Sunday, October 11, 2015

Hijab: Going Beyond the Basics

بسم الله و الحمد لله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله

“Why do I have to wear hijab?” There are many answers and many reasons why you should wear hijab, among them “Because it is commanded in the Qur’an, and in the Sunnah of the Prophet” “Because it’s haram not to”, “To maintain your modesty.” All of these answers are correct, but that doesn’t mean they are complete. Sometimes we give point-blank answers to questions that really need more in-depth reasons to allow understanding to develop. Because the strongest faith is founded on understanding and knowledge.
Like all aspects of Islam, nothing is one-dimensional. For everything Allah سبحانه وتعالى commands us to do, we have both the surface reasons, and the more in-depth reasons. The surface reasons are apparent to everyone, but the more in depth are only able to be understood by those who make the effort to think deeply and reflect upon everything Allah سبحانه وتعالى orders of us.
We need to realize that nothing exists independently. The physical realm and the spiritual realm are intertwined. This is why we use physical acts of worship, in order to condition our hearts for internal worship and constant remembrance of Allah سبحانه وتعالى. We cannot come closer to Allah سبحانه وتعالى without the physical aspect. Think of physical acts of worship as the boat with which we use to cross into the spiritual realm of drawing closer to Allah  سبحانه وتعالى,we can’t just jump in, we have to use the means HE provides us with. 

So today I’m going to talk about one of those physical aspects that Allah سبحانه وتعالى has provided especially for women: a special gift just for us. The hijab. A hijab is so much more than a piece of cloth you use to cover your hair. A hijab represents that I am a servant to Allah سبحانه وتعالى , that I take Allah as the compass to point me towards that which is most upright in life. One of the goals in our Iman is reaching a state where we are able to remember Allah constantly, and what better way to remind ourselves of Allah سبحانه وتعالى, than by wearing the symbol of our devotion to Him everywhere we go?
Not I, nor anyone else can judge the state of a person’s heart of a person’s Iman, that power is with Allah سبحانه وتعالى alone. But I can see what you choose to show me. “They say Islam is in the heart, not hijab or beard. They don't understand that when Islam is in the heart, hijab and beard come naturally."  There should not be a distance between our words and deeds, nor should there be a separation from what is in our hearts and our actions. So if you indeed love Allah سبحانه وتعالى , you should love to follow his commands and do what is pleasing to Him, not what is pleasing to your own nafs.

Hijab and You:
There are many excuses we use when trying to justify not obeying a commandment of Allah, among them, I’m not ready, I’m still young, I can be modest without hijab, I have to change before I wear hijab.                                                                                                                         
If you think you need time to change before you wear hijab, you’d be both right and wrong. You’re right because you do need to change, but don’t think you’re alone. Change is a continuous life process and we never reach a state where we are perfect. But you’re wrong if you think you have to change everything before you wear hijab. Because once you make this outward sacrifice, the internal struggle against the nafs becomes easier, therefore improving upon other areas of your Iman will be made easier as well. We delay getting closer to Allah because we think we won’t be able to enjoy our lives if we start following Islam, we think there are too many restrictions and rules. You may worry you won’t be able to maintain that level of self-control and fear permanent change. If you only knew how much peace and tranquility is brought along with these changes, you would never delay wearing hijab, establishing prayer, and staying away from the haram. 
I see many sisters who don't wear hijab mention that they dress more modestly and behave in a better way than many sisters who do wear hijab. But these girls do not define the definition of hijab, and just because they don't adhere to it's proper purpose, that does not negate it's value and importance to Allah. Does someone else's mistake take away your responsibility? 
Their are many sisters who are struggling with wearing hijab, and unfortunately it seems like many sisters around us are making the detrimental choice to take hijab off. This may be because of societal pressures, the desire to be accepted, or for reasons of vanity and pride. So I want to ask my sisters in Islam, to be honest with yourself and admit your true reason for not accepting hijab and ask yourself:What is more important to you, to please society or to please Allah سبحانه وتعالى ?
“Islam is not a buffet where you can pick and choose whatever you want.”
You may have your reservations and reasons, but it has to be said that as an “abd” of Allah سبحانه وتعالى , a slave of Allah, it is not fitting for us to pick and choose what mean WE want to use to express our submission to Allah, when He has already told us how.
Don’t think that the sister wearing niqab or the sister dressed modestly with no makeup doesn’t care about looking beautiful, they do. It is part of the woman’s nature that Allah created us beautiful, and we therefore love to beautify ourselves.
“Allah is beautiful and loves beauty.” (Hadith Sahih Muslim)
 “It is Allah who has given you shape – and made your shapes beautiful. (Quran 40:64)
 But the criteria is that they know that it is degrading to themselves to have their beauty on display for anyone who wishes. Shaytan knows the nature of man (and of woman) and can use this knowledge against us and try to make displeasing Allah beautified for us. When we follow the path to Allah سبحانه وتعالى , and the Light that He provides, we see things literally like dark and light, and He makes modesty beautiful in our eyes. When you are confidant in yourself and in your skin and you know you don’t have to prove yourself to society in order to know you’re beautiful, you will truly understand the definition and the value of modesty. Allah سبحانه وتعالى tells us that we will not attain righteousness until we give of what we love. And when we sacrifice for the sake of Allah, He will bless us with something better than what we sacrificed in this life. “You will never leave something for the sake of Allah, but Allah will give you something better in return.” (Hadith Sahih Muslim)
 So when you sacrifice the desire to look beautiful when you leave the house, and instead hide what Allah  سبحانه وتعالى has blessed you with (because we know that we have no part in the way we look, this is a blessing from Allah, so is it befitting for us to abuse HIS blessing? To Him we belong, and to Him we will return) Then in Allah’s willing, He will bless you with something better. Maybe He will bless you with a husband who sees you as the most beautiful woman in the world.

Hijab and Self-Esteem:
Excessive vanity and displaying one’s beauty goes hand in hand with low self-esteem. I’m sorry to say that some sisters can become so addicted to constant compliments and stares that they start to feel bad about themselves if they don’t have that steady intake of attention. For this reason emphasizing our beauty is dangerous to the psych and the self-esteem.  Did you know that models are more likely to have low self-esteem than any other women? This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, because when all this emphasis is placed on how they look, they start to feel as if other aspects of their being have no value, they are told beauty is the only valuable trait they have, and when you are in a career where there is always someone prettier or thinner than you, you are constantly going to be in a state of self-doubt. This leads to developing diseases such as anorexia, bulimia, and body dismorphia. When you stop putting yourself on display for other people, you no longer have to chain yourself down by worrying what others think. Because when you hold firm to the rope of Allah سبحانه وتعالى, you can finally let go of all the expectations society places on you. Just because someone likes the way you look doesn’t mean they value you and see your true worth. Believe me when I say that dressing more modestly will give you more self-confidence. I know this may sound self-contradictory, but you really don’t know what it’s like until you take that leap.  Because when you dress modestly, you are dressing to please Allah, you are making Him your compass in everything you do, in order to point out the right direction.  They argue that hijab is oppressive to women, contrary to that, hijab tells the world that a woman's worth is measured by far more than simply her outward appearance. In a world that values beauty and youth over all in a woman, maintaining that ideal is a heavy burden. Studies have found that girls may start to feel self-conscious and unhappy about how they look by the age of 9! I blame society and media for this. Society tells us that superficial beauty is the most worthy thing we can aspire to have, instead of having a beautiful character, a beautiful mind/soul, and beautiful manners. This leads to most women relying on the outside world to give them approval...We tell women that your approval comes from yourself, and from being satisfied with your closeness to the Creator.
When we step back from the outward, we finally have the chance to build our inner beauty, and the only beauty that matters to Allah.
“Allah does not look at your outward appearance and your wealth, rather He looks at your hearts and deeds.” (Sahih Muslim)

Hijab and the Community:
We’ve talked about the internal aspect, because before you consider any other factors, you need to consider how does this relate to my Creator, and how is it good for me. Now we can go on to how it affects the community at large. I think most of us know that hijab, though it’s primary, and more important purpose is for US, is also meant to protect men.
وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتُ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاءُ بَعْضٍ ۚ يَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ 
عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَيُقِيمُونَ الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَيُطِيعُونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ
أُولَٰئِكَ سَيَرْحَمُهُمُ اللَّهُ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ
“The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. They establish Salah, pay Zakah, and obey Allah and His Rasool. It is they on whom Allah will have His mercy; surely Allah is Mighty, Wise.(Quran, 9:71)
As Muslims, we have a debt to our community, we have a debt to aid each other in piety and taqwa. We are meant to be each other’s allies not each other’s enemies, and think not just of ourselves in regards to our actions, but think about how we will be affecting the whole community. If we know men have a certain weakness, shouldn’t we strive to do our duty in making that easier? Don’t we want a successful Ummah and a successful community?
أَنْ تَعْتَدُوا ۘ وَتَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْبِرِّ وَالتَّقْوَىٰ ۖ وَلَا تَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ
The believers are those who help one another in virtue, piety, and righteousness; but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And keep your duty to Allah, for surely Allah is strict in punishment. (Quran, 5:2)

Many sisters use the excuse: “He needs to lower his gaze.”  But this is immature and pointing fingers and spreading blame are not how we create a prosperous, forward thinking society. I’m not excusing brothers for staring at women, this is unacceptable and creates a poison in the heart and a barrier to Allah, because the eyes are one of the windows to the heart and anything that enters our eyes, affects our heart as well. Yes, he does need to lower his gaze, but you need to be responsible for what you give others to gaze at. Everyone will be judged according to their own deeds and we know that Allah in His infinite Mercy, judges us on our intentions, so if you are confident that you are trying to dress modestly and not trying to seek attention, know that Allah is Most Just.  
وَلَا تَتَمَنَّوْا مَا فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بِهِ بَعْضَكُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ ۚ لِلرِّجَالِ نَصِيبٌ مِمَّا 
اكْتَسَبُوا ۖ وَلِلنِّسَاءِ نَصِيبٌ مِمَّا اكْتَسَبْنَ ۚ وَاسْأَلُوا اللَّهَ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ 
بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمًا
“Do not covet the favors by which God has exalted some of you above others. Men shall be rewarded according to their deeds, and women shall be rewarded according to their deeds. Rather implore God to bestow on you His gifts. God has knowledge of all things.” (Quran, 4:32)   
Allah has knowledge of all things and he knows what is the most appropriate way to judge men and women, though they may not be judged by the same scale, that doesn’t mean it is not fair and just.
I want to ask a question and I want my sisters to answer honestly, try to ask yourself this sincere question: “Am I going to help my brother in Islam or am I going to pose as a roadblock for him?” 
We all know that “Man was created weak.” Part of this weakness is his weakness for women. Next time you think about going out in skinny jeans, or leggings, or with tons of makeup on, consider if you saw another woman dressed like that around your husband. Would you be happy? Probably not. One of the reasons we see men not satisfied with their wives or unable to find a spouse to get married is because standards of beauty have been risen SO HIGH. Now, it’s no longer enough to be a beautiful woman: you have to look like a Victoria’s Secret model or the Angelina Jolie of your community to be considered “beautiful,” and because exposure to these things has become so common, it’s seen as normal for men to expect this. And a man who is constantly being exposed to such things and not lowering his gaze will never be happy with his wife, even if she is a beauty queen, there will always be someone more beautiful or different. We see billboards of women used to sell products like cars, jewelry, and beer staring down all over the place.
When we look at how vulgar society has become and the way women are degraded, we really can appreciate and value the blessing of hijab. Because having this lack of modestly creates many problems, first at a personal (internal) level, then it affects the family unit, destroys marriages, and then it has adverse effects on the community as a whole.

It’s important to note sisters that wearing hijab doesn’t mean we’re finished. And the cloths on our heads only hold as much value as the manners and actions we accompany with it. A hijab without prayer, without remembering Allah, and without staying away from sin has no more value than any other piece of cloth. Remember that when you wear hijab you are representing yourself as a believing Muslim woman, so you should try to uphold that duty to the highest standards. We have to accompany this outer modesty with inner modesty as well and always make sure our actions are befitting of a muslimah.
Dear sisters, this is written with a heart full of compassion and concern for my sisters in Islam, and not from a place of judgment or malice.  May Allah make modesty beautified in the eyes of all my sisters in Islam and I pray Allah will guide us towards what is most upright.
And I pray Allah will help me and you to perfect our modesty and thus become closer towards perfecting our faith.
All correct and beneficial knowledge is from the mercy and guidance of Allah, and all incorrect information is an unintentional error only from myself. And Allah knows best. والله أعلمُ بالـصـواب

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