People express their love for God and their religion through different means. Some people show it through charity, while others show it through kindness to humanity. Some people show it through offering their daily prayers, while others show it through reading their religious scriptures daily. And us Muslim women show our love and sincerity for our religion by wearing a Hijab.
My hijab story
My name is Eman Khalid and I was born and brought up in a Muslim country. I grew up in a Muslim household, surrounded by a family I cherished immensely. I went to a school where the majority of my friends and peers were Muslims who wore hijabs to class every day. However, I did not wear a Hijab throughout high school. Why? I do not know. Perhaps because no one taught me the authentic meaning of what it means to wear a Hijab.
My friends who wore a hijab at school would remove it during an event, or a party. They would upload half-naked pictures for thousands of people to see. But at school, they’d be covered just to please their parents or their society. Once I reached puberty, my teachers and peers told me to wear a hijab to avoid being harassed or catcalled.
They told me to cover up because there were too many male predators on the streets. Predators ready to prey on their next target. However, it was only when I studied the religion of Islam myself and thoroughly immersed in books written by Muslim authors, I realized that a Hijab is so much more than that. A hijab shouldn’t be worn to gain the pleasure of other people. It is an ornament solely worn for God.
I started wearing a hijab, permanently last month. Why? Because it made me feel closer to God, it made me feel confident and empowered. My Hijab is my crown, and I wish someone would’ve taught me this sooner, that a female shouldn’t wear a hijab for her family members, nor her husband. She should wear this for God and God only.
When I embarked upon the journey of wearing hijab permanently, I knew it would restrict career and professional opportunities for me. I knew it would also restrict romantic and platonic relationships for me. I knew I wouldn’t look as visually pleasing as I used to, and people wouldn’t consider me to be “attractive” according to societal norms. However, all of it did not matter to me. Because my hijab empowered me spiritually. I no longer dressed to please the “male gaze,” and I knew that whoever would love me, would love me for who I was on the inside and for the kindness I had to offer to the world.
My Hijab is not a sign of oppression. Nor is it a sign of suppression. However, as a woman who embarked upon this journey of spirituality, I find it immensely disrespectful to see Hijabi women remove their veils occasionally such as during an engagement party, a graduation ceremony, or a night out because they’re afraid they might not “fit in,” which is an indirect disrespect for women who wear hijab permanently.
Women who remove their hijabs occasionally and wear them whenever it is convenient for them just to “fit the aesthetic” or “to please their family or husband,” and remove it according to their mood changes gives off a wrong impression to the rest of the world, that perhaps maybe, maybe, Hijab oppresses us, Muslim women?
As a Hijabi woman, I would like to sincerely advise all my Muslim sisters: if you decide to wear hijab, please don’t remove it during “weddings” or during “dance parties.” What are you so afraid of? Are you afraid people might call you old-fashioned or odd? I tell you, embrace your crown, embrace your religion, and embrace your roots proudly.
Forcing hijab is never”okay”
It is also quite unfortunate to see how parents enforce a Hijab or veil on their daughters, sisters, or wives. This indirectly puts them off from their religion and crushes their spirituality. I say to those parents: allow your daughters to study religion on their own. If they chose to cover up, that is amazing. And if they don’t, that is amazing as well. It is a matter between them and God, who are we to judge?
Hijabi women have been subjected to discrimination, racism, and Islamophobia for decades. And many young Muslim females have chosen to remove their hijab just for the sake of finding a “potential suitor.” Because us females grew up believing that “no one would marry you if you’re not pretty.”
We’ve been subjected to believe that getting married is the only happiness that life has to offer. And if you chose to cover your beauty with a Hijab from a young age, who would find you attractive enough to send a marriage proposal to your house? It is unfortunate how true it is. Many young Muslim females have fallen victims to a low sense of self-worth and chose to follow society’s cultural traditions instead of believing that they are so much more than the way they look. Before they are beautiful, they are also smart, compassionate, talented, kind, hard-working, and resilient.
You are more than your looks
As Rupi Kaur once wrote, “I want to apologize to all the women I have called pretty before I’ve called them intelligent or brave. I am sorry I made it sound as though something as simple as what you’re born with is the most you have to be proud of when your spirit has crushed mountains. From now on I will say things like, you are resilient, or, you are extraordinary. Not because I don’t think you’re pretty. But because you are so much more than that.”
I chose to wear the Hijab permanently. It was my own personal choice, and I am proud to say that no one enforced it upon me. As a Muslim woman, I chose to cover up because it made me spiritually and emotionally empowered. It made me feel a special connection with God. And even though I might not fit into the societal beauty standards, I most definitely feel like an extraordinarily ravishing female in my own eyes, and in the eyes of God.
Before I am pretty, I am smart, I am talented, I am a skilled writer, and I am an amazing teacher. I cook the most delicious meals, and my hands possess the power to weave stories that could pull onto the heartstrings of my readers. I possess the compassion in my heart to see the goodness in others. And I try my best to empower those around me. I have a heart that forgives, and a hand that helps those in need.
Advice to women struggling to wear hijab
And if I could give any advice to females who are either struggling or thinking to wear a hijab, I’d say: don’t wear it for someone else. Because people will criticize you even if you’re fully covered or half-naked. Don’t wear it for the sake of your parents or your husband. Wear it when you’re emotionally and spiritually ready. Wear it for God. Because I wore it when my heart told me to do it, not when my parents or teachers told me. I wore it for God, and you should too. Wear it for the right reasons, and you will never regret it.