By Inusah Mohammed
The word "Hijab" comes from the Arabic root word "hajaba" which literally means a barrier or partition. Islam is a way of life and as Muslims everything about our lives is detailed. From the way we eat, dress, pray and even interact. Islam emphasizes the concept of decency and modesty in the interaction between members of the opposite sex.
Hijab is often misconstrued as just the piece of covering Muslim women wear on their heads. Hijab is a whole concept which is not limited to only dressing or women. It entails general behaviour of both men and women. The command of Hijab from the Quran first asked men to lower their gaze before commanding and prescribing hijab for women as is evidenced in the Quranic verse below.
"Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: And Allah is well acquainted with all that they do."
Surah Noor. (Quran Chapter 24 vs 30)
And in the next verse, Allah commanded women to observe hijab.
"Say to the believing women that they should cast down their glances and guard their private parts by being chaste ........"
(Quran Chapter 24 vs 31)
Muslim women around the world observe hijab of some sort, mostly based on their understanding of Quranic interpretations on what hijab means. There are some women muslim women who wear full body garments that only expose their eyes. Some cover every part of the body except their face and hands. Others also believe only their hair or their cleavage is compulsory to hide and others also do not observe any special dress rules. Even though it is obligatory on every Muslim woman to observe hijab, there is no compulsion whatsoever. And the choice of such women must be respected.
Some Of The Reasons Women Wear Hijab;
1. As A Means Of Honouring Allah's Command.
As stated above, Allah commanded Muslim women to observe hijab. So for most Muslim women it is simply obeying the command of Allah. This logic refutes the claimed fact that women must observe hijab so as not to distract men. Muslim women observe hijab because Allah commanded them to and not because of men. Therefore Muslim women observing hijab do so as a command from Allah and not as a tool to keep men from been unchaste.
2. Expression of Identity
Quran Chapter 33 vs 59 talks about Muslim women wearing hijab to be identified.
“O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad). That will be better, so that they may be recognised and not annoyed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.” (Quran 33:59).
Every person has something they always want to be identified with and for Muslim women it is the hijab.
3. As A Means Of Connecting With Her Creator.
Muslim women observe hijab as a means of connecting with Allah. With her hijab on all the time, she gets to pray to Allah where ever she finds herself.
However, what is the world's perception on hijab? Are Muslim women accepted and respected for their choice of observing hijab? Is it not surprising that in the 21st Century, Muslim women across the globe face some sort of discrimination either at their workplaces, schools or even in public. And in Ghana, there are evidences of how Muslim women are discriminated against because they choose to wear the hijab in public spaces.
Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab believe the hijab allows them to retain their modesty, morals and freedom of choice. Muslim women cover because they believe it is liberating. Therefore asking a Muslim woman to remove her hijab or forcing it off her head is violating her right as enshrined in the constitution of Ghana.
When institutions force Muslim women to take off their hijab, they are left with the option of choosing between a career, education and their religion. And for a lot of such women, they'll always choose their religion over their careers and education, thereby generally reducing the number of Muslim women in public spaces. For a country like Ghana where there are diverse people and culture, representation matters in all spheres. Muslim women need to be represented in every public space and that can only be achievable if they have the freedom to wear their hijab.
In conclusion, the hijab of the Muslim woman does not hinder her from been productive. She can be in hijab and still be a Doctor, Lawyer, Nurse, Politician, Student among others. It's important to always place value on intellect and competence in selecting a person for a job.
And for the development of this country, we need to be accepting of everyone including Muslim women who wear the hijab.
NB: Hikmatu Iddrisu is a Hijab Advocate and a Reader at Success Book Club.
Original Headline: Hijab: The Muslim Woman's Identity
Source: The Modern Ghana