Raising Muslim children can be difficult, especially in the West. It is vital that Muslim children in the West develop a secure and positive Muslim identity. One of the most visible forms of Muslim self-identity is the hijab worn by Muslim women. Hijab carries with it a burden which most Muslim children are aware of. It is important that as parents, we educate our children about hijab in Islam, its importance, as well as the burden of hijab so that they are fully prepared to lead their lives on the Path of Allah (SWT).
What is Hijab
Hijab is a term used to describe the attire of Muslim women. Muslim women are required in Islam by the Qur’an to dress modestly. Islamic dress code for women does not only consist of a scarf that covers the head, the neck and the bosom; it also includes the overall dress that should be long and loose.
Why it’s important
Hijab is a commandment from Allah (SWT). Hijab connects us with our Creator. The concept of hijab is not only to display modestly outwardly through our clothing but also to serve as a physical reminder of modesty in our behaviour and actions. When hijab is worn for the right reasons, that is, to become closer to Allah (SWT), it becomes a symbol of God-consciousness which is an integral part of Islam. Hijab not only connects us to our Creator but also to each other. Muslim women around the world can transcend languages and cultures, and are able to recognize each other through hijab. Truly, hijab is a beautiful concept within Islam.
The burden of hijab
By this I mean that the hijab has come to symbolize certain characteristics within the Muslim community and there is a great deal of stereotypes within the non-Muslim community as well. Within the Muslim community, there is the sense that a woman who wears hijab is a perfect Muslim, and thus all her mistakes are scrutinized. This extreme leads some Muslim women who wear it to eventually leave their hijab, or those women who do not wear it and justify it by telling themselves that they cannot wear it yet because they are “not good enough Muslims” to wear it. As parents, it is important that we let our young women know that hijab will not make you perfect, nor will you need to be perfect to wear hijab. Hijab is a journey towards Our Creator, not the destination. As I have mentioned before, hijab is not just a piece of cloth. It is a dress code which dictates modesty not only in physical appearance but also in our overall conduct towards ourselves, others, and the world.
How to Develop love for hijab in your children
The first step towards developing a love for hijab in Muslim children is to know what hijab means to you as a Muslim woman. Once you can articulate why you wear hijab and its significance to you, you can communicate those reasons to your children. Children will emulate what you do so if you wear hijab, they tool will want to wear it. But just as important it is to wear hijab, it is equally important that Muslim children know why they wear it. Their reasons for wearing hijab will provide them with motivation to continue wearing it regardless of what those around them think or say. Often, Muslim children begin to wear hijab but leave it during their youth. Why? Often it is the case that they do not have a spiritual attachment to the hijab. For them, it is just a piece of cloth that they are required to wear. Parents fail to communicate the spiritual component of hijab to their children. It is through communicating the spiritual dimension of hijab that it becomes and stays a priority for Muslim children.
You can also develop love for hijab in your boys by having a conversation about why you wear hijab. You can also take the time to teach them about hijab for men (wearing loose clothing and lowering their gaze). It is also important to stress the spiritual dimension for lowering the gaze to your boys and teach them how to behave and communicate respectfully with Muslim women.
If you love hijab, your children will love hijab as well. But for love to exist, it requires knowledge. Once we educate our children about hijab and its spiritual significance to our lives, it provides them with an awareness through which love for hijab can be born.
May Allah (SWT) allow us and our children to love hijab and other actions which bring us closer to Him. Ameen.