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Muslim ladies help please - veiled faces and makeup?

(19 Posts)
MichaelaS Wed 31-Oct-12 14:19:52

Please can the Muslim sisters help me understand something I struggle with?

I live in a Muslim majority area and there are lots of headscarves about and quite a few full face veils too. Some younger girls seem to wear a head covering more out of culture than anything else, e.g. Skintight jeans and top, lots of sequins and Jewlery and makeup. Fair enough. Or maybe they are following a literal rule to cover their hair but there is no direct rule about makeup etc? But others seem to dress with an aim of modesty with loose garments hiding their shape, gloves, face veils and generally are unadorned so they are not eye catching.

What puzzles me is the women in between, who wear full veils but lots of eye makeup too. Are these women wearing makeup to feel good? To look good at home or amongst female company? Or for some other reason?

I always thought the point of a veil was modesty, so that you did not encourage lustful thoughts and so your beauty was saved for your husband. If so, doesn't makeup which is visible to others on the street go against the spirit of modesty? Others who cover their hair for modesty like catholic nuns tend not to wear makeup.

I hope I'm not being an idiot, I just can't work it out. Please help me or tell me if I'm being insensitive!

crescentmoon Fri 02-Nov-12 17:16:08

hello Michaela,

its an interesting topic. hijab means different things to different people. as for me i take hijab as a concept rather than a piece of fabric, it encompasses:

covering my hair
long sleeves to my wrists,
long lengths to my ankles,
loose clothing to cover my bust,
the arch of my back,
the span of my hips,
the curve of my waist,
the shape of my arms and legs,

so once i tick those boxes i generally have fun with whats left. i wear lots of bright colours, i match shoes to handbags to headscarves, i experiment with drape and cut because the emphasis is not to frame my body but for my body to simply frame the clothing. its very easy to balance that and dress modestly.

i wear makeup often but how much i wear depends on the time of the month.

muslim women do not have to pray during their period so for those 6/7 days i will wear nail polish and more fancy makeup as i do not have to wash my face to do ablution every few hours to do the 5 prayers. during the rest of the month when the 5 prayers are obligatory on me, i will wear simple makeup, so nail polish and waterproof mascara is out, and generally try and keep a simple look that can last me through the day.

when i am going to a female only wedding or party i wear alot of makeup and dress up to the max. but i plan it around my daily prayers so that at least i will have done 4 of the 5 so i do not have to wash my face for the last prayer until i get home.

MichaelaS Fri 02-Nov-12 23:04:44

Hi, thanks for the reply and explanation. I hadn't considered the need for ablutions, thats really interesting.

crescentmoon Sat 03-Nov-12 14:41:10

Yup the ablution before prayer is obligatory no ritual prayer is accepted without it. It involves waging the hands 3 times, nose 3times, mouth 3times, face 3times, arms 3times, hair (once!), ears 3 times and then each foot upto the ankle 3times. Most makeup runs out by the third prayer of the day, if i wear masara or eyeliner i end up looking like a racoon as it runs all down my face!

But you can't wear waterproof makeup or foundation either as for the ablution to be accepted the water has to touch every inch of your face/ nails/ eyelashes etc. so that's probably a bigger reason why Muslim women don't bother with makeup than anything else lol.

FannieMaeButFreddieWont Sat 03-Nov-12 14:56:05

I've often wondered the same thing OP but wouldn't ask anyone in RL cos wouldn't want to cause offense.

Like the OP I'm in a predominently Asian (Pakistani) area, I think everyone should be free to dress as they wish and I don't judge.
That being said I don't understand the girls in stilettos, skinny jeans, tight top and thick makeup but then the headscarf on.

Is the scarf a cultural identity for them to hold onto? I can't be about modesty I assume, because of the rest of the outfit being so tight.

I don't mind at all what anyone wears, but I do wonder about the perceived conflict between modesty and form fitting, tight clothes and make up, only becaue I'd like to understand better though.

JuJuMoo Tue 06-Nov-12 22:20:27

Hi, wow great question! OP you appear to me to have a better understanding of the reasons why we cover than many of the girls/women you mention :-) Sometimes for us Muslim women its a case of not seeing the wood for the trees, or as you picked up on, hijab being something cultural and expected rather than understood and agreed-with. It is saddening that covering up has sometimes become a fashion statement in itself, with trendy young thaaangs wearing the hijab to enhance their 'look' rather than for modesty. It's totally up to them what they wish to wear, but I think they'd be better going for one or the other rather than trying to blend the two .... as it just confuses people and on a religious note - its pushing boundries that shouldn't really be blured eg, the skinny jeans and headscarf look.

I live in an area where the veil is very common and I myself wear it too. I'm a convert as most of my veil-wearing friends are. Regarding make-up, we are encouraged to beautify ourselves for our husband's etc so wearing make up is fine as long as the ingredients are halaal and that it doesn't interfere with ablution as crescentmoon outlined. But the make-up should not be seen by men other than husbands, sons and other close family (known as mahrams.) So wearing niqab (veil) and a trowel full of make-up does kind of the defeat the purpose .... especially as it can make the eyes look even more appealing if they are the only thing showing! That said it is something I am guilty of at times, if I have to pop out in the evening after I have applied it in time for DH coming home, I won't always take my make-up off and I certainly wear it for events / parties (these are women only anyway.) It is probably laziness in some cases ..... like mine! What I find useful though is wearing a veil with a couple of layers, so that if I'm wearing heavy eye-make-up I will flip the top layer down to cover the eyes (its very thin and you can see through it fairly well) for a short time if passing lots of men etc. That said, what I do now a days is avoid eye makeup and get an eyelash tint and perm, that way the eyes look nice but in a natural way.

HardlyEverHoovers Mon 19-Nov-12 20:05:13

Think I'm a bit late to contribute, but OP I can see your confusion. Really nice to hear the perspective of a niqab (face veil) wearer Jujumoo.
I think for many young women they really want to follow the Islamic dress code, but feel a lot of pressure from society to look good, and that results in a somewhat confusing image at times!
I now dress quite conservatively, large headscarf to cover breast area, long loose dress or skirt and cardigan, no noticeable makeup. In the past in my 20's I attempted to be 'cool' while covering, I still want to look nice by my own standards but no longer really try to meet other peoples standards. I remember seeing some photos of myself in my 'cool muslim' phase and realising I hadn't really achieved what I'd intended (ie probably wasn't covered quite enough to meet Islamic standards) and that inspired me to become a bit stricter with it. That said I think Muslim women within and between different societies interpret the rules in different ways and that's OK.

crescentmoon Tue 20-Nov-12 14:29:25

i was the opposite. i used to dress very severely when i was younger and personally thought any hint of femininity was inappropriate. my sisters on the other hand were what we sisters would affectionately call 'hijabi barbies'! now we laugh as they have become more conservative in their dress and i have gone the other direction. you know what changed my mind? i went abroad to a muslim country on holiday and was struck with, as you say hardly, how "different societies interpret the rules in different ways and that's OK". i liked how the sisters there interpreted hijab and came back and started to change the way i dressed, excising all dark colours. still keeping to the spirit i feel but feeling it can be accomplished with various styles rather than a straight abayah. though i wear the abayah sometimes because it can be ultra convenient and fast!

occasionally i like to go to modest style blogs to get ideas how to dress modestly, where to buy clothes, how to layer and put things together. they kind of do all the box ticking for me as being a busy mum i dont have time to troop around looking for clothes with modest cuts.

this one is good for outfits, iv had lots of idead from it

i like this one for reviews, especially of kaftans

also further afield but good

i occasionally go to jewish modesty blogs and mormon modesty blogs - you would be surprised how many there are! and they are also good for ideas on how to develop a style without being sexy. and that is what i think alot of younger sisters struggle with. but they dont go head to toe often!

sashh Wed 21-Nov-12 05:44:29

OK ladies, I'm going to hijack this if you don't mind.

I once took a group of students to look around a university. I noticed there was something different about one and said, "X, you look different, have you had your hair cut?", her reply, "No Miss, I'm not wearing my headscarf".

So what are the rules, if any, about only wearing a headscarf some of the time.

I can understand not wearing a veil / head scarf and only putting one on to go to the mosque (knew someone who did that) and if I was invited to something at a mosque I would too. And I'd probably be wearing something baggy and coveriing too.

I know some of the girls I taught wore more modest clothes at college. I once complemented a girl on her 'dress', it probably has a propper name, long sleeved, floor length black with a pattern around the neck, down the front and around the bottom.

She said she only wore it for college and wore jeans at home. And that I get too. Home you are with your family, I think what JuJu called mahrams but at college you are mixing with people of different backgrounds, cultures, religeon and you want to give out a 'don't even bother, I'm not available' vibe.

As a teacher headscarves can be useful, I told a girl off for eating in a computer room (no food or drink allowed at any time). Then I said "and it's Ramadan".

That started an interesting discussion on whether she could eat (time of the month) or couldn't because it was breaking the college rules and she could go to the canteen for a plate of chips after class.

Sorry I've rambled. Basically why would you wear a headscarf most of the time but not all of the time?

HardlyEverHoovers Wed 21-Nov-12 19:52:58

Some nice things on those blogs crescentmoon. Don't think I've ever looked that stylish even before being Muslim!
Convenience is definately a big factor in wearing abaya (long loose dress). Now I'm a mum and in the house most days, I like wearing my 'me' clothes inside and then putting on an easy cover all. I make my abayas and it's nice to wear clothes you've made yourself.
Interestingly when we visit my husbands home country, I tend to wear brighter colours even though it's a Muslim country as everyone wears bright colours there.
I seem to remember something in the Islamic advice on womens dress about blending in or something along those lines, does anyone know?

crescentmoon Thu 22-Nov-12 13:32:09

hey sashh. i found your post interesting. 'why would you wear a headscarf most of the time but not all of the time?'. it could be wearing the hijab as a symbolic sign rather than as an imperative. or wearing it for cultural reasons rather than religious reasons. or for convenience - and when it is not convenient one takes it off.

i know of a few sisters who wear the hijab everywhere except specifically job/ university interviews. they factor in that the hijab will be a barrier to them getting a study/ work opportunity because of islamophobia so attend without it. then they theorise that once they get their foot in the door they will wear the hijab as normal when they start a new job. perhaps that was the thinking behind that student of yours who didnt wear the hijab to that university trip.

tbh i agonised over this myself a few times - i think alot of hijabi and non hijabi women consider the discriminatory effect when deciding whether to wear the hijab or not. my sister went on a recent graduate job interview - final face to face after passing several stages of the recruitment process - and wondered out loud if she had sabotaged her own chances by both wearing the hijab and dressing to downplay her femininity.

some sisters try and rationalise that wearing the hijab is already covering the 'crown of their beauty' - their hair - so nothing more is needed.

my best friend a convert always delayed wearing a hijab saying it would block her from getting ahead professionally then received alot of discrimination at her new work place when they discovered she prayed at lunchtimes. she concluded that had she worn the hijab for her interview she would have saved herself months of heartache as they would have turned her down anyway. in the end she quit her job and began to wear the hijab afterwards and alhamdullillah she found another good position in another company.

as for jujumoo, i get what you mean about halal ingredients. i was aghast a few years ago to learn most lipsticks have pork fat in them. i check the ingredients of makeup now as well to make sure it is vegetarian too which makes alot of makeup brands out for me. i follow fiqh shaafiee which is pretty strict on wudhu, for me any considerations always comes down to what will allow me to carry my ablution and what will nullify my ablution.

crescentmoon Thu 22-Nov-12 18:14:49

(I also cringed remembering a non Muslim colleague calling me out once on eating during Ramadan a few years ago. They said 'umm i thought yur not allowed to eat?'. It was my 'time of the month' but I was too shy to explain, I was surprised he had even known what Ramadan was let alone the time of it! I never ate In front of people again!)

sashh Fri 23-Nov-12 07:01:38

Thank you Cresent moon, I only called the student out because she should not have been eating in the IT room regardless of anything else.

It's sad that there is discrimintaion based on a headscarf. And who cares if someone prays at lunchtime. It is their free time.

Maybe because I live somewhere where headscarves are common. That particular college had only a tiny number of white students, and enough muslim students that the canteen only served hallal food.

When it was Eid I had classes with two or three students in. Personally I think the entire college should close for two days at Eid and maybe have two days less at half term. There is no point introducing a new topic when so many students are absent (college policy, staff and students could take two days for religeous holidays without any penalty).

My final class of the day, the students had a three hour break before my class, they asked if they could go home. I couldn't authorise that but I told them that if they didn't turn up in the first 15 mins I would assume they were either celebrating Eid or had been invited to friends who had.

Thank you for answering my questions. I am facinated with culture and how things are interpreted. That's probably why I love teaching the 'equality and diversity' unit.

juule Fri 23-Nov-12 08:34:15

Crescent was the person "calling you out" or enquiring. Until recently I didn't realise that there were exceptions. With hindsight I should have done as I'm aware of the exceptions to fasting in Catholicism.

crescentmoon Fri 23-Nov-12 10:10:51

i just looked up exceptions to fasting in catholicism juule, from this wiki page it seems similar groups are covered.

perhaps it was just enquiring. i get surprised still at how much ordinary people are aware of Islam, at that time ramadan had just begun and had assumed as there werent any muslims in my workplace that it would go unnoticed.

"I seem to remember something in the Islamic advice on womens dress about blending in or something along those lines, does anyone know?"

you know what hardly i actually remembered a narration though iv looked for the references and cant find it. but its a story narrated about a sahabiyat from the first emigration of muslims to the kingdom of najashi before the hijrah of the prophet (pbuh) to madinah during the early years. they fled the persecution of their fellow quraysh and left mecca to go seek refuge under the christian ethiopian king najashi who granted them refuge. then even after things became safe in arabia and they were called back many chose to remain in ethiopia to settle there under the permission of the king and the permission of the prophet (pbuh). one of the lady sahabah who returned to arabia and went to live in madinah carried on wearing ethiopian clothing simply because she liked it and the prophet (pbuh) came to know of it and either approved or made no comment. i cant remember which. i heard this in a talk by sheikh muhammad al yacoubi who said muslims in the west had alot of parallels with the muslims who moved to abbysinnia/ethiopia during the early years of islam. i hope someone else can remember/ know more details!

crescentmoon Fri 23-Nov-12 10:19:00

actually it was two migrations not one...

still looking for the reference about that particular lady sahabah. it jumped out at me when i heard the shaykh mention it because it meant modesty did not entail the arabian dress code even during the lifetime of the prophet (pbuh)...

crescentmoon Sat 24-Nov-12 13:46:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sashh Sun 25-Nov-12 07:53:33

I've just remembered an ........... well if I say amazing, I mean barely believable bit of ignorance.

My parents attend a Roman Catholic church in Lancashire. It happens to be in an area with a lot of people from Pakistani backgronds.

So the congregation has a large number (majority) of Pakistani immigrants or first generation. I think it is not easy to be a Christian in Pakistan at the moment. And of course many women wear salwar kameez.

Anyway - the ignorance. Brace yourself.

One of my mother's friends, "Always checks that 'they' have drunk the wine at communion because that proves they are not muslim".

I mean what the ..........

The only reason I can think of for a muslim to attend an RC service would be to attend a wedding or christening.

I have no idea why my mother's friend thinks that muslim women would try to infiltrate an RC church, take their children to be baptised and for commuion. And why she thinks it is just the women.

I never know whether to laugh at the stupidity or cry at the ignorance.

The equality and diversity is part of BTEC Level 3, most students go on to become nurses and it is vital they have an understanding of different cultures.

One small thing (well quite a big thing) is cultural differences when a child is born.

Some cultures dictate a woman stays in bed for a set time, or does not wash for a set time. Other cultural practices are based around the new baby. Some Vietnamese people virtually ignore their baby for a week. They will feed and change them but nothing else. This is because of the belief that evil spirits are attracted to new babies and the joy they bring to a family.

I wish I could teach it full time.

MichaelaS Fri 30-Nov-12 12:41:13

This thread is absolutely fascinating, thanks all for your ideas comments and education!

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