Tuesday 22 April 2008

Positive Hijab

I looked at my profile and saw hijab-loving as part of my self-description. It made me wonder why I put this first. Perhaps because it has become so central to who I am and because of all of the benefits I have received from it.

Mainly this has been the amount of time I save in the morning from not having to fix my hair. I have suffered bad hair days from age 11 to about 19 when I started wearing hijab, so the world and me have been saved from any more of these. Unfortunately my family still have to witness these (especially first thing in the morning).

Most important has been the peace that comes with knowing you are obeying Allah (SWT) and in a small way living the way that you are supposed to. When you go against Allah (SWT) commandment, you go against (nature or innate disposition towards virtue) and the unease penetrates every part of your life.

I love the fact that I am a visible part of this Ummah and the local Muslim community, whether that means

As a Muhajibah I am also a da’ee. When my every action is interpreted not as Umm Salihah’s action, but that of a Muslimah, you have the opportunity to represent your community and faith in the best light possible. When you hold a door, smile, give up your seat, it is a Muslim woman doing those things. I have heard a French convert say that the thing that attracted her to Islam was the absolute gentleness she saw in Muslim women. There are times when you don’t feel like being on your best behaviour – when you want to lose your temper at the shop assistant, the bus driver or a colleague, or you are very close to using bad language or one-upmanship. Whenever I feel like this, I remind myself I am wearing my hijab and if I behave badly, the next Muslimah to come along will automatically be seen in the same light – rude, grumpy or mean. If on the other hand I rise above it and be gracious or respond with kindness, people will assume that Muslim women really are as elegant as their dress. I do think that sometimes people also start to want to be like you.

It’s also FUN! I used to love dressing well and receiving compliments and when I started to dress more modestly I felt very frumpy. It took me till the birth of my third child and a little help from We Love Hijab to get my groove back and once again I am in the office best-dress list. If nothing else, the abaya and shayla cut a very dramatic and elegant figure. I recall one Englishman’s letter to a newspaper saying that in comparison to all of the bare bellies and pants poking out of the top of jeans seen now, he found the dress of Muslim women very elegant and graceful.

It helps me to be taken seriously. I am not very big or loud and I have worked in offices where some of the men don’t take pretty women too seriously. Because of my hijab people assume I am a serious person (I so am not) and that I mean business. Some people even find it a little intimidating if I choose not to smile or talk too much (for a change)

After 9/11, working in the city was kind of scary. People would be terrified of you and you would be terrified of people. Seeing a sister in hijab was like finding an ally. A smile to each other was enough to reassure you that you were not alone in this situation or this city.

There have been times when wearing abaya has felt difficult (like tripping up stairs or when a pretty colleague turns up dressed to kill) but I have never regretted the decision to start covering my hair.


  1. As Salaamu Alaikum Sister:

    You said:

    "As a Muhajibah I am also a da’ee. When my every action is interpreted not as Umm Salihah’s action, but that of a Muslimah, you have the opportunity to represent your community and faith in the best light possible ..."

    Sister, this is so true! A muhajibah is definitely an ambassador for Islam.

  2. Assalam-alaikam Sis Safiyyah,
    I hope you are well insh'Allah.

    I like the term ambssador for Islam, I suppose thats what each of us is isn't it?

  3. aslamu alakum sister
    i oft use the term diplomat but ambasdor is cool too alhamduilah. you go girl! you must check out Ameena's blog http://ammena03.blogspot.com/ she is a working muslimah muhajibah keeping it cool mashaAllah, anyhow i have a poem its a lil long i hope i don't offend you by posting it here, no i never wrrote it but it captures this post!!!
    Strong women...
    A strong woman works out everyday to keep her body in shape,
    But a woman with strong Iman prostrates in prayer to keep her soul in shape…

    A strong woman isn't afraid of anything,
    But a woman with strong Iman shows courage in the midst of fear…

    A strong woman won't let anyone get the best of her,
    But a woman with strong Iman gives the best of herself to everyone…

    A strong woman makes mistakes and avoids making the same in the future,
    But a woman with strong Iman realizes life’s ‘mistakes’ can also be Allah’s blessings and capitalizes on them…

    A strong woman walks sure footed…
    But a woman with strong Iman has Sabr (patience) when she falls…

    A strong woman wears the look of confidence on her face,
    But a woman with strong Iman wears grace…

    A strong woman strives to look beautiful and perfect,
    But a woman with strong Iman knows that she can possess nothing more attractive than the adornment of faith and the beauty of Taqwa…

    A strong woman has faith knowing she is strong enough for the journey,
    But a woman with strong Iman has faith that it is in the journey that she will become strong…

    May Allah guide us and help us to be the women and men of strong Iman,

  4. Asalaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu,

    Umm Salihah,

    Your post succintly sums up my feelings on being a muhajabah (and on sparing the world from my bad hair days ;). I like being memorable to people because of my hijab. I like that I get a chance to define my religion by my actions. I know that I have changed people's idea of what a Muslimah was like. I love the sisterhood being a hijabi fosters.

    ma'a salaamah,


  5. Masallah, It was really nice reading your post. It was a breath of fresh air for me, Honest !!!
    I am so happy to read the views of a Muslimah who is happy obeying Allah, which is quite rare now-a-days.You certainly are making Allah happy dear,May Allah bless you, Ameen.
    P.S: Love your blog sweety ... :-)


  6. Assalam-alikam

    Sister Rainbow,
    Thanks for the inspiring poem and blog tip.

    Sister HA,
    I bet you have changed people's ideas, they don't expect a hijabi to be fun do they?

    Sister Maryam,
    What a kind thing to say, hope your words come true insh'allah.

  7. Asalaam alaikum Umm Yehiya,

    Like you, never has a day gone by that I regretted wearing my hijab and Abayas. MaashaAllah, I am glad that you feel this way about being modest, holding onto your modesty, and living it.

    Also, yes, it feels good when you see that as a Muslim, you have helped to change someone's view of Muslims or given someone an idea of who we are. I have had countless experiences of this - encounters with the cashier at a store, with co-workers, etc. Just being yourself is all we need to do. Just because we're in hijab doesn't mean we're different than anyone else. Yes, different in our beliefs, but not in being human, in having likes, dislikes, liking to laugh, being sad.

    I enjoyed this post sis! :)

  8. Umm Salihah,

    They don't expect us to be fun at all. My SILs who are born Muslim but non-hijabis told me they expected me to be boring and "strict" because I cover. (shakes my head)

    ma'a salaamah,


  9. As'salamu alaykum ;)

    Great post! Ive been wearing hijabi alhamdulillah for about 1 1/2 years now. The begining was tough, because I did feel frumped out to the max. As much as I knew what wearing hijab was about, it was a change in perception. I took me a few weeks to adjust, and now, its an integral part of who I am. Im still learning the fashionable end of the hijabicraft. Im just not a fashion plate.

    I like knowing that I have put Allahs wisdom to practice. It makes me feel like I can handle anything. I do feel proud to know that I, in part represent muslims. I hope inshaallah that I always remember this in all my
    dealings and actions.

    Ultimately, I am glad i waited until I was ready, to actually wear it. A lot of women were trying to push me into wearing it full time, and I did not have the instinct to do so. My husband never asked me about it, but when i expressed my desire to begin wearing it, he was there for me, 100 percent, supporting me and helping me feel worthy of wearing it.

    I felt that wearing hijab was something I had to earn.

    Another thought provoking essay from you sis. You must have some really interesintg dinner table conversations at home!!!

    Youre family is quite blessed ;)

    Ma salama,

    iMuslimah & iBaby to be.

  10. Anonymous15 July, 2008


  11. Assalaamu alaykum to all sisters

    Alhamdullilah I have been wearing hijab for 3 weeks now. Have always worn scarf, but not completely closed. Was the scariest but Alhamdulllah BEST decision I ever made

  12. I found this on Internet: A hijab with bunny ears on it (!)
    Would it be haram or not ?