What Hijab Means to me, HASHTAG #Hijabtome

Recently Huffington Post have asked Muslim women to tell to the world what Hijab means to them. A call out to all Hijabis to use this Hashtag and tell everyone what Hijab means to you! You can circulate your post on all social Networks using Hashtag #Hijabtome with brief description along with your picture.

So here is mine would love reading yours!

Hijab to me is a symbol of pride for being a Muslim woman. In the times where Islam is misrepresented by ISIS and Islamophobia is growing, I hold my Dear Hijab to me to tell to the world I am not ashamed of being a Muslim. People still categorize my recent change in dress up as backward and my question to them is still the same how can somebody’s choice of clothes be forward or backward! It is a choice like any other choice and I have the freedom to choose! I have chosen mine and you have chosen yours. Cannot be that by wearing different clothes we can still walk on the same path of peace, harmony and mutual respect? You didn’t read my mind, you didn’t see my heart! So please don’t judge me with the clothes I wear and neither should I do to you.

Personally choosing Hijab was a decision to focus more on my inner self rather my outer appearance. It’s been a year almost and I feel I have grown as a person, I have read more and applied some in my life and strive to continue in my life’s journey with Hijab Insha’Allah! Leaving gradually the hollow customs and social traditions to a more meaning life .There have always been conflicts between my inner and outer self and I feel it will remain till I die but I feel more alive to be driven by my soul rather a body driving a soul.

More and more women are opting for Hijab to make a collective effort to eradicate Islamophobia that all Muslims are not terrorists or dangerous. We are as peace loving as you do and we hate terrorism more than you do. People are dying in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan and they are all Muslims who are killed by supposedly Muslims, my heart doesn’t allow me to identify them as fellow Muslims,  they are just Terrorists who have no humanity left in them. Muslims are suffering from both ends. We do not deserve a global hatred, we need to get understood for the biggest problem of this century.

My post too is a way to convey my thoughts to all my readers for raising Hijab Awareness. I hope more and more people understand it. Please do not judge a book by its cover! Nor do all books with similar cover are same!

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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!

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.