Hijab reminds me that my worth is God given and inherent, not linked to how I look.
10 Unexpected Benefits of The Hijab
My beautiful little niece is approaching wearing Hijab and in my preparation for a talk to be delivered at the takleef celebration for her and her curious little friends, I got reflecting on my own hijab journey and what I feel Hijab has afforded me as a wife, mother, professional and citizen in the West. Reflections that I want to share with my own teen daughter too since Hijab can be a tricky topic swathed in negativity.
I am grateful to have worn Hijab in my early teens. I feel had I not taken that step, I would have found it more difficult and maybe even decided against it later in life, building a case of plentiful excuses and justifications to support my decision. I believe there is certainly wisdom in Allah’s ordainment of the Hijab at an early age. An age where girls are care free, not yet limited by societal ideals and expectations of others. They are able to define and discover their interests and values as individuals. To define what true beauty means. To grow with Hijab as a part of them.
Here are some of the lessons I have been able to attribute to Hijab in my own life:
1. Hijab has taught me that what Allah wants for me and His divine commands are bigger than my own wishes. My creator knows what is best for me more than I can ever understand. Islam warns us about ‘Hawa’ (vain desire) and the Quran states “And do not follow vain desire for it will mislead you from the way of Allah” (38:26) and that through the seemingly strict rules and regulations of Islam we safeguard ourselves and thereby gain freedoms from many of the ills of this world.
2. Hijab has taught me patience and perseverance. It is not always easy to be mindful of my Hijab, it might be extremely hot or I want to do sports or I may aspire to dress differently. But we know that Allah (swt) does not burden a soul more than it can bear and nowadays we are lucky to have Hijab friendly clothing for different activities which is convenient and comfortable without compromising our commitment to our faith.
3. Hijab is a constant state of Dhikr (remembrance of Allah). When I am wearing the Hijab, in much the same way as fasting for example, I feel I am representing my commitment to my creator and I feel mindful of His presence and his protection and support, which gives me comfort and hope but also accountability.
4. Hijab connects me to inspiring female role models. Whether it be great women in Islam like Fatima Al-Zahra (as) or Lady Zaynab or even earlier in history like Lady Asiya or Lady Maryam, we know those pious and pure ladies wore Hijab ( in some form) with pride as a symbol of their faith and modesty and were conservative in their dress and I follow in their footsteps and along their path.
5. Hijab directs me to look inwards and reminds me I am more than a body – I am an eternal soul. My body has rights over me and I must keep it healthy and treat it with respect. Allah loves cleanliness and beauty but obsession is a step too far. When I wear Hijab, I am encouraged to view clothing and accessories as tools and not a focus in themselves. This frees me to focus my efforts on my inward journey of self- discovery, development and connection with Allah.
6. Hijab is a dress code and not a fashion trend. Fashion trends come and go and have been designed to be so. They were created to constantly change in order to keep people purchasing that which is new. This results in waste, materialism and inevitably comparisons with others, which are all discouraged in our beautiful faith.
7. Hijab allows me to feel a sense of pride in achievements resulting from my own efforts like my character, my level of discipline, my knowledge and my contribution to society rather than my looks that I have little or no control over. My confidence thereby is earned and solid, unshakeable as I age or change externally. My worth is God given and inherent, thereby not linked to how I look.
8. Hijab makes it easier to interact with men in a more respectful way at work and in wider society. I have experienced an unspoken awareness of my boundaries as a Hijab wearing female and males interact with me with a greater level of formality and respect.
9. When wearing Hijab, I am more mindful of my behaviour. After all I am a walking, talking representation of Islam and need to be a fitting and responsible example in my speech, interactions with others and transactions. Moreover, Hijab makes me think twice about being in settings or places which are not aligned with Islamic values. It envelopes me in accountability and responsibility.
10. Hijab allows me to communicate to the world that I am a Muslim and in turn recognise other Muslim women as I go about my day. This forms a familiar community of warmth, exchanged Salams and gentle knowing smiles and a feeling of belonging and being held, acknowledged and validated.