So a friend approached me with some interview questions! I just finished answering them Alhamdulillah and thought it might be of some interest.
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ قُل لِّأَزْوَاجِكَ وَبَنَاتِكَ وَنِسَاءِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ يُدْنِينَ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِن جَلَابِيبِهِنَّ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ أَدْنَىٰ أَن يُعْرَفْنَ فَلَا يُؤْذَيْنَ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا
(Surah Al-Ahzaab ayah 59)
A bit about myself: Most of my life was spent in American school and my surroundings weren’t conducive for proper growth on the right Islamic methodology. Alhamdulillah wa qadrAllah. When I was in high school, I used to attend classes about the conditions of the shahadah. However, I was always torn between the American school and the Islamic classes that I was taking.
I spent most of my life with worldly dreams. I was a hard working Masters student applying for medical school and it seemed like everything was going according to my ten year plan. It was at this time I was divorced in my first marriage. It was a traumatic time for me. There was a lot of betrayal and rumors and I became and very angry, distrustful person. But in this, I started to realize that the only one I can trust completely is Allah. The only one that I will ever need and that I should attach my heart to is Allah. I wanted to be more devoted to Allah azza wa jal and increase my obedience to Him.
I started to retreat more in my home and ponder over myself. At that time, I was just trying to keep myself going every single day. I thought about all the blessings of Allah. I thought about all the things I was thankful for. I applied to a few jobs and Alhamdulillah, I had took a job at a local Islamic Weekend school teaching small surahs and some athkaar. SubhanAllah, little did I know that was the most influential decision upon my life and my deen. Not only was I encouraged more to memorize more Quran and ahadith, the principal at the school knew a brother on a good manhaj and told him about me. And that’s how I met my husband! Alhamdulillah.
Why and when did you wear hijab?
I wore hijab when I was in Texas. We were in a small town named Victoria. At this time, I was in a Catholic school from fourth to sixth grade because my family felt like public schools were not a good option. However, everyday, after school, we would have class at the Masjid. We had a schedule such as Mondays for Quran, Tuesdays for Arabic, Wednesdays for Seerah, and so on. Most of my friends were from the masjid. Alhamdulillah we were kids who were very confident about our deen. I remember, in Catholic school, I would ask them in front of class why they believed in three and I would recite surah Al-Ikhlas in front of everyone.
I was in sixth grade, not yet baligha, but I wanted to wear hijab. For some reason, people at the masjid said I should wait, since it was not obligatory on me yet. I listened at first, but a few weeks later I decided I wanted to wear hijab regardless of them asking me to wait. So I just wore it. Alhamdulillah Allah made it easy for me. When I wore it in school, people were shocked, but they didn’t do or say anything offensive. I just laughed and continued my day as normal. Not long after that was 9/11 but Alhamdulillah it didn’t shake us and I never felt the urge to remove my hijab because of it.
Why and when did you wear niqab?
I always loved the niqab. Since I was a young girl, in Texas, the Imam’s wife wore niqab and she taught us Quran sometimes. At that time, I didn’t think much of it, but it must have not been easy to wear it in a small southern town in Texas around 9/11. When I moved overseas to Cairo, we met the Imam’s family and the women in his family also wore niqab. Then when I moved to Dubai, my teacher there also covered her face.
Thus, I have always had seen niqab as a symbol of honor, knowledge, piety, humility, dignity and intellect.
They were like princesses to me, subhanAllah. Scholarly princesses.
I remember when I first wanted to wear it, my friend at the time actually talked me out of it, saying it might even be forbidden to wear it in America, subhanAllah (which of course is not true. Because what is halal/haram in the East is so in the West. Plus, niqab is rare even overseas now, subhanAllah) . I had people in my previous family refuse to sit with me. They talked to me about how I would not find a job. So much non-sense! But at the time I wasn’t strong and I didn’t have a manhaj so I gave in. After my divorce, when I started working in the Islamic school, I noticed the other sisters who wore niqab and started asking questions. Whether or not it was obligatory, what should I do. That week, a friend of mine who is a Caucasian, Southern, Blue-eyed niqab wearer, gave me my first niqab!
In the time I was talking to sisters about niqab, I become more and more conscious of my face. How my face is a gift from Allah and just like any other gift, He can take back this blessing. I started to notice more on how men would look at my face when I speak, if I had to interact, such as the postman, etc. I didn’t like it.
As I was starting to consider wearing it, I overheard my friends speak of another sister who covered her face and hands, saying she was “weird.” I began to realize that though these friends were still a big influence on me (because my family was overseas), and I would have to slowly move away from them in my journey to Niqab. I started wearing it, but not properly, may Allah forgive us, wearing it sometimes and not other times mainly because of my fear of them, may Allah forgive us.
After a few weeks though, I felt more courage (a gift from Allah) to not care about what they thought. I told them I wear it now. They would scoff at me and roll their eyes, even before I put it on to go outside. Needless to say, those sisters are not my friends anymore!
How do you interact with people whilst you wearing niqab?
Before, I was a big public speaker and I used to perform my poetry on stage, astaghfirallah. I thought to be loud was to be strong. To be known was to be powerful and to be admirable. At first, I was still outgoing with my niqab on, though I didn’t stand in front of people anymore. But slowly, I felt more modest in my behavior. SubhanAllah. Naturally, men look away, knowing you don’t want to be seen by them. It humbled me. I began to think about all the muqabaat in my life, how they were women of a quiet, resilient strength, devoted to Allah in everything they do. How beautiful they were! This was real strength. Sometimes, I do feel like a princess!
What is the hardest time and saddest time during your time wearing niqab?
The hardest moment in my time wearing Niqab was changing my surroundings. Forcing myself to stay away from my previous crowd. No matter how close you used to be to someone, no matter how much you’ve done for each other in the past, there comes a time when you chose a different path than they did. And it’s not fit to stay around those people anymore. Any successful person knows not to stay around people who will belittle your dreams and your achievements. And that is true for deen. The Prophet said (what means) we are on our deen of our companions, so beware of those you befriend.
and why do you keep steadfast?
It’s Allah that keeps me steadfast. I know I am weak and am prone to temptations. I’m a young women who loves to feel beautiful. Alhamdulillah Allah made it in my heart that I feel beautiful in my niqab, only Allah can allow this feeling. Alhamdulillah Allah has protected me from a lot. May Allah protect us all!