Muslim women wear hijab—which is more than just a head cover—because God ordered them to do so in two places in the Qur’an, and because Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) also ordered it. The Qur’an says in Surah 24, verses 30 – 31 what means:

*{Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them. Lo! Allah is Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save to their own husbands or fathers or husbands fathers, or their sons or their husbands’ sons, or their brothers or their brothers’ sons or sisters sons, or their women, or their slaves, or male attendants who lack vigor, or children who know naught of women’s nakedness. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And turn unto Allah together, O believers, in order that ye may succeed.}*

These verses tell us that our Islamic dress is not just a matter of covering the head alone, but also of covering the bosom, which is attractive to men, and of lowering the gaze and walking in a way that does not attract attention. Note that the order to lower the gaze was addressed first to men…

You can also read the other verse about the same point, which is verse number 59 in Surah 33. It may be translated:

*{O Prophet! Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them [when they go abroad]. That will be better, that so they may be recognized and not annoyed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.}*

This indicates that one of the reasons for hijab is to distinguish the believing woman from the non-believing. This relates to your second question concerning the logic behind hijab.

Ask yourself, or ask the next person who asks you that question, if a female judge walked into the courtroom wearing a tight miniskirt and low-cut blouse, would you take her seriously? Who would you respect more, a woman dressed like that or one dressed modestly? The Qur’an was revealed for all times, and though circumstances change, human nature does not. The fact is that men do like to look at women’s bodies, so a woman who covers herself is more likely to be respected as a person than looked upon as a piece of meat!

Up until the end of the nineteenth century, a Western woman who had any self respect covered her head—though perhaps not all her hair—in public. Your audience may argue that a woman who does not cover her hair is no longer looked upon as a loose woman. That may be true, but women still know that men look at them. Otherwise, why would they spend millions of dollars every year to style, color, and treat their hair?

It is true that men don’t have to cover their heads, but there is a dress code for them, as well, although it is not so widely publicized as the women’s dress code. Men must at least be covered from the navel to the knees with loose fitting clothing. The rules for men are different because women are less likely to ogle men than the other way around.

Do women feel hot in hijab?

To be honest, sometimes, yes, so smart women wear cotton. But overall, loose dresses are much cooler and healthier than pants [trousers] or pantyhose.

Some women cover their faces either because they think it is required of them – only a minority of scholars say so – or because they think it is better for them to protect their modesty. Others do not think it is required, but they prefer to act as the wives of Prophet Muhammad did, for they take them as a model in their every day life. Those, believe that such act is a fadl, which would earn them more heavenly reward.

Does a head cover prevent a woman from practicing her daily activities? I don’t see how it could! A woman does not normally wear hijab in her own house, so it shouldn’t get in the way when she’s doing housework. If a long head covering would get in the way in her work or pose a danger to her—if the woman were working around machinery or in a laboratory, for example—she can wear a different style that doesn’t have dragging ends. Actually, hijab—perhaps loose trousers and a long shirt if her work requires her to bend, lift, or climb steps or ladders—gives a woman more freedom of movement while protecting her modesty than does a short dress.

Is hijab an oppression?

Quite the contrary. Dr. Fatima Naseef, author of Women in Islam, sees hijab as a woman’s right to maintain her modesty and to be respected as a person. Please turn the question around to the asker: if one woman has the right to go half naked in public, why doesn’t another woman have the right to cover herself in public? Why is it looked upon as an oppression if she chooses to be modest?