Moments of Time

14

This guest post by sister G.A. takes us on a personal narrative of hijab, filled with lessons and insights. Soak in the wisdom and understanding of a journey that begins with a few tender moments of conviction.

dew drops

The Moment Of

I’ve decided, I’m going to do it.

Not that it’s a decision I really need to weigh the pros and cons of, because really there are only pros. And I know that – I always knew it – just something within held me back, and I regret that I haven’t made this decision earlier. But, the important part is, I’ve decided and I’m going to do it.

It’s been so long overdue, it really has. But I can finally breathe now, almost like a very, very large weight has been lifted from my chest. Alhamdullilah! I can’t help but smile, and it’s one of those full large smiles that literally takes up my whole face. You know when they say someone is smiling “from ear to ear”? Well, I finally get what they mean because that’s what I’m doing. Alhamdullilah, I’m officially a “hijabi.”

It’s like this elite club I’ve always heard about and always wanted to join but something within kept holding me back. Excuses, excuses. I can name them but we’ve heard them all, so why bother? And I admit, my excuses were no better than anyone else’s, no more “unique” than anyone else’s, no more imperative or extraordinary than anyone else’s. They were just excuses. But Alhamdullilah (I can’t stop saying it), I’ve finally kicked all the excuses out of my head, because really there is no such thing as excuses when it comes to something in which you have nothing to lose, yet everything to gain.

I’m excited and nervous, because tomorrow will be the first day I wear the hijab out in public. It isn’t the kind of nervousness that makes you sick and doubtful, but rather the kind of nervousness you get before going on a great ride at an amusement park you’ve waited hours in line for, and now you finally get to ride. And what an amazing ride it will be.

What’s even better is I know I will have such an outstanding support network, family, friends, and so on. People who are going to be understanding and guide me on the right path insha’Allah.

The Moment After

The day finally came, and I went to school. I ran into several of my friends who were shocked to see the change, but the shock was immediately followed by a big smile, a huge hug, and a “masha’Allah!” What amazing reactions, and what amazing friends.

But what shocked me even more was that I had random sisters I’d only met once or twice before come up to me and congratulate me and tell me I looked wonderful. This, I had not expected. To see the genuine smiles on their faces as they congratulated me was a feeling I can’t even begin to describe. The rest of the day passed blissfully.

As I was studying in the library, I saw two sisters I’d never personally met before, but had seen around campus. We exchanged glances and smiles. As the two sisters came to leave I noticed that one of them had forgotten her pencil case, so I snatched it up and went to the stairwell quickly to return it to her.

As I entered the stairwell, they were already a flight and a half of stairs below me, but before I could call out to them I heard, “Did you see what that hijabi was wearing? Really? Could her shirt be any shorter or her pants any tighter? Haram, see what hijabi sisters have come to these days.”

I stopped dead in my tracks… I was the only other sister in that area of the library. I instinctively looked down at myself. My shirt was long-sleeved, and I assumed it was of an acceptable length, and my pants, well… they could stand to be looser, but they were all I had. Were my clothes really that horrible? Were my pants really that tight? What about my hijab? Was I even wearing it properly? What if I was wearing it wrong too? Should I even be wearing pants? Maybe I should only wear skirts? Or maybe I should only wear abayas?

All these thoughts circled my mind while I remained there in the stairwell. My fellow sisters’ words circling in my head, “See what hijabi sisters have come to these days.” Was my attire giving all sisters a bad name? I realized then that I was a model of a Muslim woman, and that I didn’t only represent myself, but in a sense, I represented all Muslim women.

At this thought, I burst into tears. Doubt immediately began to creep into my head and into my heart. I ran to the nearest bathroom where I attempted to dry my tears. So many thoughts came into my head. Maybe I’m not ready for the hijab, I clearly don’t know what I’m doing. Maybe I rushed into this… and at the thought of this, more tears ran down my cheeks.

I swear I thought I was ready. In fact, just a couple hours ago I knew I was. Now it seemed like I didn’t know much of anything at all. Suddenly, an entirely new thought popped into my head. What if all the sisters who had congratulated me earlier thought the same thing? What if they began to shake their heads in disapproval as soon as I had turned my back?

At that moment, a sister entered the bathroom. A proper sister in a nice, long abaya, well done scarf, no makeup, jewelry or adornments. Great, I wonder what she’s thinking of me.

She gave me a long look and said, “Excuse me, I really don’t mean to pry, but… are you ok?” I insisted that I was fine, but she didn’t seem convinced.

Before I knew it, I started crying again and unleashing all my burdens onto this total stranger. I told her the story followed by, “I’m a new hijabi, I never realized my clothes were that bad. I just haven’t had a chance to shop for more appropriate clothes. I’m just trying to figure it all out. I’m just not ready. I’m not ready.” After listening to what I had to say, the sister, whom I had never before met, simply nodded her head and told me to follow her.

She took me and sat with me and comforted me. She quoted a hadith to me and said that the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wasallam had said,

“A man speaks a good word without knowing its worth, Allah records for him His Good Pleasure until the day he will meet Him; and a man utters an evil word without realizing its importance, Allah records for him His displeasure until the day he will meet Him.” [Malik and Tirmidhi].

She told me that I mustn’t always take to heart what other people have to say and that as long as I’m doing something for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and bettering myself for Him, then I’m doing it for the right reasons.  She also told me to never doubt myself if I know I’m doing something for Allah’s sake, because only He will judge me in the end.

She talked to me which such sincerity and such kindness that I literally soaked in every word she had to say. She gave me tips, she was honest, but most importantly she was understanding. Needless to say, I remained a hijabi that day, but even more so I gained something precious as well: a friend. Her words from that very first day never left me, and as the days passed I gained countless more words of wisdom and knowledge that I’ll never be able to put a price on and can only repay her for with dua’.

Rasul Allah salla Allahu alayhi wasallam said:

“Never does gentleness exist in anything except that it beautifies it, and never does harshness exist in anything except that it disfigures it.” [Sahih al-Jami’]

He also said, salla Allahu alayhi wasallam,

“He who believes in Allah and the Last Day must either speak good or remain silent.” [Muslim].

Since that day, I’ve learned to never judge a book by its covers and to never judge a person by their garments. I’ve learned that anyone can use a helping hand. I’ve learned that saying something to someone rather than about them makes a tremendous difference. Most importantly I’ve learned that a few words of kindness can literally mean the world to someone.

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Sister G.A. is a student at the University of Windsor (Ontario, Canada), studying psychology and biology, two fields she loves. She has been wearing the hijab for about a year, alhamdulillah, and in her own words, “I love it of course.”