Protective headgear sufficient for Muslim girls as long as it covers
24 Aug 2011 07:45 GMT
In Canada, girls have been prohibited from participating in a tae kwon do tournament because they wanted to wear their hijab under their protective headgear. They were told to remove their hijabs or they would not be allowed to participate. The girls refused to remove their hijabs. Did they do the right thing? Please know that the protective headgear covers their entire heads and also that the girls were from 8 to 14 years old.

Answered by

Sheikh Muhammad Muhammad Sâlim `Abd al-Wadûd

To start with, those girls who have not yet reached puberty are not obligated by Islamic Law to cover their heads. There is no reason for them to be barred from participating in sports in order to cover their heads.

We must also realize what “hijâb” means. It refers to a degree of modest covering. It does not refer to a particular scarf or specific style of dress. In Islamic Law, it is required for a woman who has reached puberty to cover everything except for her face and hands. It is not required for her to wear a specific headscarf or style of dress. What matters is that what she wears covers her form sufficiently.

There are various models of the protective headgear worn for tae kwon do. Some of them cover a woman’s head and hair sufficiently. At the same time, a number of helmets are open on the top in places. Muslim women should choose helmets that are not open. (In any case, small holes that do not allow for practical visibility should not be a problem.) The only matter of concern then will be the neck. The woman can opt for a helmet with a large chin guard or she can make sure that her shirt is closed up to her neck. In either case, she will be fully covered according to the dictates of Islamic Law.

Unfortunately, many Muslims today misunderstand the meaning of “hijâb”. They think it means to wear a particular scarf as a sign of Islamic identity. This is why so many Muslim women wear flimsy scarves or wear tight clothing along with their scarves. The real purpose of hijâb has been lost for some people, and for many it has become a cultural issue and an identity issue, instead of one of observing modesty according to the dictates of Islamic Law.

As long as a woman is covered according to the dictates of Islamic modesty, then she is sufficiently covered, regardless of what style of dress she adopts. She does not have to adopt a dress style that sets her apart from the society in which she lives, as long as she upholds the standards of Islamic modesty and covers everything but her face and hands.

In fact, Muslims living in non-Muslim countries should not needlessly seek to appear different than the people around them. Doing so simply causes unnecessary conflicts and hardships.

Ibn Taymiyah writes:

If the Muslim lives in a non-Muslim country, regardless of whether or not that country is hostile with the Muslim countries, he will not be obligated to make himself appear different than them. This is on account of the difficulties that doing so can pose. Indeed, it might become preferable or even obligatory for him to conform to their outward standards of appearance if there is a benefit for the faith in doing so like inviting them to Islam, or preventing hardship for the Muslims, or for realizing any other wholesome intention.” [Iqtidâ’ al-Sirât al-Mustaqîm (176)]

And Allah knows best.


Question: About the tae kwon do helmets – in your answer, you forgot to mention that the ears are always exposed by the helmets. Does this affect the ruling?

Answered by Sheikh Muhammad Muhammad Sâlim `Abd al-Wadûd

From what we have learned, even women who wear scarves under their helmets in international tae kwon do competitions are required to avoid covering their ears.

This is due to safety concerns. In the event that the competitor is knocked out and the headgear cannot be taken off, a doctor will still be able to see inside the ear.

This is a legitimate safety and medical concern that is recognized by Islamic Law. Islam places a premium on protecting life and protection from injury.

Also, if we look at many helmet designs, we can see that the ear area is surrounded by padding of at least two centimeters in thickness. The ears are not exposed in any easily visible and provocative way. Therefore, the valid medical and safety considerations are more than sufficient to allow the exposure of the ears through the helmet. Muslim women should not be prevented from participation in this sport due to the safety regulation that requires the use of specific protective headgear.

And Allah knows best.

Source: Islam Today

-- Al Arabiya Digital