Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hijab Holdup

I wanted to get your opinion on this issue i've been having for a long time. I cover my hair all the time, but I've been thinking about not wearing it anymore. Growing up my parents always stressed dressing modestly but covering our hair was never a big issue. I started covering my fresman year of college 2005, but not for the right reasons. I had decided to stop perming my hair and decided the best way for me was to shave all my hair off..completey bald. I loved it, but was to self conscious to walk around campus with a blad head and it was winter so it was too cold :) So I decided to wrap my hair temporarly until my hair grew enough to wear it out. Well I guess I just kinda got lazy b/c I didn't want to do my hair so I never took it off. I had met my husband then as well and he liked me to wear it and bought me all these beautiful scarves so I felt gulity if I never wore them. My parents were also proud of me b/c I started covering, so I didn't want to disappoint them either. So for 5 years I've been covering for these superficial reasons and I feel like I'm not getting the benefit/blessings/rewards for covering b/c I'm not doing it for the right reasons. I've tried to purify my intentions for wearing it, wearing for the pleasure of Allah and I've tried all different types of styles from the 'traditional' to a bun style and everything in between, but I alwasy feel like a fake, like maybe I'm disappointing Allah by wearing when I'm not dong it solely for the love and pleasure of Him. So what do you ladies think?

Mina says: Peace and Blessings, dear sister--thanks for inquiring.  (Btw, I can totally relate to a time when I wore my scarf so I wouldnt have to worry about my hair! LOL)

You're right, its not good to feel like you're soley doing something for others, because it will get to the point where it feels worn out, stale and inauthentic. Its only through making a logical  and conscious decision for oneself, and feeling conviction in your heart, that you'll feel excited about doing it--or at least sincerey, even if stoically, committed.

Seperate from what everyone else thinks, and get clear about what you think.

What do you mean when you say "love and pleasure of Allah"? Examine why you think Allah is pleased that you wear it. Is is because it identifies you as a Muslim or because you think hair is enticing for men and immodest? Or some other reason? Get to the bottom of its benefits and the benefits it may have provided over the course of you wearing it. Because one thing important to remember is, if something really is pleasing to Allah, there is definitely a very real benefit for us.

Try to keep this close as you examine...

The other thing to confront and consider is--is this indeed something you feel God is asking of you, or people?  And what role does that play--People have different opinions about whether wearing head covering is mandotory, but I think most settle that its not mandotory, as it doesnt state so in The Qur'an, but preferred (as a way of distinguishment).  But again, it's not mandatory. 

Consider your reasons for not wanting to wear it. Is it because you haven't found it personally meaningful and you feel smothered, or because your hair looks cute and you want people to know it! And then think about how not wearing it factors into the bigger scheme of things--would it be a sin in your opinion? If so--major or minor?

The point of me asking these questions is so you can get to the root of what you desire and believe to determine, obectively for yourself, where you stand. 

I do think your husband's opinion is important. As your protector, does he want you to cover for safety reasons, or is it just something he would prefer (i.e: how serious is it to him)? Maybe something can be worked out where you cover if you're alone but wear your hair out if you're with him or others...Either way, you should talk to him honestly about how you feel

What I think is happeening is you're having a desire to take it off, naturally because you want to go through the process of making this decision for yourself (you may decide after weighing all factors, that not wearing it is no biggie. Or you may be confronted with new information that can make you appreciate covering more)...But ultimately you should be given time to do this. The Qur'an states "there is no compulsion in religion" and I'm sure God will be pleased if you're truthfully looking to re-examine and feel congruent in your behavior.

Nad says:  Ah, the hijab question. It was bound to come up. As a person who has been on both sides of this issue, I can definitely relate. I think the reason this is such a controversial issue is because 1.) the Quran uses somewhat vague term to address clothing and doesn't state specifically that a woman's hair has to be covered  and 2.) the hijab is such a noticable mark of Islam and has been misinterpreted by non Muslims. 

I notice that when the topic of hijab is discussed, it usually become a heated debate over whether or not it is required. I don't want to get into that debate. (There are plenty of ahadith you can read for clarity on this issue.) I'd rather turn this into the type of discussion that we have about any other issue believers find themselves struggling with.

Despite your reasons, I love that you've covered for 5 years. I'd like to know more about that experience. I know you said you just did it to get out of doing your hair, but beyond that, did you like it? Do you have positive experiences/memories attached to wearing it? Do you like the way you feel when you wear it? Do you like what you see when you look in the mirror? These may sound like superficial questions, but they greatly affect the way a woman experiences the act of wearing hijab.

As Muslims, we know that hijab isn't a tool of oppression. It's a protection, a mercy, and a reminder of who we are and what we must do. Every time a hijabi woman sees herself, she is immediately reminded of her Islam. Every time another Muslim sees a hijabi, they are immediately reminded of their Islam. Every time a non-Muslim sees a hijabi, they are immediately made aware of Islam. We women have a hefty job. Quite literally, we carry Islam with us for the world to see. And depending on what you're feeling at the moment, that's not always easy to do.

Your statement that you "feel like a fake," stands out to me. Makes me wonder if there's more to it. 5 years is a long time. Even though you started for superficial reasons, you could have grown accustomed and attached to hijabing, but you didn't. That means something. I can't say what, because I don't know all the details, but a struggle in one area often denotes a similar struggle in another.  No one part of us is separate from the others.

I know when I went through the same issue, it meant something. It actually had little to do with the wearing of the hijab and more to do with what that meant and how I felt about it. Now, after much prayer and self reflection, I've been able to pinpoint why I was feeling that way.

Examine that "fakeness" youre feeling. See if it goes deeper than the reason you named. I think if you get more in touch with what you're really feeling, uncovering those subconscious thoughts we don't even realize we have, you'll have more of an understanding about which way you want to go with this issue.

ALSO, sorry to make this response longer than it already it, but I can't close this out without addressing the fact that your husband likes that you cover. As a fellowed married woman, I gotta get in on this. Of course we never want to feel like we're living our lives for others, but marriage is about balance and compromise. If you continue to cover because your husband wants you to, there are blessings in that (in the same way that the sacrifices he makes for you are blessings for him).

The Qu'ran talks about guarding what he (your husband) would have you guard in his absence, <---paraphrase.  I'm not saying this to force you in any one direction (I try never to give concrete, "you should do..." answers in these responses), but I am saying this to make the point that even if you only do it because he wants that of you, it wouldn't be "fake," but would actually speak to your devotion to and love for your husband.

Since he bought you a lot of beautiful scarves, I imagine him to be a kind man, one with whom you could discuss this issue. The last thing you want to do is make a decision without consultation and then end up with a lot of discord in your home. Talk to him about how you're feeling and see where the conversation goes. That way, you won't have to worry about him being caught off guard and feeling ignored. Sorry this is so long, but I really wanted to be thorough.

Hopefully, you'll find your way.


  1. Salaam i appreciate you sisters addressing this issue as it is an important one. However I do have a comment for the first sister's response. Hijab and what exactly falls under the category of hijab may, in some people's eyes, be a point of ambiguity. AllahuAlam as to whether hijab is mandatory, but to state that the majority of people say that it is not mandatory and thus declare that it is not mandatory I think is a dangerous thing. These are matters which should be left up to the scholars and most learned people to declare ultimately. A person may choose or not choose to wear, feel this way or that way about it, but to say for certain that it is not mandatory can be misleading. Allah knows best.

  2. Thank you sister for your response and concern...In answering this question, I should have been more wise in not delving into, as Nad said, a "controversial" topic, and stating my own interpretation. And it probably would have been better to say: "Most people I've come across, feel this way..." I do apologize for creating confusion or presenting misinformation. Thank you again. Salaam.



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