Image of Faith

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When guest writer Batool Rashid got into a conversation with her husband on hijab, it sparked the following words of advice and concern for herself and her sisters.

Recently, my husband asked me to take all my pictures off of Facebook – even though I observe purdah and wear a head scarf and abaya, and none of my pictures were obscene. “Why?” I asked him, before doing it.

“Because you wear hijab,” he said.

“Exactly!” was my reply. I was covered in my pictures, so what was wrong with having them up?

So he asked me, “Why do you cover yourself?”

“Because I’m supposed to,” I said. And before he could say anything else, I jumped in and said that on my friends list, there were only people I know on a first name basis, with a few male cousins and in-laws. After some debating, he reminded me that my motives for hijab should include avoiding unnecessary exposure to non-mahrams, to which I replied, “It is.”

“Then show it,” my husband said. And after a long conversation, I understood what he meant.

I live in a very culturally diverse city. A major portion of the population here is South Asian (Pakistani and Indian). Whenever I go to a wedding or a mall or any public place, I see a lot of young girls wearing tight jeans, loose or tight shirts, and usually up to knee high boots, dark, eye-turning makeup, and strong perfumes. When in washrooms, these same women take pictures while making pouting faces, V hand signs, sticking their hips out at an angle. These pictures are then mostly posted on social websites (for friends only). You find them laughing, screeching loudly in public. And yet they have a headscarf on. It’s such a complete contradiction!

After looking at all of this, I wonder, “Oh Allah! where is the purdah? How is hijab understood nowadays?” Today, our actions as a Muslim Ummah clearly contradict the teachings of our Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wasallam.Where are the women who were concerned about modesty and covering their bodies even after death?

As Muslim women, there are reasons why we should cover ourselves as is revealed in the Qur’an…

… to show that we belongs to a circle where the woman is respected, honored.

… to improve out taqwah.

… to avoid unnecessary exposure.

… to protect us against the lustful gaze of men.

These days, the young girls of this Ummah are doing the total opposite. They wear a scarf on their heads, but their dress and behavior is anything but hijab. The media teaches us that the more a woman bares, the more powerful she is. Many of our sisters are unaware that what they’re doing is wrong; and many of those who are aware are silent.

Yet it’s our duty to teach the young generations that Islam empowers a woman and protects her by giving special status as a daughter, a wife, a mother, a sister. In Islam, a woman is compared to a pearl. It is tucked away and hidden from the world because it is precious. A woman baring it all just to be accepted in society is not a sign of progress; sadly, it’s a sign that the woman is confused and misguided about her status in this world. In the West, the number of women converting to Islam is huge. They understand that their society neither protects them nor respects them for who they are, but judges them for how they appear. These Muslims women understand and truly appreciate the feeling of being covered, as they have suffered from the superficial criteria set by men of the West, who regard women as “eye candy.”

Something my husband mentioned during our conversation is that a woman cannot cannot understand the brain of a man and how he thinks. Allah created man; He knows him best, and He commanded woman to cover herself and to protect her modesty. Women cannot fully understand how men think, and the reverse is also true – this really made sense when my husband mentioned it. As humans, our minds have limitations, so we submit to the command of Allah Who knows all.

Allah made us women with the inherent desire to beautify ourselves with makeup, jewelry, perfume and clothing. Islam is a practical deen, so it doesn’t prohibit us from those things. In fact, Islam encourages women to beautify themselves for their husbands, thus protecting and fulfilling both husband and wife. Hijab is for outside the home, for being around non-mahrams – it acts as a constant reminder to the woman that she is a Muslim.

These days, hijab is taken just only as an act, a scarf wrapped around the head and we’re done. Hijab is more than that. It is, in fact, a beautiful deed. The purpose of hijab is not just covering ourselves. There are deeper meanings as well. We have to understand that modesty is an essential part of our deen. The hijab introduces and enhances our hayaa’, our sense of shame.

The Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wasallam mentioned that there are two types of the people of Hell who he had not seen yet; and one of those types is “Women who are clothed yet naked, walking with an enticing gait, with something on their heads that look like the humps of camels; they are misguided and they misguide others. They will never enter Paradise or even smell its fragrance, although its fragrance can be detected from such and such a distance” [Muslim and Ahmad]. In other ahadith, we learn that Jannah can be smelled from a distance of five hundred years… and these women will not even smell it. What a grave sin they’re falling into!

Whereas most of my advice here is directed to my sisters, just a note for my brothers who are reading and thinking their sisters and wives should cover up. Remember that the Qur’an, in the ayahs dealing with hijab, actually speaks to men first. Do not stare at non-mahram women yourself. Be chaste, yourself, to obey Allah and at least be in a position to ask your partner to be chaste. Appreciate the beauty of your partner before she feels the need to get that appreciation from the nasty world out there. Value her as a person before she becomes so desperate that she accepts being valued as an object in the world. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala give us the understanding of this beautiful deen and give us the ability to then act on what is right and differentiate from the wrong. Ameen!

And to my sisters, I want to say: Hijab is not a personal choice, it is a necessary part of our deen. Every action in which you curb your desire to look pretty for the public, insha’Allah you will be rewarded in great folds. Hijab, my sisters, is beautiful. It makes a statement and automatically clears our paths from those people who judge only through appearances. Hijab makes us feel like Muslimahs, inside and out. Allah exclusively commands the hijab for the believing woman. Let’s observe hijab then, and fulfill all its conditions. Let’s enjoy and cherish it.