Guest post by: Sabina. Sabina is a university student with a lovely and engaging personality. Her interests include reading Islamic literature, volunteering at community centers and making people smile. She is very articulate and has a passion for words.
My hijab was the result of a clash between the conservative attitude of the Islamic school I attended and the not so conservative attitude at home. I say not so conservative, and not liberal, because my family is very adherent of all Islamic principles and beliefs, but they seem to make an exception only for the hijab. I believe it to be more of a cultural decision, where those who wear hijab are considered to be unable to acclimate. I attended that Islamic school from the age of five to eighteen. The hijab was around me constantly, but in those thirteen years, it did not capture my mind and heart until toward the very end.
I started wearing a scarf when I was ten years old. From that point on, there was always a scarf on my head. I did not start dressing according to Islamic guidelines until I was fourteen though. Yes, I loved my t-shirts. And yes, I was one of those girls who you see, and just stare at, because she is wearing a scarf with a t-shirt. This should be noted, however, as was written in the introductory post of the hijab project, everyone has their own struggles, and it is not of Muslim character to judge those that are struggling to please Allah. Funny thing is, I was really particular about my hair showing. Hijab was something I did because everyone around me did it. I did not understand it. I did not know why people wore it. All I knew was that we wore hijab because we were Muslim. And at the time, that was enough justification. I believe I became a true hijabi at the age of sixteen, when my hijab was in my heart, not on my head.
I started wearing hijab because my cousin, who was seventeen at the time, had decided to try it out. And, for the first time, I saw that aspect of my two worlds meshing together. Unconsciously, it drove me to pursue whatever it would take to not live two lives; a life at school, where I looked like the perfect Muslim, but did not feel like myself, and a life at home, where I tried my best to be the perfect Muslim, but did not really look the part. Unfortunately, my cousin decided the hijab was not for her, and chose to stop wearing it. Which left me in a bind; what did that mean for me?
I chose to continue wearing my hijab, despite my family’s concerns about the Islamophobic era we lived in. My hijab allowed my two worlds to come together, and I went from a very introverted and insecure adolescent, to a strong Muslimah. My hijab became so much more when I realized the hijab means to care for yourself, to love yourself. The hijab is a personality that exudes confidence in oneself, but more importantly, confidence in the goodness Allah has bestowed within us. And, no one needs a piece of cloth on their head to allow others to feel that. I know so many sisters that do not wear a scarf, but they are much more the banner of Islam than hijabis. And, seeing as how I wore the hijab on more of a whim, than after careful research and reflection, I can see how that happens. I can see how the hijab is a way of identifying with Islam more than acceptance of oneself. But I also know that wearing the hijab, for me, was a learning process. My hijab taught me so much more than I could have ever imagined, and it became one of my life’s greatest teachers.
I believe I only realized what my hijab truly was when I was around nonMuslims. When I was with other girls who wore hijab, it became just a piece of cloth. I would forget the Islamic etiquette of interacting with people because I did not need to represent in front of those just like me. It did not stop me from making regrettable decisions, and acting like a complete fool. It was then, I realized, that if my hijab was not protecting my heart’s goodness, than it was not hijab at all. If my heart was only aware of my hijab when I was with nonMuslims, and turned on my “perfect Muslim mode” because I wanted them to love Islam, I was not representing Islam at all. I was trying to impress nonMuslims with an image of Islam, not the beautiful way of life I live. That was when I understood that hijab is nothing but Islam. Hijab is living life according to the Qur’an and Sunnah. It is about protecting and enriching the goodness Allah has given us all.
And this, I believe, is the most important piece of advice I could ever give to anyone. Hijab is protecting your personal goodness, from all sources of doubt and fear. Hijab is not wearing a scarf, or wearing long and loose clothing, or being the salaah police, or going to Islamic lectures. Hijab is not about being the perfect Muslim, or always doing the right thing. Once you attain that love for yourself and importance for that sacred goodness, hijab becomes about becoming closer to Allah. And simply putting a scarf on your head, after conquering yourself, seems simple.