100% cotton vs. 100% Faith #ProjectHIJAB

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Guest post by:  Sarah Jaber. Sarah is an 18 year old sophomore in college studying Medical Humanities. She loves to write and use words as a means of reaching out to others. She believes every person has a unique personality and something to share with the world, we just have to dig deeper.

Alhamdulillah I have been hijabi for about 5 years and I simply can’t imagine my life without the hijab. I have to admit though, when I first wore it I didn’t completely understand why. I knew my mom wore it, I knew my older sister wore it, but most importantly I knew that Allah (swt) had commanded it…and that was enough for me.  It all seemed pretty easy until my freshman year. I wrapped one of my favorite scarves as best as I could (I’m still learning how to wrap it lol), and headed off to the bus stop with my sister. It all seemed normal until we came on the bus. We were the first stop to come on and the last stop to be dropped off every day—so everyone knew who we were. I went to Hinsdale Central High School with over 2,000 students and at least 400 freshmen. Of all those 400, it was me and one other who wore the hijab to school. For some reason though, all that didn’t matter.

The hijab somehow gave me a sense of humble confidence. When seniors would stare at me on the bus, I would smile back. When asked by my own teachers “why is it you have to wear that again?” I would simply reply “I don’t HAVE to, I WANT to”. And that alone would leave them speechless until they would be able to return to their questioning. As the years passed, I began to gain more and more appreciation and understanding for the hijab. I began to realize, it’s not a 100% cotton cloth that you wrap around your head; it’s a declaration of what’s IN your head. In Islam the mind of the Muslim is his heart. When you understand the knowledge and beauty behind the hijab, it becomes engraved in your heart and you can’t help but declare it in the form of modesty.

As the years passed, I eventually noticed that the answers I would give my peers were answers I needed to hear myself.  Anything I said out of instinct I realized was what I needed to trust all along. There was an instance where I had one teacher that constantly would question my hijab in a joking manner. One day he said, “Sarah, you’re very outgoing why do you have to wear that?”, as he made a circular motion around his head. I told him that in Islam, women are treated like pearls, shielded by a covering and protected from the harms around them; they are not what they appear to be. He simply laughed and told me, “You have a way with your words Sarah”. I wasn’t sure if he was being sarcastic or not but I smiled back. Whether I changed his perception of the hijab I’ll never know, but I know for one thing that the experiences I’ve had that are similar to this have made me stronger. And whether the impact I made is big or small, I know I am making people THINK.

By senior year, you could say I was more social than necessary. I made many friends and almost all of them respected the hijab very much. The thing with hijab is, it makes you unique. Some might argue the contrary that we are all conforming to a way of life but the truth is–this way of life is what gives us freedom and individuality. We are judged by our actions, by our words, and not by our physic. By following Allah’s commandment and being a slave to his rules, we gain the freedom of ourselves. It’s a very powerful oxymoron that I find very beautiful. I am still a work in progress and there are many things that I can improve in myself, but I know from experience that hijab can truly make you stronger, I realized that when I found out hijab isn’t 100% cotton, it’s 100% Faith.

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