When I covered my head, I opened my mind


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Nousheen Siddiqui

Nousheen Siddiqui has done Masters in Microbiology. Currently, she is doing some social work and aspires to become a writer.

Latest posts by Nousheen Siddiqui (see all)

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.

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