One day she stops and asks: “Why are you wearing this?” Part I
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
**A sister who wears the face veil shares her thoughts and explains why she prefers people asking rather than assuming! May Allah reward her for sharing her experience, ameen**
So I wear the niqaab. It’s not just the hijaab (headscarf), but also the veil that is draped over the face. Alhamdulillah, I’m glad for the niqaab. There’s so much privacy under the veil, it’s amazing.
My Mum wears it too. She’s been wearing it since… nearly forever (I think!) with Allah’s aid, alhamdulillah. When I was younger, I would always look up to Mum for wearing the extra piece of material over her face so as to not attract the attention of other men unintentionally. Islam has such a beautiful concept in this regard. So that women and men do not intermingle for the wrong reasons, women are encouraged to cover themselves. They’re treated like precious pearls: covered from the outside, yet beautiful in the inside for the one who matters (her husband).
So before I turned an adult (Islamically it is when one reaches puberty- for females this is when they start menstruating) I used to love Mum for wearing the niqaab, but was always sure I wouldn’t wear it myself. I wore the hijaab from a very young age, and I liked to keep it that way. But two years after I matured, I had heard that a friend of mine had started it and she was a year younger than me. The embarrassment I felt at that point is indescribable. So I took it as a challenge and wore one of my Mum’s spare niqaabs to the next dinner we were invited to. My friend didn’t know about the secret competition. But I knew then, that this was my thing too. I knew then, at the age of 13 years, that I wanted to be a niqaabi (a woman who wears the niqaab). And alhamdulillah, I am so grateful to that friend of mine to this day, for showing me this path. One needs to be sincere and make true efforts in order to reach a goal. And the intentions need to be for the right reasons too.
The media has really polluted the minds of thousands across the world, including many Muslims, so sadly there are innumerable misconceptions about the niqaab. Some include the following:
Niqaab is just a cultural thing, it isn’t part of Islam.
While it’s true that there are different opinions regarding the status of niqaab, none of these opinions say that it’s not a part of Islam. The least stringent opinion is that it’s something recommended while the strictest opinion is that it’s compulsory. Not everyone follows the latter opinion, but you won’t find any genuinely practising Muslim telling you niqaab is not Islamic. There are many evidences that it is a part of Islam, which people can research if they’re interested to really know the truth.
Muslim women who wear the niqaab are downright oppressed by their husbands or fathers.
Really, are they? In reality, we are not oppressed at all. One is completely incorrect if they think otherwise, just because niqaab falls outside the norm of what they consider to be ‘oppressive’ within their culture. Was I oppressed by my father? No way. Not even close. In fact, my parents were completely okay with me not wearing it. The urge to wear it came from within. And I feel that this is such a mercy from Allah, that He has given me the ability to wear it. I cannot thank my Lord enough for it.
Women who wear the niqaab are uneducated or illiterate as they cannot leave their homes.
Again, really? If completing Year 12 at a normal high school and then studying Education at a University is considered illiterate, then I am illiterate. If this is considered educated, then I am educated. Whichever way we look at it, it is our perception that dictates how we see a person. With the niqaab I attended high school like any other teenager, and with my niqaab I am studying to become a teacher like any other University student (who is studying the same, that is). Allah has not stopped anything for me because of my niqaab, alhamdulillah. I think I live a much more normal life than many others out there. In fact, I feel a boost of confidence when studying due to wearing the niqaab, in comparison to not wearing it. People judge me by who I am, rather than by what I look like. In Islam, it is said that if you do what is right and only to please Allah, the world will be at your feet. I can really feel the sense of respect from the people around me when I am out. There are of course a handful who do what they have to do to put you down, but if you pay no heed to it, and continue to do it to please Allah, Allah makes the most difficult easy for you. I have experienced it, I really have alhamdulillah.
Women in their niqaab miss out on all the fun they could have had if they did not wear it.
That’s not how I feel. I don’t feel like I am missing out on anything. In fact, the things that people think I am missing out on are the very reasons I wear the niqaab so that I can avoid them, such as chatting up and ‘having fun’ with the opposite sex. Islam is a merciful religion as all the things that lead to something forbidden are also forbidden. Since the only halal relationship in Islam is marriage, Islam forbids casually communicating with unrelated men. You can see why. How many times do we hear of cases where men and women start off as “just friends”, only to develop feelings for one another later down the line as they inevitably get to know each other well and become attracted to each others’ good qualities? It would be hard if Islam allowed you to freely mix with men and land yourself in such a situation, but then forbade you to act on your feelings by pursuing a relationship outside marriage. Islam spares you the grief as you don’t find yourself in this situation by freemixing.
This is just one example of why the niqaab is such a beautiful thing. The ‘fun’ people think we niqaabis miss out on is only so temporary, and is not even fun in the long run. It can lead to tears and pain in the end, especially when people develop feelings for those who are already taken which is often the case. Why bother wasting valuable time running after temporary enjoyment? We keep ourselves pure for our husbands only, not for just any man out there. We want our marriages to be full of real fun where we explore and experience the world together, with our (legal) men by our sides to protect us if harm comes our way. Isn’t that what a sincere relationship is really all about?
Anyway, before I go off on a tangent, let me come back to what I really wanted to share.
So every three days a week I walk to class to gain some knowledge about my beautiful religion – Islam. It’s not too long a walk. About 10 minutes at the most from my place. However, just getting to the end of my street itself takes up 65% of the walk. And sometimes during this short trip, I meet an elderly lady on the way. Usually I bump into her on my way back home. She’s quite elderly, maybe in her early 70s. She stands near her letterbox in her front yard, taking in the sun and enjoying nature I guess (a bit like me actually, I love nature). Anyway, so to put it frankly, she could not stand me when I would walk past her. And it was for the mere fact that I wore the niqaab. It would take all will power and courage to walk past her house when I would see her from the far distance. And when I did, I would receive such comments from her that it could have put me into tears if it wasn’t for the pressure from upcoming exams. I try not to let people’s talk bother me, although it happens too often. But sometimes the words can be more hurtful than necessary.
So one day she stops me and asks: “Why are you wearing this?” pointing to my niqaab….
*~* To be continued in Part II inshaAllah *~*