Slaves to Fashion, or Slaves of Allah ﷻ?
For many of us, we are often faced with the “Why should I wear hijab?” questions, or the “I want to put it on, but I cannot!” dilemmas. For those of us who have already taken the step, many of times we often think to ourselves “Shall I just take it off today?” “What if I just stopped wearing it?” this is one of the things I have personally been through, and I know for sure, I am definitely not alone on this, am I sisters?
If you look around, we are constantly surrounded by people in competition with each other. Whether that is who has the skinniest waist, who attracts more of the opposite sex, and who has the best ‘fashion’ – which in reality, only encourages women to expose and glamorise themselves. This usually is not to please themselves, but to ‘fit in’ and to be portrayed as nothing more but sexualised objects for the male species. When this happens, you will often encounter people craving the attention, but are they happy? No, they are not. They are stared at for all of the wrong reasons, all they want is to be respected but they are behaving in a way that attracts the opposite because they show such low levels of respect for themselves.
Now if we look at this from an Islamic point of view, this is where the beauty of Hijab comes into practice. Beauty does not mean fitting in with society, our worth is not measured by fashion or giving ourselves to the world. We are not here to be portrayed as fashion icons or attract the opposite gender, we are here to be covered and guarded like pearls, to be respected, to be honoured and to be devoted to The Giver of Life. We do not need the degrading opinions of others, because our creator told us what is beautiful.
Hijab? Is that not oppressing?
One of the common claims people make is that covering your hair is too oppressing and it lowers your beauty. However, I asked a few sisters what the Hijab means to them, and these are some of the responses:
“Hijab to me means covering up my beauty, not only that but having haya. As haya is one of the greatest characteristics one can appose… male or female.”
An excellent point that was raised by this sister is indeed, haya. The word itself is derived from the word Hayat, which means life. The term haya does cover a wide range of concepts, and can be translated into many definitions such as; modesty, shyness, self-respect and shame.
As mentioned by our Beloved Prophet ﷺ:
“Faith (Belief) consists of more than sixty branches (i.e. parts). And Haya is a part of faith.”
Essentially, there are two different aspects of haya. A good side, which is to be ashamed to commit a sin or anything that Allah ﷻ or His Messenger ﷺ have forbidden. Or a bad side, which is when you are ashamed to do a thing that has been commanded of us – For example, to keep ourselves hidden and to be shy of the opposite gender.
“Hijab means modesty, it means when someone wants to interact with me, they show me respect and manners.”
By taking that step and covering is a sign that we have a level of respect for ourselves, we are trying to deter that male gaze. We know we are not perfect, but we are attempting to please our Creator rather than the creation. In return as mentioned by the sister, people will show respect and manners to you. It also acts as a protection, it makes people go that extra step further to look beyond our appearance and look more into our character. If you are looking for a spouse and the only thing they are interested in is your beauty, then understand that they are superficial and should be interested in your character and after all, that is who they live with.
“It means I have a control over who sees what, and how they see it. It’s more than just a bit of fabric, it’s a constant encouragement towards deen and reminder of my religious responsibilities.”
Being in control in this environment is such a great feeling to have. We sense that we can portray ourselves in such a manner that we are attempting to stray away from the degrading fashion. Of course some people will stare regardless, but knowing we are taking that step to cover ourselves is an enormous comfort. It enables us to think twice about our actions, and benefits us by reminding us what we should be doing before carrying out the act.
Moreover, from personal experiences taking that extra step to make sure you are covered for your Creator enables you to reach a higher level of modesty and shyness. It empowers you to increase the bond with your Lord, it allows Islam to grow in your heart and makes you feel a part of the Ummah, and with that brings sisterhood. You will have things in common with other sisters, and you will understand the struggles and benefits each other goes through whilst wearing the hijab and learn to empower one another.
“Hijab is not just what you wear, it’s how you act too”
Precisely as this sister said, it is also about your actions. By representing Islam so openly, it enables you to think twice about what you do in public. The way we speak should improve as well as the way we act, we should become kind and polite rather than foul mouthed. We are representing Islam which may also help someone’s views of Muslims alter by your very actions.
“At first it was just a piece of material on my head, but slowly I feel I have an image to maintain. It gives me boundaries to stay away from haram activities. And to guard my modesty before doing anything.”
It enables you to decipher what is acceptable and what is not, which may also save you from committing sins you would have otherwise simply dismissed, it serves as an encouragement to stay away from evil. It enables you to look more closely at yourself, and be more self-conscious about how your actions are perceived by other people, it creates consciousness of Allah ﷻ.
But I’m not ready?
“I want to make sure I’m praying five times a day before I put the hijab on.”
Nonetheless, a common misconception regarding covering the hair is that we have to perfect ourselves first – which is not possible as we are imperfect by definition. We think that we have to make sure we are practicing properly – Praying etc. Yes, of course this is essential as they are within our Pillars of Faith, but we are also commanded to wear the Hijab. If we want to take a step closer to Allah ﷻ, He ﷻ will help us regardless of our level of Faith. It is never too late, everyone starts somewhere.
“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…”
(Surah An-Nur: 31)
There is no escaping that Hijab is Fard (obligatory) upon us, as we are instructed to do so in our life manual – The Quran. There is no preparation needed which is the beautiful thing. However, what we need to realise is that everything happens slowly, none of us are going to hop out of bed and start doing a million and one things differently right away. It is a slow process, changing yourself happens overtime and we should not overwhelm ourselves and cause ourselves to backtrack. Instead, reach out to Him ﷻ and He ﷻ will help you. Make dua, ask The Almighty to make it easy for you. Faith will grow when you put your intentions into practice, Insha’Allah.
If we say we are not ready now, do you think we ever will be ready? There is no appointed time, but there is an appointed time for death, and that is something we are not in control of.
“One day I just realised how fragile life is, death isn’t a scheduled thing and we’re not all promised old age. I thought if I walked out my door and got hit by a bus I would be so disappointed in myself for dying without a hijab on.”
Last year whilst debating whether to wear the hijab myself, the sister who made the comment above mentioned this and it instantly hit me. It made me ponder, and it made me wonder as to how I can be so foolish to waste so much time. Death can approach us at any time, when our time comes we cannot delay that. If Allah ﷻ asks us on The Day of Judgement why we did not obey his command, do you think “I was not ready” will be enough? He blesses us with so much, the very least we can do is obey His swt commands for our own sake.
The Messenger of Allah ﷻ said that Allah ﷻ says:
“If my servant draws near to Me a hand’s span, I draw near to him and arm’s length; and if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a fathom’s length. And if he comes walking, I go to him at speed”
SubhanAllah, He ﷻ has made everything so easy for us and with so much added benefit for ourselves. All we have to do throughout this short life is to obey Him ﷻ and not give ourselves to the Dunya, and He ﷻ has promised us endless happiness in Jannah, for eternity. Strive to please Him ﷻ as it is a way for us to get closer to him and also gain so much reward. This could be your gateway to Jannah, imagine that?
“Over time the hijab has changed my character. By wearing the hijab i am representative of Islam of a Muslim women therefore overtime I had to check my whether my behaviour was matching to what my hijab requires. Alhamdulillah with time it all fell into places.”
With wearing the hijab, everything else will slowly fall into place. Your Iman will gain a boost and your awareness of your behaviour and actions will increase as you slowly begin to ditch those bad habits, and therefore also increase your haya. Just as it did for this sister and many others. Insha’Allah.
“It’s changed me so much!!! So so so much! If you knew me before, you wouldn’t recognise the person I am today. SubhanAllah.”
Alhamdulillah, the power of hijab and what it has done for many sisters is truly amazing. The benefits are clear to see when you speak to sisters. This does not mean if you do not wear hijab you are any higher or less as many often state, nor is the same sin greater or lower if it is committed by someone wearing a hijab or not. It is still the same sin regardless. Leave Allah ﷻ to be the judge of all, but do not let the first time you wear hijab be the day you pass away. He does not need us, but we need Him. We need him in this dunya. So why do we go against His commandments that are here for our protection and benefit?
“And whoever fears Allah – He will make for him a way out. And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him.”
(Surah At-Talaq: 2-3)
I want to conclude with a poem written by brother Shabbir (Twitter: @Shabbirthepoet) That I found beautiful, Masha’Allah:
“The matter is clear and simple, yet they mention force and oppression.
The Hijab is more than just a symbol, it’s more than just an expression.
Her modesty is her Hijab, not the scarf she wears on her head.
His modesty is his hijab, indeed Hijab applies also to men”
PS. JazakAllah Khair to the sisters who shared their insight into their personal thoughts regarding Hijab, you were of great help 🙂 x