The mistakes we make are sometimes the most valuable lessons we learn, as one anonymous sister shares with us. May Allah protect us and enable us to follow His guidance.
I always heard growing up that Allah protects the women through the (correct) hijab. Allah keeps the women with honor, integrity, and dignity through the hijab. I’m not sure if I really thought about it seriously when I would hear people saying this truth.
I had to experience an awful event for me to truly understand this truth. An experience that would change me for the rest of my life.
It all started on a typical morning, years ago, when I was much younger. I had to go to the art Museum to check out a particular Picasso painting.
While I wore the hijab, I couldn’t step out of my house without beautifying my face with make-up. It was like an addiction. I had to use bronzer, blush, eyeliner, smoky eye shadow, lip gloss and more. But Alhamdulillah, I had enough taqwa to not pluck my eyebrows. I always feared doing that.
While I did wear the hijab with a beautified face and nice outfit, I didn’t wear jilbab and I wasn’t planning to any time soon. In fact, for me it seemed unimaginable. Now that I reflect on those times, I realize that I didn’t wear the hijab correctly.
That day, I put on my make-up and I thought I looked really pretty. “Great, I look great,” I thought as I looked at the mirror. I was about to step out of my house to go to the Museum.
I went into the subway and sat on the train. There was an old man who stood in front of me. It looked as if the old man wanted to sit or something and there were no empty seats left. So I asked him and offered my seat, “Do you want to sit?”
This old man looked and then all of a sudden started to loudly say, “No, I don’t want to sit! I don’t want to sit! Do I look that old to you?! Do I look that old!? Am I that old!? I don’t want to sit!”
As the man stood in front of me, shouting of course, others in the train began to look with raised eyebrows at the commotion.
“No, you don’t look old, you’re not old… you’re not old…” I said to the old man, looking around at the professionals in the train who may have been on their lunch break.
The man continued to say, “Do I look old! Am I that old!” Simultaneously, to make the man shut it, I said, “No, you don’t look old, you don’t look old.”
After this sorta-kinda tit-for-tat, I told him (to calm him down), “When I see older people, I usually give them my seat.” (Keeping in mind that people in subway were looking at me and in no way did I want to make a bad impression of Islam and the hijab.)
Then he smiled as he looked at me and thanked me. As I sat and he stood in front of me, the old man, who was dressed like a sophisticated white collar professional, started to ask me what my name was.
I answered him. I didn’t want him to think I was rude, and I was looking out for my stop. I had already gotten lost that day. He asked me some questions about my school, my studies, my ambitions, and so on. Since he was an old man (most probably much older than my father), I really didn’t think badly of him or his intentions.
He spoke and was exceptionally articulate. He didn’t seem like he had evil intentions. While he talked and stared away at me, I didn’t realize that he was getting closer and closer.
When I looked at this face, I received a very creepy and sinister smile. His stares were weird. I avoided looking into his eyes and the situation was getting strange.
If he asked me anything, I would just look right and left, looking to see if my train stop was here… and the stop was farther than I thought. Thus, giving him more time to execute his plan.
In the mean time, the man stepped closer and closer to me while I sat and he stood. At one moment, I realized that the compartment had many empty seats. Yet, his old man was standing right in front of me, and staring.
“Strange,” I thought, “why isn’t he sitting down?”
When he asked me where I lived, I knew this man was really up to no good…
When he asked me where I lived, a red alarm went on…
When he asked me where I lived with his striking stare…
What was worse was he said he lived around my school…
Something I will never forget about him was the way he looked. Never will I forget his beady little blue eyes, triangle-shaped teeth, his choppy laugh…
If I had moved to another part of the train, he may have followed me there. I planned in my head, “Wait for your stop, and then just walk out.”
While he stared away at my innocent painted face wrapped in a beautiful hijab, I was conscious of his presence in front of me and kept my train stop in mind.
Then, he came uncomfortably close and got exceptionally close to my ears and said in a low, secretive and disturbing voice, “Are you are interested in exchanging phone numbers? If you are, you can say it in a low voice if you don’t want anyone else to hear.”
My heart pounded when he said that! I couldn’t believe it! Why do you want my number! You know my name! You live near my school! You want my number now!
My mother wasn’t here to comfort me and my father wasn’t here to protect me.
He repeated as he stood right above my face, “Are you interested?”
“No,” I replied.
“No?” he repeated.
“No.” I answered.
I stood up and went by the door. My heart pounded and I didn’t think to see if this pervert was following me or not.
I am a child compared to you, shouldn’t you care about my well-being instead of trying to take advantage of my innocence and inexperience about this world! I thought to myself.
As soon as my stop came, I stepped out and…
Froze. Yes, I completely, froze.
Believe it or not, I couldn’t move, I froze.
I stood on the platform with my hands close to my ears. My ears were burning up. He sounded like a hissing snake, a hissing snake. My shoulders, back, and ears were electrified by a painful stinging fear. My eyes were locked with the image of his blue eyes, with that unwanted striking stare. Never can I forget.
I just stood there with my eyes closed and I seriously couldn’t move. I was all alone.
As I said before, my mother wasn’t here to comfort me and my father wasn’t here to protect me.
As I stood there, someone came and put an arm around me…
And saw that it was a woman…
“Was that man bothering you my dear?” she asked with a warm and concerned expression.
“He asked me for my number,” I answered. “He got so close to me…”
My ears felt like burning lava, and the back of my head felt as if someone had lit it on fire. The back of my neck felt bruised and itchy. It was a terrible, awful feeling.
“Honey, all the women on the train were watching how that man was bothering you, and don’t worry, the women were keeping an eye.”
I realized that two women had come to comfort me. Alhamdulillah! Subhan Allah!
They turned around repeatedly, to make sure that he left and wasn’t following me. “He left, right? Make sure he left. He left, right?” “Yeah, I made sure, I took a good look at him,” she said to the second woman.
“My name is G***** by the way. Where are you going? ” she said to me.
I actually couldn’t remember. I was about to burst into tears because of the violation. Words can’t describe how I felt. As I write, I get teary. It was one of the most frightening moments of my life.
The woman told me she was going to work and would show me the direction to where I wanted to go. I walked with her out of the subway. To this day I am thankful to Allah that this woman was there to help me.
“You’re out now. Don’t worry, honey.” The woman comforted me with great care. May Allah guide her to Islam.
I managed to tell her that I was going to the museum and she told me where to go. I said goodbye to her and thanked her for her kindness. To this day, I haven’t forgotten her name or how she looked.
I wonder how I would have walked out of the subway if Allah hadn’t provided me with her assistance that day.
Allah provided help for me that day. Alhamdulillah!
The last thing she told me was, “Honey, tell your mother what happened. It’s something my mother used to tell me. That you should tell your mother when something happens to you. So honey, tell your mother.”
At that moment, I truly started to appreciate the hijab. “The correct hijab is there to protect the woman,” I thought.
“The hijab! The correct hijab! Traveling with a mahram! Better to stay at home! Don’t adorn your face! Wear a hijab with the jilbab!” All these thoughts were racing through my mind as I cried.
If I hadn’t look so “beautified,” and if I had worn the hijab like Allah had commanded, the old man probably would not have taken any interest in me… probably would not have noticed me at all. There would be no need to stare, or even progress to asking me anything!
“What if the women weren’t there, and what if he followed me out of the train! What if he is around me now!” These scary thoughts started to choke me as I walked.
As I walked to the museum, I kept turning around and looking from side to side to make sure that old man wasn’t there.
When I got to the museum, I sat in front of Picasso’s painting and cried. I’m not sure if people noticed that I was crying, but I seriously couldn’t help myself. When I looked at the women walking around with beautified faces and bodies, I thought about how they should be covered… I thought about how Allah’s rules are the best rules. I thought about how Allah indeed has honored the woman! Indeed!
I kept remembering what my mother used to tell me, how she wanted me to wear the jilbab. How she wanted me to wear the hijab correctly. How she didn’t like it when I stepped out without her or my father. She didn’t want to me to beautify my face like that. I started to think about how my mother always stressed going outside with a mahram.
I sat on a small wooden bench and I cried in front of the famous paintings.
“Allah has set rules for the safety and honor of the women,” I thought.
When I finally got home, I was relieved. Home sweet home… where I am safe, cared for, respected and sincerely loved…
Allah says in the Qur’an to the women, ‘And stay in your houses and do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance.‘ [33:33]
For more than a week, I would look around everywhere I walked, especially when I went to school, since he said he lived in the area. If I heard someone behind me, I would jump. If someone called my name, I was alarmed. Wherever I was, I became totally alert. I imagined often what I would do if I ever saw him around there. What if I saw him on the bus, around my school, even in my own neighborhood!
That day, I learned the lesson of a lifetime. Allah created us and Allah knows best how we should live our lives.
When a sister wears the (correct) hijab, it is not guaranteed that she won’t be bothered by strange men. Wearing the correct hijab, however, does save her from many kinds of harm that may be lurking around. If a sister wears the (correct) hijab, the chances of her being bothered by men are slim.
Even then, the main and sole reason why a sister should wear the correct hijab is because it is a commandment of Allah.
After that incident, and after gaining more Islamic knowledge, I started to wear the correct hijab. Alhamdulillah.
Ever since wearing a large hijab with a loose jilbab, without makeup, I have never had any strange encounters with any creepy men to that extent again. Alhamdulillah. All praise to Allah.
Whenever I come across the painting I went to see in the Museum that day, I still become overwhelmed with emotion…
I understand now Ya Allah! Ya Allah, I understand now how important the (correct) hijab is… Ya Allah, I understand Alhamdulillah!
Allah says in the Qur’an:
“O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies… That will be better that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [33:59]
Originally submitted by an anonymous fan to The Ideal Muslimah fan page for their ” December: Hijab Month Project.” Our thanks to The Ideal Muslimah for the permission to repost.