But I Love the Attention


With the hijab comes sacrifices, but we must be willing to weigh the temporal pleasures with the eternal bliss.

In her recent novel Boy vs. Girl, Na’ima B. Roberts illustrates an important, yet overlooked phenomenon for girls and women who wear hijab:

        “But lately, she had lost some of that confidence, that immunity to guys’ indifference to her. It had started to bother her that their eyes glazed over when they saw her, sliding away from her face, brightening when they saw Robina’s cheeky smile and highlighted hair.
Her pride was hurt, her vanity bristled…
Once upon a time, she had been the darling of every clique that mattered. Now, in her hijab, she was considered a pariah…”

This excerpt details the struggle of Farhana, one of the main characters in the book, as she dons the hijab. She is a teenager in high school and the confidence with which she began to wear hijab slowly diminishes as she discovers some of the consequences.

Now, many females more or less know the reasoning behind wearing hijab—namely, to be modest and obey God’s orders. In essence, this also means deterring attention away from oneself by appearing and acting in a humble manner. For many of us, attention is something we prize so it is only natural to feel that way. We feel loved and secure when somebody gives us attention, whether it is as simple as a glance from a classmate or as complex as a relationship with a family member. Thus it is only natural that we feel hurt when some of that attention is lost.

Personally, I didn’t mind when people glanced past me because of my hijab. I’ve been shy for the majority of my life and I tended to be the student who hid behind another’s head so the teacher wouldn’t call me. But it isn’t so simple for other, more extroverted individuals. It may cause pain when those who had more or less adored you, such as your friendly male cousin or the guy sitting at your math table, doesn’t give you the same amount of attention anymore. It hurts when you cannot be part of that popular clique anymore and moreover when your crush hardly gives a glance in your direction. Even shy girls may crave this kind of attention once in a while—to have the temporal comfort of a good-looking guy flash a smile at you.

But, in the end, what good is that small bit of pleasure we gain? Can anything more happen beyond that smile, that glance, or that attention we crave? Or perhaps the better question is, shouldn’t we want something beyond that and why? Most of us are fortunate to have the loving care and attention from our parents and family. Others may not be so fortunate but an undying trust in Allah can help them move forward. And all that attention and affection can insha’Allah be attained one day by a loving spouse. Why bother your soul, your faith, your relationship with Allah for a mere desire to have attention that can only last only for a short time?

So, my dear sisters, don’t sulk with the feeling that you’re not getting as much attention now that you have a hijab on. Surround yourself with those who will give you affection—your family, your friends, the elderly, and even children in your community. And for those sisters who have not begun wearing the hijab yet, do not let the ideas that you won’t be as beautiful any more, or that nobody will like you or marry you prevent you from embarking on this journey.

Allah indeed is the provider of all good things. We have a duty to our Lord and no words are more powerful than His to consider:

“…And who is more astray than the one who follows his own desires separate from the guidance of Allah…” [Al-Qasas, 28:50]

When you find yourself brooding and lonely, ask yourself which you prefer to be—a slave to your fleeting desires or a slave to your Lord?