Alhumdulillah, I have raised a son and a daughter, who are Hijabis. “A son?” you ask in shock! Yes, a son… Hijab literally means ‘barrier’, and there is the command for both men and women to be modest and cover; yet, we tend to focus only on our daughters.
Allah commands us: “O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allah is Ever OftForgiving, Most Merciful.” (Al-Ahzab 33:59)
Living in a country, where most people have misconceptions about women in Hijab – that they are oppressed and are forced to wear it; that they are very strict and have no voice; that they are uneducated or inactive, the list goes on – it is hard to introduce or normalize Hijab to our kids. We must speak the language our kids speak, in order to teach them about Hijab.
Millennials value individuality, choice, freedom, flexibility and control. The narrative then becomes that Hijab is a woman’s informed and deliberate way of dressing, so she can assert her individuality and freedom to practice her faith, as she sees fit. There should be flexibility and personal preference in dress. Hijab is a very visible part of a woman’s clothing and hence considered the most important. But the way we act, speak and treat others is of great importance as well.
A child’s primary role model is the mother. She is the one, who will establish the base and introduce Hijab and its requirements to the child. Hijab is and will remain a popular discussion topic – despite the stereotypes, show your child positive role models they can relate to. Hijabis are Olympic athletes, politicians, innovators – teach your Hijabi to be proud and vocal about her display of faith.
Some practical steps that we as parents can take are:
- As a mom, I prayed constantly and often for Allah (swt) to guide my children to follow the right path. Allah (swt) has promised us that a parent’s Dua for their child will not go unanswered.
- Be an example for your children in practicing what you preach. Wearing modest clothing doesn’t mean looking like you are wearing pajamas or must sit at home. Be neat and dress well. Be active, go to the gym, swim, participate in public events and make a difference in your community.
- Make sure your child has friends who also cover; it helps to be a part of a group.
- Celebrate your child’s journey – we had a Hijab party with friends, who were also starting to cover. We made tie-die Hijabs, invited a young girl who went through similar experiences of growing up in an environment, where not everyone wears or understands Hijab, baked and decorated Hijab cookies and played games.
- Be sure to provide your child with opportunities for entertainment, where they can have Halal wholesome fun with friends. That way they do not feel that covering up means a long list of restrictions and don’ts. Provide a safe space, where she can dress up and feel free at all women events – this way she will know that being a Hijabi doesn’t mean being boring. It takes a little creativity and energy.
- Do not have double standards in the house – rules about modesty, dress code, behaviour and expectations apply to both your daughter as well as your son.
Reflections of Muhammad Bilal Cheema, a 17 years old Winnipegger
I got introduced to hijab by my mom first, then my extended family and my sister. Hijab to me means a person, not necessarily a woman, who is modest and deliberate in the way they dress and act. It means this person values strength of character over what is trending and fashionable. Hijabis have the endurance to stand up for what they believe in.
Reflections of Isra Inam Cheema, a 13 years old Winnipegger
I got introduced to Hijab by my mom, just wearing it everywhere she went. As I grew older, my mom started explaining, why she wore Hijab and how it related to us as Muslims. She was very clear that it was a requirement.
I started in grade 7, and it was hard for me because my mom had told me she didn’t start till she was 30 years old. I was very worried about what other people would think of me. Most people in my school are not Muslim, and none of the teachers are either.
I thought people would stare at me; my friends would abandon me or make fun of me. In fact, I was terrified of everyone staring at me, thinking I was strange, alien, or weird.
To my amazement, none of that happened. No one stared; no one thought I was weird. Everyone acted normal around me, like my Hijab wasn’t even there.
I learned that day that if you are firm in your belief and conviction, people actually respect you and help you follow the path you have chosen. Allah (swt) makes it easier, if you do it for Him.
Reflections of Dujhan Kasas, a 12 years old Winnipegger
I got introduced to Hijab by my mom, who told me the reasons, why she wears it and why I should wear it as well.
In grade 5 I started wearing it at school and to the mosque, so I could get used to it – get a taste for it. I was in training.
I was scared my friends would desert me, and through this process I ended up discovering, who my true friends were. One worry I had was the hot summer months – I am very active. However, it wasn’t as bad as I imagined. I just wore lighter material hijabs, like we choose clothes.
Slowly but surely, taking small steps, I am wearing my hijab more often and to more places. When I am 13 – I become Hijabi! Yay!
I have discovered the benefits of Hijab:
- Brings me closer to Allah (swt) – I am doing it for Him.
- You know your friends are sincere, because they love you no matter what you look like or wear.
- It keeps me warm, when it’s cold.