HEALTH BENEFITS OF THE HIJAB
The Arabic word “Hijab” literally means veil, screen, curtain or cover. There are many scientific facts that describe the health benefits of the hijab.
Medical experts have always warned us against the damaging effects of the suns’ harmful rays, particularly the ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The UV rays from sunlight penetrate the atmosphere and are responsible for causing many health conditions such as premature skin aging, eye damage (including cataracts), and skin cancers. They also suppress the immune system, thus, reducing the ability to fight off diseases and other maladies(problems).
A leading medical magazine has brought to attention and increasing problem of “melanoma”, a deadliest form of skin cancer that arises due to long term exposure to direct sunlight. It is highly prevalent amongst women, mainly because the dress sense that they usually adopted means that large parts of their bodies are uncovered and thus, exposed to the harmful effects of UV radiation. The legs are the most common part of the body that is largely afflicted by this disease, mainly because of the short length skirts that women commonly wear.
As UV rays can penetrate through clouds, fabric and glass, wearing transparent clothing will not provide sufficient protection from this type of cancer.
Medical experts recommend people to cover up with loose-fitting clothing, especially those made with tightly woven fabrics as they provide a greater barrier between the skin and the sun. Bright or dark-coloured clothing tend to reflect more UV radiation than pastel coloured clothing and bleached cottons.
Spending long hours in hot weather without sufficient protection can be damaging to health, particularly, the brain. Long term exposure to heat can deplete many essential elements present in the body, namely phosphorous. Phosphorous provides strength to bones and teeth and is potent in performing essential activities for different body parts like the brain, kidneys and heart.
A leading health specialist discovered that phosphorus depletes at temperatures of 108 °F. A human body can easily reach such temperatures when exposed to the hot sun for any length of time without sufficient protection. Frequent and long term exposure to such temperatures can result in overheating of the head that increases the risk of irreversible brain damage and memory loss.
For this reason, health advisors recommend people to wear a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses to help shield sensitive skin on the head, neck, and around the eyes as these are the areas that usually sustain a lot of sun damage.
Exposure to cold weather conditions upsets the equilibrium of the human body that results in ill-health. Frequent exposure to cold and windy conditions without sufficient protection increases the risk of suffering from colds and flu with aches, pains and shivers.
Medical tests revealed that 40-60% of body heat is lost through the head and people are advised to protect their heads in such wintery conditions. It is proven that wearing a hat during the winter months provides 50% more protection from heat loss than being without a head covering. It is also advised to wrap up warm to stay away from drafts.
In some professions, workers are required to wear some sort of head covering for hygiene purposes such as, nurses, fast food workers, health care providers and many more.
The head-covering ensures cleanliness and purity and prevents cross contamination and spread of infections and diseases.
Summary of Protective Measures
Health specialists advise people to protect themselves from UV radiation, both indoors and out. It is advised to:
In wintery conditions, health officials advise people to:
Over all, health officials have perfectly described the ‘Islamic dress code’ by recommending that the best form of clothing to wear should be good quality, loose fitting clothing that cover the maximum amount of skin.
The versatility of this type of clothing is that it can be cool and comfortable to wear during the summer months and yet warm and insulating in the winter months. The headscarf or any form of head covering provides protection from both extremes of temperatures and guards the vital organs from sustaining damage from each of the extremes.
The Islamic dress maintains a state of balance within the human body that helps keep it healthy throughout its lifetime. This proves that there are always valid reasons behind any divine rulings and regulations given to mankind and it is clear that the wisdom of Allah in prescribing such rulings related to hijab and the Islamic dress code provides protection not only from sociological and psychological issues but from a health perspective too. Allah said in Quran: O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful. Qur’an.Surah Ahzab 33:59 The word Jilbab (cloak) means the cover over the veil(yashmak)
Originally written by By Dr Gazala Ishaq, (Research Scientist & Freelance Writer,Nottingham,UK)