Hijabs and Headscarves: The History and Importance of Hijab in Islam

As an Islamic store that sells clothing such as hijab, we receive many questions regarding headscarves and Muslim headwear. We figured, as an online hijab store, we would have the best means to answer some of the frequently asked questions about hijab. The purpose of this article is to educate those seeking information on the purpose of hijab and why women all over the world wear it every day. This page extensively covers everything that we have been asked over the years and much more. If there are any questions that we haven’t covered, we encourage our readers to reach out and let us know so that we can answer them and add them to this page.

Easy Access: Click the links below to automatically scroll down to the subject

  1. How to Pronounce Hijab
  2. What Is A Hijab?
  3. What Is A Hijabi?
  4. Do Men Wear Hijab?
  5. Why Do Muslim Women Wear Headscarves?
  6. Do Young Girls Have to Wear Hijab?
  7. Is Hijab A Cultural or Religious Practice?
  8. Where Can I Buy A Hijab?

How Do You Pronounce Hijab?

Many people wonder how to say hijab properly. The easiest way to pronounce hijab is “ He – jab”. Pretend that the “I” in hijab is an “E” and it will sound the way that most Arabic speakers pronounce the word. If you would like to go a step further in properly pronouncing the word, you have to give a little extra emphasis on the “H”. Try to sigh heavily for a second. You hear that raspy “ha” sound when you exhale? Try to replicate that sighing “H” sound when saying “hijab”. If you do it right, it should sound perfect enough to pass as a fluent Arabic speaker.

What is a hijab?

Hijab is an Arabic word which literally translates to “cover; protect” from something. This usually implies to cover oneself modestly. This includes the rules as laid out by the Qur’an and hadith (skip forward). Hijab can be taken to mean a physical barrier or an ethical barrier, which prevent indecent exchanges with those of the opposite sex. Hijab includes covering both arms up to the hand, covering the entire body down to the feet and covering the hair and neck areas of your head. Over the last century, due to rapid growth of the Muslim population and increased advertising for women’s Islamic fashion, the meaning of hijab has transformed into headscarf or veil. This is only part of the definition. Also, the hijab is technically not specific only to women, Muslim men must also adhere to their own rules of hijab as well; we will discuss this more later (Skip forward). The word hijab itself does not specifically mean scarf or shroud or any particular type of cloth. therefore, The hijab can be found in many forms around the world. Shaylas, khimars, burqas are all variations of the same essential rule to cover the wearer’s head to protect her modesty.

Hijab is usually a square scarf with is wrapped tightly around the neck and fastened with a hijab pin

Shayla is usually a rectangular scarf that is loosely wrapped and leaves the chin and part of the neck exposed

Khimar is a long ended cape like scarf which wraps the head and extends to the middle of the back

-Chador is an even longer khimar essentially which extends all the way to the feet.

-Niqab is a simple face mask which goes underneath the scarf and only leaves the eyes exposed

-Burqa completely covers the head and neck without any exposing any part of the head. The only way the women can see is trough a mesh net in front of the eyes

You can make a hijab out of any cloth, however, most hijabs are sold as scarfs which are meant to be worn as hijabs. In some cultures, the hijab is nothing more than a light chiffon or transparent cloth that rest on the hair. However, the essential principle to wear a hijab or scarf comes from the Qur’an and hadith (teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him).

What is a Hijabi?

A hijabi is someone who wears a hijab. Specifically the world “hijabi” is a female declension of “someone who has a hijab”. Simply put, a hijabi is a woman who wears a hijab. In some countries however, being hijabi means wrapping the scarf to completely cover the hair. In those areas of the world, the person is not considered a hijabi unless certain criteria of the headscarf are met. This varies from place to place, people to people, person to person and so on. At the end of the day, if you are a woman adhering to the teachings of the Qur’an about hijab, then you are a hijabi.

Hijabi women often must endure a great number of difficulties. Sometimes the hijab may draw unwanted attention or disdain from certain people. Some women say that their hijabs are uncomfortable to wear or gets very warm during the summer. Everyone’s experience with hijab is unique although it is the same practice. Therefore, if you are a new hijabi, make sure you take it one step at a time and not force yourself to do everything perfectly. Trying to force yourself too much may result in disdain and you may end up abandoning hijab, which is not what you want.

Why do Muslim Women Wear Hijab and Headscarves?

The hijab has become one of the most controversial topics in the world in regards to women’s rights and religious freedom. The headscarf has become a symbol of honor and modesty to those who practice the scarf. To those who are not Muslim, the scarf is seen as a burdensome cultural obligation which is not the case for majority of Muslims around the world. As a women, you should feel no pressure to wear the hijab because someone you know said to. The decision to wear a hijab is yours alone. The order to wear a hijab, as a Muslim, comes from God and not from man or woman. The courage and will to wear a hijab is a commendable one; when the hijab is enforced or prohibited by government or people, the intrinsic meaning of the hijab loses value to simple man made laws. The hijab or headscarf is a right and obligation for women because it says so in the Qur’an and hadith.

“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their private parts; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their khimār over their breasts 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.”

 -(Holy Qur’an, 24:30-31).

Do Men Wear Hijab?

Well yes, and no. Men do wear the ideology of hijab, but they do not wear headscarves by commandment. It is a common Arabian tradition for men to wear a shemagh or desert scarf. However, this is not a hijab. This is simply a scarf that was once used to protect the wearer from the intense heat and dust in the desert. Over time, this scarf became a status symbol and a badge of honor for some clergy and government officials. It is important to note that this scarf is not obligated by Islamic rules or principles. A man in a simple suit and tie is technically wearing a hijab in the spiritual sense; this is because he is covering all the parts of his body that need to be covered (From the navel to the knee). Since men are not commanded by god to cover the hair, the hijab for men is not as extensive as it is for men. In short, Muslim men and women must wear hijab but only women have to wear the headscarf. Men must also adhere to modesty in the form of character and interaction with those of the opposite sex.

The Qur’an in regards to hijab for men:

“Say to the believing men that they cast dawn their looks and guard their private parts; that is purer for them; surely Allah is Aware of what they do.”

 -(Holy Qur’an, 24:30-31).

Do Little Girls Have to Wear Hijab?

No, children who have not reached maturity are not required to wear hijab. Although, you may see girls wearing hijabs, this is usually a means for the child to feel like part of the community when her older role models of the same faith wear a scarf. Girls who try to imitate their mothers often wear a hijab without even being told to, just like how some girls will try to use makeup or wear heels because they’ve seen their mother or female role model do so. It is also important for her to practice wearing the hijab in a more comfortable environment before having to do it infront of new people in school, work .. etc.. Practicing how to wear and tie a hijab when young can be a crucial step in maturing as a women in Islam.

Is Hijab Cultural Or Religious?

Some may say that certain aspects of modesty and hijab are influenced by culture and the people who taught Islam in that area. However, the ideals of modesty, chastity, decency and piety which make the hijab are laid out clearly in the Qur’an. Therefore, hijab itself is not cultural, but headscarf is cultural. For example, South Asian countries it is very rare to see contemporary wrapped hijab. Most of the women wear a semi transparent shawl which thinly veils the hair and neck. Whereas, in Iraq most women wear the highly conservative Burqa making their entire face obscure and wear gloves to cover the hands. Certain modifications of how to observe the hijab will always be influenced by culture, but culture will never change the commandment of god to observe the hijab.

Where Can I Buy A Hijab?

Well, you can buy one from us. Muslim American has a large collection of hijabs which are available online in the US. Look through our assortment of beautiful hijabs to find one that is perfect for you. We offer a large selection of high quality hijabs online that are perfect for any outfit or occasion.

Hijab fashion has evolved so much. We know how challenging it is to be a Hijabi women at your work or institution. So we wanted to make sure it wasn’t a challenge finding the right hijab for your needs. To read more about different hijab styles and how to wear them click the links below. The articles below will go into detail about specific materials and ways to tie a hijab which you may like and use for yourself.

To browse our collections, visit our Online Hijab Store

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