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Difficulties with Hijab in the West

Ustadah Raidah Shah Idil is asked if it is better not to observe hijab when living in the West due to possible harassment and conflict.

 

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

It has been increasingly bothering me that I do not wear a hijab. I think it is fair to assume that covering a woman’s adornments is for protecting herself and the honor of her husband – am I right in saying this?

Following that, given today’s world and especially living in a xenophobic generation where there is so much conflict, scrutiny and violence against women who wear hijab/niqab etc. Doesn’t it go completely against the idea of protection for a woman in the first place? For example at airports while passing through security, while walking around in a town where Muslim women wearing hijabs are stared at as opposed to being left alone.

I guess my question really is, is it not better for a woman to protect herself by not wearing a hijab and therefore protecting herself by not being scrutinized or stared at, than her wearing one blindly without thinking about its repercussions, especially and limited to the western world and not Middle Eastern countries, where I believe it is absolutely better for a woman to wear her hijab i.e. cover her adornments, than not.

I’ve tried so much to find the right answer regarding this topic and I really need someone to help me out. Since I believe in the hijab and women generally covering their adornments, however I also believe in being sensible and doing their best to be aware at all time and safeguard ones self and their family and avoid any kind of conflict, but I also believe in speaking the truth always and standing up for what is right, but I also want to avoid as much unnecessary conflict from people who simply will not understand and if anything, it is valuable time best spent doing something good in this world that will actually have good results.

 

Answer:

Wa alaykum assaalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.

Difficulties Wearing Hijab

Dear sister, you raise many very good points about the real tribulation faced by many women who wear hijab. None of it is easy, nor is any of it lost on Allah.

Please know that despite these real hardships, hijab remains an obligation in today’s world.

We observe hijab because Allah commanded us to, just like He commanded us to pray, fast, perform Hajj if one is able to, and so on.

Please refer to this link: Is Hijab Obligatory?

Priorities

Those whose souls the angels take while they had wronged themselves, the angels say (to them), “In what business were you (involved)?” They say, “We were oppressed in the earth.” They say, “Was not the earth of Allah wide enough for you to emigrate to it?” Those people are such that their refuge is Jahannam. It is an evil place to return.” [Qur’an, 4:97]

If you are living in a deeply Islamaphobic part of the world, and this is preventing you from wearing hijab – then please set the intention to move somewhere else. InshaAllah Allah will place barakah in your decision, because you have chosen to prioritize what pleases Him.

I realize, of course, than it is no easy matter to just pack up and leave one’s livelihood. The alternative would be for you to put your trust in Allah, wear hijab, and adjust to your new reality. No change is easy at first, but anything is possible through Allah.

Internal Shifts

I strongly suggest that you perform the Prayer of Need, and ask Allah to help you come to hijab. With great difficulty comes great reward, inshaAllah.

Conflict over Hijab

It is not your responsibility to explain or advocate for hijab. Keep it simple. Your responsibility is to wear it, while also upholding the inner aspect of hijab. Take each day as it comes, instead of catastrophising about the worst possible outcome. InshaAllah with dua and commitment, Allah will keep you safe.

Please see Can I Remove My Hijab for My Safety? and Am I a ‘Dayyuth’ If I Let My Wife Go out Without Hijab and How Do I Maintain Protective Jealousy (Ghayrah)?

 

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


 

Women Working in Fashion and Finance and Covering Properly

Ustadha Zaynab Ansari answers questions on Muslim women working in fashion and finance, and how to cover properly in the company of in-laws.

Question:

Assalamu alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa baraktuh.

1. I have a question regarding a career in fashion design or banking–finance. Is it allowed in Islam to have a career in these fields?

2. How should women maintain hijab from her father and brother in-laws after marriage if she has to live with them in the same house.

3. How should women maintain hijab in a non-Muslim working environment?

Answer:

In the Name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful

Dear Sister,

Assalamu alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

1. Given that I am not familiar with your circumstances nor the details of your career opportunities, I do not feel comfortable telling you where to work. I will say that there is a need for women in the fashion industry who can design modest clothing for the needs of the contemporary Muslim woman.

As for the banking industry, please consult with local scholars. As a general rule, you should try to ensure that your career reflects the values of Islam and that you’re not directly involved in interest-bearing transactions or any type of work which is exploitative of women or children.

2. You do not have to wear hijab around your father and father-in-law. You do have to wear hijab around your brothers-in-law. I don’t know the details of the housing situation, but they should endeavor to give you as much privacy as possible so you don’t have to wear hijab whenever you leave your room.

3. I’m not familiar with workplace politics in India, so I’m not sure what I can suggest about hijab at your place of employment. I assume that India, as a democracy, has provisions for freedom of religious expression and that hijab would be protected under those laws.

I pray this helps,

Zaynab Ansari