“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their khimār over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husband, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments.”
– Quran 24:31
Directly translated, the “hijab” means “a screen or a curtain”. In our context, the hijab is a physical body covering, used to identify and protect our faith as a Muslim woman.
But surprisingly, there are many issues that arise with this seemingly simple concept.
At a literal level, the hijab is simply a piece of garment like any other – a jacket, a pair of socks, a scarf – so how and why has this innocent piece of cloth create such a stir in the world?
Because the hijab goes deeper than just an adornment. It’s primary use is not to beautify; it is to conceal. In our society where it is the norm to be told “If you have it, flaunt it”, the concept of hiding beauty sounds like one that is slightly ridiculous, and hard to swallow.
But in this world alone, the concept of beauty is not only zeroed down to the amount of skin one reveals. In certain tribal groups of Africa, the size of one’s lip plate symbolizes their status in the tribe. In Thailand, the number of brass rings around a woman’s neck are used to identify her status and beauty. Tattoos are also vastly used in many places to mark someone’s bravery or coming-of-age in a society. How fat a woman is is also a mark of her prestige in some places, and makes her more attractive to potential suitors.
Similarly, the hijab can be seen as another concept of beauty – with one huge difference.
It is the concept of beauty as seen in the eyes of God – not men.
Of course, it is not easy for everyone to accept this easily. Likewise, when we look at the eccentric definitions of beauty in some societies, we scoff and think them ludicrous. To someone who has grown up being taught to emulate the models on billboards and the divas of the arts, covering up seems just as strange and alien to them.
This is understandable, for a non-muslim – but sometimes even born muslims or reverts find it as difficult to comprehend the wisdom behind the hijab, especially with such pressure from a bikini-wearing society and the like.
Walk by any store along Orchard Road and you will find clothes inspired by the runways of Paris and Milan; clothes made by man, defining what the next “hot trend” should be. But the hijab is a way of dressing yourself as defined by God; the ultimate designer of the universe.
For some women however, everything is made even harder when you are a hijabi or are thinking of wearing the hijab in a place where Islam has earned a bad name (think the “T” word), and knowing that that choice of covering up will put you in a harsh spotlight.
Living in Singapore, we do not face as much of the troubles and stigma that our western sisters might on a daily basis, but we do have obstacles of our own to overcome. Some ladies might receive backlash from their friends or families for donning on a hijab, or feel that they are stereotyped in a negative way by employers.
This is where Hijab Hijrah 2013 comes in.
A ladies only event, Hijab Hijrah is seminar that will take place in the form of a talk-show, where ladies will be encouraged to step up and share their own personal stories and struggles in the way of wanting to please Allah s.w.t. The speakers will include highly successful women in their own fields, and who are all hijabis. They will also impart personal grooming tips and empower women with skills and knowledge of professional etiquette in hijab.
This is truly a rare and empowering gathering, so if you have any doubts, uncertainties, burning questions that you would like to be addressed, this would be your chance to free yourself of them.
All ladies are welcome, both young and the young at heart, hijabis or non-hijabis. This event will be held at the National University of Singapore on the 21st of July at 10am-2pm.
For more details, visit this website http://www.islamicevents.sg/event/3644 or click on the poster below: