No More Excuses; Time to be a Hijabi

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I have been Muslim for about two and a half years now. About 6 months after that, I began dressing more modestly, wearing long sleeves, looser fitting clothes, etc. I knew then that I would eventually want to/ need to wear a hijab, but wasn’t ready for that. I’ve been seriously considering wearing a hijab for the past year, but have always been able to come up with great excuses why not to.

My first excuse was that I was working as a social worker, and I was afraid that me suddenly wearing a hijab would distract from my work with my clients– that they would focus on me, and have questions, etc. In social work education, we learn the importance of not allowing ourselves to be the focus or the topic of conversation, to stay professional and hold professional boundaries, not discussing our personal life. Of course, such a change would cause many of my clients to ask personal questions of me which I would not be comfortable with. So, I said to myself, it’s better to start wearing hijab when I’m in between jobs.

Twice in the past year I have been “between jobs” (actually, I’m currently working from home and don’t have a social work job). When I left my job a year ago, I came up with another excuse not to wear a hijab: my parents didn’t know I was Muslim yet. I wanted to break it to them easy. Having been raised Christian, with a family always very involved in the church, I knew that telling them I converted to Islam would be hard; showing up the next time I saw them wearing a hijab would be even harder.

I eventually ended up telling my mom I was Muslim last February (I have yet to tell my dad, but as I see him less often I’m not as worried about it). At that time I was still between jobs, but came up with another excuse not to wear hijab: I may not be hired for a job, which I really needed. Although my husband was working at a good job, I really needed to get back to work as we had some big expenses coming up (including our trip to Turkey), and it would really help if I could financially contribute to that. I began to worry about what potential employers would think of me. Living in the “Bible Belt,” people can be pretty judgmental here, though they won’t always admit it or blatantly say it to your face. But it’s too easy to pass on an employee who looks different and has different beliefs than you. I remember when we first moved to Texas, I actually saw a job posting at a hospice that stated that in order to be hired, employees essentially must be Christian and conform to the there-stated Christian doctrine!

So I again put off wearing a hijab, and was content to continue living within my comfort zone. Since then I have come up with various other excuses: ‘I should wait until I’m between jobs again,’ ‘I don’t want to meet my extended Turkish family for the first time wearing hijab,’ ‘I need to visit my mom one more time before starting to cover,’ and on and on.

Until our local Islamic Center had its annual reading camp this December. I left my home in mid-December wearing a hijab, to go attend reading camp an hour and a half away; not knowing at that time that that was the beginning of my new life as a hijabi. I had planned to wear hijab during the reading camp, just as I did last year. This was a safe place for me to get comfortable in the experience of wearing a hijab, to “get used to it” as I told everyone. For the last six months I had actually been getting used to it in other ways to– I had started wearing hijab when I went to the Islamic Center, to sobhets, etc. I had learned that you should always cover when reading or listening to the Qur’an, so I figured I should wear it to such events. But I always felt bad when people would excitedly say, ‘Oh, are you covering now?!’ — to which I had to reply,  ‘No, just for events like this.’

The reading camp lasted 10 days, but my husband and I only attended the first 4 and half. I had really enjoyed the experience last year and was really looking forward to it again. To be able to devote your day to Islamic study, feed your spirit, join in group prayers, and to be in the company of so many loving and encouraging Muslim sisters was such a rejuvenating experience. I really began to think about the excuses I kept offering for not wearing hijab. But it wasn’t until a conversation with a fellow sister that it really hit me.

One of my friends has two teenage daughters, one who has been covering for a few years and one who will be covering soon. Previous to camp, at one of our last sobhets she had talked about her daughters covering, and how although she wants them to make the decision to cover by themselves, really they do not have a choice, because it is something ordered by Allah. So she tells her daughters that it is not her rule, but Allah’s rule. So at camp, I noticed that her younger daughter was wearing hijab, and I asked her, “Is she covering now?” She told me no, just here at camp to get used to it (sound familiar?) but that she will start next school year. I began to reply, “That’s like what I’m doing. I know it’s hard . . . ” and that was when it hit me. My heart sank.

I had read something once, someone being critical about Muslim parents making their children practice Islam, making them pray, making them wear hijab. And I remember thinking, but every good parent makes their child do things that they feel is best for them– because their children are not old enough to make important decisions like this for themselves. Their parents have to make those decisions for them. No kid wants to go to school, but their parents make them. Most kids don’t want to eat their vegetables, but their parents make them. Because their parents know what is best for them, and kids don’t yet understand. So here was this young girl, whose mom knows what is best for her and so will tell her she needs to wear hijab. And here I am, a grown woman, who has no one to tell me what I need to do; no one except Allah. I am old enough to make decisions for myself; I am old enough to know what is best for me; old enough to do what I am supposed to do. So what about excuses? There will always be excuses; I could put off wearing hijab forever with excuses. But that’s just what they are –excuses– excuses for not doing what I’m supposed to do.

As I had originally intended, I left the camp wearing my hijab just as I had arrived wearing it. On the drive home, I talked to my husband about my experience, and how I felt that it was time to wear a hijab– no more excuses. Like they say, ‘there’s no time like the present.’ And just like that, I became a hijabi.

Update: Read the follow-up post: My First Month of Wearing Hijab.

Top photo credit: original creator unknown. Pictured previously on Sakina08′s Blog

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About Meditating Muslimah

Sharing my experiences as a new Muslimah, thoughts on religion, things that inspire me, foods I love to make and eat, Islamic fashion, travel, and life in general!
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243 Responses to No More Excuses; Time to be a Hijabi

  1. This post feels so inspirational. After reading your post I’m thinking of writing about my journey as a Muslim from being a non-hijabi to a complete niqabi. The path was very difficult and continues to be, with on and off urges to remove niqab but I pray to Allah to always keep me on straight path and all the other Muslims too.

  2. binatehawwa says:

    life is sweet, true religion makes it sweeetest!

  3. Assalamu alaikum. I actually began wearing hijab BEFORE I converted! lol it was a feminist statement for me – the ultimate liberation from male oppression. I’ve never really cared what people think of me, but after 9/11 it got a bit hairy as an identifiable muslim for a while ;) But the thing that makes us Muslim is our salah, on time, every day. Everything we do is to please Allah, and everything He orders is for our own benefit, and that’s a true loving relationship, isn’t it?

  4. Pingback: I WISH I COULD TOO :)

  5. ururu5 says:

    Alhamdulillah. thats good to know.. just remember you’re not doing this for other people.. you’re doing this for Allah..and that you just wanna go to heaven.
    well.. that’s all that i’ve been thinking.. and it kinda helped.. me..
    but then again.. im a man..
    but i always make every effort to not show my aurat.. even to other guys..

  6. Pingback: No More Excuses; Time to be a Hijabi | talemydiary

  7. mrnno92 says:

    Assalam Alikom…..I’m Muslim from the day of being born …and I live in Jordan “Islamic country”
    I’ve read No More Excuses; Time to be a Hijabi….to be honest, people who live in Islamic countries like me won’t have difficulties as much as you have … unfortunately we still have misunderstanding of Hijab necessity …. I think Hijab is beyond being covered..it’s needed to teach Islamic manners …I ask Allah to make it easy on you but remember our prophet Haddith which says: “I missed my brothers ,Sahaba asked :aren’t we your brothers,prophet said :no,you are my partners ,my brothers those who believed me without seeing me”. I think you are great…I ask Allah to make you and all Muslims in heaven with our prophet Mohammad

    • amelia mawaddah says:

      assalamualaikum … i really like your coment and also the posting of this … and really touched by the hadist, thangkyu :D

  8. rakairoa says:

    i am not a religious person but i am inspired by your post. thank you for sharing.

  9. Loved this post and I am truly inspired by your words!
    Much love,
    a Muslim sister.

  10. maremaid says:

    I’m glad that you had the strength to take that last step, congratulations.

    Reading your story reminded me of all those choices I made over the years which I couldn’t/didn’t realise fully… Whatever the subject (and no matter how big the change) is, that last step between a decision and its application seems the hardest thing in life. But once done, it must be very very liberating… I wish you a free, happy heart in your new hijab.

  11. S Zahran says:

    I converted to islam approx 8 years ago and soon after started changing what clothes I wear. But I am very scared to start wearing hijab. I am a shy person by nature and do not like being stared at or being the centre of attention. In my city there are not many muslims and I am afraid of how people will react. There have been some negative incidents that have happened with muslim women here on our news and this is what is scaring me. On the other hand something is burning inside of me. A burning feeling that I really want to wear it, because I am proud to be muslim. I have purchased many hijabs and I wear them at home to practise, but the one day I stepped out of my house the neighbours across the street were starring at me, and I quickly ran inside. I know I am a coward and I should be stronger. I just dont know how to start…..

  12. Leilei says:

    This is a beautiful story, and so close to my own experience! For the past year I really wanted to wear the hijab, but always made an excuse. Even now I still make excuses! I am currently working my first year as an English teacher in high school, the school year ends in May, and I tell myself it would be better to wait until then so as not to confuse my students/principal. I’m very in need of advice. No one in my family covers, and I’m afraid that things between me and my 130 students will change if I do this. Should I wait until the year ends (about six weeks) or should I just go for it?

    • Suzanne Zahran says:

      Well Leilei, I am happy to say that I started covering last September, 2013. At first I felt a little awkward. But by the end of the week I was feeling more comfortable. Its now been almost 7 months and I don’t even feeling it on me. Nobody really seems to pay much attention to me. So I guess I made a big deal for nothing. I feel so free now. Some people are actually more polite to me now, which is nice. I get people opening doors for me and asking to push my cart to my car and things like this. I never had this before I covered. My one regret is that I waited so long. My family is not muslim and they have adjusted nicely to it. You will know in your heart when it is the right time.

    • Suzanne Zahran says:

      If you like you can find my on facebook

    • Yes, I agree with Suzanne — I felt I made a big deal over nothing. But it really depends on your environment too. I was working from home when I began covering, so I didn’t have to deal with coworkers. I did this intentionally, because I felt it might interfere with my work as a social worker since it would draw attention to me. I think if you have a true intention to cover, but there are good reasons for waiting for the best time (i.e. summer break) then it should be fine. Allah knows best and I pray that He will guide you.

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