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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hijab in the modern world

Hijab in the modern context
This is a picture of Lady Anne of Denmark, wife of the James of Scotland 1589. She was Christian and the crucifix proves that point but notice that this type of clothing was acceptable in Europe at this time.

“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 their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers, or their brothers' sons or their sisters' sons, or their women or the servants whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex, and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. O’ Believers, turn to Allah all together, that you may attain Bliss.” (Quran 24:31).

“O’ Prophet! Tell your wives, your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) over their bodies (when outdoors). That is most convenient that they should be known and not molested.” (Quran 33:59)

One of the strongest attacks that Muslim women are facing, in the West, is the assault on the Hijab. Unfortunately, a Muslim woman who lives in the West is faced with lots of problems. Though any woman wearing provocative clothing has no problems??! Where have standards of decency gone?


The average woman, from Indo-pak culture, do not wear Hijab nor do they wear clothes to suit this purpose. They wear clothes that are traditionally from that area but are now more ‘modern’ and as a result are completely inappropriate. For a Muslim sister, to wear Hijab, she has to look at the clothes, the tightness, if they are see through and if they protect her modesty. Just because the majority of people wear certain clothing does not mean it is acceptable. Culture also encourages women to wear see through scarfs that move. So you can see hair underneath the scarf.

New Muslim women have to think about their clothes and slowly examine the way they have dressed all their lives, up until the point they became Muslim. Born Muslims have to really examine what Hijab is and then proceed; looking at the average practice of the Muslim women in their areas may not be enough. They have to look deeply into their styles and mode of dress, thus consider all the factors that would make their clothes appropriate. This is not easy for sisters who has started to wear the Hijab or are about to wear the Hijab who are new Muslims or confused by their culture. There might be considerable time spent amending their wardrobes.

Any woman who begins to wear the Hijab, in the current climate, must be a special lady because it is really difficult. I am not just talking about the weather. I am also talking about the external circumstances that are beyond our control. Muslim women have to face all those typical stereotypes about the Hijab. For example a common stereotype is that they have been compelled into wearing it by male relative. Most women who wear the Hijab do so out of choice, is this so hard to believe? Islam cannot be forced and obedience must stem from the heart and not the limbs. Although there are some men who tell their women folk to wear the hijab but it is rare. It does happen because we are dealing with real life. Women do know its an obligation and its ultimately their choice. Like other good actions are ultimately the choice of the individual. There is nothing wrong with a gentle reminder but it should not include force because that causes resentment and that should be avoided.

We also have modernists who attack the Hijab who claim they it is not necessary in these times which is a complete lie. The Hijab has been handed down to us by the means of mass transmission from generation to generation from the prophetic period until now, therefore cannot be rejected.

Aisha reports that when her sister Asma came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and he said to her, "O' Asma, when a girl reaches puberty it is not proper that anything on her should remain exposed except this and this." And he pointed to her face (or head) and the palms of her hands. (Abu Dawud)

I remember listening to a filmmaker who said there are many reasons not to make a film but one reason to make it and that one reason would outweigh the others. Similarly, there are many reasons not to wear it and one true reason to wear it, obedience to the one who created you. Allah (the Exalted) has commanded you to cover your beauty from every man except your wedded partner or direct relatives.

Understanding the Hijab

The Hijab is not just the clothing on top of your head; it is the clothing that is on the entire body and in the heart. Hijab is a sign of strength, because now you are woman who has to be accepted for who she is, not for what she looks like. How many women wear clothes just to feel attractive and gain attention from the opposite gender? It is as if people are dying to be looked upon by the passionate glances of strangers. Is that really the point of clothes, to get attention from the opposite gender? The more glances the better? The more glances that you cause, because of your clothing, the more sins. If you are wearing Hijab then you are freeing yourself from this sin and the sin is on he who looks not you.

Hijab removes this by making the man look at the woman as a person and not an object. Flesh that is on display is a reason that men look at women, now this is removed and they are forced to look at what the woman is, not what they are wearing. This is something that the people of the West have to understand. Hijab is about protecting the woman from the eyes of strangers and removing her from the jungle of this world where women are seen as objects that are used to sell everything that you can think of.


Almost every advert in the media shows women with revealing clothes. This causes many women into feeling that they have to dress a certain way and even act a certain way. They are faced with temptation to follow their peers because they have to fit into society. They cannot be seen to be wearing clothing that makes them stick out, in the wrong way! In other words clothes that conceal and not reveal. This is something that they do when they wear Hijab. It is easy not to wear the Hijab and to wear clothes everyone else wears on or even imitate it. Look at any advert and invariably a woman is used. There is the old saying (please forgive me for using this), “Sex sells.” Just about every advert, on the television or in any newspaper, uses attractive women to try to entice males to buy their products. Is this a honouring of a woman in a society? Look at car trade fairs and ponder if the men going there for the cars or the women? Is it using women as an object to sell something? I feel that the female form is exploited for profit, particularly in the field of advertising and of course films. I consider this to be dishonouring and exploitation of the female form. Ponder this, if the product was that good would it need a scantly clad woman drapped over it?

If you look at any film invariably you will find the lead male actor with a younger female actor, in some cases much younger. Many older women do not get parts in big budget movies in lead roles like their male peers, they do not re-appear except in movies of lesser importance. As for a man, it is perfectly acceptable for him to grow old and still keep working on big budget movies with his female co-star being constantly changed for another female of a similar age. How many times have you seen an older female actor with a younger male actor? Is this what they mean by equality?

Who are you dressing for?

Women who wear clothes that attract other men, are not wearing clothes that they are choosing but are wearing clothes that other men would like to see them in! In other words, clothes that are too tight, revealing etc. In essence, women are cleverly fooled by the media into thinking that the need to dress in a certain manner in order to be liked or be respected. ‘Power suits’ are something that business women are encouraged to wear, so they can get that deal and entice buyers into purchasing their products or services.

This is all about exploiting the female form so that it can be used as a product, or a tool which is discarded after it has served its function. The female form is used in servitude to creation by inflaming their desires and fantasies. I cannot find the correct quote but I remember hearing someone say if you want to see how the society is then look at the status of women. Let’s be fair women in the West have rights that others do not but this clever brainwashing from the media means that they are trapped, at least women in other societies can see the jail bars!

Freedom of Islam

Islam was sent to free people from the chains of servitude of creation to the servitude of the creator, because of this, true freedom of the soul is realised. This frees you from being another faceless person in the world. What can be higher than serving your Creator? Why does modern society want everyone to be the same? Is this akin to communism who want societies that are homogeneous? Was not capitalism the antithesis of communism? Were are all not meant to be the same brainwashed robot, are we?

A Sign of Oppression?

Since when has clothes been seen as a sign of oppression? Removing someone’s clothes is a sign of disrespect and a sign that you do not care about that individual. This is one of the methods used to humiliate the tortured. So when the modern world tells us to wear revealing clothes this is calling us to humiliate ourselves. The wearing of clothes in Islam is part of the honour that it holds women in because they are dressing with dignity and honour. Oppression is described as putting something in its wrongful place this is something that is done to women in the media.

For a man, this has a lesser importance but I guarantee if I walk around in shorts no one is going to notice and most people will fall about laughing! But that does not mean that I should walk around dressed in tight clothing or see through shirts! The Muslim male has to tone himself down without looking like a mess! Muslim men must also look at their culture and their dress code, they are also not permitted to wear see through clothes, tight clothes and or dress to impress women. Muslim men also have to realise just because they see a sister in a Hijab does not give them the right to stare at them. Keep your eyes down out of respect boys! Muslim women find it hard enough to wear the Hijab without you staring at them!

Fear of the Hijab in the West

The fear in the West may stem from the injunction of the Injeel: Corinthians 11.6 "but every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head." It’s about the only injunction left in there and this may be the reason why they see it as negative because they deem it as following the Bible.

Most of Europe has left practicing religion to their private domains and the only ones who are visibly different are the Muslims. Although there are other traditions of modesty but not to the same extent. So the practicing Muslim is a threat to 'traditions' of the public space, are they afraid it will catch on?

How is it that European countries are perfectly fine about a woman wearing the least amount of clothing out of her choice but if a Muslim woman covers herself up, out of her own choice, this is wrong! Where is the equality? Why is one okay and the other one not?

When a Muslim woman wears a Hijab she is following in the footsteps of the most righteous women in history. Women like Maryam mother of Isa/Jesus (upon them peace) and in our nation women like Aisha, Fatima and Khadijah (May Allah be pleased with them). Look at the life of Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her) she was one of Qureysh's leading merchants during her lifetime. In fact search for images for Mary mother of Jesus and you will find pictures of her with her head covered. Look at the body parts covered by nuns.

Attacks on women

To abuse a Hijab wearing woman is something that only a coward can do. There have been a few horror stories and this really is sickening. Attacking a woman is bad enough but to attack her for her modest dress is something that is really despicable. As men we have to know that women are gentler than we (men) are and they are more affected by this nonsense then we are because a Muslim man can hide himself but a Muslim woman cannot. So this makes her a target. I would like to say to all those men who attacked Muslim women, why did you it? If you thought she was oppressed then why did you make her oppression worse? If that is your logic, if you can call that logic! I call it cowardice.

Leave women alone! We all have women in our families and we would not want them to be harmed by barking humans! Even if you do not agree with her mode of dress this does not mean you can attack them. I may not like the mode of dress of woman who is scantily clad but that does not give me the right to throw a blanket over her and order her to cover up! What she is wearing is her choice and not mine; I have to respect her choice even if I do not agree with it. Likewise, when a woman chooses to wear hijab you should respect it even if you do not like it.

Reward of Hijab

Know that Hijab is an act of worship and as an act of worship it will be rewarded for, as long as you wear it. What a great reward those women who observe Hijab correctly will attain. If they wear it all day how much a reward is waiting for them? Let’s say she goes out to work and is out of the house for ten hours, ten hours of worship! Think about the reward that a Muslim woman is adding up because of her efforts.

What I mean by correctly is: the Hijab that covers the head and that the other parts of the body are not exposed, that the Hijab is not see through, that it is fixed in place on the head, the hair does not show, nor the ears and neck.

The Hijab is essentially an additional piece of cloth on the head but it is more than that; the Hijab is a covering that covers her body. Somehow the whole issue of Hijab gets blown up out of all proportion; this is understood, by some, to reject the way of life in the West. What a lady is doing when she wears Hijab is obeying her Creator and it is as simple as that. If you look back into Western history you will find women wearing modest clothing that covered their whole body and this included wearing hats. In fact modest clothing is part of all traditional cultures across the world that is up until now. Because modest clothing that promotes traditional values is seen as backwards!

Women that wear the Hijab, in the current political environment, have my admiration and esteem. They are showing courage that is beyond many of us men who can conceal our religiousness; women do not have this luxury. Women are adopting the age old practice of concealing themselves as many previous nations have practiced.

I pray that Allah (the Exalted) blesses all those women who wear Hijab and makes any trial that they face, because of it, easy and minor. Respecting yourself can only done by covering up and not by uncovering oneself. Men have to learn to respect their hijab wearing sisters and lower their gaze.

We hope that we have not come across as a preacher when we clearly are not a good Muslim by any stretch of the imagination. We hope this may benefit someone and they supplicate for the Muslim women and the writer. This post is dedicated to those who have suffered because of wearing the Hijab. May Allah (the Exalted) bless you all.

All praise is for Allah (Mighty and Majestic) and may endless salutations be upon the final Messenger of Allah Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

Niqab and our way of life (click here)

How the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) treated women click here

And now for something completely different


  1. Anonymous6:26 pm

    بارك الله لك جهدك و جزاك الله كل خير و وفقك لما يحب و يرضى ... اللهم امين

  2. Anonymous11:52 pm

    brilliant post!!

  3. Anonymous2:05 pm

    Fantastic post once again Sidi.

  4. Where does this picture come from? You say anne of denmark bet yet what proof i cant find this pic any where but on your site

    1. It is true. Women in the north did wear head coverings up to the last centruy and Anne did wear that although she also went about without it. It would depend on a few things.

      Nordic traditional women's dress and head wear:

  5. A lot of women that wear the "hijab" and/or colorful head scarfs aranged in all kinds of different fasionable manners also choose to wear a lot of make up and fasionable clothes, shoes and handbags. While some women that do not wear a hijab do not wear makeup jewelery or clothing that sends a fasion, religious (although they might be religious) or an economic statement in public.

    My point here is that a woman can be modest, respectful and a dovouted believer with or without wearing a hijab, fashion labels or make up in public.

  6. I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article.
    محل عبايات