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To Wear Hijab or Not, Help Me Decide

Question and answer details
H (17-female-Canada)
2012/09/19
Salam my Muslim brothers and sisters out there. I am making a big decision right now which is to wear hijab or not to wear (yet). I was not forced by anyone.. not even my mom and I was born a Muslim. My mother wears a hijab but started late (in her late 30s). When I started talking about hijabs with her she was very happy and pleased BUT was not sure whether I have made the right decision or not because she has seen many young girls wearing hijabs and taking them off later on and of course she does not want that to happen to me nor do I want that. I am very nervous and scared.. I don't know how to start or when to start since I don't have "proper" hijab materials and it is very hard to find them in Canada and I'm scared that since that's the case I will eventually get bored and regret it and feel bad about it for the rest of my life. We are not a rich family so we can't afford to go buy tons of hijabs and the old clothes of mine.. I don't think I can wear them with hijabs and I don't think I can afford to buy new clothes either. Every time I think about wearing a hijab I get butterflies in my stomach.. Sometimes I feel like I need/should do it right away but sometimes I have doubts. I have wanted to wear it for so long but I keep stopping myself and completely forget about it then think about wearing again. I don’t know if I'm ready or not, I don't know when to wear it and how to wear it on the first day. How do I do that? I'm just so scared and nervous and I know I should not be. Please help me. Salam.
Heena Khan
Answer

As-salamu `alaikum dear sister,

It seems like you are having some difficulty making a decision whether to begin wearing a hijab or not and it appears that there are pros and cons to either choice you make.

One of the first things I would like you to ask yourself is, “Why do you want to wear hijab? What is driving your decision?”

  • Is it because your mother wears it and you simply believe it is the right thing to do?
  • Is it because you believe it is unislamic to not wear a hijab?
  • Is it because you are uncomfortable with your body image?
  • Is it because you believe this is the only way one can be modest in her appearance?
  • Is it because most of your friends wear hijab?

These are just some possible answers, none of which might be yours, but I want you to truly ask yourself these questions and thoroughly understand and justify why exactly you want to wear hijab.

Culture can play a big role in influencing us and I want you to make this decision solely based on your own preference as opposed to an indirect influence from your culture or society.

You are 17 years old, a teenager. Developmentally, every teenager goes through a stage of trying to understand their identity, their role and place in society. You are going through exactly that. I have come across several teenagers, who have swayed back and forth about their hijab decision. This is a time in your life where you will experiment with identities and perhaps this is the one you have chosen to experiment with.

With that said, it is completely okay for you to experiment and see how you feel about wearing hijab and making changes in your life. At the end of perhaps a year, you may feel like this is the best decision you ever made, or at the end of 6 months you may feel like this is not something you are feeling and would like to discontinue.

As much as your parents would not want you to discontinue wearing hijab, it is okay, because at the end of the day, you, the person wearing hijab must do so wholeheartedly in the eyes of Allah. And if that is not the case, then don’t fool yourself and others.

The concept of hijab in Islam is directly related to modesty. Can you live a modest life without wearing hijab? If after say 6 months of wearing hijab you feel that you can still live a modest life without a hijab, then do so and be true to yourself and Allah.

I know in cultures and societies, we are all afraid of what the community will say if you decide to discontinue wearing hijab and that you may be ridiculed. Be assured, you are not wearing hijab for all those people, it is only for yourself and Allah, therefore, this decision should be made for the sake of Allah and not all those other people.

Like I mentioned before, developmentally it is very normal for someone your age to try something like this to see if this is going to be their chosen lifestyle and it is also very normal for someone your age to try it and then decide that it isn’t for them and then move on.

Wearing hijab is a commitment that must be taken seriously. However, no matter how strict of a hijab you wear, Allah SWT will first detect what your intention is, i.e. “Why have you decided to wear hijab?” that is why I cannot stress enough how important this question is.

No offense to those who religiously wear hijab and are practicing Muslims, but there are several Muslim women who wear hijab but their intentions are completely the opposite of what a woman who wears hijab should have. For example: some women wear hijab, appearing to be very modest, however, they are doing everything possible to attract men. In other words, they are getting away with these behaviors because they believe the hijab will shield them and their honor. Clearly, this is not acceptable in Allah’s eyes. I am by no means stating that you will do such a thing, all I’m saying is that you need to be very clear with your intention.

Certainly wearing hijab requires some lifestyle changes. Are you prepared to make these lifestyle changes? Lifestyle changes include changing your wardrobe, your environment, your lifestyle, your whereabouts, your activities, etc. Have you thought about all these changes? Not to say that you cannot be a public speaker or interact with men if you wear a hijab, you certainly can; however, you may not be able to for example, wear short sleeve clothing, etc.

In today’s day and age, there are very fancy hijabs, headdresses, unique ways of wrapping a hijab as well as hijab accessories. All these certainly cost money but you don’t “need” them to start wearing hijab.

If money is your concern,

  • Start out by wearing a simple black hijab on all outfits until you can start affording more. You can also use old clothes, scarves, shawls etc. to make hijabs.
  • Try to Google or search some Youtube videos, I’m sure you will find something.
  • Also, if you want to still make use of your old wardrobe, you can try searching online for arm covers, they are like long knee high socks, except they are worn on the arms. A lot of middle eastern hijab stores/websites sell them. You can wear those on your arms and still wear all your short sleeve tops. You can also layer a long sleeve t-shirt inside your short sleeve tops.

This decision can be very overwhelming and I want you to take it one step at a time.

  • First of all, ask yourself those questions I mentioned in the very beginning, take some time to think over those.
  • Then, do a trial for 1 week, wear the hijab wherever you go and see how you feel.
  • Also make sure you talk to your immediate family members and educate them that it is developmentally appropriate for a teenager to try something new and possibly discontinue if you don’t feel comfortable later on. Allah knows best.
  • Since money is an issue, start off with something basic, like a plain black hijab made of some old clothes of yours. Be assured that if your intention is strong, things like finances, limited availability, getting bored of hijab, etc will not be reasons for you to discontinue your hijab.

Allah is looking for a deeper thought process than this and if you don’t have it at this time, give it some time and perhaps start next year in Ramadhan for example. Don’t rush yourself and don’t be hard on yourself either decision you make.

Always remember, you are making this decision for the sake of Allah and only Allah. Whatever decision you choose, be strong and firm about it and don’t let other people influence you in any way.

For further guidance, please try the following links:


 

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information that was provided in the question. You are strongly advised to seek face-to-face counseling and consult your physician or therapist when making a drastic change in your lifestyle in terms of behavior, medication or diet etc.

Bio: Heena Khan is an Licensed Professional Counselor Intern (LPC intern) in the State of Texas. She also holds the credential of National Certified Counselor (NCC). Mrs. Khan has worked with children and adults in various settings and has experience in individual, group, family therapy and diagnostic assessments. All of the Mrs. Khan's cases are reviewed and supervised by her supervisor, Jennifer Jenkins, LPC-S.

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