Zaynab Academy had the honour of hosting Hijab Day where women came together to share their hijab stories. We had entries from a variety of women of different backgrounds and experience. Here are some of the stories that were written.
My name is Selma, I ́m German and was born and raised as an only child in a non-muslim family. Growing up, I always wished to have a sister, to be loved and appreciated and to have a magic hood which would make me invisible to others when wearing it. When I met my Turkish husband I decided to convert to Islam, not so much a rational decision, but my heart told me it was the right thing to do. Before converting to Islam I always tried to impress my to be husband by wearing stylish western clothes, styling my hair, wearing makeup … but he never seemed to even notice. But after practicing on Islam, one day when we sat together having breakfast, he just looked at me in my abaya, with my hair braided and kohl (surma) framed eyes and said: “How beautiful Allah has made you?!” Astonished I asked him why he had never before said such a thing, even though I was making so much effort to look beautiful … his answer was: “Because before I had to share your beauty with everybody. Everyone could see you. But now only I can see you and that ́s why Allah has adorned you so much more.”
Through Islam Allah fulfilled all my childhood wishes I now have so many sisters to spend time with, Allah loves me and appreciates any small effort of mine and my niqab is my magic hood. I can ́t say Alhamdulillah enough for that, no matter how often I ́d say it.
HIJAB AS MY TEACHER
How did I come to this conclusion? My hijab has taught me a lot of lessons in my life. I began by wearing hijab at work when I was 21. They knew me for 2yrs. I was always into my looks and how I dressed. They use to call me, The Fashion Queen. I used to enjoy that attention but over time people judged me for my looks and I earned attention in the wrong way. I used to attract the wrong kind of people and people used to think I am all looks, no brain. I realised I was misunderstood alot. Internally I was practicing but outwardly it didnt show the person I was. I came to the conclusion my inward has to match my outward. So my planning started how can I have the courage to wear hijab and face all these people at work who knew me for years. Alot of thought process went through, alot of planning in my head but nothing was being done. I said to myself, Im disappointed at you. You are all talk, no action. Wimp! What kind of Iman do you have? So I said to myself, I have Iman. Then Prove it. This thinking process was going on while I was at work and to prove myself, I did something that changed my life. Guess what I did? Its the most weirdest thing I did and out of my character. I went to my manager and said to him, I am coming to work tomorrow wearing hijab. He was non-muslim, he had a shocked face and didnt know what to say as I came to him suddenly. I said to him,”Is there any problem? He goes No. I went to all my work colleagues and announced it to them. I asked them, any problem? One of them asked me, why? I said, “This is who I am. I practice my religion internally and my religion tells me to act upon what I believe in and I feel its the right thing to do.Otherwise I feel I am incomplete and a hypocrite. It is totally my decision. When I wear my scarf tomorrow Inshaa Allah, please respect me and dont insult me but you are free to ask me any question. However Im not going to turn back. So the question arises why I did this to myself and announced it to everyone at work even though I havent started wearing a scarf because I knew myself. I would find excuse not to wear it and I put myself in a position that I have no excuse not to wear it. I would have to wear my hijab. I forced it upon me by destroying my low self esteem, my ego, my uncertainty, thinking what people might think etc by charging forward,not thinking of the consequences. After this courageous event when I finished work, on my way home, sat on the train and thought to myself, What da? What did I just do? Where did this come from? Something inside told me, that was your Imaan. Your first step and believe me that wasnt my head talking. It was my heart. As I do lot of thinking and consultation to myself ,nearly tried to talk my way out of wearing scarf but I couldnt because I put myself in a situation that I cant turn back on my word. I knew myself, I dont want to be known as someone who cant keep her word. So I stopped thinking and my heart said DO IT. Next day I woke up Alhamdulillah, was alive Alhamdulillah! Still alive to tell the story Alhamdulillah! I suppose Allah wanted to teach me a big lesson. I went to bathroom washed my face and looked into the mirror and said, Todays the Big day. No going back. You can do this.I got my black scarf and wrapped around my head. It wasnt perfect but it did the job. I went downstairs. My mum and Dad mouths were open and looked like their eyes were going to pop, out of astonishment. My brothers froze. By the way I was a rebellious, spoilt eldest child! Thats the hint behind my familys reaction. My dad came to me, we never saw eye to eye before and he had the most humongous smile, usually you cant see his teeth when he smiles but this smile you can see his teeth. He held my face with his hand and kissed me on my forehead and said, “This is what true beauty is…..your Imaan making you do the right thing. Allah has heard my prayers. You look beautiful. Mashaa Alllah!” I hugged my dad after very long time.
I walked out of the door and as I stepped out, the world looked different. The world didnt look the same to me. I prayed to Allah to help me in this path that I have chosen, make it easy for me. This is it Allah. The battle begins. My Imaan verses My Nafs. Help me, pour patience over me. Aameen.I went to work and believe or not I wasnt nervous, I felt confident. I saw my manager and said hello. Do I still have a job? He goes, Of course. Work is based on your effort and how well you do your job. Not your looks and thats why your still here. You have the freedom of speech and expression so long it doesnt affect your work. I was surprised how supportive my work colleagues were. Shaitan deluded me, I was blind and Allah opened my eyes.Alhamdulillah.
So Hijab here taught me confidence in myself to act upon my Imaan. This is just one part of the story. To summarise I have battled through 9/11 and 7/7 bombing in London where it was a real trial going to work on train. I didnt take my Hijab off. Here Hijab taught me Patience. Alhamdulillah. I have battled through Family rejection, friends abandoning me, loneliness as I was the only girl wearing it. I wasnt cool anymore. My Hijab taught me Istiqamat/ preserverence in my deen. I didnt give up wearing scarf. I also battled through a Jew who became my manager at work and closed all doors for prayers because I was the only hijabi at work but I had the last laugh. I found an abandoned shower room to Pray. Hijab taught me to have hope in Allah. I have battled through an area me and my husband moved where there was only non Muslim and we were the only Muslim and every evening after work I would go through alleyway to go home and I started doing istighfar and ask protection with Allah for 10 yrs and ongoing.
It came to the point that if I didn’t do Istighfar I felt as though Allah wouldn’t protect me so my fear of people attacking me turned into my fear of Allah abandoning me. SubhanAllah. So what do you think my Hijab taught me. Guess? Taqwa. Alhamdulillah! Through my Hijab Allah taught me how to attain closeness to him. I found my true friend and my companion and that is Allah. AlHAMDULILLAH! He guided me and is still doing my tarbiyah through my hijab. And this is all because I wore a Hijab. May Allah Guide us and have mercy on us and forgive us as we have fault in us and without his help and hidayah we are losers. So Help us Allah always. Aameen
My Hijab Story-
Let me just say that I can divide my life in exactly two halves; one before hijab and one after. The difference in the two is similar to the difference between the day and night one might say.
Exactly one year back I would have never even imagined in my wildest dreams that I would be narrating my own hijab story. It’s a surreal experience because I’m what one would call a new born in the path of Deen. Yet I write because someone’s life might change by reading this or maybe Allah (SWT) would make me the source of someone’s guidance.
Allah (SWT) blessed me with the gift of Imaan. He gave me a practicing Muslim family and gave me a home so close to His for almost all of my childhood. Makkah would be our weekend getaway and Allah (SWT) gave me the opportunity to perform several tawaafs of the Kaaba all alone as a child. He gave me the chance to kiss the Hajra-e-Aswad, the chance to pray in the Hatim, to cling to the ghilaaf-e-kaaba and cry my eyes out. One would think that such a person would have such closeness and proximity to Allah (SWT), yet my heart was devoid of His love. I did not even know what the word love meant.
Ten years later and my heart cries out to Him. “He found you lost and guided you” explains my life in one sentence Subhan Allah. Now I realize what a futile life I had spent. I had squandered the gifts of Allah (SWT), I had taken them those blessings for granted which so many people die wishing for. You know how they say you realize the worth of something when it’s taken away from you. The saddest part is that I did not even feel the loss of those blessings until very recently. I was so busy chasing my nafs, indulging in everything unlawful and committing all kinds of sins it is surely a huge favor of the All- Mighty that He brought me back to His path.
Zaynab Academy became the source of my guidance a year back. A few months in the company of the pious and I could pin point all my faults like red blinking lights on a dark night. I saw all these young girls so content with their meaningful and purposeful lives it shocked me. I had never seen such happy and lively faces. What made them so full of love? I really wanted to be like them and the quickest change I could bring about was to adorn the hijab. I knew that perfecting my deeds and manners would take all my life but there was something I could achieve instantly; true taubah.
The hijab became the turning point of my life Alhamdulillah. It stopped me from sins, I lost interest in unlawful activities, good deeds became more important and the pleasure of Allah (SWT) became the priority of my life. Amusingly, the hijab became a beautiful filter of my good and bad friends too. It was such a huge relief to see my friends list go down from 300 to 30. My apprehension regarding my family was also baseless because with the Grace of Allah (SWT) nobody objected to it. There were the obvious questions of ‘Why at such a young age?’ ‘Who forced you to do it?’ ‘Are you going on Hajj?’, ‘Are you getting married?’, but these did not bother me.
If you’re still wondering why; it is because Allah (SWT) had made me taste the sweetness of Haya and Imaan. Nothing in the world could make me want to go back on my decision. If He had Guided me, I was nobody to not choose His path. If He loved me so much how could I not love Him back? Indeed the best of sinners are those who turn to Allah in repentance. If I had spent all my life in sin until now, it is my aim to spend the rest of it in seeking forgiveness for those sins. There is always hope out there as long as Allah (SWT) is there.
I always wondered why Allah (SWT) has mentioned the hoors of Jannah in the Quran-e-Kareem but not the women of Jannah. So guess what? Allah (SWT) wanted to maintain the Haya of those Jannati women in this world because they will be stunningly beautiful beyond our imaginations. Now if Allah (SWT) has maintained the Haya of these women in the Quran, who are we to flaunt our beauty in front of this world?
May Allah (SWT) Guide us all, instill love for Him in all our hearts and make hijab a natural part of our lives. May we all realize the fleetingness of this world and may we all strive for the Hereafter and the pleasure of our Rabb. Ameen!
SN, Karachi Pakistan
My Hijab story:
I am 33 years old, a mom of six years old daughter. Recent graduate of A.A.S associate of applied science majoring medical office assistant (EKG,Phlebotomy etc.). I started doing hijab/niqab because of my inspiration from a post someone posted on Facebook. The post was kind of a story with a girl fully covered in hijab/niqab and stood by the garden full of flowers depicting paradise. The title of the story was:
“The shortest love story ever”
There was a girl she fell in love with Allah and lived happily ever after!
It was like a wakeup call for me. I immediately thought about trying it on. I was like if a person can live happily ever after by exclusively in love with Allah then I should give it a try…and it was the best choice of my life I ever made, because of hijab Allah has special blessing on me (Allah gave me the chance to go for hajj. Alhamdulillah!
The following day I made intention to try on hijab. The moment I started wearing hijab I felt good I loved it so much that up until now I am persistently wearing it and have pledge with myself to never take it off Insha’Allah. With every ease difficulty comes so when I starting hijab some ignorant people verbally abused me by calling me ninja warrior, alien, ugly and so on. But I wouldn’t care because it was my choice and I am enjoying it so much. It feels like I am hiding in a shell like a pearl from the filth of every type of gaze.
My ambition towards hijab was so profound that when in business information system (one of my elective classes wasn’t in my major) we were asked to create a web page project I decided to do my project on hijab
I don’t like to talk about myself but I thought someone might encourage towards hijab as well as me. I always heard that “aurah” meaning in Arabic a part of the body which is meant to be hidden and it’s true that a woman can never look beautiful without being hidden in a piece of clock. If she wants respect in society she needs to learn to respect herself first by covering herself she is not meant to be exposed. If choosing the modesty over exposing one ‘self is oppression then I embrace this oppression willingly.
-SA Student from ECIL YR 1
My Hijab Story
I came to Islam in the Fall of 2000. Prior to that, I was a devout, practicing Christian, and prior to that I practiced Judaism. Being born and brought up in the West, I had learned to ‘be free’ in all of my choices, desires, decisions, etc. But after accepting Islam, I learned what it actually meant to ‘be free’ from the type of life and decisions that made a person spiral into a seemingly endless black hole. The beauty and substance of Islam had such a soothing affect on my life, particularly the rules about dressing. Besides all of the other emotionally harmful ways of thinking that take a toll on a person, people persist in their desire to reveal their bodies for whatever reason, without paying attention to the effect it has on their life or their emotional health. It’s strange. I never questioned hijab so to speak, in fact, I was exposed to the concept of covering because practicing Jewish women and practicing Christian women, past and present, were expected to cover their hair and dress modestly. In fact, it was a hallmark of a true believing woman. I always thought about this and wondered why I never saw any ‘covered women’. I thought it was because most women weren’t practicing. I wanted to be practicing, but wasn’t sure how. What was and is different about Islam, is the link that hijab, or concealing your beauty, makes with Allah (swt). This aspect is what continues to fascinate me. I understood that our dressing modestly was a direct command from Allah (swt) and therefore it was something that pleased Him. I can’t really describe in words what it actually felt like to go from free dressing to willful submission to Allah’s pleasure. Basically it was like going from a self-made prison to a protected reserve. People in prisons become like animals in a cage – always worried, anxious, calculating and ready to strike out or react to whatever appears threatening. Protected reserves are havens or sanctuaries of beauty, serenity, calm and quiet – a place where your soul feels refreshed and strengthened. There is always a certain peace and quiet that comes over a persons heart and life when they accept Islam and their heart absorbs the truth. For me, coming to Islam was like entering the quiet space after a storm. Being able to dress like a princess and having eternal value attached to that, being respected for being a modest woman, being honored by the Lord of the Universe for eternity, having the pleasure of the ﬁnal Prophet (saws) – I cannot put into words. All I can ever say, is I am pleased for being a Muslim, for being a follower of Islam, and with the Propehthood of Muhammad (saws). Alhamdulillah.
Student from the USA
Another True Story
I belong to a moderate Muslim family and did not have much of an understanding of what Islam teaches; slowly as the time passed I came closer and closer to the Religion. It was in 1990s a period where the things were changing for women in India.
Hindus, the majority had the superiority over Muslims and Christians, the minority and the competition for development of the society was at its peak. Things were changing drastically. Mixed cultures were being followed that influenced Muslims to an extent.
My parents were no different from other parents in thinking of the future of their daughter, so that I can be independent enough to bear my own responsibilities. They gave me good education by sending me to a Missionary Girls’ High School then to a Girls’ Intermediate College and then to a Women’s Engineering College for pursuing Graduation. They were very particular about sending me to a Girls’ only institution
fearing to the mingling of the opposite sex which would obviously have adverse effects.
My Mother and her sisters would never do Hijaab because their parents never insisted them to do so. My Mother was a working lady and was given the liberty of not covering herself by my Father because even his parents never insisted on covering their daughters i.e. my father’s sisters. But surprisingly both my maternal and paternal Grandmothers would do Hijaab. Unfortunately, neither of them made their daughters realize the importance of Hijaab nor did they force them to do so. Therefore, it is obvious that my mother and father would do the same to their daughters i.e. me and my sister.
But with Allah SWT’s will, things had to change. It was during my studies at a Muslim Minority Women’s Engineering College, I dropped myself at a place where I was in the mid of many Muslim women doing Hijaab and it was like a frog in a fish pond. And at the same time, back at home my mother insisted me and my sister to learn Qur’an. There was an Ustaadah who used to come home to teach us Qur’an. She slowly started teaching us on how to read Qur’an, then by time we started reading it, she insisted on reading with Tajweed rules, then by the time we started reading with Tajweed rules, she insisted on reading it with the meaning(in Urdu). By this time we started understanding what Allah SWT says through Qur’an, we formed the connection with Allah SWT. And with this connection and with the influence of the people surrounded by me in College, one day I told my Mom, “Mom, I want to wear Hijaab” and then my mom replied “Wear it, but do not misuse it” (by this she meant do not be among those who wear it to hide their identity, recognition and do wrong things) to which I agreed and then
I started wearing Abaya which here in India we call it as Burqa. And Alhumdulillah my sister also realized the significance of it and she too started wearing it. My father appreciated it when he came to know that both of us wearing Hijaab. My parents were the only one who mattered to me the most and their approval, acceptance and appreciation was sufficient to make me bold enough to go ahead with my decision and the rest of others’ response did not bother me much. And from then onwards I am wearing Hijaab and In sha Allah will continue to wear it till the end of my life.
When I used to not wear Hijaab, while walking along the road I would feel weird at the gaze of the men. At times, I used to request my women friends to accompany me till home on the way from College in fear of gaze of men and walking alone, even if it was a 5 minutes’ walk. But when the change happened in my life there was a change in the people’s behavior towards me, especially men. The men used to make a way for me while walking, look at me with more respect, and give me the honor of being a woman which resulted in eradicating the fear of walking alone on the road. I felt dignity in being a woman; I started enjoying being a woman and now I am proud to be a woman.
NA Student from India
One thing I could never imagine to cover is my hair that was all I knew before. I have one asset and that’s my hair I would straight them curl them colour them (almost all that was in fashion) my hair express me and I don’t hide what express me but of course Allah swt is The Best Planner for me He swt even planned how and when I will no longer be in love with my hair and that’s how my story starts.
So me and my sisters (who were hijabis) fought on their views (which were right MashaAllah) and my views (Alhamdollilah were very weird) and so I said to them you keep your religion I’ll search for my Islam myself.
And so I did when I read translation and explanation of the ayah which Allah swt mentions of head covering and covering your beauty I read it carefully many times and even to the point where I could imagine the Ayah is not saying to cover your hair (Astaghfirullah) then I went to shaykh google Alhamdollilah all searches told me it is obligatory to cover your hair then I searched what if I cover only half of my hair (had to show my new fringe) there was no answer so I answered myself at least am doing half.
Then my life took a turn, my husband lost his job and we had a wedding coming and many other things to sort out and I had to turn to Allah swt to help us and He swt, The Greatest, helped us. In that time I didn’t for a moment felt the tinge of loosing job or less money my rizq was coming from Him swt and Allah swt made me see it as well how He swt loves me and takes care of me. In few months time my husband got a better job a better place to live and all was better than before.
Then the thought came, what are you doing mademoiselle and I answered myself again at least am covering my hair halfway. And at that point I thought who am I kidding He Swt gave me everything from my hair to my family to my lovely sisters who supported me like anything to everything I ever asked for and me? Acting like a box of excuses!! So I did wudu and stood in front of Allah swt and realized I can’t do this am too much in love with my hair but He Swt can! So I asked Him swt. “Allah swt am doing this for u I can’t do this am very weak You can make me firm and You can make me do this.”
I tried all styles of hijab to compensate my hair love but I knew Allah swt made my heart turn and I was happy because I did it and I surrendered to Him swt.
It’s been four years now and still going strong. How many styles I do now?…none! just what’s comfortable because the beauty and the peace Allah swt gives us when we do it for Him swt is more than any other style or fashion that designer can come up with in this world.
SM Dubai UAE
Final Entry for Hijab Day
Is it really interesting to know why I became a Muslim? “Why” requires a story of cause and effect, and the essence of it is that we all become Muslims the same way – by the will, grace and guidance of Allah. The unique details of each story, including mine, are found in the “how” and not the “why”. Many choices I have made in life are deduced from the story of how I became a Muslim, like wearing a hijab. I have often felt uncomfortable when people ask me about my choice of religion. I believe my heart simply isn’t up to giving the expected concrete answer to how it became the way it is today, to anyone everywhere. After all, who can? A “how”-story cannot be demanded from the questioner. It’s like a mosaic of selected memories given as a trust by the one who holds them to the one he/she wants to share it to.
I was 21 and moved to him and his country seeking love and belonging. After several years of living in the darkness of depression and anxiety, I longed for a light in my life. I didn’t move far, only to the neighboring country, but the spiritual moves I was to make turned out to be greater. It would take me about four more years to realize that while loving and being loved by a man can be both extremely challenging and a blessed bonus in life, it is not the goal. The process preceding that realization started with the challenges I were to meet in the relationship with the man, as well as people, places and experiences the relationship intertwined me with.
Soon I found friendship in the man’s Muslim sister. I could ask her about everything when it came to Muslim lifestyle. Islam was not new to me. I had Muslim acquaintances from before, but none who were devoted to the faith like she and her husband. At times, I had said that if I were to choose a religion, it would be Islam due to the clear monotheistic creed. But I wanted to be open-minded and not put any religion above others, so I had chosen not to choose one religion. My existential hesitations contributed to my depression. I prayed to a God I was not certain existed, and tried to avoid hardship in life by intricate obsessive compulsive thoughts and actions. I had read several books about Islam, but none of them gave me the answers I searched for. Mostly, they were written by non-Muslims with a rather oriental view, or by middle aged immigrant male Muslims. The books always contained a clear definition of “The Muslim woman” whom I could not associate to. For me, these books felt like an invitation to give up a lot of joys, without emphasizing the blessings I would get by becoming a Muslim.
It was different with the man’s sister. It was not so much the answers she gave me, but the sight of honesty and love in her face when she talked about her religion and her wish that everyone, especially me, would find Islam. Her life was in no way free of challenges, but she had a rope to hold on to and a certainty of the meaning of life. She let me try one of her hijabs, just so I would know how it felt. I was curious, and more than willing to try this rather exotic piece of clothing. I especially found the underscarfs, bonnets, to be interesting. Imagine there was a whole world of accessories for Muslim women unknown to me and most others! I felt beautiful wearing the hijab, but not the way I would feel pretty, yet still dependent on other peoples’ attention, when putting on makeup and sensual clothes.
I decided to read even more about Islam, but from the Source itself. I wanted to be well read when being in a dialogue with Muslims. Even more, I wanted to get my own impression of the essence of the religion, without the culturally tampered perspectives of other writers and researchers, as I saw it. Some Muslims actually warned me about reading the Quran on my own. Not so much because the only available translation was poor, but they said the Quran is a powerful text and not easy to understand without explanation. Also, they were afraid I did not know how to treat the Quran with proper manners. I didn’t let that stop me, but asked how the Quran should be treated. It was only a translation and I was not a Muslim, but I started making ablution every time I read it. In some aspects, the sceptics were right. At first I was rather critical to what I read, and found it strict. The more I read, the more my feelings towards the Quran changed. I noticed that every chapter started with “In the name of God, the most Merciful, the most Compassionate.” I figured that everything else had to be understood in that context. I came to verses telling about some people having open hearts and others having closed hearts. I felt challenged. I didn’t want to be among those with closed hearts! When I only had a few pages left, I knew I could not look at the world again without having the “Quran-glasses” on, the glasses that showed everything in a new light. On my own, at the bedside, I said the Shahada. I wanted to start wearing the hijab right away, but it would take a few months before I got the support I needed from the man who had become my husband.
I believe the main motivation I had for wearing hijab at the time was that I was so proud of becoming a Muslim and wanted to show the whole world. I loved receiving the “salam” from other Muslims. I loved the feeling of knowing who I was and what my purpose was. I loved to belong. My intention for wearing hijab has changed somewhat over the past twelve years. Now, it is more about what it conceals than what it shows. The feeling of knowing who I am and where I’m heading is still there, and it is emphasized by the hijab that I would feel so naked without, so less “me”. I still love to belong, and my focus is to belong to Allah. The genuine sister- and brotherhood that I have met through the faith is just a bonus.
HB from Norway