Muslim women are usually known by the way they cover themselves (hijab). But, not every Muslim woman wears the hijab. Depending on where they live, they may go through certain struggles that make it hard for them to do so. Of course, there are also some who just don’t believe that it is mandatory or part of Islam at all. Let’s focus on some of the struggles of wearing the hijab that many Muslim girls and women experience.
Before we continue, let’s first have a look at the general ruling of the hijab in Islam.
Hijab in the Qur’an
Wearing the hijab is a command from Allah found in the Qur’an.
In Surah An-Nur, chapter 24, verse 31, Allah (S.W.T.) says (interpretation of the meaning),
And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.
This ayah (verse) clearly indicates that women are to present their outer appearance in a certain way in different circumstances.
In Surah Al Ahzab (33:59), the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was commanded to tell his wives and the believing women to cover themselves.
O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.
In verse 60 of the previous chapter (An-Nur), it is mentioned,
And women of post-menstrual age who have no desire for marriage – there is no blame upon them for putting aside their outer garments [but] not displaying adornment. But to modestly refrain [from that] is better for them. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.
Hijab in Hadith
The Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and he is best in explaining it to us because he was the Messenger of Allah. Times change, people’s understandings vary, and information changes over time. So, the best people to rightfully explain the Qur’an to us are those who got the information right from the Prophet (s.a.w.) or those right after them. This is how the Qur’an and the sayings of the Prophet (s.a.w.) were transmitted over time.
Abu Dawood narrated by saying,
“May Allah have mercy on the Muhaajir woman. When Allah revealed the words ‘and to draw their veils over their juyoobihinna (i.e. bodies, faces, necks, bosoms),’ they tore the thickest of their aprons (a kind of garment) and covered their faces with them.”
Also found in Saheeh Al Bukhari in another version.
‘Urwah narrated that ‘Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her), one of the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him), said,
The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to pray Fajr and the believing women would attend (the prayer) with him, wrapped in their aprons, then they would go back to their houses and no one would recognize them.
Saheeh Al Bukhari
Although the above hadiths may indicate that covering the face (niqab) is part of hijab, there are differences of opinions on that matter. There are many more hadiths and sayings of classical scholars about the hijab and how exactly it should look.
The purpose of this article isn’t to go through all of that.
Some struggles of wearing the hijab
Because wearing the hijab is a mandatory act of worship in Islam as it is a command from Allah, many Muslims who see Muslim women without hijab automatically assume that they simply don’t want to wear it. Although this may be the case for some, it is not necessarily true for others. Many girls and women have struggles when it comes to wearing it for many reasons. This is not to make an excuse, but by understanding the reasons behinds some actions in life, it allows us to approach situations in a much better way.
We may not always take this into consideration, but society can greatly impact our views and decision making. Depending on where they live, Muslim women may find that the hijab is frowned upon by the general public which makes it uncomfortable for them to wear it. They may love the hijab and believe that it is mandatory, but the fear of what people think may make it a hard decision to make.
2. Feeling misplaced/different
Not wanting to feel misplaced or different is another struggle that many have. It is human to want to be included and not treated differently. One may argue that we shouldn’t care about what others think, but it isn’t always as easy as it seems, especially for young people.
3. Dealing with nasty comments
Not everyone has the patience to deal with nasty comments from people who hate Islam and Muslims. Actually, NO one wants to be talked down on. Not every Muslim woman is a stay-at-home or a work-at-home mother who can make her own schedule and decide if and when she wants to face the public. Some have no choice but to constantly face people at work or school who may not be in favor of Muslims.
We tend to forget this aspect, but the fear of losing a job or not getting hired is a real problem. There are many Muslim women who have to work to support their families (i.e. parents, siblings, or even spouses in some cases). And if you didn’t know, discrimination is real; and sometimes, it is against Muslims.
Oh, and let’s not forget being randomly selected at the airport.
Safety concern is another reason why many choose not to wear the hijab. It is not a secret that there have been reported cases of attacks on Muslims in many Western countries. And because Muslim women are usually the visual representation of Islam, they are often the ones who fall prey to hate crimes. Being woman is another factor in becoming an easy target.
Sister, not everyone will understand your struggles, but Allah does; never forget that.
You are a servant of Allah and that is the best title a person could ever get.
I will not sugarcoat it and say that it is okay not to wear hijab, but one thing that no one could ever tell you is that you have lost the battle. Sister, NEVER give up!
We all have our individual struggles; yours may just be more visual. But, don’t allow that to make you carefree of this matter. Hijab is important because every command of Allah is important. Do you know what else is important? Praying, having good character, giving charity, and many more. So if anyone talks to you in a nasty manner because of your lack of wearing the hijab, know that his/her problem may be in character. The same way that those people shouldn’t give up in bettering their character, you shouldn’t give up in wearing the hijab. Islam is a way of life and every part of it is important. How we look, talk, behave and what we believe is all part of it.
Sister, I know that it is easier said than done but try your best to block out from your mind the nasty comments, society’s disapproval, or even the safety concern. Everything happens by the will of Allah and nothing that wasn’t already written will happen. If you aren’t targeted for being Muslim, you may be targeted for your skin color, cultural background, social status or other reasons. Human beings are never satisfied and will always find a reason to hate and something to hate. Don’t give the power to anyone to affect your relationship with your Lord. Yes, Allah understands you and is the Most Merciful, but Allah doesn’t want any of us to quit.
If life was easy, this world wouldn’t have been called a test. We will all be tested at different levels and at different times. Whatever struggles we go through, we should turn to Allah and ask Him to make it easier for us. What’s the difference between a test and a failure? Quitting.
And you are NOT allowed to quit! Never give up!
Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” Surah Az-Zumar (39:53)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,
‘No one’s deeds will ever admit him to Paradise.’ They said, ‘Not even you, O Messenger of Allah?’ He said, ‘No, not even me, unless Allah showers me with His Mercy. So try to be near to perfection. And no one should wish for death; he is either doing good so he will do more of that, or he is doing wrong so he may repent.’
All we can do is to try our best in everything we do. Allah knows the efforts we make and will reward us accordingly.
What to take from this
As you can see, there are many reasons why a Muslim woman may struggle to wear the hijab; only some of them have been listed. Again, this is not to make an excuse but to give us something to think about. Maybe by understand, we may have more sympathy and perhaps approach the situation a little differently. Harsh and straight-forward dawah or advice doesn’t work for everyone. Some people may receive a message through fear, but understand that there are others who want to feel like they are being understood. We should want the best for one another and help each other on this life journey. May Allah forgive and guide us all.
Are you a Muslim girl or woman struggling with the hijab or know someone who may be in this situation? Please share it in the comment section. If you have overcome your obstacles, kindly share your advice/tips.
Please share this article and perhaps, it may be of help to someone out there.