CAIRO – A one-day experience of wearing hijab has led a 21-year-old Briton to read more about Islam and eventually embracing the religion.
“I took part in the first World Hijab Day and challenged myself to wear the hijab for a month,” Jessica Rhodes told Muslim Mirror.
“I then began reading the Qur’an and the words in the Qur’an seemed logical and clear, rather than in the Bible where they tend to waffle.”
Rhodes, from Norwich, was among scores of non-Muslims around the world who donned hijab as part of the annual World Hijab Day.
The event was meant to clear misconceptions that the headscarf, an obligatory code of dress, is a symbol of suppression of women in Islam.
After wearing the outfit, Rhodes says that she could not remember what it felt like to go without wearing hijab.
After the experience, Rhodes began to read more about Islam to know more about the religion.
“I also did some research into Islam as a whole and felt that it was an inclusive religion that could give me the answers I was looking for,” she said.
Deciding to revert to Islam, Rhodes was met with mixed reactions to her conversion.
“It was a bag of mix,” she recalled.
“Parents were not happy but they accept my decision. My in-laws have been extremely supportive,” Rhodes said.
“My friends are unfortunately a mixed bag – some are happy with my decision, others want to argue with me about it, and still others walked out of my life altogether.”
The young Briton complains that many Muslims fail to reach out to new converts to help them know better about Islam.
“I have had some support, but not many people seem to want to reach out to me,” Rhodes lamented.
“It is always me asking for help.”
She says that many Muslims are “narrow-minded” about different interpretation of the Qur’an.
“When I go and ask questions, people quote the Qur’an at me and do not seem open to a convert’s interpretation of the Qur’an,” Rhodes said.
“They can improve this by being more open-minded to other interpretations, because it is not just Westerners who can be narrow-minded, misguided etc.”
The young Briton also complains that the reaction of some Muslims sometimes leads her to consider going back on her conversion.
“Sometimes I am unsure – the reaction from most of the Muslims that I have spoken to has led me to feel like I should leave Islam and go back to paganism as in that religion I was given a choice about how I practice my religion, and nobody cared if I did things my way or another way,” she said.
“As for the Muslim ummah… that is in the hands of Allah. If people worldwide, of all walks of life, are more open-minded perhaps we can move forward,” Rhodes said.
“But if not, we will simply continue to be in a mire of misconceptions, anger and pointless wars.”
Britain is home to a Muslim community of nearly 2.5 million.