Life Rekindled

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Guest writer NHK tells how her life and her journey to hijab “took off.”

Let me take you to my past. Even though I was born and brought up in a Muslim family, I was unfortunately not at all a practicing Muslim as my parents were the same way. They were well-mannered, kind people; they believed in Allah and did charity and prayers occasionally. Moreover, my teachers who taught me Quran and Islam gave me little knowledge about this peaceful religion, as they themselves were unaware about the depth and beauty of our religion.

Although they provided me with everything superficially, doubts took over my mind, and I found no one who could answer. One of my doubts was regarding hijab. “What if I showed my hair?” I thought then, “What’s the big deal about that.” I can understand that showing other body parts may lead to provocation to the opposite sex, but why the hair, I would wonder. I was disturbed by many such doubts that I even feared joining any Islamic institutions which required hijab as part of the uniform.

During this time, I hardly read Qur’an. I think now, if I could have read the beautiful divine book, the Qur’an, then I would not have dared to ask such stupid questions. Because I thought hijab was imposed by a male world to suppress women. I feel sorry writing this as a Muslim Woman, but that was me in those past, dark years of my life. I was more influenced by Christianity as I was studying in a Christian School from kindergarten until I got my bachelors.

But alhamdulillah, Allah kept His Eye on me, so that I was saved and shown the light of truth by His blessings in the disguise of my husband. Everything around me turned upside down when I saw my in-laws doing their prayers however tired and sick they were. My husband was regular in his prayers and my inner conscious started to prick me… I began to question by own self, and I felt ashamed to say that I was a Muslim as I was not doing my obligatory prayers on time. I slowly realized the peace I felt when I did my prayers on time, and started fasting the whole month of Ramadan. Even if I missed, I managed to make up the days by fasting equal days from other months. I fell into a peaceful track, which had once been so hard for me.

I bought a Qur’an with explanations and translations. I read it many times, going over many ayahs, but I failed to understand the true meaning or get a real sense of what Allah’s Book was saying. I read Quran occasionally as I was a working woman at that time. But alhamdulillah, Allah didn’t want me to be among the wrong doers. As a result, my husband received a job offer from the United States of America, and when we went, I took my Quran with me.

On our first flight in the plane, the take-off kindled a spiritual flame inside me. That was my first flight. I started looking down through the airplane window and I saw the earth and all its inhabitants so tiny and small… I just thought of the AlMighty, thinking How tiny we are to Him… and yet we take pride in ourselves. Tears rolled down my cheeks and I was spiritually fuelled by that sight.

In the States, I had leisure time and I started reading Qur’an more and fasting sunnah, and I performed night prayers which I did  even when I was not a completely practicing woman during my school and college days. Maybe it was because of this only that I was blessed by Allah the Almighty with a good husband and almost all of my prayers of dunya were answered… and I hope my prayers for the life of the Hereafter will also be answered by Him, subhanahu wa ta’ala.

As my eyes were going through the Qur’an, it got stuck on the below ayahs and I started to ponder over them:

O you Children of Adam! We have bestowed on you raiment to cover your shame as well as to be an adornment to you. But the raiment of righteousness, that is the best. Such are among the Signs of Allah, that they may receive admonition.” (Quran 7:26)

And I also read:

And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear therof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, or their brothers’ sons or their sisters’ sons, or their women or the servants whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex, and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O you Believers turn you all together towards Allah, that you may attain Bliss.” (Quran 24:31).

And then there was this ayah:

O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad). That will be better, so that they may be recognized and not annoyed. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.” (Quran 33:59)

Only then did I realize, hijab is not man- or male-made, but Allah’s command to believing women. Fashionable dresses and the rest of that industry, on the other hand, are male-made to expose women as a commodity.

I also did a lot of research on science regarding male psychology and how seeing hair ignites male sex hormones. Moreover I just looked at Christian portraits and statues of Mary where she is always portrayed as wearing a long loose dress to her feet, with a head covering; and also nuns and older generations of women who more or less covered their whole bodies and hair with clothes. Thinking about all this, I also wrote a small blog post titled “Role of Dress in Islam“.

After learning by myself and finding what is true and what is false, I covered myself alhamdulillah. At that moment, I just wanted to learn what Allah commanded and what His Messenger salla Allahu alayhi wasallam displayed as a role model throughout his life. Alhamdulillah, I feel secure now while I walk around and my dress itself is showing the message of Allah, and I feel confidence while I wear my hijab.

Another point which attracted me to ijab was that, as a literature post graduate and basically Indian, I love Kamala Das who was a world renowned controversial poetess. I was moved when she, who is born in a typical Hindu family, declared her Shahada and embraced Islam and became Kamala Suraya. I was shocked to read her comments on purdah and hijab. Just have a look to her concept on dressing:

The purdah (Islamic face veil) that I wear protects me. I like the purdah which Muslim women wear. I like the lifestyle of Muslim women. Purdah is a wonderful dress. No man ever makes a pass at a woman in purdah. It provides her with a sense of security.

In Delhi alone, most of the offices have a woman worker to comfort the customers with a melodious voice. In the recently-held book fair at Pragati Maidan, female models in semi-nude were installed as a statue so as to attract and allure more and more visitors. The oglers thronged such venues and were in a hurry to touch their body. What a shame! A woman’s body has become a commodity to popularize products. In a society where incidents of eye-teasing are on the increase, molestation in offices goes unabated, promotion is done only after a female employee entertains her boss, what a woman needs is nothing but protection of her freedom.

You can read about her here.

Then from States, we moved to France where I continued my studies in my deen. Once, I was taken by a Muslim friend (who hardly ever observes the Islamic dress code) to a French administrative office to get me registered for unemployment as I am a qualified teacher. When we were entering the main entrance of the office, she said I had to take off the hijab to get into the office and she added that you can’t wear hijab if you work in France as a teacher. She was my husband’s boss’s wife, and I couldn’t say no to her… so I removed my hijab. But in that moment tears, rolled down cheeks and even if I was standing in front of only ladies, I felt that I was naked, because I had removed my scarf.

Soon after that, I rushed back to my home and prayed to Allah to forgive me for disobeying Him… and that was the moment I decided I didn’t need a job at the expense of sacrificing my religion and disobeying Allah, and I turned to online teaching,which, alhamdulillah, has been a great success. With that incident, Allah wanted me to realize that hijab had become a part of my soul. Otherwise, how could I know how a Muslimah feels when she is forced to take off her hijab? I am thankful to Allah Who opened my eyes to the true world of light. I am still continuing as a house wife, but no complaints as Allah wants me to acquire more knowledge of Islam and help others to understand Islam, insha’Allah. That is the real blessing of my life.

Moreover, now my family members are also practicing Muslims, as they were guided by Allah through various incidents that touched our lives, alhamdulillah. Now I am here at this stage of my spiritual life which Allah planned for me and He Himself guided me to this point with many tests throughout my life. Nobody except Allah could help me face such situations, with the great reward of His mercy showered upon me.

Please include us in your du’aas. And as I leave you, I wanted to remind all my sisters: Do not fear this world, but be fearful of the next world. That will be a better decision of the intelligent believer.”

NHK/France

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