Around late November of the year 2014 (almost 2 years ago), I decided to start wearing the Hijab. The HIjab, for those that are unaware, is essentially a “veil that covers the head and chest, worn in the presence of adult males outside of their immediate family and non-Muslim women”. It is a command of Allah that must be fulfilled by every Muslimah. It is a symbol of modesty and submission to Allah. Since it is Ramadan, I thought what better time than to explain to you my journey of becoming a Hijabi, and my thoughts on the subject. So here goes…
Though the explanation I gave to you above is “Hijab” in a nutshell, let me explain to you what it means to me, because everyone has a different take on it. For me, being a HIjabi, means dressing modestly in public and being identifiable for my religion, because we as Muslims, do to an extent bear the torches for our religion. My understanding of modesty means covering the majority of myself, hair included of course, in clothes that do not cling to me, but also in the larger sense of being a better representative of my religion, Islam, by following the right path as best as I can. (Before the sanctimuslims pipe up, I must add that I do sometimes roll up my sleeves to uncover a third of my arms because I am not perfect and Dubai heat does get the better of me on some occasions. Oops!)
I would say I was reasonably modest even before I wore the head scarf. My parents had taught me to dress modestly enough from the beginning, and never did I sport an off shoulder top or low V neck shirt. Knee length skirts, even with tights underneath, were just not my thing. However, I would wear short sleeves and skinny jeans without a second thought.
O Prophet! Say to your wives and your daughters and the women of the faithful to draw their outergarments (jilbabs) close around themselves; that is better that they will be recognized and not annoyed. And God is ever Forgiving, Gentle. ~ Surah al-Ahzab, Ayah 59, Holy Quran
I remember during secondary school in England, of predominantly Muslim students, whenever Ramadan came around, majority of the girls would don their headscarves. I never did. I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion, and respect their decisions, however it was not for me. This is because I always knew that the day I do start wearing the Hijab in its entirety, I would never look back and take it off again. To wear a headscarf for the duration of 30 days was of course great, but the idea of then taking it off once the blessed month was over, seemed in my mind to signify reverting back to Satan’s ways. Sure, I would wear my headscarf out of respect to the mosque or funeral house, and even whilst distributing Ramadan treats to the homes of my family members. That’s about it though.
The school phase passed and as maturity settled in, I grew confident in myself and happy with my body image. I loved to dress up my hair in different ways, plats and a flower accessory behind my ear was one of my favourite ways to do so. The majority of females in my life did not wear a head scarf, though the older generation of ladies (Grandmothers past the age of 65 years old) in my family did. I too had thought that once I became a frail old women, the head scarf would come automatically.
The months before marriage and packing up my life in UK to move to Dubai is what kick started thoughts of becoming a Hijabi. (And no, just because I mention marriage, it was not some kind of pre-marital demand made by my husband!) It was actually attending the graduation of two of my friends. This was not a “normal” graduation though, as both of them were graduating from Madressah (Islamic School). One of them graduated as an Alimah (an Islamic scholar who goes on to teach others) and the other graduated as a Hafizah (one who knows the Quran by heart). Both are highly commendable beyond words, and when I attended their graduation ceremonies in the Masjid, I was left with tears in my eyes. Hearing my Hafizah friend recite the Quran in her beautiful voice moved me deep within like never before.
My Aalimah friend held a small party gathering after her graduation, and of course I wore a scarf to be respectable towards the occasion. I watched as the girls along with others who had graduated, glided in their stunning abayas, and couldn’t stop admiring how beautiful they looked. I remember discussing with my Hafizah friend later on how I would like to wear the headscarf at one point, and how positive she was about it. Not pushy, but encouraging, which is the right way to go about it.
During this period, I was also watching videos of a Muslim fashion guru who is a beauty and lifestyle Youtuber, as well as owner of her own line of headscarves and accessories. She has the most beautiful head scarf tutorials and whilst going through her videos, I stumbled upon her very old videos, one of which was her own Hijab Story. She mentioned that the turning point for her was listening to a speech which stated that every Muslim woman was a Princess of Islam. She spoke on about how regal the idea was, and of course like all royalty, princesses dressed in a certain way, covering themselves modestly so as not to be tarnished. I too wanted to be a Princess of Islam. This, along with witnessing the graduation of my friends, is what sparked curiosity about the Hijab inside me (and perhaps this was the moment of “Hidayat” – Divine Realisation).
“And say to the faithful women to lower their gazes, and to guard their private parts, and not to display their beauty except what is apparent of it, and to extend their headcoverings (khimars) to cover their bosoms (jaybs), and not to display their beauty except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers, or their sons, or their husband’s sons, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their womenfolk, or what their right hands rule (slaves), or the followers from the men who do not feel sexual desire, or the small children to whom the nakedness of women is not apparent, and not to strike their feet (on the ground) so as to make known what they hide of their adornments. And turn in repentance to Allah together, O you the faithful, in order that you are successful” ~ Surah an-Nur, Ayah 31, Holy Quran
After this though, my wedding and the big move to a different country came in between. Before I knew it, I was working as a Year 1 Co-ordinator & Teacher, and in the next minute, given birth to my beautiful baby boy. How time flies! The yearning to wear a head scarf was always at the back of my mind though, I just had not plucked up the courage to do it. I knew that living in a Muslim country would make the transition much easier, but all I needed was a nudge. The nudge came in the shape of my husband, who once again reignited the curiosity within me. We spoke in great detail, and I told him that I wanted to know more about what Islam truly requires of a Muslimah in terms of HIjab.
I set myself a week, in which I would do my research about Hijab, and to be honest, it was clear from the second day that it was not just a head scarf. It was a way of living. A way which did not only require to physically cover my hair and wear looser clothing, but also be reflective of that modesty and piety within my self. Though there was a lot of material to sift through online, I dug deep to find so many inspiring videos and reading material that informed me about what being a Hijabi was all about. My first thoughts were, what will I do with all the earrings that I own, since they were my favourite accessory after all, and I sure owned plenty of them! I also had reservations about my style, in still wanting to dress modestly, but channel the fashionista within me who took pride in what she wore. However, I quickly learnt that being a hijabi did not mean that I had to dress myself in drab cloaks all the time, and living in the United Arab Emirates proved that for sure! (Have you SEEN how fashionable these Emiratis are?!) At the end of the day, I knew I was going to become a Hijabi at one point in my life, it was a question of how much longer would I keep extending that deadline.
My husband then said something along the lines of what Emma Watson spoke of in her Feminism speech: “If not Now, When?” That weekend, I stepped out of my home as a Hijabi, wearing a headscarf, styled with the help of Hijab Tutorials on Youtube, and I haven’t looked back since.
As I had mentioned, being a Hijabi did not only mean making the physical changes in myself, but also reflecting about the kind of Muslim I am. This is definitely an ongoing process, and I can say that even though I am not the best of Muslims by a far stretch, and I am still making many mistakes along the way, I am a much better one than I was before.
When did you first start wearing the Hijab? If you are a non-hijabi, have you considered it? What are your thoughts on the Hijab? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below! Thank you!