My Hijaab Journey

20 Aug

Alhamdulillah, I was born a Muslim. I observe the five pillars of Islam, I generally stay away from haraam (e.g I don’t drink, eat pork etc)…and so on. However, I have not always been a Hijabi. So… introductions aside, I think I can now take you on my Hijaab journey.

Let me start by taking you back to this particular evening, two summers ago. I had just completed my Maghrib prayer, and I remember folding my prayer mat and placing it back at the top of my wardrobe. Usually, I would then take off my Abaya and Hijaab and store them away until Ishaa – but that particular night, I distinctly remember wanting to keep them on. I admired myself in the mirror, loving how much more respectable I looked…how much more mature I felt. I actually smiled (maybe grinned) to myself. It was an amazing feeling and I thought to myself – if I feel this good about it, then I absolutely HAVE TO become a hijabi! Alhamdulillah, it was time.

The next morning was extremely disappointing. I got dressed for uni – modestly, yes – jeans, top, jacket (essential in London, even during summer!), shoes, bag. And oh yeah, a scarf….but it wasn’t on my head. I have no idea what happened to me when I went to sleep that night, but I woke up a coward. I was thinking about what my friends at uni would say, and how they would react. I was thinking about my teachers, and students I see at uni but don’t usually talk to. I was thinking about the strangers I would walk past on the street, sit next to on the train or buy coffee from at Starbucks. I was thinking about whether people would stare at me, ask offensive questions, act differently towards me, or even stoop as low as to laugh at me. In hindsight, I realise how weak I was! Read the last few sentences again, how absolutely insignificant are those factors?!! After all, no man, woman or child (not even my own mother!) can stand between me and Allah on the Day of Judgement!

But that is the honest truth – I was a coward. I felt bad, so in my head, I found ways to justify it. I thought about some of my Muslim friends who didn’t wear the hijaab. Not just my friends, even some of their parents. I thought about some other Muslim friends of mine who did wear the hijaab, but only when their parents were around. I felt like they were defeating the purpose – they were wearing it for the wrong reasons so it didn’t count. I thought about many Muslim girls I see (not only in London, also in Nigeria, Dubai etc) who carry a scarf or veil and wear it so half of their hair was on display. And then those who wore it on their neck, almost as if to say “well, at least I tried”. Don’t get me wrong, I am by no means trying to judge any of these people. However, in my head, if so many Muslim girls I knew were not even wearing the Hijaab with its intended purpose (or at least to cover their hair), then I was basically no different from them. And naively, I accepted that as my justification. Looking back, it sounds silly. Even if everyone in the world is doing something wrong, it still does not make it right. But that’s a post for a different day. The point here is that, I was so weak, I made excuses. And even the most feeble of excuses satisfied my equally weak heart.

However, the best part about Allah SWT is that He listens to and accepts our prayers. I prayed and prayed for strength, and Alhamdulillah, I feel my prayers were accepted. It happened gradually, of course, but I am here. I woke up one morning and long story short, I decided on that day that enough was enough. I wore my hijaab and went to Westfield shopping mall. Lo and behold, nobody pointed, nobody laughed! Everyone just went about their day. That evening, I took a few pictures of myself in a hijaab and used them on my facebook and bbm, just to ease my friends into it (I still have old pictures of me without the hijaab, but every new picture I take, I have a hijaab on). Guess what? None of my friends laughed or disowned me! (And if they had, well.. spot the fake friends and toss ’em in the bin!) Anyways, my friends have embraced it, some have even commented on how much better I look with it on. I have no idea what I was so worried about. All I know is, I have never been this happy. I walk on the streets of what many believe to be a very prejudiced society, but I walk with my head held high and with so much pride as I represent the most beautiful religion known to man.

Still, I remember my journey though. I remember the phase I went through and believe me, it is a very difficult stage in life to badly want to do something, but feel too weak to do it. We are human, and regardless of all these cliché statements about not caring what anybody says/thinks of you, we are conditioned to care. I know that some Muslimahs grow up wearing the scarf from a very young age. Some pick it up in their teenage years, while some are still struggling to embrace it. Some wear it to please their families, while others wear it for themselves. I guess it is alot easier to grow up with it, because you become used to it, as do your friends. As you get older, it becomes more and more difficult. However, there are many revert Muslimahs who, Masha Allah, adopt the hijaab practically overnight. We all have the strength in us to not only wear the hijaab, but to feel proud as we walk in it. And if ever we feel that we do not have the strength, then we only need to raise our hands and pray.

I’m sure my post is all over the place, but I can only hope that it makes sense. Overall, the point I’m trying to make is that I understand how difficult a journey it can be. However, the important thing is to realize and accept that the hijaab is a mandatory aspect of our beautiful religion. Once we embrace that fact, we can pray that Allah blesses us with the strength to worship Him to the best of our capabilities, regardless of the society we live in or their prejudices. And Insha Allah, you will wake up with a renewed attitude – you will only care what Allah thinks – and you will once again be on the right path towards being the best Muslimah you can be.

May Allah (SWT) continue to guide and protect us. Ameen!

~ Rukaiya

Click here to read more about Rukaiya

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