My Hijab Story
I get a lot of questions about how I started Hijab, so here it is.
I hope it will inspire girls, inshAllah.
I was 16 years old when I started the Hijab.
It is April 18, 2008, 7:45pm.
I have just finished completing my evening prayer. As I walk out of my Aunt’s bedroom, the wood floors creak with each step I take. Entering the living room, my mother, my aunt, and my uncle are silently watching the television. The floor creaks and my mother turns her head towards me and she squints. I know exactly why she is looking; it is because I am still wearing my Hijab from prayer. Her face relaxes and she directly speaks to my aunt and uncle with her eyes still on me.
“Doesn’t she look beautiful in her Hijab?”
At once, my aunt and uncle start agreeing with her, and she raises her eyebrow at me thinking that she’s made a point. I scoff, rolling my eyes at them. I’m furious, because she wants so badly that I start wearing it, instead of “parading around the house with my hair in my eyes”.
Shutting the front door behind me, I walk down the pavement to my mother’s silver van. Sitting in the car, I pull the door close with as much force as possible. Once it is quiet, I stare at the red neon numbers on the digital clock as they mock my anger with their color. Why do women have to cover up and men don’t?
I reach for the mirror above my head, and the small florescent light attached to it illuminates the car just enough so I can see my reflection. I stare at myself, and as much as I hate to admit it, I don’t look so bad in my Hijab.
I must have been out there a while, because my mom was yelling as loud as she possibly can, calling me inside. Blinking at my reflection, I quickly close the mirror and jet out of the car before she decides to come get me herself. She tells me to go and sit in the living room, but instead I take a sharp left turn into the bathroom.
Locking the door behind me, I stand over the sink, once again looking at my reflection. I concentrate on the way my Hijab is placed in a delicate manner, the safety pin is tightly secured under my chin and one side of the cloth is wrapped around my head and the other is around my neck, framing my face in all the right places. I felt confident, I felt like I was at home in my own skin for once. Reaching my hand into my pocket, I take my phone and my fingers quickly run over the buttons, texting my best friend. I tell her that I am thinking about wearing a Hijab, and that I’m scared about it. My heart is beating fast as I hit send, waiting for her reaction. Finally, after what seems like 1 hour, my phone vibrates and I read what she says. She’s written that she is proud of my decision, and she’ll stick through it no matter what. I smile and I decide that I’m going to start wearing a Hijab.
The Qur’an teaches us that men and women are equal, that individuals should not be judged according to gender, beauty, wealth, or privilege. The only thing that makes one person better than another is her or his character. Armed with this thought I planned to wear my Hijab on the first day of summer school, but I couldn’t wait. The next evening, I laid out my Hijab and pins the night before so I didn’t have the excuse of “forgetting” to wear it.
Once I arrived at school I became more nervous because there were people looking at me in the parking lot already! With each step I got closer and closer to the building and strangely more and more calm. I breathed a sigh of relief that I hadn’t ran into anyone in the halls though. Each person that passed me by just treated me like they always did on a normal day. A person even commented that my Hijab was beautiful and at least two asked me if it was a special occasion. At the end of the day I couldn’t believe that I had worked myself up about nothing all of these years. No one treated me differently, almost everyone smiled at me.
One of the major misconceptions about the Hijab is that young women are forced to wear it by their parents or by male family members. When actually, parents or men want have nothing to do with it. In fact, every woman has this form of liberation. When a woman is covered, men cannot judge her by her appearance but are forced to evaluate her by her personality, character, and morals. Though there are families and men that force women to wear Hijab, this isn’t a part of Islam. There is no compulsion in religion. Another misconception is that men do not have to cover themselves, this is incorrect. In the Qur’an, it states first that Men are to lower their gaze. Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts, etc.). That is purer for them. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what they do. - 24:30. They are also expected to dress modestly and to cover their bodies just as women are. Modesty does not stop at physical appearance but also in speech and behavior.
In the end, I tell people that the Hijab is not a responsibility, it’s a right given to me by my Creator who knows me best.