Make a Hijab Deal – Conceal, and Do Not reveal!

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“I don’t understand the purpose of this piece of cloth,” says the voice over the phone. “It only covers the head. Everything else can be seen.”

“That is why I choose to wear the outer garment that fully covers the body, as well as, the face cover,” I reply, jumping through the loophole in his argument.

He immediately backpedals.

“You know who wears that?” His voice rises. “You don’t know the kind of women who wear that, you live a sheltered life.”

“Yes,” I say. “I do know. Prostitutes.”

He is surprised, not having expected me to know the answer. He goes off on a tangent, asking me how would I like it if I talked to him with him having a piece of cloth over his face, or how would I like it if I had “three other mothers” (his reference to the Islamic allowance for a man to keep up to four wives), and other spiraling circles of conversation. After an exchange of questions and answers, he said, “Well, then, it’s just a matter of faith.”

How I came to have this conversation over the phone with my father’s friend, who is a doctor, is irrelevant. What was said in the conversation is highly relevant, as it highlights the attitude of people towards the Quranic commandment for women to observe Hijab.

I would like to highlight some points about the girls who observe Hijab (whether it is just head and front cover, or with outer garment, or with face cover, or any combination of the three).

1. Hijabi girls are not allergic to males, or to marriage. I did not discover this opinion until one day, an acquaintance said out of the blue, “You don’t want to get married, right?” which is a way of saying, “You don’t find men attractive, right?” I observed head cover and outer garment then- not the face cover, and still she thought I was against marriage. Why? Not because of my dressing only, but because I did not talk about boys the way the other girls did. I did not discuss which cute boys I had seen when I went out shopping last weekend, I did not list my crushes, I did not share which actors I found attractive, I did not keep wallpapers of actors.

People do not know that this face cover, body cover and head cover is the legacy of the mothers of the believers. Yes! They used to observe it all.

As I know the state of my own inner thoughts only and not anyone else’s; here is a sneak peek: yes, I did see cute boys when I went out. I did have crushes on some of the males I interacted with during school (and later, on work). I did have celebrity crushes when I used to watch movies, and to tell the truth, even a photo shopped poster of a movie glimpsed while driving by is enough to plant the seed of a crush. I used to save wallpapers of computer animated characters from video games, and yes, some of them did feature attractive men. What I did not do was share these thoughts with my friends, because I did not want to give power to them. You give power to thoughts, and they rule your consciousness. I did not want to sit with my friends and cook daily servings of crushes and infatuations. What ruled my consciousness were my own daydreams of my own made-up characters in my own fantasy world. I used to think I was merely making up stories as a writer, until something I read made me realize that I was substituting my own imaginary “ideals” for the flesh-and-blood members of the opposite sex in this world. Yes, my imagination did include attractive male characters as well. Make of that what you will, but I eventually learned not to daydream so much. I didn’t want to take my own whims and desires as my God.

2. Hijabis have nothing to hide. Sure, there’s the girl who will use her head cover to hide her earphones while she listens to music in a packed college classroom. There’s the girl who will use the same method to cheat in exams. Yes, I am coming to the juicy part: there are females who wear face cover to hide their identity so that they can engage with males in pre-marital or extra-marital relations, or as I mentioned in the conversation in the beginning of the article, they do it in order to sell their bodies. People do not know that this face cover, body cover and head cover is the legacy of the mothers of the believers. Yes! They used to observe it all.

The words “Khimar” (head and chest cover) and “Jilbab” (body cover i.e. outer garment) come in the Quran. Whether face cover is included in the word “Jilbab” is the only point of disagreement between scholars. Yes, contrary to the public assumption that all Islamic dress code for females is open to question, there is actually no ignoring these two words, “Khimar” and “Jilbab”, in the Quran.

This brings me to an important point. Belief in the Quran is a pillar of Islamic faith. That means belief in every verse of the Quran, including the ones which spark social controversy today. Whether or not, you choose to obey a particular verse of the Quran or not, you cannot try to change its meaning in order to make yourself feel safe and comfortable. You cannot pretend that these words are not in the Quran. Even if you believe from the depth of your heart that the Hijabi sister you see is up to no good, you should create excuses for her in your mind. After all, it’s not your job to judge people, that job is Allah’s (swt). Good thing He didn’t give it to you and me, right? Our heads would explode.

Belief in the Quran is a pillar of Islamic faith. That means belief in every verse of the Quran, including the ones which spark social controversy today.

3. The default setting of a Hijabi is not “sexually frustrated”. Yes, there are holier-than-thou Hijabi sisters and they just have frowning, or sad facial expressions naturally; but that doesn’t mean that all they need is “a good make out”. If you claim to support feminine freedom and are against “the patriarchy”, consider giving your Hijabi sisters a break, too. On the inside, they are creations of emotions, thoughts and conflicts, just like you.

All this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to addressing assumptions about Hijabi Muslims. Whether this article gives you answers, or creates more questions in your mind, depends on your perspective. I will end this article, the way I ended the conversation with my father’s friend: “It’s all a matter of faith.”

When I covered my head, I opened my mind

flowerpWhen I was young, my perception was that a highly qualified woman should have a modern look! So during my teenage years, I copied all the silly pop ideas.

One of these ideas was that if I wear jeans, I would be more smart and pretty. My mother used to tell me to use Hijab, but I did not like it. The idea of modesty did not exactly click in my mind, like it did for my other friends.

I got really embarrassed, when I got a scarf as a gift! It was presented by my friend from Saudi Arabia!

Let me tell you, why I felt like this. Actually, I have beautiful, long, thick healthy hair, which would be hidden, if I would wear a scarf. Inspired by ads of various shampoos, I could not imagine doing so. Although my mother always persuaded me to cover myself, but being a young girl, my perception was totally different! I used to think that highly qualified ladies must have a modern look and obviously I dreamt to wear jeans as my casual dress, but my traditions didn’t allow me.

My friend politely convinced me to use the scarf. I was impressed by her point that pollution and sun rays may damage my hair, so for the sake of protecting my hair, I started using that abstract printed scarf.

People’s reaction surprised me! They appreciated me on covering my head. I myself felt confident, nicer and smarter. The mirror reflected the glow of my face. This excited me to continue wearing my scarf. Truly, it was my class fellows’ and friends’ positive reaction that motivated me in doing so.

One day, when I was waiting for the bus at the bus stop, some street guys started laughing at me. At that moment I realized that I became their target, because I didn’t completely cover my body. My head scarf was not complementing my dress. I admit it was stylish and trendy, and was exposing my body. That dress was good for a party or private gathering, but not suitable for a public place. This realization made it easy for me to take the next decision.

As soon as I reached home, I asked my mom to buy an Abaya for me. It was a pleasure for her. We went to market to get it. There were a lot of different varieties of Abayas in the market. Being a young, fashion-conscious girl, I selected a stylish one. I noticed my mom was not satisfied by my choice, but she approved reluctantly.

From the very next day, I started to wear my black Abaya. It transformed my personality. Everybody looked at me with a pleasant smile. It gave me confidence and pride.

“Wow! Beautiful! Gorgeous!” remarks like these made me proud on my wise decision. It was people’s response that mattered to me and enhanced my emotions towards my Abaya! This also made my daily life easy and simple, as I didn’t need to worry about clothes to wear and saved my precious time to bother about them. Hence, I could use my time constructively.

But, as there was curiosity about this getup, questions raised by some people made me to do some research about the reasons, why I should cover. I started to think: am I doing it for the sake of tradition or fashion? Was it imposed by my family or did I do it for myself? Is there anything more to it than cultural or social pressure?

But, as there was curiosity about this getup, questions raised by some people made me to do some research about the reasons, why I should cover.

Some of them were really keen to know, while a few asked just to humiliate me, because I used to get confused in replying to them, which they enjoyed a lot. I got puzzled about their satire and sarcasm. I was hurt and decided to search thoroughly for the answers of the questions; I started to learn the reality and consulted the literature about it.

Obviously, reading the Quran with translation and explanation (Tafseer) was a must! It enhanced my thirst for more knowledge; hence, I joined a group to quench my thirst. This experience helped me to rectify myself as a proper Muslimah. Not only got answers to all my questions, but gained confidence and got rid of all confusion and inferiority complexes. It solved all my problems regarding public image/opinion about me. I have to please my Creator only. My fear about people’s remarks and reaction faded. I became bold enough to face the people, carefree about public opinion and conscious of Allah’s (swt) demand.

I read the Holy Book in detail for the first time in my life. That was my first experience of understanding the Quran properly. I managed to break through the shackles of pride, ego and learnt much more. I started feeling better day by day. Allah (swt) solved all my problems. Then, I started to do veil or Niqab. That was a big change in my life. I was feeling bold and confident day by day.

It was the best choice I ever made. For the first time in my life, I felt that I was a strong person. I did what I believed is right, and I did not care of what people think of it, or how they will look at me. First day of Hijab was the best. I had never felt so good in my entire life. Everyone discouraged me, saying that I won’t be able to fight with myself for long. But with Allah’s (swt) help, I am continuing till today. Everyone started to respect me. Hijab protected me everywhere and no one would look at me, as if I was a picture or a dummy. I believe that Allah (swt) demands Hijab to help us and to make our life easier. It builds respect between a man and woman. It also indicates that you are a Muslim.

Similar guidelines are also in other religions, for example, Jews wear a small cup on top of their heads, Christians wear a cross. And none of them feels ashamed to show it to public. No man would think badly about a woman, who is wearing Hijab, so that will provide her to fall in mistake or something that is Haram. A woman, who can wear Hijab, is strong enough to do anything in life. Everyone will trust you in everything, because you trust yourself. Allah (swt) made you (Ashraf ul Makhluqat), very precious and valuable.

It was the best choice I ever made. For the first time in my life, I felt that I was a strong person.

He guided me. The change in perception enabled me to think about my get up more critically! And I felt ashamed of my choices made in the past. They were horribly against the rule of the Quran about “…not to be noticed and respected”.

This thought made me put off my ornamental Abaya and replace it by a simple, loose and dull colour Abaya. After putting it on, I stood in front of mirror and asked myself: “Is it to please Allah (swt)?” Surely, yes! My belief got stronger and firmer!

At present, I am a mature housewife and I laugh off my past. My then favourite activities seem foolish now. I am a happy and contented person, whose journey towards truth started with covering my head. Love to my scarf that gave me respect and purpose in life. Love to my friend, who had given me that scarf as a gift.

I am very grateful to Allah (swt) for letting me realize that when I covered my head, I took away from people any means for judging me other than my mind, soul and heart. When I covered my head, I took away the incentive for exploitation based on beauty. When I covered my head, I made people respect me, because they saw that I respected myself. When I covered my head, I finally opened my mind to the truth.

The True Essence of a Muslimah

Beautiful-DiamondA daughter once asked her mother, “Mom, I have heard about diamonds and rubies and also gold and silver. Which is the most precious jewel?”

Her mother replied, “Jewels of gold, silver, diamonds and rubies are all only stones, and do not shine, unless they are burnt and polished. For me, you are my precious jewel. In fact, every daughter is a gem, irreplaceable! I would like to decorate you with such jewels and gems, which will bring you honour and respect, and add a glow to your dignity and character.

• Clothe yourself with Taqwa, and adorn yourself with the most precious jewel of piety.
• Take care of your head! It is the closest to Allah (swt) in Sujud, so make your prostrations lengthy.
• Keep your head cool and low (out of humility) when amongst people. Let Allah (swt) raise it high.
• Keep your hands immersed in work and tongue moist in Dhikr. That’s the essence of the women of Jannah.
• Raise your hands, shed tears, and share your thoughts and feelings only in front of Allah (swt).
• Lower your gaze and adorn it with the emeralds of contentment.

If you have gold, it’s not that you will not turn old.
But if you have character, it will build your Akhirah.
If you have lots of brocade and silk in your closet,
But elegance will be disclosed by your deeds’ facet.

If you are not endowed with diamonds or pearls,
Remember, through your speech and smile you glitter.
And scatter the beauty of Islam.
Through reverence in covering your Awrah.
And reveal what is permissible, and be it little, be happy with Halal and pure.
That’s the true essence of a Muslimah.

Her daughter replied: “True! I am blessed to have a mother, who knows my true value and wants the best for me in this life as well as hereafter.”

May Allah (swt) guide my daughter and all the daughters of the Ummah, too. Ameen