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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1. Isaiah 43:2

"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you."

2. Psalm 37:5

"Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in Him, and He will act."

3. Romans 8:18

"The pain that you've been feeling, can't compare to the joy that's coming."

4. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed in strength, and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future."

5. Joshua 1:9

"Be bold. Be brave. Be courageous."

6. Ecclesiastes 3:1

"There is a time for everything and a reason for every activity under the heavens."

7. Isaiah 41:10

"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."

8. Isaiah 66:9

"I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says the Lord."

9. Psalm 91:4

"He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings, you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."

10. Psalm 62:1-2

"My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from Him, He alone is my rock and my salvation."

11. Philippians 4:13

"I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength."

12. Jeremiah 29:11

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7 Things Every Person Fasting For Ramadan Can Relate To

We're well into the month of fasts, fried foods and falling asleep anywhere and everywhere.
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Ramadan, the holy month of Muslims, has started which means that Muslims around the world are fasting from dawn to dusk. The month can extend to either 29 or 30 days depending on the moon sighting since the Islamic calendar is lunar. Before Muslims celebrate Eid, the religious celebration that marks the completion of the month of fasting though, there are some widespread sentiments that Muslims can relate to, whether they are fasting in England, America or Saudi Arabia.

1. Time seems to be involved in some sort of conspiracy against us doing Ramadan

Sure, it seems like a pain to close the fast at 5 in the morning but the real struggle is realizing that sunset isn’t till 8:15. Fifteen hours can seem close to an eternity especially in the last few hours before sunset when the sole purpose of existence seems to be staring at the clock and wondering why it seems frozen. Of course, then we get reminded of how some countries have 22-hour long fasts and we get to be grateful we live in Houston, which has relatively normal timings.

2. Food becomes even more important than usual

I don’t know if it’s the fact that starving stomachs thrive on any talk of food or just a cultural hand-me-down but food is even more a topic of conversation than usual. If we aren’t thinking of what to make for Iftari (the meal that breaks the fast) we’re actually making it. This may be the month of fasting, but it’s also the month of samosas, kababs, rising cholesterol levels and a kick to healthy habits.

3. There is no such thing as a proper time to sleep anymore

The days I manage to get an hour of sleep before I have to wake up again is still something of a miracle. And my power naps have become frighteningly odd and frequent. I can grab a 20-minute power nap at six in the afternoon and be down for another one an hour later. And never mind the sleep of the dead we all sleep after we close our fast. I swear, I haven’t neglected my alarm clock this much in years — I’d be better off not setting it because when I sleep after sunrise, I don’t plan on answering to anyone for at least the next seven hours.

4. You’re forced to remember that not everyone in the world is fasting — or even understands the concept

“So you can’t eat? Like at all? Or even drink water? Dude, how are you alive?” Ah, there’s the killer question. The way I see it, there are two ways to answer that: either I’m actually a camel-human hybrid glamoured to look like a person or I was born with a miraculous anatomy as a sign from above — whichever one makes you happier. And of course, it’s easy to go around carrying a grudge at random strangers because you see them having lunch or drinking water and you think, “Respect the fasting people, you uncouth oaf!” Really though, that’s just hunger making me hangry.

5. You try to be healthy and hydrated by chugging down as much water as you can in the morning

I always feel especially satisfied if I’m able to knock out three cups of water before I start my fast in the mornings. In fact, the in the last 15 minutes, our family is devotedly passing around jugs of water as if we plan on embarking on a trip to the desert. I’m not exactly sure how much of that actually sustains us throughout the day though because when I wake up in the morning, I’ve already emptied myself out in about three bathroom trips and feel as thirsty as ever (so maybe the human-camel hybrid isn’t the best self-identification).

6. It’s the one month where everyone reconnects with their royal roots

As if we aren’t bad enough during the rest of the year, during Ramadan we all swagger around as if we’re entitled royalty. Never mind that sleeping in till four in the afternoon is generally a sign of extreme laziness — we’re fasting. And don’t even think about asking anyone to climb the stairs for something — everyone’s fasting. Also, it’s best that you don’t antagonize, tease, hurt, lie, or even accidentally prod a fasting person.

7. We realize that the moon is actually very fickle

We were up till one the tentative night of the moon sighting this month as the entire community battled out whether the moon had been sighted and when the first fast was. The end result — half of Houston was fasting on Wednesday and the other half remained thoroughly convinced that the moon hadn’t been sighted and fasting would start Thursday. The pressure is double as the month ends and everyone tries to decide if Ramadan is over or there’s one more day. It makes you wish the moon would make up its mind and show itself properly if it had any intention of letting itself be sighted because all that confusion is enough to drive a person into confusion. But when we do sight that Eid moon, it's a bittersweet feeling because as much as we all love to par-tay, Ramadan has its own charm and the blessings of this month are always missed.

Cover Image Credit: Instagram

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