This story begins with me as a child. I remember when my mother told me I needed to start wearing hijab I had just hit puberty and immediately I was told it was time for me to start covering. I knew what it meant, but I didn’t know what it really meant to be a Hijabi. I was already at an awkward age. My body was changing. My mom and dad just went through a divorce. We moved from our childhood home and away from childhood friends to some new place we knew nothing about. Emotionally as a family we were going through some rough times and NOW I needed to cover my head and body?!?!
As I started to become older and began to experiment on how to wrap my hijab. I still was not comfortable in wearing my hijab. Some days when I left my moms house to visit my dad. I would take it off and before I went back home I would put it back on. At that time in my life I was just not confident in myself when wearing hijab. Now as an adult, when I reflect on this part of my life. I realize no one really gave me a solid understanding as to WHY we as Muslim women cover our heads and bodies.
Growing up I became what I like to call a “part-time” Hijabi. That means mon-fri I did not wear hijab. If you looked at me you could not tell I was Muslim because I did not have something over my head. I did dress modestly which is also part of hijab. I just did not cover my head. However, on the weekend if you saw me out with my grandmother or mom, I wore my Hijab. I knew in my heart I was not committed to wearing my Hijab. If anything I knew I was upsetting my mother and just being a rebellious teen. Just like any other kid, all I wanted was to fit in with my friends and do what they were doing.
Fast forward to adulthood. My mother and grandmother moved away to a new city. I was married and still living my life as a “Part-time Hijabi”. I remember the exact moment when I felt a shift in my heart and life. My mother told me to make sure I stayed around Auntie, Sr. Aminah. This was my mothers best friend and she knew she would not steer me wrong in regards to Islam. She said to stay close to her and don’t leave her side. I did just that! I began to go to study circles with her. I began to actually “Learn” my Deen (religion) on my own. I began to pray more, read more and interact with other sisters like me who found it difficult to wear hijab. As time went on I felt my heart fill with the love for my Deen and for my Hijab. Even though I still was not strong enough to wear it full time. I felt the inner strength in me growing. I began to understand why as women we cover our bodies. I started to understand that our hair is part of our beauty that is only for our husbands to see and admire. I began to understand when wearing Hijab you are commanding people to respect you as a person and not as a sex object. Even though I had this understanding of why we as Muslimahs (Muslim women) wear Hijab, I still did not have the strength to go out my home with my head covered. I did not have the confidence to explain to my friends why I was covering my head.
Then one night at a sisters circle (Halaqa) we were talking about prayer, faith and doing things to please Allah. At this time I made a prayer, asking Allah to give me the strength to do the thing that is pleasing to Him full time. The next month we moved to another city. A new place where no one knew me. I had a clean slate. At that point I decided to wear my Hijab full time. On Job interviews, in the grocery store, at the mall. I was not going to be a part-time Hijabi any more. I knew this was my time to really grow into my own person and explore my identity as a Afro-Latina Muslim.
As time went on I became stronger in my belief. I was still a little scared, but I knew I was doing the right thing. Alhamdulillah, all my life I never had anyone come up to me and pull off my Hijab, curse at me or tell me to go back to my country. Instead I have had people ask me why I wear hijab and most importantly tell me how beautiful I look while wearing my hijab. I have had nothing but positive reactions and I have been a person to encourage and help other sisters to become stronger in wearing their Hijab.
I am proud to be a Muslim, I am proud to wear Hijab and I am proud to stand with other sisters around the world for World Hijab Day.