Some things are, like they say, one step forward and two steps back. But, as guest writer Bisma shares, with pure intentions and persistence, and help from Allah ta’ala, it’s possible to come out ahead.
My hijab story is like a secret diary no one should ever read. It is filled with horrible facts about me and points to my mistakes and weaknesses. My journey to hijab is filled with fear, negativity and regret. So I warn you: read with caution.
The most important thing you should know is that I used to wear hijab, but eventually took it off. I hate saying it, admitting to the world that I was one of those ignorant girls who went backwards after putting on the hijab, instead of moving forward with my deen. But it’s what I did and I can’t change that.
I first put on the hijab due to an extreme iman rush after an Islamic conference and pressure I felt from my community members, because, masha’Allah, almost all the girls I knew already wore hijab and were so religious. I always felt like an outcast not wearing it, so I decided to just do it.
After putting on the scarf, however, I was extremely self-cautious. I would feel fine wearing it when I was around my religious friends; but, when I was with other “normal” people, I was ashamed. I tried to cover while still blending in: wearing hoods and hats to cover my hair, instead of proper hijab. I didn’t understand that “hijab” was true modesty, not only in dress, but in actions as well. I treated the hijab simply as a cloth on my head.
During that period, I regretted the day I decided to wear the hijab and every bone in my body screamed at me to take it off, but I was afraid of what people would think of me. So I continued my self-loathing and wore the scarf. I felt horrible because I knew I wasn’t getting reward from Allah ta’ala. After all, I only kept on my hijab from fear of people’s judgment, rather than fulfilling the command of my Lord.
The regret continued and became stronger each day. I woke up miserable, knowing I had to put on my hijab. I hated going out, especially with my husband, because I felt that every other girl looked beautiful to him except me. His consolation only made it worse. I didn’t believe him when he said I looked beautiful, because I felt ugly, inside and out. I was always irritated and fighting with everyone around me.
After two years of my ongoing battle with the hijab, my nafs finally won, leaving my iman scattered to pieces. I shed the command of my Judge. I couldn’t handle it anymore. But taking off my scarf didn’t give me the relief I was looking for. I still had regret. Sure, I was happier sometimes because I got to do my hair, but I felt really bad and disappointed in myself. This time, when I was around my religious friends, I felt ashamed. I felt like I was less than them. I knew I wasn’t happy before, but at least I had been following Allah’s command. Now, I still had regret and I was disobeying. It was a lose-lose situation.
I tried to console myself whenever the regret kicked in, telling myself that at least I was a good person that prayed, fasted and dressed modestly. But I always knew in the back of my mind that I was disobeying Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, every second of everyday that I was in front of non-mahrams. My biggest fear was dying without wearing the hijab.
A year and half after taking off the hijab, I went to hajj with my husband, alhamdulillah. It was quite the experience, but I did not cover when I came back home. SubhanAllah! Now the guilt was doubled. Everyone was calling me “Hajji,” but I felt like a big fraud, a failure. While I was discussing hajj with a few people, someone said, “A sign that your hajj has been accepted is if you change after completing it.”
I immediately felt foolish. I knew I hadn’t changed all that much even though my reoccurring du’aa at hajj was that I would wear the hijab. This statement slowly brought about the change I needed. At that point, I knew I had to wear hijab again. I had to make a difference in my life and gain Allah’s ta’ala’s love.
I thought about putting on the hijab everyday after that. Every morning I would wake up and say to myself, “Today is the day…” but it never was. I walked around everyday with a smile on my face, even though I was constantly in battle with my nafs.
Why am I so weak? How come everyone I know can wear it, but not me? How is it possible that everyone just loves hijab and I despise wearing it?
I realized that I didn’t simply hate the hijab, I was afraid of it, afraid of what it could turn me into: a self-loathing, low self-esteem introverted human being. I felt like my iman was so much higher when I wasn’t wearing hijab than when I was. The fear of wearing hijab was so strong, that even truly wanting to wear it wasn’t enough to make me put it on.
I tried to increase my iman as much as I could, so that I would have the courage to cover myself, as my Lord has prescribed. My sister-in-law visited me from Atlanta and took that opportunity to speak to me about death and the last days. She told me that she used to be afraid of death because, like me, she didn’t want to die hijab-less. Once she put on the hijab however, she said that her fear of dying had decreased immensely. She helped me realize that my fear of hijab was miniscule compared to my fear of the Day of Judgment, when I would be asked about my deeds.
What would I say when I was questioned about the hijab? “I didn’t want to look ugly”? I feel the inadequacy of saying it to myself, so how could I possibly face my Creator and say that to Him?
In hopes of continuing to increase my iman, I listened to the Hereafter Series by Imam Al-Awlaki. Something he said really hit a nerve with me, alhamdulillah. He said that the Day of Judgment is 50,000 years long and that’s not even including the rest of the akhira – that’s just that one day. Meanwhile, we live on this earth for maybe a hundred years, if we are blessed with a very long life. And on the Day of Judgment these hundred years will seem like they were fifteen minutes long, if that. Will it be worth it, at that point, that I got to show my hair off to strangers and feel “pretty” for fifteen minutes? Of course not!
My fear of hijab was slowly starting to diminish, with the help of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Soon after, I was truly inspired by a close friend of mine who decided to wear the hijab. I was so happy to see her at my door, proudly wearing her white and black hijab. I was shocked and a part of me, a huge part, felt guilty, because there she was covered and modest, meanwhile I didn’t even wear hijab. My shock was not due to her lack of iman or anything; I know her as a very good Muslimah, masha’Allah, and may Allah make her even better than what others assume of her. Rather, it was because of her family, who was very against hijab. But against all odds and by the will of Allah, she chose to wear the hijab anyway. She put Allah ta’ala’s command first, disregarding what her own family would think and how they would react. I was overwhelmed by her strength, proud of her courage and jealous of her commitment and iman. She truly inspired me and made me feel the guilt of disobeying Allah’s command without saying a single word.
That was the last straw. Alhamdulillah, I decided to wear the hijab a few days later. This time, I felt so strong and ready to face the challenges that would confront me. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, and I certainly wasn’t looking forward to the hard times; but I knew that earning Allah’s wrath just to show off my hair was not only foolish, but also utterly insane.
It has been three months since I put on the hijab and by the mercy of Allah, I plan to keep it on. Hijab is a choice I make everyday, every time I step out of my house or meet a non-mahram. By the will of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, I hope to make the right choice everyday, for the rest of my life, and look forward to reaping the benefits in the akhirah.