A Symbol Of Modesty: Hijab
November 16, 2016
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Assalaamu alaykum, virtual readers, Thought I’d start this article with a beautiful greeting which Muslims say when meeting each other. It means “Peace be upon you.”
In the current time we live in, one would think this greeting would be a sign for something dangerous, but just look at its meaning. Does it sound dangerous? This phrase is exchanged between Muslims to wish peace upon them. Despite this, Islam is still unfortunately associated with animosity and fear. Sadly, that fear is also developed when a Muslim girl walks in, all covered up head to toe with a simple cloth laying on top of her head.
Fortunately, a majority of Muslim girls still wear this cloth despite the hatred we sometimes get. For instance me, I wear the hijab and to spice it up a jilbab.
I never got the purpose of wearing the hijab until now–since I’ve matured. It is quite simple though. Besides the reason of covering to protect ourselves from illegitimate gazes (gazes from the opposite sex), there is one fundamental reason. As Muslims, we believe in Allah (God) and, because of this belief, we cover to follow his rulings. It states in the Qur’an (our holy scripture) that we must preserve our beauty and cover.
Personally, for me, it serves as a reminder of what I believe in and why I am wearing it. It is more than just a cloth to me. Its sort of like a uniform of Islam, and when people see me, I am recognized for being a Muslim, first and foremost, before anything else. For me, this is a strong statement as people will see me for my character and my religion before my physical appearance. Hijab is basically our symbol of modesty.
Muslim men and women are required to be modest while mingling with unrelated members of the opposite gender. How they speak, the way they communicate, their laugh and the way they joke around, their etiquette in general, should all be conveyed to the other party in a way that attracts the least amount of the wrong form of attention. They are also required to “lower their gazes” and respect other men or women by not eyeing them from head to toe (i.e. checking them out). Hijab just helps not attract unwanted attention from the opposite sex.
The hijab also establishes a physical attribute, the distance of physical contact (not even a handshake with the opposite gender!). This applies to both genders: guys can’t touch girls and girls can’t touch guys. This modesty must also be manifested in the way they dress, which is why I dress the way I do.
I grew up watching my mother wrap beautiful scarves around her head every time we went out or when a man other than my brothers and dad came to our house. I always admired the way she wrapped it around, making sure every piece of hair was covered before walking out of the room. As a little girl, I was fascinated by the single piece of cloth that lay on every Muslim female I passed by and was so anxious to start wearing it. The time I chose to take this huge responsibility was a significant time in my life since it paved my spiritual and emotional development as a person.
I was in third grade, age eight, a little over four feet. There weren’t any Muslim students in my class who wore the hijab at the time; actually, now that I think about it, there was only one student in the whole school who wore it.
I don’t know what drove me to wear it; maybe it’s because my mother wore it, or the fact that I felt like I was representing a faith I was proud to be a part of.
It was the second day of third grade, and I still remember coming in a skin-colored slip-on hijab. It sat on top of my head, framing my face and covering my neck. Even though it was light, I knew that it was loaded down by a heavy burden that came when an immense responsibility, one I welcomed.
Questions and confused faces covered the classroom. As an eight year old, I was really nervous. I didn’t know the dangers and risks I would have to got through to protect this decision I had made.
To most students, it was a simple piece of cloth, and most didn’t understand why I wore it. I was recognized immediately when walking down the halls, and before I knew it, I gradually grew confident in myself and what I wore.
Then came the summer before middle school would start. My aunt had brought me my first jilbab; a full-length outer garment, that covered the body. I took it with anxiousness flowing through my veins.
When she left my mother came and sat me down saying, “Wear this when you are ready. Don’t take this as a burden nor take it as a joke. Once you wear it, you need to wear it with confidence and modestly.”
Guess what, she turned out to be right.
I lay in my bed that night, thinking of how modest I looked. Then I remembered my mom’s words. They ran through my head all night. At the time my mom didn’t wear the jilbab, just the hijab, which meant I would be the only person in my family to be wearing it.
The next day, I went out fully covered, head to toe, with a hijab on my head and jilbab covering my body.
Three years went by, and I got more comfortable since I went to a Muslim middle school. Everything was alright or so I thought. Time went by and then I ended up in high school and not just any high school, a public high school.
I admit, people have given me weird looks, and someone even asked if I was a nun. Climbing the stairs was kind of hard, too, with so many people there at the same time and picking up the jilbab like a ball gown. So during all this I still hold my head high and defend what I believe in, just as any other Muslim female would do.
Non-Muslims often wonder how it is possible, and why a female would ever voluntarily want to hide what every other woman takes pride in revealing – her beauty.
Take it like this: I’m a lollipop that hasn’t been opened. I mean, would you like a wrapper-less lollipop or a covered one? I hope a covered one. Muslim women preserve their beauty for their “one and only,” their future spouse.
Lastly, I need to make sure everyone knows of this; the way I dress doesn’t oppress me, I can assure you one thousand percent. It’s like saying a nun is oppressed because she chooses to cover her body. Media makes it seem like Muslim women have no rights and are oppressed with a burden, but it’s quite the opposite. I believe that society would be denying freedom by telling me to take it off. The truth is, I love wearing what I wear, and the sooner society realizes what hijab means to me or any other Muslim female, the faster we will get the respect we so desire.