Some Advice To Sister Who Wants
To Wear Hijab
I am Muslim teenager who practices the modestdress (hijab) because I believe
that this is what God has asked me to do, according to the Qur'an. Many of my
Jewish and Christian friends in high school do not understand why I do this. Can
you please help me explain it to them?
A Muslim Sister
It is often difficult to explain our Muslim practices to other people, just
as we may not understand the way someone of another faith practices their faith.
As members of the same communities, it is important to ask them about their
practices as well.
Many of your Christian friends have seen Catholic priests and nuns who
practice the modest dress. The world famous Mother Teresa practiced the modest
dress as she worked tirelessly among the poor in India. Orthodox Jewish women
also practice the modest dress and believing Jewish men wear the skull cap at
all times. Anyone who travels in Spain or Italy sees that many of the village
women still dress modestly. You can point out to them that the Western world
often objects to the modest dress because it is practical and reduces consumerism.
Ask your friends how much they spend on clothes and make-up? Some women who work
outside the home spend their entire salary getting to and from work, on lunch
hour and buying clothes to impress people in their office. If women could save
money on clothes and give that money to save a child or help a poor person have
food, they would develop an inner sense of peace because they would be helping
others instead of thinking only of themselves. They would develop virtues like
modesty and temperance which can only make them better people in both God's eyes
and the eyes of others.
It also helps environmental issues of over consumption. Is this not an issue
that your friends discuss? Here is a place to begin, with one's ego and desires
to attract the attention of others for material gain and not spiritual and moral
Your friends may think that you are always in the modest dress, but you
should explain to them that you wear it only when outside the home or when you
meet men that you are not related to either through blood or marriage. You can
tell them that at home, you wear clothes just like theirs and that you have seen
Western women who at home look their worst, and when they go out they get all
dressed up. This is the reverse of what you do because you are not trying to
impress others with your looks but with your mind and your moral courage. And it
does take moral courage particularly living in a secular society like America
where there is such peer pressure to look like everyone else, to wear your shield
when you leave your home and to, therefore, be known for your mind and not your
What does it mean in Islam to practice the modest dress? First of all, to be
a believer means to follow the Qur'an and the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad,
peace and the mercy of God be upon him. A believing Muslim's decision to practice
the modest dress (hijab) should be a decision which is the Muslim's own, and it
is a decision that both believing Muslim men and women can resolve to practice.
The Qur'an tells us, "Say to the believing men that they cast down their glance
and guard their private parts; that is purer for them. God is aware of the things
they do" (24:30). And, "Say to the believing women that they cast down their
glance and guard their private parts and reveal not their adornment except such
as is outward and let them cast their veils over their bosoms and reveal not
their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, or their husbands'
fathers or their sons or their husbands' sons, or their brothers or their
brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons or their women or what their right hands
own, or such men as attend to them, not having sexual desire or children who have
not yet attained knowledge of women's private parts; or children who have not yet
attained knowledge of women's private parts; nor let them stamp their feet so
that their hidden ornament may be known. And turn all together to God, O you
believers, so you will prosper" (24:31).
It means for believers of the opposite sex not to stare at each other when
their eyes meet. This is true of men and women. It is to guard "their private
parts," men and women, from what? From corruption and from the view of others.
It is obligatory in Islam for a believer to cover their private parts except
between a husband and wife. To practice the modest dress, then, is commanded to
both men and women in the Qur'an so to do so is to follow God's command.
There is another verse of the Qur'an which says, "O Prophet! Say to your
wives and daughters and the believing women that they draw their outer garments
close to them; so it is more proper that they may be made known and not hurt.
God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate. Now, if the hypocrites do not give over
and those in whose hearts there is a sickness and they make commotion in the
city, "We shall assuredly set you against them and then they will be your
neighbors there only for a little while" (33:59-60). Commentators agree that at
that time in Madinah there was a group of hypocrites who bothered the people and
in particular women captured in war (slave women). When they were asked why they
did this, they said, "O we thought they were slave women." This verse was
revealed for women to protect themselves from being considered slave women.
The modest dress, then, is a way that a Muslim woman like the Virgin Mary,
seeks refuge in God.