A believer’s faith in the meta-physical aspects of Islam: Iman, is not something that is in a constant state, but is in a constant state of flux. Every Muslim experiences highs and lows of Iman, and often at times these highs of Iman empowers a believer to make some life changing decisions. Similar is the case with a young Muslim girl, when she decides to start taking Hijab, and guard her modesty for the sake of Allah (swt). Slowly and gradually, the way she dresses up, the friends she hangs out with, the way she thinks and responds to things around her, everything changes, and Hijab becomes an essential part of her personality. But with this comes an extra responsibility. And some extra struggle.
So when she goes to a wedding (a typical Desi wedding), people stare at her or some aunties constantly give her smiles, as if she really needs it to feel comfortable in the crowd. Ironically, it actually does the opposite; but she struggles.
When her mother wants her to loosen the scarf a bit, so that the flashy and glamorous neckline of her dress is visible; when she can see that her mother is a little uncomfortable with the piece on her head, and that she wants her daughter to look beautiful (according to what our society defines it), she struggles.
And when somebody asks her the reason for doing Hijab, and says: “But you are so beautiful.” Her heart sinks, not because she understands their point but because they don’t understand hers. And she struggles. She struggles within the boundaries of her heart.
When we have the right to look glamorous for the society, why don’t we have the right to guard our modesty for the sake of Allah (swt)? Suddenly, people give you a suspicious look, as if there’s been something wrong in your life, may be a tragedy, which made you take the decision. Parents think that there’s something wrong with their daughter and that she needs to comply with the society norms. Taking Hijab becomes something “abnormal” and the girl becomes an “extremist”. “She just needs to be normal!” So Hijab is for the ones who’re not really a part of the society. “They are different. They are not like us. We are not like them.” And this is something that is said by a mother, or father, or a friend, of a Muslim family.
How can one expect to have a distinction, without taking an exam?
In this materialistic world, where glamour is everything; a few hits on a profile picture or a few flattering comments about how beautiful you look, defines your worth and at times your dignity. It is indeed difficult to stick to your decision. And I don’t think it’s wrong to have these feelings. It’s human, perfectly human to fall. But how you strive and fight against your Nafs to rise up again (for the sake of Allah (swt)), is what defines your worth and you as a true submitter to Allah (swt).
Allah (swt) doesn’t want us to have an empty heart, cold and indifferent; He tests us by observing as to how we deal with everything inside it. Iman, love, and faith (Aqeeda) rest in the heart and so do hatred, jealousy and doubts. The point is not to clear your heart, but to beautify it with what is good for it, according to the Master who owns it.
How to deal with criticism
How do I deal with it? How do I answer them back? How do I tell them that this is not for anyone who wants to see me all dolled up, to please their eyes? But do I really need to give these explanations to feel good about it? Well, this has already been addressed in the Quran, to answer this restlessness.
“The life of this world is no more than illusion and vanity, while the abode of the Hereafter is far better for the righteous. Do you not understand?” (Quran 6:32)
Beautiful! He knows. He knows what you’re going through. And it was actually “meant” to be this way. So she struggles. But now we know, the struggles are indeed blessings. He repeats “Do you not understand?” Actually she missed the point. How can one expect to have a distinction, without taking an exam? He is providing her with some bonus points to reach Jannah. By practicing patience, by being even extra polite to her mother and the aunties, by holding back her tears when she is alienated in a gathering, and by having complete faith in Him, and only Him. Her struggle would pay immense rewards Insha’Allah
Remember, “Isn’t Allah enough for His servants?” (Az-Zumar)