Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Hijab and I.

So, today, I'm going to explain what is it with me and a headscarf. Is it just a piece of cloth that I have on my head all the time? Is it a covering for religious reasons? Is it just a fashion statement? Is it just something that I do out of culture and acceptance? Is it really a sign of oppression? Is it the wrong way of wearing a scarf?

If I was to be back in Malaysia, Brunei or Singapore, a scarf, would probably be so normal, that no one would even bat an eyelid if they saw you with one. However, being in a Christian country, sometimes, there are some people who look at you. I don't blame people because it is not a norm for people to walk around with a headscarf in this country. 

So, let's lay out the foundation for this. What's the purpose of a headscarf? More importantly, why did I start wearing a headscarf? This was a difficult question for me, because, even though everyone were accepting of my choice, but it still raised a question as to why I actually started wearing one.

Which in some ways, is a good thing, as it is good to think back to the times when you weren't wearing one and when you actually do, you think to yourself, "Huh, well, I guess all my worries weren't so great after all."

The whole journey begun a really long time ago, whilst tirelessly searching for the true religion. Doubting the very fact that I shouldn't just follow something just because I was born into it. My mum is a convert, which drove me into questioning more about religion. The very fact that there were billions of people in this world which were and are religious, or at least do believe in a God, baffled me. 

So, what I did was, I went on a soul searching journey. Constantly reading about different religions, practicing Islam on and off. I've studied Islam since I was born, literally. The very moment the adhan (call of prayer for muslims) was sung in my ear by my uncle. I've researched so much about religion, their differences, their similarities, debated with God knows how many people about the existence of God. I think I was even in a place where I questioned the existence of God.

Through and through, still, I knew I had iman (faith), because I would never let anyone speak ill of Islam. 

So, when I was 18, I entered an army camp for 3 months and I was forced to wear the headscarf. At that time, I was very upset that I was forced to do something I didn't want to do. But being there, I felt more religious, never missing any of my 5 day prayer, always keeping track of my prayers and making sure I never missed them. The tidiness of my headscarf slowly turned from barbaric to decent. I was sure before, I didn't know how to wear a headscarf properly, especially the ones you had to pin it. 

But after a while, I actually started liking it, I came back from camp, started working part time, but I still never missed my prayer. I told my mom that I would like to wear a scarf and she disagreed and advised me to wear one once I'm working or when I'm married. So, I let the matter pass.

I got into complicated situations, and every time, it led me to turn back to God. No matter how many times I would fall, God seemed to always be merciful towards me, helping me no matter how many times I fell. I was exactly like those rebellious kids who did naughty things, but when they got hurt, they ran to their mums. But God was my saviour. Every single time, some people find it ridiculous when I say that.

Then, my believe in God waned again at the age of 19 when I was stricken with a calamity. Every now and then, I made wudu' (ablution) and prayed again. I dressed horribly. I wanted to be like those models who were plastered on the covers of magazines. My sister, however, always told me not to wear this and that and disagreed with a lot of my clothing choices. 

Finally, at the age of 20, when I entered University, I felt the most lost. I really had amazing people around me but I had nothing inside me. I felt empty. I was happy. Always having fun, going places, hanging out with people, having people tell me that I'm amazing and everything. But every time I was alone, I felt worthless.

On the 6th of January 2014, I confided in a friend about wanting to wear the hijab (headscarf) and for the first time, I cried. I cried because I feared the one true God that I believe in, Allah. I cried because I was afraid, "What if I never had another chance to see tomorrow, yet He always lets me live another day in my wicked ways. (The ways which weren't God's)"

On the 12th of January 2014, I wore a scarf with the intention of making it permanent. My friend who saw me the day before without one, walked past me and almost didn't recognise me, but because another friend was with me, he noticed me and asked me if it was somehow too cold, so I've decided to put my scarf on like that.

Before I wore my scarf as well, I confided in another one of my friend, who gave me her full support and was there for me all the time. However, every time I went to the gym, I would take it off, till, I reached a point I could wear it without ever taking it off in front of unlawful people (people who aren't allowed to see me without one). This is because in Islam, the headscarf or hijab is something that is worn to conceal ones beauty so that they do not come across harm or attract other people's attention. The hijab however, is not only a way to hide your hair, it's also a means of granting yourself self respect, dignity, identity and also haya' (bashfulness in concealing your beauty, be it your voice, your beauty, or anything that may attract someone else's want to approach you to engage in unlawful things such as fornication, sinning and etc.)

Sounds harsh you may say, but I say, it has worked for me. If before I wore a headscarf, although I don't consider myself beautiful (beauty is in the eyes of the beholder), but I do get unwanted attention from people who think it "polite" to yell about how they feel that I'm pretty in public. 

To me, I think the hijab has helped me in guarding my modesty and the reason as to why I have chosen to wear it is because I have chosen to be a more practicing Muslim. By saying this, I don't mean that those who don't wear a headscarf are bad muslimS, they're just on a different stage of iman (faith) than I am. There are many who don't wear a headscarf who are even better Muslims than I am. Just because God has concealed some of my sins, doesn't mean that I am better than others.

I still think that I am a horrible person inside, I still do. But I choose to focus on the positive and focus on bettering myself rather than to ponder on my negative traits. I've chosen to follow a path that will make me a better person. I have chosen a path to help others regardless of their religion. It says in the Quran (the Islamic book of faith) that everyone is allowed to practice their own religion, and us as Muslims are respectful of that. I do believe that my choice to wear a hijab was because I identified the beauty of Islam.

Some people may say that praying 5 times a day is hard, a waste of time, etc. But I think it's an escape from worldly affairs, it helps me meditate and refocus my energy into what I want to do after. It makes me a more organized person, better at time management and most importantly, it teaches me about being a better person, never being judgemental, accepting of everyone, and forgiving.

I've learned that my faith has changed me, and the first step that I took in seeking the pleasure of my Lord, is in wearing the hijab. This has changed me. Tremendously. It has allowed me to be tolerant and patient. It has enabled me to overcome so many of my troubles and even evade a lot more. I'm thankful of everything and I think to myself, if God gives me so much, then why can't I do the few things that He asks me to do when He gives me so much without me even asking for it.

Hence, my summary of my beliefs, how it started and how it shall progress.