Life is Like a Rollercoaster



Image Credit: Darth Holden


Honestly speaking, I have been covering my head for quite some time now; but to tell you the truth, all my life, I really thought of it as a piece of cloth on my head, worn partially because of custom and tradition, and partially due to the fact that I am a Muslim.

So you see, I was ambivalent about hijab with all those thoughts, and I never conducted any proper research on what ‘hijab’ really meant or why it was mandatory…

My journey to hijab began when I went for Hajj by road with my family via Dubai, nearly a decade ago. I was a minor back then, and I didn’t really understand hajj, but I was spiritually charged, the journey made me so excited, and I discovered this new feeling – love of Allah in my heart. I discovered that I was a Muslim.

Thus, when we came back from Hajj, I decided to cover my head. My parents appreciated and supported this decision, and that meant the world to me – you need moral support a lot of times to keep you motivated… My dad even told me that I would be respected a lot, because of my decision.

That was the beginning of my journey. Still, even though I made the decision long ago, my life and journey to hijab have been like a rollercoaster.

Covering in the Middle East, where I was living at the time, was not an issue at all. But things changed when we visited Pakistan every summer because I was the first one in my family to wear hijab, alhamdulillah.

Almost everyone in my family was averse to hijab. Well some did appreciate the hijab – my khalas were supportive – but some of our extended family and cousins made some weird comments. I made sure that I kept my hijab on though, even during weddings and the like.

I remember being at summer weddings, in Pakistan, in extreme heat with my hijab on. Some girls said to me, “Hey Maryam, it’s extremely hot – we’re sweating like crazy, how can you bear this head scarf?”, and I just said, “Well, the heat in Hell is going to be a lot more unbearable.”

Once, a cousin from Karachi even told my mom to make me remove hijab because, according to her, I was really pretty and that I shouldn’t hide my beauty!! Trust me, these were my Muslim family members. In my first few “hijab years,” I never wore my scarf in front of my male cousins – I made my own rules back then, now that I think of it, I label myself “plain silly.”

Later, when I was in my mid-teens I did everything with my hijab on: I wore three quarter sleeves, tight fitted shirts, sometimes my clothes were even translucent, I wore make-up, etc. – you get the picture? Also, sometimes when we went on trips abroad, I never wore hijab – oh I’m so ashamed of admitting this, but it’s true, and I want to say it to help sisters who may be in similar circumstances.

I hadn’t really grasped the true meaning of ‘hijab,’ then. Hijab was just a piece of cloth on my head, a religious obligation I was fulfilling half-heartedly – I was a coward. I hadn’t really submitted my will to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. I was intimidated and I feared people more that I feared Allah. I was acting contradictory to my own religion. Islam demands that a person frees himself from mental slavery of what people label him as, and urges one to live and die only for Allah’s sake.

It is true that to whomever Allah gives hidaya, guidance, no once can deprive him of that. And so my hidaya came late, but it came alhamdulilah – better late then never, I guess.

I was 18 then. At a friend’s wedding, I saw girls, all hijabis dressed so beautifully and attractively, in a mixed gathering. They had chiffon sleeves without any underlining; they wore make up and jewelry and fitted clothes. I kept looking at these girls, and I thought that the hijab on their heads was just a piece of cloth, a mere formality, and that the biggest oxymoron of modesty was what I had witnessed that day.

The truth is, I was dressed just like them. I was a contradiction to hijab myself. I was devastated.

This anxiety’s only solution was to “practice” Islam, in the true sense. From that day on, I decided to become a better Muslim and, subsequently, a better hijabi. I realized that my intentions had to be streamlined, that I have to be accountable for all my actions because I was not a minor anymore and thus I had to adopt tazkiya – I had to purify my heart and then my hijab would be the mirror image of my intention, inshAllah.

Hence began my real journey to Islam. True, I had to face many tests and undergo a lot of hardships, but Allah tests whom He loves, and I could give up the world fisabeelillah. Allah has guided me, and He is the only One who guides; without His guidance, I would have been like a dead body. I don’t want to live for the world because it is transient. I want to live and die for Him.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says:

“The believers are only those who truly believe in Allah and His Messenger, and then they doubt not; and who struggle hard with their wealth and their lives in the way of Allah; it is they who are the truthful ones.” [al-Hujurat, 49:15]

May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala always guide us on the straight path. Ameen.

I’m 21 now, and I am proud to be a hijabi. This cloth on my head is not just a customary practice that I am obliged to adhere to; on the contrary, it reflects my submission to Allah.

Hijab, as it should be practiced, encompasses your intentions, your gaze, your lifestyle, your speech, the way you dress, the way you communicate with people, the way you perceive things, the way you live and die.

Modesty is such an integral part of our religion. Anas radiya Allahu anhu narrated:

Allah’s Messenger salla Allahu alayhi wasallam said, “Every Deen has a distinctive quality, and the distinctive quality of Islam is Modesty.” [Ibn Majah]

I pray that I don’t die in a state of jahiliyya. Ameen. I want to understand my hijab, and I am in this process of self-jihad, and this will pay off in the Hereafter inshaAllah.

A hijabi for life, inshaAllah.