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Why do Muslim women wear hijab? Religious leaders weigh in on the matter

Readers Lounge By Raph Wangutusi
Model Halima Aden

According to Ustadha Rukia, 48, a female religious leader at Jamia Mosque, “Wearing the hijab is not a culture but part of the Muslim religion and a command from God. If you are a woman and you believe in God, regardless of the religion, you have to protect your modesty.”

According to Ustadha, Muslim women who only cover their heads but wear normal clothing below the head like dresses and jeans, are not following the book.

“It is not just a head cover, it is for the whole body to be covered for your modesty,” she says. On the question of why some may reveal their faces while others only reveal their eyes:

“It all depends on ones closeness to God. It is the women who want to get closer to God that often only reveal their eyes and not because one may be approaching marriage or is already married, as it has been thought to be,” she says.

Amina Kwatenje (Photo: Jonah Onyango)

Ratib Abdunoor, Assistant Dawaar officer at Jamia Mosque, gave the male insight on the matter.

“Hijab is an Arabic word that means cover and, in the Islamic religion, it means for someone to cover the naked part of their body, which is specifically intended for women but also applies to men,” he says.

On why some women reveal their faces while others only show their eyes: “There are two classes of head covering. One for those who choose to reveal their face and the second being for those who choose to only reveal their eyes, the latter being one that is thought by many to be a bit extreme,” he says.

“The purpose of the practice is to avoid temptation, and therefore women cover the parts of their body that can be found to be tempting, and are only being allowed to show their palms and faces,” he says.

“Some women who choose to strictly follow the Quran may consider that a woman’s face can also be found to be tempting and they therefore choose to cover their faces as well. They sometimes even go to the point of wearing gloves and at that point not revealing any part of their body whatsoever as was done during the times of the Prophet Mohammed, especially with his wives for their easy identification when in public places,” he says.

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