The Power of Leading by Example


When Zainub Abdurahman noticed a common discussion among mothers hoping their daughters would wear hijab, she decided to share her thoughts on motherhood, the home, and leading by example.

Lately, I’ve noticed a recurring theme in the discussions I hear our Mothers have with one another. The subject has risen from a very sacred and valuable command from our Creator: the command of Hijab.

As Allah says in the Qur’an,

“O Prophet, tell your wives and daughters and the believing women to draw their outer garments around them (when they go out or are among men). That is better in order that they may be known (to be Muslims) and not annoyed…” (Qur’an 33:54)

He also says,

“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily 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, or their brothers’ sons or their sisters’ sons, or their women or the servants whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex, and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O you Believers, turn you all together towards Allah, that you may attain Bliss.” (Quran 24:31)

Now the complaint I hear goes something like this, “My daughter won’t wear Hijab no matter how much I ask her to!” Our Mothers go on to say things like, “She’s defiant,” or “She says she will when she’s older,” or (my favorite) “She says she will when she’s married.” Our wonderful Mothers say wearily that they have tried their best to convince their daughters to wear the Hijab. In these moments that try our Mother’s patience, I often wonder – with all sincere respect – if something in their arsenal of encouragement falls a bit short.

Things that take the blame because of the daughter’s negligence of Hijab are things like her culture, friends, age and hormones. At this point, my humble, sincere and respectful advice would then be to ponder, “Have I truly done all that I can do?” Or better yet, “Have I led by example?”

“Why does she say that?” you may be wondering. I’m going to switch gears a little bit and address our beloved Mothers (and future Mothers, which includes me too, inshaAllah).

Where is the first place your child learns things? Forget the kindergarten you sent them to or that preschool so exclusive your child passed a Grade 3 level exam when she was four just to get in. I’m talking about the place you brought them to after you had your bundle of joy.


You taught them that the stove was dangerous, so stay away from it. You taught them how to hold their sippy cup full of milk. You taught them the alphabet using magnetized letters attached to the fridge. And you taught them to pray to Allah in gratitude for all that He gave them. With all this learning going on, you may have forgotten that anything you do, your children will do because you were their very first teacher.

Because you’ve been leading by example for so long, mashaAllah, your actions are now a guidebook for how your children think they should behave. More importantly, your application of the Deen is of tremendous importance here, as it is most likely how your children will interpret and act upon the Deen, too.

So if you’re attending gatherings where men and women mingle; or you go to a concert of your favorite singer from back home; or you’re very lax with the kind of information outlets confronted by your child; or, lastly, if you observe the Hijab in a manner that is contrary to the commandment of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala – you’re ultimately passing all of this on to your little students.

See what I mean? It is difficult to expect that your daughter will don a Hijab when her very first teacher and role model isn’t observing it correctly.

Because, you see, Hijab is,

… a modest, loose fitting dress from head to toe,

… your behavior,

… your manners,

… your speech,

… your appearance in public,

… your interaction with men in social settings.

My heartfelt advice to our wonderful, outstanding and beloved Mothers is to understand what Hijab really is, and then to reevaluate the way you are observing it. InshaAllah once you make the required adjustments and pass on the knowledge you have gained, as well as the utilization of some tactful encouragement, you will find that that wonderful state of being – Hijab – will manifest itself in and on your daughter by her sheer desire to please the Creator.

Hijab is an outer manifestation of a commitment you made inside to worship Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala by obeying His orders. Let’s do it right, inshaAllah. May Allah guide us to submitting to Him the way He wishes to be submitted to.

If I have said anything that has hurt you in anyway, I want to sincerely apologize, for it was not my intention. You are our beloved teachers and respected elders, and I only want the very best for you all, as you have only wanted the best for us youngins. If I have said anything incorrect, it is from me, and if I have said anything correct or good, it is from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala alone.

And Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala knows best.


Zainub Abdurahman is a nineteen year old inhabiting the tremendously cold country of Canada. Currently, she is majoring in English with aspirations to further that education by doing her BEd, which will inshaAllah lead her to becoming an Islamic English High School teacher. In her spare time, she blogs under the name ZainubtheWayfarer about a number of issues, both complex and trivial.