She Made Me Smile

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Doing her research on hijab before taking that first step, guest writer “The Spirit” stumbled across the exact kind of inspiration she needed.

As I took my first baby steps towards Islam, I began to realize that hijab was an essential part of being a Muslimah. Because for some reason, unlike other religions, Islam made everyday women to be the flag bearers, to represent it. When told to picture women (everyday women, mind you, not nuns or priestesses) from other religions, I could find nothing to distinguish one from the other. I could simply imagine a woman clad in a white sun dress, hair flowing open, carelessly wandering the isles of a grocery store shopping for cantaloupes. If I walked past her, would I be able to tell if she was Christian or Jewish or even Buddhist for that matter? No. But if I walked past a Muslimah, I would know that she was one simply by her hijab. I’m sorry for the stereotyping, but this is the stereotype of a Muslim woman, that typical picture painted in your mind about how a Muslimah should be; an image that to me, in this case, was neither offensive nor “demeaning.” In fact, I found it… refreshing.

To know that there was some way that I could dress and be that would loudly proclaim, “Here I am! A proud Muslimah!” was an amazing concept to me. To have just one piece of cloth on my head and voilà, I was transformed. Not just outside, but also inside where it counts. Just a black abaya on my body and I’m obeying my Lord. Just a piece of cloth across my face and I’m following the example of the Prophet’s wives, radiya Allahu anhum.

But I was nowhere near the niqab just yet. I waited a while even before I started to properly observe the hijab. I was foolish back then. I was afraid of people and their reactions; of what they would think, say and do. And it was, honestly, very discouraging to hear things like “You’re too young!” and “Don’t be an extremist!” The mentality of some people never ceases to amaze me. But alhamdulillah, many people, especially my husband, encouraged me to do what I thought was right. People tend to assume that someone forced me into this. On the contrary, people like my husband and father gave me the gentle love and support that I longed for to do what I wanted to do. May Allah bless them and give them the best of rewards.

Nevertheless, I wanted to research hijab like I always do before going into something new. So I did what I normally do. I googled it. I typed the word “hijab” into Google and I looked through the posts. After going through many of them, still uninspired, I was just about to give up when something caught my eye. Fate had dealt me a very interesting card indeed when it led me to this article. Allah subhanuhu wa ta’ala works in mysterious ways, and how fortunate was I to be led by Him to something that gave me the most intense iman rush I had ever felt! Subhan Allah!

How amazing was it that the sister in the story, TheSisterWhoSmiles, did the exact same thing I had just done (well, except she typed Muslim into Google and I typed hijab, but you get the idea). When I read her article, I was moved to tears. I couldn’t comprehend exactly why, but something inside me changed. I felt love for Allah subhanu wa ta’ala. Subhan Allah!

So, in the course of the next few weeks, after many fears, tears and unconventional wardrobe alterations, I wore the hijab. I had already started to wear much looser, full-sleeved, long clothing in an effort to make a slow, stealthy transition, but I had yet to cover my hair. So after reading that IGIC article that is still with me today, I opted for change. It took me a while. But in a matter of weeks, I woke up one morning and shooed away the fears and embraced the gift of being a Muslimah and I wore the hijab. I stepped into something strange; I ventured into a greater unknown. But I knew I had made the right decision. I could somehow feel that this was much bigger than a scarf around my head and a few comments and jeers. This was for my Lord. I still remember that day as if it were yesterday. It has only been around a few months, but I can tell you I feel like I’ve been wearing it since forever. And I love it.

I feel free. I feel liberated. At first, I thought, “How can covering one’s hair cause men to lower their gaze?” But my dear sisters, honestly it does. It makes any man who even glances for a second realize that this is a woman of Allah and she is not to be looked at, bothered or messed with. It reminds them to fear Allah. Besides, hijab isn’t just about covering the hair, it’s about having hayaa and lowering the gaze and dressing modestly by covering all that is necessary.

Soon afterwards, I started to wear a loose black abaya and honestly, I loved that too! The day I put it on, the whole world seemed different. The sun shone brighter, the vast blue skies looked clearer and a sense of calming security enshrined my heart – as if they all welcomed me with open arms to my new beginning as a much more distinguished Muslimah. And I couldn’t be happier about it.

So as a Muslim woman, how exactly do I feel? Oppressed? Miserable? Not even close. I am happier than I have ever been. Relieved, actually, to know that I was not sinning anymore; I was, insha’Allah, pleasing my Creator and I was free from the many perverted and some accidental gazes of men.

All of you Muslim sisters out there, I love you for the sake of Allah. Those of you who are hijabis, masha’Allah, may Allah give you the best of rewards. And those of you who have yet to put on the hijab, I urge you to put it on as quickly as you can because you really don’t know what you’re missing out on.

So sisters, smile.
After all, Allah is with you.

_______________

The Spirit” describes herself, in her own words, as “Slave of Allah, Stranger, Providential Muslimah, His Crooked Rib.” She blogs at Spirit Of The Stairway, where she first shared her hijab story. Republished here by request from the author.

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