Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari
Question: Assalamu Alaikum,
My teenage cousin does not dress immodestly, but she fails to wear hijab. She is a lovely girl. Initially, her mother had diplomatically spoken to her about the importance of wearing hijab, but my cousin has still refused.
Now, her mother has told her non practicing oldest son, who my cousin fears, to tell her to wear hijab. The situation has escalated where he has been monitoring what she wears and will not allow her to leave the house without hijab in a very threatening manner. She cries and feels resentful and upset each time. I feel this is making her hate the hijab and religion, especially since it is coming from someone who is very far from practicing Islam. Is this permissible? Should they leave my cousin alone until she decides to wear the hijab on her own?
Answer: Assalamu alaikum,
Thank you for your question.
Hijab is not just an outer act of devotion, but a reflection of an inner conviction in God and His law. Modesty can’t be legislated, particularly in an atmosphere of double standards, harshness, and criticism. This is not how to endear anyone to Allah Ta’ala and His religion.
What I will say, however, is that parents can have expectations. Any reasonable young person should understand that as long as he or she eats their parents’ food, sleeps in their bed, and lives under their roof, they ought to be willing to live up to their part of the bargain, which is respect for rules.
Once your family member is out on her own, how she dresses is her business. However, as long as she lives in a Muslim household that places certain expectations on its members, she should be willing to meet those expectations, her personal feelings aside.
Finally, this situation serves to illustrate the importance of instilling modesty in girls from a young age. It’s very difficult to embrace hijab as a teen when opinions are forming, obstinacy sets in, and peer pressure is intense.
May Allah make things easy,