It was hard to put up much of a fight, the fear factor had crept through all her friends and family that it was no longer a question of support to keep it on, but rather confidence to take it off. With a trip planned to a town that may have hardly ever seen any Muslims, let alone a hijabi, it would be too alien; even dangerous. Stories of attacks on veiled women hit her covered ear begging to uncover it, although none confirmed, the rumours spread like wild fire in her silky “piece of cloth”. And there it was, a decade or more of abiding to its modesty was reduced to no more than a piece of cloth. A fatwa was ready, to comfort her that it was nothing wrong, but an imminent threat to life would surely allow some change. ” You’re not giving up” they said, “it’s just temporary”.
And sure enough she remained as modest as ever, maxi skirts, long sleeves, just a brunette blending in. Her tie to prayer was stronger than ever, a coincided correlation mistaken for causation, an ambassador to Islam in a distant foreign land. But something didn’t feel right. Each time she covered from the cold or rain she felt a longing to her old self, her identity, her modesty complete. She questioned her choice day in, day out, but then was reminded, ” it’s just temporary “.
She can’t really remember why she passed those airport border gates without, something about her ID photo or what not, but there she was back home, unveiled still. The threat had long gone thousands of miles away, the fatwa no longer in anyway valid; but this was her new status quo. Praises and compliments on her new found “chic” hinted to a beauty that had long been hidden, as it should. “You look younger!” they said, giving up on the very promise they had once given. Yet what she dreaded was an inquisitive “why?” Whether or not judgemental, she had no intention to justify this fault, she had no reason to share the doubt. In a Muslim majority country, it seemed her old scarf was stranger than ever, confined to grandmas in her social class. Her free will to once wear it seemed far from free today, burdened by guilt, held back by a mid age peer pressure. One would think guilt would pave the way to repent, but in tides so strong she felt almost too embarrassed to return. “You don’t want to give up again” they said, “it’s just temporary, till you’re stronger”.
This time, her travels took her far more east, to a country she had hardly ever knew. An Arab Muslim community so rooted traditions, that the headdress was a dress code of national pride. She hated being mistaken for a non-Muslim sometimes, and wasn’t willing to conform to their norm of that so called slick hijab. It wasn’t real hijab, with a black cloth sliding off their silky night-sky locks, it seemed there was more showing than covered. ” It’s just temporary ” they said, explaining their uniform of revealed veils, “we take it off abroad”. It reassured that little voice inside her, how her niyyah must be in place before the veil would come to place. She even had her bag full of scarves, just in case. It only seemed she was moving further far from who she once was, she prayed and prayed for guidance.
She waited for a sign, a little push forward, she knew it took both will and grace to go through this step. Her struggles were shadowed with doubts and dilemmas, she wanted to do it right this time round, to wear it out of obedience to the One and Only Creator, not to her vanity nor to their fashion. She asked for a helping hand, a support system, for far few can take the journey alone; after all, she had to counter what “they said” with a league of her own. She prayed for the Prophetic metaphor, a musk holder.
And then it was, her Godsend gift of a friend. It was only then, she knew for the first time in forever what a true friend is really meant to be. It just happened to be that her new found friend was blessed to be a hijabi, true and through. Yet she never felt judged, they never really talked about it per se, she just truly caught the breeze of that musk, and the friendship grew to a much higher blessing from above, a sisterhood for His sake SWT. She put it on, never to forsake it again, inshaAllah
“No matter how far deep you hit the dark ocean bed, you may reemerge with pearls” – Ibn Al Qayyim.
This is to all the forgotten heroes and heroines who rise from their falls with Allah’s grace, in whichever good deeds hidden or shown, may we all ever be guided through the darkness into the light