Fatima Rogaria is a Loyola University Chicago alum. She is a nurse, and of Pakistani descent. Fatima discusses the heated topic regarding the hijab, reminding us all about the importance to not judge so quickly.
I am 22 years old and have worn the hijab for 10 consecutive years. At 22, you would think that I would feel comfortable and have the “hijab thing” down, but no, and that’s the problem. Or is it? Hijab has always been this hot topic that EVERYONE likes to put their opinion on, but very few have actually experienced it. It’s kind of like politics, where very few people that actually understand what is going on will converse about it, but those that bandwagon opinions will quickly turn a conversation to bickering or pointing fingers.
Dear people of the world, I confess. There has not been a month where I have not shed tears about how my desi clothes aren’t halal enough for a hijabi because the sleeves are too see through or how the new off the shoulder trend is ruining my shopping experience. There hasn’t been a time where I sat there wishing to just straighten/curl my hair or hell put it in a bun and step outside. There hasn’t been a time when I wish I didn’t have to think of new Hijab styles so that I can accustom it to my daily activities such as being a health care provider and being able to put in a stethoscope, mask, go in the OR to deliver a baby, hold a baby without a coat unveiling my arms (haram, I know), and God only knows all the other obstacles.
What people do not realize is that when hijabi’s are making these decisions in their lives to be able to do what other people easily do every day, we are going through so many battling conversations in our heads where the last one we need is yours. If you think that for one second that wearing skinny jeans may be too form fitting or someone’s long sleeves are not long enough; I dare you to buy them clothes you find appropriate rather than putting their self confidence down. Put action to your words, because GOOD LUCK.
When I went to Turkey, I was put in the “more conservative” group because the area we were placed in warranted a more conservative crowd. A college freshman, all alone in a sea of 10-12 girls who all know each other from prior friends/family groups. All these girls were beautiful hijabis, and then there was me with my only three hijabs; red, black, and blue. That was the point where I stretched my horizon, and tried out ONE different style. I will never forget how fast my heart would race wearing not only a different colored scarf, but in a different way, I knew I was way over my head. I did it though, I changed.
It still happens you know. When you try something new and your heart races, and you wonder what others are thinking of you when they look at you. You wonder how everyone staring knows that you are not you.
There are people that tell you that you’re wearing it wrong, or you’re wearing it for the wrong reason, or “you should take it off because you look prettier” and blah blah blah. But you know what, I STOPPED wearing it for them. I stopped wearing my scarf for people and their unforgiving opinions. I stopped wearing it for people when I realized that
-many people won’t understand how it feels to be made fun of on the bus for looking like a terrorist in elementary school
– many people won’t understand the struggles for playing basketball for a high school team where IHSA would not let you wear sweats and you had to resort to playing with either shorts and high knee socks OR wear sweatpants under your shorts. (Yea, it was hideous either way).
– many people won’t understand ignorance when an umpire came up to me telling me to take my durag off because it wasn’t allowed on the softball field.
– many people won’t understand embarrassment when your instructor hands you a stethoscope to listen to a patient’s heart and you struggle to put the ear piece in essentially popping off your scarf pin in front of your entire clinical group.
– many people won’t understand the type of heartbreak when a guy tells you “hijabi’s aren’t his type right now, but later on in life” because a hijabi meant you were “marriage type”.
– many people won’t understand failure when you fail your Personal Protective Equipment test because your mask fell off before taking your goggles off, because you don’t necessarily have ears to put your mask around.
So you see, that’s why wearing the hijab is NOT just a struggle with looks/working out/projecting a perfect personality/etc. There are micro struggles that make taking it off easy, and keeping it on harder. Every day you encounter a problem that you have to solve, and you do it on your own terms because you made it this far not by other people’s help, but because it was another day you faced the devil and told them “NOT TODAY SATAN”.
I am sure there are many girls or women who have persevered through these struggles and it happens, you take it off. Do not ever ever ever put those girls down. I do believe that when wearing it you should put your best effort to wear it properly because you are a representation, BUT I swear, the struggles go far beyond looks. When it comes to trying to find out who you are, you will tear down mountains. Remind them to stop, breathe, and cry if they must. God has plans for everyone. Let him do the work; you be the support. May Allah bless us this Ramadan and forgive us for our quick judgments.