The struggle is real. I've been through it myself, and I'm sure all Hijabis at some point or another have felt like taking it off. Perhaps one of the most critical reasons for this is "appearance."
I struggled with this a lot as a teenager when all I wanted to do at that age was to look and feel my best. During the initial years, the hijab never did that for me.
It made me conscious of my appearance, especially as there weren't many options available back then. But things are different now.
Hijabis these days are lovely in every sense. So, appearance isn't necessarily making you change your mind, is it? There is so much judgment that Muslim women receive these days. Either we're perceived to be oppressed – although I do feel this view is changing with many Muslim women making their presence felt in the mainstream media – or we're not 'modest enough’.
We also regularly get bombarded with negative depictions of Muslims in the form of news stories that make the headlines.
Unfortunately, this makes us vulnerable to hate attacks, which continue to occur in several parts of the Western world. Even if you disregard the above, there are physical struggles with wearing hijab and dressing modestly.
You are completely covered in the hot summer days, for example, or going for a swim without looking like a fish in a burkini. Let's not forget that we can't wear a hat in winter. Okay, some women seem to be able to pull this off well. I am not one of them!
Despite the negative aspects, the physical issues, and societal pressures to dress a certain way, just remember what made you wear it in the first place.
You Don't Have to be Perfect in Your Islam to Wear Hijab
This is actually the most crucial point! In Islam you don’t have to be perfect to wear a Hijab. As I told you, try to remember the reason why you wore hijab in the first place.
Is it so you can be closer to God? Is it so you please your parents? Or is it because you wish to identify yourself as a Muslim? Or is it a fashion statement?
As long as your reason to don hijab is genuine, so should be your conviction to continue wearing it. That's what worked for me when I kept battling those thoughts.
More importantly, think of all the positive aspects of wearing a hijab. Such as people smiling and greeting you with 'Assalamu-wa-Alaikum' whether they're Muslim or not.
People recognize you as a Muslim and advise you of 'halal' options when traveling – happens to me all the time. I was placing an order for a fish burger at Manchester airport, and the cashier told me I couldn’t have it because it was fried in the same oil as other meat. This was an important reminder for me to always ask!
Another plus is that all of my colleagues have always respected my choice to refrain from going to post-work drinks and allow me the time pray at work. It's heart-warming to know that people respect your values and your choices. They respect your beliefs, your spiritual needs and are considerate as not to offend you in any way.
At least that's been my experience. But aside from that, it motivates me to be conscious of the way I dress, and it helps me to keep my faith firm, ensuring I'm on the right path.
It makes me aware of the language I use because whether I like it or not, how I present myself will translate into how people feel about Muslims in general.
It's an opportunity for me to better myself and, hopefully, to improve the image of Muslims as a whole. So, the next time you start questioning the hijab, just stop and reflect on why it was ever important to you.
Whenever we control our 'nafs' (desire), we are being rewarded for our efforts and are strengthening our relationship with Allah.
Seize the opportunity to strengthen your faith and be confident in your choices and why you opted for them in the first place. You'll get a sense of gratification that's unmatched.
What you choose to wear is your business. Muslim or not, no one should feel the pressure to dress a certain way. Unless, it’s that nagging voice within you that leads to wear what feels right for you. However, don’t ignore that close friend or relative who wants to guide you by explaining why hijab is obligatory. They obviously want what’s best for you.
Do your research to know why several women choose to wear hijab and what the Qur-an and Hadith say about dressing modestly. And beyond that, Allah sees our efforts and knows what’s in our hearts. We are rewarded for every good deed even if it’s just a thought. This is the beauty of Islam and Allah’s mercy is beyond our imagination.
There's no need to conform to society's perception of how a woman should dress, Muslim or not. Just remember to do what makes you comfortable. You don't need to flaunt it if you don't want to. Besides, dressing modestly is on-trend anyway!