Your Hijab Questions Answered
What do you want to know about the way Muslim women dress, the headscarf, and the hijab? Beliefnet answers your questions here.
Strictly speaking, covering the hair is just one part of a Muslim woman’s dress. Covering all other parts of the body (except for the face, hands, and feet) is also important. But as women around the world adapt Islamic dressing to the fashions of their country, more and more it is the hijab, or headscarf, that is constant and marks a woman as a Muslim.
Is covering up mandated by the Qur’an?
Hijab and modest dressing is mandated in the Qur’an, though some Muslims argue that it is not a strict requirement but merely a strong suggestion (that is open to individual interpretation. A few passages in the Qur’an refer to an Islamic dress code:
"Say to the believing man 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; and that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; 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 slaves 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 ..." (Qur'an 24:30-31)
This verse highlights three points: That a woman shouldn’t show her beauty except when faced with uncontrolled factors, like the wind blowing her clothes; that the headscarf should cover the hair, neck, and the bosom; and that women need not cover up in front of certain men (husbands, fathers, sons, etc.).
Further hadiths give other details. One of the most quoted is the following:
“Ayesha reported that Asmaa, the daughter of Abu Bakr came to the Messenger of Allah (SWT) while wearing thin clothing. He approached her and said, ‘O Asmaa! When a girl reaches the menstrual age, it is not proper that anything should remain exposed except this and this.’ He pointed to the face and hands.” (Abu Dawood)
Why do women choose to cover themselves or wear the hijab?
This is an intensely personal decision. Of course not all Muslim women follow these rules of modest dressing. Some adapt these rules to modern times (like wearing a headscarf over Western-style clothing that still covers the body). Some women argue that modesty is a state of mind and has nothing to do with clothing. Still others say that what is written in the Qur’an and in hadiths cannot be denied--that Muslim women must cover up.