When I contemplated about putting on the hijaab, I didn’t think about how it would affect my friends, work, social circles, and last but not least, my love life ! I had put it on almost overnight, but that decision caused ripples in every aspect of my life. The first was the backlash – believe it or not, mostly from my “muslim” friends – “why would you want to do that ??” was on the top of the list, the 2nd was ” oh, she’ll take it off, just give her some time” – well it’s been 6 years and running, and I still have it on, and the 3rd was ” your still young, wait till you get married and have babies” – as if the only time one should be religious is when they’re wrinkled or close to their death bed!!! Putting on the hijaab is definitely not for the faint hearted, especially if your living and working in the West.
But honestly, it’s not very easy in Dubai either. Yes, its a cosmopolitan city, and yes its a Muslim country, but generally speaking, if you’re a non- Arab it is a bit tricky in the work field. I should know, I’m based in the fashion industry. In the beginning, every time I walked backstage to get ready for a fashion show, people used to look at me confused, wondering if I was lost ! Lol ! A hijabi make-up artist !!!? How is that even possible !?
I know we’re closing to 2012, but women have been struggling worldwide to be accepted as competent and equal as their male counterparts, and having that extra piece of cloth on your head, does make it harder, sadly so. It’s frustrating that one can be a vegan, or is abstaining from alcohol because of their ‘spirituality’, but a Muslimah that wears her hijaab proud, that people have a problem with -“maybe her ‘husband’ is forcing her to wear it?” ugh that one I just totally hate !!!!
I remember when I had recently put on my hijaab, and had to fly down to Miami for work, it was my 1st trip to the States as a muthajaba(arabic for a woman that covers). Let me just point out, that Miami is a city, where people flaunt their bodies everywhere, men and women, whether it’s walking down the strip, or in restaurants, or anywhere as a matter of fact. The hotel lobby was filled with women parading in their bikini’s and thongs. It was interesting walking down the streets of Miami, only to notice people pop their heads out of their cars while driving when they saw me. What wasn’t interesting though, was all the security checks I had to go through when leaving the airport, luckily the staff at JFK airport aren’t as ignorant . Thank God, as NYC is my fashion retreat every year !
Putting on the hijaab, also meant that there were certain places I just didn’t want to be at. A lot of fashion events take place in ‘lounges’ where champagne is served readily and getting a non alcoholic drink is close to impossible. I remember attending an art event, and I totally spazzed out that it was in a place that had a bar . Let’s just say, that I stuck out like a sore thumb. I had never analyzed paintings at sprint mode before !
I recently turned 30 a few months back, and most of my friends like me are, dare I say it ‘single’! There are more single women now than ever, or maybe I just know too many single chicks, plus it isn’t easy when the gay population seems to be multiplying ten times fold. So if the average chick that doesn’t cover, dates precariously, and has premarital sex, finds it a struggle ( yes, I’ve watched reruns of Sex and the City a million times)…imagine how much harder it is on our end. I’m not saying that those are the only ways to get a man to put a ring on your finger, I’m just saying that it is intimidating for most men to approach a hijaabi. I really have no idea what goes on behind a guy’s head, but I’m sure the pick up line of “Hey,gorgeous!” is probably out of the question – I’ve been out of the game for a while so I don’t know if men actually say that anymore! 🙂
Even though it hasn’t always been a smooth ride, taking off the hijaab has been totally out of the question for me. It has brought be to purer moments with life and my relationship with God. I have never been so mentally secure and at ease with my life. I know who I can call ‘friends’ and who to keep away from. It has brought clarity and broken down the barriers of confusion. People that see me, know that I’m a Muslimah. Men that look at me, know that a fling is out of the question. During the Prophet’s time, one of his companions asked him, who was loved to him the most, and the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) replied that the generations of Muslims to come, would be most loved. His companions were shocked as they were the ones that stood by the Prophet’s side through all his trials and struggles. The Prophet explained to them, that even the simplest of things like telling the truth would be a struggle for generations ahead. Who would’ve thought that wearing the hijaab, is almost a jihad on its own.