Is the Woman in Hijab oppressed? Who is a free woman ?

Women in Hijab are often considered to be oppressed, backward , coming from third world .Some  people think of them as too conservative,are even suspicious of them as  if they belong to radical Islamist  and some pity them over being oppressed.

Many muslim women do not choose to  wear a  Hijab because they do not want to be stereotyped, otherwise given a choice they will wear it.

Different people have their own stereotype about Hijab, but most common thought  is oppression , How can  covering one’s hair or body makes he/she oppressed ?  or How can exposing your body make you liberated ?

I do not deny that there are some men forcing women to wear Burqa/Niqab , and forcing some one to do something outside his own will is oppression, but here the oppressor is not  niqab or hijab , the suppressor is lack of awareness of Islam, lack of education,male domination among those males who only learnt to look muslims from outside but never knew how a true muslim should behave.

The women today  who are choosing to wear hijab  are educated , working and having a normal social life , so there is no point of being oppressed.  The respect of their choice should be in similar way as of any other woman who chose to wear shorts or  red hair or blue hair , or go bald and still be recognized as bold ?, Is a Woman with Hijab not bold ?  She is still putting it even  after all the stereotypes, and  facing the questioning doubtful  eyes of people .

It is strange how we think today, we are talking about gender equality , women’s rights, we are even accepting same-sex marriages but not a woman in Hijab.

Short clothes or long clothes it is entirely her choice, there should not be an opinion about a person based on what he/she choose to wear .

There are women who are oppressed in every society , we need to work on root causes, wearing or not wearing certain clothes cannot make you liberated from  those evils .

We are all prisoners of our own mentality, until we do not fix it , we can not experience true freedom!

In my opinion the urban working women  is more oppressed than rural ones , her oppression is more on inside , She wears best clothes, work in best companies , she earns well , she has everything to say from outside that she is independent and free .

But is she really free ?

A lot of young women are going through depression,anxiety ,stress  mainly because of issues at home and pressure at work. She is dependent on her husband or his parents for everything, She cannot cook what she wants, cannot sleep when she wants, what she earns also does not belong to her anymore ! Some of in-laws allow them to wear western wear just to show off to people how open-minded they are.

Is this ,what she has worked hard for /striven for in her life? She prefer to stay mum to keep up her image of free woman .

Do you still  think she is a liberated woman  if you think a woman in hijab is not ?

We can never be truly liberated until we work together to remove these social evils from our lives!  I  hope the  generation of tomorrow will have real  free women , the responsibility lies on all of us, to make sure that we teach our sons  to respect women and how we will(future mother in-laws) treat their wives!

P.S : There are always nice exceptions and I am proud of such men and parents who give freedom to their daughter in-laws equally like their own daughters.

I am only raising awareness about Hijab and  concern over hidden issues in our society than the ones which are visible on outside world.

Hijab :My Choice

When you go to new city , how curious you are about everything, noticing every little details of place, taking pictures of everything, I feel the same as a new Hijabi , noticing behavior of everyone around me ,reactions of people,their thoughts, their concerns.  Outsiders do not matter to me ,but yes ,my family and friends surely matters,

After a conversation with a close friend about my Hijab today ,her concern  was over my not so attractive look which hides my beautiful hair, Why did I do this, Did someone asked me to do it , what was the need for it, if it’s temporary  ? Her concern was so genuine, like always ,her selfless care and concern has always kept a special place in my heart, where ever we are ,we have always been connected by our hearts.

I told her that  it is absolutely my choice and I like it, I didn’t give her much reasoning and she never asked for it but that made me think of something about us ,all of us,something so deeply set in our subconsciousness.We have all become so materialistic in all these years that we never realize it,it has become a part of us,of our lives,we find pleasures in looking good so much,that some of us will not even dare to step outside without makeup! what for??

To impress others, if yes what will we get out of it?

To be accepted by others? Will some else’s idea of how you should look matter to us, I think in that case I have rejected their idea of how should I look ?  Are we not enforcing society upon us to tell us how we should dress up to be more acceptable, to be more liked  just because of our looks and not our capabilities , is it right ?

Why beauty  now a days is all about show off? We are all Hippocrates, saying beauty is skin deep, but do we actually believe in it?

Glamour has taken so much place in our lives, that for true beauty of  a person,his  heart , his soul,nobody cares!  How a person think, how nice he/she is,  his behavior, his nature , intelligence and intellect, all  have been shadowed by this idea  of glamour!  Men are rejecting women because they want to marry  tall women, skinny, or  fair women , if not  then definitely she should be rich enough  It is also true vice versa, I know best of the people I have met in my life, well-educated ,intellectual, though not glamorous enough, and not yet married!! Why , may be they didn’t jump into this race of glamour, they just love being simple souls. For them, I would say they will definitely find a person who will admire their true beauty.

Isn’t it the time to check our parameters to judge a person’s beauty ? We need to stop somewhere, and think!! Not everyone can run in this race ,they have other races in life to win for,to die for!

Hijab is my first step to loosen my neck from this grip of materialism, and a step forward to focus more and reflect on my inside,.

My Hijab Diary-First Week

I thought about writing my first week experiences as this is the most crucial week, full of reactions,responses and your own capabilities to absorb them. Luckily I started my Hijab with my new project , they were new people who never saw me before except few of them, so if  someone is seeing you first time,  there is hardly any point of surprises if you are with your Hijab or not, except that you are too nervous within your own self.

The next task was updating my profile pictures on facebook,whatsapp,gmail etc any social network that I was using, .I started with whatsapp , moving on to my facebook. I had different reactions  from people, though I have anticipated  it already but being a girl ,too sensitive and conscious makes you even more nervous.

I didn’t know that some girls were wearing Hijab as a fashion statement, they were taking it on and off as they want, so some of the reactions were “Is it just like that ? ” “Hijab fever”,”what is this look” . I am not condemning  anyone here, I know they are normal reactions but just to know the psyche behind such responses that too coming from muslims , Interesting thing  to share with you , My father still thinks that my profile picture is selfie taken after I prayed so I have the scarf on my head, he said to me ‘ Haan Mullani lag rahi ho dp mei’ ( You are looking like a religious teacher in your profile pic), It was so funny ! but the concept of Hijab is still not very clear to him yet , so how can I complain about the rest ?

Some were sending  me messages  to ask ,what is that I am wearing or what is it about my new look, I answered their curiosity and told them, It is called Hijab.I understood that they don’t know because it is not so common to wear a Hijab in India.

One of my friend blocked me from her Facebook and Watsapp without saying anything, I suspect it is because of Islamophobia and dissociating yourself from practicing muslims, forgot to mention she was a muslim :-), Don’t worry she is not from India .

Some of other reactions were a bit sarcastic – ‘Are you working in Syria, Is Belgium Islamic State,’ faced with my confrontation , they said, they were just trying to be funny.

One of  my Indian colleague was so concerned that what has happened to me, Why I started to wear it, his endless questions, ‘Dont you feel hot, How will you go gym with this?  , n many more ‘.He is still shocked though it is going to be a month now.

I am only mentioning these ones just to prepare your mind for these reactions, Though I had received  many comments that said I look better with my Hijab, thanks to ones with their encouraging words.

Don’t be disheartened or sad with reactions of people, they will soon get used to it, don’t let the noise of outside world disturb your inner peace,You need to know that you are not doing anything wrong so why to fuss over things which are right. We live in a materialistic world where women is more of an object of display, we have been so mechanised by the system  that everything that doesn’t fit to our frame of reference is seen awkwardly ,it is obvious that you will get all kind of  reactions. Be patient, people who love you, especially your friends , it will not matter to them, they will accept you the way you are!

How I started my Hijab?

Rumi (A.S) had rightly written

 “Wound is the place from which light enters !!”

We understand the meaning of these words when we have a wound big enough to crack open our hearts and let the light through in,

We are so lost in our lives  that religion often takes a backseat  until some adversities appear.Difficulties/Adversities/Wounds as they are interchangeably called are all His way of bringing us closer to Him whenever we go astray a bit too far.When a calamity befalls us ; we are ready to do anything to remove it ,to reduce our  pain and to get the strength to overcome it.

I am also a product of  addition and subtraction of such adversities , like everyone else I didn’t welcome them when they first appeared ,but now I do thank Allah , for they made me closer to my creator.As I was going through my difficult time I started thinking of what  am I doing?, What did I do to fall in such a situation?? Is it because of my sins or is it testing from Allah? Am I doing things in accordance to what I am expected?  and if yes, why is He not answering my prayers ?  and  with this very own question, I had a question for myself ,Why should He listen to my prayers, when I simply can’t even follow what he told me to do.

The time of self contemplation lasted few months,  I first  thought of wearing Hijab two years ago, I bought two scarves, started to wear them on my way to office and took it off before entering my office, I couldn’t muster the courage to wear it in public moreover in front of people who knew me, the fear of an image lost, how will I look, my hair style, what  will they think about me  and many more fears, I couldn’t win from my own  fears then and I gave up the idea of wearing Hijab.

The thorn of a battle lost  to my own devil always kept my heart sad , the grief was even more saddened when I came back to Europe where I saw girls wearing their Hijab so proudly, Seeing them everyday I had a weird feeling like I was a thief and I  had stolen something. Whenever I was praying or reading Quran, the remorse was getting stronger, I had many questions in my mind like:

  •    Am I a munafiq? Pretending to be someone else publicly and as soon as I get home, I am a muslim again.
  • When I was outside ,muslim women and men  didn’t acknowledge me, How will they ?, I didn’t look muslim!  then How will Allah acknowledge me and my Prophet on the day of judgement?
  • What am I ashamed of ? – Of being a muslim or acknowledging my religion in public ?
  • What about my Shahada that I say every time in Salah/prayer, when in reality I am not even ready to wear  Hijab, which means to acknowledge my faith publically , I am not even ready to compromise on my fake looks a little bit, Is this my testimony that I gave to  Allah and my prophet ?

I was fighting a battle inside my mind and heart everyday, I prayed to Allah during ramadan to give me guidance and peace, I  decided to talk to my fiancé about this,  He listened to all my fears and   asked me simply , ‘when do I want to start wearing my Hijab ? ‘  I said soon , He asked me ‘what if you die  tomorrow , Do you want to die without wearing your Hijab?’

My eyes were filled  up  with tears, ‘That is not how I want to be raised up in front of Allah.’, I thought.  I instantly decided in my heart to wear it from now on, so I went out to buy few Hijabs,the  basic colors first ,some pins, some headbands, Watched few tutorial on youtube, tried few styles, chose one which was easy  and suiting me and voila I was ready to go  with my Hijab, next day  to work.

I was nervous the first day , as if everyone was looking at me, but actually nobody cares, I was checking my pins all day in office washroom to check if my Hijab was in place, most of my colleagues are professional enough to show no reaction of my new look , thanks to them ,it helped me to remain calm, so the first day went pretty well.

From next day onwards I started enjoying putting my Hijab every morning, wearing it proudly and the troublesome voices in my head have faded away, I felt much more at peace to win my lost battle.

Insha Allah I will continue to put it always.

Why I never wore a Hijab so far?

As Everyone has a story , I too have my story ,it may not be an exciting one but I am sure it will of some use if  you are thinking of wearing Hijab in future. May be you also have the same mindset that I once had and you can relate to it,

Best is to give you a background about myself that could be explain why I didn’t wear Hijab so far:

I am an Indian , born and raised as Muslim , often people who are born with Islam are the ones to take it more lightly as everything becomes more of a tradition for us rather than valuing its real worth.

Let me give you a walk through of  a Muslim atmosphere that I have grown up with, around myself,  of  two type basically , one which is strictly religious wearing Burqa , long beards , telling people about  Haraam/Halal,going to study in Madarsas  and the other category  called themselves as modern Muslims without any Niqab or Burqa ,their kids going to English Medium Schools . the two of them hardly mix with each other, As more and more Muslims do not want to be associated with stereotype and fanatics, they are choosing to be Modern Muslims  so even if the mothers were wearing the Burqa ,the kids were being raised in catholic schools/English mediums to be prepared for this life and of-course to become so called modern muslims.

So inspite of being born in muslim family, raised as a muslim  by parents who are praying five times a day,whose mother wears a Niqab , I never wore a hijab in my life,because the concept of Hijab didn’t exist , I do not know what it is, there was only one thing the Burqa or Niqab,  which for me was a symbol of ignorance and being fundamentalist as people around me perceive it and I have absorbed this theory too well, I rejected it and nobody forced it on me .

Years passed , I finished my High school , then my Engineering , started working , enjoying my life ,during all these years I have been doing  my salah/prayers not 5 times but 2 times minimum, and reading Quran without knowing much the meaning  , observing fasts in Ramadan ,and taking care of Haraam/Halal things that a muslim should do, so according to me, we are good modern muslims who are doing the required obligations except that we do not wear Burqa or conservative clothing because looks don’t matter to Allah as he sees our Niyah and our hearts.

I first saw women in Hijab in my travel to France and Belgium that was first time I traveled abroad , they were not wearing a burqa/niqab but a scarf on their head covering their hair, I thought to myself why? We just cover our hair when we pray salah, so why are they doing it? Is it a tradition?, as they were from Morocco mostly. The questions went away from my mind once these women were out of sight  from road or metros. I also found muslim women  not wearing any Hijab ,in fact not following any rules, some were even drinking alcohol , these were two different kind of muslims I was observing first time in my life, For me both were  beyond my understanding so I decided to draw my own line between them, a non hijabi but adhering to the dos and don’ts of Islam.

Although I know by then that Hijab was a mandatory part of a muslim woman’s dress  after researching hours on internet to  find one site that says it is not mandatory , but  much to my disappointment  I couldn’t  find, that also didn’t dwindle my spirits, I said to myself so what ? Hijab isn’t my thing.

Later when I came back to India after few years, the awareness of Islamic knowledge had reached far levels, I was often asked  to wear Hijab in India , at times while walking in park, women in niqab will come to me and tell me about deen and how should i wear hijab. In.In the beginning I was feeling offended as none has right to judge my clothes or tell me what to wear ,they should mind their own business and let me live.For me ,religion is a personal thing and  not to show off in public.  What matters  most is  inside my heart, to be nice from inside, what is it in clothes or hair ?

so I  shrugged off all such invitations.

Why am I writing this blog?

I think this blog is a tribute to all my fellow bloggers whom I have been reading all these years , getting inspired  from them ,staying motivated , sharing  feelings  with them about my doubts ,confusions ,my worries , and feeling  content when discovering  that I am not the only one going through it alone .

This blog is about my journey to Hijab, my dilemmas, my thoughts , what I have faced  or still facing as I am new to it,

I think I owe to tell  this to  everyone who is struggling inside her mind to start on this journey, may be this could help you to overcome your fears or doubts which are stopping you or in better words delaying you to start your journey.I am not a scholar to give you insights,there are thousands of sites to get knowledge about the topic. I am  just  here to share my story , to hear your story , to lighten your burden , who knows you will join the caravan soon and we are then the fellow travelers !

Remembering this from Rumi,(AS)

“Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. come, even if  you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again , come , come.”

Keep trying even if you have failed thousand times , we are all here to help each other.
I will be sharing my experiences  in different posts  to avoid  getting your  interest lost or keeping you hanging over something too long to read. Happy Reading 🙂