My Hijab Story
Updated: May 28, 2020
By: Maha Khan
It is the year 2020, and what an overwhelming year it has been thus far. I still cannot even fathom, that we are only in the 5thmonth of the year and have witnessed and gone through the number of obstacles normal people would go through in 10 years. Regardless, Alhumdulillah for all of us remaining safe and sound with our families in our homes, and to those that have lost loved ones, May Allah SWT grant them the highest ranks in Jannatul Firdous and forgive their shortcomings, Ameen.
I am writing this on Thursday, May 14th. My birthday was yesterday, and although I spent my day with allergies and body pain (because I am allergic to literally everything), *inserts laughter and crying emoji*, as well as fasting, I still could not have asked for a better birthday, Alhumdulillah. I did however realize after being reminded by a dear friend of mine, that this was my first birthday as a hijabi, Subhanallah. The realization did hit me when the holy month of Ramadan had begun, however, I didn’t even think to consider that it was my first birthday as a hijabi too. Now I cannot stop reminiscing back to the three crucial weeks in the summer of 2019, before my change of heart.
I do want to clarify that I am, Alhumdulillah, a 23-year-old Muslimah, and had begun my hijab journey at the age of 22 on August 7th, 2019. It surprises me just how quickly time has flown, and I am nearing my year anniversary of being a full time hijabi, Subhanallah. I had never quite told my full story of how I came to the decision to becoming one to anyone except my loved ones, until now.
When I was in high school, I had fallen out of step with my Deen. I won’t go into detail about my struggles at this moment, but I am grateful for the woman it has shaped me to being now, because I am now closer to my religion than I have ever been in all my years of life. When I had begun college, I had begun to pray more and make Dua’a for myself and all my loved ones. I had always wanted to become a hijabi someday, and always pictured myself as wearing one eventually, like if I were to get married someday, InshaAllah. I knew I had wanted to wear one then. I think some of my deeply rooted issues had a lot to do with fear – the fear of starting something new, and being labeled by people as a hijabi.
There is a phrase in Urdu that many people use. It is a phrase that has continued to dictate a handful of societies and the way people carry themselves, as well as their names. The phrase is “Log kya kahein ge” or “what would people say”. This is what your parent’s friends say when they see you out for coffee with your best friend in the afternoon, and while wondering why you are even out in the first place, thus making it their life’s duty to inform your parents of your whereabouts. Or, when you decide you want to look pretty one day and take some extra time to doll yourself up, putting on your fanciest yet casual outfit (to make it seem as though you aren’t trying as hard but did make half the effort) and your favourite shade of lipstick. I could go on forever with the scenarios that pop into my head, but let’s begin this story by saying that, I was always scared of what others may say about me if I began wearing the hijab overnight, or whether people would look at me differently and assume that I am just vying for attention.
I began to look deeper into whether I have even constructed my decision of when I would want to begin wearing a hijab when I had entered my first year of college and had met a handful of friends, who are very close to my heart till this day. We were all sitting as a group in the school lounge, having coffee after classes and relaxing before heading home. A friend of mine looked over to me, analyzed me, and then he decided to pop the question. “Maha, why don’t you wear the hijab?” I know my heart temporarily stopped in the moment because he was right. Why don’t I wear the hijab? Of course, I decided to give him the answer that I felt was the most honest answer to the question. “I feel like if I begin wearing the hijab now, that I won’t be as committed to it as I would be if I wholeheartedly decided to wear it one day in the future, and I’m scared that if I begin when I’m not ready yet, that I will take it off halfway through. Then what will I do, right?” I guess he understood, because he smiled at me, and told me that my answer does make sense, and he hopes that I do wear it someday. Just a heads up: he is not a Muslim man. He is a Filipino friend of mine, who was very fascinated with the religion of Islam, and genuinely wanted to understand the religion in its entirety. Till this day, I respect him immensely for it. I went home that day, replaying the conversation in my mind repeatedly. I thought to myself, ‘Maha you are older now. You do understand that as a Muslim woman, it is Fardh (obligatory) to wear the hijab when you have reached the age of womanhood, so why don’t you?’ Let’s just say that from this point on, the thought of wearing a hijab never, even for a day, left my mind.
My best friend is a hijab wearing Muslimah, and for all our years through college together, I had always told her about my wish to begin wearing the hijab someday, as well as my fears about it and myself in general. She continues to support me and love me through everything that I go through and struggle with and has played such a crucial role in inspiring me to begin wearing the hijab. Alhumdulillah, for her, I am incredibly grateful.
It is now the year 2019, summertime. I had just enrolled into a summer semester which unfortunately was mandatory for me to do and the month of Ramadan had just begun. I decided for the remainder of the month and a couple weeks prior, that I would let my skin breathe by not doing my make up for a month and a half. Alhumdulillah, it went very well for me. However, while I began to fall in love with my bare face again, I began to despise my hair. After years of heat damage and an endless use of product, my hair had become so dry and brittle, and nothing seemed to work to help fix it. I would put my hair up, I would put my hair down, I would clip it to the side, leave it half open and half closed, but even then, NOTHING I did seemed to appease me. I really did, despise having my hair open at this point. This is when it hit me, the idea. Why don’t I just begin wearing the hijab already? I feel so uncomfortable having my hair out now anyways. Shouldn’t I begin?
One day, after a meeting at work, I decided to stop by my local Starbucks to just catch my breath and drink some coffee. The thoughts in my head were getting worse (or better), however you want to look at it. I just could not get the thought of having my hair out all the time, out of my mind. I just could not get the thought of not wearing a hijab when I have had many chances to do so, out of my mind. While walking home that day, I think I felt like I was going to burst into tears. I don’t really know why, but I just felt so helpless, and spent the next week replaying every single bad choice I have made in my life, in my own mind.
I awoke one morning, a week later, having dreamt the night before, that I was wearing the hijab at school. I went to all my classes, met all my friends, and looked genuinely happy with it on. The whole dream felt so casual and so real, and I remember waking up feeling rather satisfied and feeling blessed. I decided to not speak of this dream to anyone for a while, just to see what were to happen later. The next night, I had yet another dream. I went out for lunch and dessert with my two closest friends, casually wearing the hijab around my head and a pretty outfit, and I looked very happy. I could see on my own face, how content I felt, how happy I looked, how effortlessly I embraced the decision… until I woke up, of course. I had gone into work two days later, and while on my break at a very fancy event as part of my work hours, I messaged my best friend and let her know about the two nights that I dreamt about the hijab.
Yeah, she cried. She messaged me the most heartfelt messages, she showered me with many Dua’as, and she cried. The night before, I had also told my mom about the decision while she was cleaning the house, and she was so happy that she could hardly take it. I am blessed to say that I have an incredible support system.
Fast forward through the next few days of deleting all my pictures off of social media, reorganizing my followers lists on all my social media accounts, going out for errands to the mall and coming home having purchased 5 hijabs and a hijab under-cap, a lengthy discussion with my mother and my grandma, I went outdoors on August 7th of 2019 for lunch with my two closest friends, just as I did in my second dream, finally having worn the hijab outdoors for the first time.
How did I feel, you might ask? I WAS TERRIFIED. It took me 10 minutes just to gather my own thoughts in my bedroom before stepping out into my living room to show my mother how I looked like with it on. You could say my mother grew impatient waiting for me, so she walked into my room by herself, and almost cried. She kissed me goodbye as I went downstairs, to be greeted by one of my best friends, whose jaw dropped for 5 minutes straight, and who complimented and showered me with Dua’as repeatedly. We then met my best friend, who would not stop looking at me with awe in her eyes. I love her so much, Alhumdulillah.
Now I know this story may not seem like such a big deal, because after that first day, I really did feel like I made it and immediately felt like hijabi Maha was the version of Maha that was meant for me. However, this story means the absolute world to me, and really changed my life. I spent 4 years of my life wondering what my life would be like if I wore the hijab the next day, and never did. I spent 4 years of my life consistently worrying about what others would think of me, when my main priority should have always been what I think of me, and first and foremost, what Allah SWT thinks of me. I prioritized the whole world around me consistently, except for my own self and my relationship with Allah SWT, and I think once I realized how much time I had to begin, and never did, I felt rather upset. I could have begun earlier; I could have travelled along the journey earlier. I guess everything in life has its own time and place, and maybe last year was my time...Who knows what else is in store for me! I still don’t really understand why I was so confident in thinking that the 4 years that I delayed such a decision were even promised to me. A lot can happen in that much time. My delay in such a decision even caused me to forcefully try to forget about it for a while, to avoid feeling an intense amount of fear and anxiety of what my life could be like and where I would go.
My decision to take such a beautiful step, came to me as a sign from Allah SWT, through my dreams. I don’t understand how, but I think I may have subconsciously made a Dua’a for Allah SWT to help guide me through silent prayer, and subhanAllah, I’m forever grateful that I did. Once I began to feel more comfortable wearing a hijab, I realized that my decision to put it on really was better late than never; that although I delayed my decision for 4 years of my life, I pray that I am somehow rewarded for the thought of it, and the struggle to get there. Another learning curve throughout the journey was that we as humans are not placed in this Dunya to please everyone around us. Our next day in this Dunya really is not promised to us, and a decision we struggle to make now could very easily become a decision we just never end up making, and with how this year is going, I think we can all agree that now it is more crucial than ever that we learn to value every second we are given and every single day we are blessed to live once again.
My advice to anyone reading this, who may be struggling with the hijab, or any decision in life for that matter, pray. Pray for yourself; make Dua’a for yourself, pray Tahajjud, pray your daily prayers, pray as much as you can for yourself to be given a sign to help guide you in the right direction, or a sign to help you find the light at the end of the tunnel. Allah SWT really is the best of all planners, and no matter how much we have planned for ourselves prior to it even taking place, only He knows what is beneficial for us, and what is to come for us and become of us.
Talk to somebody you know will hear you and understand your thoughts and your feelings. I think it has become such a norm in our day and society, to walk around with a heart made of stone; that vulnerability seems to us as though we are weak, and to show the world that you are weak is completely out of the question. But I promise you, it is not. When you are vulnerable, when you allow yourself to be okay with discussing how you feel, your thoughts, your inner fears, maybe even shedding a tear in between, you are in turn, proving that you possess so much strength, and you are a person learning how to understand the world and life just a little better, and growing positively from it. I think one of my biggest blessings in this Dunya, is that I am blessed with a support system like no other, who support me through all the good, all the bad, and all the ugly, who understand the struggles of wearing a hijab, who understand the struggles of being a Muslim woman in this world, and who never hesitate to carry my hardships for me when I am unable to do so on my own. For them, I am grateful, and I owe a huge debt to them, Alhumdulillah.
If you are a person that has a stable support system, CHERISH IT WITH ALL YOUR HEART, because you are blessed to be surrounded by individuals who understand you and hear you, judgment and comment free.
If you are a person that has not found your support system yet and have been jumping the hurdles of life on your own, I AM SO PROUD OF YOU. You are strong, you are resilient, you are beautiful, and I pray with all my heart you find the people meant for you, who continue to bless you and continue to help you grow as a person and a Muslim, Ameen. To have the love, the support, the affection, and the nurture of people who wholeheartedly want the best for you, is a beautiful gift, and I promise you, that you will find that for yourself very soon.
To conclude my story, I pray that day by day, we are all able to become the best versions of ourselves and the best Muslims, that our struggles and hardships that stop us from living life the way we wish to, pass by us and make us all the more stronger and all the more wiser, and that Allah SWT takes us when He is most pleased with us, Ameen. A decision I struggled to make for years, has become a decision that has positively changed my life, for the better and I am always grateful. So, here’s to everyone struggling and fighting their own battles; I hope you find your light at the end of the tunnel, and I hope you grow into the most wonderful person.