my hijab was something i put on for myself. not because my parents or society asked me to. infact when i decided to put it on, my parents weren’t even aware. i simply just entered their room and said “mama, baba im going to start wearing a hijab” and that was that.
as i grew up, i found power in my hijab. i often resonated with it to be my identity. whenever id be writing a description about myself be it for a job or for my twitter, id always sneak in the word hijabi. it was an integral part of me that i loved to share.
id spend my days vigorously searching through ASOS for hijabi clothes to flaunt and watching youtube videos to learn new ways to wear my hijab (which, just for the record, never worked out) as i grew up, my hijab was something i was proud of. i felt like it empowered me. that it showed me that i could still be the person i was yet remain modest & in tune with my religion & Lord. and the idea to keep a part of you hidden just for your husband would touch my heart; because theres something special about sharing a piece of you only with the person you spend your whole life loving.
i always grew up as the social, friendly, talkative and easy going girl. alhamdolillah, i’ve never struggled socially. not in school, not online & not when i met new people. my hijab never stood as a barrier between something i wanted to achieve & myself. i have always been a strong advocator for whatsoever i believe in. id speak up against any injustice that i felt strongly in disagreement with & never hesitated to make my voice heard. id be told that even whilst wearing a hijab, my personality and confidence was attractive. & in a way i was proud of that. that there was more to me than my skin & hair, that my personality and intellect were enough to captivate somebody else.
one summer i interned at a company surrounded by (most) people who lived their lives to the fullest. they would go out every weekend, get drunk & have a good time. these people were fun to be around, and so i quickly fit in & made great friends. one day, one of them said something to me that got me thinking. “zainab, i don’t think youll wear your hijab very long. you’re far too much fun to keep it on.” to which i responded with a chuckle and reassurance that she was wrong.
recently since a couple of months, i found myself really enjoying my social life. being out almost every weekend, trying new things, meeting new people & going to new places. i felt like i truly was making the most of my life & not missing out on anything. it was then that this voice in my head crept up and asked me “is your hijab limiting you? wouldn’t you be more free without it?” and then the self-doubt began. with everything that was going on in the world & islamophobia becoming more real, the fear that crawled up my spine didn’t help either. i never felt this way before but i had to ask myself, was it? i never spoke to anyone of my hesitance and uncertainty until last december when my brother came to town. i told him how i felt & the first thing he said to me was “zainab, the choice is yours at the end of the day and i won’t tell you what to do, but didn’t you always feel really passionate about your hijab?” and to which my response was “i don’t anymore”
i think it is times like those that makes you want to contemplate every choice you’ve ever made and whether it still stands true to you or not.
for the longest period of time i couldn’t seem to pinpoint what went wrong, or rather; what changed? don’t get me wrong. i’ve always believed change is good. infact im a firm believer that little to no opinions that a person has, ever stay the same. when you grow, you learn. and as you grow and your knowledge and your ability to consider different perspectives and ideologies advance, your opinion may naturally and incessantly change.
i don’t think i was looking for a justification or explanation to give my brother, my parents or even society, but rather i was looking for an explanation to give myself. i wanted to know why i felt the way i felt. and more importantly, did i really, truly feel this or was i just subconsciously making the opinions of others my own?
time passed & i pondered day after day. and only after a few reminders of why i actually put this hijab on, did i realize. my hijab is a part of who i am. i put it on for the right reasons, for my lord & for myself. (shoutout to my future husband too)
i realized i could be exactly who i was and my hijab would ALWAYS keep me grounded and remind me who i am. majority of my doubt was out of fear; islamophobia gets more real everyday and ive realized that instead of trying to exclude myself of the problem, i should contribute to finding a solution. a lot of why i felt what i felt wasn’t because of individual reasons but rather situational ones. like islamophobia. like a lot of women i knew taking off their hijabs and saying it felt so much better. like people suggesting i would feel better if i took mine off. in no way do i blame anyone who’s given me that sort of advice because perhaps they just wanted to see me become the best version of myself and live my life to the fullest and for that, i am grateful. but moreover, im grateful because ive learned to give the benefit of the doubt to myself and not rush to hasty decisions. ive learned that when a feeling may overcome me i must take my time before acting because id be living with the repercussions or consequences or simply a life other than what i want if i don’t.
everybody struggles with self-doubt at a point. and im not ashamed to say i hesitated with my hijab. its good to ask questions. its good to be reassured. its good to find the deeper meaning & to resonate with yourself. because now, i know im stronger. ive always stood up for my rights & if my hijab is ever threatened or asked to be compromised, i know i won’t hesitate to fight for it.