Many people associate Islam with a single garment – the Hijab. Many Muslim women wear the hijab (and many don’t), but it isn’t the only important factor in Islam. I’m not saying it isn’t an important part of our beautiful deen, but it definitely isn’t the only requirement of our religion.
This entry isn’t going to talk about why it’s important to wear the hijab, or try to bring down women who don’t wear it (if you don’t know me yet, I’m definitely not that type of person), but it’ll just highlight why I personally started to wear one.
I come from a family of polar opposites. My dad’s side of the family (the majority that I’ve known), are not so strict on practicing Islam, and my mom’s side (as you can probably guess), are all about that practicing. Because of this clash of beliefs and personalities, I like to think that my siblings and I came out in the middle. We are a mixture of both the passive and aggressive types of following Islam (you can call us passive aggressive haha). My parents never forced any of their children to follow one way or another, rather we were taught and shown many principles of Islam and it was our choice on how spiritual we wanted to be (but the basic tenets, such as reading the 5 daily prayers, fasting during Ramadan, and learning and reading Quran, had to be followed).
During my teenaged years, I mainly focused on the spiritual/social aspects of Islam (some examples include: remembering Allah [SWT] in your heart, being kind and generous to others, respecting your parents, etc.), and not so much of the actual rituals or requirements of the religion (I’m not saying the spiritual/social is not important at all). This meant that my 5 daily prayers either turned into 1 prayer a day, or none, Quran was only read during Ramadan (and it was mostly in haste to make sure I finished the whole Quran by the end of the month), and modesty meant wearing clothes not showing my shoulders or anything above my knee. To many, this may not seem like such a big deal, and I wholeheartedly believe everyone has his or her own path in life to follow, but for me, now that I look back at this time in my life, I definitely feel that I had lost touch with my religion and with Allah (SWT).
I think both of my sisters at this point (while I was in high school), were wearing the hijab, and my brother as well was very focused on the religion, but I just didn’t seem to understand its importance in my life. I should probably also tell you that I’m the type of person who doesn’t like listening to people who try to shove their beliefs or opinions down my throat (whether they’re right or wrong). That’s why when certain extended family members or friends would be very opinionated and feel the need to try to convert me into their type of thinking, it would have the opposite effect that they wished. My mother doesn’t wear hijab either so it wasn’t a big deal for me to start wearing one (even when my sisters and other cousins all wore it).
Now let’s fast forward to when I was diagnosed with NF2. In the first two years of University, I had a hard time choosing a major, and so I found myself switching in and out of programs left, right, and center. Eventually, I decided on graduating with a BSc in Specialist Psychology, but by my fourth and final year, I did not get into certain courses that I needed to graduate (the courses were all full). This was honestly very stressful because if I didn’t get into those courses, then I would have to return for a 5th year before I could graduate. I wasn’t the only person with this problem either (there was a huuuuuge line-up of frustrated and upset 4th year students waiting outside the head of the department of psychology’s office), but eventually, after weeks of running back and forth and switching my timetable around, everything fell into place (Alhumdolilah). I was so focused and desperate on graduating at the 4th year mark, that I had to switch so many things on my timetable, and miss a couple of classes in the beginning just to sort the whole mess out.
And then what happened? I went to the doctors’ thinking I had to get my ears flushed because I couldn’t hear properly, only to find out that I had a genetic disorder (it wasn’t just ear wax buildup…). Meaning, I had to drop out of school after my first semester, so I had to come back for a 5th year anyway (arghhh!!!) – all of that effort for nothing. Well actually, I wouldn’t say for nothing. I definitely learned a very important lesson because of all of that running around (aka the first bullet point in pushing me to wear the hijab).
They plan, and Allah plans. Surely, Allah is the Best of planners.” [Quran, 8:30].
I’m not saying you shouldn’t plan for your future, and take the necessary steps you need to achieve your goals – you definitely need to do that. But I was so focused on creating my own plan and thinking that I could achieve whatever I wanted without Allah (SWT)’s help or guidance (not actually thinking it, but my actions definitely bring this into question). I had lost touch with my religion, and in consequence, I really felt the weight and pressure of the tribulation heading my way. I felt that I was badly mistreated, that I didn’t deserve what I was given, and that the timing was completely off. If this had to happen, couldn’t it have happened at the beginning of University, or after I graduated? Why now? Why did it even have to happen? I finally figured out my timetable!!
Allah (SWT)’s timing is never off. It’s always perfect. But sometimes, during our daily grind, we forget this important fact. And I personally believe (now that I’ve been through it), it is during these times that we are really tested on our character and beliefs. Most of my friends didn’t even graduate at the 4th year mark either (without having a genetic disorder in the way), and after going back to school post-surgery, I did the inevitable – I changed my mind on what I wanted to do career-wise, again! When some of my friends were in their Masters programs, they would talk about how they were the youngest students in their class, and a lot of the other students were in their late 20s or early 30s. Why did I care so much about finishing all of my education by 25/26? I mean it’s nice if it happens, but what’s the big deal if it doesn’t? Why did I think that if I didn’t do everything according to this timeline in my head, my life would just be in complete disarray? And I bring this up because I know many people that I’ve talked to have also felt this way about school, career, and other things in their life.
I wish I didn’t have to go through that trial just to learn this invaluable lesson, but it wasn’t the only lesson that I learned (I’ll save the second bullet point for part 2 ;)). Because of this timeline business, I also somewhat learned the importance of Tawwakul at this point – trusting in God’s plan. You can have goals, you can have dreams, but while working towards that ambition, you must pray, pray, and pray to Allah (SWT) to guide you as well. Tie the camel! (For those of you that don’t know, there’s a hadith that describes a man who asks the Messenger of Allah [PBUH] on whether he should tie his camel and trust Allah or untie the camel and trust Him – tying and trusting is the correct answer). So definitely put in your best effort, but leave the results to Allah (SWT), and trust that whatever comes of your effort, is the best for you from Allah (SWT).
So I guess, trying my best to graduate on time was what I should have always done, but the result of me not graduating on time, should not have made me so upset. And looking back now, it honestly just seems so trivial to me thinking that I was so angry that I wasn’t able to finish school and graduate. I was actually more upset at not graduating then having a medical condition (what are priorities…?)
This part 1 is becoming a lot longer than I expected (this seems to be a pattern…I’m sorry!). So I’ll just finish right here (for now).
Stay tuned for part 2!