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Fat Cat’s big day
At the age of the thirteen it was not common for a British Pakistani girl to wear a hijab. My story was a bit strange. It all started with my brother having a dream. Not the Martin Luther King type but an actual dream. He had been through a rough patch for a few years where he had lost direction and his way. Alhumdollilah he had a beautiful dream one night in which he was directed to keep a beard and to start praying five times a day.
This was a pivotal moment in my life. When I was asked by him to wear a hijab I didn’t think twice about it as I was already praying 5 times a day and had begun fasting as well. It was funnily, more an issue for the people around me. I was not actually aware of the purpose behind the hijab or the reason for wearing it when I first began, I just knew it felt right. Now a lot of people would say I was forced, but not really. It was a matter of choice and it was mine to make.
Learning the wisdom behind the hijab
The word Hijab to be exact means a curtain or veil that covers the modesty of a person. This was something I learnt at the age of fifteen. But hijab does not merely mean covering your head and your bosom, it actually also means you need to ensure you are protecting your gaze as well.
One of the most important points to note is that Muslims, be it a man or a woman are required to be modest whilst mingling with the opposite sex. Our social etiquettes, our behaviour and the way we display ourselves to the other person should be with the intention of creating the least amount of attention. Therefore gazing into each other’s eyes and intermingling with the opposite sex does not follow correct hijab rules instead you have lost the meaning of what a hijab is.
Quran, Surah 24 Verse 30 says the following:
“Say to the believing men that: they should cast down their glances and guard their private parts (by being chaste). This is better for them Say to the believing women that: they should cast down their glances and guard their private parts (by being chaste)…”
In today’s western society it is entertaining to realise that casting down your gaze would mean you lacked confidence or you are being rude. This view is also held by many Muslim friends I know and meet. I used to find it very tough to meet the eyes of a male teacher or any male for that matter, so I would often stare directly behind them at a wall and try to make it look as if I was looking at them. Be warned though, it does not work if the other person is taller than you! Now I just try to assess what is better in the situation and I strive to keep my gaze lowered as much I can which is what we are directed to do by Allah (swt).
The physical hijab of a woman
In order to appear modest, Muslim women are required by their faith to observe the most visible form of the Hijab in public – the headscarf to cover the hair and neck and full-length clothing to conceal the shape of their bodies “…and not display their beauty except what is apparent, and they should place their khumur over their bosoms…” (Quran, Surah 24 Verse 30). In other words you need to create a respectful barrier between yourself and the opposite sex. Most men will pick up on this as they will know that you have boundaries that you adhere to. Occasionally you will get the foolish odd or two who will need to be put in their place as well!
Another important point that should be noted is that the arms, torso, and legs should also be covered by loose clothing that obscures the shape of the figure, the material should be thick ensuring that the body is not highlighted through it in anyway, so yeah that short tight top with the skinny tight jeans that makes you look super sexy won’t really work. A long-sleeved blouse and a jumper with loose trousers, a long loose tunic and a long skirt, or shalwar kameez are all examples of what is acceptable.
A woman should in public places wear a garment which is intended to conceal a woman’s body and her beauty from public view and this cannot be a thing which enhances her beauty. Therefore, the garment cannot contain bright colors, bold designs or shiny and reflective material that draw men’s attention to the wearer. Allah has commanded women not to display their beauty, meaning both natural and acquired beauty. Allah commands the believing women thus: “…And do not make a display of yourselves like the displaying of the ignorance of long ago…” [Al-Ahzaab, 33:33] therefore what you are wearing should be loose, thick enough, subtle and cover you appropriately from non-mahram men. If you’re wearing a headscarf you only need a jilbab that will cover you from shoulders to ankles. Check out our article on What is hijab, or if reading is not your cup of tea you can check out our visual infographic on what is hijab!
Does hijab have to be worn around everyone?
No! There are certain exceptions.
- Around Hubby dearest – No restrictions apply here – feel free to dress as appropriate!
- Other exemptions have been clearly set out in the Quran, Surah 24 Verse 31:
“And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.”
The men mentioned here are classed as ‘mahram’. But note, as a woman it is important to keep your awra protected at all times. There are different opinions on the extent of this but the one most agreed on is upper chest to the knee. This is also the awra in men (navel to knee) but for women it extends to cover the woman’s bosom. In general, the display of the hair, arms, lower legs and feet, is universally agreed to be halal for the above category of people.
Around people known as non-mahram (anyone outside the above list) you must ensure you cover all of your body except your face and your hands. Although there is strong argument that the face should be covered and only the eyes visible.
Jihad of the Hijab
We are not talking about the Jihad that is all over the televisions desperately trying to say all Muslims have suddenly become terrorists. Jihad of the hijab is actually a struggle within ourselves to do the right thing. I remember the first day I had to wear my scarf out in public, it was a moment full of trepidation. For me, it was my personal jihad!
For many sisters, wearing a hijab truly is jihad. I remember very vividly how scared I was the first day I put on the headscarf and went out into public. As long as you are just wearing modest clothes, nobody would know that you are a Muslim. Once you wear the headscarf you are suddenly making it clear to everyone that “hey look I am a Muslim”. I was never embarrassed about this but when your own Muslim friends wonder why you would do something so silly, it becomes tough. After many stares and laughs (the glasses did not help) things finally died down and my hijab was accepted. The headscarf became a normal routine of my life and I felt a lot more confident to wear it.
Do it for the sake of Allah!
Allah commanded us to wear the Hijab. So whenever someone raises the question as to why are you wearing it or are you being forced, give them the answer. Allah commanded and we followed. It is not for them to judge us. After all it is Allah (swt) that has given us our existence, our life, our capability, even our goodness. He could take this all away from us in one instance, the least we can do is follow his commands.
Allah (swt) has promised us Jannah, but for Jannah we need to tread a difficult path. II is only someone with a steadfast belief in Allah and his commandments who will have the sabr to get through the temptations, trials and tribulations this world has to offer. Without the difficulties in this world and without the constant patience needed to overcome them how would we able to earn Jannah inshaAllah?
Remember your mindset needs to be clear. Yes, it will be difficult to wear the hijab and your family and friends will find thousands of relevant comments opposing the hijab. You may even face harassment, but you need to believe in Allah and that He is watching us. All of this will In Shah Allah be repaid one day. Most importantly, everyone goes on about freedom of choice, well Hijab is everyone’s individual freedom of choice. Own it!
Stop thinking, take the plunge!
There it is. That horrible niggling thought at the back of your head telling you not to do it, not to make a fool of yourself. This is shaytan. He will tell you today is not the perfect time, there will be another day. You will have whisperings in your ear or head that people will talk, this is called ‘Waswasa’. Learn to push these thoughts away and to focus on the goal of pleasing Allah, this will make it easier for you. Make the decision in your heart and mind to wear the hijab and just do it!
It’s finally time to start following the examples of Fatima and Zainab (ra). We always hear about the importance of Hijab and how the purpose of Hijab is similar to that of a shell covering a pearl. The Hijab is a source of protection, it’s the ultimate preserver of dignity, and it literally forces people to judge us by our personality, character, and talent. Yet we see many Muslim families and individuals continually failing to realise, appreciate, and implement the proper practice of the Hijab. Instead, we are told by family members & friends to fit in with society, to dress in western clothes and to be like everyone else but we are never told to simply believe in the right thing and follow what is true to our heart – the path Allah (swt) has set for us.
Everything can seem a bit overwhelming at first, however, everything should be done with baby steps. Remember Allah (swt) looks at your intention and your efforts. Take your time but ensure that your every step is in the direction of Allah (swt). If you have decided to take the plunge, make sure to check out our range of plain scarves for your first attempt at the hijab!