Muslim Inside And Out: My Hijaab Story
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
*In this new mini-series a British sister shares the story of how she came to cover*
When I was about 17 years old, a little voice started niggling away at my mind.
‘You love Allah,’ it said.
‘You pray, you fast and you read Quran. You remember Allah SWT, you stick to what is allowed in the religion (halaal) and you avoid what isn’t (haraam). To all intents and purposes you’re an ok Muslim…except that you don’t cover…’
Coming from a household where I’d barely heard the word ‘hijaab’ growing up- or seen others wearing it- I’m not quite sure when and how that first niggle about the absence of a headscarf started. During my school years I would almost always endure a daily telling off in the mornings from mum. From the front door downstairs she would be yelling that I was getting late for school, while upstairs I would be calmly styling my hair with my straighteners. Covering it with anything- let alone a headscarf- was inconceivable! A couple of years later when I came home wearing a hijaab, I realised I wasn’t the only one who held such sentiments back then. My mum’s exclamation on seeing me- ‘You wearing hijaab, well now I’ve seen everything!‘- was one of those awkward-at-the-time-but-funny-in-hindsight moments. Anyway, a headscarf? ‘Not in this lifetime,’ the teenage me would probably have responded if asked.
Yet once that niggle appeared- while I was in Sixth Form- it was hard to get rid of. In fact, to my chagrin, it snowballed. Acknowledging to my 17 year old self that covering was something prescribed for Muslim women- yet I wasn’t doing it- opened up a can of conflicting, teenage emotions: shame at disobeying my Creator, zeal to rectify the situation, fear of what my non-Muslim friends would think of me if I started to cover, doubts about what others would say…vanity imagining how ‘frumpy’ hijaab would look compared to painstakingly styled locks…
Aknowledgment and action are not always immediate companions and in my case this was definitely true as I remained a ‘non-hijaabi’ for my last year at school. The urge to cover continued to hover in the background, but so did the apprehensions which- to a self- conscious teen- seemed formidable. The overall result: enough guilt to feel miserable on reflection, but not enough to spur me into action.
As school was ending, my journey towards covering was heading towards its beginning. Unbeknown to me, it was not exactly going to be a conventional ride. For now- having completed my A-Level exams- hijaab had slipped down my mental list of priorities. UNIVERSITY was suddenly at the top!