Literal Meaning of Hijab
The word Hijab literally means a curtain or veil and is best understood by exploring the Islamic concept of modesty. Muslim men and women are required to be modest while mingling with unrelated members of the opposite gender. The content of our speech, the way we communicate, the way we laugh and joke around, our behavior and social etiquette in general should all be transmitted to the other party in a way that attracts the least amount of the wrong form of attention. Additionally, we are required to "lower our gazes" and respect other men or women by not eying them from head to toe (i.e. checking them out). Similarly, the physical Hijab establishes healthy distances of physical contact (not even a handshake with the opposite gender!). Lastly, this modesty must also be manifested in the way we dress.
In order to appear modest, Muslim women are required by their faith to observe the most visible form of the Hijab in public – the headscarf to cover our hair and full-length clothing to conceal the shape of our bodies. Non-Muslims often ponder how it is possible and why a woman would ever voluntarily want to conceal what every other woman takes pride in revealing – her beauty. From a very long list, presented below are the most common reasons why Muslim women observe the Hijab.
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