As a revert, I can appreciate and understand the feelings a new Muslim may experience when being faced with the hijab (Muslim dress code).
When a young woman reverts to Islam and makes the decision to say the shahadah (declaration of Faith) then there are a number of things that she must do as a Muslim woman.
One of these things is to work on her hijab.
God says in the Quran:
And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display they beauty or their ornaments except what ordinarily must appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands sons, their brothers, their brothers sons or their sisters sons, or their women or the servant whom their right hand possesses or male servants free of physical needs or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex, and they should not strike their feet to draw attention to their hidden ornaments.
And O you Believers turn you all together towards Allah so that you may attain Bliss. (Quran 24: 31)
This verse of the Quran had been made so simple to understand by God it lays out the rules of hijab and who can see you Islamically without wearing it.
This verse also highlights how the hijab should be worn, covering your bosoms. It also highlights that hijab is a way of life and not just about covering ones hair, it is about how women behave around others; they should not strike their feet to draw attention to their ornaments.
Personally, I feel that hijab is a very important part of Islam and of being a Muslim. However, as a revert, I can understand how difficult and overwhelming a scarf can be. If you are a new Muslim or are thinking of becoming a new Muslim then understand that the hijab is compulsory, but do not rush yourself into wearing it as I feel from my experience to wear the hijab you must understand why you have to wear it.
A Million Pounds!
When I became Muslim, a very close friend of mine who was with me when I took my shahadah explained the hijab in a no nonsense way. She said if you had a million pounds would you leave it out for everyone to see and to take some whenever they wanted to? I replied no.
She then asked why would you protect money more than you are willing to protect yourself? The hijab protects you from people taking little pieces of you as and when they please.
When she said this to me I understood why it was important to cover with hijab. As my faith grew, I became more confident on wearing hijab.
As a revert, I can appreciate that many new Muslim sisters don’t wear hijab at first because of their circumstances. This is what happened in my case; I converted in November 2010 and kept my conversion a secret from my family which made wearing hijab very difficult.
I understood that I needed to put God first, so I compromised to the best of my abilities. I used to leave the house without hijab and then run around the corner and put it on, the situation was not ideal, but it was what suited me at the time.
I would not advise anyone to lie about their conversion or hide it from their family, as this can make practicing Islam difficult. When putting hijab on you must be confident in yourself to know that you have made the right decision and that inshallah Allah will reward you for taking that big step.
To help relieve any anxieties you may have about hijab, I think that trying to put it on different ways can help you come to terms with the physical appearance of hijab and what feels best for you.
The best way to deal with negative comments is to ignore them and rise about and say “God, protect me from Satan the cursed one”, and this will calm your anger inshallah. Be humble and pious in these times.
Hijab at Work
Hijab at the workplace can be another obstacle that a sister must overcome. I worked in a fashion store at the time of my conversion and I didn’t wear the hijab at first. I was always very scared of what others would think and how they would react to my conversion, I have always gone through life people pleasing.
I started dropping hints to my colleagues asking them what they thought of hijab and Muslim women, and they said it looked ugly and they were forced to wear it by the husbands. This made me angry that they could make such a judgment without knowing a person.
This made me feel even more anxious about coming into work with my hijab. Since I worked in a fashion store there was a certain dress code to follow which often consisted of dresses and skirts.
I immediately changed how I dressed for work as soon as I took my shahadah opting for trousers and long sleeve tops. This didn’t go down well with managers and supervisors because they claimed I didn’t fit in or look the part.
I had been Muslim three months and I wore my scarf outside of work and then took it off for work out of fear of what they would say. I realize now that this was wrong, but it was how I coped with things at the time.
After being Muslim for three months, they offered me a permanent job at the store. Although I loved working there and helping people choose clothes, I wanted a fresh start as Diva the Muslimah with hijab.
I decided to refuse the offer and I left. I handed out my CV again to more fashion stores which previously landed me 7 job interviews. The same CV with hijab landed me none. Although it is against the law to discriminate, people will still have their prejudices about Muslims.
I advise you to persist and stand up for your rights as women to be treated equally. I eventually got a job in my local supermarket which helps me and my husband get by; it’s nice really, we both work part time together as we both study at college and university the rest of the time.
Another reason why I wore hijab is to be recognized as a Muslim, as I was proud of my religion. As soon as I wore my hijab, sisters who were Muslims but kept it secret also became public about their conversion and often come to me for help or questions about Islam.
Hijab also made it easier for me to give Dawah as people recognized the struggle I had been through to become Muslim and I was living proof Alhamdulillah that your family members aren’t necessarily going to disown you, they will learn to accept the new you.
I wore hijab fully when I told my family, which was three months after my shahadah. Gradually as I grew in faith, my dress sense changed every day from leggings to jeans to skirts to maxi dresses, and now, almost two years later, the abayah, Alhamdulillah.
My advice to any Muslim struggling with hijab is to take a day at a time and remember that it is between you and God Almighty, and He is the All-Wise and the All-Knowing.
He knows what is in your heart and your deepest darkest secrets, He knows your intentions, so inshallah make intention to wear the hijab and may Allah make it easy for you.
(From Discovering Islam’s archive.)