What to know about Hijab 

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Everybody knows that the prophet Muhammad was not the one that introduced Hijab to Arabians. This is common knowledge. In fact, it may surprise you to know that NOWHERE in the Quran does the term Hijab even refer to what we know today as a scarf for covering the head down to the shoulder or so.

The term Hijab as it is used in the Quran refers to curtain, separation, wall, and, in other words, anything that hides, masks, and protects something.

When arguments on the Hijab surface, people often start quoting, Quran 33; 53 because it mentioned Hijab.

“O you who have believed, do not enter the houses of the Prophet except when you are permitted for a meal… And when you ask [his wives] for something, ask them from behind a separation (Hijab)”

If you remember, in my earlier post, I told you how ancient Greece had a culture of seclusion, by this, they don’t allow their women to be seen by strange men or men they are not familiar with.

I have read lots of interpretations of that passage of the Quran I quoted, all seemed to be saying the same thing.

One popular scholar Dr Asma Lamrabet explained that:

“As indicated here (referring to the passage of the Quran quoted), the Hijab concerns only the wives of the Prophet and meets a circumstantial requirement to respect the private life of the Prophet. Besides, it does not represent, in any way, a particular model of clothing. The essence of this requirement aimed, mainly, to educate Arabs of that time to respect the privacy of people and good manners.

“It is therefore quite clear that the term Hijab
does not refer to the meaning given nowadays as the scarf that should cover the head. The Hijab has nothing to do with any Islamic female dress. It is rather a symbol of separation between public life and private life at the time of the Prophet. It aimed to make of the prophet’s wives Mothers of the Believers.”

Anyone serious about making further research will still see what I am saying. But one thing is for sure, the Quran talks about modesty. There is a particular verse that talked about the headscarf, that is Quran 24;31. It mentioned that women should use Khumurihina and cover their heads.

Khumurihina (plural of Khimar) refers to the scarf that women used to wear in the Arabian Peninsula and all the other civilizations at that time.

What is the point of all these… .???

Just like the way the scribes and Pharisees in the Old Testament, in their zeal to make everyone keep the law, multiplied the ten commandments into 613, this is also the zeal some Muslims are using to enforce what has come to be known as Hijab. This is not to say in any way that the Hijab is not nice or modest.

It is faith mixed with the culture of the Arabs that is practiced. Because ordinarily, the Hausas or Fulanis in northern Nigeria already has a decent and modest way of dressing. But to be fully a Muslim according to some, you need to wear what they now called hijab. Then a man needs to dress like the Arabs, grow a beard, and wear a small round cap even while wearing a suit.

It is just like Ngozi Okonjo Iweala becoming a Muslim today, for example, and then she is forced to wear what is called the hijab over her already African headscarf. Imagine if Islam had started in Africa, maybe every Muslim girl in the world would have been forced to dress like NOI to be considered a real Muslim.

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Fr. Kelvin Ugwu
Fr. Kelvin Ugwu
Fr Kelvin Ugwu MSP is an influential Nigerian Catholic priest on a mission in The Gambia.

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