I am a well-educated, married, Muslim woman. I was raised on proper Islamic values,al-hamdu lillah. I have a beautiful 14 year old daughter who began regular prayer and fasting the full month of Ramadan when she was 7 years old. She is very clever in school and is at the top of her class. Last Ramadan she decided to wear the hijab and I agreed. The problem is that I do not wear the hijab and I do not feel bad about it. I am very religious and I raised my daughter according to proper Islamic values, the same way I was raised; I come from a very religious family. I wear proper Islamic clothes but I do not wear the hijab. I cut my hair very short and I am 39 years old. I do not feel that my hair is fitnah (temptation) to anybody, or so I always tell myself. I pray regularly, I fast, I pay, zakah (obligatory alms) and give charity; I do lots of charity work. I feel satisfied.
I do not think that this little piece of cloth to cover a few inches of hair will add anything to my behavior or my strong religious beliefs and activity. I do not wear tight, short or transparent clothes. I am very respectable. I am saving money to be able to afford Hajj (Pilgrimage to the Ka`bah). So do you think that wearing the hijab is that necessary to me, especially since in Egypt lots of veiled women do not even pray and unfortunately they set a very bad image of Islam. Whenever I try to wear the veil and I look at myself in the mirror, I feel that I am looking at someone else. I feel that I lost my identity. Could you please advise me?
Thank you, thank you, and thank you for writing to us with this question. We are delighted to know that you have actually taken the time to write about an issue that is obviously of great personal concern to you. We also realize that through the response to your question, many other Muslim women, both young and old, will be helped in sha’ Allah.
First, let’s not overlook the positive. Allah Most High has guided you to be religious, ma sha’ Allah, and has encouraged your daughter to be religious. We do not want to underestimate the value, in this day and age, of a mother and daughter team who are both religious. On top of all this, you are also active in charity work, and that is an added blessing to your already being religious.
Second, let’s not talk about hijab just yet, but about role modeling. As an educated mother, you have modeled to your daughter that education is important and ma sha’ Allah,ma sha’ Allah, she is religious at such a young age. Therefore, overall, you are a good role model to your daughter through emphasizing education and religion.
Third, let’s talk about the hijab. You are an educated woman, ma sha’ Allah, and you have come to the following conclusions:
1) That your hair is not fitnah.
2) That you do not think a “little piece of cloth to cover a few inches of hair will add anything to [your] behavior or [your] strong religious beliefs and activity.”
3) That “in Egypt lots of veiled women do not even pray and unfortunately they set a very bad image of Islam.”
4) That when you practice putting on the hijab in front of the mirror, you feel like you are “looking at someone else” and you “feel that [you] lost [your] identity.”
Those four conclusions could be discussed and debated at length. Since you are an educated woman, we want to pose some questions for you to consider at your own leisure: why is it that only your hair is not fitnah? Moreover, your hair is not fitnah for whom? How do you know what impact or affect your hair has on men? Why do you believe that the hijab is meant to add anything to your behavior? Do you believe the hijab is supposed to make a person more religious? How? Shouldn’t it be the other way around; that instead of adding something to a woman’s behavior, wearing the hijab actually complements a woman’s struggle to be religious? Isn’t a religious person someone who would try to follow all the commandments of Allah and therefore would already be putting on the hijab anyway? Just because some women who wear the hijab do not pray and set a bad image for Islam, should we do away with the hijab altogether or should we attempt to help those few women to improve themselves? When does it ever make sense to do away with the hijab, which promotes modesty and dignity, just because a minority behave badly while wearing it?
The main question we want to ask you is whether you actually believe that the hijab is obligatory for Muslim women who have reached the age of maturity? If you truly love Allah and His Messenger and consider yourself religious, then you will also obey Allah and His Messenger and strive endlessly to seek His pleasure through wholehearted and complete submission. You are so close to achieving that submission since you already do so much of what Allah has commanded us to do. Isn’t it possible then that your own personal desire to maintain an image of who you think you are is overpowering your conscience, which is guiding you to consider wearing the hijab?
Of course it will look like you are looking at someone else when you wear the hijab, because you are fundamentally altering the shape of your head and face to some degree by covering up your hair! Nevertheless, you should not fear this new and different look because it is the look of one who, despite being fully educated and given the ability to choose, has chosen to submit to Allah Most High. Your identity is not lost, it has been enhanced, blessed, transformed into a being who, after years of struggle, has achieved peace and tranquility in her heart through complete and unflinching submission to Allah Most High.
You are obviously a very special person because you have not forced your personal beliefs onto your own daughter. But imagine how painful it must be for your daughter to know that at the height of being educated, her mother chose to disobey Allah Most High, how challenging that feeling must be for a child! For your own sake, and for the sake of your daughter’s peace of mind, go back to the mirror, put on the hijab and greet the new you, the one who is at peace with herself by having pleased her Lord!
Indeed, we make du`aa’ for you to be among those mentioned in Surat Al-Fajr (verses 27-30), when Allah Most High says,
(To the righteous soul will be said :) “O (thou) soul, in (complete) rest and satisfaction! Come back thou to thy Lord-well pleased (thyself), and well pleasing unto Him! Enter thou, then, among My devotees! Yea, enter thou My Heaven!”
Read those verses of Surat Al-Fajr in the original Arabic and reflect on them. You will not lose your identity when you wear the hijab, you will still be that educated, religious Muslim woman, but now your identity will,in sha’ Allah, be complete!
Allah knows best.