Thursday, 13 February 2014


“Modesty is a state of the heart. It veils the tongue. It clothes us in good manners. It envelops us with the best of behaviour.” ― T.J. Bowes

            I was talking to the Wise Owl the other day and the topic of ‘hijab’ came up. He said, “sister, did you know that the commandment about ‘hijab’ was first given to the men?”. 

            I looked at the Wise Owl incredulously and replied, “No! You must be kidding!”. To which the Wise Owl shook his head and directed me to the following verse. 

Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts, etc.). That is purer for them. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what they do.
Surah An-Nur 24:30

          After looking at the verse, I quickly said to the Wise Owl, “Yeah but this is not about covering of the head. This is about lowering the gaze.” The Wise Owl then told me that ‘hijab’ in actual fact of the word relates ‘haya’ or modesty, which has a wider meaning than to cover the head. 'Hijab' is an arabic word which means 'barrier' or 'partition'. The purpose of putting up a barrier is to protect and the purpose of putting up a partition is to shield. To protect or shield from what you may ask. Well...the way I understand it, it is to protect our heart and soul from any impurities or harm whether from outside influence or from the devil within us.

            According to the Oxford dictionary (Me and my dictionary!), ‘modesty means behavior, manner, or appearance intended to avoid impropriety or indecency. Modesty not only refers to clothing but also to conduct and character. That is clearly shown when the above Quran verse was revealed. It tells the men to safeguard their modesty by safeguarding their eyes. There is an old Malay saying ‘dari mata turun ke hati’ which translated means, whatever is seen by the eyes is carried down into the heart. What the saying means is that what we see will leave an impact or mark on our hearts hence if we see negative things then it will leave a negative mark on our hearts and vice versa. That is why it is important for us to protect our eyes from viewing or seeing things, objects or people who would not be good for us. 

            Similarly, for women, the whole concept of ‘hijab’ is not just the covering of the head or the body but it has a much deeper meaning than that. Modesty encompasses every aspect of a person from the clothing to the character. Modesty is portrayed from the way that a woman dresses to the way she speaks and also how she conducts herself in front of others. Honestly, I would cringe every time I see a sister who wonderfully garbs herself in an Islamic way, but curses or uses profanity. It completely destroys the whole picture of sereneness.  

           The thing is, I know not everyone is perfect. I, myself is still far from it but I do believe that if we want to declare ourselves as servants of God, then it is incumbent upon us to find out how do we become one and what do we need to do to stay as one. Pleading ignorance may well work amongst fellow human but would you dare to bring up that excuse with God in the Hereafter? I know I dare not! The way I see it, 'hijab' to the outside world serves as a protection against harm and impurities whereas 'hijab' to one's self is a reminder of who we really are.

            So my dear sisters, please take some time to learn about characteristic of a true Muslim women if you are truly interested in becoming one. If you sincerely want to wear ‘hijab’ for the sake of God Al Mighty then, take the trouble to find out how He likes the ‘hijab’ to be. Your effort will be well compensated, In Sha Allah……..

Rasul Allah (SAW) said: “He who displeased Allah for seeking the pleasure of people, Allah is displeased with him and those people are also displeased, for pleasing whom he had earned Allah’s displeasure. And he who pleases Allah, although by it he displeased people, Allah is pleased with him, and also those people whom he had displeased for pleasing Allah become pleased with him. Allah makes him splendid and his speech and acts in the eyes of others beautiful.” [Tibrani]

A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated:

I heard the Messenger of Allah SAW saying,

'If anyone seeks Allah's satisfaction at the expense of people's anger, Allah will be pleased with him and will cause people to be pleased with him. However, if anyone seeks people's satisfaction at the expense of Allah's anger, Allah will be angry with him and will cause people to be angry with him.’

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