Before I became Muslim, I could never understand why anyone would want to cover their hair. I would spend a lot of time perfecting my hairstyles before leaving the house. I enjoyed it and I liked how I looked. I never thought that I would one day be a hijabi.
Then, on 12th September 2007, I became Muslim, Alhamdulillah. It wasn’t something I had imagined would happen but with my new found religion came a new lifestyle and dress code. The hijab was alien to me. I was not exactly the modest type and the thought of covering my whole body, let alone my hair, seemed difficult.
They say you should take it slowly after converting. Some women do not wear hijab straight away but I had actually begun this transition before I converted and way before I even thought of conversion. I had started dating my husband and he asked his mum to send some hijabs over from Turkey. I opened the parcel with excitement and handled the colourful Turkish scarves with traditional handmade crochet trim. They were beautiful.
I wore them occasionally, normally when I went to see some Turkish friends. It was a kind of novelty to me; like dressing up. I enjoyed it but never thought I could ever wear hijab full time. Then, I became a Muslim and began to think about it more. I remember receiving a green pashmina scarf as a gift and a few days later I tried it on and stepped outside. It felt very odd, going to the local shopping centre with my head covered. I worried about seeing someone I knew and what they might think. I find this one of the hardest things about being a convert, seeing people from before and wondering how they will react.
Perhaps the biggest shock for me was my family’s reaction; I guess it was a shock for them too to see me change. I don’t think they liked the hijab, perhaps they still don’t, but I think they’re getting used to it. I do think it is important to take the feelings of others into account when you convert. It can be a sensitive subject and you may need to tread carefully.
My hijab journey has not always been easy. It hasn’t been constant. I’ve had times where I’ve removed it. It took me a while to be able to wear it “full-time” but I think I’m there now. So why do I wear it? There are many reasons.
Firstly, it is widely accepted that this is part of the dress code of a Muslim woman. We must dress modestly and this includes covering the hair. There is a hadith which states that the prophet Muhammed pbuh said that once a child reaches puberty, nothing should be shown except her face and hands. So, from this we can assume the hair should be covered.
Secondly, the hijab is seen as a symbol of Islam. When you see a lady wearing a hijab it is easy to recognise her as a Muslim. I like this. I like people to know I am Muslim. Without it, perhaps because I am a revert, no one would guess I am Muslim. However, when I wear it people know.
Thirdly, it provides opportunities for dawah. Some people become curious when they see a hijabi, especially if that hijabi is a revert. They may ask you questions about why you are covering your hair or may just be interested to learn about Islam.
Finally, it acts as a reminder to myself of all the good attributes I should be displaying; the way I should be acting. It encourages me to think about Allah and act in a way which is in accordance with my religion. It helps to keep me on the straight path.