Hijaab- a growing process that should not be judged

25 Aug

Recently I’ve seen a lot of people “commenting” on the attire of sisters who wear the hijaab. Unfortunately, it’s usually other sisters who are doing the commenting. After a conversation with a lovely sister on twitter, I decided to write a piece on this issue, which has bothered me for a while.

The main thing that I see people commenting on is sisters who wear the hijaab with tight clothing, or some skin showing.  Comments such as “What’s the point in wearing a hijaab” or “Doesn’t it defeat the purpose of the hijaab?” are common. I have to stress at this point that obviously, I am not speaking as a scholar or anyone with any kind of knowledge. I am merely speaking as a sister who has “been there”. I have been on both sides. Before wearing the hijaab, I judged sisters who I thought were not wearing it correctly. Then I started wearing it and was too busy concentrating on my own insecurities.  Once I became more comfortable with the hijaab, shaytaan started with his rubbish and I would look at some sisters and think “What on EARTH was she thinking coming out like that?” Now however, I have changed my outlook drastically.

You see, there are so many things to consider when we see sisters who we THINK are not observing the hijaab correctly:

  1. How long has she been wearing it? It could be that the sister has only just put on the hijaab. How will judgmental looks make her feel? How will harshness make her feel?
  2. Following on from that point, the sister may be overcompensating with tight clothes, ect, to make up for what she is ‘hiding’. This is a confidence issue.
  3. Can we assume that the sister knows about the adab of hijaab?  Can we assume that she has the knowledge of what hijaab is? Maybe all she knows is that Muslim women are supposed to cover their hair?

The above focuses on just SOME of the assumptions people make, and of course focuses on the image of hijaab, and not necessarily the character that one must adopt when wearing the hijaab, as image is often what people judge first.

How do we deal with these issues?

Too many times, I’ve seen people commenting elsewhere about seeing sisters who do not observe the hijaab properly, often talking about her in a derogatory way. Well, did you speak to the sister? No? That’s the first mistake. If you’re not going to advise someone, then keep quiet and pray for them. Simple as that. Talking about them causes rifts among sisters of this ummah, and the last thing we need is that. Remember also that when giving advice in Islam, we should adhere to the correct manner and etiquettes of advice giving. Know who you are talking to. This means do not jump straight in with *que monotone voice*

“Assalaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh, ya ukhti, do you not know it is haram to wear such clothing with hijaab / ya ukhti, do you not know that if a man smells your perfume it is like committing zina / ya ukhti…” ect ect.

Maybe spark a conversation with the sister, ask her how she is, what is her name. Be gentle and kind. Harshness can push someone away.

I am in no way making excuses for sisters who do not wear the hijaab properly…oh wait, scratch that, I am. What did our Beloved Rasool, peace be upon him, say? Altogether now people…

“…and there is no one who loves to accept an excuse more than Allaah, and because of this he sent the bringers of good news and the warners…” From Sa’d ibn ‘Ubaadah (radiyallaahu ‘anhu), reported by al-Bukharee / Muslim.

And lets not forget the famous saying:

“If a friend among your friends errs, make seventy excuses for them. If your hearts are unable to do this, then know that the shortcoming is in your own selves” Hamdun al-Qassar, one of the great early Muslims, as narrated by Imam Bayhaqi in his Shu`ab al-Iman

So what was that? 3 excuses? Ok I have 67 to go.

Moving on.

I want to talk about the reaction to what we see, which is usually something along the lines of: “Whats the point of wearing the hijaab?” “Isnt that defeating the purpose of hijaab?”.

Ok, well, what is the point in wearing the hijaab? What is the purpose?

Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things) and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts). That is purer for them, Verily, Allah is all aware of what they do.

 And tell the believing women to lower their gaze, and protect their private parts and not to show off their adornments except that which is apparent, and to draw their veils (khumur- plural of khimar, which means something that covers, and is what is used to cover the head. This is what is known among the people as a veil.) all over their juyub (means that they should wear the outer garment in such a way as to cover their chests and ribs, so that they will be different from the women of the jahiliyyah, who did not do that but would pass infront of men with their chests completely uncovered, and with their necks, forelocks, hair and earrings uncovered…) and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers, or their sons, or their husband’s sons, or their brothers or theei brother’s sons, or their siser’s sons, or their women, or their right hand posessions, or the Tabi’in among men who do not have desire, or children who are not aware of the nakedness of women. And let them not stamp their feet as to reveal what they hide of their adonrment. And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.


(Al Quran 24:30-31)


If we look at the tafsir above, we can pull out two purposes of the hijaab:

  1. To maintain modesty
  2. To be recognised as Muslims

If a sister is not maintaining modesty, but is wearing the hijaab, she is atleast fulfilling half of the command: she will recognised as a Muslim. Fulfilling half of the command is better than fulfilling none of it. We should also remember that wearing the hijaab is a journey for many. You evolve with the hijaab. When I started wearing it, my earrings would show, I wore jeans ect. Soon I was wearing abaya. I had evolved and changed. Noone pops out of the womb with a hijaab on their little heads. It is a massive step and a difficult journey for most, especially if you started wearing it later on in life.

So there is still a point, and still a puspose to wearing the hijaab, even if it is not necessarily correct. The point being that the sister has started to wear the hijaab, and will evolve. The purpose being that she is fulfilling half of the command, and will inshaAllah (God willing), fulfil the rest of it. And please note that when I say that the sister is half way to fulfilling the command or obligation of hijaab, it is in reference to the command of hijaab from Allah, I am in no way saying that the one who wears the hijaab is half way closer to Allah than someone who doesn’t wear it. Some can wear the hijaab and spiritually, feel nothing.

This is not about merely saying “Concentrate on yourselves and not on others”, as this too can be dangerous. In Islam, giving advice to one another privately, and accepting this advice is very important. Our default reaction to receiving advice should not be “concentrate on yourself!” I refer to a quote which I cannot remember verbatim, or who said it, but I recall it being an early Islamic Scholar, the gist of the quote I have never forgotten. Something along the lines of “It is a sad day when, one is given advice, they say ‘concentrate on yourself!’ “. (If anyone knows this quote please put it in the comment section!) My point is, talking about the problem to others does not help. Nor does humiliating the sisters. Sometimes we need less condemnation and more empathy.  More advice and less judgment.

We are all working towards the same goal: seeking the pleasure of Allah. We move at different paces. Never condemn your sister in faith or your sister in humanity, because tonight it could be nightclub, yet tomorrow night it could be tahajjud and tawbah. Change comes as quick as that. You never know what Allah has planned for someone. But we do know that Allah wants us to make an effort. So to my sisters making the effort, keep going. I for one know about the struggle, and you will never know how proud I am of you. To my sisters looking at other sisters, I say this six word story: “Advise, or stay quiet and pray.”

Hijaab is as much to do with one’s character than it is to do with one’s clothing, so why do we always judge what we see? Remember, we see the hijaab on the outside, but Allah sees the hijaab on the inside. It is a major test and although one may feel ready, very little can prepare you for the way shaytaan jumps all over you when he sees you fulfilling a command of Allah. My main point being that, the majority of us know the correct adab of the hijaab, but how do we approach a situation where we see the hijaab being worn incorrectly? You can be sure that talking to sisters will do alot more good than talking about them. We know that hijaab is an honour, it is a fundamental part of Islam, a command from the Almighty that is an obligation upon Muslim women. We also know that such a commitment doesn’t happen over night.

I don’t care what you wear, what you don’t wear and how you wear what you wear. I love you for the sake of Allah and I respect your struggle. I pray that Allah blesses us all with the strength and ability to perfect our hijaab.

And with that, I will leave you with the wise words of our beloved Rasool, peace be upon him,

“O you who have entered Islam with your tongues but whose hearts faith has not entered: do not slander people, and do not ferret out people’s shameful points. Whoever searches out the shameful points of his brother, Allah will search out his shameful points, and if Allah searches out a person’s shameful points, be sure that He will disgrace him even if he should remain in the middle of his house.” [Abu Dawud]

For another post regarding character and adab of the hijaab, please click here

~ Zaraesque

Click here to read more about Zara


2 Responses to “Hijaab- a growing process that should not be judged”

  1. Nusaybah (@KC_Tripolitania) August 26, 2011 at 1:13 am #

    Salaam Zara 🙂

    Wonderful post and a good read mashaAllah. Yes the journey to adopting Hijab is a personal one as much as it is a gradual one. It takes a lot of courage and self-determination into making this decision and then applying it, especially if one was raised in a society whereby the concept of veiling is alien to them. Additionally, in my humble opinion it is also equally important that pubescent girls are educated about why God commands women (and men) to guard their modesty and adopt the Hijab. These days, most unfortunately, young girls are forced to veil without knowing the wisdom and reason why. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see such girls remove the Hijab when they are older. Rather than shunning these girls away, one must approach them in a friendly and sisterly manner with the pure intention of encouraging them to take their first steps towards in their journey to the Hijab. We should listen to their problems and the reasons which discourage them from veiling and we must do so without misjudging them.
    Islam teaches compassion, love, mercy, tolerance, forgiveness and that one is not accountable to anyone else save their consciousness and, ultimately, their Creator. One would do well to remember this when advising women who don’t veil and does who do. As for the different levels in veiling, as long as one sticks to the laws of Shariaa regarding modesty, one has no right after that to judge or assume who is better practising depending on their level of veiling. (This is all a reminder to myself firstly before anyone else).

    Once again, thank you.

    • Me and My Hijab Admin August 26, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

      Wa alaikum assalaam Sister Nusaybah

      Thank you so much for your kind words, I am really glad you liked it. I pray that Allah keep us all steadfast, ameen. Hope you are having a blessed Ramadhan!

      Wassalaamu alaikum, Zara

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