My Hijab

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AsSalamu Alikum

Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to contribute to your Mailing List. I thought that I should maybe share this essay with others since it discusses an important aspect of how others in Western society view Muslim women, and how they should correct their judgement. I personally have lots of friends who ask me about my hijab and Al-Hamdu lil-Allah I always know how to answer them.

Your Sister in Islam,

I was a totally different person: a sixteen-year-old with stylish hair, fashionable clothes and lots of "ego-boosting" attention from guys. Some people thought I had it all: good looks and good marks; however, I knew I was missing something. I was hiding an essential part of me: my beliefs. When I started to come to my senses, dress more appropriately, and follow my religion, people drew back from me and thought that the veil I wore and that my new behaviour is an act of "oppression".

People, Muslims and Non-Muslims alike, wonder "Why is it that Muslim women have to wear the 'hijab'?" but are afraid to ask about it or feel that they shouldn't ask. Those who do ask me, however, get an answer: "Wearing the hijab is an act of LIBERATION, not SUPPRESSION".

First of all, hijab (head cover), the greatest symbol of oppression and servitude in the West, is not an invention of Islam; in fact, it is part of Judaeo-Christian tradition. Rabbi Dr. Menachem M. Brayer (Professor of Biblical Literature at Yeshiva University) quotes some famous ancient Rabbis saying "It's not like the daughters of Israel to walk out with heads uncovered" and "Cursed be the man who lets the hair of his wife be seen...a woman who exposes her hair for self-adornment brings poverty." [1] In the New Testament, St. Paul made some very interesting statements about the veil:

"Now I want you to realize that the head of everyman is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonours his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head - it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or shaved off, she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head" (1 Corinthians(1:3-6))

From all the previous evidence, it is obvious that Islam endorsed hijab and that it urges Muslims to follow God's orders.

Secondly, a major purpose of wearing the hijab would be guarding women's modestly. The Quran (Muslims' holy book) urges the believing women to extend their head covers to cover the neck and the bosom:

"Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty...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..." (24:30,31)

Why is modesty important? Modesty protects a woman from molestation. The Islamic veil, unlike that of Christians, is not a sign of man's authority over a women or a woman's subjection to a man, it is a protection for her.

"O Prophet, tell your wives and daughters and the believing women that they should cast their outer garment over their bodies (when abroad) so that they should be known (as Muslim and chaste women) and not molested" (33:59)

Think about this: who is more vulnerable to being harassed, raped or kidnapped: a veiled woman who is all covered up - like myself - or a woman wearing a mini-skirt, a tank-top, and has her hair in the latest fashion? The answer is of course "HER". Some people ridicule the argument of modesty for protection. They argue that civilization, education, and self-restraint is the best protection. I say: "Why is it then that in Canada, an 'educated, civilized' woman is sexually assaulted every 6 minutes?"[2]

Finally, I think that wearing the hijab allows people to judge me for who I am (my skills, intelligence) rather than by my appearance or my "good looks". I admit that I lost many so-called "guy friends" who used to look at me as a sex object because of how I dressed before. Wearing the hijab identifies me as a Muslim and as a respectable modest person. Note that wearing the hijab doesn't involve modesty in the way you dress only, it involves modesty in speech and in manners.

It is one of the greatest ironies of our world today that that very same headscarf revered as a sign of 'holiness' when worn by Catholic Nuns for the purpose of showing the authority of man on them, is revealed as a sign of 'Suppression' when worn for the purpose of protection by Muslim women.

Sister: Nada Abdo


[1] Menachem M. Brayer, The Jewish Woman in Rabbinic Literature: A Psychosocial Perspective (Hoboken, N.J: Ktav Publishing House, 1986) p. 239.

[2] The Times, Nov. 18, 1993

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Thank you for giving me some of your precious time to read this article.
Please, Email me your comments, feedback, or inquiries at

Date: Thu, 8 Jun 2000 07:29:02 EDT From: Reply-To:

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