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?

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?

To Hijab or not to Hijab

To hijab or not to hijab. That is the question.

Confession – despite the title of my blog, I do not wear hijab.

But I am absolutely fascinated by it. I know in the west that women wearing hijab receive a lot a looks and glances but I am extreme. I am sure there must be several restraining orders against me as I stare at these women all the time.

I look to see what kind of scarf they are wearing, how they wear it, how they pin it, and how it works with their clothes. And it took me a while to figure out why some women looked a bit StarTrek-ish with an elongated head underneath their hijab. This not a criticism! I wish I had that much hair – I can barely make a pony tail with mine. 🙂

I think the hijab is absolutely beautiful, though I still struggle with the notion of whether it is really required or if it is cultural. Do I have to wear hijab to be Muslim?

A fellow blogger gave me some great advice about making sure I stay who I am as I continue this journey – which was a huge comfort… and a relief. But there is a part of me would like to start wearing a hijab tomorrow whether it is required or not, simply as a visible statement that I am a proud Muslimah!

So what is stopping me?

Well, there is the fact that I am still in the Islamic closet. And wearing hijab is a pretty ‘out’ statement.

But even when I am ready to be out, my other concern is that as beautiful as I view the hijab and the women who wear it, I am fairly certain I will look like an old woman named Olga. There is no need to tell me that modesty is more important than vanity, and that it is what is inside that counts.

So, how to tackle this?

I have read enough to know that just like finding the right haircut, I need to find the right style of wearing the hijab that suits my features. I have a very long face and a high forehead. I’ve researched this on-line, including YouTube videos, but I have not quite figured out what I am doing yet.

My experiment will be when I vacation in Dubai this summer. I plan to wear hijab everyday no matter what I look like – just to see how it feels – to explore if wearing hijab feels right. And I am hoping I can find some women in the shops who can help me figure out the best way to wear it. But if you have suggestions or tips, please let me know!

For those who do wear hijab, why did you choose to wear it? For those who don’t, why not?

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