In a world full of misinformation about the hijab, I want to spread positivity around. Hijab is not a symbol of oppression but instead, focuses on the freedom of choice.
Everyone’s history with the hijab and the way they came to wear it is different. Maybe you didn’t want to wear it initially. Maybe you started and then stopped. Maybe you started very late in life. Maybe you’d like to change how you do it. Here is My Hijab Story.
My mom taught me that at some point in my life, Muslim Women starts wearing a hijab. So one fine day, she suggested (ie; not forced) that I start wearing it. I did not say no, but I did not say yes either.
I was abroad when I received a call from my mom, wanting to confirm whether I would, or not, wear the hijab the following year, as she would need to alter my school uniform if I do. Perhaps the fact that I was away from her and caught up with something else made me agree to wear the hijab, subconsciously.
Thus, I became more creative with my hair. I bought hair clips and grips, bands and accessories, all for the few hijab-free weeks I had left. And that is an investment I would never regret.
I arrived at my home country just the day before school began, which meant that I had to wear the hijab the very next day.
The day I wore the hijab for the first time was a tough one. Since I had zero interest to wear it, I did not make an effort to wear it in a decent manner. Thus, I arrived at school with a poorly worn hijab. A teacher asked me why I wore the hijab, since I had told her the previous year that I will start wearing a hijab once I am over the age of 40. Moreover, all my schoolmates had seen me without a hijab on, so it was hard for them to grasp my new look, let alone it being hard for ME to grasp MY new look.
During the initial stage of wearing the hijab, I wore a part-time one. I received cheeky comments from people, which I disregarded. But the destructive criticism I received from a few members of my family caused me to fire back. Moreover, the criticism was directed towards my mom too, at times. “Doesn’t she bother to tell Eama to cover up in a proper manner?”
Back in the days, I wore my hijab like scarf wrapped around my head. It then changed to a square Turkish style, with the hijab tightly pinned underneath my chin, making my face look like a blow fish. From there, it shifted to a semi-Arab style, where I used rectangular scarves to loosely drape over my head. Fast forward to the present day, I create styles on my own, while still keeping my hair covered. Like in any journey, the transition to a full hijab took time.
With each passing day, I started getting more and more used to wearing the hijab. I stopped wearing it part-time and started wearing it full-time. It was one of the most difficult, yet rewarding acts I have done. Wearing the hijab is a series of stages and phases, and I grew along with it.
Nevertheless, the fact that I started enjoying wearing the hijab was not enough for the criticisms to stop coming in. The critics did not understand the inner battle I had to go through in order to get used to wearing the hijab. They did not realise how uncomfortable I felt wearing the hijab during the initial stage, because the concept of wearing a hijab was foreign to me. They did not see my attempts to fix the way I wore the hijab. They just saw a few strands of hair and tight jeans and thought “WOW, WHAT AN IMPROPER HIJAB!”
People who criticise Muslim Women for not wearing a hijab OR for not wearing the hijab “properly” needs to bring an end to their criticism. If you think that you’re doing us a favour by “reminding” us that we are “Dressed but Naked”, do realise that your taunts are more criticising than reminding.
I know it bothers you when you see a woman wearing an “improper” hijab. Because when people who do not understand the concept of ‘hijab’ sees such, it sends a wrong signal to them and eventually boils down to a generalisation that the hijab is “just a scarf” rather than a code of modesty. But whenever you feel the need to criticise a human being, let go of the critical tone. Do not come with the hot iron rod approach. Always remember that when you are being too stern to the point you hit below the belt, that too, gives a really bad impression about Islam.
Being quick to criticise someone, a Muslim or a Non-Muslim, is something to be avoided because we do not know a person’s intention, and they may be far better than us. What good is criticising someone when the recipient of the critical feedback ends up having negative feelings about the one providing the feedback, and when the mistake or behaviour is never corrected due to the ill feelings that one develops about the person showering that criticism?
For the Muslims who criticise others: The Youm-Al Qiyamah/The Day of Judgement, is called that for a reason. So we better focus on ourselves rather than spending our energy on judging others.