Pathway to Liberation

3

Another beautiful submission, from Aliza Qureshi, takes us through the psychological difference of the her before and after hijab experience.

new-sunrise

When I recall life before the hijab, it’s as if I remember another lifetime. Although it is a time marked as reality, it is also a moment of my life where I was immersed in a false existence. The freedom I claimed, the happiness and liberation I felt from beautifying my appearance, never really penetrated through my entire being. I may have appeared to be free, but my true essence remained imprisoned by the expectations of a society where people’s approval was a shackle preventing me from living true freedom, mind, body and soul.

Then a new dawn entered my life, changing me forever. My previous existence and all that went with it internally and externally disappeared into the darkness of the night. I became a butterfly, soaring freely into the sky, shedding away its restrictive caterpillar skin. I was now a ‘hijabi’, a term referring to Muslim women who wear the hijab. I felt so alive, filled with the radiance of shining night stars. I emanated a true beauty that came from the very core of my being.

My hijab had removed the chains of expectations, judgements and unwanted stares. Although I was now covered and people would always judge, I was no longer a follower of society’s dress code; and even if people commented, it was on a piece of religious attire, not my personal dress sense, nor my hairstyle or whether I had followed the trend acceptably. Being judged and even liked for what I put on my body was a superficiality I no longer wanted to engage in.

I choose to cover for I strongly believe that only my Creator has the right to set the rules which I follow. I wear the hijab for Him, the Master of the universe, not my husband or family, and certainly not for society. It is my love for Him, for His promises which are true, unbiased and constant in their nature. God has guided me to His path, I have submitted and for that, all possibilities of reward and true happiness can only be granted from Him. Pleasing anyone who contradicts Him is not an option for those who desire the truth.

How can I never want to wear fashionable clothes? Of course I want to, and I do, every single day, under my hijab. “What’s the point?” you may ask. Simply, because now I have control of who sees me in my beautiful attire. Although I may look beautiful from within, only those whom I choose can see me. So there’s no chance of unwanted comments being hurled at me on the shape of my figure or my choice of fashion. I can engage in my day to day activities without disruption.

Today, people are much more interested in the words that escape my lips, the opinions I follow in my heart, and most importantly, my behaviour and character. Even more, I am increasingly thoughtful of my interactions, as I am no longer just Aliza, but seen as a Muslim woman with all the connotations and stereotype attached to me. I push myself to be an outstanding individual, for everyday, when I catch a glimpse of myself outside, in a car window or a shop mirror, I know I have a responsibility to be the very best. And no, I don’t find that restraining; rather, it’s refreshing. Living in a fast paced society where people have less and less time and patience for manners or courteous behaviour, I feel the importance that is placed upon me by my faith: I feel responsible to hold onto the very fabric that will help uplift our society and make it that better place we all want to live in.

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Aliza Qureshi is a teacher, a mother of two boys and a freelance writer based in the UK. Currently she is working on a fiction novel and blogs at www.motheringpen.wordpress.com, where her submission first appeared.