May the peace, mercy, and blessing of God be upon you~
I recently started covering (alhamdulillah (praise God)) and I decided to do a post on what hijab is, because before I educated myself on the subject, I really had no idea. Being a revert, you begin from the ground up. And I'm the sort who doesn't accept anything unless I learn it myself.
One day, I was doing a Google search and randomly happened upon the I Love Hishma blog. I have no idea how, it was for something completely unrelated, if I remember correctly. Anyway, after I read some blog posts, I really felt the need to research the hijab more fully. When I looked into religious verses, this is the conclusion I came to.
Is hijab mandatory?
What is hijab, anyways?
What I consider hijab is based on revealed scriptures:
"And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision (lower their gaze) and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers, their brothers' sons, their sisters' sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed." 24:31
"O Prophet, enjoin your wives and your daughters and the believing women, to draw a part of their outer coverings/cloaks/jilabib around them. It is likelier that they will be recognized and not molested. Allah is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful." 33:59
And lastly, hadith:
"Ayesha (rad.i-Allahu `anha) reported that Asma’ the daughter of Abu Bakr (rad.i-Allahu `anhu) came to the Messenger of Allah while wearing thin clothing. He approached her and said: 'O Asma’! When a girl reaches the menstrual age, it is not proper that anything should remain exposed except this and this. He pointed to the face and hands." [Abu Dawud]
From these three evidences, one can deduce that hijab must
a) consist of a headcovering that covers the chest
b) a loose outer garment -- i.e., jilbab -- that is not see through nor form fitting