By Fareya Siddiqui <br><br>
These are a few words for those who often wonder what compels a woman to wrap herself up in a demure piece of cloth and cover herself up, completely obscuring her allure. I am sure it baffles a lot of minds as to what “makes” us “do this to ourselves”.
Mostly the logical conclusion drawn is, that the elders of their families pressurise the girls into this “orthodox tradition”. This prevailing view has led to certain “Muslim women rights’ champions” to think, we, girls in Hijaab, need someone to “liberate” us from the shackles of a mere cloth. I assure you dear “friends with good intentions” that there is a very big possibility that you might be doing the “Hijaabis” a disservice.
A simple piece of advice is, to go and actually ask a “Hijaabi” is she happy being so? And then believe if she says “yes, I am” instead of trying to read between lines and coming up with theories of fear and suppression. Undeniably there have been very bad examples of oppression of Muslim women. I can never refute that fact, yet it is not the fault of the car company if its cars are driven by rash drivers. Also there are Muslim girls who are actually averse to the notion of Hijaab. This might be due to certain prevalent image that has been created by the international media or a lack of relevant knowledge regarding Hijaab or simply due to the fact that we, humans, rebel at the notion of uniformity. But that is beside the point; we are discussing here the mind of a Hijaabi. Meaning girls who willingly choose Hijaab, a blessing for those who see.
In the simplest terms the basic motivation behind going under the veil is the belief that “I am precious”. Precious not only in their own eyes but in the eyes of the Almighty! What greater honour than being valuable to The Creator of this universe! He has thought us valuable enough to be kept safe from the bad things He knows abound our world. Just like our parents forbid us from things knowing that they’ll hurt us in the long run, Allah, who knows everything there is to know about, has ordered us to this submission to His Will because He is well aware of the dangers from which He wants us to be safe from. Ask any Hijaabi women what it feels like to wear Hijaab and the most common answer shall definitely be “safe”. Safe from what? you ask. Safe from the prying eyes of those with indecent intentions, safe from being the unwilling cause of temptation for men with lesser will power, safe from the Wrath of Allah for disobeying His wishes.
Let us pick up the first one, safe from “prying eyes”. I am sure, every single women has definitely has had this distasteful experience atleast once in her life. Whether it be in public places, offices, schools or simply walking down the road; this kind of phenomenon is ubiquitous. One can hardly avoid it unless you choose to lock yourself at home. That being impractical Our Merciful Guardian has offered us the option of Hijaab. Hijaab is like this unassuming shield that people often underestimate regarding its power. What can a piece of cloth do against the substantial power of the arms of lecherous men? I say, many times even a fully loaded gun fails to save one from the stubborn intentions of them. Still we do carry them around as precaution. Similarly Hijaab is this precaution that has been recommended from Heaven above. It is like killing the problem in the bud. When someone doesn’t even have access to actually look and thus be tempted, Hijaab avoids quite a number of unwanted attentions. Besides, what we fail to notice here is that carrying a gun is actually not a precaution. It’s the cure. That is, after being attacked or after sensing one coming we resort to it as a cure to get out of the situation. Whereas Hijaab is a precaution, which acts by deceiving and shielding women from the eyes of the would-be attackers. And as the old adage goes, caution is better than cure, Hijaab stands corrected!
Coming to the next point; safe from being an “unwilling temptation”. Here Hijaab isn’t just a shield or protector of women but for men too. We know human heart is a fickle creature. It seems to possess a mind of it’s own. When it chooses a path, very often it obviates the voice of reason or rationale. Satan of course keeps giving an “unhelpful” nudge but more often than not we do succumb to our baser instincts. Thus as women, we have to realise the power we hold in a mere gaze or smile of ours which can bring proud hearts to their knees. Many a times women who realise this, instead of exercising control over this power, exploit it. Thus causing emotional havocs in the life of many and making Satan clap his hands in glee. Do we really want to be the entertainment of Satan and his minions? Do we really want to cause pain to any number of broken families and hearts? In this context it is lie to call a woman weak. The upper hand (also the destructive one) is held by the female gender in such situations. Thus Allah, Our Protector, has given a dual message to us through Hijaab. First one is that, being a woman has given us a power that is both subtle and immense. We should realise it and take caution. Secondly, with this power we have a responsibility to others who are affected by it and thus are answerable to its consequences. Thus we can’t wash our hands off a matter and say that the guy was after me I had not invited him. Give him no cause to “come after you” dear sisters. Hijaab isn’t just a mere cloth but it is an entire attitude. The way you walk, talk or even look at someone is part of Hijaab. One might be covered from head to toe in a burqa, but one that is so flashy and physically constricting. That is definitely not Hijaab. Even if one’s attire maybe decent and yet they alluringly beautify their eyes or face or else talk in tones that pull at the strings of men’s hearts, the whole point of Hijaab is lost. If subconsciously women are engaging in such acts there will come a time when they will have to answer some very hard questions. Else if our intentions are clear and not dubious, Allah is definitely Most Merciful and shall forgive our trespasses accordingly. In Shaa Allah!!
Now finally the third and the most important reason, safe from Allah’s wrath! Let us start with the simplest analogy we can use here. Parents for any kids are a form of the biggest authority. Their orders are nothing less than laws for kids. Thus when they knowingly steal an extra cookie from the jar or get a ‘D’ in the latest maths test, they are rightly scared of the incoming displeasure of their parents. Yes, they know they are loved and are most precious things in the world for their parents, yet they know that the punishment will still be coming. Also in future the kids do strive to do things that shall make mummy happy and papa proud. Similarly, Allah, who loves us seventy times more than our mothers, shall rightly be displeasured when we so blatantly disregard His rules. Those rules which He has set down for our own good. It’s not for His benefit. And yet we act so ungrateful and think He shall let it go? We are never more deluded than at this moment, for every soul shall be called to account and we are not fit to answer any interrogation of that nature. Hijaab is a blessing He has sent from above. A way to gain His pleasure. To show that we accept how loved we are by The Almighty and in return show are appreciation by following His Will. The reward for us is simply the feeling that what we did would make Allah happy. A very insufficient comparison can be drawn to that moment when our parents smile with pride and with tears in their eyes because of something we have done. Isn’t that a beautiful feeling!!
So this was the serious glimpse in the mind of a Hijaabi. We are forgetting the fun side! Yes there is a lot of fun behind this sombre looking fabric. There are a lot of light hearted advantages of donning this garb. Right from unrestrained silent giggles in class, safe from teacher’s disapproving glares to freedom to wear anything as you wish. No tensions of following the latest fashion trends or social pressures to conform to the elite styles. Protection to the hair from sun and cold and even no hairstyling tensions for every other party! Personally Hijaab for me is a hassle free, comfortable and perennial fashion garb. It has a very feminine charm to itself that exudes modesty, but this image has not been given the opportunity to get the light of the day. Mostly it has been shoved into the forced darkness of infamy.
The final point left to make concerning the contentment present in the mind of a Hijaabi, is the sense of self-worth. Many think that it is in the nature of any girl to feel and look beautiful. To show off a little bit and be appreciated and admired by all. This kind of emotion is definitely present even in every woman who wears the Hijaab. The intention behind these feelings though matter a lot. For some it is the appreciation from other men and jealousy from women that forms the intention. This feeling borders on vanity which is a vice to human nature. Seeking external appreciation from external sources shows a need to be admired which is not a sign of a confident person. When one is comfortable in her own skin, she doesn’t need the approval of others to boost her sense of self-worth. Rather she is much more confident in a simple cloth knowing she is cherished and loved by her Creator, Allah. Isn’t that the best compliment one can get! It is an amazing feeling to know one is beautiful enough to be protected in the eyes of Allah. Rather than being made available for display and free ogling by undeserving men. This simple cloth demands respect and privacy from men in the most effective and universal way present in the world. Plus a woman in Hijaab knows that when she shall finally get her guy it won’t be merely for her good looks, but for what is beyond the outer appearance. He shall fall for the real you and love you even when you are wrinkly. That is the boost Hijaab gives to a Muslim girl’s self-worth.
So in nut shell, the message that was intended to convey was that the head hidden beneath the scarf is not as gullible as people seem to think. It thinks and contemplates higher truths of life and then ultimately chooses which is beneficial not just for life now but also for the unending HereAfter. Yes it is a sacrifice, yes it is difficult. No one can deny that putting on Hijaab is no mean feat of courage. It is a Jihaad that Muslim women of today are fighting against not just with the society but with themselves. I request all my dear sisters to try putting on Hijaab just for a single day and I assure you, you will never look at a woman in scarf the same way. So next time when you see a silent girl moving with downcast eyes wearing a scarf, admire her for her courage, appreciate her for beautiful modesty and appreciate the complicated workings of the mind of a Hijaabi.
-- Al Arabiya Digital