Author’s note: I have followed Thought Catalog for a couple of years now, and this is the first time such a poignant article on Islam (that I’ve found) has made it through the editors. I have fixed most of the grammar and spelling errors and inserted a few explanatory links, but I leave this girl’s message intact. Any anti-Islam comments will be removed. Here is the source link. Cover photo from NBC
It has taken me a long time to write this. It is very personal, difficult, sensitive, and extremely controversial.
Sitting here, typing this, I am still not sure whether I can, in fact, put it all into words that, in some little way, express how I feel and why.
But enough with the preamble – let’s just get into the heart of the matter:
I am a Muslim and i want to take off my hijab. there. I’ve said it.
I remember the day I wore it. I was thirteen. My best friend and I had been talking about wearing hijab for a while because everyone’s been doing it. Duh. It was the coolest new thing. We decided we would soon. It was in Ramadan; after iftar, I went to her place so that we could go to our aunt’s wedding. She dressed up and put on a hijab. I decided to do it then and there. I borrowed a hijab from her mom. With both of us wearing it, we went to the wedding hand-in-hand, extremely proud of ourselves.
I had been already considering the thought for a few days and so I felt excited about wearing it, not being fully aware of the consequences. Since two of my close friends wear the scarf, I felt very encouraged to take that step.
I came back home that day and announced my decision to wear the scarf. My dad sat there looking unhappy about it; he believed that I was still young to wear it, and that I wasn’t ready yet. My sister warned me against it. My mom told me to wait until I finish high school. My neighbor told me I was out of my mind. Despite these warning, I felt like I had to. I just had to. Everyone’s doing it. I was thirteen, and i didn’t want to be the outcast. So, I cried, I sulked, and eventually, I got what I wanted because I’m the youngest.
Hijab back then seemed so easy; it was concerned with wearing fashionable clothes and matching them with a pretty headscarf. People used to call me stylish and pretty. I saw it as a major way of getting compliments.
Did I do it because it is mandatory in Islam? No.
Did I do it for Allah? No.
Did I do it because I understood what its purpose was or why people wear it? Hell, no.
I did it because I was a thirteen year old girl who wanted to do something different with her life, who had just watched her best friend get celebrated for putting on a piece of cloth on her hair and I wanted to get some of that attention. I wanted the gifts, the congratulations, and the celebrations and the love and compliments and flattery from people – and boy, did I get plenty! I received so much encouragement and positive feedback that, I felt for sure, I had done the right thing.
I lived my life like any normal teenager would. I had my highs and lows, my ups and downs. I cannot say that the hijab was ever a hindrance to my life, but then again, looking back, I’m not sure that was necessarily a good thing.
This is something that I have been thinking about for years.
My hijab helped me during middle school and high school. It was like a shield, an invisible suit that I always had on when I went out, the suit that kept away the evil eye. It enabled me to keep that all-important low profile.
And after 2 years of satisfaction, the “taking-off my hijab” syndrome started.
I no longer felt like myself; I felt like my personality vanished when I put it on. I felt gray and unattractive. Boring.
I felt like I was losing my sense of individuality. I had no identity.
I could no longer be myself; I didn’t feel like being the quirky, funny, and happy person that I was at home. There was nothing which could set me apart from the next girl. I was no longer unique. No longer me.
I call myself an artist for fuck’s sake! So, you see why this could be an issue.
I sat at home feeling ugly, and suddenly I noticed my foggy relationship with hijab.
I don’t have any legitimate reason for it, other than the fact that I felt ugly without it.
I hated waking up in the morning; I hated going places; I hated even looking at people or having people look at me. I walked with my head down and my self confidence hit rock bottom. At heart, I am a modest person. I wear respectful shirts which rise higher than my collarbone and I wear clothes that pass my bum – I honestly have no intention to do anything haraam.
I’m a hard working student dedicated to my school work and becoming a med student. I’m writing this in tears because of how hard i have prayed. Asking for help – a sign, something.
I have severely low self-esteem and if plastic surgery were not prohibited, I would have jumped under the knife cold-heartedly.
So, adding yet another layer of ugliness to what I consider as existing ugliness is not the most appealing option.
It took me time to realize that a majority of Muslims are hypocritical. I remember those scenes in the mall; those women wearing a headscarf with the last few buttons undone in order to reveal a little cleavage. It was a very awkward way to wear hijab – covering your body, but showing double the seduction normal non-hijab clothing would. The truth, I realized now, is that I wasn’t doubting Allah; I was questioning the reality of so many Muslims nowadays. I feel like I need to take off hijab and get rid of the feeling of being “caged” and start my path of rediscovering the true face of my religion without any feelings of suffocation.
I know Allah wouldn’t be pleased with me taking off my hijab, but he would understand and eventually forgive. He knows what I’ve been through and why I am doing this.
At this point, I am fed up with this endless struggle. I’ve been suffering from the same topic for ages now, and almost everyday, thoughts of taking off my hijab haunt me. I am holding a lot of anger and confusion towards this foggy relationship I have with Allah.
Islam is patient and merciful; I know I could take my time to re-explore this path of spirituality and peace with Allah, but all I need is some breathing room away from the restrictions and rules society has created. Yes, taking off my hijab is not really right, but it will give me a chance to rediscover the beautiful meaning of Islam without any frustrations. It will give me the freedom to differentiate between what Allah Almighty has told us to follow and what people are currently doing.
I hope one day I will become really close to Allah, and represent the correct image of a true Muslim.
- Hijab: to veil or not to veil (zarafaris.com)
- I chose to wear Hijab 🙂 (callmecrysant.wordpress.com)
- Hijab normal or not? (islaammatters.wordpress.com)
- What’s With the Headscarf? Muslim Women on the Hijab Question (ghostriverstudios.wordpress.com)