The 2 countries where hijab is mandatory for foreigners are not the only Islamic countries where wearing a hijab is a good idea. Islam has very strict rules which are implemented to govern the lives of its followers. These include rulings regarding their way of dressing, with differing guidance for both men and women. Both genders are encouraged to wear loose-fitting clothes, so as not to accentuate their figures. While men are required to cover themselves from their navel to their knee, at least, the rules for women are much more stern; not only should their entire body be covered excluding the hands and feet, their face and hair should be covered as well.
While the covering of the entire body has been universally accepted by followers of the religion, the requirement to hide their face and hair has been the subject of much debate, even amongst Islamic scholars–with some supporting the stance while other decrying it. The main reason behind this dispute is that the main written guide of Muslims, the Quran, is written in Arabic, and Arabic words can often have multiple translations. Hence, the translation has differed depending on how conservative or liberal the translation is, or when it was translated. Those who have considered the hijab not to be mandated by Islam are some of the more liberal interpreters, who are working hard to improve the image of Islam and making it more compatible with the modern world. Meanwhile, the interpreters who have deemed that a woman should be completely covered have a more conservative approach and believe in literal rather than symbolic translation.
This approach can be seen in another controversial interpretation of the Quran; namely, the verse that many say allows Muslim men to beat their wives in case of disobedience. According to verse 4:34, men can lightly beat their wives if they run out of alternatives, a translation which was endorsed by the Council of Islamic Ideology, an organization with which many Muslims have often disagreed. On the other hand, other Muslims settled on a different translation, which stated that the word used to convey ‘beat’ could also mean ‘leave.’ As you can see, that completely changes the context of the sentence.
Since there is room for interpretation, most Muslim countries, even if they have implemented Islamic law, do not force women to wear the hijab. In fact, only 2 countries in the world have a law which mandates the wearing of the hijab. There are more Muslim countries such as Turkey and Morocco, where the hijab is actually discouraged. And before the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the hijab was seen as a sign of a backward society in the nation as well. There is also a likelihood that more countries will implement Muslim law, if population statistics are anything to go by, as evident by the 10 Countries Where Muslim Population Will Increase the Most by 2050.
An honorable mention should be given to Afghanistan. While the hijab is not mandatory now in the country, it was during the rule of the Taliban, and women without the garment were often beaten in front of everyone for having the audacity to dress as they wanted.
While hijab may not be mandatory in most Muslim countries, it is still advisable to wear it, which will be received positively by the locals even if they don’t do it themselves. You may be able to avoid harassment in this manner as well. If you are about to travel to a Muslim country and are worried whether it is one of the 2 countries where hijab is mandatory for foreigners, read on!