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Convert's Hijab: The Question of Gradualism

By Gibril F Haddad

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As-Salamu ʿalaykum: I would like some light on the rule about Hijaab if there are any execptions in the case of a Catholic who has now converted, married with a Muslim man, and his now as i stated following the Islamic religion. The problem arises when she has heard from the local Shaykh that she does not NEED to wear hijaab because, if she is not prepared, then as he said, she is NOT obliged.

As far as I know, rules are rules, Islam is flexible to all at times when required to do so, but I think that for the Shaykh to say that was not the best advice.

She now has constant conflict with her husband concerning this topic stating that a "Shaykh" has said that she can. He wants her to wear her garments as prescribed by his religion because its the right thing to do and also has heard that its the husband's duty to see that his wife dresses accordingly.

Is there any execptions for converts regarding Hijaab? Is this the husbands duty to see that she wears accordingly? Was the Shaykh wrong to say what he did?


Hijab is hijab and the duty to cover stands as prescribed; but since she is a new Muslim she has to take things step by step, just as fard in Islam was revealed step by step. The Companions were taught Iman first; then the fara'id.

The husband will be questioned about his household including this matter. The Holy Prophet ﷺ upon him peace, warned against the dayyuth or one who does not care who sees his wife and daughters in ways they ought not to be seen by non-mahrams. So the husband is doing the right thing in principle, as Allah Most High said, {Protect yourselves and your spouses from the Fire}.

However, there is a good (maʿruf) way of enjoining the good. Perhaps this is where the husband is doing it the wrong way, as his wife may or may not be ready to wear the hijab in the proper manner at this point. This should not become a conflict where everything becomes a problem. That is what Shaytan wants.

She has to be treated extra-leniently as she is still among the mu'allafat al-qulub or those new to Islam. Perhaps the Shaykh understood this more than the husband. Let her begin with a head-band and work her way up from there insha Allah. Her socializing with pious Muslimas will help greatly.

In recapitulation, the answer to the three questions are:

(1) Yes, there are exceptions for converts regarding hijaab, governed by mental disposition toward Islam, cultural background, cultural, social, and political context, knowledge, Iman, and other factors. The Prophet ﷺ upon him peace, even permitted an early convert to leave out certain daily prayers knowing that otherwise he would leave them all out and knowing that in the future he would be doing them all insha Allah. It took twenty-three years for many of the obligatory rulings to become obligatory in early Islam, yet today we want to jump from zero practice to perfection in 1 day.

(2) Yes, it is the husband's duty and responsibility to see that hijab is worn by those responsible to do so in his household, but he must approach his duty with wisdom and right speech, not inflexibility. Furthermore, he must be the first one to practice what he preaches AND provide a good example even in what is not obligatory for him. As Brother Musa Furber said:

"[T]he brothers should remember that all too often we get strict with the sisters when we should share part of the burden of responsibility. We are quite eager when it comes to enforcing the jilbab, khimar, niqab, and gloves when we're back home--especially when it comes to the work place and at school. Yet you hardly see many of us walking around with loose fitting shirts, pants, abayah, and ʿimamah--especially in those same places. If we expect this from them, shouldn't we demand it from ourselves?"

(3) The Shaykh was not wrong to say what he did. He said the right thing, applying the Qur'anic advices and following Prophetic precedents. May Allah reward him, help every couple in this state, and grant us Hikma.


Hajj Gibril
GF Haddad

"In any case, what Westerners call civilization, the others would call barbarity, because it is precisely lacking in the essential, that is to say, a principle of a higher order."
René Guénon, East And West, 1924

صلّى الله على سيّدنا محمّد و على آله و صحبه و سلّم

The blessings and peace of Allah on the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions, ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) .



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