The Color Hijab


An unexpected conversation on the bus leads to thoughts on nationality, race… and hijab.

Perfection. That’s how I would describe Islam in a word. Islam is the absolute truth and free of any contradiction. Allah’s guarded religion has the answers for everything and more. It leaves nothing but a heart drenched in conviction when one truly seeks to understand it. It is beautiful in every aspect, and each day I thank Allah for blessing me with a gift that is truly my own: my relationship with my Master, a means between the Creator and His creation. Alhamdulilah

Islam has given me so much that it’s hard to pinpoint just one of it’s blessings, but one that I am truly grateful for is my hijab. My hijab is part of my identity, it’s who I am and who I’ll always be. My hijab is a protection and a means for me to come closer to my Lord by fulfilling His commands. But it wasn’t until one morning that my love for my hijab went beyond anything I could have ever imagined; that morning everything changed.

I remember my ears tingling as the morning song of the birds at Fajr echoed through the window. I tore myself from bed and wiped the sleepiness from my eyes. As everyone slipped into normal routine and prepared for another school day, I took my favorite hijab from its drawer and wrapped it around my head. This hijab had been a gift and just the sight of it had brought the bearer to mind (may Allah reward this person!).

I set out for the bus stop and alhamdulilah, as soon as it arrived, I climbed aboard, found a seat and whipped out my trusty sudoku book which kept my mind on edge for the 40-minute bus ride. Just another day, I thought to myself. I had spoken to soon.

She climbed aboard and walked towards me. “Can I sit here?” she asked. “Uh… yeah, yeah. Sorry about that,” I pulled my bag onto my lap and made room for her. Silence ensued for what seemed like forever. Then she spoke again, “I never knew that women who weren’t arab had to wear that head covering, too. You’re not arab are you?” Dazed, I looked at her with astonishment. I had been expecting at most a “How bout this weather we’re having?”, but she’d shattered the silence with a question that had caught me completely off guard.

I closed my suduko puzzle around my pencil and looked towards her. “Well, you see, Muslim women come from all countries of the world and we all follow the commandment of God in that we all have to cover like this.” She furrowed her brow, which let me know she had a rebuttal brewing. “But that’s not what my Muslim friend told me! She said that your God said the head covering is only for your Prophet’s descendants, which are Arab, right?” I quickly glanced out the window and looked back at her, “The covering of a Muslim woman is a commandment for all women, no matter what race, country of origin or language spoken. A commandment from God for our protection, for all women, and that’s the bottom line.”

Just as I could see another sentence forming on her lips, she suddenly jumped and reached for the request line. “Sorry, I missed my stop! Thanks for your answer, and now I’m kinda jealous that you Muslim women get to cover like that, all protected and what not.”

As she leaped from the door, hailing a thanks to the bus driver, I sat there marinating in the words that had just been exchanged. What a crazy turn of events, I thought with a smile. She’s jealous of Muslim Women. Subhan’Allah, she wants what I have, what I have been blessed with but take for granted.

Then my mind quickly shifted to her initial comment of “only women of Arab descent wearing hijab…” and more importantly, that her Muslim friend had told her this. Throughout that day, all I could think about was that conversation. What did nationality have to do with hijab? The two had run in parallel lines in my mind for so long that I found it difficult to connect them, and the more I thought about it the more confused I became. It wasn’t until I really looked at my own reflection, both inside and out, that I realized that my ‘colour’ wasn’t black, white, brown or anything else for that matter – my colour was “hijab.”

The hijab knows no colour except for those painted on our souls. Colours of taqwa, patience and strength. In a way, the hijab is colourblind as it transcends all bounds of racial, geographical and linguistic limits. The hijab erases those lines of difference, and is a protection for all women of all shapes and sizes, no matter the social status, education and merit. For every Muslim woman, her hijab is her own, it’s her colour.

Through the hijab, Allah has given me sisters. Ones I have never met, ones who I have merely seen in passing and ones that have touched and changed my life. It brings me comfort knowing that across the globe, I have sisters who are on this journey with me; that we are like one thread, and when united, we can spread hope like fire to all those who wish to wear the colour of hijab. I imagine sisters in Europe, Africa, North and South America who work, learn and live wearing their hijabs with the utmost conviction in pleasing their Lord. The hijab, and Islam’s ability to do that, is something much bigger than any of us. It’s Allah subhanahu wa ta’la’s mercy and blessing that I can say “My colour is Hijab, alhamdulilah.”

So, what’s yours?