They said, “You must wear hijab once you recite the shahadah”.

She’s new to Islam, having  just converted to this Abrahamic faith because she sees Islam does treat women equal to men.  She’s been studying about this faith for years, and a few weeks ago, she was ready to say her shahadah.

Her family was shocked. It’s not that they did not see it coming. She’s been openly trying to engage the whole family in discussing Islam during family meetings.  But to actually embrace this religion in which, to them, women are being treated as second-class citizens? They are shocked! She’s been trying to convince them that women share the same place with men in Islam.  She even shared a translation from verse 13, Al-Hujurat that says ‘O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted {Al-Hujurat, 49:13).

But the family is not convinced.  She needs support, so she turns to another Muslim-born sister.  She’s a pious lady, as it seems. She understands Arabic, she never misses her 5-times-a-day prayers.  She makes being a Muslim easy! But she said, “You have to cover yourself up; you’re a Muslim now”.

Still, she’s just not ready yet.  Who should she turn to now? 

The ruling of covering awrah

As much as Muslim women must cover themselves up (by wearing hijab, covering her whole body part except for her face and palms). Allah has instructed men to cover their awrah too.  In the Quran, the verse about covering awrah instructs men to guard themselves from lust, before instructing women to cover their awrah.  

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Tell the believing men to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what they do (An-Nur 24:30).  And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their head covers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed (An-Nur 24:31).

Allah never said women are to cover their awrah to protect men from their lust.  Men, as instructed in the Quran, must control themselves and lower their gaze.  As long as Muslims understand this they would be able to see the beauty of covering awrah; that is, to please Allah alone, and this is the way to succeed.

But covering up is difficult

It obviously is!  If you live in a minority-Muslim country, you’ll be labelled as oppressed for wearing hijab.  If you live in a majority-Muslim country, your way of wearing the hijab will be judged too.  Not good enough, not big enough, wearing too much colour, wrong outfit, I can go on and on!  Trust me! In a country with high humidity, you’ll get all sweaty and your head will get itchy.

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As simple as it may seem to others, wearing hijab is not that easy!  One day you feel you’re ready, the next day you feel too overwhelmed and you want to take it off all together!

The best solution is to take your own steps.  Covering awrah is your own personalised journey.  This is your journey alone. Do not let others dictate the length and colour of the hijab you should wear.

Give yourself a break!  For the first 6 months, just try to wear something loose that covers your whole body. Just not the hijab yet.  If you feel like yourself, and this is the new you, take another step of having a piece of material on your head.

Do not fully cover your head, face, neck, hair, ears yet at this time.  Maybe just put it on your head and let yourself get comfortable with the idea of having a piece of cloth on your head.  Try that for another 6 months. Take a year if you need to. Do not let others tell you when you’re ready for the next step.  You know yourself better!

Young tranquil woman outdoors portrait

Later, try to cover your head in  full. A turban-style would help. Get yourself used to the idea of covering your head area for 6 months up to 1 year.  If you’re ready, then cover from your head to your bosom and you’re good to go! You’re now already covering yourself according to what the Quran has stated!  Now you can go anywhere and be solat-ready (dressed ready to perform solat /prayer) !  Yeay! The duration for each step is totally up to you!  All the best sister!

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Know anyone who struggles to wear the hijab?  Share with us!

Farwina Faroque

Author Farwina Faroque

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