13 September 2011

When & Why I Started Wearing Hijab

I thought that as I have posted other people's hijab stories I should write mine, as part of the hijabi beginner posts.

I think I should start with a slightly difficult confession. And that is, for the first half of the period that I owned and wrote this blog, giving people advice on how to and how not to wear their hijabs, I didn't wear it myself. I started this blog in September 2008 but did not step out of the house attired in hijab until Eid of September 2009. This post was the first that I ever wrote during which I actually wore the hijab; I remember even now how happy I felt that I could finally post about my style - before then, I would never mention my own clothing or "my hijab", I simply allowed people to assume the apparently obvious.

I would not blame you at this point for thinking that I am a hypocrite, after all why should somebody who doesn't do something themselves dish out advice to people on how to do that very same thing? Well, I will try to explain my reasoning behind the blog and to do that I will need to take you back a few years...

I grew up in a very "white" area. All of my friends, neighbours and teachers were English and I was completely closed off from Muslims for most of my life. Although growing up I never ate non-halal food and I fasted in Ramadan, I didn't give Islam much thought, I was just the normal token foreign kid who pretended to celebrate Christmas.. :(

I remember when I was 9 my dad asking me when I am going to wear the headscarf, not wanting to disappoint I said I would when I started secondary school (aged 11). This, however came and went and I was relieved that he didn't bring it up again for a while.

At 12 years old, I travelled with my family to do Umrah for the first, unforgettable time. There are two things about that trip that I cannot forget - one, the overwhelming and unexplainable feeling of fear I got the day before we headed out and two, the beautiful sense of calmness I got the very first time I set my eyes on the Ka'ba. I have been to Makkah many times since then but I have not experienced those two feelings to the extent I did the first time. It was then that my interest first grew in Islam, I remember coming back declaring that from now on I was going to pray everyday.

That lasted a week.

From then on we started going nearly every year and I loved every trip. The only thing I hated about the Umrahs was coming back, for two reasons. One, is the obvious and two, is that I hated the guilt I got when the airplane touched down in Heathrow and I would slip of my headscarf and abaya to reveal jeans and a top. Oh my dad's face..

Throughout secondary school, I never admitted that I was Muslim even though I avoided the main haram things. I didn't want people to make fun of me - I remember back then, getting called an "Arab" was considered offensive, hence I laid low.

There was one girl in the year above me who one day came in with a headscarf on. She was 14 and the only one in the entire school. It's strange but even though I am a Muslim myself, I automatically looked at her in a different way, like she was suddenly so much more "foreign" than she had been before. I avoided her.

I can't remember the exact age at which I started praying - I think it was 15 or 16. I do remember, however, that it was around this time that I started feeling very guilty about not wearing hijab. Nevertheless, I put this to the back of my mind when I met the one and only girl who wore a headscarf in my secondary school, at college. She had taken it off after two years telling me that she found it too difficult. I felt better at somebody elses short coming in something I found so difficult to do that I started college at 16 and soon became a fashion-obsessed student.

Although I didn't wear a headscarf in college, I did cover everything but my hands, face and hair. You wouldn't have caught me in shorts but you wouldn't have caught me in wide leg jeans either. I also prayed, I never admitted it though. I remember once some Indian guy in Biology started making a joke about how hilarious it would be if I "prayed on a mat". I point blank denied it.

..I went home that day and prayed.. on a mat.

In the meantime, whenever we would go to Makkah I would renew my faith in Islam and Allah (SWT). I made a pact with myself that I would wear the hijab when I started university. No ifs or buts this time: I was determined to do it.

You may ask at this point that if I wanted to wear it so badly why didn't I just go for it? The answer is, I don't know, I just couldn't. I was too scared of what people would think. Thinking back now I squirm, but I remember I was even uncomfortable going out with my own mum because of what people might say about her hijab.

Anyway, 2 years of college came and went and I decided that I wasn't ready for university yet, so I deferred my entry and worked for a year. I reasoned with myself that my pact had not taken age into consideration - I was to wear it when I went to university. After all, my dress had greatly improved, I prayed, fasted, read the Quran, increased my knowledge in Islam (and hijab) and avoided haram. I would spend another year hijab-less.

It was at the start of this gap year and during Ramadan that I started the blog. I had been making hijab outfits on Polyvore, thinking about what I would wear when I became a 'hijabi'. I started buying really modest clothing and saving them for university. I couldn't wait to be a proper hijabi. The blog started as a way to showcase my Polyvore looks, no more no less. But then I got really into it and thought why can't I give people advice? I had read and researched plenty about the hijab and I loved fashion so I didn't see why I couldn't write about it just because I didn't wear a headscarf, I figured that I adhered to hijab in other ways.

Sometimes I considered telling my readers the truth, but I thought that if I did they would stop reading and think I was a fraud, as well as this I had started getting messages from people saying that reading my blog had made it easier for them to wear the hijab so I thought why ruin it?

It's funny because during that particular Ramadan my dad told me to wear a headscarf while I was fasting. I cringed, I loathed it. I would wear it when he was there only and would take it off in the car before we even got home. I so wanted to wear it, but not on somebody elses terms and not at that time or place.

Fast forward a year and we finally moved to an area with a slightly more mixed population. It was two weeks before I started university and the end of Ramadan '09. We decided to go out for Eid and I knew we would be going to the mosque as well. At 19, I decided there and then that that was the right time. I remember my exact outfit - a cream mac, wide leg jeans and a red headscarf. I said nothing, I just went downstairs like normal. It was the weirdest, happiest feeling. I had finally done it.

Almost 2 years later and I don't regret my decision one bit. It's odd how as you get older other people's opinions of you don't matter as much - I didn't care what people thought anymore. I am glad I didn't put it on sooner and I'm glad I didn't keep putting it off either.

Perhaps I did "long it out" more than necessary but I think if I hadn't, I would have probably just taken it off after a while.

My advice to anyone thinking of hijab is don't just use either your heart or your head. Use your logic and reasoning and research to be sure in your mind that the hijab is a mandatory requirement in Islam. If after this you still really don't want to wear it, focus on your other aspects of your religion for a while (especially prayer). I'm not encouraging people not to wear it, just not to wear it and then take it off due to weak Eman or knowledge.


48 comments:

äмän ♥ said...

awesome post Masha'Allah <3

Muslim Convert said...

This is a brave post, and I don't think many people out there would be willing to write things like this about themselves....I think people often like to appear better than they are, but showing you are "human" in my opinion can make you more approachable since people can relate to that a lot more than the seemingly perfect pious Muslimah.

We all have things we need to work on in religion, in life, in everything. Not all of us are able to admit it and even go to great lengths to hide it.

Salam Alaikum

edibe @ edbdesigns said...

what a lovely 'story' this is... I have personally been thinking about doing a post on my own 'hijab story' too... it shall come soon inshaallah, however how good would it be if a lot of hijabi bloggers shared their stories to help inspire others who may be in the same boat as them? hmmm hmmm :))) thank you for sharing this weety and there is nothing to judge - and who are we to judge anyway? we have all been there and done that whether we wore hijab through our own decisions or our parents. xx

Stylish Muslimah said...

Thanks guys! :) Salam

Stylish Muslimah said...

Edibe: Do yours! I'd love to read it. Also I haven't forgotten about the post I'm going to do on your lovely style, I just haven't gotten round to it yet :S Salam

JaLpArI - tHe MeRmAiD said...

such a brave post :) and yes i really agree with you that we need to wear it when our hearts and minds are one lest we take it off after sometime...

i too had quite a lot of difficulty in wearing the head scarf.... i wanted to wear the headscarf but my family (except my father) was quite against it....especially coz hijab is usually associated with backwardness....

when time came for college, i particularly chose the place where i knew that hijab was a common practice among the muslims... i did start covering my head with the indian dupatta... but it came off in a few months... after three yrs of procrastination, i finally realized that enuf is enuf (esp coz i was finding it very difficult to read the Qur'an- i felt as if am bein such a hypocrite in reading the scriptures but not acting according to it) and announced to everybody that i shall start wearing the hijab from 28th nov 2008- that was my 21st bday....
i annonced it to all coz i didnt want it to come as a shocker for them... plus i also wanted to bind myself in 'a word given to ppl' coz i feared i might break my word given to god... i know this is absurd, but that is what seemed right at the moment... and ultimately my intention was good...

soon i will be celebrating my 3rd anniversary inshaAllah and though a complete 'hijab' is still far away... am glad that i have at least started somewhere...

Señorita Andalucíana said...

I really liked that last bit you posted at the end from tumblr :) I actually recommended your site to my sister, she dresses very conservatively and I thought she would you like your style. We're Christian but your style goes with our religion and her style too.

And no judgement, you're ready when you're ready.

Louiza said...

Your story sounds EXACTLY like mine (minus the umrah part - I'm very jealous!) And in my opinion, you might not have been wearing a headscarf, but that doesn't mean you weren't in 'hijab' to some extent - given that it means 'to cover', if you were dressing modestly but just not covering your hair, then you had the right to advise others on how to dress modestly too :)

Stylish Muslimah said...

Jalparl: Your comment made me smile :) I'm glad it worked out for you!

Señorita Andalucíana: It makes me so happy to see that non-Muslims benefit from this blog as well. I hope your sister likes the styles :D

Louiza: Aw, Insha'Allah you can go soon, it's amazing! You know that's what my mums says - that I was wearing it to an extent :)

Salam! :D

Ebsy Websy said...

loved every bit, mashALlah you should be proud regardless. I know many hijabi sisters who dont pray, backbite, attent mixed functions and dance etc. Hijab is important but you must do it when you heart is ready and your actions do it justice!

Aiman said...

I totally can relate to most of your post except for few points.

I am going through same thing right now, and inshallah once i will start this, there is no going back.

Sister you have awards waiting on my blog. Congrats

beingFab said...

Hats off to you for having the courage to write about this so openly. I am not exactly a frequent hijab wearer, though I do pray, fast, read the Quran etc. I agree with you, don't do it on anyone else's terms, out of fear or obligation to someone. It has to come from within, only then is it going to last. Again, lovely post!!!

LK said...

This is a beautiful post. People forget that its such a hard decision to make. Your honesty is refreshing and I'm sure has reassured many young women struggling with wearing or not wearing hijab.

Stylish Muslimah said...

Aiman: Aw thank you!! Good luck :D Let me know how it goes.

beingFab: Thanks, it took me ages to finally decide to write it :/ good luck with your hijab! :)

Salam

washi said...

Great post. I only started observing hijab full time a decade ago at a very mature age...so I admire you young ladies very much!

Isha Ankabut said...

Salaam alykum! Your story is toching, my new sister in law is from moracco and just started covering a couple years ago. I am 20 now and have been wearing my hijab for a year now hamdollah, but it took my a year and a half to cover after I reverted. I know how you felt when you said you didn't know why you wouldnt cover even though you desired to. I still only leave my bone cap on around my dad and step mom...I always pray to Allah to give me the courage to wear my full hijab around them...if you have any advidce I would love to recive it!

Anna said...

As-salaamu alaikum, mashallah sister!
I don't think it's really a big deal that you created this blog before actually wearing hijab, I would not dare call you a hypocrite. Perhaps you were testing the water before you jumped in with the rest of the covering muslimahs...it's all good! so, alhamdulillah, sometimes we know what's right but it's still hard to take the leap, the most important thing is that we do eventually and we learn and reflect...mashallah sister! :)

Anna said...

oh and I forgot to say, awesome quotation at the end...so unbelievably dead on

Sakina said...

Salaam! I'm a regular reader of your blog and when I read you started wearing hijab in Ramadan 2009 I just had to add a comment as I started about the same time :) It took me nearly two years to build up the courage to start wearing it too. Fantastic blog, keep it up! With luv.

Stylish Muslimah said...

Washi: A decade is ages though, mahsa'Allah! :D

Isha: Congrats on your conversion! Yes, I think it is one of the hardest decisions to make because everybody automatically knows your are a Muslim. About the advice.. do you mean you leave the bone on when you go out with your dad? Is that because he isn't happy about your conversion?

Anna: Thanks :D Yes, I really like that quote!

Sakina: YAY! Hijab twins lol :D

Salam x

Anonymous said...

Very interesting.

-Imran

RealLittleSister said...

Lovely post sister! It's amazing how much ppl attach so much stigma to 'a particular style of wearing a headscarf!' You know, it gets to ä point where you just have to decide to develop thick skin. I just started wearing hijab and it makes me feel freeee...call it elation :). And for a muslim girl living in a town where you may not find or ßpöt a hijab wearing sister for days, when I am asked by my numerous non-muslim friends, I just say 'my hair is untidy!'gma to 'a particular style of wearing a headscarf!' You know, it gets to ä point where you just have to decide to develop thick skin. I just started wearing hijab and it makes me feel freeee...call it elation :). And for a muslim girl living in a town where you may not find or ßpöt a hijab wearing sister for days, when I am asked by my numerous non-muslim friends, I just say 'my hair is untidy!' ;)£

hijab said...

really ..your story is really an interesting one..It's very true...you should not do it just because someone forces you to do it..If it comes from your within then only it will be said as true devotion to God..

Anonymous said...

Salamu alaikum,

it is so funny that you should write about this right now, because I seriously want to start wearing hijab for the beginning of my second cycle university degree - in a week's time :-S I'm a convert so I really don't know about my family.... Also I'm not sure how people will react at university... Please keep me and all the other girls that are considering hijab in your du'as!
Thanks for your story, you're a great inspiration in so many ways, mashallah!

Love, FHL

Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

I am sure this post will help alot of other sisters:)

Anonymous said...

Salam..as a convert i guess at times we think that born muslims have it so easy ie, wearing hijab comes natural, supportive family..but thats not always the case. I love how your story relates to many ppl and how honest u were.Thanks for sharing..btw what nationality r u?
_Bella-vita

Stylish Muslimah said...

FHL: Aww, I will pray for you! I hope it all goes well :) Good luck!!

OPNO: Thanks, I hope so :D

Bella: I'm glad you like it :) Yes, I understand where you're coming from, I think it's easier for girls who live in Muslim communities, so you have a point. I'm Arabic but I prefer not to post anymore details than that on the blog.

Salam :)

Anonymous said...

salam

yes..i do think you are a hypocrite, a big one at that...u have this holier than thou stance and yet you gave yourself so much of the same excuse of the people you hold in disdain have.

I shall cease to read this blog...for now i know what a real hypocrite you were/are.

~hay~

Stylish Muslimah said...

Hay: I don't have a disdain for women that don't want to wear the hijab but know that it is the truth. What I don't like is when women try to make out that hijab is not a requirement in Islam.

I'm sorry if you think my stance is holier than thou, but that's really not what I am like.

Salam.

Yukirat said...

That "Hay" is prolly just Indonesian Prince (on his/her mean days) or some troll in disguise, or someone who never really enjoyed reading blogs of this nature in the first place. Great post, even more gracious response. Haters gonna hate but that doesn't mean we all have to.

Sarah said...

WOW. That is all I can say.

I think that that is THE bravest post I have ever seen.

*claps*

Thank you for giving me hope for my friends!

Stylish Muslimah said...

Thanks Yukirat, lovely comment as usual :) Hmm I have a feeling it's not Indonesian Prince, they used to write in a very specific way. I dunno maybe it's just somebody who always disliked me; ah well, you can't win them all eh?

Sarah: Aw thank you so much :D

Salam x

Anonymous said...

Stylish Muslimah, your hijab story is an amazing one. I've been through almost the same thing you've gone through as well.
I also started educating myself on-line this religion when I was 16.
I had so much difficulty putting it on and I remembered how I was so so scared in the very first day. Even when two months only passed, I had this strange feeling that I might fail and won't be able to continue with it because I'm no good person. But patience is always key to success as usual and now I'm happy with it. Hamdullah. ^_^ Your blog made me a bit happier with it too. -Hebah-

Stylish Muslimah said...

Hebah: I'm glad that you like the post :D I hope wearing it has gotten easier for you now, insha'Allah.

Salam x

Rana said...

thanks for sharing your journey towards Hijab. I recently started to wear Hijab only becuase I know it is wajib to wear it in Islam.

Yours and my story is fairly similar but the difference is that I never was afraid of facing the rest of the world with my hijab on apart from my family!

I wear hijab but i feel so out of place amongst my family members as i dont get any support from them. They dont like hijab. And I feel so awkward wearing it in front of my sisters' husbands- only because they always treated me like their younger sister and now all of a sudden making big deal as though they are complete stanger to me or as though I should protect myself from them- i feel so dumb in that aspect :( and I find it difficult coz even at home I have to wear it coz my sisters' husbands are around!!!

But I didnt start to wear hijab for modesty reasons (though even before hijab I used to wear loose/full length and sleeves clothing)but I start wearing it because it is mentioned in the Quran and the Sunnah. But now I realised that there are so much more which is mentioned in the Quran and the sunnah that I see hijab as one of other things.

And Alhamduillah, I am pretty and i do have good sense of dressing but this hijab is making it hard for me to mingle with my family...

I do not want to take it off at all but I am finding it really difficult to please my family with it. I am putting so much more effort on myself to look more stlyish with my hijab on than I ever did when I was non-hijabi >.<
If only my family welcomes hijab with an open heart I wouldn't feel so stuck or difficult to observe hijab. that's why I always make dua to Allah (swt) to give me strength and confidence when I enter my house or when I face my family. I always pray that Allah (swt) to bestow some sort of noor on me that when my family sees me with hijab they don't feel that their daughter/sister has gone out-dated or old-fashioned... please make dua for me....

--
an Afghan girl

Anonymous said...

Salaam,

I just started reading your blog during Ramadan..right after a decision I made to KEEP my hijab on. I had started wearing it two years ago, but I don't I did it for the right reasons. Thus, this year Shaitaan kept attacking it and trying to convince me to take it off. But, luckily I didn't listen to him :)

Anyways, I don't know why I wrote all that. I just wanted to say I'm glad you shared your story. It just proves that hijabi's are REAL people, too. We have struggles with imaan just like everyone else. Thanks for letting me know that I'm not alone.

-Aysha

P.S. I LOVE the way you respond to people like "Hay" and others who are rude for no reason. You are classy.. a very hijabi trait! ;)

Laughin'Muslimah said...

Great post Masha'Allah! love your honesty.

Stylish Muslimah said...

Rana: Aw, I really feel for you! I hope that Allah (SWT) will make it easier for you and make your family see that what you are doing is amazing. Good luck :D

Aysha: Well done! Insha'Allah you will be rewarded for your good intentions. Thank you by the way :)

Laughin'Muslimah: Thank you :D Love your name!

Salam x

htownalready said...

Great post :). I too started "making up" hijabi outfits before I decided to hijab (well actually I wore it when I first converted, then took it off, then wore it again). I used to think I didn't want to wear hijab until I had the right wardrobe so I could feel good about what I was wearing. Anyways, your story is very relateable.

Muslimah said...

Asalamalaikum sister :)
I did my Ummrah with my parents at the age of 12 and I still remember everything, specially when the first time i set my eyes on Kaab'ah! I remember I came back and wore hijab for 2 months and then just took it off one day. But this year in Ramadan Allah (swt) has blessed me and I have come back to my deen. I have started wearing scarf outside and I keep practicing how to wear my hijab at home. I have also started to read Quran and trying my best to read all my 5 prayers everyday. I dont care anymore what everyone thinks but sometimes I do get this awkward feeling when I go out with hijab cause I get weird looks even from relatives and family friends..but in the end .. we are all doing this for Allah (swt) and we shouldnt be thinking what others think...! May Allah (swt) give me the strength to permenantly adopt the hijab and the modest attire all togather until I live!
Great post! <3

Stylish Muslimah said...

Muslimah: May Allah (SWT) give you strength and reward you for your good intentions :)

Salam x

. said...

as salaam alaikum,

encountered your blogsite today. extremely cool & inspiring.
regarding this article, it‘s very recognizable, even for someone who did grew up amongst ‘immigrants‘. When it‘s time it‘s time I suppose, Insha‘Allah.

keep up.
Salaam from the Netherlands,
Naila

Labella Iman said...

NO I do not think you are or were a hypocrite. a hypocrite would have been telling people they're going to hell for not wearing it, and shunning everyone for not, yet they do not practice what they preach. You were advising to the best of your ability... its like.. if I'm a advanced smoker and have been smoking for years, i could advise people to never start smoking because of its effects!

any who, I think this is an awesome post, and I think this is an awesome blog Mashaallah! And Alhumdulilah you started when you did, every thing happens as its supposed to happen!

Ieyean said...

Alhamdulillah, it is not how long it takes for you to wear it, BUT it is how SINCERE you wearing it, not because of others, but because of Allah. You BELIEVE in HIM, that what matters most:) I started wearing mine after my fourth child. But even then, I have not done it the proper way, I have always pray that I would in the near future, insyaallah...Congrats sister!

Prima said...

awesome, alhamdulillah,

Eesha Muneeb said...

Hello dear,

This is a great post. Let me tell you my (brief) story as well. I used to wear a hijab when I was in my teens, but took it off after I moved to uni in a different (non muslim) country because I was (sadly) conscious that I will get discriminated against, won't find a job, won't get good grades (because of my clothing in a business school!)...basically that people won't think I am rad and modern.

Then I started reading the Quran properly and when I read verses which meant that Allah is the one who determines your well-being, food, shelter, salary etc. for you, I felt so SO satisfied! I felt like I didn't need to hold on to these silly notions of pleasing people in order to live a peaceful life.

Even with that, wearing a hijab is a challenging thought for me, but I have promised myself to be honest from within, and not find excuses for any instruction I find in the Quran and Sunnah. So I prayed to Allah to give me the strength to overcome my fears and bring me towards a hijabi lifestyle.

The amazing thing is, I was expecting a slow change. I started praying less than a week ago, and I thought maybe it would take me till a year or two to get into it. But here I am today, looking for hijab styles and people's stories of hijabs..which is how I found your blog. I found your story touching and truly heartwarming and Real! Not to mention, it gives me so much support to know others felt the same way I feel but were successful in wearing a hijab nevertheless! InshAllah I am waiting for my headscarves to arrive soon, and then I will just go for it!

Thank you for sharing your story to encourage people like me.

Regards,
Eesha

ohheyshahira said...

thank you for your honesty. i love your non-judgmental attitude. :)

Anonymous said...

Amazing post sister, It's like you're retelling my exact hijab story. I'm in first year of university and started wearing it when I started, yet I'm still afraid of bumping into college friends who don't know I wear one. I'm trying to tackle this obstacle of caring about what others think of me, who are they to judge after all?