A Muslim woman wears hijab for the simple reason that God has commanded it in the Quran and Sunna. As Muslims we make the testimony “Muhammad is the messenger of God“. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would not be a messenger if he did not come with a message, and his message is the Quran. Therefore, we are really saying “The Quran is the message of God“. Our faith in God motivates us to obey God’s message and that is why we follow what God has commanded in the Quran.
The Quran also tells us to obey the Prophet Muhammad (Surah an-Nisa verse 59), to take what he allows and refrain from what he prohibits (Surah al-Hashr verse 7), to follow his judgments (Surah an-Nisa verse 65), and to abide by his decisions (Surah al-Ahzab verse 36). It also tells us that some of its verses are ambiguous in meaning (Surah Ali Imran verse 7), and that the Prophet Muhammad will explain the meaning of the revelation (Surah an-Nahl verse 44). All of this is the domain of the Sunna. The Sunna records what the Prophet Muhammad said, did, and silently allowed. It shows us how he put the Quran into action. It tells us what he commanded, allowed, prohibited, judged, and decided. And it informs us how he explained the Quran. The Sunna is an important and necessary source of Islamic law.
So what do the Quran and Sunna have to say about women’s dress?
“O you Children of Adam! We have bestowed on you raiment to cover your shame as well as to be an adornment to you. But the raiment of righteousness, that is the best. Such are among the Signs of Allah, that they may receive admonition.” (Quran 7:26)
“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear therof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, or their brothers’ sons or their sisters’ sons, or their women or the servants whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex, and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O you Believers, turn you all together towards Allah, that you may attain Bliss.” (Quran 24:31).
“O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad). That will be better, so that they may be recognised and not annoyed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.” (Quran 33:59)