On the hijab

On the hijab December 17, 2015

Posting’s been light due to busy-ness at work and at home, but here’s something to share with you:

No doubt you’ve read the “party line” about the Muslim hijab, that it’s a wholly-optional free choice that some Muslim women make as an expression of their faith.  And, true, there are surely many Muslim women who feel they’ve freely chosen it, or have come on their own to believe that God calls them to wear it.  But how optional is it?  And how mainstream is it, among American Muslims, to believe and teach that women have a free choice in the matter?

I did some looking around.

At the Masjid An-Noor mosque in Bridgeport, Connecticut, here’s the dress code for girls in their religious ed program:

Full Length Dresses, or skirts with full length sleeves.
Loose, full-length pants;
Hijab to cover hair
Nice to have Abaya or niqab

At the MAYA (Muslim American Youth Academy) school in Dearborn, their school handbook states:

Required regular uniform includes:
 Jumper, white/black shirt, and black pants…NO LEGGINGS (2-8)
 Jumper, white/black shirt, and socks/tights/leggings (K-1)
 Wearing white/black scarves at all times (grades 3-8)
 Black casual dress shoes (no heals)
 Long socks or tights must be worn (no ankle socks)
 No make-up or nail polish is allowed
 No excessive jewelry; a maximum of one ring per hand will be allowed

And, by the way:

 Hair, neck and ears must be covered at all times

Here’s the dress code of the Islamic Foundation School in Villa Park, Illinois:

Light blue one piece hijab (optional up to grade 4, required 5th grade)

and, beginning in 6th grade,

Umta (head cap) to be worn underneath scarf

Oh, and

No bangs should be showing at anytime

At the MCC Academy in Morton Grove, Illinois, the Uniform Policy requires that girls wear a scarf beginning in 5th grade; the scarf is a white scarf purchased from the school, and covers the hair, as can be seen from the picture on their web page.  Oh, and girls are required to wear a long tunic, rather than a shirt, beginning in 4th grade.

(The tunic, by the way, is to be purchased from the designated school uniform provider,, which has a page full of links to uniforms of other Islamic schools in the U.S., all requiring long tunics or abayas.)

At the Islamic School of Irving, hijab is required starting in the third grade.  And middle and high school girls are required to wear a

Solid Black Abaya: (no colored embroidery, sequins, beads or decorations of any kind; minimal black embroidery)


And after clicking through all the other, prior hits, I finally came to the Islamic School of Louisville, where the school handbook mentions nothing more than a fairly ordinary uniform policy of navy/white clothing, and whose photo gallery shows girls mostly with heads uncovered. But is this the exception that proves the rule?  They are different than all the others I looked at in that they only have a preschool and an elementary school, not a middle or high school.

And that’s as far as I can go when I’m overdue to log on and start work.

What’s my point?

Not to jump into a fit of “Muslims are bad!”, of course.  Mostly, I was looking around with an eye towards other things I’ve been reading and thought it was worth sharing.

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