This is the excerpt for your very first post.
The niqab.It’s hotly debated, widely trashed, painfully dissected. This light cloth we draw over our beauty has been made into a media sensation; the few of us who wear it here in America and Europe made into objects of pity and curiosities. To display your faith and cover your beauty is against the ideals so many hold; yet some of us, breaking free of expectations and criticism, still show our dedication to Allah- our pride in our religion- our modesty.
And they can’t understand why. Why, when so many of our sisters have turned their hijab into a fashion. Showing that they can incorporate their ‘Muslim identity’ into our shallow society. When so many have ‘moderated’ the hijab bit by bit until it’s a tiny demurely wrapped bit of cloth, reduced to acceptable, insignificant, scraped down to the standards surrounding us. Why?
I can answer for myself- because what people see does nothing for you, and what Allah sees does everything. Because in the end, what upholds me is my faith- and my sisters, no matter what you do to conform to the new standards of freedom, it will never be enough. First the niqab is too strict, then the abayah is considered frumpy, and now the khimar is a little too much- when will it stop? When you are like the rest of the women. When your dedication to your faith has been surpassed by the desire to fit into the new freedom.
I’m eighteen and I wear the niqab. We lived in Yemen for a while, and I started wearing the niqab there. It wasn’t a huge deal there; wearing the niqab and behaving with modesty earned you respect. Opened doors, men who would give up their seats and help you with your bags, step aside for you to pass. They understood, I guess, that we were not only asking for respect, we were demanding it. Then we returned to America.
It was a sort of shock. It was suddenly being reduced in others’ eyes to someone ridiculous, startling, detached from society. Heads turned to watch my sisters and I, glances ranging from surprise to disgusted amusement. Sometimes my amusement rivaled my annoyance. Other times I was disturbed enough to want to stay home. My non-Muslim relatives were mostly silent on the matter, but my grandfather refused to walk out in public with us in hijab. My mother and sisters gave me strength in their being there with me; sometimes after a shouted insult all it would take was an exchanged look with my sister. To see the resilience in silence, to share a half-amused giggle. It’s almost startling when someone acknowledges you with respect. Not so long ago a woman approached us when we were shopping and looked at us.
“I just wanted to tell you girls, you all look so beautiful.”
“Thank you,” was all we could say, with smiles, but that kindness stayed with me.
Wearing it, I feel beautiful. It acknowledges that I am in my imperfections precious. That I am blessed to be a Muslim, pleased to be of those Allah has chosen. And proud to show it. Yes, it does look very different, and people don’t like different, but long ago the Prophet mentioned that we would be in the world strangers.
But in the end when I stand before Allah, I don’t want to have to say that in following others I was misled. I want to be able to say that I did my best according to what I saw in the Qur’an and the Prophet’s hadith, and pray that it is accepted.
Because in the end of it all? That’s what really matters.