Critical Issues: The Headscarf?’ – Professor Tariq Ramadan


“I think it’s very important that we consider that wearing hijab and being modest is a PRESCRIPTION by Allah.

Just as a physician prescribes medication to his patients. It is up to them to decide on their own based on their own research of reputable sources and knowledge of the side effects. Just as a medication can have side effects, so can the decision to wear hijab. For example: challenges in the workplace, less social interaction with non-muslims, discrimination from others, etc. But just as medication can have therapeutic benefits, so can hijab: becoming more in-tune with your faith, improved awareness of issues of the muslim woman, praying more often, acting in a respectful manner, and making daa’wa to others.

HIJAB IS A PERSONAL DECISION FOR EACH WOMAN. With that being said, yes it is optional. Because each person has the option to decide whether or not to do something which is FARD. There is no doubt in Islamic History that hijab is FARD. One should make a personal decision to dress modestly or not just like we decide whether to pray, whether to fast, whether to avoid alcohol or not. FACE IT PEOPLE, this whole idea of making EVERYTHING MANDATORY OR YOU GO TO HELL does not encourage the masses to practice Islam out of true belief…but out of fear/shame only. We must be an open-minded ummah to those non-Hijabi Muslim women, such as converts, who perhaps are struggling with their decision, or maybe need more support or knowledge. This should be more emphasized within our communities. Where are the hijabi support groups? Where are the educated muslim women who can take the role of advisors in the mosques? Just as Prof. Ramadan mentioned, why is it mostly men taking this role in communities to make decisions about matters that concern muslim women?

Take for example, Salah, also a prescription by Allah. Allahu a’laam (ALLAH knows best), of course, but one’s prayers may be more heavily weighted on the day of judgement than one’s dress. I understand that many things are interrelated…but if people emphasized the importance of prayer more than quarreling about hijab all the time…or simply judging a women’s entire belief in faith based ONLY on if she wears Hijab or not…it would benefit the muslim community a lot more. Just being a ‘good person’ and saying the shehada is not enough, of course we should always be striving to improve ourselves. Being muslim means you must play and dress the part. ACTIONS are more important than simply the way one dresses. But also dressing modestly can lead to good actions. Therefore, the two are interrelated. But where are the in-person discussions/lectures about the status of muslim women when it comes to issues other than hijab? This website is extremely valuable in that aspect, but in the offline–real world–we don’t get many of those discussions in our mosques.

I pray that someday hijab will no longer be a symbol of oppression to the world, but a symbol of freedom to decide to be close to God and obey his word. Right now, even many Muslim women are foolishly associating it with oppression. But can you blame them? The atmosphere for women in our muslim communities is mostly stagnant. Improving the status of muslim women in the East, in turn improves their image in the West, and that leads to increased confidence for muslim woman in predominantly non-muslim countries. Where are the muslim women scholars? Where is the unity, we need to stop questioning whether this or that is FARD and move past those arguments…We need to figure out a way to help our sisters and brothers work towards completing those actions that please Allah. Instead of leaving them in the dark to struggle on their own. Again, very thankful for this website. Just hoping to see more real life action and discussion in our communities.” – Salam J