Gift Wrapped?


A personal reflection on the purpose and nature of hijab shared by guest writer, Bookworm Hijabi.

I recently came across an article on Salah. The author was an older working woman, looking very glamorous in the picture accompanying the article. She did not wear a hijab. I was skeptical, as I looked at the picture. This woman, who clearly wasn’t dressed very ‘Islamically’ was going to tell me about Salah? Me, a hijabi?

Dubious as I was, I started reading it (since I cannot resist any reading material that comes my way) and as I read about her connection with Allah, about how her prayers served to charge her for the day, about how she took out time from her busy schedule to spend more and more of that time in conversation with Allah, I felt ashamed of myself.

So what if I wore hijab? So what if I had recently even taken up the jilbab? I still struggled to find that connection with Allah during my prayers. I still struggled to concentrate. Then I started wondering why exactly I wore a hijab? True, it was a command from Allah but then, a gift box all wrapped up without the gift inside would just be a prettily wrapped box wouldn’t it? Nothing else. Nothing more.

When exactly had I become this wrapped up box?

Yes, I like the sense of safety the hijab gave me. I love that dressing in such a way protects me from unwanted gazes. I like giving out the message that I am not just a body but a person. I simply want to do it for Allah. But hijab is all that and so much more.

Was I only modest in the way I dressed? Or did my modesty extend into my speech, my thoughts, my feelings? Did it humble me? Did it make me less vain? Was the simplicity of my dress reflected in all other aspects of my life? Was I only playing dress up, or was I truly living Islam the way it’s meant to be lived?

The answers to some of these questions are not very flattering. Introspection is never a welcome friend.

You see, Islam is not about dressing a certain way and doing certain acts; it’s a way of life. Your life isn’t supposed to have Islam in it, Islam is supposed to be your life. Maybe I took up the hijab too early, or maybe I took it up because it seemed convenient. Either way, I never really understood it completely. I didn’t understand that hijab wasn’t something we had to do, it was something we needed and wanted to do. It’s supposed to come naturally once you gave yourself up to Allah. No questions. Plus it isn’t just about a piece of cloth around your head. It is a virtue and a verb too! So now I have to make a list of all the things that Hijab means, to assess my shortcomings, and work on how I can be better deserving of wearing the Hijab.

Taking up Hijab isn’t the end of it, sisters; it is actually the beginning of a journey to becoming a better person, a better Muslimah inshaAllah.

-Bookworm Hijabi