What is the purpose of Hijab? Is it just a headscarf?
By Aysha Abrar
Think for a moment about your beauty. How beautifully has Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) created you. Allahumma barak laki!
He has created you in the most perfect manner and He has protected you with the veil. Hijab, in essence, is the complete behaviour of a Muslim woman from the time she sets her feet out of her house or when she is in the presence of a non-mahram. It is the way she dresses, the way she walks and the way she talks to a male who is not a mahram to her.
Hijab is a state that a woman adopts when she is outside her house or in front of a non-mahram. In clothing, it is what she normally wears. What she normally wears inside her home is not the same as when she is outside. How she behaves with her mahram (father, brother, nephew, paternal and maternal uncles, foster sons) is not the same as with others like her cousins, colleagues or family friends who are not related. This is the identity she is commanded to undertake as a respected and noble Muslimah.
وَقُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِنَّ وَيَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا ۖ وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَىٰ جُيُوبِهِنَّ ۖ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا لِبُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ آبَائِهِنَّ أَوْ آبَاءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَائِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَاءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِي إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِي أَخَوَاتِهِنَّ أَوْ نِسَائِهِنَّ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُنَّ أَوِ التَّابِعِينَ غَيْرِ أُولِي الْإِرْبَةِ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ أَوِ الطِّفْلِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يَظْهَرُوا عَلَىٰ عَوْرَاتِ النِّسَاءِ ۖ وَلَا يَضْرِبْنَ بِأَرْجُلِهِنَّ لِيُعْلَمَ مَا يُخْفِينَ مِن زِينَتِهِنَّ ۚ وَتُوبُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا أَيُّهَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.
The above ayah indicates that Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) has commanded women to ‘cover’ themselves from the eyes of men who are not related to us and who are non-mahrams.Sponsored content
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There are many ayat that are a direct command of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) to His slaves (us) that must be followed without question. If we refuse to understand or implement them, we ourselves are to be blamed and we will suffer the punishment if we hear but do not obey.
In today’s world we often see many Muslim women who do not practice the Hijab for their own reasons – may be they don’t know that it is an obligation, may be they do but don’t take heed, Allah knows best. We as an Ummah should not judge them based on what we see. However, we should sincerely advise them about what Allah has ordered us to do to gain rewards from Him, our Rabb!
What should Hijab/Khimar or outer covering consist of?
There are some conditions that should be met when wearing the outer garment. The khimar is generally an outer garment that is worn above what is normally worn. For e.g.: if you wear salwar kameez in the house, you must wear an outer garment that covers your head, neck, hands and the rest of your body when you go out.
It basically falls from your head to your lower garment. There are some conditions that a woman should be careful about when she is covering herself for the sake of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَ)
- The head cover should fall till the chest or preferably till the lower garment, covering it as well.
- The outer dress must cover the shape of the body and not be tight fitting or transparent.
- The dress should not be attractive such that its colour or sparkle attracts men.
- The dress should not be perfumed.
- The lower garment must be loose and cover up to the feet.
Other aspects of Hijab
- Hairstyle should not be seen in the form of a high bun within the scarf as this resembles a camel hump which is prohibited in Islam.
- No make-up should be applied on the face, and if it is necessary, then the face must be covered to avoid men seeing its beauty.
- If the face itself attracts others, covering the face is preferred.
Behaviour & Speech
- When walking outside, avoid wearing high-heeled shoes because the way of walking changes and the tapping noise attracts the people around. One’s posture also changes. If you really need to wear heels for an occasion, then keep an extra pair of shoes while going out and you can change the pair when seated among ladies.
- Talk in a normal tone with a non-mahram and not in soft speech so that the voice does not attract the person you speak to.
- Speak to the point and when necessary.
- Do not laugh excessively in the presence of non-mahram, this leads to attraction especially between the young generations.
- Touching the hand of a non-mahram is strictly prohibited.
- These pointers also apply to cousins who are ‘not your mahrams’.
- Be polite and pleasant within the bounds of Shari’ ah.
Now one might say: “Woah, this is way too much! How can we do this? Is this really necessary?”
The answer is YES. This is the way that Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) wants a woman to be. And her reward is with Allah.
Let me ask you, when you go into a laboratory, you are asked to wear all the gloves, protective glasses, a white overcoat and special shoes. Why is that? Simply because you need to protect yourself from the harmful chemicals or any possible explosions.
The laboratory has a purpose, right? It is the place where different chemicals are often combined to produce results and lots of dangerous things might possibly happen! Before we go in there, we are advised to follow the correct code of conduct to be safe from its dangers.
That is exactly how hijab works. When a Muslim woman steps out of her house into the world, which consist of dangers and fitnah (trial), she is commanded by Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ َ و تَعَالَى) to cover herself in the best possible manner that does not attract the attention of men.
Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) has commanded her through these ayat to protect her body, integrity, personality and identity. A woman is special, she’s one of the most beautiful creations of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). An entire surah is dedicated for her in the Qur’an, imagine that!
My dear sisters, Hijab is not a ritual, nor is it something to be worn on and off. It is the protection of a Muslim woman, which will safeguard her from the evil of shaytan and the people who listen to him. Modesty is the essence of respect for a woman, and therefore true modesty can only be achieved if it is practiced according to our Creator’s commands and the way of His Messenger – Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم).