Psychology and Religion: The Case of Conservative Islam and the Hijab

The psychologist doesn’t only ask what people believe/think, but what these beliefs can tell you about the person. For instance, conservative Muslim men often believe women should cover themselves with the Hijab:

Smiling woman outdoors wearing a brightly colored headscarf and embroidered clothing

Does the Quran say women are required to wear the hijab covering? No, what the Quran says is the wives of the prophet Muhammad were required to cover up, and for very specific religious reasons:

Dr. Asma Lamrabet explains:

The term “Hijab” is reiterated seven times in the Qur’an referring each time exactly to the same meaning. “Hijab” means curtain, separation, wall and, in other words, anything that hides, masks and protects something.

But the verse that has been most often used to prove the “obligation” of veiling for women and that mentions the term Hijab is the following: ” O you who have believed, do not enter the houses of the Prophet except when you are permitted for a meal… And when you ask [his wives] for something, ask them from behind a separation (Hijab)” Quran 33; 53.

As indicated here, the Hijab concerns only the wives of the Prophet and meets a circumstantial requirement in order to respect the private life of the Prophet. Besides, it does not represent, in any way, a particular model of clothing. The essence of this requirement aimed, mainly, to educate Arabs of that time to respect the privacy of people and good manners.

It is therefore quite clear that the term Hijab does not absolutely refer to the meaning given nowadays as the scarf that should cover the head. The Hijab has nothing to do with any Islamic female dress. It is rather a symbol of separation between public life and private life at the time of the Prophet. It aimed to make of the prophet’s wives Mothers of the Believers. see Dr. Amrabet’s article here:”

So, one question that might be asked is if the Quran doesn’t order all women to wear the hijab, if it was just a religious requirement for the wives of the prophet Muhammad, then do certain conservative Muslim men requiring women to wear the hijab tell you something about Muslim women, or does it rather tell you what some of these conservative Muslim men think about themselves (that perhaps some unconsciously feel they are on the same level as the prophet Muhammad)?

(A) Reflection Questions/Assignments:

Read the comic below which was shared on Twitter:

(B) Can you think of healthy reasons why Muslim women may choose to wear the hijab (eg., perhaps they value tradition, modesty, etc)?

(C) Should wearing the hijab be a choice for Muslim women?