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World Hijab Day

World Hijab Day
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1st February is celebrated as world hijab day. World Hijab Day is an annual event founded by Nazma Khan in 2013 to clarify the controversies and misunderstandings of Hijab and fight discrimination against Muslim women through awareness and education.

A Hijab is a arabic word for ‘cover’, ‘screen’ or ‘partition’. While many of us consider it to be mere Muslim dress code for women, it has wider meaning which is associated with modesty.  Following quranic verses deliver the command for hijab:

Say to the believing Men that they should lower their gaze and guard their Modesty………….(surah Nur 24: 30)

Say to the believing Women that they should lower their gaze and guard their Modesty…………………….” (Surah an-Nur, 24:31).

“O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.” (Surah al-Ahzab, 33: 59)

The point to note in above verses of surah Nur is that it commands the men to lower the gaze and guard their modesty first and then addresses the women to do the same, i:e restrain oneself from illicit sexual involvement which begins by starring at opposite genders and then leads to next move. From the above verses it can be concluded that hijab is actually meant to save both men and women from indecency.

In the verse of surah Al-Ahzab, women however are instructed to take extra precaution in covering their bodies so that they are recognized as noble and chaste women which serves as a preventive measure from molestation, abuse and harm which the women are subjected to more than men. Men often get mixed signals and believe that women want their advances by the way they reveal their bodies. Hijab on the contrary sends a signal to men that the wearer is a modest and a chaste woman who should not be annoyed.

All the verses combined together form one concise message that Modesty is achieved by a proper covered body accompanied by piousness and right behavior. And that is known as Hijab which the Quran ordains both for men and women.

The custom of modesty was well practiced from historical times till past century. If one examines historical books of various times and ages, one would find modest covering women in almost every society. Modesty was also an element of several world religions, particularly Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Laws related to modesty and hijab were revealed in earlier scriptures too before Quran. The same message was confirmed and finalized in Quran through Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him). Mary, Mother of Jesus (peace be upon him), is always depicted with a head covering. Hijab is thus one of the common bonds shared by many faiths and cultures in India and around the world.

But as the movement for women empowerment geared up, the hijab became a symbol of oppression and segregation. But is it so? Many women in this developed age, educated, professionals, bureaucrats, sport personalities, media personnel, politicians, students and many more are taking up hijab out of their own choice and freedom of expression just as some women choose to dye their hair or walk around in a bikini. These are those women who wanted to liberate themselves from the vain and selfish desire to show off their beauty. They didn’t want to compete with other women or obtain recognition or acceptance from others in terms of beauty but wanted to live up with the teachings of their faith which they recognized as right in terms of modesty and did not fall prey to expectations of society of what is desirable.

Hijabi Women are also achieving great heights without least difficulty and shattering the stereotypes about hijab.  Hijab-wearing Syeda Salva Fatima, who is one of the four Muslim women in India to become a Pilot, said “I had it all the time on my head and wore it over the uniform. There was never a problem because of the hijab,”

Hijab is also being besieged to cause fear and division between people by twisting Islam. Also there are claims that Hijab is a security risk. It is important to make it clear here that Nikab (veil on the face to cover it) is different from Hijab (which refers mainly to covering the whole body including head except face). As such there is no problem in identification of the face in Hijab and so issue of security risk does not arise. Still many girls and women, wearing only Hijab without Nikab (veil) on their faces, are harassed for identification purposes for entrance exams, passports, visas, etc. even though their faces are uncovered and their identification can be very well done through their faces. We have the recent case of Safina Khan from Goa who was denied to answer the NET Exam due to her hijab. It may be noted here that even though veil wearing (Nikab to cover the face) is one of the virtues of Islam, it is not a compulsion and gives a flexibility for its non-observance as per the situation. And this relaxation is quite sufficient and serves any purpose of identification.

While some cases are also come to limelight with video going viral on social media wherein a person dressed in hijab and nikab was attempting to carry malicious activities inside a temple and was later discovered that it was a plot to mislead the masses against a particular community. Such incidents prove that the hijab is purposely used in the crime to communalize the atmosphere and malign the clothing.

Regarding the colour or kind of the hijab, there is simply recommendation that a woman should not make herself look desirable in the presence of male strangers. Therefore, possible that the hijab could take different forms and shapes depending on the traditions of each Muslim society and the type of work a woman does. Hence it would be wrong to say that productivity of a woman can be inefficient in Hijab. This is as similar to Indian women who wears sari and still carries her duties efficiently and energetically. Question also can be raised here that how would work be more productive if a woman uncovers her beauty. Survey conducted at work places reveal that sexuality displayed by some women at work place through their dressing style is also one of the causes of Sexual harassment at work place which ultimately leads to ruining of company’s reputation and hampering its productivity.

Some people consider it to be a myth that Hijab is protection from crime against women, giving examples of women been attacked even in hijab. This should be understood through a simple example that following traffic laws to avoid accidents should not be considered as a myth only because some drunken driver who isn’t following the traffic laws becomes the cause of accident for others. Similarly if a Hijabi woman too is attacked by a miscreant, it only means that the level of morals of such miscreants is dropped so low that they do not spare even a well-covered woman. Again the reason for decrease in these morals is the gift of almost nude display of women in all possible medias available in this modern age.

Islam revolves around 3 basic principles

1.Consciousness of Almighty God and result of deeds in hereafter which prompts a person to save oneself from sins

  1. Precautionary measures against various aspects which might trigger human weakness and force him to commit a crime.
  2. Just punishment for the sin /Crime

However in our society only one aspect i:e Punishment  is considered out of the  above three which is not sufficient to get rid of any problem.

Hence when we talk about hijab it is one of the first steps to avoid the crime against women and those who force women to remove their Hijabs are in fact heading them towards danger and is as immoral as committing the crime against women themselves.

Nazrana Darvesh

Panaji ,Goa



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