There's a gender imbalance with hijab: it's only required to be worn in front of (non-mahram) men*. It requires that Muslim women behave differently depending on the gender of who's around, which is a form of discriminating categorically.

The selectivity sends a message that a Muslim woman believes there is something wrong with men, requiring that they cover.

Question: Is wearing hijab only in front of men sexist?

This is important for someone like me, in academia, where we're not supposed to condone or promote sexism.

Perhaps I'm thinking about this the wrong way.

* Some scholars say non-Muslim women too, but let's put that aside.

  • Yes , Sharia diffrentiates between men and women , if that is your question. "Sexisim" is usally a negative label . what do you mean by "sexist" in this context
    – Butarek Hd
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 19:49
  • I suppose this definition: discrimination based on gender. The usual meaning of the word (with its negativity). Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 20:08
  • "recognition and understanding of the difference between one sex and another." .. which is applied in Islamic Sharia.
    – Butarek Hd
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 20:21
  • sexism could mean : the unjust treatment based on sex , or discrimination that is typically against women , which is not acceptable in Islam .
    – Butarek Hd
    Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 20:32
  • The reason why women should wear the hijab is to conceal their adornments away from men so they are not vulnerable to men's desires. The reason you don't wear it in front of other women is because they won't have those same desires. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 21:12

2 Answers 2


Male and female both have specific duties that they are obliged to during certain circumstances in Islam. This has nothing to do with inequality and has everything to do with the plain differentiation between the sexes.

For example, there is no physical reason (excluding illness, impure state, etc) for a male to stop praying. While for the female, she is obliged to take time off on a monthly basis during menstruation. The same goes for fasting during Ramadan.

Males cannot cry foul because females are given "time off" on a regular basis. Similarly, females cannot cry foul for other obligations that are imposed upon them and not on the other sex.

Sexism arises when a matter of negative inequality is there. In Islam, the superiority or inferiority of a person versus another is based on their spirit (obligation fulfilled, good/bad deeds, etc) Males and females are thus equal in fulfilling their obligations.

Going back to the example I gave, a female during menstruation unable to pray is as equal to a male who is praying. Both fulfill their obligations.

Muslim males do not have divine obligations imposed upon them similar to females whose physiological being is different. A male does not menstruate, get pregnant, etc. Males and females are different - and they are beholden to that.

  • You explanation is basically the definition of sexism. What if a woman wants to pray during her period but is prevented from doing that because of her menstruation?
    – d-b
    Commented Oct 22, 2022 at 14:24

"It requires that Muslim women behave differently depending on the gender of who's around, which is a form of discriminating categorically."

Men also have to behave differently when around women.... and so on. Everyone has limits, so your claim of discrimination is just ignorance of Islamic law which imposes restrictions and limits on both men and women.

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