The Cloth On My Head

By Zahra Jaffery

Hijab: a headscarf worn by Muslim women; conceals the hair and neck and usually has a face veil that covers the face (wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn)

Hijab: the custom in some Islamic societies of women dressing modestly outside the home; “she observes the hijab and does not wear tight clothing” (wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn)

Hijab: A hijab or ‘ (Arabic: حجاب, /), as commonly understood in the English-speaking world, is the type of head covering traditionally worn by Muslim women, but can also refer to modest Muslim styles of dress in general (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hijab)

Or to many of us sisters, just the piece of cloth we drape on our heads before heading out of our homes. But that’s not where hijab stops. Hijab is your clothing, the way you dress, the way you speak, lowering your gaze and so much more. Hijab is protection- protection from people judging you by your looks, your hair, your figure. Hijab is haya, it is modesty.

However, it seems as though these days, Hijab has become a very difficult topic to discuss. This may be so because we tend to get so defensive when someone picks us out on our mistakes. That’s more than a bit disappointing, considering how essential hijab is, and considering the importance of practicing amr-bil-maroof & nahi-anil-munkar.

First and foremost, I feel that us sisters should not have a difficult time discussing hijab. If you see a fellow sister observing what doesn’t seem like hijab or doing something she shouldn’t be doing, it is your duty to call her out on it (politely of course, with respect).

Face it- today, Hijab has become just another “thing” we do pretty much every day of our lives. We put it on our heads, walk out and then do whatever. MashAllah there are so many hijabi sisters out there, representing Islam. However, what many of us who do not remember is that hijab isn’t just the piece of cloth on our heads. These days, how we observe our hijab and our actions have become something that is apart and different from Islam’s description of what hijab and our actions should be like. The following is a list of the “types” of Hijabis you will come across, or sadly, things that are done, that shouldn’t be.

1) How We Wear Hijab: Sisters, we are all beautiful. But the point of hijab is not to “show what you’ve got”– instead, to cover it up. I know we all love to accessorize, but your ‘Mickey Mouse’ hijab, where I can see your earrings from Bitter Sweet, is not quite hijab. If you loosely have a dupatta/pashmina thrown on your head, where your hair is coming out from all directions, and I can pretty much see it all, that’s not quite hijab. If you have it tied behind your head (kind of like a bun) & your neckline & chest are visible, that is also not hijab. Showing your bare arms/legs/back, is also not hijab. We all know that hijab is also the clothes we wear. And which girl doesn’t like to shop for clothes? But along with how we wear a hijab on our heads, it is also important to take into consideration, the clothes we choose to wear. As per Baba Ali, wearing clothing that looks like it is “painted onto your body”, is also not hijab.

“La iqraha fiddeen”– There is no compulsion in religion (Holy Quran, 2:256).

Hijab, along with everything else in religion should not be a burden on you. If you want to wear tighter clothing, if you don’t want to have to cover your arms/legs, show your beautiful hair, earrings, etc, go for it. If you do not feel that you are prepared for hijab, please don’t practice it. It not only makes the Almighty (swt) unhappy, it also gives others the wrong impression of what hijab is. It’ll raise questions like, “Your friend wears sleeveless tops and a hijab on her head, and her bangs look nice- why can’t you do the same?” It is hard to explain because I’m not going to bash you and tell them that you are wrong; it also shows lack of unity amongst us Muslims. It shows that we are practicing the same thing, with the same goal to please Allah (swt), yet, we are contradicting each other as well. I know I wouldn’t like having to answer such questions to a non Muslim, and explain to them that what you are observing is not hijab. My point is, rather than wearing hijab and “modifying” it to fit your likings (that do not fit the likings of Allah [swt]), please don’t wear hijab until you think you are ready to wear it the way it should be worn. This does not in any way go to say that you should not try to start wearing a hijab if you would like. If you think you are prepared, go for it and give it a shot. But only if you think you won’t have commitment issues; is it really worth the risk of not being sure and later taking it off?

2) Sisters with Boyfriends: Attraction is human nature. It is “normal” to be attracted to someone of the opposite gender. But you have to control yourself. You have to have control over your own nafs, fight that temptation to commit a sin and do haram; fight shaitan. Simply put, it is not alright to have a boyfriend, whether you are or are not a hijabi Muslimah. However, since us Hijabi sisters have pretty much become a sort of “symbol,” should I say in the eyes of this society of what Muslims are, or should be like, our every move is noticed by them. Think about it- here “they” are thinking that we are supposed to be good, religious, faith practicing girls/women. And then here we are, with boyfriends on our arms like a lucky charm bracelet.

Sisters, it is haram. Please, fight the temptation to go out with a guy who likes you/who you like. Couples are made in heaven. The one you are meant to be with, will come along one day, marry you, & keep you happy, InshAllah.

Islam is a way of life, not just a religion. If dating was good for you, Islam would never prohibit it. However, we all know that it is a sin, which leads to many others. If you have a boyfriend right now, sit down for a minute and flush your so called “love struck” brain down the toilet, and re think your actions. We all make mistakes. However, the greater person is he/she who learns from their mistakes, rectifies them & doesn’t make them again. “It is impossible to make the same mistake twice- the second time, it’s called a decision.

3) Sisters who Smoke: Yes, it does happen. And yes, depending on your maraja-e-Taqleed the ruling on smoking could vary. And yes, we do not wear hijabs for others, rather for ourselves & for our God. But in today’s world, your actions, what you do, & what you say play a major role in the judgement that others shape of you. A Muslim girl with a hijab on her head, and a cigarette in her hand, smoking it; the image looks a bit weird in my head, how about yours?

4) Semi-Hijabi Sisters: These are the sisters that wear hijab pretty much almost kind of everywhere. Almost. And then you go on their Facebook page, and voila..! Lo and behold, you see a picture of the same sister without a hijab on her head! I mean, you might as well not wear it in public either. Just put it back on when you are ready to leave it on in your pictures too. Truth is, if you wear hijab, it’s not okay to post pictures anywhere without your hijab on. It’s kind of awkward to people who see them as well; makes them wonder, “Wait. Doesn’t this girl wear hijab to school? I can see her hair now though. Dang, she’s beautiful! But wait. Isn’t that like, not allowed?” It not only earns you loads of sins, but it also confuses the heck out of people, and gives them the wrong image of what it means to be observing hijab.

5) On again, Off again: Kind of like a haram pre-marital relationship. When a girl and a boy are a couple, then break up, then make up, then break up, and so on & so forth. Some sisters have such a relationship with Hijab. It will be on their heads one week, but not the next, then it’ll be back, & then it’ll disappear, & then at so & so’s funeral it makes a special appearance, and then at so & so’s wedding, Dang! She got highlights! My dear sisters, hijab is NOT a game, it is a commitment. And I know it’s not easy, especially due to the Western society we live in, it’s not. But once you have committed to this, there is no going back.

Once again, shall we  “There Is No Going Back”

So once you’ve got it on your head, there is no turning back. It’s either a “yes, I always do it” or a “no. I’m not doing it at all.” And once you start it, you can’t just not do it when you feel like it. If you are going to do such a thing, please, you might as well not wear it at all- because wearing it, & then taking it off & then maybe wearing it again, is WORSE than never wearing it at all.

Hijab isn’t something for you to be playing games with.

6) But, My Parents…: What? You’re parents made you wear it?  These are the sisters who wear their hijab leaving their home, take it off at school/work, and slip it back on their head while heading home. Who are you living in fear of? You’re parents, or Allah (swt)? On the day of qayamah, who will you be accountable to? Who will decide you’re fate? If you think it is your parents, please think again. “I’m pretty sure you have a spine, make use of it. Do not blame your parents for your shortcomings or for your fickle mind changes” (Fatima, 2010). It’s that simple.

We spend 2.5 months crying over the hijab of Bibi Zainab (sa). However our hijabs somehow become non-existent when we aren’t at the masjid- a tad bit hypocritical of us? Our tears have no use unless we act upon the ideology behind them.

InshAllah, may Allah (swt) give us all the taufeek to refrain from sins, and may He guide us towards the right path.

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