HEADSCARFS and head coverings are some of the misrepresented words that have been connected with the Hijab. Many haven’t really understood the meaning or implementation of Hijab. Most misconceptions are due to: lack of knowledge or simply not wanting to obey Allah.
Linguistically, Hijab means a screen or covering (Hans Weir Arabic to English dictionary). Screen, when used as a noun means an upright partition used to divide a room, give shelter, or provide concealment and, when used as a verb it means conceal, protect, or shelter with a screen. Conceal means to prevent from being seen or known. (Oxford dictionary, online version).
In Islamic Shariah terms, Hijab means covering or veil. Allah said in the Qur’an:
“Nay! Surely, they (evil-doers) will be veiled from seeing their Lord that Day.” (Qur’an, 83:15)
The word used here is ‘Mahjooboon’ , which is derived from ‘Hajaba’ which means to prevent from being seen. Allah also says in the Qur’an:
“And when you (Muhammad, peace be upon him) recite the Qur’an, We put between you and those who believe not in the Hereafter, an invisible veil (or screen their hearts, so they hear or understand it not).”(Qur’an, 17:45)
These verses show that both linguistically and Islamically, Hijab refers to something that covers and veils. During the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), when Allah commanded that Muslim women must cover in front of non-Mahram men, they tore their ‘Murats’ – woolen dress or a waist-binding cloth – and covered themselves.
In another verse, Allah said:
“O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies. That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”(Qur’an, 33:59)
A major mistake many make is restricting the term ‘Hijab’ to mean a flimsy scarf that covers the hair only; in other words, a ‘headscarf.’ Some Muslim women in the West wear tight jeans, t-shirts and a headscarf while going out and think they are adhering to the Islamic dress code. This is incorrect. Some of the conditions laid out in the Qur’an and Sunnah for Hijab are as follows:
• Covers the whole body, Some scholars say it includes covering of face and hands, while others say it is recommended and not obligatory.
• Not a display that attracts attention
• Not perfumed
• Not transparent
• Roomy, and not tight-fitting
• Doesn’t resemble the dress of men or what is specific to non-Muslims.
Hijab is for all times and all places, not restricted for Muslim lands alone. Some wear Hijab in Muslim lands and switch to headscarfs in the West. We have to fear Allah everywhere we go and this dysfunctional practice is a direct result of our weakness in our understanding of Tawheed (monotheism) and a deficiency in our Aqeedah (belief). Hijab is a protection of Muslim women’s honour and respect.
Islam is about submission to the Creator in all aspects of our lives. When we are instructed to do something by Allah, we should just “hear and obey.”