Muslim woman wearing a hijab/DepositPhoto

Ask A Muslim: Rules about wearing a hijab

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By Naghmana Ahmed-Sherazi

Are there rules about how a woman must wear a hijab? Like, does it need to cover the neck and/or face? Do certain styles or colors matter?

Very shortly put: it is down to personal choice. A hijab is a veil or head covering worn by some Muslim women; it is worn when in the presence of unknown or known males who are other than a husband, father, son, step-son, grandfather, father-in-law, nephew or son-in-law. Having said that, a hijab is more than just a headdress. It signifies the wearer’s commitment to self, religion and philosophy of faith. Women who don the hijab say they find it liberating, and that it allows them to be themselves. 

The Quran refers to the hijab as a metaphorical curtain or partition, and there are many types of hijab. The first most commonly worn is a square scarf that covers the head and neck, but leaves the face bare – this is called the hijab. The khimar, is a long almost cape like scarf that wraps around the head and then is left hanging in the middle of the back. It covers the head and neck, but leaves the face bare. A chador is basically a long cloak that would cover the entire body; it wraps around the head and drapes all the way down to the feet. A niqaab is worn in conjunction with a khimar or hijab, covers the mouth and nose but leaves the eyes open/clear. A burqa covers the entire head and body, and has a mesh screen through which the woman wearing it, can see.

Women wear the hijab as a choice. It is not a sign of oppression and they are not forced to wear it. Some wear it in deference of family traditions and because they are ‘expected’ to wear it, however, it is a choice. Most women wear it because they believe they are fulfilling God’s commandment for donning modest clothing. They choose to wear it as a personal statement – whatever that may be. Some women wear it as a cultural identity, and others for religious reasons.

As far as I could research, there are no specific rules about how a woman should wear a hijab. So long as it covers her hair and is worn modestly, styles and colors are down to personal choice, and often times change with every outfit.

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About Naghmana Ahmed-Sherazi

Naghmana Ahmed-Sherazi moved to Spokane about four years ago with her son. Coming from a huge bustling metropolis like Houston with its varied and diverse micro-cultural communities, she said it was interesting to see people's reactions when they met her or her son. She said she has so far loved living in Spokane with its four seasons and unique landscape.
Originally from Karachi, Pakistan, she has had the good fortune of travelling since an early age and has had education on four different continents. She considers herself a global citizen.

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  1. Sequel to your ruling on hijab (outer covering) by Muslims women. In the article you have explain different types of covering like hijab, Niqab, Kumar and burqa. It was also mentioned that is suppose to be a choice and not force and you have not seen any preceding Islamic ruling that makes it compulsory, if I understand you very well. My question is can you explain the Quran chapter Ahzab 33:59 ? The chapter talk about covering of the body is that not a clear evidence about hijab and makes it compulsory?

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  5. Thanks so much for explaining that women are not forced to wear a hijab because that really helps me understand it better. I was curious about hijabs because I have a friend who wears one. It’s such an interesting culture, so I’m glad I could learn more about it.

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