Can I Temporarily Take Off My Hijab?

13 September, 2019
Q I used to be Christian but I converted to Muslim. I've only been Muslim for a year and wearing hijab but I would like to go on holiday and go swimming as I've always enjoyed this but I'm not sure what to do about my hijab. I feel like everyone would give me really weird looks if I went swimming in my hijab. I'm really unsure what to do, I only have 1 Muslim friend and she doesn't wear hijab and she tells me to do what I feel comfortable with but I don't know what makes me feel comfortable. I'm so used to covering myself that I would feel uncomfortable to show any skin but then I would feel uncomfortable if people stare at me if I'm wearing hijab and swimming. Please help me decide what to do. The friends I'm going on holiday with will be wearing bikinis and swimsuits so I feel like I would just stand out so much if I'm wearing hijab and completely covered.


Short Answer: Muslim women only wear hijab in front of non-mahram men. You can take off your hijab with other women and in front of your maharem (male guardians). So, to make yourself comfortable, don’t go swimming in mixed places, or places where women are too immodestly dressed that you feel uncomfortable. Look up halal options and destinations to accommodate your needs – and there are plenty insha’Allah.


Salam alaykum (peace be upon you) dearest sister,

First of all, let us congratulate you on the beautiful and honorable step of embracing Islam. May Allah Almighty open all doors of wisdom, peace and generosity for you in this life and eternally in the next.

It is beautiful to see your commendable and noble determination to follow the commandment of modesty and the veil. This shows faith, courage and sincerity. May Allah Almighty highly reward you for every single effort and every single second you spend being conscious of Him and keen on doing what’s right for His Sake and the sake of earning eternal Paradise near Him.

Your question shows desire to do the right thing. So, let us remember together a few things to help you make your decision as per what pleases Allah Almighty and earns you eternal rewards.

Who Should I Care About The Most?

Being a Muslim means we submit ourselves to Our Creator, Sustainer and Owner of the heavens and the earth and everything therein, Allah Almighty.

This submission is what brings us peace, because Allah is As-Salam (Owner and Bestower of Peace) and He descends unrivaled peace upon the hearts of the believers.

“Those who believe and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah: for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction” (Quran 13: 28)

The main question you’re raising is about hijab and swimming with your friends in a place where you may feel uncomfortable due to your modesty and hijab.

You’ve expressed worry for standing out because of your hijab.

But actually, the bigger questions we need to think about together are:

  • Who should I worry about the most: Allah or the people?

  • Who wants my benefit the most in this life and the next?

  • Who is the Most Knowing of what is right and what’s wrong?

  • What would Allah want me to do?

We’re not alluding to that you shouldn’t enjoy yourself. On the absolute contrary, Allah is The One who brings happiness, as He said:

“And that it is He who makes [one] laugh and weep” (53: 43)

Allah won’t forbid you from enjoying yourself, but He’ll instruct you to do them within honorable, modest, dignified boundaries.

Allah instructed hijab and modesty for men and women for a reason. Read here about the reality of hijab. Also check our previous answer here to know why men and women are commanded to be modest.

The instructions of Allah are not a light matter to compromise casually; applying them is actually the purpose of our life and what we need to strive for the most.

Liberating Oneself from Negative Peer Pressure

Think about this…

If I’m sitting in a crowd where people are not praying and they make me uncomfortable if I pray, does this mean I should commit the sin of leaving prayers to make them comfortable?

If I’m sitting in a crowd where people are slandering others that they make me uncomfortable if I don’t participate, does this mean I should commit the sin of slandering to make them comfortable?

If you’re in a crowd that is not observing modesty that they make you feel uncomfortable for being modest or wearing hijab, does this mean you should compromise your hijab to make them comfortable?

Of course not.

In all these situations, there is peer pressure to commit sins/disobedience of Allah. The solution is not to commit the sins to please people. The solution is to leave the place/crowd that is forcing you to think of sins or feel pressured to do them.

It is always more worthwhile to stand up for your values than to submit to negative peer pressure.

Finding Alternatives

In your situation, the simple solution if you want to go swimming is to find alternatives that respect and accommodate your modesty, and to not force yourself to be in the wrong place that entices you to compromise your values.

There are plenty of halal destinations to enjoy nature and enjoy swimming. Find a club or a ladies-only place where you can go swimming and wear what you want within what’s acceptable for women to reveal in front of one another.

Look up alternatives and do not restrict yourself to uncomfortable places.

You do not need to give up swimming, but you also do not have to go swimming in mixed places, or sacrifice your values out of pressure.

Remember if you leave something for the sake of Allah so as not to displease or disobey Him, Allah will provide you with what’s better.

“[….] And whoever fears Allah – He will make for him a way out

( 3 )   And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent.” (Quran 65: 2-3)

Most importantly, look at the deeper, more serious meaning. Stand up confidently and unapologetically for your noble values decreed and instructed by the All-Knowing King Himself.

My biggest advice is to encourage you and all of us to learn more about Allah through His Names and Attributes. When you know who Allah is, you’ll fall in love with Him, you’ll know His Commands are the best and most merciful for us, you’ll be keener on pleasing Him -The Eternal, The Judge- than any other mortal man or woman among His creation.

You’ll know that He is the ally of the believers who opens ways for them when they submit to Him, and provide them from where they don’t expect, and descend happiness, peace and tranquility upon their heart and make them feel honored and ennobled.

So, the right answer always is to seek Allah earnestly and commit to what’s right, and He’ll open ways for you and make you pleased.  Allah is more worthy of our concern than the people. Find Halal alternatives, and Allah will please you. Take yourself out of situations or crowds were you’re inclined to compromise your values or commit sins. Stand up unapologetically for what’s right because that’s more honorable and this is what will benefit us when we stand before Allah on The Day of Judgment. This is the Truth that matters the most eternally.

And Allah knows best.

I hope this helps.

Salam and please keep in touch.

(From Ask About Islam archives)

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Modesty, Swimming and the Burkini

Can a Muslim Woman Go to Public Swimming Pools?

Modesty and Hijab: “Practically” Perfect

About Dina Mohamed Basiony
Dina Mohamed Basiony is a writer based in Cairo, Egypt. She specializes in Islam and spirituality. Dina holds an MA and BA in Journalism and Mass Communication from the American University in Cairo.