We usually think of the woman in hijab being berated and attacked by those outside the faith. But, as we have seen amongst our own Muslim Mamas, women can come under fire for wearing their hijab by none other than their own husband.
It is really sad that lots of women find themselves in a situation where they wear hijab despite their husband’s dislike for it. It affects the husband-wife relationship in painful ways as it strikes at the heart of a woman’s self-esteem and desire to be attractive to her husband.
What can you do – and what does it mean – if your own husband doesn’t want you to wear hijab? Are the only options to defy and upset him, or to stop wearing it completely? The answer, as usual, is not a single solution but a multitude of things you can do to reduce his prejudice against your hijab.
Remind yourself of the positives:
First and foremost, keep things in perspective. It’s very easy to let one thing that your husband does wrong become a slur on every aspect of his being. He might not like your hijab, but he might be a good father to your children, make sure you have a roof over your head and occasionally help you out with the washing up. It is always a useful exercise to be grateful for what you have and it is the first step to showing gratitude to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
If your husband has been frank and open enough to express his dislike of the hijab to you, then even this can be seen as a blessing (however painful it may have been to hear it) as the alternative is to have the issue festering beneath the surface, unexpressed.
Don’t make it about the cloth:
Remember that hijab is more than just the piece of fabric, but a code of behaviour. The way we dress is more than just a compilation of items from our wardrobe; our overall appearance sends signals about our culture, our level of education, our wealth, our personal sense of style as well as our faith. Many of these things get mixed up together. Sadly, it’s normal in some parts of the world to conflate a hijab with being uneducated or poor. For your husband, these broader stereotypes may be at play – or maybe a personal experience may have coloured his interpretation of the hijab. Just as hijab is not just the fabric on your head, there might be other factors in your behavior and appearance that could lessen his prejudice against it.
Understand why it matters to him:
Think about all the boxers, footballers and Hollywood directors who walk around with trophy wives and girlfriends in scanty attire. Well guess what: they are also men. Bagging an attractive partner and getting to show them off is a big ego boost for a man, which means that when that wife wants to hide her beauty it can make him feel less proud. He will have to gain his self-esteem from better, more spiritually healthy places – and that cannot happen overnight. There will be some push back and it will require patience from both sides.
Make a change:
Unless he is living in a cave, your husband is constantly bombarded with images of beauty – hair uncovered (and usually the rest of the body too). These are the women you can have fun with, who smell good, who say the right things, who sell us happiness on every billboard, on every magazine and every pop-up video online. Society tells us what is beautiful and 99.9% of the time, hijab is not part of that picture.
Think how fast beauty standards have changed, just in your own lifetime. Whether hijab is an issue or not, it is wise to stay up-to-date with your style. Make sure you are making an effort where you can, wearing attractive clothes at home and changing your hairstyle from time to time. When going out and wearing hijab, experiment with different hijab styles. As most hijab tutorials will reveal, this can take some time and practice! But it can be well worth it if your husband starts to see that hijab can look good – whether it’s professional and neat, loose and flowy or voluminous and colourful. Remember, there are points for effort. If you keep showing a willingness to adapt, success is just a matter of time. No husband wants a wife who has virtually given up in taking care of her appearance.
Remember that you will not always be perfectly matched in faith:
I’ve kept this point last although it’s usually what people jump to first; the assumption that your husband is lacking in faith and knowledge and that the solution is to confront him directly on this. However true this may be, heading straight to this incriminatory conclusion will only lead to arguments – and put you off from pursuing other solutions, because this one seems impossible to “fix”. As married couples, we hope to be travelling closer to the Sunnah but there are times when there is a real barrier to our submission or understanding.
For any woman who is married to man with almost no adherence to Islam, hijab will be just one battle of many. Rather than focussing on the hijab as the issue, the deeper solution has to be one of inculcating tawheed. Without this, every argument will have no moral baseline and more often than not. For the majority of couples, his dislike for your hijab might just be a coded expression that he’s not finding you attractive in it and this can be worked around and gradually improved. Without doubt, by discouraging hijab, a man is failing to put the law of Allah above their own idea of what is wrong and right; but it is always healthy to give your spouse some space to voice dissatisfaction without being labelled and giving them some hope of change.
So should you remove your hijab to please your husband? Please don’t!
It is obligatory for a Muslim woman to wear the hijab. You aren’t wearing it to please people, you are wearing it to please Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. If your mother, your father or your husband asks you to remove it, you are justified to disobey them in this matter. A husband should know that your obedience to him comes after your obedience to Allah. If you abandon your hijab because your husband has asked you to, you will both fall into sin.
As a whole, we all need to become better ambassadors of the Islamic dress. Individually there is a lot we can do at home to make our husbands feel understood, to look after our appearance and strive to make our marriages a means of becoming better Muslims. Your husband might be in the same house as you, but you might be at different points in your journey of faith. Don’t worry if it feels like a standstill sometimes, because if you are standing up for what is right, you are heading in the right direction inshaAllah.
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