TIPS TO OVERCOME THE ‘MODERN HIJAB SYNDROME’

An informative article highlighting a few trends of hijab today that take away from its true purpose, by guest writer Serine Yamout.

Sifting through photos of good times with your friends, you notice each one has a signature style of wrapping her hijab, color theme, and fashion. Think about the way you dress. Is it to please others? Or is it to please Allah?

Islam, the name of our beautiful religion, simply means “submission” to Allah alone. He is aware of our intentions, which must be aimed to be done for Him, simply due to the fact that He is our Creator and He has ordered it. As is said in the Qur’an,

“And He is Allah, [the only deity] in the heavens and earth. He knows your secret and what you make public, and He knows that which you earn.” [6:3]

This demonstrates how Allah knows what thoughts run through our minds and sees what presentation we put out for others, only emphasizing the importance of purifying our intentions, so that they match the purpose of how we represent ourselves on the outside.

Some might find the points made below straightforward and blunt; but I feel that we have overpowered our fitrah (inner nature) and stopped listening to our own consciousness. What I mean is that when we listen to spiritual lectures and polite speeches, we enjoy them, feel an iman-rush afterwards, then move on with no action. Personally, I can relate and admit that honest, clear speech lingers longer than flowery advice.

I remind my dear Muslim sisters and myself that when we are abiding by some fashion trends, we should not forget that we must abide by Allah’s rulings, for we are here as a test; and if I may point out, certain fashion trends are our obstacles. This is because beauty is a desire we want to attain and, at times, fashion gives us such beauty in inappropriate ways. However, Islam has blessed us with our own dress code, based on Allah’s commandments in the Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad’s (salla Allahu alayhi wasallam) explanation in his Sunnah.

So, how is the hijab supposed to be worn? Allah clearly illustrates how a woman should wear it properly in the Qur’an,

“And say to the believing women to lower their gazes, and to guard their private parts, and not to expose their beauty except what is apparent of it, and to extend their headcovers to cover their chests, and not to display their beauty except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers, or their sons, or their husband’s sons, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their womenfolk, or what their right hands rule (slaves), or from the men who have no physical desire, or the small children who are not aware of the private aspects of women, and not to stomp their feet (on the ground) so as to make known what they hide of their adornments (jewelry). And turn to Allah in repentance together, Oh Believers, so that you may succeed.” [24:31]

Therefore, the front of our hijabs should come down low over our chests, not wrapped tight around our necks as is the current style. Imam Abu al-Fida ibn Kathir clarifies how and why:

“‘Extend their headcovers to cover their bosoms’ means that they should wear the head-cover in such a way that they cover their chests so that they will be different from the women of the Jahiliyyah (time before Islam) who did not do that, but would pass in front of men with their chests uncovered and with their necks, forelocks, and earrings uncovered.”

This explanation also denounces three other current styles that have been prominent these days:

1. Naked Neck. Exposing the neck by pinning the scarf to the back was the exact way women before Islam wore their scarves. Some would even wear heavy and glittering jewelry around their necks to emphasize the look. Islam came to wash away the unnecessary customs and prohibit the harmful actions of our forefathers, so why reintroduce what Islam has already ruled against? Islam has ordered that our necks are considered part of what the hijab must cover, so please bring the ends of your scarf to the front of your neck if you do prefer to pin your scarf in the back. Or you could simply pin your scarf to the front under your chin and let the ends fall loosely over your neck.

2. Slippery Bangs. A sister’s hair bangs might fall out from under the scarf to the front over the foreheads and sometimes eyes. It’s grown pretty common to have the bangs styled, cut, and highlighted just so that they have a pleasant appearance when they fall out of the scarf. We see the photos of models for clothing lines everywhere. If the model doesn’t have her hair tied back, then her bangs are falling over her eyes, giving her a seductive look. With that said, it’s easy to keep bangs from slipping by wearing headbands or hairclips, which can be found at the super market. Undercap-pieces specifically designed to be worn under a scarf can be used to keep the bangs from falling out as well.

3. Protruding Ears. Sometimes, a sister will allow the ears and earrings to peek out from the sides. Earrings are flashy in general, and in this specific case, the earrings are usually huge and sparkly. There is no other reason for displaying earrings outside the scarf besides wanting to add a more attractive look to what is worn. Tuck them in, please.

I am now going to highlight a few more styles of today that our sisters should be aware of.

4. Piled High. This can be achieved by wearing a cushion above the head or ponytail and wrapping the scarf over it. Other styles include adding a large flower to the top or intricately twisting the scarf into a bun and pinning it to the side. Unfortunately, this creates a sign above the head saying “Check Me Out!” For your own good, don’t do it because the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wasallam has also given us warnings for those who dress in this fashion in the following two ahadith:

Abu Hurairah relates that the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wasallam said,

“There are two categories among the inhabitants of Hell whom I have not encountered. The first are people who carry whips like the tails of cows and beat the people with them. The second are women, clothed yet naked, drawn to licentiousness and enticing others to it, their heads like the swaying humps of camels. They will neither enter Paradise nor even smell its fragrance, though its fragrance can be found to a great distance.” [Sahih Muslim]

The Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wasallam also stated,

“There will be in the last of my Ummah, scantily dressed women, the hair on the top of their heads like a camel’s hump. Curse them, for verily they are cursed.” [At-Tabarani and Sahih Muslim]

So, from these ahadith, my sisters in Islam and I should be careful to stay away from this look in whatever way it can be created.

5. Falling Scarf. The scarf simply slips off to the shoulders whenever it gets too tired at the top and exposes luscious locks of hair. Wear a scarf with not-so-silky material that would have more friction and prevent it to come loose or slip. Pinning the scarf at the top or side is usually helpful too.

6. Body-Suit Tightness. This occurs when skinny jeans, tights, or body-shirts are worn. It also takes place whenever other clothes, such as dresses, are skin-tight, as if they’ve been painted on. This image completely contradicts the whole standard of modesty, which is the purpose of hijab. What the woman is doing is putting her figure on display. Even if a long blouse is worn on top of the body-shirt and skinny jeans to cover her chest and thighs, her arms and shins are still emphasized. Looser clothing should be worn instead.

7. Made-up face. Eyeshadow, colored lipstick, blush, and bronzer are all products of the make-up industry. However, we’re all already beautiful products of Allah’s creation, so why use tools of society to demean ourselves in the process of submitting to what society claims should be beautiful? And why try to enhance your beauty when you’re going to be amongst the same people you’re wearing hijab in front of in order to conceal your beauty in the first place? Besides, if people don’t appreciate the way Allah created you, then they don’t deserve your efforts to abide by their judgments.

The reason this advice is being repeated is for the simple fact that as those who cover, we are not only representing ourselves, but the entire population of Muslim women who wear hijab. Firstly, we owe it to ourselves, and to our relationship with Allah, to seek ihsaan (perfection) in applying His rulings. If we’ve taken the first step in covering, then alhamdulillah; but let’s not stop there. Only by fulfilling the requirements of hijab can hijab then fulfill the purpose it was commanded for. Wearing hijab properly will protect us, make us conscious of our actions, and establish our respectability in society. And only through following Allah’s command as it was sent down can we hope to draw even closer in our love and obedience to Him.

On top of that, if we don’t wear hijab properly as stated in the Qur’an and displayed in the Sunnah, then we would be giving those who are not educated in Islam and hijab the wrong image of how it should be worn. We must always be conscious of our appearances and actions, since we carry the image of our Ummah. This is a call to remind you and I that we are responsible for how others perceive us if we’re at fault for dressing inappropriately. Let’s be positive images of the message of Islam, appropriate representatives of this beautiful call to modesty, and sincere believers of Allah, who readily submit and obey His commandments.

Basically, the easiest way I think of it when getting dressed is: Keep it simple, Serine.

My hope is for us to reexamine how we wear the hijab so as to purify our intentions and thus our appearance will inshaAllah reflect our rectified intentions. Whatever I have said that is correct comes from Allah, and if I have made any mistakes, then I take full accountability and ask Allah to forgive me.

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