Monthly Archives: February 2018

World Hijab Day – a paradox on modesty?

Paradox, not parody.

In contemporaneous times, hijab is linked to both fashion & modesty. Is that possible?

Online, we can find numerous pictures, videos, articles, fashion shoots, marketers, retail industries, who promote hijab, beautiful hijab. I have drawers full of hijabs, arranged by colour and hues (yes I admit it, a little OCD) and I love bright colours and while I don’t exactly abhor black, I do veer away from it when I can. I have pins & brooches of every  various colour and shade. I have underscarves of various colours. I match my scarf to my suit or inner blouse, or to my top & jeans, I match my pins to my scarves, I berate my Nieces for wearing drab colours…… I have to pause.

Haya is modesty in Islam. And it is a core value in Islam. Indeed, our Beloved Rasool s.a.w.s said:

 “Every religion has its distinct characteristic, and the distinct characteristic of Islam is modesty”

Modesty is not limited to dress, but can be found in behaviour, attitude, words. So that hijab (curtain) I spoke about in my earlier post on WHD is not limited to the cloth around our heads, but extends to the veil if you wish, around our conduct in every regard.

Years ago, ElderBrother questioned whether a hijab which was not black, was really hijab. I understood him then, and I understand now. Are our scarves of beautiful vibrant colours with matching pins and accessories of enhancement really fashioning us into more modest Muslims? Does ‘fashionableness’ derogate from the haya of hijab? Or do we need to simplify it?



World Hijab Day – note to self



In 2013, New Yorker Nazma Khan started ‘World Hijab Day’ as a means of promoting religious tolerance and understanding. That is its aim. The method was to invite Muslim and non-Muslim women to don the hijab for a day. Five years later, the aim & method are going strong, and worldwide, Muslim women in over a hundred countries have adopted the method and promoted it in various ways. And as with anything, there are naysayers and postivists (interesting note here is that other antonyms for naysayer, suggested by the online Merriam Webster include Pollyanna, optimist, idealist, apologist, and sentimentalist).

So instead of walking a mile in my shoes, wear my scarf and walk/run/sit/shop/work/work out/eat/drink/be merry/be sad/be sick/ just be* for the day. Is it hot? Sometimes. Is it stifling? Not really. Is it scratchy? Sometimes. Does it stay on? Yes. By itself, sometimes with aids and accessories. Is it necessary? We’ll get back to that.

Hijab is now a generic term (like hoover & escalator – although it was never a brand, unless you consider that wearing a ‘hijab’ now brands a female for all to know that she’s Muslim). Originally, (and I suppose etymologically) Arabic for curtain or partition. Now, hijab refers to the headscarf worn by Muslim women.

I had great difficulty with this WHD thing. I looked on horrified as EldestNiece stylishly wrapped the hijab atop/around the head of a female garbed in a sleeveless top. A visual contradiction with a visceral slamming of a door in my head. But why? Why is that any different from a female in long sleeves with her hair uncovered? Or one in shorts & a cap? Bemusing. Confusing.

And worse, using phrases like “Oh don’t you look beautiful?” “Oh, see how it matches your outfit”, “It’s so elegant”, “You can wear this brooch with it – isn’t it lovely?” – all phrases that are geared towards outer appearance, and some sort of fashion-consciousness. And perhaps flamboyance?

And there I recognise my issue. My own self-issue.

What is the intention of WHD? What is my intention when I put on the hijab? What is the intention when persons don the hijab for WHD?

Allah’s Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) says: “Verily, all actions are but driven by intention and for everyone is what he intended.”[Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Allah’s Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) also said: “Certainly, Allah does not look at your shapes (appearance) or wealth. But He only looks at your hearts and deeds.”[Al-Bukhari and Muslim