Friday, March 13, 2009

When I first started wearing hijab, and what I wish I would have known then

I remember the day I decided I was a Muslim (my parents and family are disbeliever). I had always believed in the five pillars of Islam, but it was time for me to start obeying the Qu'ran and the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.).

The thing I started with was wearing hijab because that was the only thing I knew anything about. I knew Muslims had to pray five times a day (and I did that), but I didn't know that there was a way to do that (I didn't know to say Al Fatihah or make ruku ect. and I didn't have a book or computer yet with which to look that up) but I did know (from a trip in the Gulf and having known African Muslim women) that a Muslim women should wear a headscarf that some call "hijab" when she left her home or went out among those who she could never be certain of their intentions towards her so I don't know how some sisters can say they don't get that from reading the Qu'ran and studying Islamic history.

Wa qul li al-mu'minat yaghdudna min absarihinna wa yahfazna furujahunna wa laa yubdina zenatahunna illa maa zahara min haa wal-yadribna bi khumurihinna ala juyubihinna; wa laa yubdina zenatahunna illa li bu'ulatihinna aw aba'ihinna aw aba'i bu'ulatihinna aw abna'ihinna aw abna'i bu'ulatihinna aw ikhwanihinna aw bani ikhwanihinna aw bani akhawatihinna aw nisa'ihinna aw maa malakat aymanu hunna aw at-tabi'ina ghayri ulu'l-irbat min ar-rijal aw at-tifl alladhina lam yazharu ala awrat an-nisa wa laa yadribna bi arjulihinna li yu'lama maa yukhfina min zenatahinna. Wa tubu ilaAllahi jami'an, ayyuha al-mu'minun la'allakum tuflihun (Surah an-Nur, ayah 31)
A translation of this is:
And say to the faithful women to lower their gazes, and to guard their private parts, and not to display their adornment except what is apparent of it, and to extend their headcoverings (khimars) to cover their bosoms (jaybs), and not to display their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband's fathers, or their sons, or their husband's sons, or their brothers, or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their womenfolk, or what their right hands rule (slaves), or the followers from the men who do not feel sexual desire, or the small children to whom the nakedness of women is not apparent, and not to strike their feet (on the ground) so as to make known what they hide of their adornments. And turn in repentance to God together, O you the faithful, in order that you are successful

I knew she should do it, because the Qu'ran said "pull your headress [khimar] so that it covers your chest [jube]". It was quite clear to me then (when I was a person who ignorantly said I believe in the Qu'ran but not the ahadith), as it remains even clearer to me now, that covering one's hair, neck, ears, AND chest are compelled in this verse. I still don't understand how some can try and say, that this was just a historical way of getting believing women not to show cleavage.

Believing women at this time period [Jewish and Christian] DID cover their hair (so commanding this a second time would have been unnecessary as it was already as obvious to these women as it was to me and many others upon first reading). During this time period when Surah an-Nur was revealed, women were already compelled by revelations in the Jewish and Christian scriptures to cover their hair. Since I was fostered a few months out of the year, by a practicing family of the book, I know the commandments in the Bible very well in memory: But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. Corinthians 11:4-16 (King James Version).

So... the only thing that Muslim women were asked to do in addition to the covering of their heads and hair, was to pull their headresses (which is what the word khimar means) to cover in addition, their chests, and thus necks (which is inherent in the motion of pulling/wrapping the scarf as directed from the Christian/Jewish manner to the Islamic).

If the Qu'ran wanted to say "cover your chest" instead of covering your chest from the manner which was already covered,  it would have said, "add another button" or "fasten your dress to the neck" or "wear such and such a garment/dress/caftan/blouse" that it covers such and such a part.

Also, the women that say the headscarf is not necessary usually contradict themselves by covering their hair when in prayer because of the admission of authenticity in the hadith narrated by Aisha (R.A), which makes it even clearer that one must do so: The Prophet (SAW) said, "The Salat of a woman, who has reached puberty, is not accepted unless she is wearing a Khimar." (Sahih - Al-Khamsa except An-Nasaa’ee).

Studying ahadith, I have found numerous narrations describing what women of the sahaba wore, and going out of the home; these always inlcuded the headcovering. Now that I know more about hijab, I know that wearing tight clothing is actually worse than not wearing a headscarf to cover one's chest, and now that I have studied the subject of hijab in depth, I am aware that a headscarf was not the first and most important object of dress that a woman was required to do as an obligation to her Creator.

 Surprising, I know, because when one is a new Muslim any woman in a headscarf is percieved as a Muslim right?

A modest overgarment (jilbab) was actually required of women of the Sahaba, before correcting how they wore their headresses. This is because the ayah regarding jilbab was revealed BEFORE the one concerning khimar/hijab. But that is simply something I didn't know when I first made my shahada.
So when I set about trying to first wear hijab, I had no long sleeves, so I bought a white cotton button-up blouse (not tunic length but average), and a few pashminas. I also bought a couple of sheath dresses, which I layered overtop of my trousers and then wore hijab with. Alhahamdulilah, I was always spot on with wearing the khimar. The Qu'ran instructs that is must be worn over the chest, and that a loose garment is not enough to meet this condition. I call it "khimar" not just "hijab" for the headscarf, because hijab is the entire aura of modesty a Muslim woman embodies not just her headscarf, and so the term is sooooooooo often misused.
Alas, while the scarf/khimar covered my chest,  the rest of the outfit was too tight. Sometimes, you could see the indent of my hips, or the curve of my butt. Ladies, LOL, in the words of Baba Ali, that's not hijab!
Plus, this was soooooooo hot.
Eventially I found looser dresses, but the pants were still too curvalicious. The shape of even my calves showing didn't seem like proper hijab. I started wearing a long skirt, and layering a long coat over my shirts, and that was aLOT more modest and Islamic, but the fact was, while I was wearing an overgarment on my top with a trench coat or long tunic here and there, I still wasn't wearing an overgarment since the coat wasn't covering all my skirt. If I had worn something under the skirt, I think it would have been fine, and would have met all the requirement of hijab, but it would have been waaaaaaaaaaaaay too hot.
So... I started wearing abaya, or maxi dresses and long tunic/or coat as a jilbab, and that DID meet all the Islamic obligations of the Qu'ran, and it was alot less hot as well.
I personally do not think pants often count as Islamic hijab unless they are loose enough to wear baggy shorts or a mini-skirt underneath of (which, I do admit I have started to see from emerging designers) because unless they can be worn as an overgarment, they don't count as hijab. This goes for way too tight abayas as well.
If I can see your hips and butt that abaya ain't jilbab baby girl. If you have cut outs in the dress, or it is see-through, you better be wearing something just as modest underneath of that, or, IT AIN'T HIJAB.
Hijab is a religious obligation to Allah (S.W.T). It should not be enforced by a government, a religious institution, or culture, because it is indeed a choice that one only owes out of respect for themselves, and thus respect for their Creator. The only one that will judge anyone on the subject will be Allah (S.W.T), but this blog will outline (along with style:D) what Allah (S.W.T) HAS set down as mandatory for the Muslim woman who respects herself (and so shows her respect for her Creator).

***It is more than a headscarf, but also modesty of action and intention. If you are a Muslim new to practicing Islam, always wear non-see through clothes, and a headcovering when you pray, and try to get an Islamic wardrobe as soon as you afford to.

One tip that tI will add, in order to cover your skin, don't worry about your sleeves touching the elbows ect. at first if it means wearing tight clothes. Try to wear looser clothing first as you gradually incorporate more coverage into your wardrobe as you have the means too. It is better to go out in public in clothing that is modest in your culture rather than supertight but all skin covered and with hijab-scarf-hijab. When I first coverted/reverted, rather than wearing an oxford, trousers, and booty-hugging pencil skirt over my trousers with hijab, I should have not worried so much about slapping that headscarf on, but should have kept wearing my rather modest sleeveless dresses from Africa, and layered a three-quarter sleeve cardi over it (and probably no hijab--since I couldn't even know all the requirements of hijab or explain to others about them I wasn't necessarily ready to get reward for my khimar). Better loose and practically all covered, than all covered but the shape of the body entirely apparent, making the headscarf seem instead ironic, rather than pious. For those who live in a predominately Muslim country--you have NO idea how lucky you are with what is readily available to you.


Megan said...

Curvalicious, hehe. So does wearing ordinary clothes, say pants and a longsleeve shirt, with a long skirt and loose tunic overtop count as jilbab? I'm trying to approximate jilbab with what I already have.

Anonymous said...

You think thats bad...imagine what it was like for those of us here in the west that started to cover in the 90's or about difficult!!!!

Pixie said...

Megan: In my opinion yes, if the skirt and tunic top are loose enough:D To be safe, a solid one piece garment is preferred though by the Ulema (the four madhabs).

Pixie said...

Umm Ibrahim: Mine skirts days?:D. Might have been hard:D

candy olive said...

I'm trying to start practicing hijab. I still wear tight clothing at times though. You are so right! I should first leave the scarf off in the mean time and focus on trying to wear loose long clothing first. Then headscarf will follow naturally, insha Allah. Thanks Pixie

Pixie said...

Candy Olive: Modesty in the heart, mind, eyes, and body first, and headscarf as soon all the rest is possible:D Since it is a fard obligation, as soon as it is materially possible (like you have the means) you should start wearing it, but you have to believe in it first:D If that makes sense.

Sarah Plain & Short said...

the last picture is just scary! wat kind of outfit is that...just wrong. ne ways nice post mashAllah. And girls in the muslim countries, most of them dont care for abaya ne more...sad but true!

jish said...

assalamualikum sister,
iam an indian,living in the u.a.e. iwas googling for the hadith about camel hump and hair,i saw your site.i must say,mashallah,i was impressed.
i usually wear the indian attire,the salwar kamees(dont know whether ur familiar with this).i cover my head with a shayla or a scarf and i cover my chest with the shawl(which is a part of the salwar kamees).is this ok?'coz some ppl have told me that the head and chest should be covered with one single pls enlighten me on this.

zainab said...

MASHALLAH very nice:)