“Why did you start wearing hijab?” It’s a question I get often when meeting a Non-Muslim . I always tell people that I believe that every Mohajaba wears her hijab for various reasons. Some wear it to abide by the values of their family. For others they wear it as a coming of age symbol. For some it has become a fashionable trend and finally for a most, like myself it was simply just time.
I remember, going into my mother’s room, opening her drawers of colourful hijabs and carefully placing them over my head. Of course I had no idea what to do with it after that but I just wanted to see what it might look like. I’d often put it on the same way I saw my mother do it and walk around the house. That was as far as I would go with it on, but it felt good.
After doing this a number of times, I started to think about the possibility of putting it on forever. Why not? Why was I just wearing it around the house? What was I afraid of? Perhaps I was worried about the judgements of others in our small community. Growing up with only a handful of Muslims in my life, the thought of being even more different then I already felt, was a very scary thought.
A few years passed with this same hesitation on my mind. I remember whenever I saw a mohajaba I thought about how beautiful she looked and how her face was glowing. I thought about how much I respected her for putting her faith out there for the whole world to see while feeling guilty I could not do that as well.
It took a few life altering experiences that brought me closer to God to make me realize that I was ready. There is no simple explanation for what ready meant. I define that “ready moment” as my being comfortable with who I was in my faith, understanding my faith enough to defend it as I had seen my mother defend hers numerous times. Without hijab I often slipped under the “radar” for being a Muslim. I didn’t even look like an Arab. I knew that wearing hijab would change all of that.
The thing that made it even more clear to me that I was ready, was when I decided to choose to be a Muslim. I choose it. What does choosing it mean? It means deciding full-heartedly that Islam is the right path for me and that I am willing to put myself at risk of prejudice, discrimination and judgement for my faith and the Ummah.
That was it, it was just the right time for me. I can’t explain it any further and I am sure for many that doesn’t make sense but for me, that’s my story. What’s yours?
(My sister and I as kids)