17  Hidden Benefits of Niqab

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My story is neither every Muslim woman’s story nor do I consider myself  a benchmark against which to measure Muslim women. I am, however, someone who wears the face veil (niqab). And I wear it unflinchingly and unapologetically. There are many women who share my experience, who feel neither oppressed nor limited by the veil and consider it an integral part of their identity.

Most of us choose to wear niqab because we believe it is encouraged by our faith. Let me be clear: most of us do not consider it obligatory, and we certainly don’t denounce women who do not veil their faces as less pious or less modest. It is simply how we manage our own relationship with Allah.

As vociferously as the media shout that Muslim women who don the niqab do so out of fear of the men in their families and communities, I have seen the opposite. In my world, most women who have taken niqab adopted the custom while they were single, and many of them removed this contentious piece of clothing after marriage at their husbands’ request.

If anything, I would argue most Muslim men dislike for their wives, sisters and daughters to wear niqab. When a man asserts, “Women shouldn’t be allowed to cover their faces in public!” I hear this: “As a man, I have the right to tell you how to dress.” And to that I say, “It’s too bad you can’t see my ‘I don’t care about your opinion’ face.”

So no—we do not need to be saved or liberated, not by Muslim men and certainly not by the West. Suggesting that we do without knowing our story is an affront to our freedom to dress how we choose. It is precisely because of the assumptions made by everyone about the niqab and the women who don it, that I’d like to share just some of the reasons why I like wearing the niqab.

 

17  Hidden Benefits of Niqab:

  1. Because I conceal my face, people, particularly the opposite sex, only know me through my words, my behavior, talents, and my personality. They cannot use my body, hair or face to measure me. To put it another way, I have the privilege of living my life inside my words, not within my physical form.
  2. People might initially stare because they consider me an oddity, but they quickly move on and, as an introvert, I enjoy the invisibility of being visibly Muslim.
  3. I’ve noted that many people choose their words with particular care and seem especially conscientious when interacting to me. Maybe they find it disconcerting to carry a normal conversation with a person who  has no face! Maybe they feel insecure saying or doing anything inappropriate around a woman wearing a face veil (I sincerely hope it is not because they assume we are especially devout, because a single article of clothing doesn’t confer piety on a person). Or maybe they fear that a woman wearing a niqab will pull out the haram stick, lecturing them on everything that is forbidden! Regardless, if I walk into a group cracking a dirty joke, they sheepishly change the subject.
  4. Now I don’t encourage this of course, but eating in class is a major plus. When you’re famished and the professor’s lecture is never-ending, slip in some food from beneath your niqab and enjoy. Oh, and popcorn or spinach stuck in my teeth? Not an embarrassing problem. It can happily nest there until I go home and brush my teeth.
  5. OMG! Breakouts? No foundation or concealer needed. I look fierce nonetheless. Fiercely black.
  6. The niqab allows me the advantage of hiding my emotions. You can never tell if I’m anxious, afraid or confused–unless you got some mad eye reading skills! Interestingly, children seem able to figure out my invisible expressions through my eyes alone. A little smile behind the screen evokes grins from them, which, in turn, makes my smile even wider.
  7. Niqab is a terrific smell blocker and let’s agree that there are plenty of noxious odors a person might want to escape.
  8. Niqab also blocks germs, smoke and dust.
  9. We expect women to look a certain way: slender build, silky hair, large doe eyes, full lips and the list goes on. As if all women can be measured by this myopic definition of beauty! As someone who wears the niqab, I feel liberated from all the superficial expectations foisted upon my gender.
  10. I can eat freely. Though newbies might find it challenging to eat while wearing niqab, once you get the hang of it, trust me, you will relish your meal much more than everyone else. While others are trying to eat in a well-manner, sophisticated way, I gulp, slurp and munch to my heart’s content. So much so that I sometimes have to audibly whisper to myself, “Get it together, girl.”
  11. I can sleep in public with my mouth wide open, and rest assured that my little nap won’t go viral on YouTube.
  12. I can easily avoid someone I don’t want to see. Run into a high school bully at the local park? Spot your boss at the mall? Walk right on by.
  13. I can recite prayers and perform kind acts all while remaining anonymous, and this anonymity both preserves my humility and keeps me from doing good to impress others.
  14. Other women feel secure in my presence because my niqab makes clear that I’m not interested in attracting their man’s attention or interest.
  15. These days every dermatologist and skin care advertisement is promoting the benefits of wearing sunscreen. Well, my niqab acts as a natural additional barrier to the sun’s damaging UV rays, so fingers crossed that I’ll have fewer wrinkles, blemishes and sun spots down the road!
  16. My niqab automatically makes me an ambassador for Islam. This role can feel heavy at times, but it does keep me in check. I know that I have chosen to dress in a way that immediately identifies me as a Muslim, and with that decision comes a responsibility to set the best example of a Muslim woman that I possibly can in my everyday interactions.
  17. The best part is, I don’t carry apologies or excuses in my pocket. Sorry, I didn’t wear makeup. Sorry I didn’t blow-dry my hair. Most of all, sorry you can’t see my face. Sorry. Not sorry.

Samina Farooq is the Co-founder of AYEINA (www.ayeina.com) and Co-creator of the #AlhamdulillahForSeries – A gratitude journal for Muslims. She has a degree in engineering and currently devotes her time to her family and studying the Qur’an and the Arabic language

 

Illustration Credit: AYEINA

27 Comments

  • Such a great article ..i am also wearing niqab Alhamdulillah now i release how beneficial it is …

  • Ayeina says:

    JazakAllah khair for your kind words.

  • IloveAllah says:

    Wear your face and teach others to respect what Allah gave you no matter how it is. Be honest, be true, be real! Don’t hide the expressions that makes you who you are. Your words are not more important than your smile. Be an embassador of Allah with your words, with your honesty, transparency of attitudes and kindness. Wear simple clothes but the ones that express who you are, not what others want you to be. Allah made you, the way you are and He is proud of his creation. Who would niqab a flower or a tree? Why men just don’t bother about wearing niqabs? Should we all hide ourselves to make Allah happy? Allah couldn’t care less for what you wear… that’s what unconditional perfect love is all about. Would clothes influence the love of a father? Than it would be not love…

  • zayeneesha says:

    By choosing to fall into the ‘minority’ category (those who wear face veil), we are teaching people to respect their own and other’s right of free will.

    I’m neither a flower nor a lollipop
    I’m not a pearl and certainly not a tree
    I’m simply a human being with choices
    And none can’t liberate the free ❤

    Alhamdulillah

    JazakAllah khair for reaching out 🙂

  • nour says:

    hi there. thanks for your sharing. actually i actually am planning to wear one. after reading your article, i think wearing a niqab is not really a big thing and hard to do. it just some determination. in sha Allah, i will wear it.

    • zayeneesha says:

      Jazakillah khair Nour for such warm comment 🙂 like all other decisions in life, you may take time to settle into this one as well. May Allah help you through it ❤

  • Nadia Azhar says:

    Allahuakbar…you really inspired me…pls pray for me to wear a niqab too..♥♥

  • zayeneesha says:

    Jazakillah khair for your kind words nadia 🙂 may Allah help you through this process…if your heart is set to ithe, your mind will follow in shaa Allah ❤

  • Susette says:

    I am stunned by the benefits you cite for the niqab. Most are selfish or deceitful – hiding emotions, covering breakouts, eating in class, slurping food, sleeping with your mouth open, avoiding others, blocking smells, germs, sun, hiding a bad hair day. The niqab-clad woman in western societies is a frightening sight, especially to young children who consider it a Halloween costume and often ask about the person (because is it a man or a woman?) dressed in this scary costume in June. You have reduced yourself to an “it”. You have no identity. You don’t freely associate as is customary in the West. Your holier-than-thou attitude conveyed via the niqab is despicable. You are depriving your body of Vitamin D – so enjoy your wrinkle free old age, you will suffer from extreme calcium deficiency. Yes, you are an ambassador of Islam, but one that perpetuates centuries-old Islamic beliefs that women are to be silenced and hidden for they are defective to men, and disgraceful to humanity. Take your niqab and wear it “freely” in an Islamic sharia law country. We don’t want this spectacle roaming around in our free societies.

    • Nic says:

      That was kinda rude and unnecessary. If you don’t like it, don’t read it, close the tab, move along and go back to doing something else…works for most people

      • Susette says:

        Perhaps it was unnecessary to restate what she cites as “benefits” of niqab. But rude to voice an opinion with which you don’t agree? I think not! When you see a masked white man with a white cone-shaped hat, do you immediately think it is a reprehensible symbol of racism? Well, to me and many others in Western societies, a niqab, burka, hijab is a reprehensible symbol of misogyny, hatred for non-muslims, and a “religious” political ideology that is destructive to humanity. Eight out of the top ten violators of human rights are Muslim-majority countries, most with laws that force women to veil. Compare that with the top 10 countries with the best human rights records: NONE, ZERO are Muslim-majority countries…all are Western democracies. Think about that…

    • Women have many different reasons for wearing niqab. Her benefits is that the more she conceals the more freedom she has to be herself.

      • Carol Ynwyn says:

        Actually, the more freedom she has NOT to develop and be honestly assessed by others. She admits she’s an INTROVERT. This is fine but perhaps she needs to challenge herself and not take the lazy way out – both in grooming/hygiene and in social honesty. It shows respect for those around you to meet them on equal ground and not be lurking behind some camouflage.

        • Being an introvert does not mean she hides and chooses not to participate in society.I am an introvert who has just started wearing niqab and I still participate in society. Everyone chooses how they present themselves to the world including you. If you get to choose how you present yourself to the world why does she not have the same privilege? Please don’t come here talking about being on equal footing when you would choose to restrict how others dress. Also, muslims are some of the most hygienic people on the planet from being obligated to perform wudu/ghusl and practising hygiene before and after meals. Wearing niqab does not indicate laziness in anyway especially when you consider the flack we get from others.Lastly, someone’s face is not indicative of honesty. Someone can lie to your face without ever showing any sign of it.

  • Kareema Abdul-Khabir says:

    Trumpettes strike back…because they have nothing good to say about what Trump is doing!

    Way to punch down, how about doing something useful in your community?

  • Mara Sand says:

    Oddities. After all, any and every habit can be justified. No big deal.
    Nice to be able to enjoy the free world. Isn’t it ?

  • I love Your Articles I am also the one who is also Typing and Working on a Blogs and was tying for hijab, burqa, naqab & pardah, It’s very nice

  • Nic says:

    I have absolutely no idea how I stumbled upon this…good read, though.
    I like the bit where you absolutely don’t apologise for any of it, I really can’t understand why your personal life choices are the business of anyone else anyway.

    Anyway…those things listed all sound good to me..if I could get away with wearing something similar without appearing, as a white male, to be doing it primarily to cause offence, insult, mock blah blah etc I totally would…I’ll just stick to my own masks, just a shame they still use my own face :p

    ..and yes, children are exceptionally good at picking up on emotions and what not, rather remarkable, equally so that we lose that ability. Can’t help but think the world might be a little nicer a place if people retained a child’s level of empathy.

  • Glad I found this article, don’t worry about the haters they may think you are not free but really it is they who wish to enslave you. The best way to do that is by taking your choice away, namely the choice to wear what you choose. Society expects women, even hijabis to be eye candy. We can choose to be who we want and how we look and if niqab helps to achieve that then so be it.

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