Hijab literally means to cover, to veil or to shelter. In Islam, women have been ordered to cover themselves and be modest. The term hijab has different meanings and connotations in various cultures, peoples and places around the world. The hijab is understood differently and the way it is worn differs from one person to the next. Some Muslim women are of the belief that it is not imperative to don the hijab, while others believe that if a woman neglects to wear hijab, she will be liable to punishment.
The Qur`an states:
(They (the believing women) should draw their head coverings over their bosoms.) (An-Nur 24:31)
(O Prophet [PBUH] Tell thy wives and daughters and the believing women that they should put on their outer garments; that is most convenient in order that they may be recognized (as Muslims) and not be molested.) (Al-Ahzab 33:59)
Thoughts of Young Muslims
There are many Muslim women who proudly wear the hijab. For some it has been a way of life from the time of their youth, while others are only beginning to wear it. The decision to start wearing the hijab can be complex for some, and it takes many months or years for them to finally put it into action. There are many Muslim women who intend to wear the hijab, but delay the decision for several reasons. iloveAllaah.com spoke to a number of women, some who wear hijab, and some who do not, asking them the reasons why they believe some women delay this decision. We also posed the question to them regarding the benefits of wearing hijab.
Sarah, 25 years, Canada (originally from Afghanistan)
I have been wearing hijab since childhood. Although I agree that inspiration plays a role in everything we do, I am wearing it because my religion requires me to do so. I think one of the major reasons for delaying wearing the hijab is that it is part of human nature to want to look good, and be admired. Women are more conscious of that, and hijab covers a lot of a women's beauty, although to some wearing hijab itself is beautiful. Some of the advantages of wearing hijab are that it covers a Muslim woman’s adornment, so she is safer in the society. It differentiates a Muslim woman from a non-Muslim woman. It protects both men and women from immoral behavior. There are also a lot of times when non-Muslims ask the Muslim woman who wears hijab why she is wearing it, and this gives a great opportunity for da`wah.
Leena, 15 years old, U.S.
I do not wear hijab because no one has ever forced me to wear it. For me hijab means dressing decently, and not necessarily covering the head. To those that do wear hijab, I believe they should not wear heavy make-up and adorn themselves extravagantly, as this defeats its purpose. In reality, they are trying to make up for their hair being covered.
Amani, 16 years old, U.K.
I chose to wear the hijab after understanding Islam. As a teenager I was very interested in whether God really existed. After questioning and finally understanding my faith, I accepted Islam. Even though all my family is Muslim, I decided to make my own decision, instead of blindly following my parents. I have been wearing hijab since the age of twelve or thirteen.
"I think the reasons behind delaying the decision of wearing the hijab include the person’s appearance. Some of my friends feel that if they wear hijab they may look ’ugly’ or people may not accept them. Others feel that wearing hijab is not as important or is unnecessary.
"My response to these people would be that if people do not accept you when you wear your hijab, then there is no point in hanging around with those who truly do not love you, but only care about your appearance.
"Also, what can be more important than being loyal to Almighty Allah and following your heart? And, why should you dress in a way that exploits you for the sake of men, and allow them to treat you like a sex object? You should have more confidence in yourself and who you are. The hijab is a form of modesty, and a way of following the guidelines Almighty Allah has set, and this is surely of great importance.
Israa', 14 years old, Kuwait
I have been wearing hijab for the past two months. My friends started to wear it, and my mother encouraged me, so I decided to wear it. The reason why I wear hijab is that I want Allah the Almighty to love me.
Fatima, 23 years old, South Africa
I do not wear hijab, because I feel that I am not yet ready for it. When you wear hijab your whole lifestyle has to change. I believe that you should start off changing the small things in life for the better. However, by the time you wear hijab, you should not be involved in wrong things, and then people will not accuse you of being hypocritical.
"The importance of wearing hijab is that a woman should only beautify herself for her husband. By wearing hijab, she is protecting herself from the gaze of other men.
Top Ten Excuses for not Wearing Hijab
- I am not yet convinced (of the necessity) of hijab.
- I am convinced about the Islamic dress code, but my mother prevents me from wearing it and if I disobey her, I will go to Hell.
- My position does not allow me to substitute my dress for Islamic dress.
- It is very hot in my country, and I can not stand it. How could I bear the heat if I wore the hijab?
- I am afraid that if I wear the hijab, I will take it off at some future time because I have seen so many others do this!
- If I wear the hijab then nobody will marry me, so I am going to leave it off until then.
- I do not wear hijab based on what Almighty Allah says, (And proclaim the grace of your Lord) (Ad-Duha 93:11), so how can I cover what Allah the Almighty has blessed me with?
- I know that hijab is obligatory (wajib), but I will wear it when Almighty Allah guides me to do so.
- It is not time for that yet. I am still too young to wear hijab. I will do it when I get older, and after I go on Hajj!
- I am afraid that if I wear Islamic clothing, I will be labeled as belonging to some group or another.
Although there are incidents in which women have been taunted for wearing hijab, a woman wearing it is often looked upon with great respect. One young woman mentioned that she saw a clear distinction in the way the boys at her college treated women who wear hijab compared to those who do not wear it. When wearing the hijab, you can easily be identified as a Muslim. Contrary to what some may think, many women who wear hijab mentioned that they feel more confident. It covers the adornment of women and generally protects her from being looked upon with lust.
Someone posted the question of the advantages of wearing hijab on Yahoo answers, and a non-Muslim male replied saying: I am not a Muslim, but I can tell you that people will respect you more. There are too many half-naked women walking the streets these days. Wearing hijab shows that you have dignity and respect for yourself and God. Wearing hijab also makes one feel closer to Allah the Almighty, since you are obeying His commandments in the hope that you will attain His pleasure.
Hijab and Social Responsibility
When hijab is discussed, we usually relate it only to women. However, in the Glorious Qur’an, Allah the Almighty (SWT) first mentions ‘hijab’ for men before ‘hijab’ for women. (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.) (An-Nur 24:30)
When a man looks at a woman, and he has an evil thought, he should lower his gaze.
Hijab for Women
(And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons...) (An-Nur 24:31)
In fact, we should remember that hijab has a much deeper meaning than the literal concept of covering ones self. With hijab comes modesty and good e hijab trepresents. It is much more than merely covering our heads. We should not demean those who do not wear the hijab and consider ourselves to be any better than them. Almighty Allah is the best of judges and it is He alone who knows what is in the heart of each person.
May Allah the Almighty grant us all the guidance to live our lives in compliance with His commands.
"Whoever guides [another] to a good deed will get a reward similar to the one who performs it." Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)[Sahih Muslim]