Hijab: Not Beautiful?


Guest writer DawningSkies shares a well-opined rebuttal against all those who underestimate the essence of beauty.

“It’s too old-fashioned.”

“It’s too conservative.”

“It’s too long, it’ll cover my awesome top.”

“I like this short hijab style, so what if it doesn’t really cover the bosom? Fashion forward!”

“If I wear it . . . all I’ll get is stares.”

“No guys will like me!”

“I’ll wear it when I’m ready – or when I get old.”

“Hijab – it’s oppression towards women! You women should be ashamed for wearing it!”

“Hijab? –It’s so not beautiful!”

Sound familiar? That’s because these are the common things that people say when asked about the hijab.  I bet some people reading this article are nodding already. Nowadays the hijab is not only labeled as something that oppresses women, but also something else – an obstruction to beauty. And the surprising thing is that some of these comments are from Muslim women themselves!

Well, what exactly do you say to these comments?

It’s a very saddening thing that when certain people who wear the hijab are asked why they wear it, they shrug and say: “Islam asks us to.” It seems that some people don’t understand that hijab is an object of feminism; yes, feminism, and not against!

The hijab is not only a religious obligation, but a tool for modesty. Some people misunderstand that when they don the hijab that their job is done. They assume that the hijab covers all aspects of modesty –so great, that duty’s over.  It’s like likening it to swearing the truth and nothing but the truth. Well, I assume that I’m supposed to snap my fingers and wag it around. Mm-mm, no.

Then again, some people argue, what’s the use of external modesty when inner modesty is more important? The hijab is reduced to nothing this way – just make sure that you are modest inside, and all’s well. This is a subjective opinion, a half-truth. The thing about the hijab is that it completes the external aspects of modesty, but it must be joined with inner modesty as well. It doesn’t mean that when I wear hijab, it automatically makes me a devoted, modest Muslim. It means that now I’ve got to accompany that with my inner modesty, and that’s when a Muslimah’s modesty (the whole shebang) really shines. That, and I mustn’t exactly wear a hijab, and still wear clothes that show off our womanly curves, right? Surely, the purpose of the hijab is to complete the whole modesty thing, right?

And it also means that since I wear the hijab now, a religious duty, I’ve got to be more modest, so I mustn’t look down on the sisters who don’t wear the hijab  – because at the end of the day, our actions and deeds and heart is something only Allah can judge.

“Allah does not look at your outward appearance and your wealth, rather He looks at your hearts and deeds.” (Saheeh Muslim)

That still doesn’t answer the “hijab is not beautiful” question, I hear some complain about.

I’m getting to that.

Let me tell you what the hijab does, really, in the aspect of beauty. And when I mean beauty, I mean true beauty, surpassing those outward definitions of it. Our hair, well, specifically women’s hair, is without doubt, a woman’s crowning glory. That lovely mane (or in some cases, silky fountains) doesn’t have to be the sole factor of a woman’s beauty because it could merely be complementing a woman’s beauty; there’s a difference. Truly, Allah has said this in the following verses:

“He who has perfected everything He created” (Quran 32:7)

“He has created the heavens and the earth in just proportions, and has given you shape, and made your shapes beautiful: and to Him is the final Goal” (64:3)

I think that speaks for itself, really. If you want a Western twist on the same issue, how about “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”?

Can you see the line forming? The obvious picture I’m trying to draw?

Yes, the hijab is beautiful.

It is beautiful because it preserves modesty, because it holds back the barrier of what we call “looks,” and because it focuses on the other (and inner) shines of a woman –the true worth of a human: her faith, personality, intelligence, her grace, her love, her heart. These are some of the things that can be appreciated when we turn our heads from longing for only the outward appearances.

One question – does hijab complement feminism, or is it anti-feminist?

It wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that women are sexually objectified because of their attractiveness; this is especially true in the media around us. How is that fair to a woman whose worth is far better than that? How is that fair to a woman who may not be utterly gorgeous enough in their standards?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say that a woman has to subject herself to looking her worst, that she can never be beautiful. A woman is beautiful in her own way and right; her external beauty is something to be shown to a person she would share her life and love with – her husband. And to her family, if she so desires. But for now, the hijab is a simple cloth on a head – a beautiful cloth, I may add.

Oh? But what if guys don’t like me?

Let’s see it this way. A guy who measures a woman by her external beauty and nothing else is not the best kind of guy to be sharing your life with. The best man is someone who sees you as you are, and accepts you the way you do him. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said this:

“A woman is married for four things: her wealth, her lineage, her beauty and her piety. Seek the one who is pious, may you prosper.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

See this simple piece of wisdom? Surely then the hijab can’t lessen your chances that badly; for only the person who truly sees beauty in its best form can appreciate it – you’ve got the best filter possible!

Islam’s code of modesty doesn’t restrict women from wearing nice clothes – it is just that a woman’s clothing should be modest and simple, not the peacock-kind of attracting.

Underline this: beauty exists in various forms and ways. It’s just up to us to appreciate and value them. For you are the living proof of Allah’s power of creating all things beautiful; surely that is one of the best feelings in the world? Let’s put it this way: ‘Allah is beautiful and loves beauty.’ At the same time ‘He has made your shapes beautiful’ but, “Allah does not look at your outward appearance and your wealth, rather He looks at your hearts and deeds.” [Sahih Muslim]

I’m thinking you see the connection by the now.