Hijab and Modesty in the true light of Islam

Hijab, also known as the scarf, veil, or Niqab is an essential element of a Muslim woman’s attire worldwide. In different parts of the world, Hijab is observed in different ways, yet the main idea of the Hijab remains the same throughout. It is often thought of as a piece of cloth to cover the head only. However, the concept of Hijab is not limited to head-covering. Hijab means to cover yourself in a way that your skin is concealed. It commonly involves wearing a long gown to cover yourself companied by a piece of cloth to cover your head and chest. Hijab is a symbol of modesty and identity of Muslim women.

As mentioned in the Quran,

“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, [a list of relatives], [household servants], or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex. And that they should not strike their feet to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! Turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss.” 24:31

The fore-mentioned ayah from Surah An-Noor not only talks about covering the head but also modesty. The rules of decency are not there for women only, but men are also asked to keep modesty in their lifestyle. While we talk in detail about Hijab, the message of modesty for men cannot be overlooked.

Modesty in Islam

Modesty in Islam is not limited to women only. Men have to keep their gaze low, as mentioned in Surah An-Noor before the mention of Hijab, where women are asked to cover themselves to avoid uninvited gazes.

“Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: And Allah is well acquainted with all that they do.”  24:30

Men and women are asked to “guard their modesty” by covering themselves properly. The fundamental interpretation of guarding the modesty is concealing your private parts (also called Awrah). Anyway, the Awrah for both men and women is not the same.

Awrah for Men

In Islam, Awrah for men includes the covering from navel to the knee all the time. It is not allowed for men to wear clothes shorter than that.

Awrah and Hijab for Women

Along with Hijab, the Awrah for women is also a bit dissimilar to that of men. Men are only supposed to cover from navel to the knee; women have to include the upper body too. The obligation of Hijab for women is more detailed in various scenarios.

  • When women are around na-mahram (men who are allowed to marry them), they are supposed to cover themselves from head to toe. Some people do not observe covering their faces, though.
  • In the presence of mahram (men who cannot marry you like your father, brother, son, grandfather, maternal and paternal uncles, nephews, father-in-law, son-in-law), women might not cover their head or faces.
  • In front of other Muslim women, the Awrah is from the navel to the knees.

Types of Hijab

There are several types of Hijab carried out by Muslims globally according to the culture. Yet they all serve the same purpose – covering the body. Some of the kinds of purdah (covering) provide include:

  • Hijab

Hijab (in terms of attire) is usually a scarf used to cover your head and neck. Some women also include the chest, and others don’t. However, it is better to use a cloth big enough to cover your head and chest. It is the most common form of purdah observed globally.

  • Khimar

Khimar is a hijab lookalike but stitched already to keep any of your hair from showing. It covers your head, neck, shoulders, and also your arms, depending upon the length. This type of Hijab is handy and comfortable, along with providing purdah.

  • Niqab

A niqab is the same as Hijab or khimar with the addition of a face covering. The extra cloth covers the face, and only the eyes are visible. A vast number of Muslim women around the world observe Niqab alongside covering their heads.

  • Burqa

Burqa, in many countries, is referred to as a gown worn to cover the whole body. Though, it is more common in Afghanistan and worn by almost all the women there. The burqa is a whole long piece providing coverage from the head till toe with only a mesh-like area to see. Another form of the burqa is just a long gown with a separate hijab and Niqab.

What else do you need to know about Hijab?

  • Hijab is not only for men

Hijab (modesty) is equal for men and women in Islam. Both have to guard their modesty and dress up appropriately. Proper dressing includes the observance of Awrah, as described in the Quran. The emphasis on Awrah and modesty for men is no less than women. They are asked to lower their gaze, also called the purdah of the eyes. It means that not only women are obligated to cover, but men are also expected to lower their gaze in the presence of a woman.

  • Hijab provides freedom

In contrast to what many people think about the Hijab, it is not oppression. Muslim women do not take it as a duty but love to be symbolized as Muslims by wearing Hijab. With the changing times, it needs to be understood how the Hijab gives Muslim women freedom and does not stand in the way of their aims and goals. Globally, Muslim women consider wearing Hijab to be a freedom of expression and appreciate the countries that allow them to wear Hijab with no restrictions.

Sherjan Ali
My name is Sherjan Ali and I am a chemical engineer with more than 6 years of experience in content writing. I have written blogs, articles, and guides for many websites during this time. For any questions, I'm just a text away!