Hijab

How times flies, it’s been a year since I decided to put on the hijab, key words (I decided). And for some reason, I don’t feel oppressed yet… Is this something that comes at a later stage? How will I know when it’s the right time to feel oppressed?

All jokes aside, while to some people, this piece of cloth on my head represents oppression, hardship, and in some cases, violence. For us Muslim women, it is the complete opposite.  There’s something liberating about this piece of cloth on my head, (well it’s more than that actually…)

In all honesty, the day I decided to put it on, I was extremely nervous as well as excited. There were a million things rushing through my head, and my heart was beating really fast. I put my trust in Allah SWT and walked out of the door feeling anxious, yet at ease at the same time.

As you may be able to read in my previous posts, the first few weeks were a  nerve racking experience. Walking into work with it on (and I had only been there for 6 weeks at this point). Going to UNI for the first time with it on, and simple things like going to the shops and other public places. I felt as though everyone was starring at me, and I later figured out that we only think people are starring when we feel uncomfortable. I mean, I wasn’t uncomfortable about wearing the hijab, I guess I was more paranoid than anything, about others feeling uncomfortable in my presence, and being called derogatory terms.

As time went by, I started to really embrace my hijab. My love towards it grew more and more each passing day. I felt like I was apart of something really special. Despite not being able to go to some activities that I normally would, I never felt restricted or disadvantaged, Alhamdulillah. I learnt that once you put your trust in Allah, everything falls into place. The hijab became apart of my identity, and eventually I was more than okay with that- and with the fact that the first thing people would know about me when seeing me is that I am a Muslim.

To this day, I struggle to understand why people still see the hijab as sign of oppression. For me personally, the most liberating thing I did was put on the hijab. For most of us, it means that our worth is not judged by the color and length of our hair, the shape of our body and eyebrows, etc. Rather, it encourages people to see you for the person you are, and for that thing inside our head i.e. brain.

To me, the hijab, niqab or ‘burkini’ symbolises freedom. Why? Because most of us choose to wear it for the sake of pleasing our Lord, not for anyone or anything else. I don’t know how being forced to undress for men liberate women? It’s a little contradictory if you ask me. The whole thing about men choosing what a women wears (whether it’s a hijab, a niqab, or being half naked) is just wrong. If you want to oppress someone, you tell them what to wear, taking away their freedom to choose. There’s so much debate over who wears what to where and how, and a lot of this discussion is by men in power. We can only feel liberation if we get to decide for ourselves, each to their own. I choose to wear the hijab as an act of worship and obedience to God. It doesn’t matter whether people disagree with me or don’t understand me.

When you do something for the right reason, Allah will help you through it. I’ll end with one my favourite hadiths; The messenger of Allah (SAW) said “You will never leave something for the sake of Allah, but Allah will give you something better in return. [musnad] How beautiful is that, you give up something impermissible for the sake of Allah, to save yourself on that Day and in the hereafter, and Allah replaces it with something better.

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Where are you from?

The golden question, “Where are you from?” Funnily enough, has been increasingly asked to me in the last 7 months since I’ve had the hijab on. Sometimes I humorously reply “What do you mean?”

I come from here, Australia. Born and raised, can you not tell by my accent? It’s as if some people (mainly customers at work) are expecting that I’m from war torn Afghanistan or Lebanon or Syria and that I fled here when I was 9 years old. Or when I say my parents are Turkish, they expect that I’ve “been back to see my family” mate I’ve never even been. It’s like they’re expecting an amazing story of how ‘cultural’ or ‘stereotypical’ my life is. And how this hijab has a ridiculously interesting story behind it.

Obviously I’ve been asked this question before I was scarfed, but no where near as much. On second thought, before I wore the hijab, the question was more like “What’s your nationality?” There is a difference in the two questions, one is about finding out the background of someone and the other is asking which country they ‘came’ from, as if being a hijabi or a Muslim, or really anyone who wears religious or cultural attire makes you less Australian.

It’s made me do some thinking last few months, how people intentionally and unintentionally make you feel as though you don’t belong. And then the other day, I came across an amazing Ted talk which I could relate to completely, and it made me ponder even more. The question was, ‘What are we looking to find in someone when we ask them where they’re from?’ Are we looking to stereotype each other or define each other? What is it that we want? Sure most people would say, it’s a harmless question, what’s the big deal? It is a harmless question but it is the intent behind the question that makes all the difference. Like today, for example, I had a customer who asked me that very question and continued on to talk about his trip to a Muslim country on a Muslim airline. And he asked me why they had the adhan (call to prayer) on at 4:30 am on the plane and if it’s because ‘we’re’ trying to convert him. Why would I know the answer to that? Maybe because it’s a Muslim airline..? I don’t know.. And jokingly yet insultingly carried on to talk about how we pray 5000 times a day, I corrected him to 5 and he replied ‘whatever it is, it’s a lot’. This old guy continued to jokingly mock my religion to my face and thought I had the answer to everything. And he talked about how he went to a country near Malaysia and his hotel was next to the mosque and terribly mimicked the noise of the adhan. Well, if you travel to another country and you see and hear different things, that’s kinda the whole point of travelling, right? That’s the beauty of travelling, that you get to experience different cultures and different scenery, etc.

Back to the point, I’m just an Australian, who has parents that were born overseas, I love this country just as much as you. I just practice a different religion, and no my aim is not to ‘convert you’ or take over Australia with Sharia law. Get a grip.
I was born and raised here, just like you. I’m an aussie, just like you.
I’m just as Australian as you are, I just don’t drink VB and have bacon and eggs for breakfast- it’s more like sucuk and eggs. 😂
I definately enjoy a good old barbie just like you.

And yet, over and over again, so many customers are surprised when I go out of my way to help them with their mobile issues or their bill etc. Yes it’s my job, but going that extra mile, always seems to surprise the average person, as if a Muslim is not capable of being nice and sincere (don’t get me wrong, sometimes I wanna brawl)😂

And it got me thinking (again) why can’t we be friends? 🎶🎵
Who cares where you’re from, what you do, what you believe, can we all just get along? Respect each other regardless of religion, gender, nationality, etc. If only the media promoted love, not hate, I think we would be living a little differently, and accepting a lot more.

#cheersmate #todaysrant #icomefromalanddownunder

Representative of Islam.

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.

Refusal of oppression

I must admit, in the first week or so I had doubts as to whether I made the right decision or not. I knew I did deep down, but something was trying to make me to feel otherwise. I thought it would take longer for me to get used to it (even though I wore it when I was younger), but it didn’t. Hamdullah, I never thought I’d find peace in wearing the hijab. People look at you as though you are oppressed. If only they knew opression is falling for the lies and being slaves to society’s standards. Dressing modestly is not opression, dressing half naked is. Not being able to walk out of the house without making sure that you’ll turn enough heads is oppression. Why? Because you have fallen into the traps of the media and the so called role models that don’t have self respect. The ones that have all their blemishes and ‘imperfections’ removed by photoshop by the very people making money off the half naked women. And unfortunately people fall for this and aim to be like that when it’s not even real, it’s make believe (but that’s another story).

So, here’s my message to society. Screw you and your ‘beauty’ standards. With this hijab, I refuse to be judged by my physical appearance. I refuse to share my body with the rest of the world. I refuse to be oppressed. I demand respect. I demand to be spoken to with sincerity. I demand that my level of worth is not based on outter beauty but by intelligence, loyalty, and integrity.

I think I speak of behalf of all sisters when I say that for me, the scarf on my head means that I am out of bounds, meaning that a male should not look at me and think that I can be taken advantage of or that I am ‘up for grabs’. It should match your clothing, making a statement of unavailability to the mans eye and mind.

Sisters, take pride in your hijab. The first way to do that is to make sure your clothes complete/compliment what’s on your head. In shaa Allah, we can dress as modestly as possible. The second thing is to have remembrance of Allah. I say this because if I hadn’t kept on listening to lectures, particularly about hijab then I wouldn’t be in the state of peace that I am right now. I would be very confused as to why I put it on and kept on having doubts, because that is the trick of shaytaan. Just remember that imaan rises and falls, but remembrance is key. Assalamu Alaykum.

Two weeks in..

Yeah I’ve had a few weird looks. People do a double take ‘is that her?’ ‘She covered her head?’ ‘Wow she looks different’ ‘I wonder why, lets not ask and just awkwardly look instead…’ At work, at Uni, wherever it may be. At times I do feel people glancing at me and it gets uncomfortable, but its funny how most of the time I feel more confident. I don’t think I’m better than people or better than the sister that doesn’t cover, cause that was me 15 days ago.  Not cocky, but confident. Confident in the person that I am, confident at the fact that I’m being acknowledged for who I am rather than my ‘beauty’. Yeah people may argue that we aren’t defined by our physical beauty, but unfortunately we are. I hate to admit it, it is sad but it’s reality.

It feels good to be accepted and heard and I don’t need to flaunt my stuff for that. I thought I did, I used to love showing off what I had, but SubhanAllah as you get closer to Allah swt it annoys you that people look at you in that kind of way. Yes, it used to feel flattering that someone was ‘checking you out’ but as your deen strengthened, there was nothing liberating about it at all, in fact it felt quite derogatory.

Alhamdullilah, it’s been 2 weeks and I couldn’t be happier that I didn’t delay this any further.