Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What is hijab?


There is no doubt that we women want people to look at our clothing and say, "Allllaaahhh! Where did you find that outfit?" And this includes us hijabis. But, we have to remember that the purpose of hijab is to protect us from people looking at our beauty... So does the new style I am seeing in Egypt protect or accent our beauty?

Is this hijab?


OK, well what about this?


Or this?


Now I am not an all or nothing gal when it comes to hijab. All I ask is that you understand the definition of hijab in your heart and mind even if you are not wearing it properly. You do what you can at the moment. It's between you and Allah(swt). So, if all you can do is loose clothing and tie your hair back in a bun... Go ahead, bravo. If you can wear niqab, good for you, bravo. I am not going to be the sister to even ask you about it and I certainly know that there are women in minimal hijab that are more pious than the sisters in full out niqab, Allahu'Alim. As much as I love to see magazines geared toward hijabis like the one I ganked these images from, I wonder if we are giving off the wrong impression about hijab??? Are we supporting sisters who wear it or chastsising them for wearing it and not still looking hot? Hmmmmmmm.

This is me at my walimah. I wore hijab... And my SIL was so sad when I didn't wear the viel she brought for me (one like in the above pictures) but I felt like I had to strike a compromise between looking good at my walimah and going so far from the principle of hijab that I might as well just take it off for the event (which was suggested BTW by my in-laws who should know better).


So I come to the questions that are milling in my mind as I read these magazines... Is the look of the stylish hijab a gateway for young women scared to go all out and look frumpy? Or, is it too tempting to let these images redfine hijab in a way that takes us away from its core purpose... Shielding our beauty?

When I think of hijab, and what is happening to it I think of a few verses/hadith:

Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “There are two types of people who will enter the Hell-fire, whom I have not (as yet) seen: People having whips similar to ox-tails with which they will beat people, and (secondly) women who will be dressed yet appear to be naked. They will seduce men and be inclined towards them. Their heads will be like the swaying humps of bacterial camels. They will neither enter paradise, nor smell its fragrance, even though its fragrance can be smelt from such and such distance.” (Sahih Muslim, no. 2128)

Narrated AbuHurayrah: A woman met him and he found the odour of perfume in her. Her clothes were fluttering in the air. He said: O maid-servant of the Almighty, are you coming from the mosque? She replied: Yes. He said: For it did you use perfume? She replied: Yes. He said: I heard my beloved AbulQasim (peace_be_upon_him) say: The prayer of a woman who uses perfume for this mosque is not accepted until she returns and takes a bath like that of sexual defilement (perfectly).

And of course the verse that defines hijab in the Quran...

“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 must ordinarily appear therof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, or their brothers’ sons or their sisters’ sons, or their women or the servants whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex, and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O you Believers, turn you all together towards Allah, that you may attain Bliss.” (Quran 24:31).

These are the things that run through my head when I look in the mirror. Those are the words that ring in my ear as I reach for the perfume bottle in my vanity. I wonder what verses are going through the minds of the people who make these magazines? Or is hijab for them reduced to a fasion statement?

****edit****
Since it was brought to my attention that I might not be clear... The first picture is meant to be a hijabi dressing up, I have no problem with that one at all. It was one of a handful in the magazine that actually were pretty much hijab for me.



14 comments:

suhaa said...

asalaam alaikum warahmat Allah wabarakatu:

ahh, egypt..too much of that nonsense goes on there true..
nice post and reminder for many i am sure..
may Allah reward you and guide us all..

Sketched Soul said...

As-salaamu'alaykum wa Rahmatu Llahi wa Barakatuhu my dearest sister,

Excellent post! I totally agree with you. However, I don't think it is limited to Egypt. The number of new 'hijab stores' in Canada are on the rise.. and unfortunately not everything falls into the halal category.

This is also one of the signs before the Day of Judgement.

May Allah protect us, and guide us to follow His laws. Ameen.

Masha'Allah, lovely picture of you! :D

Wa'alaykum as-salaam
Love Farhana

Mona said...

This is a topic I've been meaning to write about. Yea, I will tell you that a large portion of the female population here in Egypt has the wrong idea about Hijab. Mainly the younger women and girls. I'm talking cat suits and a scarf people. Low rise jeans with just barly long enough 3/4 length sleeve shirts and a little Jackie-O looking scarf, face full of make up and hanging out at the mall with their co-ed "shilla" It bothers me because I want these girls to know that's not what hijab is about. It bothers me because it gives hijab a bad name. I would rather see a girl wearing a loose clothing and a simple ponytail, like you said, instead of the look I mentioned above. And Allah knows best.

Anonymous said...

AStaghfiruallah! I think that those are pretty! I opt for plain frump, and my husband who is not strict, just doesn't like things with glitter or beads. But, uh, oh, It is hard not to be drawn to fancy hijab. I could go for something in between you know.
If you have a big bosom, you always have to look frumpy. I usually get depressed over Eid since we are on a students budget. Most of the ladies are dressed to the nines, and one friend actaully told me to dress up, or borrow something from her before going to visit for Eid, Grrrrrr!!!! Her cultural is really big on beads and color, so even if I dressed way up, I would not even come close! There is nothing wrong with plain, nicely made, clean clothes. I am not immune to it completely, but it has been nice to opt out of fashion and keeping up with the jones.
Aischa

Molly said...

This, I think, is a really important issue. I agree that when I was in Egypt some of what women called "hijab" was barely that. In fact some of it made me laugh out loud. I also want to point out some inconsistencies I noticed about, what were referred to as, "khaleeji" women who would wrap their hijabs tilting backwards on their heads with their big puffy bangs showing and then bringing it back to wrap around their chins. Besides looking absurd, it was hijab which was obviously inconsistent with the idea of hijab. Also I noticed a lot of other khaleeji women walking around a theme park in 5 inch heels and more eye make-up than KISS but wearing niqab.

Beyond that however I think I'd like to kind of defend a bit for a moment. The very first picture of the woman in the green abaya, I'm not sure what particular you object to. I think what she is wearing is fine hijab, she is covered and the abaya is not too tight. Do you object to it being light green?

The second picture I agree with you on, its not what I myself would call proper hijab, I don't think anytime you wrap a hijab behind your head it is hijab as the surah clearly states that you should bring it around to cover your breast. So yeah, I'm with you on that one.

The other pictures I would like to point them out as being specifically for weddings. And I don't think there is anything wrong with wearing a lot of makeup and being sparkly on your wedding. Provided its not a free-mingling co-ed party. Wearing that kind of stuff outside the house to go to the mosque or school or to hang out with friends I don't agree with.

But I need to express some feelings on clothing. I don't agree that to be within the lines of hijab you have to wear a big black abaya with absolutely no adornment. For me thats bordering on the idea that women should just never leave the house.

I work in a clinic where I have to wear business-casual clothing. I need to look nice. If I showed up to interviews wearing an abaya and no eyeliner (as I did once) I would never get the job (as I didn't). So my clothing consists of a lot of nice but not figure fitting dresses over long-sleeves and pants, or long skirts with fitted blouses. And I wear colors, sometimes bright colors, which I get complimented on.

Maybe being complimented on something means I shouldn't be wearing it? I have to keep my job. Not only that but I have to fit in with my coworkers and put a good face on Islam.

Women can love their God and their religion and wear hijab without having to dress themselves in bags.

Maybe its not the most puritanical adherence to the rules, but I wear hijab in every sense of the word.

If I had my choice I'd be wearing abayas and a niqab.

But I don't.

So I make the best of it to make the best face and maybe convince a few people that Muslims are normal ppl too.

I'm just saying.

UmmLayla said...

I guess Molly that I should have clarified with the first photo... I was just using that as a hijabi dressing up kinda photo. I have no objection to it.

To be honest, I think hijab has to do with where you are in the world, and here in the US I see no reason that colors and designs can't abound... As long as they are covering what needs to be covered and are not skin tight.

My whole thought on the topic is... If you look more attractive than you would w/o hijab because of the way you are wearing it... That's not hijab. IMHO

UmmLayla said...

Oh, and another thing about the wedding pics. You are right about thier purpose Molly... But come on girl! You've seen Egyptian weddings and they are parading the sister on her little throne by her new husband in the front of the room surrounded by more flowers than your average flower shop here in the US!!! It is for show! And if the party was segregated... Why not just go w/o hijab altogether;)

Molly said...

loooooooool
yeah the egyptian weddings are a bit much. But I've only been to conservative ones.
And I didn't necessarily mean segregated I meant more of the parties where men and women dance together freely. I just remember a woman coming out of a wedding party in which she was wearing a skin-tight dress, a bun wrapped hijab that left a good inch of hair showing all around her face, and enough make-up to fuel a Macy's counter.
the only person that made up should be the bride.
Even in co-ed parties its her WEDDING!! I think we should be allowed to get pretty on that day.

But overall I DO ABSOLUTELY agree with what you're saying.

They're wearing hijab as a cultural obligation rather than an actual choice.

:-/

Mona said...

You know here in good old Egypt, it's really common for the bride to take off her hijab completely, wear a sleevless dress,then the next day put it back on? Maybe that's why they see the bejewled hijab and powdered faced bride as ok. "At least I covered my hair".

Mona Um Ibrahim said...

Assalamu Alaikum. I know this hijab issue is a particularly annoying one, however it is a minor issue as it deals with how you show yourself on the outside. The real issue is how to help these women wake up and increase their iman so that they will feel the need to cover up more modestly. There are women who don't wear hijab that really want to and are waiting for 'the' moment, there are women who want to wear hijab more correctly but find it hard to do so, and there are certainly women who wear hijab just to be socially acceptable and the opposite of these is also true. The best we can do is be a good example for others to aspire to. Especially our own girls and those of our family. A teen or young woman who has just started wearing hijab but hasn't yet fixed the rest of her wardrobe is someone who needs our support and encouragement... others need to be educated on the matter... others just need to re-examine who they should really live their life for- the One who will judge them in the day of judgement... and perhaps that is a post that would be beneficial as a continuation of this one.

Mona Um Ibrahim said...

Also, i meant to say that your wedding pic is beautiful mashaAllah.

UmmLayla said...

Mona UI... I am working on a post about intention actually. I know what you are saying about working on iman first, I agree with you 100%. What rubs me the wrong way with the mags is the idea that they are giving people bad info, and you know how that goes.

There was a group of women at a masjid I went to and they kept asking question after question about candy with gelatin in it. Finaly, the shiek made a ruling for them that it's OK to eat gelatin since it it the flesh of the pig that is prohibited and he was not clear about the bones (which is where the gelatin is coming from). Now did people take this and temper it with the 100's of other opinions that gelatin is not OK? No, they went out and bought skittles and gummy candy in bulk. UGH!!! And I kept saying to myself... IT'S CANDY! your kids won't miss it!

But it seems that people are just waiting for permission to bend the rules. And I hate it because then those of us who don't simply take the most moderate opinion we can find are classed as some kind of religous police/ hall moniter!LOL

And I don't even want to go there with the "Hana eats Skittles and she's muslim!!!" thing. No, I will repress.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to tell you a nice little story of what is not hijab...

A few years ago, 2008 in fact, I hopped on an airplane and visited my relatives in Bahrain. I'm also from the Middle East.

Anyhow, I got there and it was still quite cold, probably too cold for a place like Bahrain to be honest. It was around early-to-mid January, right about the same week or two you decided to submit this post.

I decided to go to the old market in Muharraq, it's a famous place for tourists and shoppers. Nothing expensive really, but more of a cultural thing.

One night I was walking all alone and it was almost midnight. The last few shops closed down and the streets were getting quieter. The whole area looked like a ghost town. I was waiting for my ride to pick me up after a long day of shopping.

Before my friend shows up, I see a girl standing on the opposite side of the road, near a pedestrian seating area. She was on the phone and I can tell people by their accents. She didn't sound like a local, her accent was more Kuwaiti than it was Bahraini.

The lady looked modestly covered up. Blue hijab/scarf wrapped around her head and a black abaya covered every inch of her body, except the hands and feet. It was an abaya with a front zipper.

After she hung up, she unzipped her abaya, fully aware that there still might be people in the area. It was quiet but it was too risky, so common sense should dictate that she shouldn't unzip her abaya, unless what she's wearing beneath is also appropriate.

But gosh to my amazement, she was literally wearing a spandex catsuit!!! A shiny blue spandex catsuit. I'm talking 80s aerobics-style unitards that you find in vintage aerobics shows. It was one-piece, no doubt. It was the perfect definition of a catsuit. One-piece and skintight and stretchy all over her, from the wrist to the ankle.

While it covered her up nicely, it wrapped around her like a second skin. To put it more blunt, its like a naked lady painted in blue.

Along with the catsuit she was wearing white knee-high socks and white sneakers/shoes.

Did she come from an 80s time machine or an aerobics exercise? Beats me but it was really inappropriate. I couldnt help but notice one South Asian man, probably Indian, from the corner of the street feasting his eyes on what she was wearing, even to the point that he forgot he was in a public place >_<.

The girl carried her abaya, no longer wearing it of course. She walked round the corner where the Indian guy was and a white van/minibus came to the location. That's the last I saw of her because she went into the van and drove off.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to tell you a nice little story of what is not hijab...

A few years ago, 2008 in fact, I hopped on an airplane and visited my relatives in Bahrain. I'm also from the Middle East.

Anyhow, I got there and it was still quite cold, probably too cold for a place like Bahrain to be honest. It was around early-to-mid January, right about the same week or two you decided to submit this post.

I decided to go to the old market in Muharraq, it's a famous place for tourists and shoppers. Nothing expensive really, but more of a cultural thing.

One night I was walking all alone and it was almost midnight. The last few shops closed down and the streets were getting quieter. The whole area looked like a ghost town. I was waiting for my ride to pick me up after a long day of shopping.

Before my friend shows up, I see a girl standing on the opposite side of the road, near a pedestrian seating area. She was on the phone and I can tell people by their accents. She didn't sound like a local, her accent was more Kuwaiti than it was Bahraini.

The lady looked modestly covered up. Blue hijab/scarf wrapped around her head and a black abaya covered every inch of her body, except the hands and feet. It was an abaya with a front zipper.

After she hung up, she unzipped her abaya, fully aware that there still might be people in the area. It was quiet but it was too risky, so common sense should dictate that she shouldn't unzip her abaya, unless what she's wearing beneath is also appropriate.

But gosh to my amazement, she was literally wearing a spandex catsuit!!! A shiny blue spandex catsuit. I'm talking 80s aerobics-style unitards that you find in vintage aerobics shows. It was one-piece, no doubt. It was the perfect definition of a catsuit. One-piece and skintight and stretchy all over her, from the wrist to the ankle.

While it covered her up nicely, it wrapped around her like a second skin. To put it more blunt, its like a naked lady painted in blue.

Along with the catsuit she was wearing white knee-high socks and white sneakers/shoes.

Did she come from an 80s time machine or an aerobics exercise? Beats me but it was really inappropriate. I couldnt help but notice one South Asian man, probably Indian, from the corner of the street feasting his eyes on what she was wearing, even to the point that he forgot he was in a public place >_<.

The girl carried her abaya, no longer wearing it of course. She walked round the corner where the Indian guy was and a white van/minibus came to the location. That's the last I saw of her because she went into the van and drove off.