Alhamdulillah today people have come to know about the hijab either in a positive or negative way depending on your orientation of the hijab and what the media have been feeding some people. In writing this article it is important to note all about the hijab and its six criteria.
Majority of Muslim women all over the world have come to embrace and accept the spiritual significance of wearing loose garment from head to toes.
So much has been the debate about the hijab in many parts of the world, especially in Europe where the western media have given the people a distorted view on why Muslim women wear the hijab. Coupled with the oppressive laws that western countries such as France have placed on the ban on Muslim women wearing a hijab in some specific locations like schools, library and government buildings. Laws like this has made Muslim women in such countries to struggle daily with their identity.
That aside, did you know that the Hijab is for both Muslim men and women? I mean, most people all over the world including some Muslims think that the Hijab is prescribed for only women.
Why do Muslim women wear the Hijab
Well contrary to some who thinks Muslim women are forced by their husbands, fathers or family members to wear the hijab, Muslim women wear hijab for the following reasons which include;
- Divine Commandment: Muslim women wear the Hijab because is a command from Allah (God). As you all know Muslims in general follow the dictates of the Qur’an and the Hadith which serves as the ultimate guide for a good life as a human being. Allah states in the Qur’an in Suratul An-Nur, Chapter 24 verse 31, “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts, etc.) and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent (like palms of hands or one eye or both eyes for necessity to see the way, or outer dress like veil, gloves, head-cover, apron, etc.), and to draw their veils all over Juyubihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms, etc.) and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husband’s sons, their brothers or their brother’s sons, or their sister’s sons, or their (Muslim) women (i.e. their sisters in Islam), or the (female) slaves whom their right hands possess, or old male servants who lack vigour, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.” There are other similar verses in the Qur’an which instructs Muslim women to wear the Hijab.
- To guard her chastity: Putting on the Hijab protects women from engaging in evil acts like Zina ( illegal sexual intercourse). When a woman dresses in a way to attract the opposite sex, this makes men to look at her in a lustful manner. This lustful look might emanate from a woman wearing sexually revealing clothes which displays her figures. This sort of act will eventually make her and that man who was attracted by what she wears to commit adultery or fornication and this is exactly what the hijab is supposed to protect the women against as adultery and fornication is considered to be one of the major sins in Islam.
- To protect her from molestation: The hijab prevents women from being molested. We see this everyday where a guy on the street whistles to girls on bum shots, tight jeans or mini skirt. Such behaviour is degrading to a woman as she is seen as a mere sexual object because of what she wears. But a girl who is fully covered rarely gets starred by any men who has any evil intentions and she is respected as well.
- Muslims women take a cue after pious women: Women such as the wives of Prophet Muhammad ( Peace be upon him) and Mary the mother of Jesus are seen as role models for Muslim women which inspires them to wear the hijab. This is because of the dressing as well as the characters of those women in time passed who were well respected in their communities during their lifetime and they are still respected to this day. These women such as the wife of Prophet Muhammad, Nana Aisha and Mary the mother of Jesus were seen to be examples of chaste women and worthy of emulation.
The six criteria for Hijab
It is important to note that Muslim women are not perfect, hence they go through the same everyday struggle as regards the practice of the religion while dealing with other fellow humans who tend to be antagonist towards their believe of which we Muslims consider it to be a test from Allah (God).
The Hijab is not just a cloth for covering as many perceive. The Hijab has a broad meaning and the clothing itself is just a limited aspect of the things that comes with wearing a veil or loose clothing.
The Hijab from a physical aspect does not mean wearing a veil that covers just the head and the neck while wearing something that reveal your body figure as this defeats the aim of wearing the hijab and makes the one who dress in such manner look like a hypocrite.
The Hijab is supposed to be a loose garment which is expected to cover a woman from head to toes. Anyway here are the six criteria of hijab for Muslim men and wonen according to the narration of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh);
- The Extent: The first thing to consider when wearing a hijab is to which extent your clothing is supposed to cover. This is different for male and female. The obligatory part that a male is supposed to cover from the navel down to the knees up to the ankle. For women, the whole body needs to be covered except for the face and hands up to the wrist. But if she wishes, she could as well cover the face and hands. As some scholars argues that it is compulsory for the face and hands to be covered. However, this is an opinion and Women can choose to either cover the face and hands or expose them. Women can choose any of the two opinions as regards wearing the Hijab.
All the remaining five criteria are the same for men and women.
- The clothes worn should be loose and should not reveal the figure.
- The clothes should not be transparent such that one can see through them.
- The clothes should not be glamorous as to attract the opposite sex.
- The clothes worn should not resemble that of the opposite sex.
- The clothes worn should not resemble that of the unbelievers i.e. they should not wear clothes that are specifically identities or symbols of the unbelievers.
Different types of Hijab for Muslim women
The extent to which a women covers herself shows the level of her Iman (Faith) she has for her creator. It has nothing to do with deceit or showing off to the people.
If a woman wears the regular hijab is ok, as she meets the minimum requirements of the hijab and if she chooses to cover up all parts of her body, then it shows the increase in her Iman (Faith). I mean the goal of every Muslims is to improve in the practice of his/her religion.
Let’s look at the different kinds of hijab below
The Khimar: Most women all over the world wear a hijab which meets the basic requirements of wearing a hijab for Muslim women. As you can see, based on my previous analysis above with evidence from the Qur’an and Hadith, she cover every parts of her body except for the hands and face.
The Niqab: We Muslims consider a Niqabi to be someone who has elevated her practice as far as wearing a hijab is concerned. Here a Niqabi is expected to cover every part of her body except the eyes which is provided with a little opening. A niqabi also has the option of covering the eyes with a transparent layer which allows her to see through. Most women have started to embrace this mode of dressing in contemporary times especially in the Middle-East i.e Arabs and Iranians.
The Burqa: The Burqa is somewhat similar to that of the Niqab. Here the woman covers her whole body and has a net screen to which the woman can see through. The Burqa is popular among women who reside in Central Asia such as Afghanistan to be precise.
May I remind you that the idea of a Hijab covers more than just the garment. Wearing a hijab comes with responsibilities. It means that a woman who wears a hijab must have good moral conduct, behaviour, attitude and intention. Anything contrary to these negates the aim of wearing the hijab.
However, this does not mean that one should use it as an excuse not to wear the hijab. We are humans and we make mistakes and learn from it. So it is all part of Jihad (Striving and struggling in the course of Allah) and we must embrace the idea of wearing a hijab while adhering to the moral codes.
Hijab comes with Hijab of the heart, eyes, thoughts and intention. It also includes the way we talk, walk and relate with one another.
May Allah make it easy for anyone who wish to dress in a modest manner. If you have any questions or contributions to the topic you are free to do so. As for the questions I will try to provide answers to them InshaAllah (God willing). Allahu Alam.