Q&A: Your 6 Secret Hijab Queries Answered

Q&A: Your 6 Secret Hijab Queries Answered

"Has anyone ever asked you to take off your covering?"
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As a practicing Muslim woman, I'm often asked about my clothes — namely, why there's a scarf on my head, a loose dress round my body and a veil across my face. And although the odd stares are still a common occurrence nearly wherever I go, they've simply become part of my everyday scenery. So, at times, it still catches me off guard when people are curious about my faith, but I'm always more than happy to share my answers!

Here are some questions my Alpha teammate suggested:

1. Have you ever not wanted to wear your headscarf (aka hijab) when you were younger?

I'd say only at the very beginning, during the first week, but not once after that. I think the two main things that solidified my dedication to the hijab were that firstly, it was primarily my choice and second, it was a choice made with finality.

I made this choice in sixth grade, so I was quite dependent on my family's support — especially on the first day of middle school when I hesitated in the carpool line, anxious about the stares I'd get. However, even before the choice was made, I had learned and accepted the fact that hijab is mandatory in Islam.

Hijab is not "I feel like wearing a headscarf today," and then taking it off the next. Hijab is not about fashion or trying to appease someone or something. Hijab is the next step in practicing your faith, so while the choice may be made at everyone's own time due to their circumstances, it is a choice that cannot be easily revoked as if all it is simply a cloth covering your hair.

Hijab is so much more than that.

Because I understood that at 11 years old, my choice to wear the hijab wasn't hindered by my feelings or others' reception of it. I knew that whatever difficulties I would face would not be instigated by the hijab, but rather because of how people are and how the world is. Everything, including all hardships and goodness, come from Allah (SWT), so knowing that I was wearing the hijab solely for Allah (SWT) became and still is the core reason why I have never felt like taking off my scarf and why I will never stop wearing it.

2. Was it awkward wearing the headscarf (hijab) at that point of your life?

The only awkward phase I had wearing hijab was trying to find appropriate clothing to pair with the headscarf. Shopping, especially in middle school where being fashion forward meant tight shirts and skinny jeans, was a bit of a nightmare. It was actually a relief to wear abaya after that because I had a hard time finding loose, appropriate clothes to mix and match with my hijabs, but that's just me. There are other hijabis who are obviously much more talented in that field than I was, so props to them!

Overall, it wasn't the headscarf that was awkward, rather most of the time, it was other people. In a way, the headscarf is a wonderful way to skip the pretense, for it helps you instantly see people for who they are at their core.

Anyone who feels uncomfortable with practicing Muslims will seldom hide their distaste and don't mind picking on little girls wearing hijabs — which goes to show you what kind of people they must be. Others who barely bat an eye and easily strike up a conversation are either familiar with the practice or just really good at going with the flow. And then there are some who are just the good ol' awkward. They stare, then quickly lower their eyes, then peek another look when they think you can't see them. They don't even know where to start or how they feel, and it looks like it'll take them a good hour or two or process the sight of you alone. They'll speak quickly, properly and politely while scanning your items at the register or answering your questions in class, but they rarely veer off subject, because they have an unspoken fear they might say the wrong thing. All they know is what they get from the news and online sources, most which they don't trust because how can they verify what is true and what isn't?

That's where I step in, using a light, jovial tone to ask about their day and exchange pleasantries about the weather. Ten minutes into a good conversation and most people will forget why they were so nervous to begin with.

3. Does it get really hot during the summer or does the headscarf (hijab) somehow provide shade?

This is a bit tricky to answer because it depends on how the person is wearing her hijab.

Typically, the hijab is worn with a hijab cap, which covers the hair, lifting it off the neck and making it easy to pin the scarf on. If the hijab cloth is a breathable, light fabric, such as silk, rayon or crepe (to name a few), then nine times out of 10 for me, I won't get overheated during the summer when out and about in the sun. And yes, the hijab will act as almost like a shade from the sun, protecting my neck and head from sunburns while also giving them room to breathe under the scarf instead of perspiring against my hair.

Now, some hijabis may opt to go without the hijab cap or wear a heavier cloth as a headscarf, and this can be a no-no for summer weather — especially if the cloth is such that it's meant to keep you warm, thus by encasing the heat in and prickling your skin. So for this one, I'd say just experiment with which scarves and styles work best for you during the summer, and you'll be good to go.

We've all been or seen that one hijabi who still wears a gorgeous solid jersey cotton hijab during summer just 'cause it's "pretty," only to be drenched in sweat by the end of the day.

So don't worry sweaty hijabis — been there, done that. I feel you.

4. Have you ever forgotten to wear your headscarf (hijab)?

On one weird occasion in 6th grade when I was readjusting my pull-on headscarf in the girls' bathroom, slipped on the hijab cap but somehow forgot to put the rest on and walked out. I left the hijab hanging over my shoulder, strolling along the hall and suddenly wondering why a boy in the hallway was staring at me even longer than usual only to realize mid-step that I only had my hijab cap on. Needless to say, I ran back and pulled myself back together before re-exiting the bathroom.

Thankfully I've almost never had to hightail incident again after I started opting for pin-on hijabs instead of the pull-ons.

5. Has anyone ever asked you to take off your hijab?

The headscarf? Only on the rare occasion, like by teachers who would pull me aside and say, "I'm just looking out for you. Don't worry, I won't tell your mom if you take it off," to airport security (who most of the time don't even need you to, but some just like to test their limits which can easily be reinforced by simply asking, "Why?") to some of my own relatives who simply assumed I did not have a choice.

But in total, I'd say I've only had a total of five or six cases in which people have asked me to remove my scarf. Rather, I'm more likely to be asked to remove my niqab (face veil).

In the case of security situation, such as at the DMV or airport screening room or even at the recent special district election in Georgia, I cooperate by unveiling my face for identification purposes, but there has never been a need nor do I suspect there ever will be (or should there be, really) for me to take off my headscarf.

So yes, people have asked, even my friends who just wanted to see how I put it back on, but if there is no pressing reason to remove it, I don't.

6. What's it like wearing it in general?

Honestly, it makes me feel beautiful, cozy and proactive.

I feel that I own myself my hair, my body, my face all belongs to me, and I choose who gets to see it, when and how. I am responsible for my body. These physical attributes are mine, but they do not define me, and they do not restrict me in the way I see others being boxed in simply because of how they look — whether this is due to the pressures of society or the individual's self. Instead, I am able to appreciate myself and accept my physical shortcomings without falling prey to the judgment of others which would undoubtedly affect my mindset about my own body as well.

I feel safe and cozy because it quite literally warms you up a bit and is an armor from the judgement and preoccupation there is in the world. Everyone is so busy trying to live and following society's directions on how to be successful, that they forget why. Practicing my faith through the hijab makes me feel I am doing the right thing, that I am making the right choice and that I am doing this for a higher purpose. Having a clear intention and goal in mind solidifies my faith and helps me to take steps to further succeed with it.

This leads me to the final part: being proactive. As I've progressed from the headscarf to the face veil (niqab), I've had to develop my character along the way — from first learning how to break out my shy shell and speak up from when I started wearing the hijab, to treating bodies with respect when I donned the abaya and to understanding how to use my voice effectively once I took on the veil.

I went from the insecure, withdrawn kid to a confident young woman with a strengthened faith and adaptable qualities. And it all began the first day of middle school when I decided to take that first step to practice my faith by wearing the hijab. It is my proudest memory, and I've never regretted it since.

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

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Being Busy Does Not Give Your Life Meaning, Having Imaan (Faith) Does

How many of us even care to ask Allah (swt) what He would like to see from us?
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Recently, I turned 21, and for the first time ever in my life, I felt that during the 20th year of my life, I truly lived. I experienced so much more than I ever thought I could, but I've been so busy making plans and coming through for them that by the time my 21st birthday rolled around, I realized... I haven't really accomplished my life's purpose. My ultimate life goal is to become a better Muslim, but with each passing day, I have pushed the purpose of my life aside for "new" experiences, like driving to weekly campus events, weekend outings with friends or working hours on end as the Editor-in-Chief of the Alpharetta Odyssey community.

I felt like an independent adult who didn't need anyone or anything. So, unconsciously, I lowered my standards of living in pursuit of these side quests to quench a thirst for fun with whatever pleasure life can offer. But purpose is imbued in ambition and success, so one without the other topples the entire foundation upon which life is structured. I lost sight of my purpose to become a better Muslim, and in turn, my life lost meaning.

There were many points throughout the year that I felt depressed, whether due to personal struggles or external conflicts. These issues went on for quite some time, and I never really resolved them so much as waited for them to somehow resolve themselves. I didn't reach out to Allah (swt) or raise my hands in dua for help, for strength, for guidance, and because of that, I made some decisions stemming from my own crude feelings of inadequacy with situations, myself and others.

I distanced myself from people, because suddenly, there was no clear standard I could confidently judge our relationships by. I busied myself instead, upping my goals for what I wished to accomplish my final years of college but I have yet to follow through all of them despite multiple attempts. I have pushed and prodded myself to overcome silly fears, but I couldn't find a tether of rope to hold onto or any point to direct my feelings at.

I was lost. What was I doing? Why was I doing these things? What was the point? What did any of this accomplish?

Then, I realized, the tether to our lives is Allah (swt). He never let me down all these years, yet since I felt cocky and independent, I loosened my hold on the rope of imaan. And in doing so, I lost myself.

I created lots of memories of little things that have not built me into a better person. I amassed lots of stuff that will be dumped into the trash, sooner or later. I've traveled so many new places yet always left feeling like something was missing. That something is still missing. Every new morning I open my eyes, I continue to feel like my life lacks a purpose, because I've been ignoring the very reason I was born: to love and follow the commands of Allah (swt).

He handpicked where I would be born, which time I would first open my eyes to the world and to whom I would call my mother, father, brother and sister. He has woven fate in my favor, slid chances to repent under my door and has always been present during every ugly and beautiful moment I've experienced. From that, I've realized, all the life moments I have been most attentive and loving of Allah (swt) are the best memories I have. These are the moments I recall when I want to soothe my soul of loneliness or cheer myself on in times of joy. These surmount to the reasons I cling to my imaan desperately in times of need and reach out to grasp it more tightly in times of success.

SEE ALSO: 3 Astronomical Revelations Of The Holy Quran

But, despite that, I have yet to climb higher...

Because as Muslims, we pray five times a day, but how many of us continue to sit after prayer to raise their hands in due and just talk to Allah (swt)?

How many of us go to Allah (swt) first when we have a problem, rather than ranting and backbiting to our friends?

How many of us think of how Allah (swt) would feel about something before we decide to do that thing?

How many of us even care to ask Allah (swt) what He would like to see from us?

Instead, we turn to the physical manifestations besides us. We ask people what they would like to see from us. We change ourselves so others will love and accept us, have fun with us, become close to us. We turn away from Allah (swt) the second we forget our purpose in life.

And what's worse is, we assume because we can't see Him or hear His reply that He's somehow irrelevant. That all the things that make sense because of Allah (swt) don't matter anymore because you don't really care. It doesn't concern you. And then we wonder, why don't I get along with so and so? Why don't I care about this person or that thing? Why does my life look so happy on social media but right after the moment ends, I feel empty and like something is missing?

Your life may look busy and fulfilling from the outside. Your life can be chock-full of amazing people or just a handful of close friends. Your life can be Gucci galore or countryside cottage. Your life can be complex or simple. But either way, each life lived with feel the same: meaningless — without imaan. So don't let go of the tether that ties you to Allah (swt). Hold on tight, and keep pulling yourself close, step by step.

InshAllah, your efforts will pay off.

Allah (swt) says, "For every step you take towards me, I will take 10 towards you. Walk towards me, and I will run towards you. — Hadith Qudsi
Cover Image Credit: WikiMedia

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31 Thoughts Muslims Have While Praying In Public

I really wish this floor was carpeted.
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1. Alright here we go, Dhuhr ends in an hour.

2. Pulling out my portable prayer rug, heck yes, we ballin today fam

Places You'll Pray, @ummbelaal

3. Okay focus, we’re going to make this one count.

4. Qibla, where is the Qibla. Compass says it’s this way but MuslimPro says it’s the opposite way??

5. I wonder if people will think I’m leading a yoga class like the dude on Twitter6. I really hope no one decides to harm me or start yelling at me

7. JK, the plant I’m praying behind is pretty big, so I should be hidden

8. Wait, why am I relying on a plant for protection, Allah will protect me

9. How did I fit behind this plant?

Places You'll Pray, @selhii

10. FOCUS

11. Deen over Dunya

12. Wait is someone playing Taylor Swift

13. Aw heck no, I am not praying to the tone of Bad Blood

14. Why is this song such a bop

15. FOCUS

16. Wait what rakat am I on?

17. Oh no

Places You'll Pray, @shahid_o_

18. OK, we’re reading Surah Ikhlas, Bismillah

19. Can’t wait to finally use the bathroom after this

20. Wait will I get home before Asr ends?

21. FOCUS

22. I really wish this floor was carpeted

23. Sujood, here we go

Places You'll Pray, @farah_harith

24. Should I put my prayer mat in the wash?

25. IS THAT DUDE STARING AT ME

26. I can’t look, I really hope not

27. It’s OK, we’re good, have faith in Allah

28. You are stronger than this

29. Allah created you strong

30. Dang, I am so proud of myself

31. But next time, we’re going to find a bit more a secluded place


*All pictures taken from Instagram account @placesyoullpray (check them out, they're super cool)

**These are taken from my own stream of consciousness. All Muslims have different experiences and level of focus and this was done purely for entertainment purposes.

Cover Image Credit: Places You'll Pray, @a_wayfarer_//Instagram

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