Taking Off the Hijab


652329395_be18fd7f87_oQuestion:

I understand that hijab is required, and I’ve been wearing it for some time now but I feel like putting it on might have been a mistake.  I don’t feel like it’s made me become a better Muslim, and I feel almost like I’m deceiving people because they look at me as an example even though I’m still struggling with a lot of things. Also, if I take it off, is it really something Allah will punish me for? It seems like such a petty thing. Isn’t the most important thing having a clean heart?

Answer:

Assalaamu `alaykum dear questioner,

Thank you for asking this question which opens up a number of important issues, and for entrusting us enough to share with us some of what you’re struggling with. I ask Allah (subhanahu wa ta`ala – exalted is He) that He makes the words that I write beneficial to you and others who are reading, and that He leads you to the best decisions.

I’d like to start by addressing what I believe is the least important factor in this equation, and that is ‘what other people might think.’ It should never be the case that we alter our practice of Islam or our worship for the sake of other people, or what they might think or assume. People may be quick to judge or jump to conclusions, but whatever thoughts or opinions they have are strictly their responsibility, and not something we should be overly concerned with.

You said that you’re worried that wearing hijab may be deceiving, because people see you as better than you really are. But in truth all of us are sinners, and it is only from Allah’s mercy upon us that He is as-Siteer - the One who veils our faults and our flaws, and makes us seem better than we really are in others’ eyes. One famous scholar said, “If sins had a smell no one would come near me because of the stench!” Every single one of us has deficiencies and weaknesses, has made mistakes, has taken missteps or is presently taking them. We only do the best that we can, and any good deed that Allah grants us the opportunity to perform should be considered a blessing that we take advantage of. Instead of worrying about not being good enough, we can instead consider this as an opportunity to be thankful to Allah for concealing our negatives, and pray, “O Allah, forgive me for what they do not know about me, and make me even better than what they think.”

You will be hard-pressed to find anyone on this earth who can be considered ‘worthy’ of being a representative of Islam, because everyone has one dimension or another in their faith or practice in which they are lacking. However that doesn’t mean we should stop encouraging each other by whatever means are available to us.  There is a very beautiful hadith related to this issue:

Anas relates that, “We asked the Prophet ﷺ, ‘O Messenger of Allah ﷺ, shouldn’t we refrain from calling others to goodness if we don’t practice all good things ourselves, and shouldn’t we refrain from forbidding wrong things until we ourselves have abstained from all the bad?’ ‘No,’ he replied, ‘You should call others to goodness even if you don’t do all good, and you should forbid bad things even if you don’t abstain from all of them yourselves.’” (Al-Tabarani)

Remember that by wearing hijab you are not saying to others ‘I am Islam’, but simply that ‘I am a Muslim’, meaning – I am someone who is trying to follow this religion, who accepts it as truth, sees beauty in it and hopes to beautify myself with it.  I remember a quote attributed to Yusuf Islam: “Islam is not a state of being but it is a process of becoming,” – becoming more, become better, striving to reach that state of perfect submission and connection with Allah Most High, and May He help all of us achieve that, ameen.

You also said that you feel hijab has not really made you a better Muslim. A lot of times when a person first starts performing a good deed they feel an iman ‘rush’, a feeling of happiness at doing something good for the sake of Allah and energy to do more, improve themselves, etc. However, after some time, when that action starts to become just another part of a daily routine, it loses that power, and that increase in iman and excitement dissipates.

What a person needs, instead of focusing on those ‘rushes’, is a steady and constant diet of good deeds and spiritual nourishment. We cannot rely on one particular deed to ‘make’ us better Muslims. Instead, we have to take the reigns and make sure we are doing things regularly that increase us in iman, like recitation of the Qur’an, performing salah with consciousness and focus, dhikr, and so on. Wearing hijab can definitely be one of those things, but it is only one part of a whole that needs to be constructed. Just like exercise is important for good health, yet it has to be combined with eating right and many other things in order for the person to see the desired results in the end.

Also know that there is a direct relationship between a person’s actions and their inner state. We know that when someone is in a high state of iman it’s natural for him or her to start performing more good deeds. However, we may overlook the fact that the opposite is true as well – that just performing good deeds, even if one may not be ‘feeling it’, can affect us and change us. The limbs are inroads, and performing good deeds with them can soften a hardened heart, bring enlightenment to a closed mind, and give a person a feeling of rejuvenation and desire to come closer to Allah and do more positive things. I heard a scholar say that if one is feeling troubled, confused or in a low state of iman, “go quickly to action”; because good deeds can bring about that inner reawakening one may need. If we don’t see a change happening in us when we do a good deed, that doesn’t mean we should stop it but that perhaps we need to supplement it with others in order to gather the momentum needed to see results.

Thirdly, you are absolutely correct when you say that the most important thing is for us to have purified hearts. Allah (swt) emphasizes this in the Qur’an when He states that on the Day of Judgment nothing will be of benefit to the servant except “one who brings to Allah a clean, sound heart” (26:89). The question is, how does one achieve that? What purifies us and cleanses our hearts?

In our times we find that some people feel that we’ve reached a more ‘enlightened era’ in which spirituality can be derived solely from philosophy and ideas, and need not be bound by rituals and details of religion. However those who propound this notion forget that Allah did not create us as minds and souls alone – but coupled them with our physical bodies. We cannot deny the fact that we are body and soul, content and form, together, and each has its own needs and specifications for refinement. This is a sunnah of Allah in the way that we were created, and why prayer, fasting, and all our spiritual endeavors have very specific physical components. These forms house within them dimensions of meaning, but it is only from enacting them precisely that a profound spirituality can be achieved.

Purifying our hearts is the goal, but the means to reaching that goal is through the very real and specific physical prescriptions and commandments that Allah (swt) has given us. It is through His obedience and through following the teachings of our deen that we clean and polish our hearts. It is for this reason that I have to say that hijab is not something trivial. Anything that leads us to spiritual awareness, elevation, and purification – that helps us come closer to Allah – cannot be considered trivial or petty. Perhaps it is more likely that there are hidden depths within it that we do not perceive, or that we are not putting it in the proper context of its deeper purpose and meaning.

About punishment from Allah: a better way of looking at this issue is not considering the smallness or pettiness of the sin, but the greatness of the One whom we are sinning against. From His infinite wisdom, all-encompassing knowledge and vast mercy, in accordance to His Law – which is at its core about attaining benefit and warding off harm – He has instructed us to perform this action. In the Qur’an Allah says, ‘It may be that you dislike something and in it is goodness for you’ (2:216); ‘It may be that you dislike a thing but Allah brings about from it a great deal of good.’ (4:19) If someone chooses to step away from a prescribed action knowingly, we cannot deny that this is a sin, and that Allah holds us to account for our sins. However we always have hope in and pray for Allah’s mercy and kindness, as we know He can forgive all sins if He chooses.

In closing, I want to leave you with a beautiful quote from a Hadith Qudsi. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said:

“My servant draws not near to Me with anything more beloved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him.” (Bukhari)

Know, dear questioner, that if you feel far from Allah, the solution is not to stop what you are doing and find a different way, but to persevere and continue on the path you are on, even though it is hard. This will make you beloved to Allah, and one who feels the happiness of being close to Him and being shaded by His Loving Mercy and care.

May Allah enliven and enlighten our hearts and grant us closeness to Him. May He make us people who love to worship Him, and through our worship become close to Him and gain His love. May He make our hearts firm and steadfast on our deen, and grant us strength and bravery in our spiritual struggles. May He guide us to the best decisions and make easy for us the path of khayr [goodness]. Ameen ya Rabb.

WAllahu a`lam – and He alone knows best.

Wasalaamu alaykum.

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358 Comments

  1. Tim says:

    JazakAllah khair.

  2. abu majeed says:

    Ma Sha Allah,

    The wisdom and truth in dealing with this question are top notch. Keep it up sister!

  3. OmYoussuf says:

    Masha’Allah sister, I thank you for your beautiful words which made me think how wearing Hijab is also carrying on in the footsteps of great women such as Sayeda Maryam, Sayeda Khadija, Sayeda Fatima, Sayeda A’isha, and many more who came before us. I pray for the dear sister who sent the question that Allah grant her steadfastness, and fortitude to hold on to her Hijab, and that she be surrounded by those who encourage her, and value her Hijab.

  4. anon says:

    awesome response.

  5. muhammad imtiyaz says:

    beautiful reply with hikmah

  6. akhan says:

    really great article. jazakallah khair

  7. Hijabi says:

    I’ve also been feeling hypocritical with my hijaab on lately, having worn it now for a full decade. That rush of spirit I had when first donning this cloth ten years ago is not nearly as strong; I’m struggling with my own lot of sins/weaknesses while appearing more pure/saintly before others. But I remind myself that I am only human, and wearing my hijaab is an act of obedience to my Lord — so I hold myself accountable to Him alone.

  8. aisha says:

    Great Response Mashallah!

  9. Abu Adam says:

    I have often felt the same about having a beard. I simply like having a beard and I also love that the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) had a beard. It has been my normal desire to have a beard even before Islam.

    However, where I live (believe it or not-Saudi Arabia) the beard is seen as a symbol of being a very pious person. Average people don’t normally have beards. I am not very pious but I try to maintain the major obligations of Islam and avoid the major prohibitions-not much more. However, I have often seen many people (who don’t have beards) exhibiting an excellent practice of Islam and feeling ashamed and wondering how they may view me.

  10. Asma says:

    I’m sorry for the comment earlier. A colleague thought it was funny when clearly offensive. I agree with you, thank you for your wisdom.

  11. Rumman says:

    nice ..it really zippened the mouth of many people!

  12. Ahmed says:

    Ma’sha’allah, this was sooo very beautiful. As the other comments have said, explained with lovely language and tone. This is something we all can remember as we face the daily battles with Shaytaan and our inner weaknesses. Again, just really very well done and addressed the issues that are relevant concerning our overall journey in Islam. Jazak’Allahu Khairan.

  13. Samrina says:

    Subhan’Allah. Sr Shazia you’ve answered the sister’s question beautifully and with eloquence. I’ve come across a number of sisters that have been and are struggling with this issue of hijab. I think this article addresses that issue of hijab beautifully. Looking forward to reading more articles from you. May Allah [swt] continue to bless you. May Allah [swt] ease the sister in distress, and reward her for her struggle.

  14. Maymouna says:

    JazakAllah Khayrun Kathiran! MashaAllah wonderful advice sister Shazia. May Allah subhanuwata’ala cause many to benefit from your naseeha.

  15. UmmMohammed says:

    I’m sorry to say that although I found the answer beautifully written and sound, I still feel cold when reading it. I am a person who converted and wore hijab early on and for many years, but the discrimination I faced over the years from the Muslims — particularly the sexist men, but also racist Muslim women — along with the fact that my family relationship was changed by Islam/the hijab and the general public perception made me feel very, very alone and vulnerable to the world in my struggle to wear hijab.

    Not all Muslim men are sexist, but enough were to me that the experience served to make me feel unseen and not respected in our community. Not all Muslim women are racist, but enough of them judged me differently once they saw me without hijab in my home to make me feel that what my hair looked like versus what my features seemed to be was significant to them. Indeed, the racism I’d dealt with all my life as a person of mixed racial heritage in my country was intensified with both the resident and immigrant Muslims in my country.

    I ended up taking off hijab because I felt empowered by the act. Perhaps that’s a really backward way to view the experience, but there you have it. I felt my faith and strength had fallen to nothing in my last days of covering. In the years since, I’ve reasoned that removing the hijab has kept me able to continue to be a Muslima at all, and one who prays regularly, fasts, learns my deen, teaches my children, and stays away from the vices of our world as much as I can.

    I think that this very outward symbol/part of faith –the hijab — can be an extreme burden for some individuals, more so than for some others. I truly respect my sisters in faith who wear it day after day and year after year no matter the opposition they encounter. I just hope that one day people can understand that for those of us who remove it, it’s not a “wildness” or desire to be sinful that dictates the action for every one of us. Sometimes, it is a desire to simplify the struggle enough to be able to continue doing the major acts that are truly the definers of who is and who is not a Muslim.

    • elle says:

      Hijab is a part of Islam for women. The good and bad that comes with it, comes with it, it’s still a command. I’m so sorry that people made you feel terrible and that you had to experience that!! Always remember that God does not give us a burden that we can not carry!

      <3 Elle

      • Em says:

        Perhaps this was a burden that sister UmmMohammed could not carry? Her burdens (like those of the rest of us) are between the sister and her creator. Many brothers and sisters keep quoting texts ad nauseum to others. It becomes predictable and tiresome. It tends to highlight the “apparent” knowledge of the one quoting rather than seeking real solutions.

    • Mariam says:

      I respect and understand your decesion not to wear hijab because I too came to that same realization after wearing hijab for the most of five years. I believe most people put too much emphasis on hijab as if it is the visible litmus test for piety. Some other poster here said it’s an open sin for a woman to remove her hijab and I have to say that I do not agree with that blanket statement. We have to go back to intention in Islam and that is something no one but Allah can see in a person. For example, my reasons for not wearing hijab were to simply maintain my peace of mind and to protect myself from the life damaging consequences of frequent discrimination and persecution. Yes, Allah does not ask of us more than we can bear and this was indeed more than I could endure. I support a womans right to choose to wear the hijab or not to wear it. I realize that I can not judge her iman on hijab or no hijab.

      • Maryam says:

        That is very true sister. I have been a muslimah for 14 years and during all these years I have dedicated all my effort and strugle to wear hijab that I have left behind so many other important aspects of Islam. There is an Ayat in the Qu’ran that should make us reflect: “Allah said that He has created us (humans) in different tribes so we know each other”, for me this means that we don’t have to look like each other. The wisdom here is to appreciate and accept other people’s lifestyles. For instance, I am from hispanic origin converted to Islam. In my culture I have beautiful values that go with Islam such as hospitality, family, etc. While wearing the hijab my people percieved me as “strange” or that I have abandonned my culture to be “Arab”. I am a muslim and Hispanic. Imam Webb suggest we should not care about people but the reality is that we live with “the people”, we don’t live alone or kind of isolated like the Catholic nuns who live in convents. By the way, many people ask why Catholic nuns’ veil is accepted while muslim women’s not? The very true is that Catholic Nuns don’t work in Walmart, Catholic Nuns don’t work in a bank, Catholic Nuns don’t work in regular public schools, and finally Catholic Nuns are backed by a Religious Order from Vatican so they don’t have to worry at all about economical issues as common people do. How would you feel if you go to a bank and a Catholic Nun would be your clerk? Won’t you inmediately think this lady shouldn’t be here? Let’s be honest. Every society has its own rules and for us living in this hemisphere of the planet, hijab is a big obstacle (specially if one is converted like me) when dealing with one’s families, getting jobs, and being socially active. We have to accept it. Hijab more than a piece of clothe is a “way of living” that sometimes doesn’t work in all cultures. As Sheik Hamza Yusuf once mentioned and I am sure Imam Webb has seen in his studies at Al-Azhar University that at the time of the Prophet, P.B.U. not all women used hijab, for instance the slaves were forbidden to wear it because only Master ladies were allowed to wear it. Islam never asked people to do things that go against all reasons and put someone in a situation that can be a target of bad treatment. Not wearing hijab doesn’t mean wearing tight jeans and mini-skirts, there are many respectable women who inspire a lot more respect than the “so-called-hijabis” with bright colorful hijabs and pins hanging everywhere in a very flirty way. There are women who dresses in a very respectable way that nobody could disrespect her. When people say that hijab helps men not to do bad things, that means as if women are “the evil ones”, the same thing as in Christianity with Eve. The Qu’ran is very clear in saying to all believing men to lower their gaze. Nobody takes responsability of nobody in doing sins. Just recently a 15 years old French-Algerian girl was kidnapped, raped, and murdered in Mecca while her father was busy doing Umrah, now I ask you to tell me what wrong did this little girl to inspire such animal and brutal instinct in those men? Wasn’t she wearing a hijab? or perhaps the hijab was not adequate? When people start asuming their own faults and understand that women are meant to be respected regardless of what they wear, then we will become better human beings. Finally, the Qu’ran tells us that Allah has created beautiful garments for mankind to wear but “THE BEST GARMENT IS THE GARMENT OF RIGHTOUSNESS”.

        • mariya says:

          @ Maryam:

          I think you’ve missed the spirit in which the hijab is meant to be worn.

          The point is not how men will treat you when you wear it. Those who wear the hijab and sin while they’re doing it, we have no right to judge them or refrain from doing an obligatory part of the religion because of them.

          They’ll be judged on their deeds, we-each and everyone of us-will be held accountable for our own.

          If I see someone who prays five times a day, do something like drink alcohol, I can’t say the prayer is at fault. I can’t just stop praying because the people who pray also sin!

          Also the Eve reference. If you’ve gone through Surah Noor where one of the commands for hijab was given, the first ruling IS for men to lower their gaze. But the next command is for women. Again, everyone is being judged by Allah (SWT) on their own deeds.

          I can’t imagine the struggle wearing a hijab in the West is, but the harder the struggle, the greater the reward. If I live in a muslim country where wearing hijab is the norm, I’m definitely getting less reward than you girls. Good luck, and may Allah help us all

          <3

        • maryame says:

          Hello INCHALLAH hope everyone here is well, i am a canadianne women who converted to Islam 4 years ago when i started to wear the hijab i was called lots of names that you could not believe people wanted to run me down with there cars people will still not hire me for jobs, i did have a good work but you know what happens sometimnes with excuses anyways i still wear my hijab i still do not let people win over me and i will not take my hijab off i say they will not win and i keep my faith in ALLAH and ask everyday to keep me stronger i still havew to learn alot in Islam but i do my best INCHALLAH ALLAH will forgive me for the sins because i am not perfect in all the Islam ways but trying just to say DO NOT LET PEOPLE INTIMIDATE YOU ALLAH IS THERE AND WILL ALWAYS BE INCHALLAH and if you do make the mistakes ask ALLAH he is there for us INCHALLAH as long as you believe he will protect you INCHALLAH.I will not take my hijab off ALLAH knows best…..

        • Em says:

          Great post Sister Maryam – very informative and thoughtful. It made me think.

        • lutfi says:

          Assalam Alaikum,
          Allah azza wa jal created us all and knows us better than anybody else (refer to surat al-mulk).Therefore, he revealed the verses in Surat Nur for both believing men and women to lower their gaze as you rightly pointed out on your comment. However, in the same Qur’an did Allah azza wa jal commanded Muslim women (mu’minaat)to adhere to modesty in their clothing. It is very true that the best of garments is is rightousness as mentioned in the Qur’an, but that in no way abrogate the command. We should strive to please Allah azza wa jal in all fulfilling his commands. Most definitely, we humans are bound to fall into errors and sins. But justifiyng our lack of compliance to Allah’s command by ostensibly attributing/confusing religious instruction to cultural practises invokes dire consequences least of which is uttering about religion without prior knowledge.

          May Allah guide us all.

    • ladytraveler says:

      Thanks so much for you courage and for your reply.

  16. loveProphet says:

    Just a short pointer to the last point. Covering the awrah(including hair for women and thighs for men) is a fardh and disobeying a fardh is a major sin. So it should not be thought that taking off the hijab is a small sin or that wearing it is a small deed.

    • UmmMohammed says:

      loveProphet,

      I’m sorry to have given you the impression that I believe that wearing hijab is a small deed. What I meant to convey is that I found it bearable to focus on the major parts of our deen, such as prayer, fasting, avoiding gossip, keeping chaste, avoiding interest, continuing to learn our religion, and being a better human being in general, because of the fact that I was able to stop struggling with the burden of hijab.

      For me, that struggle was the one thing that seemed to “tip the cart,” if you will, of my ability to move forward with my Islam. I was overwhelmed. I do not know if you are a convert/revert to our faith, but consider the position of a person who has left everything familiar to them to forge a new way of life. It is the greatest treasure a soul could attain in this world, to be given faith, but it is a fitna. I thought at the time that leaving the thing that caused me so much grief and trouble until I was stronger as a Muslim was something that would keep me from losing my way entirely. I wished to work my way back to hijab, rather than to work my way back to Islam. Taking off hijab does not mean that a person will never take it up again, or that they think of it as a trifling thing. It is something that I ask Allah for strength in and forgiveness for.
      We human beings are fragile, and Islam itself was revealed in stages for the purpose of bringing the believers to a strong foundation of tawhid. Would that fact in itself not cause one to think that our Creator did not see fit to burden us with more than the blossoming souls’ faith could stand?

      Allah has created us as a people prone to weakness and forgetfulness; people who have a need to turn to Allah frequently in repentance. He (SWT) loves us for that. Indeed, He said that if we did not sin and turn to him in repentance, he would destroy us and replace us with a people who would.

      I am speaking up because the women who do not cover are often dismissed as being careless about Islam or Allah, or not heeding the weight of sins, etc. People see us as frivolous, I suppose. But I query you this: Would you rather to see me in jeans and a long-sleeved shirt with no scarf, or to see me covered properly and not saying salah? There are plenty of ways to fall short in this life, so we should be careful about being too focused on one way of sinning, perhaps giving a judgment about something better left to Allah. We do not know what is in the soul of any person we encounter. We may see someone as being base and of no value, while Allah sees them differently, and vice-versa.

      I suppose that if I were to leave you with one thought it would be this: There is no perfect human being in this world. Every single one of us sins. Just because you see one person’s sin, it does not make you more careful about your Islam than they.

      • Zubair Khan says:

        Assalamu alaykum,

        UmmMohammed and other converts, Imam Suhaib recently (2 nights ago) gave an amazing talk in the bay area (California) especially for the converts. I think you would love it. I’m going to put it up on the site soon inshaAllah.

      • AbdulSattar says:

        Umm Muhammad,

        Assalamu Alaikum,

        I just wanted to say that your comments gave an excellent insight on understanding on the sincere struggles that all of us face in being Muslim in difficult environments.

        The last line of your last comment was especially was insightful and reminded of something I had heard from a scholar in Chicago: A visible sin of another person, is no worse than an invisible sin committed by ourselves.

        JazakAllahu khair for helping us understand when many of us might be total jerks, instead of acting more like the Prophet (saw). It was definitely a reminder to me.

        We can throw Shari’ terms like Haram and Fard around left and right when dealing with individuals, but it must be coupled with understanding that person’s situation so that instead of pushing them from Islam, we call them beautifully to what Allah asked us to do, and stay away from what he forbade.

        wa alaikum assalam
        Abdul Sattar

        • Sabrina says:

          As’salaam Alaikum,

          I really appreciated your sharing of the message, “A visible sin of another person, is no worse than an invisible sin committed by ourselves.” I was thinking something along the same lines. All of the items Allah (swt) requests us to do or not to do are important. I believe it is essential to remember that, we are all individuals and thus we each struggle uniquely with the different aspects of that which is asked of us by our Creator. No two people bear Islamic privileges and responsibilities in the exact same way. Therefore, it is really important that we do not harshly judge or reproach each other when reminding each other of our rights and obligations as muslims. We all struggle and thus we should all be gentle with our sisters (and brothers) in Islam when we give our opinions and our advice, as we would hope that they will be in return when our weaknesses are made apparent. Furthermore, we should look on each other’s weaker points with mercy as we would hope they would look on our’s.

          Advice should be a reminder, not a punishment in and of itself. Allah is the only judge, so we should be careful not to sound like one.

          Allahu ‘alum.

          Wa Salaam,

          Sabrina

  17. Muslema says:

    This is beautifully worded nasiha that not only answers the person who is questioning hijab, but also encourages every reader/Muslim to become more serious with their path to Allah (swt).
    May Allah increase you and strengthen you always! May Allah ease the path and strengthen the hearts for the sisters who face this obstacle, such that they succeed in dunya and akhirah. May we all be blessed with the strength and courage to rise above our own respective challenges.

  18. Shazia says:

    as salaamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

    Jazakum Allahu khayran for the kind responses from everyone. I ask that Allah (swt) accept our efforts, and make our writing and participation on SuhaibWebb.com as work done fisabilihi, and sincerely for His sake alone, Ameen.

    Dear Sr. UmmMohammed: I’m sorry to hear that you had such negative experiences with other Muslim sisters, especially when we should be working to support, strengthen and accept one another. Indeed wearing hijab has its challenges and can even seem overwhelming. However I always take strength from Allah’s words, which He repeats in a number of places in the Quran, “On no soul doth Allah place a burden greater than it can bear.” May Allah grant us all the strength to fulfill His commandments and stay away from His prohibitions, Ameen.

    loveProphet: Thank you for your comments and you are right that wearing hijab is no small deed. With regard to the definition you gave for a major sin – failing to do something which is fard -I would say that this is actually the definition for sins in general, and not necessarily specific to a sin being classified as ‘major’. What is a sin, if it is not failing to do something which Allah has asked us to do?

    I do not know if I could say that failing to wear hijab is from the major sins. I have not seen it designated as such in the articles/books that list the Kaba’ir in detail. I will have to ask ‘those who know’ and do some research on the matter, inshaAllah. I do agree with your underlying point though, that we often underestimate the weight and significance of actions with Allah ta’ala. Allah (swt) says, “You counted it a little thing, while with Allah it was very great.” (Qur’an 24:15)

    wAllahu a’lam,
    wasalaamu alaykum,
    shazia

  19. maha says:

    thank you so much for such a beautiful respond! i am Exactly at the same stage that the questioner in. i want to TAKE OFF MY HIJAB

    i have been wearing a hijab for one year and four months now. Putting it on, was not so difficult for the first year but keeping it on is a daily struggle.
    i am always tempted to take it off because do not you know that i am 24 years old, college student and have my life ahead of me?? I always have the thoughts of what to do once i get married, what to wear when my sister gets married, how to look in my graduation and whatever occasions that will come across.
    as of in today, all i can say is that i am literally living my live one day out of time. i do not think about tomorrow, or about next week or about the future. i just worry about wearing my hijab for only one day and that is all.

    i really hope ALLAh will strengthen my Iman and not let the western world i live in affect my thinking. to be honest, it is disapointing that i am feeling this way where i should be proud of my HIjab.
    as the previous comment, it is a reminder that our mothers of Islam like Sayda Khadija, Aisha and Fatima all wore it, we should follow their footsteps and continue doing what they have done.
    anyhow, THANK YOU for the great response, this is exactly what i am looking for….

    • Dieynaba says:

      Salam=)

      I’ve been wearing hijab for a few months now, thank God. Beforehand, I’ve done lots of research, and thinking. I’ve been going back and forth for months.

      Eventually, I realized that I needed to look at the bigger picture. Then, I thought ‘hijab over looks’.

      Let me tell you, it’s hard! I’m a 23-y-o girl living in the West, and wearing it is tough, especially when it comes to fashion, etc. Sometimes, I think about ‘if I didn’t have to wear it, I’d do this and that’, but eventually, I think about Allah, the reason why I wear hijab and it helps overcoming these thoughts.

      And you can still be a hijabi and look great! You can find tons of websites with good advice for hijabis.

      I hope Allah will give you the strenght and courage to wear it proudly=)

    • Hana says:

      Salam Maha!

      I actually went through the exact same struggle, what am I going to wear to this and that and how weird is it going to look and blah blah blah. But alhamdulillah I made my decision by figuring out what was more important to me: the happiness of Allah, my Creator and the one that i’m going to be begging for His mercy on the Day of Judgement…orr just..people, that are in no way going to benefit me in my ultimate goal of Jannah.
      May Allah help all the Muslimas struggling with hijab!

  20. An usooliyah who misses you and the inshaAllah budding scholar of Risalatul Mustarshideen says:

    Jazaki Allahu kul khayr, barak Allahu fiki wa taqabal Allahu minki wa yutham ajraki inshaAllah!

  21. Sajid says:

    ASAK,
    Alhamdulillah! indeed an excellent nasiha. I think sister needs to persevere and iA in the near future takin off the hijab would become a repulsive idea.
    SHS

  22. Sohaib says:

    Salaam,

    Just want to say that I appreciate the honest sharing, and the compassion in discussing an issue which is so sensitive and personal, at the same time as pertaining to an aspect of Islamic law.

    My respect to the team and especially Sr Shazia for addressing this timely issue.

  23. otowi says:

    Why is it a choice between wearing jeans and t-shirt and praying or wearing hijab and not praying? Why can’t you do both? I’m a convert/revert myself, so I am aware of the struggles, but isn’t that what we expect on the right path? We do not follow it for our families, for Muslims, for anyone but God and ourselves. To put aside hijab is a gamble – as is to openly choose to commit any sin. And even if you are the most spiritual person otherwise, there is no getting around the fact that you sin openly. That does not mean you are less pious than someone else who covers – hijab is not and cannot be held as the standard by which piety is judged – that’s just stupidity – but it is laying bare a sin. Go back to why did you become Muslim – was it for the people and how they would treat you, or in spite of all that? Why did you wear hijab to begin with? Just for people, or for God or yourself? I think too often people get distracted by Muslims instead of staying focused on Islam.

    • Em says:

      So all the women in the world without headscarf are “sinning”? And what about those slave women not wearing scarf/hijab in the prophet’s time? Are men without beard also sinning? And do we extrapolate this further to the Sunnah of shaving the private parts? Are people who don’t shave their private parts also sinning? I wear scarf and modest clothes. Just wondering how far some of these “judgements” should go. There are people out there who will even consult fatwas just to trim their own nails!! Have we thrown out the baby to focus on the bathwater?

      • Amatullah2 says:

        The sin of not obeying Allah is something that we all commit at times. We are definitely not perfect. There are several Surats and hadiths that say we bear our own sins and some of those that we have led astray. Surat 16:25 is one of them. It is not judgment (I hope) to warn a sister if she is showing someone else the wrong way. When I first became a Muslim, one of the sisters told me not to worry about the hijab, that she had been a Muslim for two years and only wore it for the masjid. I was relieved when she said that, because I live in a hot climate and was looking for an excuse not to wear it. But we should never listen to our brothers and sisters without checking the Qur’an and sunnah for verification and I found out she was wrong. If I had not ignored her, she would have born some of the responsibility of my sin. We just need to be careful to listen to Allah (SWT) and the sunnah and not our own nafs or anyone elses. Assalamu alaikom sister.

  24. Sister in Islam says:

    Assalamualaikum wbt.

    I just want to say that I have recently embraced the hijab. I was never really a good muslim, although I was born one. But after recent events, Alhamdulillah, it was brought me closer to Allah swt.

    Everyday I thank him for all that he has put me through, the good and the bad, to finally make me come clean to Him. Fully, spiritually. But like you said, everyday is a struggle for me. There are days when I can perform the sunnah, there are days when I don’t. But InsyaAllah, I try not to leave the wajib 5 times a day prayers.

    But in accordance to that, with my everyday struggle. I feel that wearing my hijab is like a promise to God. A contract for myself, this new person. It reminds me, and keeps me faithful to Allah swt. It acts as a reminder for me.

    May we all be in good health and iman.
    Salam wbt.

  25. Hijabi says:

    @ Otowi, SubhanAllah, beautiful reply that encompasses the reasons not just for hijab, but all other struggles in life. This is the bottom line, if every action is thought of that it is for Allah Ta’ala’s sake, a muslim’s life has much more peace & tranquility, even struggles would become easy. That is what you see in Sahabas’ lives.

    • Zaid says:

      Funny how this reminds me of the MYNA raps song from years ago:

      If it’s for the cause of Allah
      Allah will always be with you
      If it’s for the cause of Allah
      Allah will always be with you

  26. Aishah says:

    Masha’allah!
    What a beautiful and concise response.

  27. muslima says:

    i also want to take it off:( have tried but cant because i am so used to it am 28 have been wearing it since i was in school, took it off for a few months after my marriage but again started wearing it because i felt incomplete, none of my friends wear it and many say that its not a fardh, as its not clearly said in quran and the ahadith are weak .i feel like i look more beautiful without hijab,and have better self esteem withou it :( , i see my friends ,colleagues,relatives having fun and not even caring about hijab ,not even thinking about it , bu they r good muslims othermise ,i am confused

    • lutfi says:

      Assalam alaikum,

      My humble advise to you is to fear Allah azza wa jal & strive to follow his commands inspite of the social pressures applied to ”observing”muslims. Honestly, i was shocked to read your ”friends” opinions on the modest hijab as prescribed by the shareeah (Qur’an & Sunnah). Kindly show them the translated verse below:

      ”And pursue not that of which thou hast no knowledge; for every act of hearing, or of seeing or of (feeling in) the heart will be enquired into (on the Day of Reckoning)”Al-Israa 17:36.

      The command has been clearly elaborated in the Qur’an and sahheh Sunnah (yes, the authentic sunnah)Please try to read the translations of the below surah and hadiths:

      An-noor – (24:31, 24:60), Al- Ahzab – (33:53, 33:59)

      Al Bukhari – (4481, 146), Muslim – (2170), Abu Dawood – (4102)

      Finally, dont be saddened or tempted of what others are saying or doing or thinking others are having fun. After reading the above surahs and hadiths, you will develop (yaqeen)in your heart, then read the translation of the ayat below:

      ”So put thy trust in Allah: for thou art on (the path of) manifest Truth”. Surat Al-Naml 27:79

  28. Abu Adam says:

    Salaam aleikoem wr wb,

    Life is Jihad in every way. For the women its a Jihad to put on her Hidjaab or Niqaab. For a Man its a Jihad to grow his beard aldo his friends have girlfriends on college. Its always a Jihad with the Shaitan of the inner self. The Shaytan is easy, but the one in yourself isnt easy. Jannat is not easy, we have to work for it. We have to wear Islam intern and extern. In these field we have to keep on struggling and having faith in Allah, that he will help us through.
    Allah says in the Quran;
    Those who strive hard in Our way – surely We shall guide them onto Our paths” (al-Ankabut 29:68).
    “We have created man into (a life of) trial and pain” (al-Balad 90:4). “And that nought shall be accounted unto man but what he has striven for” (al-Najm 53:39

    Do you think you should enter Paradise unless God establishes who among you have struggled hard and who are patient? (Al-Imran 3:142)

    Do you think you should enter Paradise while there has not yet come upon you the like of those who passed away before you? Misery and hardship befell them (Al-Baqarah 2: 214)

    Do the men think that on their [mere] saying ‘We believe’, they will be left to themselves, and will not be put to the test? We certainly put to the test those that were before them (Al-Ankabut 29:2-3)
    We must prove, within our human limitations, that we are prepared not only to profess our faith, by praying at home being a Muslim inside the house and not otside the house. We also prepare to struggle and sacrifice what we really love for that which we declare to be dearest to us. That is why, in the Qur’an, Iman is almost invariably bracketed with righteous deeds (al-’amal al-salih) and with Hijrah and Jihad. Indeed only those believers are declared to be truthful in their claims to faith who are certain and unwavering, who struggle in Allah’s way with their lives and possessions (al-Hujurat 49:15).
    Be a Muslim, its your inner and outer garment. Don’t let your self be fooled, by satan or your bad nafs. There are only strong ahadith in about the Hidjaab. Let your friends having fun, till the fun of death will enter. And what will they be saying.
    Advise them to enter in Islam Fully and not partial Islam. Partial Islam is not for Muslims. Allah has commanded us to take Islam as a Whole amd don’t leave out bits and pieces, otherwise we will end up as the Jews and Christians or outer Nations before them.

    Abu Adam, Ibrahim
    Amsterdam, Hollan

  29. jan says:

    thank you for this question and this answer. i felt every word, because it was as if i could have been writing the question. my road to being a Muslima is common among all of the reversts i have shared stories with. we have all been at this exact spot, where the questioner is right now. with answers as good as this one i hope someday i can be where this sister is too! May God Bless you both. i celebrated a 21 yr. anniversary as a happy mahajabi!!!

  30. muslima says:

    thanku for ur reply,can u tell me where i can find these ahadith about hijab? so i can tell others ,is there a hadith saying one has to cover her hair completely because for people with long and heavy hair,its very difficult.
    jazakaAllah

  31. sana says:

    Jazaak Allahu Khair like WHOA! This is exactly what I needed to be reminded of =)

  32. Bina says:

    Subhan Allah very well answered actually i am pretty much struggling with the same issue but now Alhamdulilah i have this feeling i am at least among those who are trying to correct their self.
    JazahAllahKhair.

  33. A.H says:

    MashAllah – your words spoke directly to my heart. I went through this stage and understand the feeling of “taking it off” however, you made great points.

    Salamalikum.

  34. Haslinda says:

    Assalamu’alaikum Wr Wb

    Masya ALlah, Allahu Akhbar……… excellent writing. It addresses the issues beautifully. Every word inspires me… and I really needed that.

    Bro Shuhaib, indeed ALlah SWT grants you the greatest gift, the knowledge and ability to address issues in a special way. Jazakallahu Khairon, and may ALlah SWT bless you, your family and everyone here. Ameen Ya Robbal ‘Alamin

  35. Mariam says:

    Assalamu Alaykum,
    These are heart moving words to help many ladies out there who are confused.
    I am a student of Al-Huda International Welfare Organisation, Islamabad, Pakistan. I request you to allow us to print this answer and share it with our students and others, in order to help people implement the commands of Allah. I would be waiting for your reply.
    Jazakumullahu khairan katheeran
    Mariam

    • Marya says:

      Wa `alaykum assalam,

      Everything on this website can be shared, as long as you cite the source: SuhaibWebb.com. Also, please include the author’s name.

  36. ONE UMMAH UNITED says:

    I’m sorry
    I am offended and feel sad about muslim priorities. Where are the Muslim Manners?

    i find it strange that Muslims are FIGHTING against another Muslim about the hijab on a personal struggle and hijab becomes a priority. As if Allah would suddenly make us all pious if we all wear the hijab. And muslim men tell muslim women about jihad when they do not understand the struggle.

    Splitting the community in to sectors and sects. No one can be sure of anything, not scholars, not anyone, but out of the knowledge that they have it is still their most sincere opinion. Unless someone has had a direct dialect with the prophet or Allah on this EXACT case, I believe anyone who is judging and harsh, has no real knowledge of Islam.

    Islam is about ONE UNITED BODY. Loving ur muslim brothers and sisters as you love yourself.

    Islam is about Allah. Worshipping Allah and following his guidance to the best of your ability.

    Islam is about Liberation. Accepting the difference in cultures and humanity with one mission. To Worship Allah. With Allah’s support, People will be free, empowered. Allah has given muslims a lot of leeway to express themselves. In it’s time, it was considered, democratic and with liberal ideas. The Khandaq, choosing a khalifa, women’s rights, human rights, slave rights, child rights, orphan’s rights, guest’s rights.

    Islam is about Humility. Humility of yourself to Allah. But Strong against injustice, Strong against wrong doings in the family life, community life, international life. And the patience to endure hardships because you are doing the right thing for Allah, and that encompasses everything from feeding every poor man you are capable of feeding, to loving your muslim family, to acting for every injustice you see and the ideas are ENDLESS!

    Islam is about the example of the Prophet. If the prophet saw us copying his clothes, I think he would give us an A for effort. But if the prophet saw us copying his “Akhlaq”, his practice of virtue (manners, patience, love, compassion, humility, honesty, honesty, honesty, etc…) I believe in my HUMBLE opinion, with the limited knowledge I have in Islam, I Believe he would be Proud of us. A man of GREAT EXAMPLE should be followed, not copied. If the Prophet spoke to Arabs as negatively and harsh as some of the replies, no one would have been muslim. The prophet is a walking , talking example of Islam and it’s benefits, attracting people with his Akhlaq so people listen to his words.

    I believe it’s a very brave person that knows something’s wrong and admits to it and says that it’s difficult. I believe people evolve, grow, matures with time. I believe both sides are sincere.

    So instead of Alienating a fellow muslim, and finding faults. Understand the problem, and accept that this feeling is genuine. You dont have to believe in it. But as a muslim, you have to believe this is your SISTER’s genuine struggle.
    She is a Muslim First.
    Everything is is judged by Allah.
    and no one has knowledge on this Earth to condemn her or celebrate it.
    Each is on his own..
    this is something you have to be judged for it on the day of judgment and no one else will be judged for it.

    I swear if we fought for orphans the way we fight for hijab , there will not be one orphan on earth.
    If we had the same heart to take care of all the poor, it would solve poverty.

    I feel sad for my muslim family.
    If you understand this and apply it. I believe you’ll equal 1’000 muslims who dont apply true Islam, but wear their clothes.

    I dont believe i’ll be popular for this opinion, but if anyone has suggestions on why we should condemn or blame another muslim and make her feel like she is not part of our Community, please advise me.

  37. sumera says:

    Its truly amazing what’s said in the response.
    but honestly wearing a hijab at first wasnt easy for me as well.I first started wearing it when i was in grade 7 and it was actually forced upon me. i mean my mom wore and so my elder sister and then it was time for me.i didn’t actually mind it but i wasnt quite comfortable enough.
    keeping it all tied up in the school was just a bother for me and also it was a sudden change.i could no more take part in those fancy dance functions in my school,i mean common wearing a hijab and dancing,duh its sounds stupid and would certainly look ridiculous So that part was actually pretty hard.To top it off i was kind of given orders by my sis that “you shouldn’t take it off anywhere or everywhere”
    gosh seriously 1 moment i truly hated it.As days passed i got used to and it was no more a duty,though it still wasn’t my wish but its just that i no more took it as a burden.i just wore it every morning to school without hesitation and than wore it else where and loved it.

    To bring 1 more twist in my life,few years later i was told to wear abaya.well this time its wasnt a surprise for me.i knew i had to some day.so finally i wore the complete hijab + abaya stuff and i was ok with it.
    well, in my family its the case of “take it or leave it”- i mean once u have worn the stuff u have to wear it forever,no compromise for a wedding or a party,u have to attend any function wearing abaya and if in case its a mix gathering of male and female than forget about taking off your abaya.This particular part was the worse.
    i mean i am a pakistani,and marriages in pakistan are full of color and every1′s enthusiastic about showing off their pretty outfits.so this thing really used to get out of my nerves.
    my elder sis is quite strict about all this so eventually i had to end up listening her but deep down i always thought that it was so embarassing going to a marriage wearing abaya,i mean otherwise i loved it no matter what but i always hesitated wearing at marriages.i use to think what others are going to think and what if they find it weird because many usually take off their hijab during such celebrations.
    Anyways my whole point here is that after reading the entire response i have really understood What islam is about.my thoughts of taking off abaya/hijab in marriage are completely clear now.i mean anyways i wasnt already going to take off my abaya at marriages but its just that what is explained in the article makes me feel that it is also what i want to do,not what i have to follow.

    thanks to you :-D

  38. Gulnar says:

    Assalam-o-alaikum (WRWB)!!

    I, very strongly, agree with you, brother, on the context that you’ve attached on “Hijaab”. One has to understand that “Hijaab” comes from within, not from influence of others. I have been wearing hijaab for, almost twenty -years, now, but I didn’t used to. One day, at a “Ladies Dirs”, hearing the scripture on “Importance of Hijaab”, and the lady, whom was giving, said, “Not wearing Hijaab is like one being seen as if having no clothes on.”……This li’l note gave me the chill to an extent that I, immediately, acquired “Hijaab” and have been wearing it since, PROUDLY!!…Masha-Allah!

    Walaikum Assalam (WRWB)!!!

    • reality check says:

      “Not wearing Hijaab is like one being seen as if having no clothes on.”

      this kind of unnecessary drama just perpetuates the thinking that any woman who doesn’t cover is a whore.

      we ALL deserve to be treated with respect. the hijab is not a prerequisite for that…

  39. Nasreen Khan says:

    Assalaamu Alaikum!

    Mashaallah! Such a wonderful reply given by Br. Suhaib Webb to the sister. May Allah SWT make us from among those who perform our religious duties with full sincerity and devotion, and thus become beloved to Him. Ameen.

    Ma-assalaam.

  40. Faryal says:

    Jazakallah u khairun!

  41. Rooh says:

    Well said, Imam Suhaib. I particularly liked that part about why the physical outwards acts of worship, sometimes triviliazed by the word – rituals, are important. That throws so much light on the issue, mashAllah. The rituals are not trivial – they follow the spiritual in a content whole. MashAllah!

  42. Sidra says:

    Hmm this is interesting to me. I think in a land where Muslims are well represented, wearing a hijab is “just” a piece of cloth, and considered a part of the local dress code. But in a nonMuslim country, wearing a hijab really does turn one into a representative of Islam and it is confusing when hijabi girls are going to prom dancing, mingling with guys, wearing a ton of makeup, etc. when their hijab is saying something different. Yes, it’s just as bad Islamically if you’re doing these things as a Muslim male, but a hijab is something more exclusively related with Islam. I think if people are going to pick and choose certain aspects of their religion to excel at (which is true for nearly everyone), it is better to work on the internal things rather than starting with something external and having everything else in your look and personality completely clashing, and furthermore, giving almost negative dawah about Islam.

  43. Sidra says:

    Sister Sumera, I think it is unfair that you have been pressured into abaya. It is clear from your post that your elder sister and family’s expectations played a big role in both your decisions to start hijab and abaya. You might rationalize all this thinking it is better, but Islamically, we are not supposed to forbid what Allah SWT has permitted for us. And in our religion, there is no stipulation for one to wear only Abaya. We can wear a dress of ANY culture as long as it conforms to the guidelines of covering everything but the face and hands. This can easily be met with the majority of Pakistani shalwar kameez, as they consist of a long shirt with loose trousers. So it is wrong for anyone to forbid outfits which are permissible, especially in the name of Islam.

  44. suheila says:

    Imam Shuaib,

    The article you wrote was beautiful. However, you are not touching on the social and psychological effects of wearing a scarf on one’s head. Please differentiate between ‘hijab’=modest covering of a woman’s body, and ‘hijab’= scarf-wearer. Do you believe muslim women should wear hats all the time? they would still be covering their hair…but nobody would know they are muslim…but they would still be ‘modest’. Please address this. I feel like this is a serious matter that men cannot fully grasp.

    Thank you

  45. nora says:

    salamu alaykum everyone,
    Today I googled the phrase”take off hijab” and came across this post. I have no one to understand from my close friends and relative, so i’m seeking the strangers of the world wide web to give me their opinions. I have been a ten year wearer of hijab, head of mso, active in my community, tajweed teacher, arabic teacher, attended all the cnfrences, you name it. I truly love my religion.. and want to remain close to it, but being now 28 yo, i find myself in a very strange situation that I never thought i would ever be in. I am a career girl, a doctor to be specific, training in residency, arab and came to this country 5 yrs ago.. My whole family came here so I had no choice but to join them.. now because of my training being in a place where its hard for my family to join me, I am left alone. To face a hostile islamophobic community on my own. Its hard to lead a normal social life because most of the girls in my age are married with kids. I think of this everyday, and feel the only solution to my situation is to get married. However, most of the religous guys who want a hijabi dont want a doctor, and most of the guys who would marry a doctor dont want a hijabi. I love the hijab, love the identity it gives me, dont care about blending in the western world, but its hindering my finding a suitable spouse. I’ve almost decided to take it off. the funny thing is i’m a very good looking girl and I know once i do, most porpbably my single status will be removed. Allahu a3lam :(

    • Marya says:

      wa `alaykum assalam,

      Pray to Allah swt for guidance. May He strengthen you and guide you in this and all matters, and surround you with those that He loves. Ameen.

    • UmmAbdullah says:

      Assalamu Alaikum Sister:

      Actually, in the medical field is one of the few workplaces where I see many many women wearing hijab. No doubt there will be at least one other physician where you do your residency who wears it. You’ll also find that many hospitals host Jummah prayers. Now, as a resident, your time is not your own, but I know many Muslim residents who do work with their colleagues to try and take lunch (if they have time) at Jummah time.

      1000x easier to wear hijab in a hospital in the States than any other place–trust me. :)

      However, it’s up to you. The one thing I ‘d ask is that do you want to attract a husband who values your modesty or not? As much as I hate hijab some days, I love the fact that my husband finds me the most beautiful with hijab and without a bunch of make-up. I know way too many women whose life is the reverse–and the always feel like they have to put on a ton of make-up for their husbands.

      Whatever you decide, good luck in your training.

      Peace.

  46. Eman Ismaiel says:

    Salam all and salam to Nora. First of all I want to say I’m so happy to find this place online where I can connect with others that have the same struggles as I do. It empowers me and so thank you for creating this site. I’d love to connect with sisters and perhaps develop friendships here. I see a part of me in every comment posted – It seems like everyone is struggling with the issues , struggling with themselves…and it just makes me feel like I am not alone in this.
    I just want to share my story so that I join your voices. perhaps I will benefit someone.
    I came to the U.S from Egypt in 98 . I was 16 years old – upper middle class family , didn’t wear hijab and just a moderate muslim girl. I got to learn about true islam in america, not in egypt. Even though my mom has always been pretty religious, I discovered it on my own on a college campus and through MSA. I decided to wear hijab at the age of 20, I was a sophomore in college – things were perfect for a year or so , and I experienced this “rush” that you refer to – then from then on I struggled with it, and you could say I am still struggling with it – But deep down I know I will never take it off , no matter how bad things get in my mind or how much i want to and the reason I know this is because of how much I travelled the world, experienced the different cultures, and saw how much society around you can create such an amazing pressure against you that you simply have to give in to whatever is mainstream. Being different is not easy, and it’s not meant to be easy. The question to ask is “why am I being different and for what purpose and for who ?: I feel that everything I struggled with in regards to “keeping my hijab on” had nothing to do with hijab itself, it had to do with how I was perceived by others! or let’s say personal image. Of course personal image can have a huge impact on your life and should not be underestimated. My concerns were: will I find the type of guy I wanted to marry? the religious ones were too extreme and the moderate ones were out in the clubs and confused ..so where are the guys and how is my hijab getting in the way of my social life, how people perceive me and whether I am going to meet the guy who will understand me for who I am, not just judge me based on hijab(or lack of it ) ? the other concern was: will I get a job after i graduate ? I was a valedictorian in architecture school in college , but I was still concerned: will my hard work amount to nothing because of my hijab? Even after I was proved wrong and after I got hired in chicago at a top tier organization and I was the ONLY muslim and the only hijabi – I was living alone in Chicago as a single muslim professional – the rest of my family were in the middle east. being hijabi then was very difficult and different from being a college undergrad with so much support from MSA ) my concern now was : will they not promote me because I don’t go drinking with them and I am clearly so different ? the struggle continued – all in my head.

    I remember back when I was a teenager in egypt, America or americans or how i was viewed by a ‘non muslim’ was not even relevant in my life. Being muslim was simply the norm , not the minority. I grew up being ‘very’ mainstream in egyptian society and my image was a very positive one… So how did my life turn around so much !? now instead of being a simple member of society with a normal image ( mind you in egyptian society if ur upper middle class then ur superior than the rest ) to being somewhat inferior , weird minority with insecurities, fears and worries? It becomes really clear where the problem really is if you have something to compare it to !!! The problem was not with hijab itself – It is not the act of worship of wearing the hijab , thats the easy part !! the problem is that of image – what others think.

    in 2007 I decided to move to dubai to join the rest of my family members there
    the interesting thing I did notice was this: within my almost 10-year hijab struggle/rollercoster is that during the two years that I left america to work in dubai, I did not struggle with hijab , not sometimes, not often , not once, not at all ! – In fact it was never ever an issue. I was working for a big american architecture company and the people I worked with were professionals from all over the world: muslim, christian, athiest , american , australian , british , paki arab… you name it ! all the combinations in the world were present in the two floors of our office. And even though most events centered around alcohol and other things like that in dubai , I not ONCE felt attacked , disrespected , looked down upon because of my hijab. In fact , people gave me MORE respect because of it , including americans , athiests, christians and even non practising muslims. My bosses tried to “SELL” my image to clients because our clients were all local muslims and they would probably be proud to see a hijabie woman on the management team talking to them about the design concepts for their next sky scraper. Managers thought I would be a valuable addition in management because of MY IMAGE !! !!!
    It was very clear that a woman wearing hijab in dubai is someone “not to mess with” , someone that should get the best seat on a bus or in the hospital or wherever else. People just respect you. apart from that there were beach clubs that were designed for women only, so you can simply go to a private woman club after work, slip into your swim suit, and chill on the beach, go for a swim , sun tan , have an outdoor sunny lunch with your friends, in a swim suit !! I think all of these “perks” were the direct reason why I did NOT struggle with hijab during those two years !! it was a combination of PERKS and a positive image in the minds of those around me, being respected…. I found all of this funny because within my lifetime I am just ME.. i am the same person all along yet I get treated completely different depending on whether im in egypt, kansas, chicago, or dubai. Because of this, I learned not to equate myself to my image – because it was very clear that image did not define me, and I also had very little control over it !! I can hope all I want, but what is written for me will be written whether those around me like it or not !
    Since dubai, I have moved back to America and now my hijab struggle is back !! However I found an amazing husband ( an american convert ) and have been married for almost a year and whenever I struggle with it, he reminds me of what I already know. Also to me , my image infront of him matters more … My hijab struggle is not over and I don’t think it ever will be, but deep down in me I know that the job, the husband and the peace of mind come from Allah, they don’t come from our own actions and our own attempts
    I because as soon as i reason it out in my head, there simply isnt any justification for taking it off, so I go about continuing to keep on keeping on!.. I am 29 years old now . I am married alHAMDULILLAH now for almost a year now… and alot of my struggles when i was 20 have completely gone. alot of the worries about finding the right guy or landing the right job or whether i will face discrimination because of my hijab when i apply for work, are completely gone. Simply because what is meant to happen in your life WILL happen,and nothing happens without the will of Allah. taking off the hijab will definetly not change my destiny against what allah wills for me – be it a job or a husband or find that ‘peace of mind’ – it will come if Allah wills it and when he does, and in the specific time and place that he does. I was laid off in dubai against my will and against my control , and it is beyond my control. However , if I hadnt lost my job I wouldnt have met my husband… so I learned to just do my part and Allah has in store a plan for me. People have very little control over me.

    • Mia says:

      Salam Eman,
      Mash’Allah, I just absolutely loved what you had to say. You shed light on what really matters and reading about your story and struggle with hijab is quite motivating. I also started wearing hijab at the age of 20, my mother and sisters do not wear it though. But Alhamdulilah, I have supportive Muslimah friends in my life that have provided me with knowledge and confidence to start wearing hijab. May Allah (swt) strengthen our iman and our ummah. Ameen.

  47. Uzma says:

    Salaam brothers, and sisters.

    I have worn my hijab since Year 4, at the age of 9. It wasn’t something that was forced upon me, however, at the young age, i felt that I was ready. I have worn it everyday since then, throughout all the racism and bullying especially in the first years of high school, in fact it was so bad, that I stopped getting the bus, and got a separate bus, and then had to walk 30 minutes everyday. I have now seemed to reach a stage in my life, where I want to experience just one day in my life, with it off. I want to have just one experience with it off, and want to do so without being judged. I think I know exactly how I will feel, however is it so very bad of me to feel like this? It is not for the attention that I would get from boys/etc, but I think I need to know truly whether I feel like I am wearing it for the right reasons.

  48. Sidra says:

    Wasalaam Uzma
    I think that asking here (a islamic oriented site) you will have most people tell you that it is wrong to think like that and to ask Allah (SWT) for more strength in wearing the hijab. My personal feeling is that we should not go through life with big “what ifs” in our mind, and if something is compelling you and not very harmful, it is okay to do. But if you do take off the hijab for a day, the social stigma from your near Muslim friends for taking it off will probably be more than what you experienced from your non-Muslim friends for having it on! I would maybe try it on vacation, or in a new city, where you can have the non-hijab experience in a way not colored by people’s previous expectations of you as a hijabi.

  49. Assalamu Alaikum wa ramatullahi wa baraktu.
    I read something like this or maybe the same as this one on another website and I really liked the response. It always stuck with me as the best reply I had ever read. The person who wrote the reply has amazing skills. I am humbled.
    Jazak Allah Khair.
    Admin
    Habibi Matrimonials

  50. Mia says:

    Oh, and ofcourse, thank you Shazia for this amazing article.

    Here’s another relevant article pertaining to the topic of hijab:
    http://www.muslimahsource.org/spirituality/why-i-took-off-hijab-open-sin-vs-hypocrisy/

    Jazak Allah Khair – Ameen.

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