Here I go, heading straight for another controversial topic!
The thing is, as a convert, over the past two years I have gotten pulled in a lot of different directions as to how I should be dressed. My Arab friends think that only a black abaya is appropriate, my Pakistani friends give me their salwar kameez, and my Algerian husband doesn’t understand why I would cover my feet even when we go to the beach in Tunisia.
The common thread between all of these things , is cultural practice. Which is great. But being an American Muslim, I don’t really feel the need to conform to Arab or North African or anyone else’s idea of what the only “perfect” hijab looks like.
So where do we draw the line between what is Islamically appropriate and what is mere cultural style?
Well, traditionally the minimum that scholars of Islam allow as permissible for the standards of modesty is that your face and hands (and in the Hanafi school your feet as well) may be uncovered. Everything else (chest, neck, bum, stomach, legs, etc.) must be covered in loose fitting clothing, made from an opaque (not transparent) fabric. Some scholars allow some kohl around the eyes, though I personally choose not to wear makeup. Perfume outside of the home is not allowed. The only type of head-scarf style within those that cover your hair, neck and chest that is not allowed is the “camel hump,” i.e. a scarf that you have built up off of your head with hair and other scarves to form something that looks like the hump of a camel on your head.
This means that whatever cultural style you have, as long as it adheres to the minimum requirements, is an awesome hijab.
Colours, patterns, styles, cuts, they are all hijab.
I am American. I personally really like to wear flowy maxi skirts and long cardigans or kimonos in pastel colours (especially in the spring!). If you are happier in an abaya, or salwar kameez, or those super fashionable wide-legged trousers with a cape coat on top, or even a full cloak and face veil, you do you sisters!
Just remember to keep it modest, keep it within the boundaries of Islam, and enjoy showing off your awesome personality!