By Farhana Siddiqi

Image: Salam Stock

Image: Salam Stock

I was born and brought up in a moderate Muslim family. Being the youngest in the family, I was quite a brat, a confident little tomboy. I was taught to make my own decisions and that’s what I did all my life. At 22, I decided to get married to a person my parent’s chose for me and moved to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia with my husband. Here, I started to wear the abaya and hijab because it was the law in Saudi Arabia – it was not by choice but just to abide the law of the country I was living in.

In 1993 our young family of four – my husband, myself and our two young sons – moved to USA in search of a better future and in 1999 we immigrated to Canada. When I was living in North America I never liked to wear jeans, I preferred wearing ladies’ slacks with loose fitting shirts or T-shirts. After a while I started feeling uncomfortable wearing short sleeves and eventually I stopped wearing them, my shirts started to get longer and loose. However I was still hesitant to put on a hijab. I thought of what people might say, that they would be judgemental and think of me as just a poser. I worried over how I would look without my hair showing, that my round face would look rounder and chubby.

I had millions of questions popping in my head and I was not been able to make a decision for the first time in my life. I always think with my head and listen to my heart but in this matter my head was not clear and my hearts voice was so dim that I could not hear it.

Then one day I got news that one of my clients, only 46 years old passed away with cancer which was diagnosed just 6 months back – leaving behind a 15 years old daughter and an 18 months old son born after 25 years of marriage. I was shocked. Only a week passed when I heard about my cousin’s 38 years old daughter who passed away with cancer and 10 days after that another cousin’s 40 years old wife passed away with cancer leaving behind four young children. This was like a wake up call for me. I thought over it for a while and finally made a decision to change my life, to live my life better, in accordance with Islam. I thought of starting to pray regularly, before the others prayed my namaz e janaza. I decided to wear hijab without thinking about what others will think about me. It will be me who has to go to my grave and it will be me who would have to answer Allah, I thought.

I wanted to tell this to my husband, but in a better way. Ramadan was just around the corner and I picked 1st of Ramadan to start my hijab. I asked my husband to take me to buy some hijab caps and other accessories. The day I wore the hijab for first time and went out, I felt better – instead of odd, I felt protected. On first Friday of Ramadan we were invited for a family Iftar party, I wore my hijab in front of our family and friends for the first time and they were all very appreciative of this change in my look. They asked me if it was my Ramadan look and I told them that it was going to be my permanent look. I received many praises and congratulations on my decision.

I am so happy that I made a decision which was right and I am so proud of my new look. I feel very safe when I go out with my hijab and I feel that others are looking at me with more respect. I feel like it’s not just a head covering, I feel that my hijab is a crown on my head.