One of the reasons why it took me longer (than it should have) to put on the hijab was because of the responsibility that comes with it. Obviously wearing a scarf is a clear indication that you are a muslim. For so long, I felt as though I wasn’t ready to take on that responsibility to represent Islam. This is because I had a potty mouth, and because I’m not the most patient and tolerable person so I felt it was a lot to deal with, especially with all the negative stereotypes over the media.
I knew that as someone representing Islam I had to be nicer, talk soft, be modest/presentable at all times and watch every word that comes out of my mouth. It’s a pretty big deal when you think about it, which brings about today’s topic: Representative of Islam. Basically, wearing our scarves means the first thing another person associates you with is being muslim, therefore anything we say and do (particularly around non-muslims who have misconceptions and preconceptions about Islam) is to be said and done carefully and with thought. I’m not suggesting that we have to walk on hot coals everywhere we go (if that’s even the right saying) but smile and be nice to the cashier who serves you at the supermarket because their experience with you could have been the reason they think ‘hey, Muslims aren’t as bad as what everyone makes out to be’. Or you could be the first Muslim they have ever spoken to, so when people verbally attack Muslims, this person can turn around and say to their friends ‘nah mate, they’re not all that bad.’ Maybe it’s not the greatest response but it’s better than agreeing and believing what the media portrays us to be.
Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. You’re serving a nun at work, and she’s not rude but she’s unpleasant. She didn’t smile once, when you ask how she is, she replies with ‘good thanks’ with a straight face. She looks rushed and bothered and annoyed, not necessarily at you. Wouldn’t you think ‘how rude’ and when someone mentions the word nun, you immediately think about your experience with a nun. Because that’s what we do, as humans we associate things with past experiences.
If we’re walking down the street or in the shopping centre with our hijab/jilbab etc. Let’s try to be careful with the words we say, let’s not swear and carry on. We need to be mindful, although you might say ‘I don’t care what people think’. How about if we changed the way we communicated with people, imagine that Allah brings someone to Islam through you. Because they saw that you were humble and it attracted them to study the deen. What a beautiful thing. So many of us want to change the world, yet we can’t even change our own attitudes for the better.
As Muslim women, we have a huge responsibly on our shoulders whether we like it or not we represent this beautiful deen. And yes, people can be blind to the fact that we’re allowed to make mistakes. We are human. Islam is perfect, Muslims are not. But we should remember we have an important role in this world. Not only are we judged by the Almighty on our kindness to others but also how we ourselves portrayed this religion. Did our day to day interactions give people negative or positive connotations about Islam? It is our duty to preach through our character before we start preaching in general.
May Allah help us all to represent this deen in the best way possible, guide us all to the right path, and strengthen our deen. Ameen.