World Hijab Day: Feb 1st, 2016
By: Rahila Ovais
For this World Hijab Day we asked our fellow team members a few questions on Hijab? See their insightful answers below:
1. What does the Hijab mean to you?
2. How do you feel when you wear the Hijab?
3. When did you start wearing the hijab and what lead you to making that decision?
4. Were your family and friends supportive? What did they say?
5. What reactions did you get when first starting to wear the hijab?
6. Have you ever had any negative attention while wearing the hijab? Please explain.
7. Have you have any positive attention while wearing the hijab? Please explain.
8. Have you had any funny comments or moments while wearing the hijab?
9. If you could say what you wanted to non-Muslims regarding the hijab what would you say?
10. Lastly, how do you feel about the hijab being recognized as ‘oppressive’?
Hijab is an essential part of my attire and expresses my identity as a Muslim woman.
I feel complete and comfortable when I wear Hijab.
I started wearing Hijab after I went for ziyarat at the shrine of prophet’s grandson Imam Hussain, the great martyr. The visit reminded me of the sacrifices given to preserve the true essence of our religion. Adopting Hijab was a way of accepting and practicing this true essence.
Yes, they were supportive and happy.
To be honest, I didn’t care about how people were reacting. I was focused on making Allah happy and that made me happy too.
Not any I can remember.
Yes, women have come up to me and said Masha Allah you do Hijab.
I don’t recall any
Hijab is a part of several religions including Christianity and Judaism.
I find my Hijab to be liberating and protective at the same time. It is so much more than a garment and it’s certainly not oppressive.
1. Hijab is my outward expression of my deepest self. It is my protection, my identity and my devotion to Allah (swt)
2. I feel empowered, protected and very confident. I know that I am an embarrassed of my deen and I wear it with pride. I want to be that go to person for when people have questions. I want to have open and honest dialogue about the beauty of hijab and in turn the truth about women in Islam.
3. I was 22. I felt that the hijab and a stronger connection with Allah (swt) was missing from my life. It was just time to put it on.
4. They were all very supportive. It was something i really wanted to do and my Muslim and Non-Muslim friends alike respected that.
5. I actually received many positive reactions. I feel I received more respect.
6. I think I am one of the “lucky ones” I have actually not received any negative attention.
7. Many people (especially Non-Muslims) start off with “I love your scarf”, “you look so beautiful”, etc. I like to accept those compliments in a very welcoming manner hoping to initiate dialogue about hijab.
8. Someone asked my husband if he had ever seen my hair.
9. Hijab truly is a beautiful thing and in all Faiths there is a form or another of head covering for women. Let’s focus on what we have in common as human beings and less on what makes us different. Ask questions to increase knowledge, not to ridicule. Open your mind to understanding us and we will open our hearts to sharing what we are all about.
10. It’s actually the total opposite! Having full control over how much of your body someone sees is incredibly liberating. Hijab gives a Muslim women so much power over herself.
To me, hijab is not just that piece of cloth covering my hair. When I first decided to don the hijab, It took a complete overhaul of my closet. It’s a constant reminder of what it means to be a Muslim. It’s a continuous prompt that I must also always make sure of all the little things that are required of me, to pray on time, not to indulge in gossip, not to lie, not to listen to music to name a few. Hijab is my identity now. No one has to wonder and ask me what my background is or where I am from. They see me as a Muslim and that is enough.
Donning the hijab has made me more confident, more self assured and contrary to popular belief, it has given me more independence. I feel protected.
It has been about five years since I started wearing hijab. Before I started taking hijab I used to look at all other hijabi sisters with respect and admiration and wished I could be as strong and brave as them, I used to ask them to pray for me too that Allah gives me Hidaya (guidance). Inspiration came to me in many ways. I had attended a lecture during my last pregnancy and the lecturer described how a woman when she gives birth becomes as pure as the baby. The way she described it gave me goose bumps and sent chills down my spine. I wished I had been enlightened earlier.
It was interesting to note that my coworkers were more supportive than family! My family is a reflection of modern day Muslim. It is a general opinion on my husband and in-laws’ side that we don’t have to dress a certain way to be identified as a good Muslim. I agree with this to a certain level. Wearing a hijab does not really qualify you as a Good Muslim but for me it has certainly enabled me to learn more and practice more of my religion without imposing it on others around me.
I remember the first day when I walked into my work with my hijab on, I was ready for a few weird looks and a lot of questions. It was to my uttermost surprise that there were no weird looks; in fact most of my coworkers complimented me. Few had questions, like what made me decide to wear hijab after all these years. To them my answer was simple “because I have to, my religion prescribes it for me, and because I want to set a good example for my girls and if not now then when”.
Alhamdolillah I have never encountered any negative attention due to hijab. Most people are genuinely interested in learning more about hijab.
During an event at work, I couldn’t believe how many pleasant encounters I had. There was this Egyptian lady, when I greeted her in the morning, she automatically replied with a Salam. Another Muslim Pakistani gentleman said Salam and automatically lowered his gaze while he spoke to me. Yet another older Muslim lady, who had met me before in my non-hijab wearing days had a hard time recognizing me, nevertheless when she did she said “MashaAllah you look good. Pray for me too”. I replied “In sha Allah, you never know when you will be inspired and Allah will grant you Tawfeeq (inspiration)”.
Once I was walking with my co-worker on a particularly windy day, I quickly learned wind is NOT my friend especially when I was wearing a silk scarf!
About the Author:
Rahila Ovais is a mother to four ranging from 20 to 5 years old. She’s called Jeddah, KSA, where she was born and Karachi, Pakistan, where she was brought up, her homes before moving to Toronto twenty years ago. She is also a very opinionated person who has a hard time keeping her thoughts to herself. You can follow her on Facebook: HijabiMommy.