Hijab: Take it to the next level
Hijab to most people is just a piece of cloth some girls put on their head. Whereas the term ‘hijab’ from an Arab grammarian’s point of view can have a number of different connotations and meanings. Its general definition is to cover or to conceal something in a number of different contexts and environments. In my area of East London, I see many girls who wear a headscarf, but don’t really embody the definition of ‘hijab’. So I’ll see some girls who wear a headscarf, but they also have many layers of makeup, or they will be wearing tight clothing, or there will be something in their demeanor or character which doesn’t symbolise hijab in the complete sense. There are also men who have no concept of hijab in their own lives. This can include their character with respect to both their outward or inward aspect, many of these men if asked to define hijab to the best of their ability they would simply state it as just a ‘headscarf’.
A major problem with Muslims today is that they have belittled their faith to simple prohibitions. Demeaning their faith to its simple outward aspect without manifesting its inward. There are unfortunately countless Muslims whose only real connection with Islam is making sure they eat halal food and not drinking alcohol, or in some cases I have known and seen Muslims whose only real regular practice of Islam is not eating pork. While the rules and prohibitions we have and follow in our lives as Muslims is important, they have no meaning or worth if they do not lead us to their true goal, which is to bring us closer to God and form a personal relationship with Him by purifying ourselves and preparing ourselves to be in His presence. (Much in the same way we make ablutions before prayer).
What then is the purpose of what I am writing? My response would be that it is a statement, to those who choose to wear hijab, that they should not take it at its face value, but adopt its true and whole meaning, which transcends the outward realm and manifests in the internal soul of a believer. This is done by understanding and comprehending ‘hijab’ in its holistic sense. In that if you shield yourself from the prohibited gaze of others, you should extend your hijab to your own eyes and not gaze at them, to your tongue by shielding it from ostentatious talk, your ears from listening to that talk, your heart from ill feelings toward others, and your mind from illicit thoughts.
“If you wish to train your eyes to see the unseen. Shield them from what is haraam” – Sheikh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi
This is not specific to just Muslims sisters. Brothers need to understand that there is hijab, both inward and outward, prescribed on them. The image of brothers in Mosques exposing their hairy backsides during prostration has become an irk for numerous male bloggers across the internet. Many Muslim men need to take a step back and understand and implement outward hijab, which is to follow the basic command to dress modestly and cover. This new trend of wearing just a t-shirt two sizes too small is a perfect example of ‘imitating non-believers’ in that it is a custom or practice of another people that is not acceptable in our own transcending culture. As the Prophet (SAWS) said:
Whoever imitates a people is one of them (Ahmad and Abu Dawud)
When a Muslim man begins to practice the outward he should then progress onto implementing some of the inward states of hijab.
When we teach our children hijab we always begin with the basics, which is the concept of the headscarf and dressing modestly. As they get older, we should learn to teach them about the deeper meanings of being someone who practices hijab, if we did this more often we would have less people online complaining about sisters wearing hijab with makeup, which is not what I set out to do. Most people online who discuss such things will remain focused on the outward aspect, whereas my opinion is that someone who practices the basics of the outward, progresses to manifest the inward, is then in more of a position to return to perfecting their outward state. Whereas someone who has become content with focusing on their superficial qualities will most likely remain in that static state.
This is a concept we can apply to all the Islamic sciences in our lives. When we practice certain aspects of our faith we need to examine our intention behind them and consider why it is we’re doing what we are doing, and not just to blindly follow what has been taught to us. If the intention behind it is not for the sake of God, then what is it for? A Muslim is one who has submitted, and submission entails having your entire time and existence devoted to something, in the case of our faith that something is the Divine Creator and Sustainer.
We ask Allah to make our intentions clear to us and to show us the straight path. What I have said that is good has come from Him, and what is wrong has come from me.