Hijab is meant to preserve Muslim woman’s dignity. Like all other Shari`ah-based commands, Hijab should be given due care, for it brings about countless fruits and wards off evils. Allah, the Creator of humans, knows our nature better than ourselves, and thus He has prescribed appropriate rules of behavior and appearance to be observed when men and women interact with one another in a social milieu. Hijab thus forms part of a holistic program of Islamic ethics and morals governing male and female interaction. Prescribing the rule of Hijab, Allah says, “Say to the believing men to lower their gazes and guard their chastity,” (An-Nur: 30) “And say to the believing women to lower their gazes and guard their chastity, and let them not display of their charm – except what is apparent.” (An-Nur: 31)
However, women are not obliged to wear a certain type of dress or a whole one piece cloak as long as their clothing is loose and is not transparent (showing flesh / see through/ or revealing under-clothing). Moreover, what is meant by ‘jilbab’ is any kind of clothing which covers the body yet is not tight. Also, the Qur’an don’t specify certain type of clothes such as jilbab or abaya to be the sole option for proper Hijab.
Elaborating the requirements of proper Hijab, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
“It is important to remember that the purpose of Hijab in Islam is not to cut women out from participating in the activities of the society or to keep men and women utterly segregated or to make it hard for women to function normally in life. Rather the purpose of Hijab is to help women maintain their dignity and honor as free persons and to help them fulfill their obligations smoothly and comfortably.
So the requirements of hijab are never oppressive or restrictive in any way; here are the requisites of hijab or proper Islamic attire for women:
1. It should cover her whole body except face and hands.
2. It should be loose-fitting.
3. It should not be transparent or revealing.
4. It should not be an attire specifically worn by men only.
So as a muslim lady, as long as your attire fulfills the above conditions, you don’t have to worry. Remember Allah has not revealed religion to make life difficult; rather it is intended to make it easy and comfortable for us. Allah says: “He has not laid upon you in religion any hardship” (Al-Hajj: 78). “Allah wishes to lighten the burden for you; for certainly man has been created weak!” (An-Nisa’: 28).”
excerpted, with slight modifications, from: www.muslims.ca