Why is the hijab important to Muslim women?


I thought I'd share some light on the topic as I feel the hijab is very misunderstood and in rarer cases, looked upon as a symbol of oppression. I will try to answer this question as best as I can as a Norwegian Muslim convert (female) who have experienced both the Muslim and the "outsider" perspective.

Just a fun exaggerated perspective on cultural clashes!  😄
Just a fun exaggerated perspective on cultural clashes! 😄

First, what is the hijab from Islamic perspective?
Hijab in Islam means "barrier". It is a form of modesty, and it doesn't only include the way Muslims dress, but the way we behave in regards to the opposite sex. Modesty is a virtue in Islam for both male and females. Due to the nature of men and females, men only need to cover from navel to knees, while women are to cover areas except for face and hands (some argue feet can be shown as well). Both men and women are obligated to lower their gaze and not to touch the opposite sex (unless medically necessary). The verses used to support the view of modesty in Islam are mainly 24:30 (men) and 24:31 (women).

What is hijab from western perspective?
From the western perspective, the hijab is regarded as the head covering alone. How they view it is more pluralistic than one general answer. Many don't understand why, but accept it as a freedom of religion. Some view it as oppressive to women and think a woman wears it because she is forced to by her family or community. I am not saying this never happens, but this is a mytake sharing the many reasons Muslim women cherish the hijab as more than an obligation. So here are the some reasons why a Muslim woman would choose to wear the hijab:

  • Of course, the religion comes first!
    You can argue that Muslim women wouldn't wear it if their religion didn't say so, and in many cases, you are completely right! Muslim women follow Islam and believes whatever God has commanded will be good for them in this world and/or in the next. Hence, they wear the hijab as a symbol of faith. It is also a way to carry the faith and express identity, as Christians who wear the cross. As a counterargument, atheists will say religion is a brainwashed belief, and therefore they don't regard it a choice. I say as a previous atheist, that I was equally brainwashed away from what I believe is the natural belief in a creator. Argument goes both ways and ethnocentrism helps nobody.
Why is the hijab important to Muslim women?
  • Modesty and avoiding unwanted attention.
    Wearing the hijab tells men that you are not up for anything else than a serious commitment (marriage). Therefore, men that are after one night stands and frivolous relationships will be more likely to back off. In the end, men are more risk-prone and attracted to visuals. You'll for example see fewer women who catcall out on the streets, and men generally take the lead and initiates dating first. So, for Muslim women who believe and values intimacy after marriage, it is a way to avoid that sort of attention and awkward situations.
  • Fashion!
    Modest fashion is actually a big thing and has helped me reach a much more comfortable and creative way of dressing. I never liked to wear revealing clothes or anything that brought attention, just never had any formal regulations. This gave me a hard time finding clothes I was comfortable in and usually ended up in grey tones and hoodies. Now I have guidelines and have found a lot of joy in picking outfits.
Here are a few examples of modest fashion. It doesnt have to make you look like a bag and sure isnt boring!
Here are a few examples of modest fashion. It doesn't have to make you look like a bag and sure isn't boring!
  • To feel more comfortable with bodies
    Humans in general, but especially women worry about their looks and how society perceives them. Some do so constantly (I highly suggest "Beauty Sick: How the Cultural Obsession with Appearance Hurts Girls and Women" by Renee Engeln). This worry is only exacerbated when you wear tight revealing clothing as people can judge you on far greater arenas. When you wear the hijab, there is only fat or skinny! We dont have to worry about what an hourglass shape we are missing or whether our butt is flat. Covering up has made me far more comfortable with my body and now I work out for health and fitness instead to look a certain way in my jeans.
  • Being judged for our skills, intellect and piety instead of our looks.
    Sure, this should go for any woman, but the world ain't perfect. If you are better looking, you are treated better, cause humans value aesthetics. I'll keep this last argument short, cause this is getting long and I have a hard time reading through my takes myself! 😅

    So I'll leave it at that. Thank you for reading and being curious about other perspectives!😊 These are just a few reasons, and if any Muslim women feel I missed something, feel free to add!

    #Islam #Hijab
Why is the hijab important to Muslim women?
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  • TheUniqueOne96
    Nice take.

    Ultimately, the way I viewed it, is that religion is the main reason why some Muslim women decide to wear it and the other reasons are just pros that come along with the act of wearing it itself.

    It's a shame some people are just ignorant enough to assume that a woman wearing it, automatically makes her 'oppressed', ridiculous - not everyone interprets religion in the same way.
    • Anonymous

      Thank you! Yes, religion comes first. There are women who are forced to and that is a shame cause then they can't see the benefits of wearing it.

    • True. A lot of things depend on perspective and experiences, so yeah.

  • OfDeath
    Hilarious. It is clearly a symbol of the male ownership of women in Islamic culture. The most obvious verse in the Quran specifying this attitude would be this one: Quran 4.34: “Men stand superior to women in that God hath preferred some of them over others, and in that they expend of their wealth; and the virtuous women, devoted, careful (in their husbands’) absence, as God has cared for them. But those whose perverseness ye fear, admonish them and remove them into bed-chambers and beat them; but if they submit to you, then do not seek a way against them; verily, God is high and great.” The hijab is also utterly impractical in many situations. I've seen Muslim women on 40°C days almost dying of heat stroke because they feel no less than morally compelled to wear the ridiculous looking outfit. Fashion? You have to be joking. The hijab is about as fashionable as an orange jumpsuit without even pointing out the similarities when it comes to the personal freedom of those who wear them. On your claim that atheism is brainwashing against religion, you are incorrect. Atheism is not brainwashing. Atheists aren't forced to be atheists. It is simply the conclusion most people come to once they obtain enough information about science and human history. There are no threats for not being atheist. Compare this to apostasy. For apostasy from Islam, one can literally still be stoned to death in certain countries or simply be given a death sentence in others (and the same goes for women who don't wear the hijab). Many people around the world continue to be forcefully indoctrinated into believing in religion and in less austere countries, they are merely inculcated through social coercion. So your attempt to claim atheism is a form of brainwashing comparable to religion is a parochial obscenity. The hijab is important to Muslim women in a similar way that a school uniform is important to a young school student in that they are both punished for not wearing them (the former much more severely). Your attempt to justify this hideous cultural requirement is deplorable and a concession of female integrity.
    • Anonymous

      Hello. Why the need to ridicule me? It weakens your arguments when you have to adhere to insults. I will answer your reply and I will leave it at one reply.
      1) It is not a symbol of male ownership. It doesn’t even make sense, cause it’s really the opposite. Which you would understand if you read my take with an open mind. The verse you quoted isn’t about the hijab, it is in regard to disloyalty.
      “Men have authority over women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property (for the support of women). Therefore, the good women are obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded. And (as to) those [women] on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and [if that does not make any difference, then] leave them alone in the sleeping-places and [if that does not make any difference, then] strike them. (al-Nisa, 4/34) verily Allah is Ever-High, Ever-Great." (Nisa 4:34)
      I do not take my religion from random guys online who know nothing of Islam and my prophet. I am also not a scholar and cannot give a complete tafseer on this verse. Here are two links if you care to read.
      2) Heat strokes? The message of Islam was given in the desert and clothing protects from the sun. You can wear lighter colors and materials and actually be less hot than if you leave your hair down or leave skin directly to sun. You can wear whatever as long as you cover the areas necessary (black burka isn't a necessity at all). Saudi isn’t Islam.

    • Anonymous

      3) No, I am not joking. Modest fashion is a thing and just because YOU don’t “like” the look of hijab doesn’t mean it isn't fashion. I don’t like leather pants, looks awful to me, but that doesn’t mean many wears them for fashion.
      4) Atheism teaches you to ignore important existential questions. Why am I here, who put me here and what is my purpose? If you woke up in a factory one day, do you start working, or do you try to figure out these questions? I felt brainwashed when I realized, I never even considered these with an exploitative mind.
      5) I did acknowledge some are forced. It is a shame. I was speaking about the woman’s perspective and when she actually chooses to and falls in love with the hijab.
      That's all I'm gonna say.

    • OfDeath

      Possibly one of the worst, most ill informed and delusional responses I have ever seen. You need to learn the difference between ridicule and making observations. Whether you like it or not, the hijab is a symbol of female oppression and an obvious indication of a male dominated culture. No amount of special pleading can explain that away. That's why in Islamic countries, even though the Quran doesn't even mention anything at all about women having to wear a hijab, men can go about their lives and wear anything they like (other than cross dressing which isn't exactly a positive point about Islam either) but women are forced by their male dominated society to dress how they are told to dress. The verse I quoted wasn't supposed to be about the hijab. As I already pointed out, the Quran doesn't ever mention hijabs at all. The point of the quote was to demonstrate that Islam projects an unethically and impractically inordinate male dominated standard which goes as far as attempting to justify beating women! By the way, I will have you know I am sufficiently read up on the Quran and your "prophet" (who likely never even actually existed) so if you could restrain your bias, you might actually learn something. The link you posted is one of the most disturbing examples of pernicious inculcation (which it admits right off the bat!) I've ever encountered. It does nothing to refute the facts I have pointed out but does everything to attempt to justify them (and miserably fails).

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  • Anonymous
    its very important in their religion. because they value womans protection. so she doesn't get used and dumped by some horny guy.