By EEMA MANZOOR
April 4, 2017
“Hijab is beyond a simple headscarf. It’s a way of dressing, but it also is an approach to life.”
One of the questions I get asked the most, being a visible hijabi, is “Why do you wear a scarf on your head? What is the purpose of it?”
I didn’t realize how many Muslims and non-Muslims weren’t aware of why Muslim women wear hijab, but when I think about it, I can see why there’d be confusion about it among the rhetoric surrounding the idea of hijab.
I’d like to take a shot at answering that today, for any of the readers who aren’t sure. I’d also like to point out, that beyond the Islamic reasons, I will be including some of my own personal reasons beyond that as well.
For starters, I should explain what hijab is. Hijab isn’t something mandated only on women. There are guidelines for both sexes when it comes to modesty and covering in Islam. One of the ways God mandated coverage on Muslim women, was by veiling ourselves. Everything should be covered except the feet, hands, and feet below the ankles. The curves of the person shouldn’t be clear and obvious.
Hijab isn’t something mandated only on women.
Hijab is beyond a simple headscarf. It’s a way of dressing, but it also is an approach to life. There are many types of hijabis (people who wear hijabs), and some of them don’t follow all the guidelines set for hijab. I am not going to say whether that is right or wrong because it isn’t my business. I will say that everyone has their own path in coming closer to God, and every person struggles with different aspects of faith.
I’d also like to point out that God mandated hijab after hitting puberty, but that doesn’t mean it is something that can be forced on to a person. The Quran states over and over again that religion can not be forced onto a person, Muslim or non-Muslim. This means that if a woman decides she doesn’t want to wear hijab, she can not be forced into it, because hijab is between her and God, the way prayer is between a person and God, or a person’s sins are between them and God (unless someone else has been harmed).
Men are not part, nor have they ever been a part of the equation when it comes to why women wear hijab.
There is this idea that hijab is something women do to protect us from men looking at us lustfully, or to prevent us from being sexually assaulted. People like to compare covered women to candy in wrappers and uncovered women as candy not in wrappers, as if to say that a covered woman is more pure than an uncovered women, or that an uncovered woman is dirty in comparison to a covered women. That is not true.
Men are not part, nor have they ever been a part of the equation when it comes to why women wear hijab. Islam mandates men and women to follow certain guidelines of respect when interacting with the opposite gender. It does not state that there is any difference in how you respect a covered woman in comparison to an uncovered woman, or a covered man in comparison to an uncovered man. Both genders must equally respect each other, regardless of how someone is dressed.
As to why we wear hijab, the main reason is that, it’s because God told us to. I love God, and so I want to please God, and I know God only ever puts demands on me that are good for me, and so I will follow what God has commanded. There also is this idea in Islam that people shouldn’t be taken at face value. Part of the reason for many women wearing hijab, is also that we want to be seen for our character, mannerisms and personality. We want to be judged for who we are as people, and for our ability, rather than our body or looks.
There is a ton of pressure on how a girl needs to look, and that is something that has been consistent throughout societies from the beginning of complex societies. The modern trend is big booty’s, hips, lips and tiny waists. Hijab, and the purpose of hijab forces you to think beyond all that. It’s a way of God reconfirming to you every time you look in a mirror, that you are perfect in how you were created and your soul is what matters more than your physical properties, so there is no need to feel pressured to look a certain way.
That’s not to say beauty and makeup are things that Muslim women don’t enjoy. But that is to say that, when a woman wears a hijab, that is also another way of her telling society that it can’t tell her whether she is beautiful or not, because she knows she is. And it’s her way of telling the world, that people will only see how much of herself she lets them see. It is control over our bodies and our minds.
Lastly, it is a reminder to ourselves as well as an identifier to others. Our hijab says loudly, “Look, I am a Muslim woman. That is not just my religious belief, but a part of my identity.” And it reminds us, that we are Muslim women. That we must pray 5 times a day. That we must be kind. That we must give charity. That we must be resilient, strong, and patient. That we submit to no one but God, and God alone.
When we step out into the world, and happen to see a reflection of ourselves, the first thing we will see, is our hijab, and we will be reminded that our purpose on this earth is beyond how we look, or what other people think.