Muhajabah: To Be or Not To Be, That is the Question


Umm Saleh is a reader of our website, and in this delightful piece, she shares some valuable thoughts on hijab.


At some point in our lives, we have all faced the decision of whether or not to make the life-long commitment to wearing the Islamic headscarf. For some of us, the choice is simple and seemingly natural, just another step in a lifelong progression of “growing up.” Hijab is what was always expected of us and requires little thought or hesitation on our parts. For others, it’s a struggle that is life altering and requires facing a dilemma that can unsettle our very identities.

As for which category I fell in, choosing to wear the hijab was a milestone in my life, a rite of passage to a new world in which I would no longer be defined by the length, texture or beauty of my hair. I quickly learned that the hijab forces others to respect me for my mind. I was blessed to be able to make the decision with a free will and alhumdulillah, I found peace in my conclusion.

For others in my life, the transition was a little less smooth. I remember consoling a friend in high school as she cried that none of the boys at school would pay her a second glance. She sadly told me that she felt “frumpy” now that her “best asset” was being covered.

“Darling,” I would laughingly say, “Of course the boys aren’t chasing after you. After all, you are wearing what amounts to be a big flashing, neon stop sign on your head that is meant to stop those dalliances in their tracks…”

After all, this hijab, this simple piece of cloth, is there to remind others not of our sense of fashion or our political viewpoints… but of Whom we are wearing it for. Allah commands that we wear it, and this alone should suffice us.

If the hijab is capable of doing all of these things and more, when was the last time you asked yourself: My hijab, what have I done for it lately?

*Hint: for most of us the answer is absolutely nothing!*

Of course, I am posing this question to myself; but seriously, for a cloth that has given me so much, what have I done for it?

When others laughingly dismiss it as an archaic, outdated symbol of female oppression, is my voice among those that defend it? When others commercialize or try to take away from its true purpose, do I attach myself to the beauty in its simplicity? I ask myself these questions because their answers show what I am lacking and what we can all do to do earn our hijabs.

So, dearest Shakespeare, the question is not “To be or not to be?” Rather, the question should be “Muhajabah: To be worthy of my hijab or not to be?”

Do I treat my hijab with the honour it deserves, or do I treat it like a simple accessory at my disposal? Do I strive to be a better person and best represent what a muhajabah should be?

I’ve got some soul searching to do, but one day I pray that we can all be worthy of our hijabs. Ameen.