Assalam Aleykum Warahmatullahy Wabarakatuh!
World Hijab Day comes every February 1st to celebrate the strength and courage of women who choose to wear the hijab, in a society that is constantly bashing the symbol of the scarf and the decision of Muslim women to wear it.
Growing up in Mombasa, the coastal town of Kenya where majority of the people are Muslim, It never crossed my mind that people could have any negative perceptions of the hijab. It was only when I went to high school in Nairobi that it dawned on me that not everyone understood our way of life. Before that, I was completely unaware of the fact that the Muslim community is actually a minority in Kenya, with Islam taking about 10% of the country’s population.
Initially I found it annoying and inconsiderate when people asked me questions about the hijab. Questions I considered to be sarcastic, bizarre and obvious. However when even my close non- Muslim friends started asking me these questions about the hijab, it dawned on me that people genuinely did not know about it and were simply asking in order for them to understand. They were honestly innocently ignorant. And so after that I realized that there was a need to educate and invite people to learn more about Islam and what it entails. Because how could a person have lived in a country with Muslims for their whole lives and simply not know anything about Muslims? So in honor of World Hijab day I wanted to share some of the weird,and interesting questions I’ve received as a hijabi and share my response to them as a way of educating others.
Do you sleep in it?
No we do not sleep in it. The hijab is meant to be worn in the presence of males who can essentially marry you, so within the comforts of your home and in the absence of such males, you are not required to wear it. Also I can’t Imagine sleeping in a scarf especially with all the hijab pins stuck in it to secure it in place, not to mention the deadly heat that is currently plaguing Mombasa. I mean c’mon guys!However if a girl loves her hijab so much that she wants to sleep in it, by all means!
Do you shower in it?
Do you shower in your clothes?
Aren’t you hot in that?
Yes,yes I am. Especially now that I’m in Mombasa and temperatures are through the roof, I’m basically melting. But that’s natural, even people wearing bralettes and booty shorts get hot but that doesn’t mean we should then remove our clothes and walk around butt naked right? Atleast I don’t think so. So then just because it’s hot doesn’t mean I’m going to abandon something that I hold so dear to me.
How long must it stay on your head?
Well whenever you are in the presence of the category of males I previously mentioned, you should be covered up. However if you are never in such a gathering and you’re always around women then you basically never need to cover up. It simply depends on the context so there’s not a time limit to how long you wear the hijab or a schedule to the best times to wear it as such.
At what age do you start wearing it?
There’s honestly not a particular age when a girl should start wearing the scarf. Majority of the times the decision lies with the parents especially mothers. Some parents introduce their children to hijab as early as 5 or 6 just so they can get comfortable with it from a young age; whereas other parents introduce the hijab to their girls during puberty and others leave the decision to the girls themselves. So then you have girls deciding to wear the hijab at 24 or 18 and others as early as 5 or 6. Moreover, you sometimes have women converting to Islam at a later age in life and when they do, they start wearing the hijab at that later age too. Whatever age a girl starts wearing the hijab, it’s cool, no one is better than the other. We are all hijabis.
Do you have to wear it and why?
The donning of hijab is a mandatory obligation in the religion of Islam. Therefore every Muslim woman must wear the hijab. However people come from different backgrounds, circumstances and lifestyles and thus there are some women who choose not to wear the hijab, and for these women, we should not judge or condemn them. Islam teaches us that there is no compulsion in matters of the religion. Hence you cannot force anyone to do something they do not want to do. Just like you cannot force someone to be Muslim, you cannot force the hijab on an individual. In Islam, we are taught that one’s actions are rewarded according to one’s intentions. And because Muslim women cover up to obey God and to make Him happy, forcing one to wear it would mean that their intention is corrupt because they are not taking that decision willingly, they have not made the conscious decision to walk that journey.
That being said, the journey of hijab is definitely one between a woman and her Lord and that decision has to come from a place of sincerity and honesty. Thus whatever path a Muslim woman decides to take it should be noted that she is going through a personal journey just like we all are. And so whether her journey to hijab takes longer than yours did, we should always encourage and build each other up because the hijab is not just the physical but also the internal; it is the sisterhood, the kindness, the respect and the love that it inspires in each and every one of us.
What kind of weird, funny, interesting questions have you hijabis ever been asked? Also do any of my non Muslim readers have questions about the hijab because I would love to hear your thoughts! I hope you benefited from this and as always, I love hearing from you! xoxo