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Why niqab?

Some weeks ago I saw two women wearing all black, like in this picture, even black gloves, and it made me wonder why they do. I felt sorry for them, as I saw their dress as a prison. I can’t understand why it is necessary for a woman to cover herself this much, as though she’s trying to be invisible! I can’t see how that’s liberating to the woman.

I’ve done some internet searching and found an answer to the niqab question. I suppose that muslimahs around the world disagree upon the need to use niqab or simply the hijab, as they disagree about a lot of other hijab issues. (Hijab both in the sense of the veil and in the sense of modest clothing.)

In general muslim women should wear modest clothes, not drawing attention to their appearance or body. It seems as though most think that a veil covering the hair and neck, is needed in order to complete the modest attire. See explanation below.

Syed maintains that when a woman is covered, men cannot judge her by her appearance but are forced to evaluate her by her personality, character, and morals. “I tell them that the hijab is not a responsibility, it’s a right given to me by my Creator who knows us best. It’s a benefit to me, so why not? It’s something every woman should strive to get and should want.”

The young woman admits to being surprised that many people wonder if she wears the hijab everywhere (at home, when sleeping, in the shower). The truth is that Muslim women only cover themselves in front of men who are not direct relatives (brothers, fathers, and uncles) to prevent indecent acts or thoughts. (From “Why do Muslim women wear the hijab?” Eighteen year old Canadian Muslimah Sumayyah Syed explains.)

I’ve also read that the Prophet Muhammad explains the covering of women as a mean of protecting what is beatiful. I can’t recall the exact words, but it had something to do with hiding ones gems/pearls. It was in fact a beatiful sentence/excerpt.

According to Al-Muhajabah (meaning she who wears Islamic dress) niqab (see picture with woman in black) is an even better way of seeking to obtain the love of Allah. It is a prolonging of the hijab, covering even more, and harder to wear etc All this resulting in niqab being even better than hijab in means of keeping private what is meant to be private. She states that there’s not an explicit reference to niqab in the Quran, but makes reference to some other text and the fact that the Prophet’s wifes surely wore niqab. (For a full understanding and explanation, visit the www.muhajabah.com pages)

To me a niqab still looks as a prison for women, but now I know why someone choose this.