Hijab or veil is divinely ordained and taqwa-oriented. But, thanks to the proponents and practitioners of polarisation, it has been turned into a contentious issue. The bid to make it so has created a strong sense of awareness not only among Muslim women and girls, who are submitting themselves devoutly to the will of God by practising Hijab and asserting its benefits, but also among those who try to understand the issue with open mind. Therefore, it would be in the fitness of things to discuss the points that may lead us to realise the true spirit of Hijab.
Hijab is not just a piece of cloth that is worn on the head. Just covering the head does not fulfil the requirements of Hijab. Suppose a woman covers the head but the dress she wears, the way she walks and talks to strangers is not befitting, her Hijab would not suffice. For Hijab requires much more than just covering the head. It is a complete way of life. It requires the Muslim woman to practise Hijab, and not simply to put it on the head, in a manner that can exhibit the attitude of her life as ordained by God the Almighty.
As Islam is the religion, rather the way of life, divinely ordained and implemented in human society in the guidance of His Last Prophet ﷺ, it has taken comprehensive measures to put the society on the right track, keep it socially and morally stable and protect it from all possible moral deviations, abnormalities and aberrations. The Qur’ān in Surah Noor and Surah Ahzab has presented these measures in so great details that human minds cannot fathom without divine guidance.
These measures prohibit free mixing of genders. They ask women not to display their beauty (zeenah) “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”. They also ask them “not to strike their feet (on the ground) so as to make known what they hide of their adornments”. In the light of these teachings, tight and revealing dress like tight jeans and short shirts are prohibited because such things spoil the very spirit of Hijab.
The spirit of practising Hijab also means that a woman cover her sisters also. She should not talk about another sister in front of the male members of her house. In a hadith Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: “No woman should mix with a woman and describe her to her husband so that it is as if he can see her.” (Muslim)