No, My Hijab Isn’t Glued On

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Guest writer Ameera Khan shares her thoughts on dressing inside and outside her home.

I’ve been a Hijabi for a couple of years now, Alhamdulillah. When I think back to my first attempts to take the head-cover in an environment where it was something just not done anymore, it was a time of great excitement for me. I was passionate about covering up and, looking at myself in the mirror, I’d feel an Iman-rush that I was doing it exclusively for Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, even if people didn’t approve.

Fastforward to the present where the hjab has now become something so inherently part of me that I’ve almost begun to take it for granted. When the doorbell rings or when someone visits, I instinctively reach for my dupatta to drape it over myself before a non-mahram walks in. The hijab extends to male cousins as well so I cover up in pretty much all family occasions like parties and weddings. Although my hijab is basically about covering my head and wearing full-sleeved dresses, not a separate coat or abaya, it’s still pretty distinct because in public, I’m not without it (alhamdulillah).

Even after all this time, when I’ve also gotten used to the hjiab, there are occasions which bring some hijab-specific thoughts to mind. Lately, it’s been about dressing up and beautifying myself. Many people automatically assume that if you’re a hijabi in public, you’re always like that, even when you’re at home or, ridiculously enough, when you go to sleep at night! Someone asked my sister, also a hijabi, “So are you like this even when you’re just with your sisters?” Where do these ideas come from?

I’ve had such experiences of my own too. It’s as if mahrams, who have always seen me covered since I started the hijab, and even many women think that once you start taking a head-cover, you just glue it on! It’s like the end of all your feminine desires to dress well, wear trendy clothes, style your hair, apply make up, and so on. Maybe that’s part of the reason some girls are reluctant to take the hijab – they see it as symbolizing the demise of their feminine side and forever living life like a nun!

How can that possibly be? The hijab only magnifies the joy of dressing up and the purpose of beautifying yourself. Only a hijabi can truly appreciate why Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala laid down the principle of revealing your beauty only to mahrams. It’s not a free-for-all show anymore, where I become a show-piece, a star attraction for all the men in the world to feast their eyes on. In fact, that beauty now becomes something even more precious and exclusive to only those people with whom I am secure and safe… my mahrams. I don’t have to worry about lewd stares that make me conscious of my hair rippling in the wind or that my arms are on open display to strange men.

Coming to another point… that of dressing up at home or around mahrams. This is something that draws another kind of interest from people. I like jewelery and I love to wear it when I can… nothing wrong with that, right? I wonder why it is then, that sometimes ladies and even mahrams (may Allah guide them) point it out in a negative sense when they see me a little dressed up at home? Some seem to think it is because I feel “deprived” in my hijab and I’m desperate to find an outlet for my feelings somewhere, hence the dangling earrings. Another confusion that’s in peoples’ minds is that you don’t need to beautify yourself at home. These people believe it’s important to look your best in public, but when you’re at home, it’s okay to slack off – no wonder so many housewives present a very sorry picture at home but are seen in the most dazzling attire at weddings and other functions! How do their husbands recognize them on such occasions?

I just have this to say: if I like to dress up and I’m doing so in a halal way, without making a display of myself where I shouldn’t, there is absolutely nothing “odd” about it! In fact, just because other people find me odd, it doesn’t make my actions wrong in any way, as long as I adhere to the Islamic principles. And it’s not because I’m repressed, oppressed or suppressing my feelings in any way. I’m happy to present a good and well-dressed appearance to my mahrams. Likewise, I hope to do so in my role as a wife too, InshaAllah… and guess what, that’s not only Halal, it’s a highly recommended Sunnah too. That’s how the Wives of the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wasallam, Ummahat-al-Momineen, lived too!

We forget that Allah’s decisions and commandments to us are full of unfathomable wisdom and the best way to live our lives. What He has asked us to do is never, in any way, a punishment. It’s only to make our own lives easier and more enjoyable on this earth. I wish women would realize this and beautify themselves in the right manner, for the right reasons. Makeup, nail-polish, lipstick, perfumes, gem-studded hair combs, bracelets, anklets, dangling earrings, bangles… all of these are halal, but adorn yourself in the right manner. It’s also a beautiful way of expressing gratitude to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for the perfect manner in which He created you!

Recommended reading: The Ideal Muslimah by Dr. Mohammad Ali Al-Hashimi

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Ameera Khan is a medical student and blogger based in Karachi, Pakistan. She writes for MuslimMatters.org, and also she shares her thoughts on life, success, and day-to-day living at her personal blog, Between Dusk and Dawn, where this piece first appeared.