The topic of Hijab in the world of a female revert is one of the most difficult. As women, we are required to wear hijab, and there is definitely no doubt about that. However, as a woman embracing Islam, it can become one of the hardest decisions she can make. Thus, I decided to write this post with candor, in hopes that it will benefit any of you struggling in this decision.
I became Muslim 7 years ago, the hour before I said my Shahada I was already in hijab. From that day on I wore hijab for 4 years. When I started wearing hijab it came as a complete shock to my family. Indeed support was non-existent, and this resulted in a lot of turmoil between us. However, I claim a percentage of fault at their lack of support, as I did not take into consideration their reactions and simply expected too much. Over the course of time, I graduated from High school and it was time to go to college and start working. I had planned my entire life to go study in the Netherlands; I was in the final stages of my enrollment to a very good University when everything fell apart. I was devastated and had not planned for this, I had not applied for any other school, and thus, I found myself with nothing. I had to start working and helping around financially. However, I could not find work anywhere. Everywhere I would go, I would be turned down. During this process, I experienced some extremely racist individuals who with no care for the consequences turned me down for work due to hijab. I was called a terrorist and an illegal Arab, and mind you, I have a very typical Hispanic name (so I found it kind of funny). At this point, my situation at home was not good and my desire to remain strong with my hijab was immense. After a year or so, I finally found work at a retail store and things seemed to settle slightly. I had been working on trying to go to the Netherlands or abroad somehow, and I finally got into a nanny program. I was extremely elated. I traveled to NL, where I stayed for a year. Of course, there, I was not free of obstacles. In my mind, I thought I was going somewhere where there are so many Muslims; I will meet some sisters and finally have some friends that share my faith and I will be able to learn with them. The complete opposite happened, even though I had 1 Muslim friend (she had been my friend since before), I found myself being out-casted. To make it short, (trust me, it was too much and I pray they are forgiven and Allah guide them, iA) I was pushed aside and belittled. So, I found myself with no support from either side. The time came to return home and to find work again, and this time, there was no waiting around and hoping someone would hire me eventually. No, this time I had to work or else. I found myself miserable, alone, depressed and with no solution but to simply remove my hijab and work. I made this decision with tears in my eyes and an aching heart. To the world around me, my phase was finally over and I started living a facade. I hid the most genuine part of me, and I asked myself why? Why was it so easy for me to accept who they are 100%, to love and support every decision they make, yet my acceptance was not reciprocated.
Now, I want to speak directly to you. You, who struggles everyday on whether to wear it or to remove it. I understand you. It is not easy, whether you are raised Muslim or revert. It is a journey we all take and even once we are finally wearing it, we are still in a battlefield. What I can tell you is this: Do not make your decision based on anyone but for the sake of pleasing Allah s.w.t. In our faith, we know Allah is the All-Knowing, he knows what is best for us and when we have reached a state where our hearts desire to obey Him fully, we must go for it. Do not hesitate, do not think of what will people think, do not allow yourself to be consumed with wanting to please the people around you because pleasing them will never happen.
Sister, I let go of something I loved because those around me hated it. In letting go of this part of me, I began to lose myself and my identity. I tried once again to be like everyone around me, in order to have people stop questioning me every single day. I hid who I truly was, just to feel accepted and to please the ones closest to me. My advice would be this; if your life is not threatened, don’t do it.
Of course, there are many circumstances and we all go through different situations, different trials. We will each grow and get closer to our Creator at our own pace. So for all the Hijabis out there, please support your revert sisters. Do not make them feel less or unworthy of being Muslim, because they are making mistakes. We all make them. Do not push them aside or tell them if they keep pronouncing Arabic wrong their prayers don’t count. Do not leave them alone in their struggle with their family or friends who are trying to understand them just as they are trying to be understood. Do not un-friend (remove them from your life) nor call them a “Kafir” ( <— don’t do that, really bad!!!!) if they decide they can’t wear hijab yet or they remove it. And above all, do not question their FAITH! Support them no matter what as long as it is within Islamic teachings, but support them. Love them as your fellow sisters, grow together in Islamic knowledge and don’t think for one second she is less because of a scarf.
I write from my own experience. And I tell you, in the end, we never please anyone. They will always expect more, and we will always be too weird for most. The best advice I can give is to: have sabr (patience) and focus on pleasing Allah s.w.t. When you are pleasing your Creator, only the best can happen, because we are taught to be the best form of ourselves in Islam. Show kindness, love, mercy, compassion, and live as a true Muslim woman.
And let us remember; Hijab is more than just a scarf. Hijab starts from within. Modesty is not just what we wear, it is how we speak and present ourselves as well. Your modesty will grow as you grow in your faith. Let us grow together, learn together, and live our lives in one big and beautiful sisterhood.
Stay Beautiful, Claudia!