Attractive Hijaab

Abu Unsure April 30, 2011 9

By Shaykh Haitham al-Haddad

Living in the west, the hijab has become a potent indicator of identity with many non-Muslims viewing it as a political statement. However, it is pertinent to note that the hijab is, first and foremost, an act of worship that women engage in, and an act undertaken to seek the pleasure of one’s Lord.

The definition of a hijab is fiercely contested by many Muslims, and unfortunately most of those who engage in the topic are unaware that it is very much defined by Islamic law, the Shari’ah, and not cultural habits or one’s idea of what modesty is, or should be.

In discussing the hijab, Islamic jurists have stipulated a number of conditions for it to be a hijab in the Islamic sense. In brief, these conditions are that one’s clothing must cover the entire body in a way that the shape of the body is not apparent and the material must not be so thin that one can see through it. Clothing should not resemble that which is specific to men nor the disbelievers. It should not be attractive to men, nor should women be perfumed in public. The main aim of hijab is to stop fitnah; females who are attractive by nature attract the gaze of males which then leads to other greater sins such as fornication and adultery. Allaah commanded women neither to display their adornment nor to display any form of behaviour that might attract the attention of men. Allaah says,

“And tell the believing women to lower their gaze, and protect their private parts and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils all over Juyubihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms, etc.) and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands fathers, their sons, their husbands sons, their brothers or their brothers sons, or their sisters sons, or their women, or the female slaves whom their right hands possess, or old male servants who lack vigour, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And all of you beg Allaah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.”[1]

The Shari’ah also prohibits women from speaking softly for essentially the same reason – to prevent fitnah. Allaah says,

“O wives of the Prophet! You are not like any other women. If you keep your duty (to Allaah), then be not soft in speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease (of hypocrisy, or evil desire for adultery, etc.) should be moved with desire, but speak in an honourable manner. And stay in your houses, and do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance, and perform As-Salat, and give Zakat, and obey Allaah and His Messenger.”[2]

As the verse states, Allaah forbids the wives of the Prophet to incite the desires of weak men, and given that this effective cause (illah) is to do with desire which is found everywhere, then this command should certainly be applied to all other women as well.

In fact, scholars from various schools of thought prohibit women from raising their voices in public, even if it be the utterance of the talbiyah during hajj or the adhan (call to prayer) between females. The Shari’ah also prohibits men to visit lonely women and to stay alone with them. It also prohibited men to look at women. Allaah says,

“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts, etc.). That is purer for them. Verily, Allaah is All-Aware of what they do.”[3]

On the streets of London, Amsterdam and other big cities in Europe we witness various types of un-Islamic hijabs. Tight Jeans (also known as ‘skinny jeans’), long leather high heeled boots and tight shirts with a head scarf are all typical representations of the kind of hijab that is now being promoted by many young and middle aged Muslim women. Fancy scarves are also a form of covering that is seen as a ‘Shari’ah compliant hijab’. Indeed, the way many Muslim women adorn the hijab defeats the whole purpose of hijab itself. Furthermore, western women are very fond of attracting the interest and attention of men. It seems that many of our Muslims sisters have been influenced by this and have started to wear clothes to attract the admiration of “brothers” in an enticing way.

One of the main problems is limiting the hijab as being a manifestation of female Muslim identity. When France banned the hijab they looked at it as a religious symbol unable to understand the meaning of ibaadah (worship). However, it is unfortunate to see many Muslims treating it as merely a form of identity, and once the symbolic representation has been accomplished the necessity to perform it in a way that meets its conditions laid down by Allaah is overlooked. This is one of subtly reprehensible values that many western Muslims have unknowingly adopted. We have to understand that Islamic practices including observing the hijab are actions of ibaadah. They are meant to please Allaah, avoid being disobedient, and earn hasanaat in order to attain a high rank in paradise. Allaah says,

And (remember) when it was said to them: “Dwell in this town (Jerusalem) and eat therefrom wherever you wish, and say, (O Allaah) forgive our sins; and enter the gate prostrate (bowing with humility). We shall forgive you your wrong-doings. We shall increase (the reward) for the good-doers.”[4]

In misunderstanding the fundamental aim of entering paradise, we lose in this life and the hereafter as any other aim is considered by Shari’ah as a worldly one. The reward of worldly aims is given in this life and no reward will be given after death. Allaah says,

Whosoever desires the life of the world and its glitter; to them We shall pay in full (the wages of) their deeds therein, and they will have no diminution therein.[5]

This is a major mistake that many Muslims fall into when undertaking many Islamic practices. Having the correct aim in wearing the hijab is the first and main step towards a solution for this problem. It should be noted that projecting concerns about this non-shar’ii form of hijab does not imply discouraging Muslim women from observing a limited form of hijab which they have chosen, but instead it serves to encourage Muslim women to progress to observe the correct method of hijab. The intention of this article is driven by the desire for improvement and progress and not to incite women to withdraw from the hijab completely.

Some Muslims posit that we should not be strict in calling for the proper observance of many Islamic practices in the west, and as such, we should encourage Muslim women to do as much as they are, without criticism, even if some do not complete such observance. Undoubtedly we agree to encouraging Muslim women to do as much as they can, but correcting wrong or incomplete Islamic practices is an obligation upon those who know.

It is indeed the case that many sisters are completely ignorant about the conditions of the legally valid hijab, and hence it is incumbent upon us to raise awareness of the legal conditions and features of a correct hijab. Knowledge is the cure for many of our mistakes. Advising sisters who undoubtedly wear the hijab out of good intentions as well as educating their parents is another way towards solving this issue. It might be a good idea to print and distribute some leaflets that describe the authentic hijab in a way that goes beyond merely a head covering.

(Hijab leaflets – Al Kawni to InshaAllaah develop with help of its users – do you have any ideas?)

Notes: www.islam21c.com


[1] 24:31

[2] 33:32-33

[3] 24:30

[4] 7:161

[5] 11:15


  1. lol April 30, 2011 at 11:18 pm Reply Tweet

    I got an email from islam21c about this, and the subject was 'to sisters who wear colourful hijaabs'.

    Thought it might be of benefit like the chapter headings in Bukhaari benefit the reader.

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  2. - May 1, 2011 at 12:38 am Reply Tweet

    the chapter headings of the hadeeth books amount to a science in itself. something i recall from long ago, i was astounded when i came across that. subhan'allah!

    and allah knows best.

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  3. - May 1, 2011 at 12:53 am Reply Tweet


    fao al kawni team:

    do excuse my imprudence insha'allah, and if you are offended by what i say then i ask that you forgive me..

    but i feel you – i dont know how many or how few of you there are – are putting your hands in too many cookie jars all at once. allahu alam, this is what i have gauged based on what i have come across via your website. i know nothing about you, your organisation, what you do etc etc.

    now, as much as i recognise your masha'allah ardent desire to aid the deen of allah in any way you can, i do feel that if you decide to undertake one too many activities all at once, you may fall short and find things/projects are taken off the ground but don't quite finish, or finish inadequately. it is my most humble opinion – and of course you're free to disregard this – that it is better to start off with fewer projects that are seen through, and then to build upon that, than to start off with many a thing and have them all drag on. also, when – though well-intending – we take on too much at once, undoubtedly we neglect other duties. this may seem small, but its worth considering; one of the first things we neglect fisabilillah is our families… and yet in some ways they have the greatest rights over us. this is what i can gather experentially, and indeed allah knows best.

    just something to bear in mind insha'allah. of course i could be completely misinformed, in which case this post is wholly pointless, but..just thought i'd lay it on the table. may allah [swt] grant you all the best in all your endeavours and help you all to accomplish your goals with excellence, aameen.

    and allah [swt] knows best.

    salaamu'alaikum wa rahmatullah

    p.s – this was in light of the hijaab leaflets thing, culminating based on, as i mentioned, what i have gauged about your organisation via the website.

    p.p.s – this does not need to be published, but i leave that to your discretion.

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  4. Umm Abu Dujaanah May 1, 2011 at 2:23 am Reply Tweet

    May Allaah guide the Muslimaahs of this Ummaah to the correct Hijaab, Aameen

    For those sisters that would like to purchase big and loose jilbaabs/abaayas visit http://www.jilbaabs.co.uk/

    MashaAllaah good prices and good quality material!

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  5. Umm Abu Dujaanah May 1, 2011 at 2:25 am Reply Tweet

    They also do big Hijaabs mashaAllaah

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  6. Abu Umayr May 1, 2011 at 8:07 am Reply Tweet

    Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

    Your advice is sound and beneficial. May Allaah have mercy on you, Aameen.

    It is without doubt each one of us wants to achieve the highest reward in Jannah and so the natural thing to do is maximise the deeds. With this though can come the problem you highlighted that eventually he/she will end up doing nothing. I pray Allaah saves us from this, Aameen. That can be another topic of discussion however, where in reality we find, the more we do for the sake of Allaah the more time one actually has – such is the barakah that in return he/she has more time with his family, as well as the fact can one actually do too much?…

    Whatever the case to speak the truth, there is nothing on this website except for MashaAllaah the beautiful posts from the volunteers who make up this site, but we pray that individuals will come forward to support us so that we don’t fall into such situations.

    Just to note, subhanAllaah as soon as the request for support to create a ‘Hijaab leaflet’ was posted, immediately a group of sisters chose to take the task upon themselves. I ask Allaah to increase them in good and increase activeness within all ourselves.

    Al Kawni isn’t an organisation as such; rather a community of active Muslims [InshaAllaah], working towards one goal and that is to make His deen above all, the word of Allaah superior.

    The Muslims are one community and amazing is this, that Allaah created us all different; each one with different abilities and skills such that there is a vast area of deeds for us all to contribute into, ultimately leading to the noble goal, bi ithnillaah.

    One thing to always remember is there are so many nullifiers of deeds, and one ayah which by Allaah always continues to remind us to never be content with what we do is this:

    "Say: Shall We tell you the greatest losers in respect of (their) deeds? Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life while they thought that they were acquiring good by their deeds." [Al-Kahf 18:103-104]

    I ask Allaah to allow us all to help each other receive the maximum in Jannah and save ourselves from the hellfire. [This response was not intending to create a discussion, I pray that is understood.]


    P.s. Your advice and reminders are gems for us. Do always continue with your good work, advising and reminding us. Barakallaahu Feeki.

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  7. Umm Abu Dujaanah May 2, 2011 at 10:17 pm Reply Tweet


    As Salaamu 'Alaykum wa Rahmatullaah

    I recieved the below, I hope the brothers and sisters on al-Kawni can respond bi'idhnillaah


    As Salaamu 'Alaykum

    Dear (Brothers) and Sisters,

    Shaykh Haitham has written an article about attractive hijaabs – it has nothing contreversial in it and is simply a factual, evidence based reminder to sisters to rememebr the goal of HIjaab. Yet it has attracted a lot of negative attention from sisters who sim[ply dont like to be told! Terrible and the comments are rude and insulting. Even putting the honour of our dear shaykh aside, it is sad to see sisters and their dislike of the truth simply because a man is telling them…

    Anyway, I urge us all to visit the Islam21c website and put a comment on to commend the points made and to speak positively about hijaab in its correct way.

    Many brothers have defended the article but that seems to have furied those sisters even more. So come on girls! lets fill that comment box and Insha'Allah show them that we agree with what Allah swt has ordained for us, no matter how it is said to us.

    Go to <a href="http://-http://www.islam21c.com/islamic-law/2606-attractive-hijabs-a-shariah” target=”_blank”>-http://www.islam21c.com/islamic-law/2606-attractive-hijabs-a-shariah

    Wa Salaamu 'Alaykum

    'Many a big deed becomes small due to its intention, & many a small deed becomes big due to its intention……' (Abdullah ibn Mubarak)

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  8. - May 2, 2011 at 11:24 pm Reply Tweet


    i endorse this too!!!!!!! please comment insha'allah, and insha'allah we [i] will too insha'allah..

    jazaakumullahu khairan

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  9. Amat Al-Kareem May 4, 2011 at 1:44 am Reply Tweet

    May Allaah(Subhannahu wa ta'ala) preserve the Shaykh Aameen.
    "O you who believe! Obey Allaah and His Messenger, and turn not away from him(i.e. Messenger Muhammad (sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam) while you are hearing" (8:20)

    There is wisdom behind each and every minute aspect of the Deen. When reading this article do so with the intention of perfecting one's self and attaining nearness to Your Creator, Glorifed and Exalted is He.

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