Husband Wants Me Covered & Locked in the House

04 March, 2017
Q As-Salamu 'Alaykum. My husband demands from me to cover my face. I’m not sure how I could be an active part of the society with covered face. His sister is fully covered; face, eyes, hands, but she has accepted that life. She doesn't go out, she has never gone to school; she doesn't have friends. I can tell she spends almost 24 hours closed in the house. She doesn't even visit us. She cut all ties with society. And now somehow my husband expects the same from me!I’m an educated woman, I have friends, I like people; I’m a different type of woman, and it’s hard to explain that to my husband. When I tell this to him, he thinks I just want to go out, enjoy life, etc. But I simply want to go to work, to use my education, to go sometimes shopping with friends, to go out for dinner. Those things rarely happen. Even though I go out with friends maybe once a month, he makes it like I only think of having fun, I want to escape from the house, etc. I can’t explain to him that I don’t want to live in a cage or in prison, that I can’t be happy only with housework and covering my face.I have finished medicine, and I can't give it up; I like it. But he doesn't support me. He wants to wrap me in black, and I’m getting insane. I also have few neighbors with burqa, and they aren't happy women; they live as maids. People usually say it’s women’s choice, but it’s far from it in most cases. My husband knows all that, but he says "if my mother and sister can live that way, you can also accept it. After some time, you will get used to it, and you will be happy." How can I explain to him that I can't be happy that way, but without fighting every time?



Wa Alaykum As-Salaam dear sister,  

I would like to ask why this matter was not clarified before marriage? These issues, which seem to be a “deal breaker”, should be discussed prior to marriage so that no one has to give up something that is critically important to them. Now that this hasn’t been done, we can try our best to solve the problem in a way where both people feel happy; however, by the wording of your question, this win-win situation may be difficult.

Let me start by challenging some of your views. I am not doing this because I think your husband is right, but rather because when you make a decision, you should make an informed one. What are the views of public towards nikab where you live? Would you be able to practice medicine with only women? I know women who wear nikab; they all have friends and go out as needed and when they want to. They are also educated. Your statement that women who wear nikab have no friends and live as maids is a bit of an exaggeration.

Your concern, however, that you will not be able to do things you enjoy is a well-founded concern. I understand that you feel wearing nikab will be very restrictive, and it probably will. It seems your husband does not support you going out much anyway. If you decide not to wear nikab, will he be ok with you living the life that you wish to live? Does he support you having a job? Going to friend’s homes? Pursuing more education? If none of these are supported, it may be the case that you and your husband have different values of how women should live. This is an issue that is beyond the scope of this forum, and I would encourage you to seek out a marital therapist.

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There are some things that are so important to your husband (like nikab) that he will not be able to see your perspective. You obviously feel strongly about your perspective and so cannot see his. I do not think that this is a matter of who is right and/or wrong, rather this seems that you two want to live different lives and are making choices accordingly. He doesn’t sound like he wants a wife who is independent and enjoys her freedom (staying within her halal boundaries). You do not sound like you want to be a stay-at-home wife. That is a huge difference, and I feel only speaking to a therapist will help resolve this for you.

I wish you all that which is beneficial for you. 


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About Attia Zaidi
Attia Zaidi is a writer, educator, social worker and mother. She has worked with the GTA’s Muslim community for over 15 years in various capacities. Currently, Attia runs a small private practice offering therapy for Muslim families.