Niqab to me, had always been a symbol of a strong, honorable and knowledgeable woman.
I suppose the first time I had encountered niqab was when I was 8 years old. We lived in a small country town in Texas, where there were only a few Muslim families that would gather at the local masjid for lessons and Friday night dinners. Our imam’s wife wore niqab and sometimes she would teach us. I didn’t think much of it, that’s just how it was. I didn’t understand it then, but wearing it in such a small southern community must not have been easy- and this was around the time of 9/11. But not once did we hear a compliant from her. I noticed her character was modest, she was never excessive in speech, and she never complained about others, and she was rarely in much of the community’s drama (and like most small communities, there was a lot of drama lol).
After moving to other cities, it was always hard to get adjusted and to find our “niche” with the proper Islamic environment.
What I distinctly remember as being was a particular group of sisters. We had finally found religious lectures we were interested in attending. The women would dress beautifully and present themselves elegantly when in an all-woman setting, but when they left, the teachers and some of the students wore niqab and a jilbab that started from their head and reached the ground. The teacher of the lectures rarely talked about appearance in her lectures, only few times here and there rather, she focused on purification of the heart, the names of Allah, and contemplating the Quran. With this, we would watch woman transform before our eyes, when they started attending, they were wearing tight pants and not covering their hair, slowly they’d wear hijab, then abaya, then eventually niqab also! Masha Allah wa BarakAllah feehunna.
This was my past experience with women wearing niqab- they were strong, they were not afraid of what other people would think, they were knowledgeable, well-educated, well-mannered women and most importantly they devoted their lives to loving and obeying their Lord. Niqab to me, even before I realized it, symbolized nobility, honor, piety, serenity, respect, knowledge and intellect. Alhamdulillah.