As-Salam Alaikum – Peace be unto you
In celebration of #WorldHijabDay I thought I would share with y’all my hijab story. What does the hijab mean in Islam? Do women in Islam have to wear it? My transition to how I started to wear it. The struggles and challenges of wearing it in the west.
I am simply sharing this in hopes of encouraging, and influencing a sister. I am not a scholar and speaking based on my experience, my findings and interpretations. If I am wrong in them please advice me otherwise. I am open and would kindly appreciate questions rather than ignorance.
We all go through different paths in life that make us who we are. If one does things physically different than another it does not make them better. Remember its about our intentions and faith so don’t ever think you are below or above someone because of that!
Lets begin shall we?!
What is HIJAB?
“An islamically prescribed way of dress in which a woman must cover herself at least from her shoulders to her ankles in loose fitting clothing that isn’t sheer. At best she covers her body with the exception of her face and hands. The clothing can be as stylish as she wants it to be or as drab and unstylish as she wants it to be. She can wear silk, or any other fabric and follow anystyle as long as it stays within these bounds.”
Retrieved from http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=hijab
Ironically the best definition I found😋
When it comes to religion I find culture always seems to play a role when it should not. They are two different things and should not affect each other but unfortunately they do! That being said, through my Swahili culture women dress in Islamic attire (hijabs and abayas) as it is the norm. Growing up in Canada, it is a much different world . With that comes a different culture.
I actually did not grow up wearing the hijab and only started recently, three years to be exact. Growing up where I did, it was definitely a huge factor in why I did not start earlier. As Toronto is known for its multiculturalism, the suburbs (where I live) however are not. So the majority of the population is made up of Caucasians while the minority is a range of ethnicities. Thus, you can only imagine the diversity within the hallways of the schools I grew up in, none. So as a black Muslim girl I stuck out.
I was pretty shy growing up in my teens, still am when meeting new people. I went through that phase where I cared too much about what people thought of me. I was surrounded by a lot of people who knew very little of other cultures and religions. Most of them were too arrogant to care and too ignorant to educate themselves. At the time it seemed like symbolizing my religion in a more visual way would call for attention – I was avoiding it. I would have rather fit in then to stick out and represent my religion by following its principles and practices, it was easier that way.
Leaving the world of high school, all its drama, and child-ish ways felt good as I entered the real world as a college student. Surrounded by adults treating you like adults and teens with a broader understanding of the world around them, it was nice. I was now also surrounded by hundreds of Muslims. Whereas, I came from a place which I was one out five in a school of one thousand five hundred students. Thus, I started to feel better about representing my faith, essentially the environment was more comfortable. Now I know there is another world outside of school but that is where I spent most of my public time at. So establishing the comfort there it made it easier.
I have been in Masjid’s attending Madrasah (Islamic studies like Sunday School) probably since the age of 5. Growing up in a practicing Islamic house hold our faith was number one. It essentially guides us in our lives and directs us in all that we do. I always knew my parents would have loved me to wear hijab but they never pressured me to start – that I was grateful for.
I believe an individual grows up with the values, morals, and beliefs which they are taught and learnt from those with the authoritative role in their lives, usually your parents. As you grow into adulthood it is now up to you to form your own opinions and beliefs; based on what you previously learned, that which is right and wrong then act upon it.
Hijab in Islam
I have always known hijab plays a major role for women in Islam but had limited understanding onto how. Upon doing my research these are some of the verses that helped me understand why.
“O children of Adam, We have brought down to you garments to cover your private parts, as well as for adornment, yet the garment of reverence is the best. These are some of God’s signs, perhaps they will remember.” (7:26)
“O Prophet! Say to your wives and daughters and the believing women that they draw their outer garments close to them; so it is more proper that they may be made known and not hurt. God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate. Now, if the hypocrites do not give over and those in whose hearts there is a sickness and they make commotion in the city, “We shall assuredly set you against them and then they will be your neighbors there only for a little while” (33:59-60)
“Say to the believing women that: they should cast down their glances and guard their private parts (by being chaste)…and not display their beauty except what is apparent, and they should place their khumur over their bosoms…” (24:30) – Khumur = veil/clothing that covers
When it would come to the day I began wearing a hijab and dressing modest I wanted it to be when I had come to terms with it myself. I wanted to be able to be mentally ready for what would come with it. All the love and hate along with the good and bad. By this I mean being ready to answer the questions I would be asked and react to the comments I would receive.
Yes I know some people are probably thinking hijab is not that hard! Its easy don’t make it complicated and difficult just do it! However, that is not true. You are representing your religion at whole. You need to look and act the part physically, and be ready psychologically. I did not want to put it on and take it off shortly after because I could not handle it or all of a sudden I regret my decision and rather show off my hair. I wanted to do it right and be all in. Most importantly for the sake of God not because others pressured me to.
Nonetheless, I went through a spiritual journey where I went pass the teachings of my Mosque. I wanted to learn more about my religion and it was up to me to do so. I immediately turned to the Holy Quran and began reading the English translation almost daily. It felt good and so I set a time frame for when I would wear the hijab, within the next few months in time for the new year. However, I could not wait until then but as soon as school ended I put it on. I was so excited and it was a feeling I could not explain, Alhamdulilah (praise be to god) .
The day I began wearing hijab, I posted a new profile pic on Facebook with a lengthy caption explaining because I knew I would get bare questions lol.
I for one can not say it has been as easy as I anticipated nor can I say it was as difficult. Does that even make sense? I guess what I mean is I was ready, but not as much as I thought. Honestly, you can never prepare yourself enough because life is unexpected so if you have the thought of doubt you will never start so just do it. I had to constantly remind me self that I can not do things the same way I use to because now I am not just representing myself but my religion. No I am not a holy religious figure, but to a non Muslim I am a representation of Islam. They look at Muslim individuals to understand us and our religion. Therefore, it felt like a role I had to take on by acting righteous.
I was also not ready for the hundreds of people asking me so many ignorant questions. Aren’t you hot in that? Do you shower with that on? Do you sleep with it? I mean I understand these are urging questions for people who are not familiar with hijab, but common bro ask me something logical. 😛
Aside from the hate there was love and I loved being recognized as a Muslim! People who hardly spoke to me were curious about my change. They were eager to learn about my religion and explained to me the similarities with theirs. Additionally I was able to remove any stigma and false information they previously had regarding the hijab and Islam all together, that alone was a fulfilling experience. I didn’t expect I would be able to educate others simply by the spiritual change I made in my life!
I learnt to deal with any hate and ignorance with positivity, a laugh and smile. So I have loved wearing hijab because it constantly reminds me to be righteous and there is a greater purpose to life as I strive towards the path of pleasing god and only him.
If you are thinking about starting to wear hijab – JUST DO IT!
- Wear it for the sake of Allah, god and only god period.
- Don’t let people tell you otherwise – the hate will always be there, don’t mind it!
- Surround yourself with positivity and cut out the toxic people and things
- Read the Quran translation and understand WHY women are asked to – be knowledgeable, have an idea.
- Don’t let hijab limit you – look at all of the Muslimah’s doing big things MashAllah
- SMILE because people will stare at least give them a reason to – oh and its Sunnah 😀
Peace and Love,
“With my veil I put my faith on display—rather than my beauty. My value as a human is defined by my relationship with God, not by my looks. I cover the irrelevant. And when you look at me, you don’t see a body. You view me only for what I am: a servant of my Creator. You see, as a Muslim woman.”
― Yasmin Mogahed