01 July 2009

The Hijabi Beginner

If you live in a western country, even the prospect of covering your hair is scary for most. By wearing the headscarf, you are identifying yourself as a Muslim and we all know the general portrayal of Muslims in the media is usually negative, but that's another story..

Anyway, the difficulties that young Muslimahs face in the western world can sometimes leave them feeling isolated especially in certain aspects where they find it hard to explain to their parents just how they feel because their mother and father have a completely different social upbringing to them and have faced very different challenges as young adults so they can't quite relate to their all of their childrens worries. The main point is pressures from school, family and culture are enough without throwing hijab and religion into the equation so I have decided to dedicate a section for the new hijabi or the Muslimah thinking of becoming a hijabi, or on the road to becoming a hijabi. I hope that it might make dressing modestly easier for the Muslimah living in the western world.

The first post is about 2 teenage girls living in the west, one wears hijab and the other doesn't. Here's their stories, they are long but interesting reads. It was written by Robyn Doolittle for the star.com:


Asmaa Abou Zeidan scans through her closet and – like most mornings – settles on a shirt her mother doesn't like.
It's a white linen button-up blouse, falling just above the knee.
"She thinks it's too tight," the 16-year-old sighs. "She thinks everything I own is too tight. `That's not the way a Muslim girl is supposed to dress. You're supposed to be modest,'" she says.
Asmaa doesn't consider herself super-religious. She reads the Qur'an – when her parents ask her to. She attends mosque, prays five times a day, and believes in Islam, but right now Asmaa's priorities are her family, friends and being 16.
On a typical day, Asmaa likes to hang around school for a bit after the final 3:15 p.m. bell. Sometimes, she and some friends will hop the 43 bus to the Scarborough Town Centre for some shopping.
"I don't have to be home until dark, although in the winter that's pretty early," she says. "My parents are pretty lenient with things like this. I can hang out with my friends as long as my mom knows where I am."That said, Asmaa lives a life of clear limits. She's never had a sleepover at a friend's house. She's not allowed to have a boyfriend and any secret crushes have to stay that way.
Well-liked at school, and as happy as a 16-year-old can be, Asmaa wears the hijab – by choice. It's a decision she made at 12, late by some standards.
"I liked the way people treated me when I wore it. I get more respect," says the Winston Churchill Collegiate student. "And I like the way it looks." Asmaa skims through her 25 or so scarves, selecting a chequered black and white one, with a pearl pin she bought at an Islamic clothing store down the street. In 30 seconds, she's wrapped it around her shoulder-length black hair.
"My hair's just black right now. But a few months ago I had it dyed red with highlights," she says, her soft eyes beaming. She laughs, anticipating the next question. But who's going to see it?
"What? I'm still a girl," she laughs. "My friends see it sometimes."
She means either at home, when no men are around, or in fitness class. "It's just girls, so when they close the gym doors, sometimes I take off my hijab," she says.
But sometimes, she just lets her hair down. Late at night, Asmaa will sneak down to her building's pool for a swim. Her bathing suit goes all the way to her ankles and wrists. She wears a cap on her head. Only when she's sure no one will walk in, Asmaa takes off the cap to feel the water run through her hair.


Most days, Zahraa El-Zaibak and her friends congregate outside the main school entrance after the final 3:15 p.m. bell.
Kids from other cliques stop to chat. A grade 11 student in conversation with Zahraa's friend Asmaa stops mid-sentence, looking over at Zahraa. He makes a face.
"Are you Muslim?" he asks
"Yes," the 15-year-old replies, with a hint of annoyance.
"Then why don't you wear the scarf?"
Let's just say Zahraa's heard that before.
In typical teenage fashion, clothing is a pillar of Zahraa's teenage life. On this day, Zahraa's wearing a brown crushed velvet track jacket over some loose-fitting blue jeans. It's a modest ensemble compared to what the average, low-rise-jean-wearing high schooler might wear. But by traditional Muslim standards the jacket's too short.
And the jacket's zipper is only half done up, revealing a not-so-baggy tank top that scoops a few millimetres too low below the collarbone.
But it's the one thing she doesn't wear that always creates questions.
"It happens all the time and I'm sick of hearing it," she says, in a severe tone.
"People think that if you don't wear the hijab you're not religious. They look on the outside. If you're wearing the hijab then you're automatically religious, instead of getting to know a person and see what they're really like."
Zahraa is "the sweetest girl you'll ever meet," according to her two best friends. But discussing the hijab brings out an uncharacteristic passion.
A scarf is not the only indicator of your spirituality, she says. She's learning how to read and write Arabic, so she can study the Qur'an, prays, attends mosque, fasts during Ramadan and says she thinks about faith and religion and what they mean to her.
"It's not that I won't wear one," she says about the hijab. "I'm just not ready for it yet. I will wear it one day. I know that. Just not right now. For me, I want to be spiritually ready to do it and not regret it later. It really changes everything."
She knows she's treated differently than Asmaa, her best friend, who does wear the hijab.
"They think you're more – I can't think of the word – traditional."
For one, it would change how she dressed every day. Like many 15-year-olds, she wants to be able to wear what she likes.
As it is now, Zahraa gets up a bit earlier than the rest of her friends. She has to.
Her voluminous shoulder-length hair takes at least half an hour to tame. After a shower and quick blow dry, Zahraa reaches for a can of mousse and works it through the curls, crunching her hands into fists.
The last thing she does before she meets the morning is pull her dark brown bangs back with a pair of bobby pins.
More posts coming soon Insha'Allah, I hope you like the idea :D


Amina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amina said...

Thank you sooo much for this post!!! I am looking forward to more posts about the new hijabi :)

Hijab Chic said...

As salaam alaykum,
thanks for posting this :)
I loved it!

A lot of people really think Islam is all about wearing hijab (for women) and if you don't wear it they assume you're not religious at all.
It takes time, if a person is not ready to wear the hijab, she should concentrate on praying and studying Islam and the holy Quran and ask for Allah to give her strength to wear it.

CareMuslimah said...

awww...mashallah!!!.. I loved this post!!... I'm a new muslimah.. also new hijabi, living in the west with western parents. Lol.. it's hard. Thank God my teenage years are almost over!.. haha

:):)..salam alaykum!!

Inspired Muslimah said...

Very nice and interesting post sis,keep them coming, :) !!

the mrs. said...

love this idea ;)

Maj said...

I liked the story...both were written well. Cant wait for more!

Angeliquez said...

well written sister..masha Allaah!

xxiqraaxx said...


I like this either of teenagers telling their stories (btw im 13), i am just about to wear the hijab and would love to share my story since it is quite a big sad one.....
Anyway my email is xxiqraaxx@hotmail, can you please email me telling me if i can tell you my story or not
Anyway I really like yours blogs and some have really helped me and my faith.

Anyway lots of Love
Love Iqraa xx

Zaenab said...


Hi, I would love to post your story!! I'll email you soon (just as soon as I get some more internet allowance as I am running low this month lol). I'm so glad that you like the blog too :D

Speak soon,

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