I grew up in a ‘regular’ Muslim family; prayer was very important such that even when you are ill, my mum can wake you up at 7 am and even boil water for you to perform ablution (if you are feeling cold) but not praying is non-negotiable and we all understood that. We fasted and were even encouraged to participate in the voluntary fast.
The girls were encouraged to cover their hair. Reciting the Qur’an is part of the things you are supposed to do after subhi. Getting into my mum’s good grace was easy; just say you want to make dua and spend extra time praying. You can get a pass on your chores in the morning and even get to sleep in if you perform Tahajjud.
I always had my scarf/veil on my head but was not particular if it covered partially or fell off. My understanding was so limited I felt people who used the niqab overdid it and that I was better than those who did not use at all. My hijab journey is inextricably twined with my journey as a Muslim.
In 2010, I started working in Lagos and made a friend in my office who is ‘tabliq’ (he keeps his beard and trouser doesn’t get to his ankle). My interaction with him made me see the difference between my version of Islam and what Islam is really is.
We might be having a conversation and he will refrain from taking a stand or giving an opinion because he does not know or is not sure of the Islamic ruling on that particular issue. While me, the ’arrogant’ Muslimah will have given an answer based on my knowledge or logical reasoning, which is based on the practices and stories I heard growing up from people that were not particular about the evidence of each religious actions. Oh! How I cringe at the things I have said or questions I have answered authoritatively which were not based on any fact and how wrong they are.
I began to take my time before answering questions or stating my opinion. I also started relying on verifiable facts; strictly according to the Qur’an or the Sunnah. I began to read books (with credible authors or publishers). I find that I can’t tell the difference when it comes to authors but my top credible publisher is Deen Communications Limited. (I also suffer from the Afraid-to-read syndrome, will maybe talk about this in another post). I listened to people of knowledge who based their teaching on the Qur’an and hadith.
Also before this I used to shake hand with the opposite sex, in my opinion it is just a form of greeting, nothing attached now until my friend told me the hadith: *It was narrated that Ma’qil ibn Yassaar said: the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“For one of you to be stabbed in the head with an iron needle is better for him than that he should touch a woman who is not permissible for him.”
Then I realized that no matter how I felt about it or how innocent it is, it is about obeying and submitting to the will of Almighty Allah which is really what Islam is all about. I stopped shaking hands with the opposite sex and eventually I stopped feeling weird about it. Now, it just the way it is and when asked as I regularly am, working in the corporate environment in Lagos, I just answer that I am not supposed to as commanded by Allah.
AlhamduliLLah, I think I am a better Muslimah, but still so much a work in progress. I have since learnt that the Hijab is not just an item of clothing on my head but includes my attitude and behaviour. I know the ruling of the niqab, admire those that wear it despite the odds and pray for my iman to increase on a daily basis maybe I will wear it in the future. I thank Allah for making it easy for me to wear the hijab but I don’t feel better than those who don’t because I understand it is by his mercy.I thank Allah for making it easy for me to wear the hijab but I don’t feel better than those who don’t because I understand it is by His mercy. Click To Tweet
Though my hair is always covered now and I don’t wear revealing or tight clothes, there are days when I think my hijab hits all the marks- covers fully, loose, and not revealing or attractive some days not all. I am so confident that I can wear my hijab anywhere; it has essentially become a part of me.
*Narrated by al-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer, 486. Shaykh al-Albaani said in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 5045, that this hadeeth is saheeh.
Umm AbdurRahman is a Muslimah, wife and mother who works in Lagos. She is striving to be a better Muslimah and raise her kids in a righteous way. She is also a budding writer.