In this post, I explain the basics of hijab. This post is aimed at non-Muslims or new Muslims, but is also useful for Muslims who are not sure about the hijab and everything that wearing the hijab entails.
So, let’s begin.
1. What is the hijab?
The literal meaning of the word hijab is barrier/partition. In this post, I use the term ‘hijab’ in relation to the head covering worn by Muslim women in public.
2. Why do Muslim women wear the hijab?
The main sources with regards to hijab are found in the Quran (Islam’s holy book), and there are a number of verses which speak about the way Muslim women should cover.
Two of these verses are as follows:
“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons…
(Qur’an Chapter 24 : Verse 31)
“O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them. That will be better, so that they may be recognised and not annoyed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.”
(Qur’an Chapter 33 : Verse 59)
3. What are the conditions of the hijab?
The basic conditions of the hijab are that:
– the hijab must cover everything expect that which is apparent. The majority of scholars interpret this as everything except the face and hands must be covered. Therefore the hijab must cover the hair, ears, neck and your body.
– the hijab must be loose and covering, and should not show the shape of your body. Many Muslim women cover their bodies when they go out in public by wearing an abaya (a loose, full-length outer garment) or a jilbab (a loose, full-length outer garment which also covers the head and hands).
4. Who do Muslim women wear the hijab in front of?
Muslim women should wear the hijab in front of any man who is not their mahram. A mahram is defined as ‘an unmarriageable kin’, in other words, any man that is unlawful for her to marry. This includes but is not limited to a woman’s:
– paternal and maternal uncles
– half brothers
– foster father, brothers, nephews, uncles
– other women
5. Where do Muslim women wear the hijab?
Muslim women usually wear the hijab when they are out in public, where they are most likely to encounter men who are non-mahrams. Muslim women usually take off the hijab when at home, unless a non-mahram is living with them or visiting, e.g, a brother-in-law, who is technically someone that she can marry.
Answers to some common questions about the hijab!
1) Do you take your hijab off at home?
Yes, unless there is a non-mahram man living with me or visiting my home (for example, my brother-in-law)
2) Do you sleep in the hijab?
3) Do you shower in the hijab?
4) Does your dad or husband force you to wear the hijab?
No, the reason we wear hijab is because Allah commands us to cover in the Qur’an. A few Muslim women may be forced to wear the hijab by their family, for example their fathers/brothers/husbands, but the majority of Muslim women choose to cover.
5) Why don’t men wear the hijab?
Men have their own hijab, however this does not include the head covering as worn by Muslim women.
6) Can you wear makeup with the hijab?
The hijab should not draw attention to yourself. If by wearing makeup you are drawing attention to yourself, especially from men, then you are defeating the purpose of the hijab.
7) Why do some Muslim women wear the niqab (face veil) and some Muslim women do not cover at all?
The majority of scholars deem the niqab to be a sunnah, not a fardh (obligatory act), so although it is seen as an admirable action, it is not a must to wear the niqab. Also, Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) wives used to wear the face veil, and many Muslim women aspire to be like the best of the believers, therefore choose to follow in their footsteps and also cover their faces using the niqab.
Some Muslim women do not cover at all because everyone has their own choice and can choose to follow Islam how they wish to. Some of these women who do not cover, believe that Allah does not command us to use a headcovering. There is a brilliant short reminder called ‘To cover or not?’ by Nouman Ali Khan:
8) Why do some girls wear tight clothes with hijab?
Because they are not perfect and may not know the correct rulings and conditions of the hijab.
9) I saw (insert-name) hijabi youtuber wear their hijab a certain way, can I wear it like that too?
If your hijab does not fulfill the conditions of the hijab as explained earlier, it may not be 100% correct, no matter which hijabi youtuber/instagrammer is wearing it.