My question relates specifically to that aspect of the term ‘hijab’ which refers to women’s’ head covering.
I understand that if a woman visits areas in which local ladies commonly conceal their whole body by wearing a burka, it is obligatory – wajib – for them to also wear one, or at very least to veil their faces and heads. This way they avoid attracting the attention and curious stares of others. The very opposite is true in the non-Islamic world. Here it is women in hijab who attract the attention, stares, comments and bad behaviour of others.
If it is the hijab which attracts such attention, comment and bad behaviour, does it not follow that it is safer and better for women in such surroundings NOT to stand out by wearing hijab? Some claim that this analogy logically leads to Muslim women adopting all the behavioural mores of non-Muslim women. So how far may boundaries of behaviour be stretched in the protection of women?
First of all, it is an exaggeration to say that the wearing of hijab in non-Islamic countries attracts the attention and bad behaviour of others. I agree that this is sometimes the case but
it is not the general rule. Secondly, what is required by hijab is modesty and the avoidance of unnecessary attraction. To conceal the whole face is not obligatory according to Shari’ah.
What is obligatory to cover the hair and the whole body in a modest way.