Well, here’s the hijab post that’s been a long time coming. A sister, who asked not to be named, emailed me the following question-
If a women wears a hijab how close is she suppose to stand next to an opposite sex? Can she touch him? You know like a pat here and a touch there? Can she handshake him? if yes, then can she also caress it? If she is an conversation with him, to what level her conversation is “hijab” appropriate? What are her limits in a conversation? Can she flirt and be part of manly jokes? What about her gaze? should she talk with her eyes or mouth? I know these question are dumb and to an extent i have the asnwers to these. the gist of the matter is that i do not wear a hijab and therefore i am no one to judge. But i know this much that all these things i have mentioned above are kind of a thorny issue. I just happen to know a girl who has each and every characteristics i have mentioned above and flaunts off the purity of a hijab. Please correct me if im wrong.
First of all, I begin in the name of Allah, and seek refuge in Him, and ask that He guide me in my answer, and any good in it is from Him and any wrong or incorrectness is from my own self or Shaitan, and I ask Allah’s forgiveness.
Second of all, no questions are stupid.
And now, on with the show.
Hijab, as you are correctly assuming, does not start and stop at a head scarf. The head scarf, rather, is an extension of the modesty the Hijab as a set of beliefs and behaviors is meant to create in the wearer. In a nutshell, Hijab is this:
Modesty in dress, action, speech and behavior
As far as the dress goes, the hijab is meant to cover your head & hair (leaving your ‘wajh’ open, wajh meaning ‘face’) as well as fall over your chest. The rest of the body is also meant to be covered till the wrists and ankles, in clothing that is not tight or see-through, and doesn’t over-emphasize your physical booty. or beauty, heh.
The questions you’re asking are about Hijab in speech and behavior, like- whether a girl in hijab is supposed to touch a guy. Well, irrespective of whether a Muslim woman wears hijab, she’s not supposed to touch non-Mahram men. There will always be exceptions, most obviously in the case of say- a medical emergency or dragging someone out of harm’s way, etc, but the general rule on touching is: Don’t.
Sometimes, the headscarf becomes a cultural choice, or someone else’s choice, and when that happens, sometimes the scarf is a symbol of modesty without any real behavioural changes. And then sometimes, a girl just doesn’t know better. I’ve been there, I started out wearing a hijab because I believed it was the right thing to do, but I wasn’t fully informed about hijab as a complete package, so I wore short sleeves, hung out with my dude friends and was one of the guys. So it’s best not to assume things about people- they could be crazy half-white, half-Pakistani punk teenagers with chains on their jeans and their scarves on sideways, hanging out with stoners after school but still going home to pray. They could be me ten years ago.
And then, there’s the issue of the nafs- the ego. Even as a hijabi, you sometimes wish you could get noticed. So you sometimes make yourself noticeable, even when you know you may be violating the spirit of hijab though not officially and necessarily the rules. Your head’s still covered, but you know what you meant when you smiled that way. And you felt stupid for it later, and you sometimes feel like a hypocrite for wanting to be beautiful, be glamorous, be sexy because we live in a world where beauty, glamour and sex appeal are the end all and be-all of femininity. But that doesn’t make you a hypocrite, that makes you a human, and Islam is not an all or none deal- there are NO perfect hijabis, any more than there are perfect Muslims. Some hijab is better than no hijab. A woman in hijab with lipstick on is still more covered than a woman in a mini skirt with lipstick on, and it is important, SO important, to enjoin good as well as forbid evil.
If you see a hijabi who you think is practicing imperfectly or incompletely, first, see the good they are doing. Then, allow yourself to see the shortcomings as the inconsistencies that all Muslims have in faith, and see them as habits to be improved rather than yet another reason why you’d rather not wear hijab than be like one of those girls who wears hijab but still struts her stuff all over the dang place.
The gist of the original question seems to be that of hijab in action, or the lack thereof. We are all incomplete. There are those of us who look the part but don’t act it. There are those of us who act the part, but don’t dress it. To try to place one aspect over the other in importance is like trying to figure out which one is more necessary to make the color orange- red, or yellow?
The other question I was asked was; Where exactly in the Qur’an is hijab mentioned? In Surah Noor (24), ayah 31, Allah says:
“And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments except what appears thereof, and let them wear their head-coverings over their bosoms, and not display their ornaments…” verse continues here
Arab women of the time were already covering their heads, but they were tying their scarves behind their necks. They had it half-way right, and so Allah revealed the instruction that their head scarves were to fall over their chests as well. The details of hijab as a full set of behaviours- modesty in action, speech, etc are found in numerous hadith, which, if anyone needs me to find, I can InshaAllah, but I’m not posting them here at the moment. (It’s 2am)
So I hope that answers your questions, Sistahz, and if I’ve missed anything out or if anyone else has comments or feedback or heck, more questions, the comment box is right down there. I’ll try to check it regularly, though Bebeface and I are in Doha at the moment, wallowing in five-star luxury on our first business trip with HF, having a great time but also facing certain spiritual hurdles that I will try to blog about soon InshaAllah, before we leave the day after tomorrow.
(Our hoity-toity dessert had an odd tangy flavor that turned out to be Bailey’s Irish whiskey, and now we feel sad)
Salaams from Qatar!