In The Name Of God The Most Merciful, Most Compassionate

Hijab purifying our intentions

by Yomna Hassan

Filed under: Featured,Islam,Islam Today |

Hijab sea

By: Yomna Hassan

“Verily, the reward of deeds depends upon the intentions, Verily, every person will get rewarded only for what he intended.” – Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

As a female, I realize how hard it is to overcome the temptations of dressing up in a certain way. Since we’re constantly bombarded with media images telling us how to dress and how to look more appealing to others. I realize this. But I also realize a bigger reality. For this isn’t the reason why I was created. It’s not all about my looks and how others perceive me. I was created for a more noble purpose. To help make this world a better place and find my way back to my Creator. While studying some of the world religions, I realized that among the many similarities between them is in fact the religious dress code of women. It has always been about covering and not drawing attention to one’s body. In Islam, we often refer to this kind of dress code as Hijab.

Any behavior that is regularly repeated will soon turn into a habit. That’s why in Islam we are constantly encouraged to renew our intentions before taking any action. Finding meaning to hijab, which is an act of obedience to God, is essential. It shouldn’t turn into a habitual act devoid of any spiritual meaning.

There is in fact an increasingly popular trend among Muslim women these days of taking off the hijab. It might also become the norm very soon. I believe one of the main reasons girls are taking it off is because they no longer feel its essence. It has become insignificant or an unnecessary burden. Some might argue that it’s not obligatory. While others believe it is, but admit it’s a decision they’re not ready to take. Nouman Ali Khan, a Quran teacher, says about the validity of Hijab: “The ruling hasn’t changed. It’s not something that is really open to discussion and it wasn’t questionable until recently.”

So what is Hijab?

Hijab comes from the Arabic word ‘hajaba’ meaning to hide or to concel. Islamically, it often refers to the dress code of Muslim women. Khimar is another Arabic word that comes from the root word ‘khamara’ meaning to cover. Everything that covers something else is called its khimar. In accordance to the Muslim woman dress code, Khimar is the top garment (head-covering) while hijab may refer to the garment of the rest of the body. This shows that Hijab is not simply a headscarf covering the head, but it’s more than that. You can wear whatever you want making sure it doesn’t violate the Islamic guidelines of Hijab which mainly revolve around wearing loose garments that do not reveal the female’s figure.

“O you Children of Adam! We have indeed sent down to you garments to cover your shame, and (garments) for beauty but the garment of God-consciousness is the best of all..” [Quran 7:26]

So why should we wear it ?

Many Muslim women wear hijab for a number of reasons. Whether it’s for cultural reasons, parental influence, religious reasons or others. Our intention behind wearing it is what really counts. Most of us though would answer instantly when asked and say we do it for God. But the truth is, sometimes we tend to forget that and we keep it on out of habit or out of fear of being judged by others. According to Islam, we wear it not because it forces men to respect us; and not to save our beauty for them, not to make ourselves less of a trial for men: they’re not even part of the equation. We do it because God told us to do so, not because we saw benefits in it either. On a personal level, I also see it as a test. A test from the Most Beautiful. Among God’s countless blessings is the fact that He made all women beautiful.

And no doubt – we all love our beauty to be recognized.

But I believe our obedience is actually being tested.

“Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe,” without being put to test? [Quran 29:3]

The word Islam bears within its meaning ‘peace and submission’ , coming from the same root word as Salam, ‘Salam and Isteslam’ respectively. So it basically means that by submitting your will to God you’ll be at peace. That is what Islam is about, submitting our standards to God’s standards. And truth be told, it’s not as easy as it sounds.

It’s important to mention that Hijab is not the only way by which women could worship God. However, it is still an act of worship we’re commanded to be engaged in.

As Maryam Amirebrahimi says: “Worship comes in such a variety of forms. Being a housewife can be a form of worship. Being a stay-at-home-mom can be a form of worship. Being a working wife and mother can be a form of worship. Being an unmarried female student can be a form of worship. Being a divorced female doctor, a female journalist, Islamic scholar, film director, pastry chef, teacher, veterinarian, engineer, personal trainer, lawyer, artist, nurse, Qur’an teacher, psychologist, pharmacist or salon artist can each be a form of worship. Just being an awesome daughter can be a form of worship.

We can worship Allah in a variety of ways, as long as we have a sincere intention, and what we do is done within the guidelines He has set for us.”

abdeen 5pts


By Samuel Cole:

(A freelance writer living in Carob)

The term Hijab comes from the Arabic world “hijaba”, which means to hide from view.  It is the long dress and veil worn by many Muslim women with the function of distinguishing them from non-Muslims, reminding them of their Islamic faith, and concealing them from the public view of males. In many of the more traditional Muslim societies women tend to remain outside the public sphere of men, devoting themselves to child rearing and taking care of the home. In part because of this apparent restriction from the public realm, many Americans see the Muslim hijab as a symbol of female oppression.

Despite this perception, Islam is growing rapidly in America and female converts outnumber males four to one.  Hijab is not a symbol of oppression, but is instead a symbol of liberation.  Young Muslim women are reclaiming the hijab., to give back to women the ultimate control over their bodies. Yet to most Americans this is a strange assertion. How can a law that restricts a woman’s dress be liberating”? To Muslims the answer is easy . The Islamic tradition of hijab frees women from being perceived primarily as sexual objects. (Non-Muslim) women are taught from early childhood that their worth is proportional to their attractiveness. It is not hard to understand this: leafing through the ads of any woman’s magazine, even a male reader can sense the incredible pressure on women to conform to some ever - changing  and abstract  image  of  female  beauty.  Is it any wonder that American woman spend billions of dollars on hair and beauty products, or that they subject themselves to plastic surgery, drugs, and diets, or that in despair they fall into neurotic cycles of anorexia and bulimia?  It is the pursuit of a mirage and mdash, one that degrades and sickens the pursuers.

The hijab liberates a Muslim woman from this insidious oppression. She need not concern herself with her hair or makeup before she goes out. Underneath her hijab she can remain if she so wishes, simply she unshaved, unpainted, unplucked, or even a little overweight.  All this without having to worry about what others think of her. The tradition of hijab, is simply a woman’s assertion that judgement of her physical person is to play no role whatsoever in social interaction.  Since a Muslim woman is invisible behind her veil, she can be appreciated only for her intellectual qualities. Thus  the importance of her intelligence and personality.

But the sacrifice of health (and self-esteem) in a futile pursuit of physical attractiveness is not the worst effect of sexual objectification. Societies that view women as sexual objects have a horrendous rate of violence toward women. In the United States, one out of every four women will be sexually assaulted at some time in her life. And even in relatively non-violent Canada, one woman is assaulted every six minutes. Women in our society live with the awareness that they must always be cautious of dark alleys and fearful of strangers. This is true oppression, a type that stems directly from the perception of women as sexual objects.

In the few societies that closely adhere to the Quran and in many repressive Islamic regimes this sort of violence towards women is quite low. In 1990 the number of reported rapes in Egypt, a relatively westernized Islamic society with a secular government, was only 17 (Israel reported 369 rapes that same year)

My sister (now a Muslim convert in Lahore) told me that as a Muslim woman, she feels a respect and security on the streets of Pakistan that she had never felt in 30 years of living in America. It does seem hard to ignore the fact that many Islamic women enjoy a level of protection and respect that is unheard of in the West. In some countries this is no doubt in part the result of Islamic law that imposes draconian punishment on offenders. But extreme enforcement of religious law is not practiced in moderate Islamic countries such as Egypt or Pakistan; and there it seems Muslim tradition alone protects the dignity of women.

 Nevertheless, Islam and its tradition of hijab can seem an extreme solution to the sexual objectification of women. Can’t society simply be changed through more education?  Or perhaps through encouraging men to practice some self - restraint?  In fact this has been a goal of the women’s movement for years. But although there has been some success at increasing career and educational opportunities for women, the oppression of women continues unabated.  One only needs to peruse the horror section of the local video store to see that the most common victims of violence portrayed in popular films are women. And not surprisingly statistics in the United States point to more violence directed at women, not less.

The problem in western society; as some Muslim writers see it, is that predominantly Judeo-Christian cultures have no convention of equality between men and women. Instead, these traditions hold Eve to be ultimately responsible for original sin and the downfall of man.

The story in Genesis is a cornerstone in the foundation of our culture. As such, it has institutionalized an essentially inferior status for women. This is not so in the tradition of Islam. Eve is not blamed for tempting Adam. Together they sinned, together they are guilty, and together they both begged for (and received) forgiveness from God.  It is true that Islam holds women and men to be different in the most integral qualities. But unlike Judeo-Christian doctrine, the Quran pass women and men on equal footing before God  and thus as equally, and innately valuable to society.

Unfortunately, many of us see Islam as a religion of suicidal bombers or of bearded zealot’s intent on returning us all to a cultural stone - age. But this image is perhaps unfair. All religions have their own fair proportion of crazies. Islam, however, is the largest and the fastest growing of the world’s monotheistic religions, and has (quite properly) more than most. Still the Muslims have something to offer for women.  Pierre Craibites (an American judge) writes: “Muhammad, 1300 years ago, assured to the mothers, wives and daughters of Islam a rank and dignity (still) not generally assured to women by the laws of the West.”

The conversion of my sister to Islam was a shock and then a mystery to me for many years. It did not seem possible for an intelligent feminist woman, to without coercion, suddenly chuck her ideas and embrace the religion of the mysogynist Ayatollah.  Within  my family  the  subject  is  beyond  the  bounds  of  rational discussion, and it is only from my; sister’s very recent letters that I may have finally acquired an understanding of her unique brand of feminism: You see, in adopting Islam she has rejected a culture that assigns value to a person based on a masculine ideal of success. In exchange she has adopted a culture where she is value as an equal... for no other reason than that she is a woman.


hijabi 5pts

Very well said, a great article. It's easy to assume that the hijab has a single connotation, when it represents a lot more. Islam teaches people to strive to be better and to worship better. It's encouraging for hijab-wearers to have these positive dialogues on the subject.

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