Alhamdulilah, I am really surprised by the amount of positive feedback I have gotten over the fact that I started wearing niqab. Especially since I had heard lots of worrying comments beforehand, such as “it’s too extreme” or “it will make people treat you poorly” and that tired old classic “It’s oppressive to women!”
First, let me just say this wasn’t an overnight decision. Since I reverted to Islam last December I have become increasingly more conscious of personal modesty. I started slow. Long sleeves, long skirts instead of skinny jeans. When I took to wearing hijab in March I became acutely aware that I was no longer dressing for the pleasure of men but for the pleasure of my creator.
People started treating me differently when my hair was covered. I was often asked why I would possibly wear something like that. Why I would hide my beauty. To the non-believers here in rural Virginia, I was being “too extreme”.
Coming to these realizations, picking up and wearing Abaya in late April wasn’t much of a leap for me, it helped to hide my curves and really made me feel more comfortable around groups of guys at school, etc. I was no longer being looked at as “the pale girl with the big boobs!”.. I was just “that muslim chick”… and you know what? I was just fine with that.
But no longer being an object of desire meant that many of the guys that used to stare at my body now felt as though it was their duty to call me names, make fun of my faith and generally try to tear me down… thus… “treating me poorly”.
So if being considered too extreme and being treated poorly are reasons not to wear niqab, would that mean I should also not dress modestly or not cover my hair to avoid people’s negative opinions of me?
I say this now and I say it plainly, sisters… be who you are, be true to your deen, strong in your iman…. and don’t ever… ever… give a damn what anyone else thinks about the way you dress. How little or much you cover is between you and your lord. If you don’t wear hijab, you are no less Muslim than the sister that does wear it and just because I wear niqab does not mean I am any more Muslim than the sister that remains uncovered. The only one whose pleasure we should seek is Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).
But anyways, back to how I started wearing niqab… I had been reading up on niqab for a few months before I even considered the possibility of wearing it myself. I had no real understanding of why women wore it and I mostly perceived it as a cultural thing. But as I further gained knowledge and read some of the testimonies of sisters that wore it and their reasons for doing so, I began to see it could be something of benefit.
I made the decision to wear it myself after listening to a sisters only web seminar featuring Heba Ahmed, that niqabi sister that was recently on CNN when they were talking about the french niqab ban. She made a lot of really good points and went through the different schools of thought concerning the covering of the face and hands, etc.
Ultimately I walked away from the seminar with the conclusion that there is no bidah in covering the face and the hands and while I don’t personally feel that niqab is an absolute fard for all Muslim women.. it certainly can’t hurt to try it and it might even be mustahabb for those of us that are extra mindful of our modesty.
So I started asking my parents about it, trying to get their impressions. They were a little resistant at first, they were unsure if covering further would be a good idea in a rural area like this. But after having conversations over several days and explaining how even just wearing hijab put me at risk around here, they finally gave me their permission.
and that’s pretty much what lead me to putting it on yesterday, I want to be modest for the sake of Allah(swt) and in all honesty… the kuffar can’t possibly treat me any worse than they already do…
So… Alhamdulilah. I’m a niqabi.. (and also a ninja, sis Maida lol)
It used to be that when I would stand in front of the mirror, I would spend an hour poking and preening, teasing my hair and making sure my curves were on full display so that guys would like me and treat me better than other girls.. it was a constant race to be prettier, hotter, more attractive… it caused nothing but rivalry..
These days I stand in front of the mirror to make sure I am covered properly from head to toe and that no part of my body is on display in any special fashion so that I may be judged for my words and actions, not my physical attributes.. and furthermore I’m now part of a sisterhood that shares knowledge and deep bonds through mutual faith…
Does that really sound all that oppressive to women?