When I started wearing hijab, I used to get a lot of weird questions. Once in my boarding school, a girl suddenly asked, 'Are you having a bad hair day?' For a minute, I did not understand what she meant. I said Nope. She then continued, 'Ohh, so you have lice then?' My mom checks for that all the time and that was so annoying. I laughed and replied, 'Huh, I doubt that.' She did not stop there. 'Er, is it very cold for you?' I wondered when was it so cold in my locality? I was like, 'Why would you ask that?' Only then she pointed my long flowing headscarf and asked, 'Then why do you wear that on your head?'
That was during my school days and the questions haven't stopped yet. Whenever I meet new people, believe me, I am faced with plenty of ‘curious’ questions. Mostly, the conversation starter is my dress code. 'What are you wearing? Do you wear it all the time, even when you sleep? Are you wearing it by force? Don't you feel oppressed? Why do you have to wear it when women are liberated today?’
I am today's woman too. I go out. I enjoy movies. I love shopping. I read books. I gobble cakes. I worry about my weight, yet I don't follow my diet. I am a girl who wants to make a difference as much as you do. Once on a train journey to my hometown, I met an Australian couple. It was quite an interesting rendezvous with them. They were also keen to know about my headscarf. The headscarf, called the Hijab, is a sign of modesty. Hijab doesn't mean simply wearing the black burqa but there is more to it. The word Hijab comes from the Arabic word Hijaba, which means to conceal. In Holy Quran, God asks men and women to observe their modesty for their own benefits. Not only it is intended to cover the hair but the body, mind and soul.
Having grown up in a Muslim household, many things were just handed over to me. And being raised in such a community, I never questioned them. Naturally it becomes my way of life. I am comfortable with what I was given and the hijab was one of them. I literally grew up in it. My dress code gives me freedom and comfort. Covering my head has never been a challenge for me because it has always been a part of my wardrobe. It is as normal as choosing a skirt and a top. Now that, hijab becomes a fashion statement too.
In Hijab, I am identified as a woman who practices Islam. I take pride knowing that many of you can identify me as a Muslim as soon as you see me, simply by the way I dress. Even non muslims greet me with ‘Assalamu Alaikum!’. Besides that, Hijab saves me from the society’s expectation on objectification of what women should look like. My hijab has freed me from such unnecessary expectations and gives me the power to say out loud - I am much more than what you physically see.
Hijab keeps me liberated. On a funny note, yeah, I don't even have to worry about my messy hair when I am in hurry. True that I worry less about my hair-do and makeup. But that doesn't mean I put no effort to make myself presentable. We women naturally like to be beautiful. There’s nothing wrong with that. The problem comes when the appearance is put above all the other characteristic that women possess. My hijab reminds me as an individual who wants to be recognized based on personality and not by looks.
Nowadays, wearing minimal has become a part of women's liberation. I too have my own definition for liberty and self respect. If your choice is to wear sleeveless and stilettos, why can’t I choose to be in my scarf? When I am in hijab, I feel so much more in control. I do care about my appearance and love to dress up, but then I have the freedom to choose how much of myself I reveal to the public. I’m glad I stopped seeing myself through others' gaze but through the love of God who values both men and women equally for their good deeds and not for their beauty.
Well, to answer all the questions. No, I don’t have lice and I don’t wear it when I sleep. And yeah, sometimes I do have my bad hair days and sometimes hijab helps me when the weather is cool. But contrary to the popular belief, Hijab is neither an oppression nor inferiority. In fact, it implies power to women.
Hijab is my choice. It becomes my identity. I am not forced to stay in the veil but I choose to wear it, as an expression of my beliefs and my appearance to what's written in the Quran about feminine, modesty and humility.
In hijab, honestly, I feel blessed.