The Hijab Revolution Series Part 1

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An intriguing analysis of the growing hijab phenomena by guest writer Khadeejah Islam.

Alhamdulillah! Over the last few years, we have seen a tremendous rise in the number of women who have chosen to observe hijab. When we venture out of our homes, we are guaranteed to see on the streets at least one out of three women in hijab. There has been a massive awareness of hijab as well. These developments are revolutionary. Hijab-clad Muslim women refuse to follow man-made fashion statements. So dear sisters,step aside for a moment and praise Allah for guiding our hearts to hijab. Although the hijab revolution is impressive, it has its pros and cons. Through this series, I wish to put forward certain unconventional advantages and disadvantages of this revolution (not of the hijab because hijab has no disadvantages). I hope this will encourage the readers to celebrate the advantages and rectify the shortcomings insha’Allah.

Advantages

Excellent daw’ah tool: Hijab is similar to a 2-in-1 offer, with daw’ah being the bonus. It is indeed amazing how one good deed leads to chain of other good deeds. Daw’ah happens naturally and quite effortlessly with hijab. For instance, on busy roads, I have witnessed many commuters turn their heads in awe and curiosity due to my hijab. Daw’ah becomes so much easier with hijab as people come to us for information on Islam; we do not go knocking from door-to-door. We represent Islam and our Muslim identity easily. Many Muslims feel inspired and inquire about our guidance to hijab and Islam in general. Some even exclaim, “If she can do it (observe hijab and practise Islam), why can’t I?” Are not these blessings from Allah?

One of my teachers is a Muslimah who offers salah (prayers), but does not observe hijab. She is around forty years old and teaches English. Her reaction: “How were you guided towards hijab? Will you help me to observe hijab? Please give me your number. I want to know more about Islam.”

Another of my teachers is a Christian. He is around fifty and teaches Science. His reaction: “I like this look. It’s not that I dislike those who don’t cover, but I have a super ‘like’ button for this.”

One female classmate, who is a Muslim, had this reaction: “Anyone who sees you will know that you are a Muslim. You look beautiful in a different way. I think I should gradually start doing this too.”

One elderly Muslim lady said: “You are an inspiration to the rest of us. You are showing us the path.” Apart from these, a few Christian nuns were ecstatic that we look similar to them and this immediately set a congenial atmosphere for inter-faith dialogue.

On another occasion, a Christian female teacher of mine was quite biased about hijab. She is middle-aged and teaches English. It was somewhat evident on her face that she either loathed it or she found it quite silly and oppressive. She viewed me as yet another Muslim who “did not possess any extra-ordinary qualities.” However, in time, I proved her wrong with my skills, dedication to my work, and good manners. Therefore, she clearly got the message that hijab was not a hindrance to anything. Instead, hijab is a symbol of my faith.

A Reminder: As mentioned earlier, hijab leads to a host of other good deeds. For instance, it reminds us to pray on time and to refrain from backbiting. It purifies us inwardly. Certainly, we do not want to appear as a practising Muslimah outwardly only. In addition, it is a reminder for others to practise Islam fully as we set a good example for others. One of my friends is a Muslimah who observes hijab. She had the following opinion:“Hijab reminds me to pray regularly. Otherwise, I feel like a hypocrite. I say to myself, ‘I observe hijab and on the other hand I skip my prayers?’”

Filtration: Hijab is the exemplary filter of prospective suitors. Of course, this does not mean that only the best men will approach you, because Shaytan is always round the corner. But in most cases, lecherous men do not come near women who are fully covered. After all, they want instant sexual gratification which is not possible with someone who refuses to show (let alone touch) any part of her body and who advocates a lengthy procedure of marriage with the permissionof guardians. These men think we are too outdated to satisfy them. Well, Alhamdulillah, we are not in need of men who, donning shades and abandoning education as well as their very own souls, lurk in the streets for their next prey! Furthermore, hijab makes the groom-hunt easier. Alhamdulillah! It is indeed a blessing from Allah to receive proposals from truly practising Muslim men who value and understand the status of hijab. In general, guardians who are searching for prospective brides, prefer mostly hijabis because they are able to trust them easily with the enormous duty of binding the family together and they like the fact that the prospective daughter-in-law is not making a wanton display of her beauty. But this does not mean that those who do not observe hijab are inherently bad! They are just falling short of their duties and we pray that Allah guides them as He has guided us.

Sisterhood: Whenever I see a hijabi, I immediately connect to her struggles, her choices, and her goals. Often, I find myself extending a smile to my sister, although she is a stranger. Due to this hijab, many hijabis as well as other sisters find it safe to discuss Islam with me. And of course, how can I forget the sisters exchanging gifts, trading scarves, brooches, abayas and other hijab materials with each other. This paves the way for “a nation inviting to [all that is] good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong.” [Qur’an 3:104]

Diversity: Women can be seen in khimaar (headscarves) of different colours and designs – red, green, pink, white, Malaysian stitched khimaars, Moroccan scarves, Egyptian scarves and so much more! They team it up with flowing robes; loose-fitting shalwar kameez (traditional dress worn mostly in South-east Asia); long skirts with feminine, loosely-fitted tops; or classy, tailored suits. Some cover their feet with socks, whereas others prefer closed-shoes (ballet-shoes, nagras as theyare called in India, or other similar types of shoes). Indeed, these remind us of thefollowing verse: “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another.” [49:13]

Insha’Allah, the next part of this series will showcase the disadvantages of the hijab revolution and a brief conclusion to the series. Till then, let us celebrate the advantages of this revolution and praise Allah for endowing us with these bounties. Alhamdulillah! I am sure there are many other advantages of this revolution, but I tried my best to highlight the most relevant and unconventional (not talked about) ones.

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Khadeejah Islam is a writer at Habibi Halaqas (http://www.habibihalaqas.org).