The Truth About Niqab

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Umm Khadeeja gives us the inside scoop on what it feels like to live with niqab.

Image courtesy of 4seasons

Several months back I remember watching a group of niqabis and thinking to myself, masha’Allah how beautiful and graceful they look! I felt such an awe and respect for them. I adored them and aspired to be one of them. But worldly desires held me prisoner for a while.

A few months later, however, I joined their ranks alhamdulillah.

So one day I finally came to the decision to wear niqab fulltime and not just on my shopping trips as I had initially thought I would. I had gone back home for a while from where I live with my husband and daughter, and I felt uncomfortable from all the stares that I got when I stepped out of the house. With each outing my discomfort grew and grew until one day I had had enough with dealing with the stares and dealing with the guilt of displaying my face for these unruly strangers. Thus I, with the mercy of Allah subhnahu wa ta’ala turned to niqab, with encouragement from my mother and a prod from my husband, alhamdulillah.

With my niqab I felt at ease. I felt tranquil. I felt free. Free from the stares; free from the guilt. I felt I was doing a little more for Allah. And it is truly a remarkable feeling that you get when you reserve your beauty only for your husband to see. Wearing the niqab distances you from the dunya –you no longer care about so many worldly things that you thought were so important and it brings you closer to your Lord. When you change yourself for Allah, eventually your soul and heart turns to Allah too. The niqab all of a sudden made me feel respectful, graceful, modest and liberated. I became a free respectable woman, as Allah subhnahu wa ta’ala intended me to be:

Allah, The Exalted says: O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the Believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies. That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allah is Ever Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful. [33:59]

But that’s not to say wearing the niqab is without its challenges –which happens to be one of the reasons why I love it so much. I feel I am doing something for the sake of Allah that requires struggle. Wearing the niqab gets difficult when you are holding your crying baby in one hand and pushing a stroller with the other and you’re sweating and panting like anything. It’s challenging when you are having dinner outside, with your baby on your lap and it makes it impossible to eat without lifting your niqab all the way. It requires patience when you have a cold and are sneezing every five minutes and having to lift the veil just enough and get your handkerchief in place at the exact time. Even with nothing going on around, it gets plain hot, sweaty, exhausting, and often ends up giving me a headache.

During these apparent difficulties I always think of the women around the Messenger sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, back in the days before there were air conditioners or even fans; before there were cars or airplanes. If they could cover up in the heat of the desert and ride on a camel for hours without even ample water to quench their thirst, then what do I have to complain of? I think of the sisters in France and other places where it is against the law to wear niqab in a society that fears, rebukes and hates it. If they can still wear it, then why can’t I when Allah subhnahu wa ta’ala has made it ten thousand times easier for me? My difficulties seem trivial compared to theirs –like the difficulty I had in giving up all those pretty and colorful hijabs and hijab pins out there for which I am nuts!  Paradise has a price. When you think of Paradise you have no choice but to come to the realization that these tiny sacrifices are nothing compared to the magnitude of your reward, insha Allahu ta’ala.

 The Prophet salAllahu ‘alahi wa sallam said: A place in Paradise as small as the bow or lash of one of you is better than all the world and whatever is in it. [Bukhari]

The niqab also has many outward benefits which I have derived from my personal observations and experiences. It is a veil not only of your beauty but  many times of your emotional outbursts. It veils your anger, your smirk, your awkwardness, your sadness, sometimes even your tears. The watery eyes without the sad face to match are often overlooked by people. Plus, you can yawn at people’s faces without feeling the least bit embarrassed about it, and put your tongue out at people if the situation calls for it! You can trip, slip, and fall and not feel bad. –hey nobody saw your face! Nobody even saw you blush. You can make funny faces at your baby (who seems to get them and stops crying!) which you otherwise wouldn’t make in public.

Like with everything the niqab has it’s benefits and its difficulties. But thinking like a Believer there is benefit in both. As the Prophet  salAllahu ‘alahi wa sallam said:

“Wondrous are the believer’s affairs! For him there is good in all his affairs, and this is so only for the believer. When something pleasing happens to him, he is grateful, and that is good for him; and when something displeasing happens to him, he is patient, and that is good for him.” [Muslim]

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