Teen Perspective, a column on Muslim teen issues

September 2002

How I Began Wearing Hijaab

by Shezena T. Mohammed

Everyone wants to go to heaven. It's just something that every God-fearing person wants. Some people realize what they need to do to get there, and do it, but most of us, in my opinion, don't. Maybe they think they'll do it later in life or how they are leading their life isn't really that bad, even though God has explicitly told them to lead it a different way. I was in seventh grade when my mother decided that she was going start wearing a hijaab. It was a requirement of Islam and we all knew it. She decided that this was what she was going to do because she was just wasting her life by not obeying Allah (SWT). She was going to do whatever it takes not just because she wanted to enter the Paradise that Allah (SWT) has made for the righteous ones, but because Allah (SWT) has commanded the believing women to wear it. I believed in Allah (SWT) and knew what He said in the Quraan, but I wasn't about to go out wearing the hijaab so everyone would look at me, at least not yet.

More that a year went by and I still wasn't wearing it. I had started home schooling and was about to move to a foreign country, so that would take care of the "I'm going to bump into one of my friends" excuse. I had no excuse not to wear it but of course that didn't stop me from making plenty of them.

Then one evening we were going to go shopping for my baby brother. While we were getting ready my mother came in my room with her hijaab on and ready to go. She said "Why don't you wear your hijaab out tonight?" In my head, I screamed so loudly, "No!" that I thought she might have heard, but then I thought about it for a moment. It wouldn't really be that bad, I thought. And I remember thinking , life is your only chance to do what's right. So I put it on and faced my mother. I don't think I've ever seen her smile brighter than that day.

I felt people watching me even before I stepped out door. I knew Muslim women wear hijaab not only to be modest but also to be recognized as Muslim women. I definitely felt recognized. After going to several shopping centers, we went to another baby store. There was hardly anyone there, but I still felt self-conscious. I went and looked at some clothes by myself and I turned around just in time to see an elderly lady glaring at me. "What is her problem?" I thought to myself.

Then she said it.

The most horrible thing in the world and she said it to me. Before I even realized what happened she was gone. It was as if she hit me with a bat. All I could do is stand there. Why did she call me that? What did I do to her? There was something hateful about me to that woman and she felt the need to tell me. Why should I care? But I felt my eyes burning anyway. I was struggling to fight back my tears. I wouldn't be able to hold them back for long. If anybody asks it's just allergies. I heard my mom nearby. I had to forget about it for now. I took a deep breath and went.

The rest of the night was a blur. I couldn't forget about it. My head hurt and finally I went to bed. As soon as my head hit the pillow I could feel cold tears trickle down my cheeks. Why did she call me that? I felt like I was in hell trying to get to heaven. How could such an insignificant person make me feel like this? Now the anger. What made her think she can do that? Does she think she is better than me or something? Who did she think I am? Did she ever curse at nuns, or Hasidic Jewish women? Why me? But the most important question I asked myself that night was where do I go from here? I can't just sulk here forever. I remembered that the Quraan says the believers will be tested. Maybe this was my first test. I wondered how I did. Maybe that all depended on whether or not I will wear hijaab again tomorrow. Am I going to let them stop me from practising my religion? Of course not! I decided from that moment on I am going to wear hijaab. No one was going to stop me anymore. I didn't care what anybody thought, this was my decision.

I didn't want to at first because I didn't want people to look at me, to be different but now I realized they don't matter. I didn't want to before because I was more scared of people than Allah (SWT). I need to live my life for Allah (SWT) and not for them. On the Day of Judgement they are not going to be able to save me from the hellfire, only Allah (SWT) is. Whoever wants to look at me can. Whoever wants to call me names can but I am not going to feel bad for wearing hijaab anymore. No one is going to make me sorry of who I am. And this is who I am.

I am Muslim.

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