and family who wear the hijab, or Islamic headscarf, what kind of questions people ask them regarding their veils. Many of the inquiries were common across the board. Below is a list compiled with some answers to help anyone who may be curious about the mandatory commandment of hijab many Muslim women don on a daily basis.

Why do you wear hijab?

The answer to this question can be deeply personal and will vary depending on who you ask. Still, at the heart of many answers will be an effort to obey the command of God, who instructed both women and men to dwell modestly on this earth. That modesty manifests in clothing, behavior, lifestyle, and everything in between. It’s no secret men and women are in fact different, and thus, modesty will also look different for each.

Why do some women wear hijab and others do not?

Like many aspects of faith, the decision to wear hijab and how to wear it manifests in different ways. Everyone practices religion at a level they feel comfortable and at a time they are ready to do so.

Do you shower with your hijab on?

No. Showers are private spaces. Since no one is around, there is no need to cover. In fact, women who wear hijab only need to do so in front of adult males who are not their close relatives. Not to mention, it would be quite difficult to wash our hair when a hijab covers it!

Do you wear the hijab at home?

Only in special circumstances. We will wear it to pray at home, when reading the Quranic text, or answering the door for a deliveryman. Some women may live with unrelated males in the house (like some uncles, cousins, or brothers-in-law). In that case, then yes, hijab would be required.

Does the color or material of your hijab have any significance?

Religiously, no. Many women and girls try to match the color of their scarves to their outfits. Different fabrics come in handy depending on the activity the woman will take part in. If she’s going for a run, an athletic moisture-wicking hijab is probably the best choice. Job interview? Maybe something a little more professional. Wedding? Bring on the bling! The only material that wouldn’t work is one that is transparent, as it does not cover appropriately.

Does the hijab represent your marital status?

No, it does not. Many girls start wearing the hijab at the onset of puberty. In Islam, this is the time when people are now accountable for their actions. “Pens are lifted” from children, i.e., their deeds do not yet count.

Did your father/husband force you to wear it?

Like mentioned before, hijab is a deeply personal matter. It is a deed between a woman and her Creator. For everyone I know who wears the hijab, it was never something of force. Of course, we cannot ignore that there are cases in which authoritarian male figures in some women’s lives will force her to do things she does not want to do. This is not something Islam encourages; rather, the religion advocates honoring women.

Why do you wear earrings if no one can see them anyway?

This was a question I received personally when I worked a retail job in my early college days. I had my eyes set on a few earrings that I wanted to buy after getting my ears pierced. A coworker asked the above, and I explained that I want them for myself! It’s not about showing other people.

What happens if someone sees your hair?

Lots of people see our hair each day. Our parents, spouses, siblings, children, and other women! Nothing special happens when they see our hair. Males who are not closely related to us (including some uncles, cousins, brothers-in-law, other men) are the ones who are not allowed to see. I think every hijabi woman has had the nightmare of being in public without her scarf. It may be embarrassing, but ultimately if it does happen, it was likely just an unintentional mistake that blows over.

Doesn’t it get hot in the hijab?

Depends on the day! Summer time can get hot, but honestly that statement is true whether a person is wearing a scarf or not. Hijabis are quite used to the feeling of a scarf wrapped around their heads, so we find ways to deal with the heat. Tying hair up and breathable fabrics help. In the winter, I have definitely mistaken girls wrapped up in their knitted scarves to stay warm as hijabis walking to class!

Do you have to cover your face too?

The face covering, or niqab, is definitely something you see Muslim women wear. Some choose to wear it, and others do not. The majority of scholars consider it voluntary. But hijabi or niqabi, if you ask a question respectably (ask if they have a moment first, and then proceed politely of course), most will be willing to have a conversation with you!

You know you don’t have to wear it in this country, right?

It is because we are in this country that we have the freedom to wear it. Why would we not practice that freedom, knowing that at the same time it is pleasing to our Lord?

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