My Hijab – Learning to Love the Scarf
Actually I cannot say there was just one first day with hijab. I started to cover myself gradually and just after many trials, I started wearing hijab every day and forever, in sha’ Allah.
When I converted to Islam in summer 2002, I was still living with my parents. At the beginning, I thought I could be a good Muslim even without wearing a headscarf. I thought I would never find the courage to go out with it, to face the people I knew since I was a child, to enter a shop or to go on with my life in this new outfit.
Besides, I was not really convinced that God wants us to cover our bodies and our hair. I was still partially affected by the Christian idea that “faith is in heart” and that exterior appearance is not so important. Then, as I learnt more and more about Islam, I gradually changed my mind.
I came to understand that in Islam there is no scission between body and mind, deeds and spirit. Before praying, we clean our body as well as our hearts. When we pray, we prostrate both with our forehead and with our spirit. When I knew that, the wish to wear hijab grew stronger, but still I was thinking I would never have the courage to take this step.
I had to learn how to wear a scarf properly, at least to pray at home and at the mosque. I admired Muslim women with very fashionable scarves but I could not understand how they do it! I started studying every woman wearing hijab I saw on the street, and some of them noticed my curiosity, maybe they thought I was looking at them in a bad way, maybe they thought I was a racist! How could they imagine that I was trying to understand how they wear those things!
At that time I used to buy books from the only Islamic library in Milan, and I noticed that the girl working there was very religious and very friendly. One day, I went to the shop and she was alone, so I found the courage to ask her, “I’m sorry, could you teach me how to wear the headscarf?”. My question surprised her, she did not know I was a Muslim, but did not say anything. She closed the shop, took off her veil and showed me slowly how to wear it. Then she gave me one and I tried it on myself, and I discovered that it was very easy to wear!
That was my first hijab, a simple, white one. I loved it so much. It is still with me and I still wear it sometimes, although it is already old.
The following day I took it in my bag to the university. I had found an empty room to pray at my working place. Then the telephone rang, it was the girl of the library; I had given her my number the day before and she asked me to go to the mosque with her — it was a Friday.
I accepted, and then I realized that yes, I had a headscarf, but the rest of my clothes were not very suitable to go to the mosque. I was wearing a long skirt but it opened when I walked, and the sleeves of my shirt were not long enough. What could I do? I walked with very, very little steps, like a geisha, to avoid my skirt to get opened, and I reached a shop beside the university.
There, I bought pins and I used them to close my skirt, probably I looked like a Muslim punk! Then I put on a jacket (although it was summer!) and went to the mosque. So, that was my first time walking in Milan with hijab. I felt the eyes of the people looking at me, my face looked very Italian and my outfit was not typical Islamic, especially when I had to speak and they understood I was Italian, I drove so much attention! I must admit I felt ashamed, but at the same time I was proud of my scarf, I liked it, I felt good in it.
The experience at the mosque was wonderful and I started going every Friday. With the coming of autumn, and then winter, it became easier to get proper clothes and I started wearing the scarf every time I had the possibility to — and every time I was sure that I won’t meet any of my family members.
Once I visited a friend in Bologna and I kept the hijab all the time. Maybe it was because I got used to it and I was behaving in a natural way, people also stopped staring at me. It was only when I talked that they seemed surprised.
A few months later, I got married and I moved to another country. Nobody knew me there and it was the perfect time to start wearing hijab. During the first days, I was still a little bit embarrassed, then it became the most natural thing in the world.
When I was ready to go out, I put on my shoes and I put on my hijab; I would never forget to put on shoes when I go out and also I would not never forget to put on the hijab as well!
I have bought many new scarves, and I enjoyed matching them with my clothes, I know that hijab is about modesty, but still we can also look elegant in it. My only fear was not being able to get a job because of it and, although I had faith, my faith was not strong enough to keep my heart in peace.
Sometimes I could not sleep at night because of the thoughts I had about the difficulty of finding a job that would accept me wearing hijab.
I should have kept in my mind these beautiful verses of the Qur’an:
[And whoever is careful of (his duty to) Allah, He will make for him an outlet, and give him sustenance from whence he thinks not; and whoever trusts in Allah, He is sufficient for him; surely Allah attains His purpose; Allah indeed has appointed a measure for everything.] (At-Talaq 65:2-3)
And indeed, al-hamdu lillah, I was able to find two jobs just some weeks after starting wearing hijab!
At the end of my story I would like to tell newly converted women that sometimes we are put under pressure from other Muslim sisters, who mean well, to wear a headscarf, and maybe a jilbab too, just short after our conversion, my personal advice would be to take it easy, step by step. With the gradual growing of faith and love for Islam, wearing hijab will come like a natural thing, but it does not make sense if we are forced to wear it.
Remember that the verse which made the hijab a duty on Muslim women was revealed when the Prophet was living in Madinah when the faith of the believers became strong and they were ready to obey all the commands of Allah. It was Allah’s wisdom to wait till that moment, and with the same wisdom we should practice our religion.
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