There is more to being an ideal Muslim woman than her Islamic compliant clothing; her personality. In other words, a woman is in need of two kinds of hijab (cover) and both are equally essential. The first is outward hijab and the second is the inward hijab. So, what is an inward hijab?
Sisters, let’s face it. We attract attention just by being women, even when we are not trying. Everywhere we go, we are observed by people around us, mostly male strangers. It is therefore vital to watch our every step and move by applying praiseworthy manners as a personality embellishment.
Shyness is paramount and the absence of it has the power to promote misconduct and create problems that didn’t exist in the first place. Unfortunately, the world today has become too liberal for anyone’s good where shyness is rarely practiced. In fact, it is perceived as a person’s social weakness while free intermingling is practiced worldwide.
It is worth noting that interaction between men and women is not completely disallowed. Under some circumstances like in a workplace and educational institution where it is necessary to have a direct contact, it is permissible as long as it does not transgress the limit stated by Allah.
Having said that, let us take a thorough look into the elements of shyness as our inward hijab that is to be donned in the presence of public, especially non-Mahrams (marriageable men).
Hijab of the eyes
An ideal Muslimah controls her gaze and abstains herself from making inappropriate eye contact with the non-mahrams, be it alone or in the presence of a crowd. Even if she is sitting with her girlfriends and a cute guy happens to pass by, the whole group should lower their gaze in shyness. Just because the guy does not look back, it is not a license to stare at him. A good Muslimah always reminds herself that Allah is watching her behaviour and so she must behave.
Sadly, in today’s case, some Muslim women are not serious in guarding their eyes due to influences from the corrupted way of thinking and weak link with the Islamic understanding. Instead of looking away when they see the opposite gender, they collectively stare at the man and giggle. Some even dare to tease, or should I say, flirt with him! Masha Allah. Islam strongly advises against unnecessary contact with the males even in a needed situation, let alone in a paltry one. If there is no requirement to look up, it is best to lower the gaze in the remembrance of Allah.
Hijab of the mouth
Silence is not just a wise exchange for swearing and insulting, it is also a perfect replacement for gossips and enticing speeches. In Islam, utterances represent self-image and every word that comes out will be recorded by the dutiful angels down to the last detail. So, an ideal Muslimah is wise in picking her words. She runs them by her mind before she speaks, knowing too well that obscenity displeases her Creator and stains her personality. To wear the hijab of the mouth is also an indication for a Muslim woman to refrain herself from engaging in small talks, laughs and jokes with Non-Mahrams. If she must interact, she avoids using attractive voice and keeps the conversation succinct. She also refutes the popular belief that women have to be friendly with the male counterparts or they’ll end up alone for the rest of their lives. What a false notion! Such fear won’t exist in the mind of a pious Muslimah since she is rest assured by the promise of Allah.
Hijab of the mind
Is it uncanny to think that the mind needs a hijab? Similar to the other visible body parts, the inward entities such as heart and mind require some concealment. Donning this type of hijab proves to be amongst the hardest task since humans can’t simply shut down the brain. Humans think more than they hear, speak, smell as well as sense. So, an ideal Muslimah trains her mind to focus on what’s beneficial and divert from harmful thoughts like the images of non-Mahrams, forbidden relationships and people in revealing attires. In any way that she gets distracted, she immediately refocuses. She fills up her mind with the Quran and useful knowledge that can formulate positive thoughts towards reaching her goals and brings her closer to God.
Hijab of the behaviour
This hijab is subtly attached to the hijab of the mind. It receives instructions from the mind which is portrayed in one’s behaviour. Enough to say that a God-conscious Muslimah is aware of her presentation in the presence of Non-Mahrams. She realises that wearing decent clothes is supposed to be harmonized with decent attitudes. Meaning, an ideal Muslimah keeps her distance with her male companions as well as strangers and avoid bodily contact on every level. She declines handshakes and says No to being alone with a non-Mahram in a secluded area, unless there’s no possibility for corruption and no lustful desire involved. If needed, she’ll bring along her Mahram or holds the meeting out in the open.
Our social attitudes construct the perceptions of others about us. While we are not responsible of how they perceive us, we are totally responsible for what we give them to think about. In admittance, we have witnessed the ugly truth that evil is dominating the world by depriving especially women of the feelings of modesty and shame through an insertion of negative connotation into the word shyness. It is time to retrieve the foundation we have ditched for a while by balancing modernization and Islamic practices.
What can we do to stay in moderation?
- Pray to Allah that He makes us among those who shield our pride with shyness. Also, straighten out our intention. I.e. what is the reason we go out?
- Double-check our attire and make sure it is not flashy and our makeup is not extravagant because we do not dress for attention. We dress for protection.
- Bring along the Quran or any other book to help us lower our gaze between times. Interestingly, reading is a productive distraction.
- Choose to hang out with friends based on piety not popularity. They will make us voluntarily shy away from useless conversations.
- Be empathetic towards men. It is tough enough for them today, having been surrounded by women who refuse to cover themselves appropriately, online and offline. Let’s not fan the flames.
- Be steadfast in practicing Allah’s rules. Despite the reality of today where most people we know are too ashamed to hold on to Islam. Do not in any way give in to temptation just because it is conventional and on-trend.
- Enough with the dubious fairy tales. Instead, study the stories of prophets (peace be upon all of them) intensively, since there are incidences and situations of their times relatable to our lives. Their journeys are the best of examples. In this case (shyness as a hijab), we may find the story between Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) and the daughters of Prophet Shuaib (peace be upon him) a helpful edification (Quran, Al-Qasas, verse 22-25).
Allah promises glad tidings for those who are modest and watchful of their actions for the fear of transgression.
Surely the Muslim men and the Muslim women, the believing men and the believing women, the devout men and the devout women, the truthful men and the truthful women, the patient men and the patient women, the humble men and humble women, the charitable men and the charitable women, the fasting men and the fasting women, the men who guard their chastity and the women who guard their chastity, and the men who remember Allah much and the women who remember Allah much – for all those, Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward. [Al-Ahzab; 35].