It's worn by millions of women across the world, but the hijab has developed a bit of a negative reputation, hasn't it?

In many countries, when a woman covers her hair or face, society considers it mildly impolite. But this is mainly because it's not fully understood, so we're here to explore exactly that.

ICYMI, here's a quick introduction on what the hijab really is.

READ MORE: Instead of paying a R300 fine, a woman is going to spend 2 years in jail for removing her headscarf in public

However, as the BBC notes, the most visible form of hijab is seen as the head covering donned by Muslim women.

Like all religions, there are a lot of varying interpretations and agreements over several rules in Islam, and the hijab is just one of many caught up in infinite debate.

There is no question that wearing the headscarf is an obligation from God and is part of a Muslim woman's aurah, but unlike some countries that do have laws requiring women to wear the headscarf, you'll find that many ladies like the ones we spoke to below wear it out of personal choice, and if anything, their reasons are inspiring. 

We asked them what wearing their headscarf means to them, whether they still practice self-care when it comes to their hair, and to debunk any myths on wearing it. Here's what they had to say.

I wear the hijab because I feel it brings me closer to God. It reminds me that my body is sacred and that there is no shame in modesty. A big misconception that people have is that I don't wear my hijab out of choice, when in fact, the truth is that no one forced me and I feel the furthest thing from oppressed. And I can still be ambitious and driven while wearing my scarf. It really doesn't hold me back.
– Najmeera (30)
I wear the hijab because it's part of my identity; it's 100% my choice and I love wearing it.
– Naseerah (19)
Wearing the hijab is not just all about black and white headscarves. There's a multitude of colours, styles and variations that women can choose. Shazeea and her sister, Naseerah, enjoy rocking different styles.
I wear my hijab because it's part of my religion, but mostly because I feel that it completes me in terms of my outward appearance. I feel like it encourages me to dress more modestly and to better myself as a person. I haven't always worn it, though. I started three years ago and it has since become a part of me.
– Zeenat (25)
Zeenat enjoys experimenting with hairstyles. Even though no one sees it, she says she does it for herself because she believes practicing self-care is important.

The other women also weighed in on self-care and experimentation with hair dyes and hairstyles.

I don't dye my hair because I honestly believe in natural beauty. One should feel happy with how God has made them. However, when it comes to brushing my hair, even though I do wear hijab my day does not feel normal unless my hair is neatly brushed under my hijab.
– Aaseema (29)
I still take care of my hair even though I wear a scarf. I have it cut regularly and try to keep it healthy. It makes me feel good.
– Najmeera
I willingly wear my hijab because it is part of my Islamic attire, and wearing hijab does not mean you shouldn't practice self-care when it comes to your hair. The hijab doesn't mean you should neglect yourself. So if you still want to make yourself feel good by dyeing your hair for yourself or your husband, then, why not?
– Aneesa (30)

I really enjoy experimenting with different colours for my hair – I actually change up my look every few months. Now and then I'll style my hair even though I don't leave the house. It's just a great confidence boost.
– Naseerah

And if you've ever felt too shy to ask a Muslim woman any questions about wearing her hijab – don't. We don't mind answering, and here's why.

I don't mind the questions. Sometimes it's completely innocent or due to ignorance. Either way, it's a chance for me to educate someone and perhaps change a negative perspective they might have of the hijab.
– Najmeera
Most of the time it's great when people ask me questions relating to the hijab because I get the chance to inform non-Muslims who want to be educated on Islam, so I do my best to prevent ignorant comments and judgements.
– Naseerah
I don't mind when people ask me questions. On the contrary, I appreciate them because they make me reflect on them as well.
– Zeenat
I feel that many people generally don't ask to insult or undermine your efforts. They ask because they aren't informed. And many people receive their information via the media and therefore see the hijab as a symbol of oppression. So when people ask me about it it's really an opportunity for me to explain the significance of the hijab in Islam. I don't take offence to any of the questions and I try to answer as diplomatically as possible.
– Rafieka

Ever wondered how many layers are under the hijab? Here's your answer.

A post shared by Muslim Girl (@muslimgirl) on

Just kidding. But at times that's what it feels like.

We're all too familiar with the media often depicting the hijab as a symbol of oppression, but these ladies also want to debunk a few (often funny) stereotypes.

A big misconception is that we are held back from partaking in fun activities. But this has been challenged by so many sportswomen, businesswomen, beauty bloggers and home executives alike. Take U.S. Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad, for example. She's on fire! – Rafieka

Ibtihaj even had a Barbie modelled after her last year. Progress for the win.

Aneesa also adds that Muslim women wearing the hijab are often seen as timid and suppressed, but it's just another misconception out there that needs to be clarified.

We're seen as women with boring personalities who don't speak up for themselves and are suppressed and forced to wear it. Another stereotype is that people often see hijabie women as innocent. But wearing a scarf doesn't necessarily make you innocent. Sinners wear scarves too.

READ MORE: "Can you only wear black?" and other questions Muslim women get asked about modest wear

Shakeela (28) also makes a significant point.

I think we're often assumed to wear it to please men, be it our fathers, brothers or husbands, when in fact it's worn to please only our Almighty. Another misconception is that wearing the headscarf means that you can't be independent or gain success in your career. I think we're seen as too "reserved" for this. But I know of Muslim women that are CEOs and their headscarves haven't inhibited their career growth and success in any way whatsoever.
Shakeela says the hijab is her choice and her pride.

And on a more light-hearted note, Naseerah wants to clarify a question she's been asked once too many times:

Contrary to popular belief, I'd like to inform all my non-Muslim sisters that we put our hijab aside when taking a shower.

Images: Supplied

WATCH: 7 Questions British Muslims Are Tired of Hearing

Sign up to W24’s newsletters so you don't miss out on any of our hot stories and giveaways.