Islam and the Quran

Isn’t It Better Without Hijab in the West?

Question: Why is the hijab (not modesty but the headscarf) obligatory if God says in the Quran “That is more suitable, so that they may be recognized and not annoyed." in verse 59 of Surah al-Ahzab? Doesn’t this make it better not to wear it in some places in the West where it could be dangerous for the women who wear hijab?

In order to understand verse 33:59, we need to read all other verses about hijab together with this one. Especially Noor 24:31 :

“And tell the believing women to control their gazes and guard their private parts. Tell them not to uncover their beauty except what is naturally seen. Tell them to put a part of their headscarves onto their chests and not display their beautiful parts except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women attendants, the captives who they are guardians of, the males that have no more sexual desire to women, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. Tell them not to stamp their feet on the ground for their beautiful parts to be noticed. Believers! Turn to God altogether, so that you may attain what you hope for.” (An-Noor 24:31)

As there is a certain command to wear hijab in this verse, we cannot understand Ahzaab 59 as a comparison in the certainty of this command.

If your read Ahzaab 33:59 by beginning with 33:53, you will see that the matter is about the existence of men in whose hearts bad intentions may arise toward women, and about slanders in the matter of chastity. So, verse 33:59 is a comparison only between the cases of women with and without hijab from the point of being recognized as chaste and not being hurt from this aspect.

Otherwise, it is a fact that all believing men and women can be/will be hurt because of their faith, as God decrees:

“It is for sure that; you will be put to a hard test in the matters of your possessions and lives, and you will frequently hear discomforting words from those who were granted the Book before you and from those who interpose others between themselves and God. If you persevere by refraining from doing wrong (they can’t hurt you). Yet, this is a matter of strong determination. ” (Al-e Imran 3:186)

As for the special case when a person is under absolute life-threatening danger, one can behave contrary to her/his beliefs:

Anyone who denies God after having attained to faith except for the one who is under coercion while his heart is firm in faith -but anyone who opens (his) chest to denial, deserves the wrath of God. There is a grievous chastisement for them.
This is because they love the worldly life more than the hereafter. God does not guide a group of people who deny.
” (Al-Nahl/The Bee 16:106-107)

Under coercion or in life-threatening dangerous conditions, we may recommend you to wear a wig and clothes that cover your neck rather than completely taking off your scarf.

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