Question: As a Muslim woman who has moved to the West, I feel like everyone is looking at me when I wear my ḥijāb. I really stand out from everyone else and attract attention. Isn’t the purpose of ḥijāb to cover your body so that people don’t look at you? Maybe I should just stop covering my head and blend in with everyone else so I don’t attract so much attention.
Answer: Dear sister, I can understand how you feel. Surely wearing ḥijāb would make you stand out in a crowd in the West. But before you make any changes in the way you dress, consider this. Q & A CORNER You may attract more attention by wearing ḥijāb, but what do the onlookers see? They see a modest woman, not an exposed one. You are not displaying your beauty; rather, you are displaying your modesty. Further, through your other behaviors you are able to be a model, not just of modesty but of other Muslim characteristics, such as kindness, patience, fairness, and politeness. In fact, your ḥijāb gives you a chance to identify yourself as a Muslim and show Islam in the best possible way, through example. In the words of Imam Ṣādiq (P.B.U.H.), “Invite others to your religion, other than through words. Let them witness your truthfulness, your forbearance, your piety and self-control.”1 As we are well aware, the actions of a few people who falsely claim to be Muslims has somewhat tainted the view of Islam in the eyes of so many people. Sisters who wear ḥijāb, as well as brothers who have a beard and wear decent clothing, can do much to undo this impression through showing their beautiful Islamic behavior. 1. Majlisī, Biḥār al-Anwār, (Dār Iḥyāʼ al-Turāth al-‘Arabī Publication), vol. 67, p. 39. All people send a message through their outward behavior, even through the way they dress. People make their status and roles known through their clothing-think of how a nurse’s uniform, or a waiter’s suit lets us know who they are and how we can relate to them. So, as a Muslim, man or woman, we are identifying ourselves to others and letting them know how to interact with us. May we all be successful as Muslims and our behaviors be pleasing toward Allah. * Do you have a question you would like to be answered? We will not be able to answer every question but will choose the most commonly asked ones for a response.
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