Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hijab. Maybe Your Ten Year Old?

My very dear sister in Islam has approached me with a dilemma which I now share with you in hopes of advice. She has a ten year old daughter. The father wants the girl to wear the hijab for good as the family lives in North America in a primarily non-Muslim neighborhood.

The mother does not want the girl to wear the hijab so early in age, but the father insists. In between the two is the girl who remains anxious, worried and frozen about the entire issue as she goes back and forth between the "two schools of thought": aka: her parents.

I care for this little girl though she is miles away from me. Even from here, I feel her fears and tension. When the mother approached me with this question, my first inclination was to bring up educational material about the hijab and its rules or regulations for girls from online sources. The girl can take this material to her father.

Then, the mother would bring up her own material about the hijab from her own sources and offer those to the girl and the father. This way, there is some breathing space. While everyone stops. And thinks.

I'm in need of your advice. Or resources. If you have any suggestions of good sources about the hijab for girls, please let me know.

Think of yourself, perhaps, fast-forwarded in time when you are married and you have your daughter who is now ten years old. Your spouse has a different perspective on the hijab for your daughter than you do. Perhaps, before you married you had agreed on what to do -- but ten years later, you changed, or your spouse did.

What to do?



C said...

Asalaamu Alaikum

Islam says to wear hijab when you reach puberty. Has she? If not then she doesn't have to wear it. If the father would just follow what Islam says instead of his opinion there wouldn't be a problem. Some people think that 10 is a magic number because that is when kids have to pray 5 times a day but there is nothing about wearing hijab at 10 unless the girl has had her menses. I have daughter who is almost 10 and we live in a small town in North America. She will not be asked by either of us to wear it. We never had to make an agreement just follow Islam. Following islam takes away all the disagreements.

phalanges said...

Salam :)

my advice is, listen to the father! honestly its not that bad. i know the mom is probably worrying that shes limiting her daughter or something but it's sooooooooooooooo soooooooo sooooo much easier to wear the hijab when you're young. and it becomes a part of your character as you're growing up. the thing is when you treat it like a responsibility.. its like going to work or something. because who would want to go an hour early? but when you look at it as actually being good for you, you want to do more of it.

my 2 cents is, give the girl reason to love hijab, and she will! and then you'll be doing her a favour when she doesn't have to struggle with it in her teen years when peer pressure becomes a monster.

even if the mum disagrees.. the girl shouldnt find out. theres nothing more terrible to a kid than her parents diagreeing.

:) hope that helps

Sparkling Motivation said...


Hellllloooo again...

How sweet is that!

Allow me to start with my own experience... dunno if I mentioned this in my blog, but I wore Hijab for real when I was 11... closer in age to this sweet girl. Before, I wore it whenever my parents took my sisters and I to the mosque and we would wear it in an appropriate manner. Because we knew, from my parents, that this is the teachings of Islam and this is how it should be worn.

In my opinion- and experience- it is advisable to let kids practice from an early age, better than letting them grow and give way to outside influence... hence resentment to what is a must to all Muslim women.

What you teach your children from their infancy will grow with them... whether good or bad.

When should we teach our kids to pray? From when they're 7 right? Allah and our prophet Mohammad peace be upon him never said that they're young for it :)

You remember the Arabic saying: "Knowledge from childhood is like engraving on the stone"? So there you go... need I say more?

I think I need to... lol ...

I'd say go for it and let the girl grow up wearing it. She'll feel free wearing it as an adult than ... wearing it as an adult!!

We know it's hard for grown ups to get accustomed to things...

Hope that helps...

Salamz and good luck to our precious lil' girls ^_^


Nikki said...

I fear that if my husband and I have a girl in the future (insh'Allah, I would love a daughter)that we will butt heads over the hijab issue. I'm not positive what my husband thinks, but he's Saudi and from what I understand they usually have girls start wearing it at 9 years of age. I've heard from other people and sources that it is not mandatory until puberty, i.e. she gets her period. To me this makes more sense, yet as a convert remembering getting my period in middle was embarrassing enough without having to publicize it through the addition of a headscarf to my daily dress.

I personally think it is required, BUT, I also believe religion is a highly personal matter and something like hijab should be decided on by the woman/girl herself. Forcing someone may make them feel that they are doing it to please their father, mother, uncle, etc. instead of doing it to please Allah.

Personally, I would present the idea to my daughter at age 9 (and of course be wearing it as an example myself) but let her decide for herself. If she chooses not to, I'll probably bring it up again when she gets her period. If she chooses not to again, I'll let it stand but not waver in my own understanding of the requirement of hijab. In this geographic area (no hijabis) I think it would be hard for a child in school to stand out so blatantly by adopting hijab...were we to be in an area more populated with Muslims, though, I think a young girl would be more comfortable if she had friends donning the hijab, as well.

Anonymous said...

That is an apparently simple question for serious problems of many muslims when they deal with women.
Men fail to deal with women as a daughter, sister, collegue, and wife..Culture always kicks in that women
are something to shy away from..That is usually root of the problem to your question (in my opinion at least)..

- 10 years old !!She is a kid and she is not asked to do that.We dont pray duhr eight rukaat cuz it is good..!!

- You might laugh, but I know ppl who was told they cannot stay with an 8 year old kid alone in mosque cuz it is Khalwa..!!

- Regarding resources: I dont know of any scholar who has spoken loudly for women mis-treatment in all agaes by name of religion as Sh. Alghazali
This is link to one good book :
(قضايا المرأة بين التقاليد الراكدة والوافدة)

- Finally,having mentioned that you do care for the little kid who is growing in a multi-faith enviroment.
A question that always puzzled me why do second generations always run away for different reasons (Study religion, work,etc..),and leave the responsiblity of raising these kids in west in hands of ppl who have just get off the plane and know nothing about the language/culture extra..
Why all islamic organizations/schools in west are run by ppl who dont know the place and culture while second generations fled away...
Kids need good examples, and with no good ppl around who grows in same culture, the parents will have terrible time whether she wear the hijab now or not..

Believe me it is all connected..The dad is so rigid because the Imam in the mosque has his own interpretation of islam and he probably came from a small place and suddenly he deals with all sort of problems in the west.
The mum is puzzled cuz her kid says the islamic schools and mosque is boring and run by strange ppl..Then the dad is worried about his daughter who likes to hang out with the more cool ppl..
Well, because X, and Y went to study FIQH in SAUDIA,,,and A and B went to teach ENGLISH in SYRIA..etc.

How about X and Y stay study FIQH in their place, and be good models/speakers/IMAMs and A and B teach little kids how one can be a role model.

I am not sure if anything up here made sense ..Anyhow,I apologize for the lengthy comment...Thanks for bringing this up..

Mina said...

Nothing wrong in starting early...i started wearing mine when i was 10 years old and i was the only Muslim girl to wear the hijab in my school, but i guess it all depends on is she ready mentally...I agree with Phalanges give her a reason to love her hijab.

Quest said...

What remains after the tide seems to be the heart and its peace. The wisdom of the heart is what we can infer to the girl but never teach her directly. Because the secrets of her heart are hers alone.

At the end of the day, we are shaping a human being and not merely teaching a lesson about the hijab to a little girl, so one can never be too careful with this.

One of the fears the mother has is that the girl play-veils. As in, she copies the adults around her because it seems to be the "in-thing" to do.

Another fear of the mother is that she wears the hijab because daddy would be happy.

Another fear the mother has is that the girl does not wear the hijab when not around daddy, because that seems to be what mummy wants.

What values is the girl learning in this disconnect of things?

And, as the mother put it: "let's not kid ourselves: me and him won't agree on this one".

I can't stop getting mad enough when I see the mercy squeezed out of Islam by Muslims and especially by spouses.

Unfortunately, when people, who happen to be Muslim, use Islam in this way, they turn a mercy into a forest fire of anger, frustration, anxiety and fear that eats up everyone around them, especially the ones they love.

Would it be farfetched if the girl, in the secrets of her heart, starts to think: " the same people who love me with one hand, hurt me with the other".

All in the name of "teaching you for your own sake: I know what's good for you" type of tyrannical reasoning.

How can I not get mad at this. But I have room enough in me to be calm too. Even reasonable. Because I have faith that things will work themselves out eventually.

The forecast: Father will bring sources from one school of thought, hadith sources and others to override the idea that menses/puberty is the prerequisite. He might even bring examples from real life, of sheikhs/Imams around him who veiled their daughters at age 10.

The mother will push the puberty/menses argument and the wheel turns to confuse the bejeezers out of the little girl who will keep losing, day after day, her ability to think in the depths of her heart: " I can count on my parents on anything".

In a perfect world, Muslims are Islam and Islam is Muslims. But Adam and Eve meant it from the beginning.

Sigh but with smiles and heart :-)


Hicham said...

I usualy do not interfer in people's life and this is not an exeption so generally speaking, raising up kids means modeling a charachter of a human being so it is not only wearing this or that.

I personally support 'Hijab' but when a woman go for it by her choice because when she do so, this means she knows what her deen call for not only someone told her.

Yin said...


Wow, good comments! I don't have too much to add per se.

All I can say is the law of Islam must be abided by, but the spirit of Islam should also be lived. Nowadays, Muslims in general focus too much on the formalistic ways of Islam, and forget that they should be accompanied by the loving spirit that the Prophet (peace be upon him) has shown us.

At the end of the day, the girl should want to wear the hijab herself for the sake of Allah in order for it to be effective.

That is why when bringing up kids, it is important to teach them to love Allah, and do things for Him. Of course, easier said than done.

With the current situation.......... it's a bit tricky.......... I would say pray istikhara, inshaAllah.

Tauqeer said...

It all depends what is your view about Hijab. If one consider it as a compulsory part of religion, similar to 5 prayers a day, then enforcing the kid at age of 10 may not be all of a big deal, but if you consider it as an 'option', than the parents should leave it for the girl to decide for herself.

As of prayers, at age of 8, parents are encouraged to be strict to their kids, so similar conditions can be applied to Hijab as well, since this is the age when parents can actually transfer something to the kids.

For me, leaving the matter of Hijab for the kid to decide is just like giving all the Holy books to them, and ask them to select for themselves..

Mrs. Cullen said...

That is quite a dilemma! I feel bad for the young girl. I personally don't think it should be her parents decision whether she should wear hijab or not. It should be up to her. And if she isn't old enough to even understand what is going on, then she is clearly too young to wear it. Sigh. Whatever happens, I hope its for the best. Please keep us posted

Hanan said...

I have a huge problem when one forces belief onto children, and that is what dad would be doing.
Did we forget we are a religion with NO compulsion.

Child should decide timing of hijab not parents. It is her relationship with Allah.

My daughter is 11 and pre menses, some days she wears and some days no.

This choice is hers..

Quest said...

To follow up this thread of thought: Today I was at a commemoration of Shafiq Al Hout who is a respected educator, writer, journalist and political activist in the Palestinian world.

After a series of talks by local politicians who knew him, including Ex-Prime Minister of Lebanon Salim El Hoss, it was the son's turn to give a talk. The son of a politician.

This should be dry, I thought. In my mind I questioned what could a politician's son remember of his father except 'boring' political talks, forced trips to libraries, lame apologies for missing out on many important events in the boy's life because of a busy schedule.... and a whole bunch of other preconceptions I had in my mind about the personal lifestyles of politicians.

Then. The son spoke. And he said: "I still remember clearly when I was a little boy in school. I was in a play. When it was over I was looking to see where my parents were. I couldn't see my mom. I was so sad. Then out of nowhere I saw a hand wave energetically as if wanting to be seen so badly in the audience. It was my dad who came just to see me".

"Another time, I decided to go to the United States to finish my education. I still remember until this day what my dad said to me. He said, ' son, I would rather you stay here in your country where I can see you, so me and your mother can have your in our lives. But I have willed, and she has willed, but today I give up my will so you can have yours, my son. Travel and stay in the mercy of Allah swt".

This is the father I had, said the son. And he continued: "there are two kinds of deaths in the world: those who live as if they are dead. And those who are buried in the womb of the earth dead in their bodies, but are alive forever in the paths they have carved for us before they passed away. The second kind is my father".

The father of this man was a Muslim. And though he did not become an Imam, or a reputable sheikh or even become known as a Muslim leader, he left with his son the spirit of Islamic values carved so beautifully like an artist's hand at work.

The father lived a largely political life where he fought for the return of Palestine to Palestinians. And though some call him a dreamer, a man fooled by what can never happen: he believed in something and followed it with nobility, honesty and strength.

Now aren't these the teachings of Islam? Aren't these the things we teach our offspring in everything they do in life --- from what they wear, to how they think, to how they grow in spirit, to the legacies they leave behind.

When I give up my will for that of my daughter, I am not teaching her chaos. I teach her freedom, I teach her liberty, I teach her selflessness for the sake of others, I teach her love. I teach her nobility, I teach her choice. I teach her honor. I teach her forgiveness. But remember, not every parent knows how to be an artist at their role as parents. Some simply lack the talent or the imagination.

But I have faith that we can all learn. said...

And another thing,

Remember Prophet Ibrahim and his son at the time of the great sacrifice, when the boy was lying under the father's knife, the father hesitates and the son prompts the father to go on, so selflessly, encouraging his father to continue believing.

Though most of the attention (and rightfully so) has gone the Prophet Ibrahim (RAA) for following Allah's orders, have we ever focused on the son? Do you think he would be the way he is -- brave, noble, selfless -- if he didn't have a father who set such an example from early on in life?

A father who believed in something and followed it with nobility, strength and honesty all the way from polytheism to Islam?

Sons like that (even El Hout's story of his dad) don't come ready packaged. It takes the right parent.

Nasreen said...

If the daughter is against it then she will remove it like many girls do when they reach their campus. If the daughter has been brought up in an Islamic environment at home and her parents have discussed the idea of the hijab with her and other Islamic principles, she may be more open to the idea.

I think it's a good idea to give the daughter a little time to adjust to the idea of wearing it so maybe not starting it immediately if the husband is adamant about it. Maybe a few months during which they have conversations about the concept of hijab, why it is required,etc so that she's eased into it. Personally, since she is still only 10 I do not believe in enforcing it but letting her be aware than she should start once her menses starts or at a particular age, say 12 - 13.

Tauqeer said...

I agree with Nasreen.

Mrs. Cullen said...

thanks for stopping by=)

maryam said...

assalamu alaikum if the girl isnt in puberty it isnt obligatory for her to wear the hijab. but i think that her parents shouldnt force her to wear it. at the same time they shouldnt tell her that she doesnt have to wear it. rather i think her parents should let her develop a love for it and allow her to get used to it, so that she will be prepared to wear it in the future. because i know it helps to get used to something before it gets put on you as an obligation .im 12 nd i hav been wearing mi hijab for as long as ican remember so wen iturned nine nd i was in puberty i was used to it.but ilook at mi sister whos in puberty at 10 isnt used to having her hijab ,she of course is hesitant to wear it.