Putting Your Best Crease Forward

Image Credit: jamelah

I know of at least a few sisters who will admit to doing this: with five minutes left to get ready and out the door, your hijab-of-choice for the day is unfortunately not quite ironed to the dot.  The iron, a cave-man tool that is lovely to use when you can find the time, stands lonely on the iron board waiting for the day where you wake up with half an hour to spare.  You quickly flip, twirl and inverse your Pashmina scarf searching for the edge that is least wrinkled, and mechanically place that side atop your forehead.  The more wrinkly edges are left to flow around your face, hoping people will fall for the “crinkled-hijab-look” that seems to be so “in” with some of the sisters these days.

You gaze at the mirror for a second and sigh; hijabs should be neat and ironed to uphold the image of Muslim cleanliness and tidiness.  After all, we don’t – as many critics may assume – wear hijabs to hide some disastrous mess underneath or out of laziness.  If anything, it increases our formality.  For most women wearing hijab, this is intuitive: our appearance should be presentable.  Which explains why on days when we are running late, the least we can do is fumble through our scarf to put the best crease forward.

But this truth extends much deeper than just our outward presentable-ness.  In terms of our actions, our manners, and our “akhlaq” we are also role models in society that must put our best behaviors and mannerisms forward.  Growing up in high school, where “hijabis” were sadly an endangered species, I would often get things like “But you wear hijab and you did this.”  It was frustrating, because I felt like any mistake I did weighed multiples of its original weight.  Wearing hijab does not make one infallible or perfect, yet people, either as an excuse or out of naivety, seem to place those who wear hijab at a high and idyllic esteem.  And the funny (or scary) thing is, you never know who might be watching you to get an idea of what is right or wrong in Islam.

So it is inevitable.  But what does it mean?  It means having “hayaa’” and modesty.  It means lowering the gaze and not mixing with the opposite gender.  It means no makeup.  It means being kind and patient with others.  It means being hardworking and serious at life.  It means knowing what recreational activities are suitable for a Muslim sister to participate in.  These are some examples of things that people may be watching you for.  It is difficult: imperfect souls being the ambassadors of a perfect religion.

Bearing in mind the weight of that responsibility, we then face inner challenges.  The challenge of sincerity.  Are we doing this for Allah or for the sake of the hijab’s image?  Are we doing it because people are watching us (sometimes) or because Allah is watching (eternally)?  The Shaitaan will gladly volunteer his whispers at this point, telling you there is no point in wearing hijab because your actions do not suit it, or maybe just encouraging you to “lessen” your hijab to escape the responsibility of being looked up to.

The solution?  Create a balance. Do not compromise your hijab, do not ignore your role as a role-model, and do not forget to evaluate your sincerity every second of the way.  It is a battle we must fight.  Don’t mask or deny your faults, as we all have so many of them, but do not go parading your sins in public.

The Messenger of Allah salla Allahu alayhi wasallam said: “My entire nation is safe, except al-Mujahirin (those who boast of their sins). Among the Mujaharah is that a man commits an (evil) act, and wakes up in the morning while Allah has kept his (sin) a secret, this man says: “O so- and-so! Last night I did this and that.” He goes to sleep while Allah has kept his (sin) a secret, but he wakes up in the morning and uncovers what Allah has kept a secret!” [Saheeh al-Bukhari]

Never give up on sharing your best qualities for the sake of daw’ah, but remember to stay humble, and know that any good quality you have is from the blessings of Allah alone.

In a nutshell, when it comes to society, you have to find your best crease and put it forward.  Your best manners are what must come out to show that a Muslim is all about good character.  But to hold on to sincerity, you have to do your own ironing.  Repent to Allah sincerely, throughout the day and in the last third of the night, in hopes that Allah will shower His mercy and smooth out some of our many, many, many wrinkles.