Why I Decided To Wear The Hijab.
I used to be quite a religious child, at least in terms of prayers and didn’t really question things much. Later, for subsequent years, my education encouraged me to ask questions, to defy the status quo, to be the change and to also accept that many different people, with their different views, can also be right.
I took it upon myself to be the best version of this as possible. To date, I still think of myself as being pretty open-minded. I don’t get too fazed even when hearing truths about people that they think is going to produce a catastrophic reaction. I have never wanted to make people uncomfortable and think that they’re being judged harshly for who they are and what they believe.
However, this open-mindedness, coupled with an ironic serious criticism of conservative thoughts and behaviors (isn’t it strange how “liberals” can also be super “conservative” in their thoughts and behaviors?) led me to be quite confused about my own religious identity.
For a long time, I under to make excuses for it, saying that I just had to be a good person — plenty of people who did “terrible” things tried to pass as being religious and I wasn’t buying this hypocrisy. It was fine for a while because I shut it out of my system and would just never talk about my own religious beliefs.
I then went through phases where I would feel like something was missing from my life and would feel the urge to get back on track, but I wasn’t sure how. I kept making excuses and waiting for some kind of emotional epiphany that would help me set a new course for myself.
I came to realize that you don’t always get this epiphany. You have to make it happen through your actions.
Looking at my faith this way really changed things for me. It clicked. I see my life in general that way — that I need to make my own efforts through hard work before I can expect any support-and I wondered at why it had taken me so long to reach this point.
So, after a crisis of faith last December when I was forced to really examine myself from a third person perspective and be critical. Not so much of my actions, but my attitudes and beliefs. Perhaps I wasn’t as open minded as I believed myself to be. I used to get turned off even by the tone of people preaching (I probably still will sometimes, but at least I’m open to the conversation).
When it finally struck me that beliefs influence actions and you also express your beliefs through your actions, I decided to start praying again despite not having the soul-wrenching epiphany I thought I was meant to have. I just needed some clarity and made the decision to do this for myself. Of course, I’ve had amazing support from my family and close friends who’ve never judged me, but always supported me in what I was trying to do for myself, just as I hope to have done for them.
Prayer is a central tenet of the faith, but hijab is not necessarily. There’s tons of debate about what the Quran and Hadith say about it and I don’t really want to go into that here. I’m not very educated about all the angles of it, if I’m being very honest. Either way, I made this decision for myself just recently.
Reasons why I started to wear the hijab:
- It is a spiritual practice. It reminds me of the commitment I’ve made about the kind of person I want to be and it’s also a recognition that physical appearance to other people in this world matters less than the metaphysical one to God, in the long run.
- I felt it was the right time. As I am undergoing a relative high point in my spiritual journey, I wanted something to remind me of this. Furthermore, another angle to the timing was that no-one around me was forcing it onto me or even talking about it for that matter. I have always been rebellious in my own way and quite stubborn. I would get extremely aggressive if someone was forcing me into something or telling me what I should and not be doing, even if I knew that they might be right. If it had come from anyone else, it would have been immediately rejected.
- It’s an expression of my identity. Of my WHY in a personal sense. It reinforces my beliefs and values, both internally and externally. Just as I decided to get a nose piercing, cut my hair super short or color it a vibrant red (or wear tons of eyeliner during my emo rock-star phase), this is yet another expression of who I am, what I love and what I stand for.
I know that I’m not going to be perfect, really no-one is. But I intend to keep trying. I am going to try and stop being all-or-nothing in my attitude and be as kind to myself in my own judgment as I would like to be to others. And in turn, try to be more kind to people undergoing their own struggles. One mistake or even a series of them does not means that someone is lost forever. Everyone is on their own spiritual journey through this life and whatever it is you believe, good on you, but I will continue to take steps on my own path which may or may not ever cross with yours. And that’s okay.
To illustrate this, let me tell you a short story. The first day I wore hijab, I went to a store to get some scarves.
I explained to the store owner that I was looking for plain colors since I just started to wear the hijab. She asked me, what I was wearing before, I said “well, nothing really” (LOL it’s not like I used to walk around naked)
“But that’s haraam!…So, when will you start wearing the abaya?”
All I could say to her was, well, you know everyone is on their own path.
Of course that doesn’t make sense to someone who is not really bothered to have a conversation, just lecture you.
True enough, she just moved onto something else after bringing up quite horrible feelings in me, in just a few seconds. Surprise, hurt, guilt, anger.
I think this is a clear example of how people are going to keep judging and telling you what they think you should do, honestly, no matter what you do. There is no “real” right thing anymore because someone somewhere will always say you’re doing too much, too little or not the right thing at all.
You just keep doing whatever you think is best for you at the time. You’re allowed to change. You’re allowed to make mistakes. You’re allowed to fall..and get back up again. We’re only human after all.