Showing the Identity As a Muslim

Veil in Islam for Women

The veiling of women was not an Islamic innovation but a Persian and Byzantine-Christian custom that Islam adopted. For most of Islam’s history, the veil in its various forms was seen as a sign of distinction and protection for upper-class women. Since the 19th century, the veil has come to represent a more assertive, self-consciously Islamic expression, sometimes in reaction to Western currents—colonialism, modernism, feminism. Allah says:

وَمَا كَانَ لِبَشَرٍ أَنْ يُكَلِّمَهُ اللَّهُ إِلَّا وَحْيًا أَوْ مِنْ وَرَاءِ حِجَابٍ أَوْ يُرْسِلَ رَسُولًا فَيُوحِيَ بِإِذْنِهِ مَا يَشَاءُ ۚ إِنَّهُ عَلِيٌّ حَكِيمٌ

“It is not granted to any mortal that God should speak to him except through revelation or from behind a veil, or by sending a messenger to reveal by His command what He will: He is exalted and wise.” (Surah Ash-Shura 42:51)

The literal meaning of hijab is to veil, to cover, or to screen.  Islam is known as a religion concerned with community cohesion and moral boundaries, and therefore hijab is a way of ensuring that the moral boundaries between unrelated men and women are respected.  In this sense, the term hijab encompasses more than a scarf and more than a dress code. Allah says:

فَضَرَبْنَا عَلَىٰ آذَانِهِمْ فِي الْكَهْفِ سِنِينَ عَدَدًا

“So We cast over their ears in the cave years – a number.” (Surah Al-Kahf 18:11)

It is a term that denotes modest dressing and modest behaviour. For instance, if a Muslim woman was wearing a scarf but at the same time using bad language, she would not be fulfilling the requirements of the hijab. Allah says:

لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ قَد تَّبَيَّنَ الرُّشْدُ مِنَ الْغَيِّ فَمَن يَكْفُرْ بِالطَّاغُوتِ وَيُؤْمِن بِاللَّهِ فَقَدِ اسْتَمْسَكَ بِالْعُرْوَةِ الْوُثْقَىٰ لَا انفِصَامَ لَهَا وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

“(There is) no compulsion in the religion. Surely has become distinct the right (path) from the wrong. Then whoever disbelieves in false deities and believes in Allah, surely he grasped the handhold – [the] firm, (which) not (will) break [for it]. And Allah (is) All-Hearing, All-Knowing.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:256)

However, in the last 30 years hijab has emerged as a sign of Islamic consciousness.  Many women see wearing the hijab as indicative of their desire to be part of an Islamic revival, especially in countries where the practice of Islam is discouraged or even forbidden. In the Quran, God tells the believing men and women to lower their gaze and to dress modestly. Allah says:

قُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَغُضُّوا مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِمْ وَيَحْفَظُوا فُرُوجَهُمْ ذَٰلِكَ أَزْكَىٰ لَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا يَصْنَعُونَ

“Say to the believing men they should lower their gaze and they should guard their chastity. That (is) purer for them. Indeed, Allah (is) All-Aware of what they do.”  (Quran 24:30)

Hijab frees women from being thought of as sexual objects of desire or from being valued for their looks, or body shape rather than their minds and intellect.  No longer slaves to consumerism, the hijab liberates women from the need to conform to unrealistic stereotypes and images dictated by the media. Allah says:

خَتَمَ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ وَعَلَىٰ سَمْعِهِمْ وَعَلَىٰ أَبْصَارِهِمْ غِشَاوَةٌ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ

“Has set a seal, Allah, on their hearts and their hearing, and their vision (is) a veil. And for them (is) a punishment great.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:7)

Women wearing hijab have expressed that dressing modestly and covering their hair, minimizes sexual harassment in the workplace. The aura of privacy created by the hijab is indicative of the great value Islam places upon women.

The Veil is Protection

The wisdom behind the Hijab is to minimize sexual enticement and moral degradation in society as much as possible for both men and women. The Hijab helps protect men, women, and society by creating stability in both families and communities in several ways:

  • Shields from unwanted advances
  • Shields from temptations and harmful desires
  • Shields women from perverted looks and superficial scrutiny
  • It May help reduce the likelihood of sexual assaults against women
  • Shields from the sexual exploitation of women based on appearance

As women are in a high position in Islam, they must cover more than men. They have to keep their hair hidden behind a veil. One of the most positive benefits of the veil in Islam for Muslim women is that she gains more respect from others. Rather than a woman who loves to show the curve of her body, a veiled woman is far respected by society. It at least shows that she committed to Allah SWT by obeying His command. Allah says:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ

“O mankind! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female and We made you nations and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, (the) most noble of you near Allah (is the) most righteous of you Indeed, Allah (is) All-Knower, All-Aware.” (Surah Al-Hujurat 49:13)

As mere human beings, we continually do sins every day before we realize it. Believe it or not, if a woman wears a veil, it can serve as a reminder for her not to do any sinful act that Allah SWT hates. Inner beauty which involved behaviour, personality, and attitude is more important than outer appearance only. The body will change and age but inner beauty will never change. A veiled woman gains not only a more beautiful appearance on the outside but also a prettier mind as well. Her inner beauty shines through her veil.

There are many benefits of the veil in Islam that a woman could gain. Here are some of them:

  1. Inspiring Other Woman to Do the Same
  2. A Criteria of a Good Wife and Mother
  3. As an Indication of a Good Woman
  4. Gain Respect from Others
  5. Preventing Any Sinful Acts
  6. Improving Confidence
  7. Mutuality in Modesty
  8. Ambassadors of Faith
  9. Showing the Identity As a Muslim
  10. Obeying the Command of Allah SWT
  11. Making the Soul Calmer and Peaceful
  12. Make Someone Beautiful Inside and Out

There are clear that the command for women to wear a veil has been written in the Quran. It means that Allah SWT himself has told every woman to cover their private parts and treat them like a treasure. Allah SWT has made it clear about the certain parts of the body which should be hidden and which part to be shown to others. Allah says:

قُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَغُضُّوا مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِمْ وَيَحْفَظُوا فُرُوجَهُمْ ذَٰلِكَ أَزْكَىٰ لَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا يَصْنَعُونَ

“Say to the believing men they should lower their gaze and they should guard their chastity. That (is) purer for them. Indeed, Allah (is) All-Aware of what they do.” (Surah An-Nur 24:30)

We can’t judge someone’s personality only by their outer appearance. But the first impression is left deeply by how we present ourselves. Wearing a veil probably does not guarantee that someone is a better person than a woman who doesn’t wear it, but at least we are indicating a good woman by trying to cover ourselves. Allah says:

لَّقَدْ كُنتَ فِي غَفْلَةٍ مِّنْ هَٰذَا فَكَشَفْنَا عَنكَ غِطَاءَكَ فَبَصَرُكَ الْيَوْمَ حَدِيدٌ

“Certainly you were in heedlessness of this. So We have removed from you your cover, so your sight today (is) sharp.” (Surah Qaf 50:22)

The veil could be an indication of a good woman, as well as a good future wife and husband. A man would find peace seeing a woman in a veil that makes her a perfect fit as someone that he wants to spend the rest of his life with. As if a veil is a guarantee that she could be a good wife and mother for the family. Allah says:

Here are some types of headscarves:

  • The hijab is one name for a variety of similar headscarves. It is the most popular veil worn in the West. These veils consist of one or two scarves that cover the head and neck. Outside the West, this traditional veil is worn by many Muslim women in the Arab world and beyond.
  • The niqab covers the entire body, head and face; however, an opening is left for the eyes. The two main styles of niqab are the half-niqab that consists of a headscarf and facial veil that leaves the eyes and part of the forehead visible and the full, or Gulf, niqab that leaves only a narrow slit for the eyes.
  • The chador is a full-body-length shawl held closed at the neck by hand or pin. It covers the head and the body but leaves the face completely visible. Chadors are most often black and are most common in the Middle East, specifically in Iran.
  • The burqa is a full-body veil. The wearer’s entire face and body are covered, and one sees through a mesh screen over the eyes. It is most commonly worn in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan (1996–2001), its use was mandated by law.

وَإِذَا قَرَأْتَ الْقُرْآنَ جَعَلْنَا بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَ الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْآخِرَةِ حِجَابًا مَّسْتُورًا

“And when you recite the Quran, We place between you and between those who (do) not believe in the Hereafter a barrier hidden.” (Surah Al-Isra` 17:45)

Muslims believe that their true purpose in life is to worship God according to His instructions, as revealed in the holy book of the Quran and through the teachings of Muhammadthe final prophet of Islam. Worship in Islam is a holistic concept that encourages God-consciousness in every facet of daily life, from charity and neighbourliness to prayer and honest dealings in business. Modest clothing is an integral aspect of worship in Islam as well. Allah says:

فَقَالَ إِنِّي أَحْبَبْتُ حُبَّ الْخَيْرِ عَن ذِكْرِ رَبِّي حَتَّىٰ تَوَارَتْ بِالْحِجَابِ

“And he said, “Indeed, I [I] preferred (the) love (of) the good over (the) remembrance (of) my Lord.” Until they were hidden in the veil.” (Surah Sad 38:32)

The veil can be a symbol of piety and it can be a sign of great inner strength and fortitude.  A woman wearing a hijab becomes a very visible sign of Islam.  While Muslim men can blend easily into any society, a Muslim woman is often put on the line, and forced to defend not only their decision to cover but also their religion.  Nevertheless, women who wear hijab insist that the advantages far outweigh any disadvantage conjured up by media bias or general ignorance. Allah says:

وَمَا كَانَ لِبَشَرٍ أَن يُكَلِّمَهُ اللَّهُ إِلَّا وَحْيًا أَوْ مِن وَرَاءِ حِجَابٍ أَوْ يُرْسِلَ رَسُولًا فَيُوحِيَ بِإِذْنِهِ مَا يَشَاءُ إِنَّهُ عَلِيٌّ حَكِيمٌ

“And not is for any human that Allah should speak to him except (by) revelation or from behind a veil or (by) sending a messenger then he reveals by His permission what He wills. Indeed, He (is) Most High, Most Wise.” (Surah Ash-Shura 42:51)

The veil is undeniably an identity for Muslim women. By wearing a veil, women are indirectly saying that they are Muslim and they are proud of it. Embracing the Muslim identity is important since it also shows that we have faith in Allah SWT and we prove it to others. So those are all the benefits of the veil in Islam for every Muslim woman. As wearing a veil is a direct command from Allah SWT, it’s good for us to remind our fellow sisters to cover so that they could gain many benefits out of it.