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Hijab Checklist

By: S.L.A. © 2016 Dawahmaterials.com and IfoundIslam.net

Pink ChecklistHijab is much more than just a piece of cloth on your head.  It is the symbol of a believing woman who loves and fears her creator.  Allah has bestowed upon the women great honor that should be cherished and maintained. 

Muslim women protect their honor by guarding their beauty, wearing modest clothing as prescribed to us in all three of the Abrahamic Religions (Judaism, Christianity, & Islam). 

Yes, even the Christians and Jews are supposed to wear hijab.

In the Bible, it says:

“1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.  I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head..” (1 Corinthians 11:1-6 , NIV)

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (1 Peter 3:3-4 , NIV)

Allah tells us in the Qur’an:

“And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers, their brothers' sons, their sisters' sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.” (Qur’an 24:31 )

In another verse Allah tells us:

“O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.” (Qur’an 33:59 )


When we hear the word hijab, we often picture a cloth that is worn on the head that covers the hair of a woman.  Hijab includes more than just covering the hair.  Full hijab indicates that a woman covers her hair, and all her curves.  This is accomplished by wearing very loose fitting clothing, that is not transparent, and which does not cling to the body revealing the shape.

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) as saying:

“Two are the types amongst the denizens of Hell, the one possessing whips like the tail of an ox and they flog people with their help. (The second one) the women who would be naked in spite of their being dressed, who are seduced (to wrong paths) and seduce others with their hair high like humps. These women would not get into Paradise and they would not perceive the odour of Paradise, although its frag- rance can be perceived from such and such distance (from great distance).” (Muslim Book 40 Number 6840 )

Hijab also includes our mannerisms as well.  We should guard the way we walk, carry ourselves, and how we talk when we are around non-mahram men.  Just because a woman wears the full hijab, it doesn’t accomplish much if she walks with seductive movement and draws attention to herself with a flirtatious way of speaking and laughing.  We should avoid drawing the attention of men in all forms.

Now that you know what proper hijab means, do you fit the description?  Here is a checklist of ways to identify if you are wearing appropriate “hijab”.  If you match any of the items on the checklist, you may need to modify that item.

THE HIJAB CHECKLIST

Hair, Ears & Neck

Is your hair, ears, or neck exposed?

It is not properly covered if any of the following are exposed:  hair (even a few strands), ears, earrings, neck.

Many women think that it is ok to leave a few hairs in the front exposed as long as the majority is covered….that is not hijab.  If a man sees a little, he has an idea of what the rest looks like and will begin to idealize how you look without the hijab.  So, pay attention to your hair, because if it isn’t covered completely, there is not much point in wearing it in the first place.  Allah didn’t tell us to cover just “some” hair.

If you look carefully at the ayah 24:31 provided earlier, it states (in Arabic) that the head covers or “khumur” should be drawn over the neck slits “juyoob”. Khumur is the plural of the word "Khimar" which means a head cover. Juyoob is the plural of the word "jaiyb," which means in reference to the neck slit (of the dress).

Al-Qurtubi said:

"Women in those days used to cover their heads with the Khimar, throwing its ends upon their backs. This left the neck and the upper part of the chest bare, along with the ears. Then Allah (swt) commanded them to cover those parts with the Khimar."

So, make sure your ears, neck, and chest are covered completely.  This means no earrings too.  Many women like to “show off” their earrings and will wear the hijab in a way that will either cover all the ears just leaving the earrings dangling out of it, or sometimes expose just the tips of the ears along with the earrings.  This is not proper hijab as the purpose is to hide your beauty, and not draw attention to yourself.  Wearing earrings defeats the purpose.

Shoulders & Arms

Are your shoulders or arms exposed? 

It is best if you have a headscarf that is large enough to drape down from your head over your shoulders, but as long as your shoulders are covered, even if it is by the dress you are wearing, you are ok.  Your arms should be covered as well.  This means no short-sleeved or half sleeved shirts.  Your arms should be covered from the shoulder to the wrist.  It is advised that you wear shirts with sleeves that will not slide towards your elbow when your arm is raised because it will expose your arm when you do.  Many women will wear an Islamic piece of clothing referred to as an “arm sleeve” which is just a short tube of elastic type fabric that is worn on the arm under the shirt or dress that will keep the arm covered if the sleeve slides towards the elbows at any time.  If that feels like too much clothing, you can attach a string loop to the end of the sleeve that slips over your finger to help keep it in place, or you can put either drawstring or a button on the end to make it adjustable (like what exists on a button down dress shirt).

Upper Body

Is your upper chest, or cleavage area exposed? 

If it is, this item will not suffice….unless it is completely covered by a long headscarf that will not become exposed when moving about, or the wind blows it up.

Is your bust size and shape identifiable? 

If it is, this means your shirt is either too tight, or form fitting, and should not be worn.  Wearing shirts that have seams going upward from the bottom to shape the body and draw attention to the bust-line are common among business attire and should be avoided.  Your shirt or dress should drape loosely over your chest area and left to hang and not be tucked in (if wearing pants). 

Mid-Section

Does your shirt (if it isn’t a dress) cover your buttocks? 

If you decide to wear a shirt instead of a dress, you should make sure that it is long enough to cover the buttocks and it should be loose enough to not show the shape or size of your waist and buttocks.  It should drape down very loosely. Is your stomach area or hips showing?  Your waist, hips and stomach area should be covered with loose clothing.  This means that you should not tuck your shirt into your pants or skirt.  It should be left to hang down over your midsection, at least past the buttocks.  You should not be able to see the shape or size of your waist, so if your shirt lets it be seen, then it is too tight.

Thighs & Legs

Are your legs exposed? 

This means all the way down to, and including the ankles.  If you choose to wear pants or skirt, it should be long enough to reach and cover the ankles.  It should also be loose fitting enough, so that the size and shape of your legs (including your thighs) are not known.  This means you can’t wear those “skinny jeans” anymore, at least not when in the presence of non-mahram men anyway. 

If you decide to wear a skirt or a dress, it is advised to wear some sort of pants underneath to protect you if the wind blows a gust of air up your dress or skirt.  Also when the wind blows (even when it doesn’t blow your dress or skirt up), it will gather between your legs more easily and show the shape of your buttocks and legs if you are not wearing pants.

Ankles & Feet

Can you or others see your ankles? 

If so, then your dress, skirt, or pants are too short.  If they are too short, and you don’t want to buy new ones (assuming this is the only issue with them), you can have them altered to add either thick lace or another fabric to the ends to extend them to reach to proper length.  If you can make it to reach the length which is about one inch from the ground, it should cover your ankles, and the tops of your feet without touching the ground.  If it does touch the ground, don’t worry.

A woman asks Um Salama, 

"I am a woman who drags her dress and I walk in the dirty places, what shall I do? Um Salama answered, "Rasool Allah said 'What is after it purifies it.” (Muttawa Malik, Book 2 Number 16 )[i]

Can anyone see your feet or toes? 

Covering the feet is a debated issue.  There is debate about if it is required for women to cover their feet during prayer, outside prayer, both, or neither.

There are differences among the Hanafi themselves, and there exist three authentic opinions in the madhhab:

1) That the feet are nakedness

This is based on the direct implication of the hadith,

"When a girl reaches puberty, it is not appropriate that any of her should be seen, excepting her face, and her hands up to the wrists." Narrated by Abu Dawud; It is a mursal narration at the level of hasan.

It is also strengthened by the narration that the Prophet PBUH was asked, when he mentioned the prohibition of dragging the lower garment, about what women should do with the ends of their garments. He said, ' They should extend them a span.' Umm Salamah said, 'Then, their feet will be uncovered!' He said, ' Then, they should extend them a cubit, not exceeding that.' Narrated by Tirmidi , who graded it as hasan sahih, Nasa'i and Abu Dawud, with the words, "then she will be uncovered."

This opinion was presented as the madhhab of Abu Hanifah by al-Quduri, and is also espoused by al-Jassas in Ahkam al-Qur'an and by Qadi-Khan. Similarly, in Sharh al-Aqta`, it is stated, "The authentic (opinion) is that it is `awrah, from the apparent (implication) of the narration." (See al-Bunayah , vol. II, p. 63) Of the latter Hanafi scholars, al-Ghunaymi has inclined towards this view in al-Lubab . The feet are also considered nakedness by Imams Malik, al-Shafi`i and Ahmad ibn Hanbal.

2) That they are not nakedness

The argument for this is based on two points:

i) If the establishment of the nakedness is by the saying of Allah, the Exalted, (translated), "And let them not show their beauty, except that of it which is apparent," then the foot is not customarily a location of beauty (it may be for a minority, but regulations are set according to the general rule), and thus Allah, the Exalted, has said, (translated), "And let them not strike their feet in order to make known that adornment which they are hiding," i.e. the ringing of anklets, and this conveys that the feet themselves are of the beauty which is apparent. This is fortified by the fact that the Mother of the Believers, `A'ishah, said, commenting on the verse, (translated), "And let them not show their beauty except that of it which is apparent", "the toe-ring, a silver ring which is [placed] on the toes." Narrated by Ibn Abi Hatim, as quoted by Ibn Taymiyyah in Hijab al-Mar'ah, p. 17.

ii)If the establishment is by the Prophet's saying, "The woman is to be covered," along with it being established that some of her body is excluded due to hardship of (avoiding) exposure, then, by analogy, it should necessitate that the feet also be excluded, due to the corroboration of hardship. This is because she would be put to hardship by her foot showing when she walked barefooted or with shoes, for she may not always find khuffs or socks with which to cover them. Along with this, desire is not aroused by looking at the foot such as is aroused by looking at the face, and so if the face is not `awrah, in spite of the plentiful arousal of desire, then the foot is more appropriate to remain uncovered in view of the hardship associated with covering it. See Fath al-Qadir: al-Hidayah with its commentaries, vol. I, p.225, and al-Bunayah , vol. II, p.63.

This opinion has been reported by al-Hasan [ibn Ziyad al-Lu'lu'i] from Abu Hanifah. Al-Marghinani graded it as the more authentic opinion in al-Hidayah , and Ibn al-Humam and al-`Ayni acknowledged this in their commentaries thereof. This view has been presented as the madhhab position by later texts, such as Nur al-Idah and al-Durr al-Mukhtar. Al-Thanawi concluded in I`la al-Sunan that it is sounder from the point of rationale.

3) That they are nakedness outside salah, but not in salah.

Ibn `Abidin reported this as one of the authentic views in Radd al-Muhtar.

It may be noted that Hafiz Ibn Taymiyyah, the Hanbali, also favored this opinion. He says, "And similar (is the case with) the foot. It is permissible for her to show it (in salah) according to Abu Hanifah, and (this) is the stronger (position), for `A'ishah considered it of the apparent beauty. So, this is an evidence that women used to show their feet initially, just as they used to show their faces and hands, for they used not to walk in khuffs or shoes. Moreover, to cover these in salah poses a great hardship, and Umm Salamah said, 'A woman should pray in an ample garment which covers the tops of her feet,' and so when she makes sajdah, the bottoms of her feet may show." Hijab al-Mara'ah wa-Libasuha fi al-Salah , pp. 17-18.

Some scholars opined that the feet are not nakedness in that she is not required to cover them, but they are nakedness for the purposes of looking and touching, i.e. it is not permissible for stranger men to look at or touch her feet.

In conclusion, it is preferable and more precautionary to cover the feet. However, due to the existence of scholarly disagreement on some details, one who follows another opinion in good conscience should not be criticized.

Abu Dawud narrated that 'A'ishah said:

“Asma came to see the Messenger of Allah (saws). She was wearing a thin dress; the Prophet (saws) turned away from her and said to her: "O Asma, once a woman reaches the age of puberty no part of her body should be uncovered except her face and hands."[ii]

Are you wearing an anklet (form of jewelry)? 

It is permissible only on the condition that it cannot be seen and does not make noise.

“And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.” (Qur’an 24:31 )

This is not only in regard to Muslims, but also those who believe in the Bible, as mentioned earlier:

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” (1 Peter 3:3-4 , NIV)

Do your shoes make noise when you walk? 

High heels, shoes that have solid inflexible soles, and others, make a clickity-clack noise when you walk.  When someone hears these sorts of shoes (even when the person wearing them is not seen) it is typically assumed that it is a woman wearing them and may cause men to look to see you, whereas if you were wearing quiet shoes, they wouldn’t be tempted to look to see who is coming.  Therefore, based on the Qur’an verse provided above, any sort of noise making shoe should be avoided.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t wear nice shoes, but you should not be drawing attention to your feet.  In a humorous way, Islam gives women an easy solution to feeling the need to spend lots of money on shoes by encouraging us to avoid having people look at our feet, which means we don’t need to buy lots of shoes.  You can wear whatever style of shoe that you like, just make sure that you are not trying to draw attention to them.

Make-Up & Perfume

Are you wearing visible make-up? 

Make-up should only be worn when you are around your husband and other mahrams.  Why?  You shouldn’t wear it around others because it is a form of beautifying yourself, thus causing attention to be drawn to you, and attraction will occur more often than if you do not wear it.  Some scholars state that if you wear a concealer to cover an abnormality such as a scar and does not add color to your face, then it is permissible; however, if you are doing it for the sole purpose of beautifying yourself, then it is forbidden.

Are you wearing perfume? 

Perfume should only be worn at home when you are around only mahrams.  Perfume can stimulate attraction from men, thus making it forbidden to wear around non-mahrams.

Narrated by Abu Musa, it states:

Allah's Messenger (saws) said: “Every eye is lustful, and when a woman applies perfume and then goes about in an assembly, she is like such and such, i.e. an adulteress.” (al-Tirmidhi, Vol. 5, Book 41, Hadith 2786 )

Mannerisms & Behavior

Different cultures and different forms of behavior in this sense can dramatically affect the definition of hijab.  Women tend to express themselves with happy smiling faces and use lots of hand gesturing and body movements full of excitement when speaking. 

We should try to limit these behaviors when we are speaking in public.  Laughing loudly should also be avoided as it can draw attention from others to you that are not even close to you.  A woman’s voice can be very seductive to men, and we should try to have a stern and non-flirtatious sound when speaking to men when we have to.

Reverts from non-Muslim countries tend to neglect this part of hijab the most due to the culture they come from.   Societies in these countries have free-mixing of the men and women in all forms, and smiling and talking with gestures to men is seen as normal; therefore, making this one of the most difficult aspects of behavior for revert women to change when they enter into Islam. 

Typically, men from Muslim countries will view a woman that smiles, gives eye contact and uses gestures when talking to them, as a form of flirting, whereas the woman does not realize it, nor intend for it to be taken as flirting.  Eye contact should be avoided for extended periods of time when you are in a situation where you must talk to the opposite sex.  In the majority of non-Muslim countries, it is considered rude to not look the person you are talking to in the eye.  The way to deal with this matter is to give them your attention at the time of starting the discussion, then looking elsewhere and just randomly giving them eye contact again.  This will let them know that you are paying attention to them, without gazing at them.  You will learn over time when it is appropriate and not to give eye contact.

We can’t always think of things by how we personally see something, because those from lands where Islam is more widespread and practiced will view this behavior as inappropriate.

Actions & mannerisms can sometimes speak louder than words, so guard your actions to prevent men from thinking that your behavior doesn’t match your dress.  Hijab is all-encompassing.  If you are wearing the proper clothes, but walk, stand, and talk in a flirtatious manner, it is just as if you are not wearing it, so don’t make your efforts to wear hijab worthless.

Modesty is the goal to wearing hijab.  Modesty protects a woman from the prying eyes of men and forces men to treat her with respect and look at her mind instead of her body.  You will find that if you change these points about how you dress, that men will start to treat you much better, giving you more respect, and you will gain more and more self-confidence in yourself knowing that you do not need to go through life depending on your looks.  You can achieve great things with grace while pleasing Allah without disrespecting your body.

May Allah make wearing hijab easy on you and all the Muslim women and give all the Muslim women his protection from the gazing eyes of others, and his shade of protection on the Day of Judgment.  Ameen.

Recommended Reading:

(Coming Soon) - Women's Rights & Status in Islam – A Comprehensive Guide

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[i] As-Sayyid Sabiq. Fiqh Us-Sunnah: Purification and Prayer. American Trust Publications. 1985. Page 14 .

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