To Hijab….

Since I moved to London, I have started wearing hijab. Admittedly only in my personal life, not my work life.

But this is a HUGE change from where I was just a few months ago when I first wrote about my struggles with Muslim fashion and wearing hijab.

I have read the books recommended by several of you on this subject, including “Rethinking Muslim Women and the Veil” by Bullock. Incredibly enlightening and helpful.

To be honest, I am not somebody who thinks wearing hijab and a long skirt provides more protection to me as a woman. Yet I do feel more comfortable and more secure when I wear it, and I love that it is a visible symbol that I am a Muslim. And, of course, it keeps me warm in the cold days of winter!

The best part of wearing hijab is the hijabi mafia. What is this you ask? Well, I have found that when I wear hijab I go from being completely alone in London to receiving smiles and greetings of salam as I walk down the street from other hijabis. Further, I get offers of help and local tips from hijabis whenever I look lost or confused. It is fantastic. When I have had a particularly bad week, being acknowledged by fellow Muslimahs makes me believe I will get through this challenging time.

As for work, I do contemplate how I will manage the to transition to wearing hijab. I have read so many news stories recently about the prejudice in the corporate workplace regarding women who wear hijab.

I have changed my style of dress and I am very open that I don’t drink alcohol anymore – but wearing the hijab is different. As someone in the workplace already and fairly senior, perhaps I could break a barrier. But I could just as easily find myself out of a job and deported.

I am not sure if I am being a coward or being considered in taking my time to figure it out. Perhaps the biggest thing is that I am thinking about how I could do it. This is something I could not even imagine a year ago.

Do any of you have the experience of being established in the corporate culture and making the change to wearing hijab?

17 responses

  1. I was already wearing hijab when I applied for a job (I converted while I was in college), though many people warned me not to wear hijab to the interview, I’m glad I did. I was told I would probably not get a job this way and I was “shooting myself in the foot” and so I was worried (also I had heard of bad experiences from other sisters), but I’m glad now that I was wearing hijab from the beginning. I suppose it could be a little awkward to do so after you are already working somewhere, especially if you are in doubt about their reaction. While I was aware that somebody might choose not to hire me for that reason, I decided in that case I would be better off not working there, but if you are already working there, you don’t really know what the reaction would be (unless there are others in hijab working there).

    However, I did start wearing hijab at college partway through the quarter, which in retrospect probably surprised some people. I didn’t tell my friends, classmates, teachers anything in advance either 😛 lol (though I told my family and my roommate). I have to say, most people took it in stride (along with my conversion). Those who didn’t probably were not my friends to begin with, but for the most part they just avoided me, and were in the minority. I remember sitting down at a table with some friends (who I used to work with) after I converted, in hijab, and saying something like, by the way, I converted to Islam. They were like, that’s cool, and we went on to other things :P. One of my teachers commented and I confirmed that I was muslim, that was about all there was to it. Some people were curious and asked me questions about Islam which also gave me an opportunity to provide some info.In those days people did not necessarily identify me as muslim right away. I read up before I converted on everything I could about hijab to satisfy myself of its requirements, what was obligatory, etc as I knew there would be questions about this as it was the most “visible” thing. I don’t see “protection” as what is the most necessary part of hijab, at all, first and foremost for me it is an obedience to Allah, but it does bring many benefits and in a lot of cases improved treatment even from non-muslims. However as you pointed out, the “networking” factor is huge, I have no idea how I would identify any other muslims beside myself without hijab. Also I have met many sisters who do not wear hijab, likewise they would not have approached me and made friends with me if they had not seen my hijab and known I was muslim, and a connection in the community would have been lost.

    I will mention though, that I started the first post-college job I had about a month before 9-11. I was not working on that day. The first day I returned to work, 3 separate people (the CEO of the company, my supervisor, and a coworker who was training me) all approached me separately to tell me that if anyone made any negative comment of any kind to me, I should tell them, and they would set that person straight right away! Despite the fact that this community was not particularly a friendly one in general (I had people yelling insults at me in the street sometimes), I have never had any problem at work, alhamdulillah. This is the case at my current job as well (different, nicer area).

    I think if I had to approach converting or adopting hijab in the middle of a job, I would take it the same way I handled it in school. I would just start suddenly, and if people had questions I would answer them politely. I am not going to say I wasn’t worried about the reaction when I started in school (I’d already had plenty of negative feedback from my family at that point), and I was very nervous that first day out the door, in fact I delayed so long I missed my first class. But ultimately, a lot of it is in your own head, and the rest of the world is external, and they don’t have that much impact unless you make it so. Your faith is your strength. Just ask Allah for the strength and patience to do it, and if you do not defeat yourself nobody else can defeat you. Think about the worst that could happen (which usually doesn’t happen, but sometimes thinking about that you realize that it’s not as bad as the fear about it). No matter what challenge you may be presented with, Allah will reward you in greater measure as it has come as a direct statement of your faith. Even if you were to lose your job, if those people are so intolerant to your religion, it will be for the best and by this means Allah will give you a way to become closer. But it always turns out to me, despite my fears, if I persevere anyway in what I know is right then Allah makes things work out in the best of ways. There is a hadith in which it says “Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) says, “My servant does not come closer to Me with anything more dear to Me than that which I made obligatory upon him.” and another in which Allah says (سبحانه وتعالى), “If you come to Me walking, I will come to you running.”

    • Thank you sister. You remind me of a great point regarding the obedience to Allah (swt). I know that this point is what I should focus on. And I agree the fear of something is usually greater than the reality. I have to agree as well that when I ask for support and guidance, things do seem to work out. Perhaps not exactly as I imagine.

      I am not sure if I am supposed to make new year’s resolutions any more, but I will certainly pray for guidance on this in the next year.

  2. Congratulations California! I unfortunately have absolutely no experience in a corporate setting (beyond reception 😛 ) so I can’t offer any real advice in that area however I think you’re taking very brave steps, I wish you all the best and hopefully, as your colleague stated, you may InshaAllah break a barrier of sorts if you do choose to begin sporting hijab at work. 🙂

    I love the term Hijabi Mafia and I think that’s so true! too cute!

    • Thank you! When I start wearing hijab, I really do hope I can break a barrier. Who knows, maybe there are sisters I am not even aware of who are not open due to fear. Not really sure. I just keep praying for guidance and courage.

      I hope all is well with you.

  3. Salaams!

    I definitely empathize as I had decided to adopt it at the same job where I didn’t wear it, and I was definitely terrified! In fact, I ripped it off after a few hours in my office, only to feel naked and vulnerable, thus throwing it back on. Thing is, I read this article that really, there will be no perfect time or place to start. You just do it. Because really, what reasons will we give to Allah that we didn’t. All my excuses sounded pretty lame, so I decided to go with it. Days turn into weeks. Weeks into months, and months into years.

    Mind you though, now that it’s 10 years later, I have to say, it is difficult, especially in job interviews (a litmus test of ignorant versus respective employers).

    I guess the question at the end of the day is what does it mean to you, and how important is it to you to wear it. Whether it be wearing our hair pink or black. Straight or curly. The hijab, ultimately,is your decision, which no one but you can decide. It definitely takes guts. It’s not easy some days. And yes, you may get treated differently (for better and for worse). But that’s the thing, every step we take, is ultimately to become closer to Allah, so the question becomes, what is it you’re waiting for. 😀



    • Wa Salam.

      I don’t know what I am waiting for! 🙂

      I can tell you all the reasons why – but as you say — all pretty lame. But I am praying for guidance and courage. And still exploring what hijab means to me. It is an incredible journey. I sometimes wonder how much more change I can take. (new country, new job, new way of life) But Allah (swt) never leaves me.

      I will keep you posted.

      I hope you are well.

      Hugs to you as well.

  4. Just thinking the same…working already 3 years for this company and I made decision to start wearing hijab first day of Ramadan..I am very anxious 😦 I live in Holland and I am Bosnian origin..
    Please share if you did start wearing at does it go…Thanks and salaam, J

    • Salam Jasmina,

      I have to say I have not started wearing hijab at work yet. But I do wear it routinely outside of work. Its a struggle. But I’m working on it. 🙂

      Let me know how you do. I admire your courage!


  5. Well my dear all out there I DID IT!!!!! Since last Friday I am officially hijbeeee 🙂 I feel wonderful!
    Have to say it as a bit scary for me…Sunday night I had night mare…I was afraid of facing my colleagues..although majority knows I am Muslim still to walk to the office in hijab was scary thing for me..well not anymore 🙂 Everyone very surprised but majority told me that I look beautiful – some rare questions – is it because that Ramadan is coming…and similar. I am happy happy Alhamdulillah!
    All of u who still doubt just do it! I never felt better in my life. Allah thank you …and thank you all for sharing your experiences 🙂 xxxx Jasmina

      • Thank you, I do enjoy wearing hijab and ot feels every day better amd better.i dont have any problem woth anyone. First wk there maaaaany comment among my collegues positive and negative as well however I went being nice to everyone and all is well:) and how r? How is going with you? Salaam and hugs J

      • Hi Jasmina,

        I am so glad things are going well!

        I am fine. Good in fact. Still very much on the journey of letting the people in my life know I am Muslim – but I have become much more comfortable and confident now. For the most part – it is a matter of time and choice as to how others come to know that part of me.

        Hugs to you as well. 🙂

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