I know I’m such a slacker. The list of unwritten drafts is growing and I should’ve replied to you ages ago. I’ve written about Hijab before, the misconceptions surrounding it, its grace and solemnity but these days and after I came across many fashion related Hijab sites and groups, something struck me, and I remembered our discussion.
Many women think that Hijab should look good. This might be an understatement, an overstatement or simply bad expression on my part, but the main idea is: being a Hijabi doesn’t mean I should look like a moving mess. Well right, but the thing is, Hijab by design is very crippling – how can something crippling look nice?
And here comes the point. Let’s put it point blank: Hijab is not a comfortable thing – at least correct Hijab isn’t. The Hijab that covers you properly, doesn’t describe your physical features, and that doesn’t attract attention, is rather a very strenuous effort. You wouldn’t move freely in full Hijab, you wouldn’t sit, hang around or eat outdoors with complete freedom. Something would always be missing; it’d either make it hard with hot weather, or be just in the way of something. Your Islamic long Jilbab would gather dust and soil, your skirt might fool you and get stuck under a chair or a desk, or God forbid, in a car door! You would naturally wait the moment you get back home to free yourself from Hijab. If it really feels comfy and nice, you would hang around at home in it, wouldn’t you?
Hijab is Jihad – if it isn’t, then something is wrong. Many ladies take pride in this, and when I ever think about putting myself in their shoes, I fail to imagine how I’d handle it. I mean, my day is usually ruined when a pair of pants are a bit extra tight or a bit too wide, or when I even have to wear a freaking suit and tie. So Hijabis are Jihadists in their own way, and we guys would never really understand.
Now comes the point about fashion: I believe it’s an innocent attempt at making Hijab as comfortable as possible for Muslim women, so that they’d be able to actually keep wearing it! Keyword: comfortable. Nowadays however, the keyword is ‘beautiful’ and ‘attractive’. That’s why whenever I find fashion besides Hijab, it is almost always a Hijab that doesn’t fully adhere to the rules of Sharia.
And do you know why? Do you know why Hijab is such a difficult thing? Because it simply is temporary. Yes. Take your time and think about this. Islam as a system assumes that the big part of a woman’s time is actually spent indoors, not outdoors, and hence decreed Hijab in a way that is normally suited for a short, temporary period of time – like an emergency. It is also why even prayers, that men are mandated by religion to perform in mosques, are not an obligation when it comes to women, who are rather encouraged to pray indoors. So, if the most descent act, which is praying, should be indoors, then how about the rest of everything, really?
Many things would come to mind here. What about schools? What about education, work, shopping? What about outings and fun and dinner and coffee? What about all of that? Are you telling me that Islam wants to lock a woman in her house?
Here then comes the big picture, and a very important question. If the world now isn’t fulfilling a precondition of one of Islam’s teachings – do we give up the teaching, or do we wrestle the world?
Remember that in olden times all women used to spend most of their time and have most of their education indoors (read classic novels and you’ll see). According to English literature, a woman ought to learn poetry, read, learn music and all of that inside her house. It’s men who go ride horses and shoot stuff, not women. It’s worth mentioning that the dresses back then were actually very very modest, compared to nowadays fashionable Hijab – precisely because women didn’t spend that much time outdoors. Of course this could be a general statement, but you get the idea.
Part of why many women abandon Hijab is because they feel it’s too limiting, and the more close it is to Shaira, the more it kind of is. Most teachings of Islam rely on the existence of a certain moral and societal structure, and the real Jihad is this: how to maintain this structure and apply the teaching, rather than tweak its application and adhere to a flawed status quo.
So, my sister, the first step towards protecting your Hijab, is fulfilling its preconditions. Let me know how you think of these.
Waiting for your reply,