Hijab and My Adopter Father: What to Do?

Question and answer details
What if there is an order one refuses to follow? I am interested in Islam and agree with all the principles (the oneness of God, the angels, the prophets the requirements for prayer, fasting, hajj etc). However, while I understand the purpose and usefulness of hijab for most women (although I have never experienced harassment or discrimination by members of the opposite sex – thank God – but I usually dress conservatively and wear my hair up anyway). I do not think it is something I am willing to follow.  My problem comes with whom I can take it off with. I was adopted at birth (biological parents unknown) and my adoptive father is the only family (except my son) I have (and we are all he has). I cringe at the thought of telling him he can no longer see my hair because he is not my real family and he might lust after me. I know it would hurt him, and frankly, I would feel ridiculous explaining it. After all the sacrifices he has made for me, I can not imagine that God would order me to insult him in such a manner or that showing my hair to him or hugging him would be considered unlawful. I do not want to reject Islam all together but I want to know: how serious is it that I fail to follow that order? And, in any event, would it be contradictory to be ordered to honor, respect and obey your father on one hand, and then suggest he may have ill-intentions with you on the other. I am so very confused.
Ahmad Saad
Salam dear Victoria,

Thank you for your interest in Islam as well as your interest to make everything crystal clear before you take the step of conversion.

In fact, conversion is such a big step for which a person has to get himself or herself ready. One of the main tenets of Islam is submission to Almighty Allah (God), our Creator, Originator, and Sustainer. This submission is not something that we do due to force or coercion. Rather, it is something which we do as a reflection of our love and dedication.

This love is so very deep in the heart of a Muslim, that it encompasses all his or her movements, directions, and choices. When Allah accepts us amongst His slaves, we are so honored and blessed that we want to show Him this love in everything we do.

As Muslims, we are sure that Allah wants the best for us. He knows what is suitable for us and what is not; and therefore we prefer what He knows to be better than our own choices vis-à-vis His choices. We believe that He is a Merciful God. Even when we lose the whole world, we still have Him and when we have Him, we have everything.

A Muslim sage and well-known scholar of his time, Ibn Ata'illah As-Sakandari says  :   


"What has he found the one who loses You, and what has he lost the one who found You."

Sometimes, we do not understand certain things, but we are sure that He knows better, just like when we obey our mother or father as little kids, knowing that they genuinely want the best for us in all cases.

Because our knowledge is limited, we tend to judge things from our perspective. Yet, this limited perspective leads to a defective judgment. The wisdom of hijab is not only to cover, because there are many people who are covered from outside but naked from inside.

The wisdom of hijab is far beyond this. It aims at showing love that we conduct ourselves the way Almighty Allah loves to see us. If a lady knows that her husband likes a certain dress, she will be wearing it every day to show him her love and respect.

When a Muslim man or woman listen to the call of the Creator, they understand that, by responding to the call, they are adding meaning to their own life as He told us in the Quran to respond to His call when He calls us to what gives us life.

{O you who believe! answer (the call of) Allah and His Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life; and know that Allah intervenes between man and his heart, and that to Him you shall be gathered.} (Al-Anfal 8:24)

It is us who will win and prosper when we answer the call. You asked, "What if there is an order one refuses to follow?" The thing is, we are not in the army where one person commands and the other accepts or refuses. It is all about love and trust.

Worship that does not emanate from a loving heart cannot have any effect or bear fruit. We worship Allah through loving Him and with this love we will see nothing but obedience in everything.

On top of all this, hijab is an experience and no one can judge it except the one who has experienced it. Therefore, I advise you to give yourself some time and think deeper about things; try to put on the hijab to feel it, because I do not think we should base our judgments on theory.

No one can know the pains of a pregnant woman except a pregnant woman. Even her husband who is next to her cannot tell exactly how she feels. No father feels what it is like to be a father until he gets a child and becomes a real father.

There are things that cannot be described by words. Rather, we can know them through experience. I want you to live the experience with a true intention and genuine call to Allah to show you the truth and enlighten your heart and He will. 

When you pass this experience, you will feel a change. Look at yourself a few years ago; did you even expect any change in your views then? Now, look at yourself and see how many views you have changed based on your experience.

It is good to answer many questions in our life through the accumulation of experiences. Such answers are more truthful, more satisfying, and more practical.

I hope that through your experience with hijab, you will be able to decide what to say to your stepfather. I am not going to tell you a clear-cut action or a religious view here. Rather, I will leave you to experience the hijab. The experience will help you to decide later how to present the whole concept to your stepfather and how to approach him about this new change in your life.

When you speak then, you will speak with a tongue of an experienced person and a tongue of experienced person is more truthful.

I hope this answers your question. Please, keep in touch.


Useful links:

Talking to My Mother About Hijab

Hijab: Is It All About Appearance?

Hijab: An Insult to Unveiled Women?

Hijab: A Guarantee for Protection?

Islamic Scholarship and the Hijab

Muslims Banning Hijab

Is Refusing Hijab a Form of Treason?

Hijab Again!

Several Questions About Hijab

Modesty of Appearance… in Hijab?