By Ashley Divine (Santa Cruz, California)
I just wanted to share my story, though it is not nearly as impactful as some I have read here. I am a recent convert and I just started wearing hijab full time on December 20th! I first encountered hijab when I went to study abroad in London, and I met so many women who wore it. Back then I didn’t really understand it and what it meant, but I remember thinking that these women were very beautiful, and I always wondered what I could do to look like that.
When I was first reading about Islam and contemplating whether or not this was a religion I could adopt for the rest of my life, one of my biggest struggles was the concept of hijab. I’m not a person to do things halfway- either I am a full on scarf wearing Muslim, or I am not a Muslim…I guess I’m a bit extreme like that. But either way, for me the hijab was part and parcel with converting and becoming a Muslim.
For a long time after I knew that Islam was the only thing I could possibly need in my life, I still struggled with the idea of the hijab. I dressed decently modestly to begin with, and besides, I liked my hair! Not to mention wearing short sleeves in the summer! I also struggled with what my family and friends would think.
When I started up my senior year at university here, I decided to try it out in small steps. I started wearing it every Friday for Jummah prayers (it was like casual Fridays, but better!) The first few times I wore it out, I had a weird tightness in my throat, kind of like my scarf was strangling me. But as the weeks wore on I found that when I encountered my friends out and about they treated me just the same, and alhamdulillah my mom is very supportive as well. I came to look forward to dressing up on Fridays, and became a little jealous of the friends I have that already wore it full time.
So I went to an event at the local masjid one Friday night, and the next morning I just woke up and put it back on. Since that day I have been a full time hijabi, and I have no regrets! Yes, it kind of sucks going to the gym in long sleeves and flowy pants, , yes it has been difficult to convert my entire wardrobe to be hijab friendly, and yes I get rude comments and looks pretty often. But I have my intention and I know why I chose this, and I have no regrets!
I hope that during this year’s World Hijab Day women from all over can connect with each other and learn about why different people dress the way they do, and take those first crucial steps towards understanding.