Women are obliged to wear the hijab based on a widely accepted interpretation of the Qur'an established in the formative period of Islam that references two verses in the Qur'an (24:31 and 33:59), as well as hadith (prophetic sayings) which made it obligatory for women to cover their heads and much of their body for the sake of dignity and modesty.
Covering one's hair is interstingly also referred to in the Old and New Testaments, which is why nuns and orthodox Jewish women traditionally covered and in some cases still cover their hair and much of their body. Similarly, one would be hard pressed to find representations of Mary, the Mother of Jesus without a long, loose robe and hair covering.
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