Embracing Modesty

A sister who recently started covering herself in the proper Islamic way wrote this article about her experience:

Change is hard, it seems impossible at times because it often challenges a seemingly impossible rigidness. Does that mean we should never try? Or should we take our chances? I took mine and I am glad I did!

God has been kind and life has been good. I have never experienced the hardships that people have in the search for one true meaning of life because it lied in front of me from the very beginning. Then why was I never able to see it or define it? That’s because I never lived it! I never considered myself a reverent or a true celebrant of piousness but I questioned: if I am calling you, why aren’t you answering? If you know what will bring me closer to you, why aren’t you being generous? If I am trying, why isn’t it enough? Because it was never enough!

All my life I have unknowingly practiced materialism. I have judged myself from the eyes of this world and trust me I have never lived up to its expectations. Trying was never good enough and achievements only carved ways to achieve more and more. With my religious values in front of me and my true conviction in God, every time this trying became a drag on me, I turned to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala for help, and Alhamdulillah never got disappointed. Unfortunately every time He helped, it increased my resiliency towards living a life that we live at the expense of that life which we will continue to live. So I remained divided and confused? I never did enough and I never took my chances. Because to be honest I was afraid of change!

For 6 years I have been trying to live the true meaning of life but I never took a true initiative. Not that I did not know how to but because I never had the guts. Knowing what the right path is and still following a wrong one is more distressing than not knowing at all. It was hard to go on with a muddled headed philosophy of “change will come along; you just need to give it some time”. Funny thing is I gave it all the time in the world but it never came along! Not until I took that initiative and braced it with open arms.

September 12th, 2011 was the day I started taking Hijab and gave up a major part of my life… “Materialism” Two months later I look back, I see nothing but scattered particles of dust blown away by wind, a timeline of events, gone too soon! Really? Because I have been striving for them for far too long. If such was the impermanence of all my efforts that I put into seeing happiness through the eyes of this world, then how come I became so foolish to believe in it at the first place? But now that I have let it go, I realize that it’s never too late. God always answers, He is forever generous; you just need to give up the insubstantial for something that will remain forever.

When I decided to give up the induced epidemic of fashion, it almost seemed impossible. How can I stop following what’s in style? How can I just not make use of all those new and pretty dresses that I have? Most of all how can I suddenly cover myself in black and let people look at me with suspicion and later on find this unexpected change amusing. But wait a min all my life I have been doing what they think is right and look what I got from it. Nothing, I am empty handed. But now that I am putting my efforts in the right direction I feel sorry for all the time that I have wasted. The change that Allah helped me bring in myself made me understand the superiority and preeminence of submitting oneself to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala.

The reaction of people around me was not much encouraging. My mother was not so sure that I would be able to pull it off, my sister said I am some crazy lunatic not knowing what she is up against (she thought I wasn’t serious) and my friends did not approve of this “radicalism”. I remember even the minute details of how nervous I was the first day I put on a plain black loose gown and covered my face so that only eyes were visible. When I entered in the class I could feel people staring at me and murmuring with some strange unease. I couldn’t understand everything but surely heard them saying, “is that her”? “What happened to her”? “Strange”! I had no option but to ignore them. Without saying anything I just came and sat with my best friend hoping for an approval. She looked at me, smiled and turned away. At that time i thought maybe it wasn’t such a good idea. Later that day I encountered diverse reactions. Few admired it, some remained indifferent and many asked such questions as “what happened to you? Your family is broadminded, why are you doing this?

These reactions were making things hard for me until I thought to myself that how can you know the true strength of your faith if it goes untested and how can you feel at odds when you know Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala is watching you and He is with you. Things became easier for me when a good friend told me that these hostile comments and opposing remarks is the best part because you get rewarded for that! So as the time went by I became accustomed to it and now it’s becoming less and less difficult to carry it.

I feel at ease with a dignified simplicity. Sometimes I feel it has given me the power and has strengthened my will to be that individual who I really wanted to be all this time. Hijab has shown me my true prominence in Islam and has made me its ambassador; making me strong and keeping me away from immorality that I might otherwise be exposed to. I feel that my conduct, my efforts and my actions represent and teach Islam to people without me saying anything. It makes me feel safe and protected. Most of all it has given me power to strengthen my faith. You just need to take that one step towards change and Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala will never disappoint you. But it’s up to you to take the true initiative and make that change instead of waiting for it to come along all by itself! Now when I dress up in my “black loose gown” it feels so good to be doing it for a cause, for my roots, my religion and for my Creator!