Assalamualaikum my dear beautiful warrior,
Congratulations on taking the plunge and donning the hijab. I am so proud of you!!! Trust me; this is the only beginning of an incredible, soul-searching journey. I am grinning right now, thinking back on how it was like for me back then. Many things will happen, and I don’t want you to be caught by surprise. I hope that this letter will help you to prepare yourself for what lies ahead, in shaa Allah.
I’m sure you know that hijab doesn’t just apply to us but to men as well. When Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, was travelling on the road with his cousin, Al-Fadl ibn Abbas, a woman stopped to ask him a question. The woman was very beautiful and Al-Fadl could not help but stare at her. Seeing this, Prophet Muhammad s.a.w, reached out and turned Al-Fadl’s face away. He didn’t tell the woman to cover her face. Instead, he averted his cousin’s stare.
“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and guard their chastity. That is purer for them. Surely Allah is All-Aware of what they do.”
Surah An-Nur, 24:30
In the context of this letter, I will use ‘hijab’ to refer to the cloth on your head.
1) People will leave you.
There are no two ways about it. You’ve changed, and that makes some people uncomfortable. They don’t understand why you had to become different; they can’t accept you anymore. The most hurtful part is when those who drift away are those whom you thought would always be by your side. You try to fix the relationship but you just can’t. You wonder what you did wrong. You call, but all you sense is coldness. You text but don’t get replies. You realize that you can’t turn to them anymore. This will shatter your heart. Just when you think that you got over it, you remember them and your heart breaks all over again.
Trust me, this is a blessing in disguise. Your heart was created to be filled by only Him. We know how close the Prophet SAW was to Abu Bakr RA. Our Prophet SAW cherished him a lot. Did he keep Abu Bakr in his heart? He said, “Abu Bakr has favored me much with his property and company. If I were to take a Khaleel other than my Lord, I would certainly have taken Abu Bakr, but the Islamic brotherhood and friendship are sufficient.” ‘Khaleel’ means ‘intimate friend’. According to the scholars, having an intimate friend requires the heart to be filled with such an intense love for him that there is no space for anyone else. Subhanallah. Prophet Muhammad SAW had such a deep friendship with Abu Bakr but he knew better. He knew that it cannot compare to the closeness to Allah, our Guide and Protector. The Prophet’s heart was so full of Allah that even his dearest companion Abu Bakr could not fit inside it.
Let them go. The ones who abandon you were not meant to be in your life anyway. The pain that you feel reminds you that this is Dunya. The pain reminds you that you can depend on no one, except Allah. It’s a chance for you to return to Allah – the One who loves you more than your mother. “… and He is with you wherever you are.” Allah is the Only one who will never forsake you.
2) You don’t need to explain yourself to anyone.
“Why are you pretending to be holy?”
“Is it because you got married?”
“Why are you oppressing yourself?”
“Did your father force you to wear it?”
“Why are you showing off? Your religion is a personal relationship between God and you.”
I’m really sorry that you’re going through this. People can be utterly frustrating. Trust me, I know. Words cut deeper than knives. This is your decision. You didn’t do this for them; you did this for Allah. Don’t waste your time, especially on people who have already made up their minds about you. You can’t stop people from judging and talking about you. Forgive them. Smile and walk away. When you’re alone, make a silent dua. You don’t know what they are going through in their lives. You don’t know what is making them act so aggressively. Seek help from the Turner of hearts because only He can change them.
3) You are not wrapped candy.
I’m sure you are familiar with this analogy: “A man asked a Muslim man, ‘Why do your women cover their bodies and their hair?’ The Muslim man smiled and took two sweets. He opened one and kept the other closed. He threw them both on the dirty floor and then asked, ‘if I asked you to take one of the sweets, which one would you choose?’ The man replied, ‘The covered one.’ Then, the Muslim man said, ‘That’s how we see and treat our women.’ ”
No. Just no. You’re so much more than that. This analogy goes against the fundamental principles of wearing the hijab. We don’t wear hijab for the sake of men; we wear hijab for the sake of Allah. We don’t exist to please men. They don’t have any right to judge our value. They have no right to throw us on the floor to test our worthiness. A woman who doesn’t wear hijab is not asking to be dirtied. In fact, no one is ever “asking for it”. Which leads me to my next point.
4) The hijab will not make you invincible.
The hijab is not a magical piece of cloth that will keep you safe. There will always be revolting people who think it is okay to sexually abuse others. It’s about power, submission and control. I’ve said this once and I will say it again – Someone who cannot control his nafs will rape a woman, no matter what she is wearing. Women wearing bikinis get raped. Women wearing niqab and gloves get raped. It’s terrifying, but that’s the truth.
5) Don’t judge others because they sin differently from you.
Honestly, I sometimes slip up and find myself doing this. I forget that I was not born with the hijab on my head. It’s ridiculous how fast we give in to our ego, isn’t it? It’s easy for us to wear it because Allah made it easy for us.
Mufti Menk said, “She might have one weakness that is outward, and you have 50 weaknesses that are hidden.”
Wearing the hijab doesn’t mean that we are superior. It is between Allah and her. Allah knows what is in every heart. We can’t be too quick to judge. We don’t know her circumstances or what she does in private for Allah.
6) There will be days when you feel like taking it off.
The hijab does not make you perfect. You are a multi-faceted, complex individual with hopes, fears, wants, dreams, and anxieties. The path to Allah is not the easiest one, but you know what? Nothing worth it is easy. He knows when you feel ugly. He knows when you feel insecure. He knows when you feel terrified of wearing the hijab out. He knows when you’re sobbing your heart out, wondering why you are so weak. Don’t worry, my dear… This is completely normal. It’s hard to wear hijab in a world that revolves around physical beauty and commercialism. It’s tough when there’s so much negativity towards Islam nowadays. He hears you. He sees you. Remember this – If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t grow you. Strive for progress and not perfection. Every little thing you do counts. Take baby steps and try not to regress.
Imaan has three dimensions – the acceptance in the heart, proclamation by the tongue and actions of the limbs. You have to unite the heart with your tongue through what you say and with your limbs through what you do. “If you correct your hidden deeds, Allah will correct your outward deeds.” Beg Allah by His beautiful names to purify your heart. Guard your heart. Keep polishing it. When your heart is sound, it will reflect externally as well.
Allah has already opened your heart. You are braver and stronger than you think. Remind yourself why you started and renew your intentions. When you put Allah first, you will never be last. Surrender to Him completely. He will never put you in a situation you cannot handle. When you feel weak, remember this dua – “Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate (from the truth) after You have guided us, and grant us mercy from You. Truly, You are the Bestower.” Put your trust in Allah. He will suffice you.
Wallahu a’lam bishawab.