In honor of World Hijab Day (WHD) on February 1st, 2018, I was inspired to share my own hijab story. A story of my evolution. The first WHD was on February 1st, 2013, in recognition of millions of Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab and live a life of modesty and devotion to God.
As I reflect upon my journey of my hijab and the significance it plays in my life, I am reminded of how life takes us in in many different turns and swoops us through many loops.
Examining my hijab history to date I can see how it has always been reflective of my internal relationship with God, our Creator. As I write this something just came to mind…
Part of my history was conscious and part unconscious. The unconscious, I barely remembered until now as I sit to put my reflections to writing.
There was a time when I was pressured to cover my hair. The intentions were pure, loving and caring. From a family member who felt that now was the time for me to take this step of devotion to my Lord. I now realize this is no one’s choice, except the one who wear’s it.
We each stand alone in our accountability and the decisions we make. This was a time when my father had just suddenly died and there were many family members who were emotionally supporting my family during that time of grief. My relative felt that when a big event happens in your life it’s a time of reflection, change, and action. This is so true, however another person can not do this for you. This is a process. A process for each individual to experience. A journey of pain, grief, healing, purifying, and connecting to Allah. Through that process, comes devotion to the One who heals all pain, physical and emotional, Al-Shaafi.
Needless to say, I was numb from grief, pain and loss. I went through the motions of wearing hijab for a few days, maybe weeks. I really don't remember. But the point is it didn't last, because I didn't have the conviction to sustain it. I had no idea why I was doing it. My heart was not connected to it. I knew in my head I wanted to be in a place to do it to please my Lord, but I was not there yet.
Fast forward a year and half later as I was starting college and the pressure to wear hijab came again. New beginnings and a fresh start. What better time than now to begin, I was told. In past conversations with my female family members there was an expectation that the girls would wear hijab and college was the perfect time to begin. So it was understood and expected this was my time, and I had a responsibility as the oldest girl amongst my cousins.
So, I said to myself why not? But it still didn't have the meaning it was supposed to have for me. It was just an act, an expectation. I didn't understand the significance behind it for me. Similar to a lot of my religious practices I didn't appreciate the implication of each act. I wanted to do the acts that were pleasing to my Lord, but what was missing in me was the big WHY, My connection and relationship with HIM that drives me to live a life pleasing to HIM regardless of what people say or do. CONVICTION in my love for HIM. In the same manner you do things to please your loved ones.
It felt like a burden on my back rather than a desire in my heart. It was too heavy to carry and lasted for about 6-10 months.
Really fast forward about 14 years later, I am a mother and my purpose was to raise God conscious children who are contributing leaders of society by utilizing their unique gifts and talents they are blessed with. The path of motherhood led me to a path of introspection and self improvement. I realized in order for me to raise my children in such a manner I had to become that first. Kids don't do what they're told to do, they do what they are shown to do by example. Every time I tried to impart some knowledge, wisdom, or guidance to my children I realized that it was all about me. Was I being the best me, the best example for them?
This quest led me to examine and nurture my relationship with Allah, my purpose, and my end goal….Jannah.
Through this, I acknowledged that I did not want to meet my Creator without my veil, my covering, my hijab. I had been contemplating wearing it permanently as I would wear it off and on depending where I was and what I was doing. It felt hypocritical taking it off because of “what would people say” I started thinking what does Allah think of me rather than what his creation thinks of me.
I decided to don the hijab with conviction and I was grounded in my WHY. It started becoming part of my identity. I felt good about it until it became so “automatic” that I was going through the motions in wearing it. Losing my conviction didn't happen overnight. It was a span of about 7 years.
Looking back into my past I can see so clearly that the conviction I had in wearing it was directly tied and proportional to the caliber and depth of my connection and relationship to Allah.
Now, 7 years later, I was going through a turbulent and insecure period of my life. My marriage was crumbling and I was desperate. I was in such a place, willing to sacrifice anything, including my soul and connection to Allah, I let it go. It became too hard to carry, to perform, to fulfill. So, I let it go, even though it hurt my soul to do so. I thought it was the way out for me, that it would help me in the situation I was in.
Those 4 months when I was trying to save my marriage and thought this was one way to do it was a slow painful torture for my soul. Not because I wasn't wearing my hijab, but because I wasn't deeply connected to my ultimate source to help me through my struggles. I was relying on people and hurting myself to please someone else to achieve what I thought was best for me.
Humungous Life Lesson learned: Don’t go after people pleasing to get what you want. Rather focus on pleasing the the Owner and Creator of people. The One who can give you everything you want.
From a place of despair and distress, I ran to THAT Source. The one I knew would never leave me nor let me down. I went back to focusing on and strengthening my connection and relationship with Allah. The healing, strength, resilience and peace I received from that relationship empowered me to put my hijab back on with conviction as a sign of my devotion to our Creator. I am not perfect as per my design of being human. I am constantly struggling and striving to be my best until I meet our Creator.
O man! Verily, you are returning towards your Lord with your deeds and actions (good or bad), a sure returning, so you will meet (i.e. the results of your deeds which you did). Quran 84:6
Another Humungous Life Lesson Learned: All relationships require work, nurturing and connection. That is a personal responsibility in any relationship. The one we have with our Creator is different in that He is always near. We are the ones who wander and stray.
We are nearer to him than his jugular vein Quran 50:16
May the seeker who seeks Me know that, "I Am Near". I answer the call of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be guided. Quran 2:186
Alhumdulillah. God is Great. Today I am in such a different place. A place of bliss. When I find myself struggling I check in with myself and audit my relationship with Allah. What condition is it in? Am I constantly connected to my Source or have I wavered?
That always gets me back on track to my path. It reminds me that Allah is always near, waiting for me to call out, to reach out for all my needs, wants and desires.
Thank you for coming along with me as I reminisce and reflect on my hijab journey. I hope and pray that my experiences will inspire you as you go on your journey through life.
Much Love, Peace & Blessings,