My name is Ayeh, and this is my story…
I started wearing the hijab at the age of 9, and like everyone else at that age, I didn’t really know why. All I knew was that it was a key part of my religion and I wanted to wear it like my mum. I had many people telling me not to, or often telling me that it’s “too hard”, or “you’re still young.” But despite the various opinions that were coming my way – all that mattered to me was that I wanted to wear it just like my mum.
When I started wearing the Hijab, I was in primary school – year 4 to be precise, and I was the only ‘hijabi’ in the school. At the beginning, the other kids kept looking at me, and I was always aware when I was being stared at, it was because all of a sudden this girl is now wearing something on her head. And that’s something they haven’t seen before in the school, so in their defence I guess it was something surreal. At first I was a bit scared but alhamdulilah my teacher was lovely and explained to my class that this was a hijab and it was something worn by Muslim women. Thankfully this really made it a lot easier for me, and I remembered the verse:
“If you give thanks, I will give you more…” – Surah Ibrahim, Verse 7
So that year my mum threw me a ‘takleef’ party, (an occasion to celebrate the maturity of a female), and I feel that definitely felt encouraging at the time as it was a day designated to celebrate an important day of my life. It actually made me feel that I was doing something right.
Growing older you realise and understand why exactly you’re wearing the hijab. Not just because Islam says so. But as a symbol of modesty, that’s when you see the beauty in it. And while the media and society say looks are important, hijab reminds us that beauty is in character and not your looks. Not everything is defined in the outer appearance of an individual, and when you wear hijab you become more self-aware, because in the end you’re wearing a symbol to represent your religion – and personally for me that felt so amazing!
Something to remember…
I must admit it can be difficult and scary for many young women/girls to hear about the attacks on Muslim women and still go out alone as a hijabi. I feel it’s extremely important that parents encourage their daughters to wear the hijab at the right age, by telling them about the rewards and beauty of it rather than punishment or “hell awaits” if they don’t. Whereas leaving it to a later age, it can get harder for the girl due to pressure of friends and society.
Understanding the beauty of hijab makes you braver and more motivated to do better as a Muslim woman to represent Islam regardless of what the media has to say. As long as our aim is to please Allah (SWT) then it shouldn’t matter what anyone else says.
And to be honest, whilst the media demonises Muslims in the East and West continuously, it only makes me more motivated to represent the true essence of my religion, and I will always encourage others to do the same.
By Ayeh Muntadhar