Islamic FAQ

The Hijab (Muslim women covering)

Q) At what age are Muslim girls expected to start wearing the hijab?

A) In Islam, all individuals become responsible and accountable for their behavior at the age of puberty. The Islamic teachings about modest dress apply to any person, male or female, at that time.

Islamic teachings on this subject are based on the Qur'an, and on the specific sayings/traditions of the Prophet Muhammad, known as the hadith. In one often-cited tradition, it is reported that a young woman visited Muhammad's wife Aisha while she was wearing see-through clothing. Muhammad averted his eyes and told her, "After a young woman reaches the age of puberty, nothing should be seen of her except this and this," motioning to his face and hands. Therefore, it is expected at this age for Muslim girls to adapt more modest styles of dress that do not expose too much.

Even before the age of puberty, many girls become accustomed to these values of modesty. Muslim parents are generally careful about choosing appropriate clothing, even for their young children. While they may or may not wear the hijab yet, many young girls choose not to wear short skirts or shorts, belly shirts, or sleeveless tops in public.

In some families and cultures, girls begin to wear the hijab at puberty simply out of family, peer, or societal pressure. Some girls decide, on their own, to start wearing the hijab even before the age when it is required of them. It is becoming more common for families to leave the decision about hijab up to the young woman herself. They may try to educate her about her Islamic responsibilities, but ultimately they allow her to make the choice when she fully understands and feels ready to commit to the decision.

It is important to note that Islamic values of modesty apply to both men and women, and that the responsibility for making good choices in this regard falls on boys and girls equally.

Some of the virtues of Hijab

Praise be to Allaah.

There can be no doubt that Allaah only enjoins that in which there is wisdom, but in some cases the wisdom behind some rulings may be hidden from people, and in some cases it may be quite obvious – such as the prohibition on alcohol which clouds the mind and hinders people from the remembrance of Allaah and from prayer [cf. al-Maa'idah 5:91].

The wisdom behind the prescription of hijab is one of the most clear, because it is a covering for woman and guards their chastity, and it prevents the foolish from making approaches and harassing them. How often has a woman’s hijab prevented the devils among mankind from harrassing her? How often have unveiled women made a display of their beauty and charms, which has led to their being harrassed by the foolish? Concerning this, Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allaah is Ever Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful”

[al-Ahzaab 33:59]

This verse gives the complete answer to many questions, because Allaah mentions here the command to His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to tell his wives and daughters and the believing women to wear hijab, and it mentions the wisdom behind that, which is so that they may be protected and not exposed to annoyance.

When women go out showing most of their bodies – this is one of the greatest causes of crime and corruption of men’s morals, and of the spread of immorality. It is also degrading for woman, as we see women becoming cheap products for business-owners and advertisers, who show woman half-naked and devoid of modesty in order to attract customers and market their products.

A woman’s body belongs to her and is not to be shared with people. When she gets married it belongs to her husband and she should not let anyone else have a share in it. What does a woman want when she shows her body and exposes her charms to onlookers? Does she just want them to look and stare, and what is the affect of that on rapists and the foolish? How are you going to stop them from getting what they want by attacking you and trying to rape you. Are you going to show some meat to the hungry and then try to stop them from eating it?

In a modern study it was shown that:

65% of female workers are exposed to sexual harassment in their place of work in some European countries.

18% of women in America have been raped or been subjected to attempted rape at some stage in their lives.

More than half of victims were under the age of 17.

Kitaab Ihsaa’aat, Diraasaat, Arqaam (p. 140).

In Islam, women are protected and looked after. That is not in return for her staying in the home only, rather that is because she plays a great role, which is taking care of her husband and raising and caring for children. This is an important role, because the soundness or corruption of society depends on the extent to which mothers are successful in their raising and teaching of their children.
Hijab has been enjoined upon women as a protection against abuse and temptation. That is because women are the focus of desire, and the focus of what those who are tempted look at. So if a woman uncovers her beauty she will provoke desire, and people will become attracted to her and will follow her. This is the cause of many immoral actions such as adultery and the things that lead to it. So hijaab is obligatory for women and was enjoined upon them in the aayah (interpretation of the meaning):

If a woman is covered up she does not attract unwanted attention, and causes men to be lustfully attracted to them which is not ideal for a good society, or for a good family. If you leave a fruit- e.g. a bannana opened and not covered it is not long before it gets infested with dirty germ carrying insects and flies all over it.

Allah clearly wants Muslims to be recognized in whatever community they live in. Their lives lived as Muslims will get other people interested in them and that will be a way of spreading the message of Islam. People will approach them and ask them why they dress like that, why they are different. Their curiousity will automatically draw them towards Islam. Allah is the most supreme starategist of the universe. He blessed us with the message of Islam (Islam means peace and security and told us strategies to spread the message which only benefits us and not Allah. Allah is beyond all needs.

For Muslim women, COVERING THE HEAD IS NOT THE SIGN OF DEGRADATION or oppression. It is a commandment from Allah, who is not male or female, and thus, would not discriminate against women, a segment of His creation.

The Hijab allows a woman to move about outside the confines of her home WITH HER ATTENTION ON THE TASKS SHE HAS SET OUT TO DO. The Muslim woman does not try to impress anyone but Allah when outside of her home. She is not concerned if men find her attractive, or if people are impressed because she has the latest fashions, or the newest hairstyle. She leaves her home as a SELF-CONFIDENT PART OF HUMAN RACE, not as a fashion-plate seeking stares and adoration in order to gain self-esteem.

The hijab cuts down on competition among women. How many people in the West sacrifice financial savings and health in order to have plastic surgery - in a desperate attempt to meet up to an unrealistic standard of beauty. IN ISLAM, WOMEN ARE APPRECIATED FOR THEIR KNOWLEDGE, PIETY AND CONTRIBUTION TO SOCIETY. When women wear hijab one finds that the most beautiful women are not necessarily the most popular. Rather, a woman is assessed for her mind, and not just superficial physical traits.

Read more about the Hijab