Reflections

The responses to my last two posts (To Hijab and Family Matters) have been wonderful and encouraging. I love reading about everyone else’s experience with hijab, and about their telling friends and family about their choice to follow Islam.

And while I still am glowing at having told my siblings and am relieved that they have by and large accepted it, it has really made think about the rest of the people in my life.

I still have not told most of the other people in my life. I am sure this must sound odd. How can I have been a Muslim for more than a year and my friends and family have not noticed?

Well, as someone who lives in a largely ex-pat environment, my family and many of my friends live elsewhere – either because I have moved or because they have moved. When I do see them or talk to them, we just don’t talk about religion or faith.

My job for the past two years when all this happened was extremely consuming so friends who I work with simply think I have been too busy. They view certain behaviours and the way I dress as a bit odd but that is it. (They have not seen my in hijab… yet.) They are simply waiting for me to “get back to normal”.

If you asked me why I have not told them I would tell you that I am afraid of their reaction. Afraid that they will not accept me. Worried that I will lose them in my life.

But really, because of not telling them and not including them in my life as I used to, I am already losing them.

One the one hand, if they really are my friends, they will accept it. They will see that I am the same person as always. Perhaps even a better person, in sha Allah. And if they don’t accept it… well, why am I trying to hold onto people who won’t love and accept me for who I am. What good does that do me?

I think telling my siblings is just a baby step on the way. (A wonderful and liberating step – but only the beginning.)

I have no question that Islam is the right choice for me. And I feel so amazingly blessed that Allah (swt) chose to guide me to the straight path.

So why am I holding onto the image of who I was for people who might not love me enough to accept me for who I am?

5 responses

  1. You’re amazing in writing what I wish I had captured as everything was a whirlwind for me. I believe you are doing exactly what needs to be done right now, deciding who and when. Perhaps deep down, you are waiting to be a bit stronger before having to convince others the decision is right for you? Personally, I found divorce to alienate my ‘friends’ from me, while my conversion only lost the more religious ones who were convinced I had somehow betrayed them all these years (and by that I count only one). Besides, Islam or any life change (like that song by some guy who sang would you still love me if I changed religions) determines how strong your friendship is. True friends, like my good ol best girl pal who is atheist, will see your similarities and who you are. As in, you’re still the same person before, you just don’t drink beer, eat bacon, and flirt with guys at the bars now. πŸ˜€ Not that you did that before I’m sure, so like really, are you really losing friends you did or didn’t really have in the first place? Congruence will give you peace. Similar to those of the LGBTQ community having to ‘come out’, eventually, you will only be content when you can fully express yourself as who you are, instead of who they want you to be. πŸ˜€

    May God give you peace, guidance and great friends. πŸ˜€

    Pink.

    • I have to admit – I was that person (a champagne drinking, prosciutto eating, flirting-with-boys-at-bars king of girl). πŸ™‚ But I have not done any of those things for quite a long while and my friends already think it is weird. Telling them I am Muslim will probably help them understand.

      I soooooo appreciate all your support on this journey.

      May Allah (swt) bless you always.

      xoxoxo,
      Cali

      • Ah yes, I was the go-go dancing, Malibu and coke, dated guys I couldn’t remember chickie who thought being sexy was the number one priority which is highly ironic since I avoid being sexy at all costs, like no hint of my boobs thanks, and run from the idea of dating again. Now THAT is a miracle. πŸ˜€

  2. I understand the fear you are facing, and I think sometimes that the fear of things builds up to be larger than they really are in one’s mind. I touched on this before but I really think most of my friends didn’t care much at all about my conversion πŸ˜› it was a big deal to me but it wasn’t anything to them. Or if it was they didn’t say that to me. My family expressed themselves more but after a while for the most part, I think they wouldn’t have noticed much change through observation if I converted and didn’t wear hijab, because I’m pretty much the same person. I don’t really “involve” them in my religion because they are not interested in that. If I didn’t wear hijab, they probably wouldn’t have “figured it out.” I know that this is something you are still working with and it comes at different levels of ease to different people, I’ve had many non-hijabi friends or those who adopted it later on, including those raised muslim. However, I wanted to mention that one of the huge benefits of wearing hijab to me has been this introductory fact that I don’t have to tell people I’m muslim. There’s no period of “oh, I’m good friends with this person now, how will they react if they know I’m muslim?” People know I’m muslim immediately, coworkers, acquaintances, friends, strangers, everybody. Even those who don’t identify my religion generally realize it’s some sort of religious garb, sometimes they’re not sure what and they ask about it. I’m not an outgoing person and I have to say I would probably really be struggling if I was carrying this around as a secret that I would have to choose to reveal or not. Since I’m immediately identifiable as muslim, those who have a problem with it for the most part either avoid me, or keep it to themselves. There’s no surprise factor on either side. Yes, there have been a few who make unpleasant comments but obviously they “out” themselves as people to avoid right away, and this is pretty much people who don’t even know me (passing strangers). People who actually know me and deal with me directly for the most part do not say anything negative, if they have a bad thought about muslims they keep it to themselves. I can’t say that I mind :P. It also makes it easier to explain things like dietary preferences, and as I was surprised to discover, people act differently knowing I’m muslim. Most people are more respectful, they tone down language, they don’t expect me to go out drinking with them, etc. Of course some of their assumptions are incorrect (one coworker, I remember, found the idea of me going whitewater rafting hilarious) but on the whole I find the fact people already know I’m muslim when they deal with me to be a big load off my shoulders. I do remember how anxious I was the first time I went out in hijab to my classes, and I imagine having to confront the fact of “telling” people over and over again would be similarly nerve-wracking, but for me it was over with fairly quickly as my hijab did the rest for any new people after that.

    • I agree so much that the fear of something is so much bigger than the reality. And I keep coming up with excuses… I have to tell this person before I tell that person, etc.

      Also I am a very private person. I realise this must seem contradictory as I am pouring myself out into a blog. πŸ™‚ But I view my private business as mine. But I think this is just another excuse. At least in terms of hijab.

      Hearing your story just keeps reminding me that it will work out – regardless of what happens really. His plan is his plan after all.

      Thank you again!

      Salam,
      Cali

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