#MGAnon: What Does Modesty Even Mean?
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Q: “How has modesty been approached in your community? What advice would you give to young girls struggling with it?”
A: “My advice is to find a definition of modesty that resonates with you. Because no matter the multitudes of hadiths or fatwahs that one can conjure up, you have to keep in mind that those are all interpretations, and by agreeing with them you have let someone else decide for you. Decide for yourself. Nothing can stop you from being a good Muslim, not even your appearance.” – Arissa, from Kuala Lumpur, 19
A: “My family never pressured me to cover. We live in a small college town in the Bible Belt with few Muslims, so I never felt socially pressured. However, I am fully aware that there are many Muslim women who are forced to cover by family/community/government. My advice goes to not only young girls, but to also their parents because it would be naive to think that they don’t play a huge role in their daughter’s relationship with modesty. Understand that although the hijab is a part of our religion, it is more important that your daughter has a good understanding and love for God and our Prophet, than her hijab. Hijab isn’t what makes her a Muslim, and as much as you might think, the hijab isn’t an assurance that she won’t have pre-martial sex. To the young girls, if you choose to cover, when you do it, do it for none other than the Almighty.” – Suad Patton Bey, Oxford, 23
Don’t pay too much attention to what other people think of your appearance. The most important thing is your faith and how close you are with Allah in your heart.
A: “I was always taught that modesty comes from within, and is not all about what’s on the outside. I feel like nowadays, especially on social media, so many people’s mindset is, if someone’s a hijabi, people (haters) will be asking, “OMG is she wearing the hijab ‘right’?” Or if she’s not a hijabi, they’re all like, “OMG why aren’t you wearing the hijab?” blah blah blah. But if I was to give advice to anyone struggling with modesty, I would say: Don’t pay too much attention to what other people think of your appearance. The most important thing is your faith and how close you are with Allah in your heart.” – Anon
A: “For any girl starting with hijab…I say take it slow. Nobody is perfect and wearing a hijab and dressing modestly can be difficult, especially in a non-Muslim country. Make it a slow transition. Start off slow, just pairing your usual outfit with a hijab. Eventually, you will mature, and with time start dressing more modestly, wearing looser clothes, covering more. Allah will always be there to guide you :)” – Hamada, Ontario, 14
A: “My mom is totally not a fan of me or my sis wearing sleeves less than 3/4. Advice? If other girls are in a situation safe enough to express themselves, then go for it, but their wellbeing and safety is important.” – Anon
I only know a small handful of women who cared more about my connection to Allah, my taqwa, and understanding of Islam more than they cared about my modesty.
A: “As a revert, my parents don’t understand covering. As a community, I’ve been shamed and embarrassed more times than I can count about women and men telling me that I don’t dress appropriately (even after I started covering my hair). It has been a struggle to keep my intentions solely for Allah and not for other people. But no matter what, negative people will always find a reason to bring you down, and will never be pleased with your actions, so you’ve just gotta keep persisting anyway. I just find it very hard to accept that people look so much for the superficial acts of worship. I only know a small handful of women who cared more about my connection to Allah, my taqwa, and understanding of Islam more than they cared about my modesty. They are the ones who have given me hope at my darkest moments, when I felt like I could never actually be a Muslim because there were too many rules that I struggled with.” – Anon
A: “My advice when it comes to defining modesty: think about the importance of approaching it in a positive light. Just like the religion itself, learning about the nitty gritty of it shouldn’t be with coercion or hostile remarks. I am a product of that and it unfortunately impacted my view of Islam for a bit. Learn about it before you even decide to do anything about it. Come up with your own constructive opinion and then should you agree that that’s your definition, and you’d like to embrace it, you’re more likely to feel at ease. Many of my friends secretly stopped wearing the hijab (which is what they think makes them modest) because they walk into it without knowing what it truly means, and instead are only told that that’s what they MUST do because they’re a Muslim. If you’re struggling, talk to someone you trust and discuss with them about the matter. Hopefully the real perception of modesty will prevail.” – Anon, Jakarta, 19