Thursday, August 17, 2006

Hijab...Men, Too!

Wearing the Hijab isn't just a matter of fashion, a spur of the moment answer to the eternal question of what shall I wear today? Hijab is an attitude, a way of thinking and behaving. Basically, it is the Islamic way of life.

A woman may wear a long skirt and a scarf, but if she flirts constantly she can't really be described as wearing Hijab. Long figure-hugging clothes don't qualify as Hijab either. Clothes should be long and loose, and not see through - after that, any style from Shalwar-khameez to Arabian abayas is OK.

When you wear the Hijab, you have to behave in a certain way. Flirting is out, running for the bus and boisterous behaviour in public are not to be encouraged either. Basically the idea is that one should conduct oneself with dignity at all times, and be a worthy ambassador for Islam. Wearing the Hijab identities you as a Muslim, and people will judge Islam by you. That's a heavy responsibility! But it is also an opportunity for Da'wa. You may get some stares and comments (to which you eventually become immune), but you will also get sincerely interested questions or even complements from redoubtable old British ladies on the Tube ("I do like your head-dress, my dear!").

Hijab is meant to stop you doing the kind of things that Muslims aren't meant to be doing anyway; it doesn't stop you from doing anything else. Studying, working, raising a family, charity and voluntary work - as long as it is Halal, wearing Hijab doesn't mean you can't do it. If you think long skirts will make travelling to college or work more difficult, take a look at all the Muslim women who have studied and worked whilst wearing Hijab; or look at the pioneer women of North America: all women wore long dress in those days: it didn't stop them building a nation (figuratively) or log cabins (literally). God The Glorified says:

Say to the believing men
That they should lower
Their gaze and guard
Their modesty: that will make
For greater purity for them:
And Allah is well acquainted
With all that they do.
And say to the believing women
That they should lower
Their gaze and guard
Their modesty; that they
Should not display their
Beauty and ornaments except
What (ordinarily) appear
Thereof; that they should
Draw their veils over
Their bosoms and not display
Their beauty except
To their husbands, their fathers,
Their husband's fathers, their sons,
Their brothers or their brothers' sons,
Or their sisters' sons,
Or their women, or the slaves
Whom their right hands
Possess, or male attendants
Free of sexual desires.
Or small children who
Have no carnal knowledge of women;
And that they
Should not strike their feet
In order to draw attention
To their hidden ornaments.
And O ye Believers!
Turn ye all together
Towards Allah in repentance that ye
May be successful
(Al Qur'an, ch. 24:30-31)

A word to our brothers; Hijab might seem to be merely a women's issue, but it isn't. Muslim men have to follow a dress code too, although it isn't as extensive as that for women. The men should wear loose clothes as well - no tight-fitting jeans, please! And their attitude to all women should be respectful and business-like, as the women's attitude to all men should be.

Finally, think about the motive for wearing Hijab. If you're thinking of wearing it to please your husband, to impress the people at the mosque or just as a change, then please think again. Hijab is something you should do to please Allah, no matter what anyone else says or thinks. Any other motive doesn't count.

-Author Unknown

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