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.