Living as a Pakistani girl born and brought up in a Muslim family under the stark blue skies and greenery of Nairobi city, Kenya, then proceeding to University in England, over time, Alhumdhulilah I have had the pleasure of experiencing a world of incredible ideological and cultural diversity.
Before University had begun, I had no inclination towards any belief system. I believed in what I used to call humanism (a word I thought I had made up that encompassed my love for humanity and being a good friend of the earth without the need of organized religion to gear my good deeds). Along the way I was surprised at the wonderful paths that were paved which slowly began to gravitate me towards spiritual diversities. A multitude of curiosities began to build within my mind as I delved deeper into the questions of existence and purpose. Through this, I became more open-minded to all religions and with the guidance and mercy of Allah, the opener of hearts, and some pretty awesome souls I had the chance of crossing paths with (you know yourselves), I awakened to the true beauty and light of Islam which has transformed my world today. After that.. everything is history but wait, what about the Hijab story?
This is my Hijab story.
Accepting the Hijab into my life came after understanding our Maker. His brilliance. His mercy and love for my loved ones, myself and the whole universe. His words Subhanallah at times would make me quiver with understanding of the truths He has made so clear. Looking outside my window would fill me with gratitude; for all His signs were a blink of an eye away. I felt serenity in my heart that I had never experienced before. The sense of my existence and purpose was deeply connected to my commitment to submit to His eminence for He deserves it.
As my love for Allah grew deeper day after day, how I spent my 24 hours began to reform. Consciously making lifestyle changes allowed space to reflect on the way I identified myself as Muslim woman.
I took baby steps to put all the knowledge I was learning through reading different topics of Islam to representing myself as a Muslim woman into action, but I was constantly reminded that it was good to pace myself with whatever change I planned to make. However, I believe that anything is possible as long as our intention is pure in the eyes of Allah. I never doubted he would give me strength to make any hardship easy.
As I felt my intrinsic haya (internal modesty) being practiced, Alhumdhulilah, this included my thoughts, intentions, interactions, actions, speech and body language, I began to value my modesty so much more than before. Soon I felt I was ready to practice extrinsic haya (hijab) for my identity as a Muslim, embracing the beauty in modest dressing, allowing whats in my head to triumph over what is on my head and most importantly, the obedience towards my creator for which the satisfaction would be unparalleled. But the journey did not prove that easy mainly due to self doubt and fear of not knowing enough about Islam to wear it. However later I realized these were Shaytaans way of pinching my heart which I could not allow to hinder my efforts and that one will never reach a point in their life where they know ‘enough’ about Islam. Islam is a progressive leap into the Creator’s conversation with His creation, revealing that the conversations will be of endless knowledge and understanding until we return to Him.
Soon I approached a sister who is now my close friend, Khalida Hussein. May Allah keep her steadfast. I had not spoken to Khalida for about a year and between that time we had not been in touch she MashAllah started to wear the Hijab. This drew me to her and I felt she could answer all my questions about hijab which she absolutely did. She ignited the fire within me to take my first few steps towards Hijab. She said, “Kandy you will never feel ready, but when you feel even a little ready, you’re ready, go for it!” A few months passed and I kept flowing in and out thoughts of wearing the hijab, taking a healthy number of selfies with it on to get comfortable of how I looked in it and sharing it with close friends to ease the process. This helped me get slightly more warm towards the hijab. At this point I knew there was no reason for me to delay the hijab any further but still, I didn’t do it.
It was fate as my Universiy Islamic society was presenting an Islamic fortnight and their last lecture was on hijab. At this point there were signs so prominent that gave me even more confidence yet I convinced myself I needed to hear the lecture to gain more insight into the realm of hijab. I told myself I have to be strong and make efforts to understanding the jewels of Hijab the best I can, for I believe that understanding reveals long term success. The lecture by Sister Sahar Al- Faifi were full of reminders of the advantages of hijab that I needed. One important point she mentioned was that hijab is much more than just a piece of cloth but hijab begins in the heart and in the eyes and is thus reflected through your actions. I asked a question on maintaining modesty amongst boys, specifically when they want a hug. I explained that “a hug is a simple friendly exchange of warmth between two people and they are free, so why is it so bad?’’ The Sister addressed this situation and said ‘a touch’ is something intimate in Islam, so if a touch is, a hug is something even more intimate and therefore as sisters and brothers in Islam, we maintain respect for each other by firstly valuing our touch hence not anyone should get it and secondly by not practicing any form of intimacy there is no margin at all for further unprecedented deeds unless of course the man is your husband. In addition with hijab on, men are automatically inclined to respect a woman’s space.’’ I found a lot of sense, respect and maturity in the answer.
Another month passed and on a fine April day in 2014, I decided to leave the house with my hijab on. It became that simple because Alhumdhililah I felt more confident with my connection with Allah than ever before. Subhanallah No one’s stare or hate could waver my bond. All I can say is from that day till to date, I will never look back InshAllah.
One close friend congratulated me and said, “Welcome to team hijab” and I replied, “Its good to be home.” It felt so right. I suddenly became much more content after I stepped into the world whilst remaining true to my inner voice. More importantly I felt the unparalleled satisfaction of being obedient in one more aspect our Maker has asked of us as He indeed knows what we are and what suits us best and Inshallah we should all keep striving to do our best.
Many perceive hijab to be a cloth wrapped around a woman’s head. however for me, it is above and beyond that. My life has taken a wonderful whirl into enlightenment, liberation and peace of mind. I value my body and feel secure in my Maker’s warmth.
I feel Hijab allows a double bond between one and their maker and Hijab almost becomes a second skin. It reminds me of Allah each time I wear it and what could be more beautiful than dhikr. Hijab has somehow brought me closer to the Ummah too. Alhumdhulilah I was born part and parcel of the Muslim Ummah but now I feel part and parcel of the Muslim Ummah.
After all it is true; Allah says, take one step toward Me, I will take ten steps towards you, walk towards Me and I will run towards you.
Thank you taking the time to read my Journey to Hijab. I hope it serves good for you dear reader Inshallah. If there is one last piece of advice I can give, it would be that, understand the value of your womanhood and be open to ways to gracefully guard it.