Islamic Concept Of Hijaab For Men

When I set out to write this piece I sought opinions of different people, both men and women about their views on hijab for men. Interestingly, but not without expectation, more people interpreted this as the understanding of women’s hijab for men, and not the significance that Hijab as a concept, holds for men. The very fact that Hijab has come to be intr insically associated with women so much so that the word itself brings the picture of a woman wearing a Hijab in our minds, is a clear indication of the popular discourse surrounding it today. 
Islamic Concept Of Hijaab For Men, Hijab For Men
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And with this become exclusively women centric and start representing the societal norms rather than religious morals & obligations. They become inclusive of the norms of the society, and are largely a tool of rule for the hegemonic crowd. The Islamic concept of Hijab as understood today, is one such example.

Let’s understand the term Hijaab,  Khimaar, Jilbaab & Niqaab in brief. (LINK)
There is numerous amount of controversy today,  regarding the Muslim woman’s headscarf, popularly known as  hijab.  
  1. Hijab - There are two meanings  of hijab. There is a classical usage and modern usage of the term.  In the classical usage, the word hijab means barrier, partition, or curtain to cause separation In modern usage, the word  hijab means headscarf.  
  2. A Khimar hat is worn to cover the head and chest.
  3. A Jilbaab that is worn over regular clothes to cover rest of the body.
  4. A Niqaab is the Face Veil.
The word Hijab comes from the Arabic root  word 'Hajaba', which means to conceal or cover. In an Islamic context, Hijab refers to  the dress code required for Muslim females who have reached puberty. Hijab is the requirement of covering or veiling the entire body with the exception of the face and hands. Some also choose to cover their face and hands and this is referred to as Burqa or Niqab. The Hijab is not required in situations where there are only females and certain male relatives present. However, hijab is not just about outer appearances; it is also  about noble speech, modesty, and dignified conduct. These righteous manners are also  required of men. Muslim males are also required to dress in loose and unrevealing clothing in order to maintain their modesty and dignity. 

Hijab For Men:

People usually only discuss ‘hijab’ in the context of women only. However, in the Glorious Qur’an, Allah (swt) first  mentions ‘hijab’ for men before ‘hijab’ for the women. 
The Qur’an mentions in Surah Al Noor:  
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. 
[Al-Qur’an 24:30] 
The moment a man looks at a woman and if any brazen or unashamed thought comes to his mind, he should lower his gaze. 
Islamic Concept Of Hijaab For Men, Islamic Online University
Photo Courtesy: Islamic Online University

Hijab includes the way a person walks, talks, looks and thinks. All of it should be done modestly and applies to both Men and Women.

Hijab For Women:

The next verse of Surah Noor, says:   
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 veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ 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. And O ye believers! Turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye  may attain  Bliss.” 
[Al-Qur’an 24:31] 

Six Criteria For Hijab:

According to Qur’an and Sunnah there are basically six criteria for observing hijab: 
i. Extent 
The first criterion is the extent of the body that should be covered. This is different for men and women. The extent of covering obligatory on the male is to cover the body at least from the navel to the knees. For women,  the obligatory level of  covering is to cover the whole body except the face  and the hands upto the  wrist. If they wish to, they can cover even these parts of the body. Some scholars of Islam insist that the face and the hands are part of the obligatory extent of ‘hijab’. All the remaining five criteria are the same for men and women. 

ii. Should not reveal figure. 
The second criterion is that the clothes they  wear should be loose and should not reveal the figure. 

iii. Should not be transparent. 
The third criterion is that the clothes they  wear should not be transparent such that one can see through them. 

iv. Not attract opposite sex. 
The clothes they wear should be not be so  glamorous as to attract the opposite sex. 

v. Should not resemble the clothes of the opposite sex. 
The fifth criterion is that the clothes they wear should not resemble that of the opposite sex. 

vi. Should not resemble the clothes of the unbelievers. 
The clothes they wear should not resemble that  of the unbelievers i.e. they should not wear clothes that are specifically identities  or symbols of the unbelievers’ religions. 

Also Read: Tawakkol Karman's Quote About Hijaab.

Hijab includes conduct and behaviour among other things. 
Complete ‘hijab’, besides the six criteria of  clothing, also  includes the moral conduct, behaviour, attitude and intention of the individual. A person only fulfilling the criteria of ‘hijab’ of the clothes  is observing ‘hijab’ in a limited sense. ‘Hijab’ of the clothes should be accompanied by ‘hijab’ of the eyes, ‘hijab’ of the heart, ‘hijab’ of thought and ‘hijab’ of intention. It also includes the way a person walks, the way a person talks, the way he behaves etc.   Hijab of the Eye:
In today’s hypersexualized Western society, many of us would rather just ignore the concept of lowering the gaze and avoiding inappropriate glances at females all  together. And there is no harm in “just looking”, right? 

Prophet Yousuf-The Perfect Example:

On a final note, it is said that when, the wife of the Aziz of Egpyt, tried to seduce Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him), she covered the face of the idol placed nearby. When Prophet Yusuf inquired, she said she did not wish  for it to witness her commit a sin. Prophet Yusuf’s reply to her encompasses  the true essence of the Hijab for men and can serve as  the perfect benchmark for us to  judge the appropriateness of our actions at all times. He said: 
If you exhibit shyness and modesty before a stone that does not see, it is more befitting for me to exhibit shame and modesty before the One Who sees and Who is aware of everything that is manifest  about me and everything that is  concealed within me.” (Anecdotes for Reflection, vol. 2)

Hijab For Men, Women, Child, Teach Your Child About Hijaab, EduIslam, Islamic Online University
Photo Courtesy: Dr Bilal Philips.
Teaching your son to lower his gaze at a young age is just as important as teaching your daughter to wear hijab.

What Do You Know More About Hijaab? What Misconceptions Did You Have About Hijaab? We Love To Hear From You Below In The Comment Section!
Wehr, H., 1979. Hans  Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic  4th ed. J.  Cowan, ed.,  Urbana: Spoken Language Services, Inc. (Anecdotes for Reflection, vol. 2) 

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