Homerun for Hijab

11

We shouldn’t let the hijab hinder us from any goals we set for ourselves, whether they be as simple as a homerun or as grand as traveling the world. The only hindrances in our lives are the ones we allow to come in our way.

As we trudged to the changing rooms with our gym bags behind us, chatting before our Physical Education class began, our petite, blonde – but incredibly loud – teacher tells us that all the girls will compete in a Rounders tournament today, which is basically like the American baseball, but posts are used instead of bases. Everyone knew it was warm, sunny and dry for what seemed like the first time in the year, so a celebratory applause rippled through the changing rooms.

After getting changed in our sports uniform, I pushed open the door to go outside to meet the hot sun shining down on me, forcing me to shield my eyes after the contrasting dark of the indoors. Sports uniform consists of black, black and even more black. Whilst the majority of girls stood comfortably in shorts and their polo-tops, I felt warm after a few minutes in my black joggers, black long-sleeved top underneath the school polo-top, and black headscarf to complete my hijab. I simply smiled as I walked to the field, talking with my friends and thanking Allah for the beautiful sun which He has blessed us with, subhanAllah – instead of thinking too much about the heat!

We stretched and conducted a warm-up before splitting into teams. We were batting first, so I got in line – bat warming up to my hands competitively. I watched and cheered as my friends ahead hit and ran and hit and ran. I watched to see the fielder’s quick throwing, catching and passing and wondered if our batting could outdo their fielding. While deep in thought and bat still clutched tightly, I almost didn’t notice two girls gather behind me, still panting from their sprints. Wearing shorts, they complained of the heat as I smiled and joined their conversation. I was expecting the question to arise so no surprised expressions were made when one of them asked me: “Aren’t you boiling?!”

My response was a smile and a simple, relaxed: “A bit, yeah.”

Thought swam in their eyes as they said, “Well why don’t you…take…” – they didn’t finish the question and they looked sheepishly at the grass – still confused.

I respected them for their attempt to understand, so I took one look at the current game in play before easing the grip of my bat, clearing my throat and telling them, “It’s just some sun, that’s all. Hijab is so worth it.”

I wanted to continue but it was my turn to bat. I walked a few steps and positioned my stance for balance and maximum swing. I lifted the bat in my left hand as the bowler shouted to her fielders, “Leftie!” The fielders changed their positions ever so slightly and as they did this, I thought about the conversation from a minute ago. Thinking of their question made me feel hotter and the sun seemed to pierce down with more intensity as I stood in the white box, bat ready to hit, arm ready to swing, legs ready to run.

I squinted my eyes and concentrated on the ball – the bowler shifted her body weight to the front while her twisting wrist gave the ball a spin as it left her hands and flew into the air. I waited for the right moment, the perfect moment, the moment when I should swing my arm and strike the ball. It always feels like it’s in slow motion though it only takes a split second. But my mind was clouded with thoughts of feeling too hot. The ball entered the invisible barriers my mind saw, which commanded me to take action.

The sound of the “smack” the ball made as it forced impact upon the curved edge of the wooden bat pushed all thoughts of feeling too hot out of my head as I could feel the ball fly across the field and my feet jumped into a sprint. Left, right, left, right, left, right – my feet speeded to the first base and without thinking of anything but the smack of the ball as I hit it, I swerved and continued to flow around the field, touching each post with a single tap. The last base seemed so close and yet so far but I continued to run and completed one full rounder (or homerun). I did feel hot, slightly hotter than previously, in fact, and the sun’s gleam didn’t fail in dancing around me and my black uniform, absorbing more heat – but the smile on my face, outlined by a black headscarf, showed how I felt.

Completing one rounder may not seem to be such an amazing achievement – it’s just a game. But the essence of the event taught me that hijab merely gives strength to do more, rather than discouraging the strength within us to grow. People could only see my hands and a smiling face – I didn’t need to bare my legs or even my arms, because hijab is about valuing our outer state thus protecting it with a cover, and valuing our inner state, thus letting it shine with our actions rather than our body.

We can succeed in sport, our studies or our career but the true success is in our faith and in polishing our hearts to a maximum shine before we meet our Lord. Accompanied with modesty and covered bodies, we as Muslimahs, will attain true success, inshaAllah, with our souls.

So let your souls shine, sisters – and smile. (: