The Muslim community is proud of all our girls and women who observe the sacred Hijab of Lady Fatima (peace be upon her). Masha’Allah it takes a lot of bravery and determination to conceal our beauty and keep it concealed from age nine till death. However, there is an unfortunate trend that some of us are falling victim to. We are getting so caught up in “fashioning” our Hijabi outfits that with every step we take towards desperately trying to fit in and look “good”, we are taking ten steps away from maintaining “good Hijab”.
Confused? Don’t all Hijabis have “good Hijab”?
As Hijabis, we ourselves or someone we know have contacted our religious scholars at some point in time asking one or more of the following questions about the Hijab: is wearing “light” make-up in public permissible? Is it ok to wear bright make-up in public, because I don’t think it is attractive? Is it haram to get a nose ring and wear it in public? Can my teen aged daughter wear bright outfits, as long as she is covered? Is it ok to wear colored contact lenses? Is it permissible to wear rings and bracelets in public? Is wearing nail polish and henna in public halal? Am I allowed to wear shape-revealing pants if my blouse/jacket comes half way down my thigh? Is it permissible to wear expensive brand labels in public? Can I apply perfume knowing that a non-Mahram walking past me will smell it? If my intention is pure, can I do all of the above?
This is what we’ve become as 21st-century Hijabis. We are desperately trying to do anything and everything to look more “fashionable”, “hip”, and ultimately “attractive” while observing the Hijab. It has become common to spot Hijabis who thinks it is perfectly appropriate to dress in a “Hijabi outfit” alongside make-up, cluttering heels with a nose ring, distracting jewelry, a gorgeous hand bag, and heavenly perfume. So why are Hijabi girls trying to become more “trendy” day by day?
In an informal “survey”, it was found that the majority of Hijabis do some or all of the above fashion “innocently”. When asked why they felt the necessity of doing so much fashion in public, this is what we found, followed by our responses:
“Because I believe it’s halal, and it’s all about my intention.”
First of all, since when has our Hijab become a matter of borderline halal and haram? Just because it may “technically” be halal for us to apply kohl or eyeliner in public on the condition that we are “not trying to impress anyone”, does that change the fact that it makes me look 100 times more attractive? Because it’s the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) to apply perfume, does it change the fact that by wearing our Chanel, some non-mahram walking past will most probably think, “Wow, she smells nice”? It’s not always about our intention. Sometimes it’s about the consequences of our actions.
“I can’t leave my house without make-up.”
Insecurity, insecurity, insecurity. One of the purposes of Hijab is so that we may be known and appreciated by society for our internal character and not our external beauty. If we can’t leave the house without even “light” make up, are we not just like every other non-Hijabi woman who is a victim of female exploitation, but perhaps to a lesser degree?
“All my Hijabi friends do it.”
It completely baffles us when Hijabis pressure fellow Hijabis into “fashioning” up their Hijab. It’s one thing to give honest advice to help “improve” and “neaten” the Hijab of another girl, but it’s a no-go zone when we try to intervene and “loosen” or “hip up” their Hijab. As the Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them) tell us, good friends are those who constantly remind us of Allah and do not take us further away from the Almighty. Let’s not give in to negative peer-pressure by compromising our Hijab for the sake of pleasing our friends at the cost of displeasing our Lord.
“My family says I should dress ‘more Western’ so I don’t attract too much attention to myself in public.”
We understand when parents and family members are concerned for the safety of their daughters and women, particularly when we live in predominantly non-Muslim areas or take public transport. Nobody is saying that “good Hijab” can’t be maintained while dressed in Western clothing. However, that doesn’t mean we need to go for tight jeans, figure revealing tops, and super attractive shoes. There’s a “good” Hijabi way of doing everything in life, and that includes dressing Western. So let’s not get too carried away with thinking that wearing tight outfits is for our own safety.
“I want to look neat!”
Lady Fatima (peace be upon her) had hands-down the most perfect Hijab in this world. We imagine her draped in multiple layers of dark cloth if she were ever to go in public. At the same time as having such magnificent physical Hijab, we do not dare imagine that Lady Fatima’s appearance was ever “messy”. Of course she was undoubtedly the most “neat” and “presentable” veiled woman to walk this Earth. So aren’t we just being stubborn and making ignorant excuses because we don’t want to better our Hijab? Obviously it is possible to look messy in a Hijabi outfit the same way it’s possible to look respectably elegant in a Hijabi outfit. It all depends on how we choose to wear it!
“When I dress up in public, I do it for myself and my family because I like it.”
Personally we find it hard to believe that Hijabis dress up so much for their own satisfaction and personal happiness. If this was the case, we wouldn’t be dressing up in public, and the minute we come home, we change into our hobo outfits.
If a girl ever wants to dress up for herself or for her relatives, we should do this in private so that only these special people see us in our absolute best. Many times we find ourselves dressing up for our mahrams, with one major catch. We do this when we pick them up from the airport, when we dine out with them, and when we go to mixed parties and other places where non-Mahrams also conveniently happen to be present.
Imam Ali (peace be upon him) narrates that our Prophet prohibited women from ornamenting ourselves for anyone other than our husbands (and related men). The Imam further relates, “Thus, if she does so, it is the right of Allah, Almighty and Glorious, to burn her in Hell.” (Man La YahduruhuI Faqih)
“At least we’re covered, so a bit of fashion can’t hurt!”
Honestly speaking, if a “bit” of fashion entails branded clothing and accessories which are not attractive enough to catch a second glimpse by most people, there doesn’t seem to be any major issues. If our fashion means wearing elegant but not stunning shoes, having the latest mobile phone but not showing off with it, and looking neat but not attractive to most people, that also seems fine. But when “a little” fashion means “light” makeup which makes us look relatively more attractive with than without it, alongside a Gucci bag with so much glitter and shine people on the other side of the street notice it, huge necklaces around our Hijabs, fancy bangles and bracelets which any non-mahram who looks at our wrists can see, and extremely well-fitted abayas, skirts, and pants, we have a major problem.
An author once described the Hijab as “the concealment of beauty and the beauty of concealment”. But for those of us who “innocently” partake in noticeable attractive fashion and “unintentionally” cause ourselves to be appealing to others, let’s think again. As Hijabis, we are supposed to be the heights of modesty in today’s society, a society which does not respect or honor women but rather one which degrades and exploits women. Beauty is beautiful. If we treasure it, let’s cover it – without letting fashion come in the way.