At the risk of being labelled what Bilal Philips calls a what-iffer (those with a tendency to ask hypothetical fiqh questions) in The Evolution of Fiqh, I have a "what if" question...

Suppose society developed in such a way that hijab became commonly understood as men's attire. We face a dilemma:

  • Women imitating men is considered a major sin; it's major sin 33 in Al-Dhahabi's Al-Kaba'ir (=Major Sins).

    The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) cursed the man who dressed like a woman and the woman who dressed like a man. -- Sunan Abi Dawud 4098 [grade:sahih] (sunnah.com)

    However, there are other narrations which refer to "impersonating" men rather than dressing like men.

  • Women are required to wear hijab. See: Hijab is Obligatory: Evidences from the Quran and Sunnah, IslamWeb.

Question: If society developed so that hijab was considered men's attire, what should Muslim women do?

I'm not sure how to resolve this. Perhaps the necessity of not dressing like a man overrides the prohibition of hijab. Or perhaps the necessity of hijab overrides the prohibition on dressing like a man.

I have in mind a generally non-Muslim society (specifically, China, where I live).

Motivation: There is a real-world motivation to this question, but I didn't think it was appropriate to explain (but since the question has been poorly received on a theoretical level...): I hate wearing hijab. It covers up my femininity (hence this question) and I feel I'm losing my woman-ness and edging towards the major sin of imitating men. I'm trying to gauge what Allah would be more concerned about.

  • Do you mean in a muslim society or non muslim society?
    – Kilise
    Apr 29, 2017 at 15:18
  • 1
    I don't think this is on topic-do you? Apr 29, 2017 at 18:21
  • 1
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's a weird hard to relate question that would bring in more alike questions
    – Thaqalain
    May 3, 2017 at 0:52
  • @Honey I don't think this is off-topic, rather it is primarily opinion-based. A straightforward answer is hard to give to a question like this because many variables are still missing. And the answers would of course variate according to the scholars fundamental rules of understanding and interpretation of different matters in the Quran and ahadith. The ones that understand that hijab is based on reason (mu'allal) might come to different conclusions than the ones that think the hijab is just based on hikma or unknown reasoning.
    – Kilise
    May 3, 2017 at 15:34
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is hypothetical in nature and unlikely to be helpful to anyone reading it
    – Zaid
    May 6, 2017 at 9:41

2 Answers 2


I think you should consider the reference point for "women imitating men" and vice versa. I believe the reference point is the original Islamic society in the time of the Prophet and not the society where the Muslim putting this into practice will be located.

Setting aside Hijab for a moment, suppose that a culture develops where men put henna on their hands and women do not. Will it be sinful for a woman in this society to put Henna on her hands? No, rather it will be sinful for the men of the society to put henna on their hands ... and the society would have collectively transgressed the command of the Prophet by inverting the norms.


If a situation does exist where there is a conflict between the two commands, my understanding is that one should give preference to the Hijab since that is established by the Quran, whereas the prohibition of imitating the opposite gender is established through Hadith.

  • 1
    This is also why I asked her in the comments; "Do you mean in a muslim society or non muslim society?"
    – Kilise
    Apr 30, 2017 at 9:35

That's a weird question. Nevertheless I'd say two things.

  1. The idea of men imitating women in dress and vice versa is subject to the norms of the society being discussed and is subject to change with time and place.

  2. Hijaab in itself is not mandated in Islam but Modesty is, for both Genders. Therefore the injunctions are universally applicable.


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