World Hijab Day: Hijab Testimonies from Sisters
Today is World Hijab Day, an event that has developed into a global movement for fostering religious tolerance and understanding by inviting women (non-Hijabi Muslims/non-Muslims) to experience the hijab for one day. For many people, the hijab is a symbol of oppression and segregation and World Hijab Day has been established with the hopes of opening new pathways to understanding while counteracting some of the controversies surrounding why Muslim women choose to wear the hijab.
Some Muslim women cannot wear hijab because their employers do not allow them to show their religious identity. Other Muslimahs may not be able to wear hijab due to their school’s regulations when living within an environment that does not support Muslimahs wearing hijab. While others do not wear hijab because they may feel that they have not received the guidance (hidayah) yet. Some may ask, is it true that in order to cover our head and aurat we should wait until we receive guidance from Allah (SWT)? This is important to consider so that we don’t judge anyone who may not wear hijab.
I started to wear hijab 15 years ago. I know it’s late. If I could turn back time I would have wanted to wear hijab earlier. With hijab I feel secure; I try to improve my life as well as my faith and to keep my words and behaviors in accordance with the principles of Islam. With hijab I feel that I bring my identity as a Muslimah everywhere I go, so that I do not disgrace Islam with my behavior. My advice to women considering hijab is to not be reversed – do not neglect wearing hijab because you feel that you still have many deficiencies in yourself, or because you think that you have not explored Islam enough. I sincerely believe that we should wear hijab first, and as time goes by, we will further learn more about Islam and improve our daily behavior.
In celebration of World Hijab Day, here are some testimonies from sisters of various backgrounds and nationalities regarding when they wore their first hijab and how they felt after wearing it:
I began wearing the hijab when I was 17 years old. It came from the realisation that covering myself was an obligation from Allah (SWT). Although the decision was not a hard one once I was convinced of the necessity for wearing hijab, being the first in my family to wear it posed its own difficulties. Al-hamdullilah I felt liberated from the physical expectations in society, and always received respect from whoever I met and I feel proud that I tried my best to obey my Creator (SWT) despite the difficulties I faced. (Sabaa J. Ali, British Pakistani, Founder of Jeddah-blog)
I started wearing hijab after coming to Saudi Arabia and learning that it is one of the obligatory duties of women who believe. In the beginning I was uncomfortable because of people commenting and this discouraged me as I was the first one from my family to wear hijab. But as time passed by and I started learning more of Qur’an, I felt happy and special that I am part of what Allah wants us to do…Now it’s only for the love of Allah. Al-hamdulillah it has been 17 years now. (Muneeza Fathima, Indian)
I wore hijab straight after getting married. It was a smooth transition. I was just the same old me but now with a new wardrobe. I didn’t wear hijab when I was single because my mum advised me not to as I frequently went dating with my soon to be husband. Though I know her reasoning was flawed, I listened to her. The issue is not about me wearing hijab. I have no problems with it. Some of the non-Muslim colleagues that I have though have problems with it. A few were very forthright…saying that I don’t look as lovely as before, questioning Islam, thinking I was forced into it by my husband and in-laws, having the assumption that wearing it is backward, not modern. Or they said that they felt uncomfortable now to joke with me, especially jokes of a sexual or naughty nature, expecting that I would be restrictive. Finally after 2 years of being surrounded by people who didn’t know how to deal with me (as they had known me before I was married), I decided to ask for a transfer to another school (I was a teacher), so that when they would see that I was already wearing hijab when I went for the position. There were no problems after that. (Hayaty Subhan, Singaporean, a teacher)
At first I felt very proud for taking that step….then I started feeling it was confining. There were a lot of things that I couldn’t wear or do because of it…at that point I didn’t really feel that it was setting me free. But as I grew older I realised that it was the best decision I’d made because it made people see the beauty that was inside me…and I always felt that I stood out. (Asmaa Naga, Egyptian)
The first day I wore hijab permanently I felt like it wasn’t me because for 26 years I didn’t wear it for daily wear, but I felt more Islamic in it. Thanks to Allah (SWT) because He made me realize how important it is to wear hijab for baligh women. (Fatma Suryani, Indonesian)
I actually wore hijab intermittently when I was in elementary school because my mom told me to. At that time, I wasn’t really thinking about it. I just did it when my mom asked me to. I think I probably only started to wear it regularly in middle school after I hit puberty. By that time I guess I knew I had to wear it because that’s the Islamic law. (Khairunnissa, Singaporean, Student)
I wore my hijab when I was 15. Really, I was happy, convinced and satisfied too. I wore it because of my choice and of course my parents felt good. They were very happy because at that time I was in the last year of Middle School in Morocco. I think if you grow up in a conservative family, it is normal to think about wearing hijab. (Lamyaa, Moroccan)
Hijab is not a guarantee for a Muslim woman to go to heaven, but with hijab we have attempted to do His command and fortify ourselves from acts that are not blessed by Him. In shaa Allah.