To Veil or Not to Veil

I bet after seeing the title of this one you are thinking this is going to be a very “prescriptive” piece…oh here she goes, now she is going to tell us that all Muslim women absolutely have to wear hijab and if not they are going to hell.

Well, no, I’m not. While I do believe that hijab is 100% obligatory in Islam, I also believe that it is a deeply personal choice for every woman and forcing women to wear anything (be it covering them or uncovering them) is not OK. And honestly these days wearing hijab does not guarantee the wearer to be a good person-some of the nicest women I have ever met don’t wear hijab, and some of the most awful, uncomfortable interactions I have ever had have been with sisters who are beautifully covered.

Back to the idea of covering being a deeply personal choice, though, I would like to share with you all today (and when I say today I mean “today three months ago” because I wrote this ages ago but just got around to hitting publish….) choice that I am facing.

For some time now, I have been walking around seeing women covered in full face veils, interacting with fully veiled sisters online, and for some reason, I have been feeling very drawn (dare I even say “called”) to it.

One reason is that I feel like covering my face is the logical next step on my hijab journey (I have written about the hijab journey here, and my personal story here). I already wear loose skirts and blouses or loose abayas and maxi dresses, and I often wear a cardigan or kimono for further coverage. I cover my feet, and I wear my scarf so I get a lot of coverage in the front and back. So a face veil seems like the direction to be headed from here.

Another (not so good) reason that I am feeling so drawn to it is that I find many women who wear the face veil to be super beautiful and, stereotypically, mysterious.

What is holding me back then? The first and biggest con on my list is that I feel that wearing a full face veil would really distract from what I am trying to do in the world. My passion is showing people that I am an American, I am a woman, I enjoy my life and do all sorts of totally normal things, and I am also a hijab wearing Muslimah. I am also trying to move into the world of helping newer converts.

The thing about a face veil is, it will put up a barrier between me and the very people I am trying to reach. Random people are not going to come up to me on the street and ask me about Islam anymore, they are going to assume I am “one of them,” I am scary, I am unapproachable. This will also put difficulty in interacting with new converts; I have noticed that even other Muslim women tend to stay away from women in veils because they view them as inaccessible and even stand-offish (not necessarily true at all!). Which I certainly don’t want to be.

Plus, the fear of assault in this political climate is very real.

And back on the superficial side, I love colour. Especially pastel. I feel absolutely lovely when I am wearing a dusty rose coloured scarf and a cute little heart charm on my bracelet. And I do not believe in the slightest that you have to wear black in order to be modest. As long as it is loose, decent fabric and you can’t see through it, I see no issue with pink, mint, lavender, blue, yellow, or any other colour.

Maybe this just means I would have to sew my own face veils to match my mint green kimono and my butter-yellow applique-d scarf…

I just recently had some great advice from a friend: take it slow, think it over, and the right decision will come to you just like it did with hijab, so keep a look out for a follow up post in the near future!

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15 thoughts on “To Veil or Not to Veil

  1. My gender disqualifies me from offering any actual advice, per se, but I’ll offer my insights and my madhhab’s official position on the issue in general; hopefully this will help you form a clearer picture (which is, incidentally, what I do for a living lol).

    So, in the Hanafi madhhab, the niqāb is wājib, but ONLY in the case that a woman lives in such a society so lacking in civility that being seen uncovered would *normally* invite sexual assault or some other kind of abuse (i.e. almost nowhere in the US or UK). That is to say, the niqāb is needed, but for a specific reason in a specific circumstance. Otherwise, covering the `awrah is the only necessity (an obligation, in fact) – and the face and hands aren’t included in the `awrah of a female. Another general obligation, incidentally, is that of lowering the gaze.

    Now, our sharī`ah exists for the attainment of objectives (maqāsid). In the aforementioned, the objective is the preservation of personal safety and dignity. That being said, insisting on wearing the niqāb under the misguided impression that it’s wājib or somehow “better” can sometimes actually *prevent* that objective by inviting harm. Other lofty, and some would argue necessary, objectives also run the risk of being put in jeopardy, such as endearing non-Muslims to Islām, contributing to the success of a thriving Muslim community in a non-Muslim society, et cetera.

    All that being said, niqāb doesn’t require the subsumation of one’s individuality. A niqāb tied over a floral pastel hijāb is just as “valid” as over a black one, and it’s not as if it only goes with `abāya either.

    Anyway. Like I said, none of this is meant to dis- or encourage you. You’re obviously more aware of your situation than me.

    That’s all I can think to mention for the moment!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ashleybounoura

      Thank you, I always do appreciate the information! Like I mentioned in the post, I wrote this quite a while ago so I have been mulling it over for some time, and I have come to a lot of the same conclusions. Honestly here in Algeria, no matter what I am wearing everyone is staring at me, 24/7, men and women, and I don’t know if this would necessarily solve that problem. And also like I mentioned it the post I do feel like it would be very off putting for many of the non Muslims who come up to me and randomly ask me questions about Islam, and dialogue is something I really appreciate. But all that being said, I did finally find my “next step” so to speak in my modesty journey, which I think was really what I was looking for…but that’s a whole different blog post!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow I’m impressed! May Allah help you make the correct decision. Im in niqaab, it was a personal choice and not forced as those who don’t know much about Islam seem to think and I’m only 18 so not married anyway. I love it and have never looked back. How people react to you after wearing it mostly depends on how you act. Besides my mum my family want so accepting of my decision at first but now they done with it. From strangers alhamdulillah I’ve only had funny or curious responses and no negative ones. Funny-being called a ninja and often honestly thought to be one and curious because of my age so general stereotypes like am I married so young. Am I forced. Why exactly do I wear it….
    Sorry my comment was so long, it’s just I was really touched by this post because many who are born muslim don’t seem to like and appreciate this teaching and you do. Masha Allah.

    http://leakingoutsometears.wordpress.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ashleybounoura

      Salaam alaikum, thank you for the comment! I totally don’t mind it being long 🙂 mashaaAllah so young and already so far in that journey, may Allah continue to guide you to His truth and mercy ameen. I really appreciate hearing about your experience and reflections on it, it always helps in making decision to hear from someone who has already been there 🙂 jazakallah khair for sharing your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. WaAlaykum Salaam. Ameen. Just one more thing there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wearing colour. Some people prefer black because they feel is more concealing and others white because it’s a colour loved in Islam but it can be any colour.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. ashleybounoura

        Thank you 🙂 I myself am partial to lilac, pink and mint haha…but I think if worn with modesty and in the right kind of fabrics they can be just as concealing as anything else. I can understand why some prefer black though 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. daughterofmuslimummah

    Islam began as something strange and will return to being something strange. It is no wonder women in niqaab are not received very well. Hardship in the path of pleasing Allah is something honorable.

    Also, I think it’s absolutely possible for you to reach out to people while wearing niqaab. In fact, while I was at college I had the chance to communicate with many non-Muslims and non-practicing Muslims. Both my teacher and fellow student asked questions about the niqaab and Islam in general. It was probably their first interaction with a niqaabi and alhamdu lillah they showed a lot of respect and tolerance despite disagreements. Niqaab actually opened up the door to dawah. I’m pretty sure I would’ve come across as a “normal” 16-year old teenage student as everyone else in the class, which would’ve knocked down some stereotypes straight away.

    We must break these rife preconceptions about niqaab ourselves otherwise they’ll remain. The solution is not to submit to the problem.

    I pray you reach a decision which is most pleasing to Allah. May Allah keep you firm, ameen.

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    1. ashleybounoura

      Ameen, thank you for your comment and your duas! It is interesting I had never imagined that niqaab might actually open more doors to conversation, maybe since my own non Muslim family is very put off and kind of fearful of women in niqaab that I assumed that to be the sentiment of most. Definitely much to think about!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: A Hijab Transition – Muslimah According to Me

  5. I love pastels too!!! 😍😍😍

    at the moment it is quite challenging to dress myself in light pastel colours that I love, like baby pink, baby blue, light peach.. I’m still trying to find the best way to dress myself because it’s always sunny and really hot here, and when the sun shines on it, it gets kinda transparent. especially with flows maxi dresses! (Shows your legs!) The outfit they sell here are also thin due to the hot weather! So I’m just wondering do you wear like inner layers over your outfits or are they just naturally thicker because of where you live?

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  6. It was interesting to read your pros and cons though I work with many Muslim women, most of them do not cover their head and it’s not something I have asked about. I walk to work always on the same road and there’s a women who takes the same direction everyday, sometimes joins me, in her headscarf and we chat about what she’s planning to cook that day and so on. We don’t even know each other’s names but are quite happy with each other…it’s our morning ritual. Me – the typical public sector manager in a shirt and her, in more comfortable Indian style dresses and headscarf. She’s inspired me to write a poem – a veiled woman, which I have recently posted

    Liked by 1 person

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