Salah, a binding duty of practicing Muslims, is a specific prayer that is prayed five times a day. Since the Koran dictates that both men and women wear modest clothing in mixed company as well as when alone, the same requirements are expected during the time of prayer. While typically Salah is performed after the age of 10, parents often have their daughters wear the required clothing earlier to establish the habit.
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Traditional Muslim clothing for women, referred to as "hijab," includes covering the body down to the hands and wearing a headscarf. The word "hijab," meaning "barrier" or "partition," is seen as a symbol of the barrier between men and women. While "hijab" is often used to specifically refer to the headscarf, it is also used for the entirety of traditional clothing. The basis for the tradition comes from Koran 24:31, which states, "And tell the believing women to reduce their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and adornments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosom and not display their beauty except to their husband, their fathers..." the passage continues with a list of exceptions. The quotation refers to anytime when a Muslim girl or woman is in public, including during times of prayer. While the clothing requirement is considered only for girls who have reached the age of puberty, Salah is also restricted to those same ages. If she appears in public during times of prayer, a Muslim girl is expected to remain in traditional garb, including wearing the hijab.
Normally, when either in the home among men in their own family (who are listed in Koran 24:31), Muslim girls and women are allowed to remove some of the traditional garb, most specifically the hijab. However, the exception is during times of prayer, even in private. This requirement is from Koran 7:31: "O Children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer." The idea is that the hijab and the complete garb displays modesty during times of prayer.
While Salah is only asked of Muslims over the age of 10 (with seven a commonly recommended first age), any Muslim practicing Salah is required to do so while covering the awrah. "Awrah" refers to the entire body with the exception of the face and hands, which would, in verse 24:31, be the exceptions that must ordinarily be displayed. Girls younger than the age of puberty are excluded from hijab while in public or in their home, and men are not included in the passage. But if they are going to participate in the tradition of Salah, they are expected to do so in the proper fashion.
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