Hijab: all or nothing?

Dear Muslim sister

To start off, I want you to know that whether you wear hijab or not, you are a beautiful woman, with the gift of Imaan. Embrace it. Love it. And understand that you have it because you are not unworthy of it.

You may be made to feel at times that you do not deserve to fulfill religious duties, because you are not doing justice to it. You might have heard or even said it yourself that: ‘If you’re not going to do it properly, why do it at all?’ Usually, this judgmental ideal surrounds the hijab/niqab/any Islamic clothing. Imagine if we said the same about other religious duties. What if we told a person who prays three of the five compulsory salaah (and is trying their best to pray the rest) that they’re a hypocrite and should pray five or non?

How ridiculous does that sound? We are constantly telling other sisters and ourselves that the hijab should just be removed if it’s not worn ‘properly’.

If you didn’t wear it to the last social event, or you’re not fulfilling other religious duties, then you’re a hypocrite. How dare you work to change and adapt your physical appearance to fulfill a religious duty, when you do all those other bad things? If you wear a niqab/hijab and don’t wear it in front of every non-mahram, then you should just take it off altogether. If you can see your arms and you wear a hijab to cover your hair, take it off. Hijab means cover everything! So you should take it all…or nothing.

Seriously? Yes, seriously. We actually tell ourselves this on a daily basis. I am not saying that we should do the opposite, and be settled in not fulfilling our highest potential to practice religion. But we must understand that religion is not ‘all or nothing’. I can’t even imagine the consequences if we truly thought that were the case. Religion includes practicing ‘something’ whilst striving towards ‘all’.

When you put the hijab on with sincere intentions, you’re not only fulfilling a physical aspect of religion. Think of it as a step you are taking to get closer to your creator. If you want to start wearing the hijab, and worry that where you want to start is not enough. Remember, that where you start is still once step forward, and keep intending to continue taking those steps.

You may be, most probably will be as almost everyone is, a few steps behind in another aspect of religion. But that shouldn’t make you feel like you are not worthy of the hijab. When you wear the hijab, you become a representation of Islam to those around you: Muslim and Non-Muslim. You have a beautiful responsibility, and are empowered to shape someone else’s perception of the religion. With sincere intentions, you will be pushed to reform you character and maintain positive social interactions, which ultimately improves internal spirituality.

But don’t be disheartened if you feel that you cannot constantly uphold this. Nobody is perfect, and everyone is working to improve something. Don’t put yourself down, and don’t put others down. Be confident with every step you take to working improving spirituality and ultimately getting closer to the Almighty. Understand however, that there is a sharp line between being confident and striving to improve what Allah has gifted you with, and feeling that you are better than others. Our world, especially in the west, is shaped by (not always healthy) competition, and the idea that in order for me to succeed, somebody else must be put down.

To feel good about our own hijab, or religion, we don’t have to put someone else down in the process. We shouldn’t allow negative statements to float about unquestioned: ‘Oh em gee! She wears hijab, but she doesn’t even pray. What a hypocrite.’ or ‘She thinks carrying a hijab and praying is enough, but she doesn’t actually wear a hijab.’

As Muslim women, we already get so much criticism and face discrimination from Islamophobes and people who disagree with our life choice as a whole. We seriously do not need the same from our own sisters.

Whether you wear a hijab, or hope to wear one someday, remember that you are definitely worthy of wearing it, and so is every one of your sisters.

‘And hold fast, all together, by the rope which God (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves…’

(The Glorious Quran 3:103)

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