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Why I Don’t Like the Term ‘Hijabi’

The term ‘hijabi’ draws a line between a Muslim girl who doesn’t wear hijab and a Muslim girl who does. Why should there be categorization when we are all Muslim sisters? This didn’t really mean much to me until some days after I started to wear the hijab, someone said to me “oh Khadija, you’re a hijabi now!” For some reason I felt odd hearing this, as if I had converted into a ‘hijabi’ when in reality I’d always been a Muslim girl but now just one who chooses to dress differently, of course with intentions to improve myself internally but that’s not something visible. I feel that this term ‘hijabi’ leaves other Muslim girls in the dark, resulting in them feeling less Muslim or less righteous than those who do.

The term hijab in Arabic literally means “a screen or curtain” and is used in the Qur’an to refer to a partition. Hijab has become commonly known as the head covering among Muslims today, the most visible form of hijab is the head covering that many Muslim women wear. Hijab however, goes beyond the head scarf. The Qur’an speaks about modesty in relation to men and women’s “gaze, gait, garments, and private parts” and has a much deeper meaning than just something that is worn. I feel that the term ‘hijabi’ depicts only the physical side of the word hijab and limits it to merely women who cover their hair.

This word has become popular culture rather than an Islamic word, don’t get me wrong its great seeing all these ‘hijabi’ YouTubers, fashionistas and bloggers doing what they do, however girls are more focused on maintaining their ‘hijabi’ outlook that they forget to ponder on the deeper meaning of hijab, to me it seems more like a brand than anything.

hijab quote

So that was just me expressing my views on the word ‘hijabi’, please note I am not criticizing the hijab itself but only the word ‘hijabi’ which I personally don’t agree with.

That being said I’d like to talk a bit about my own personal experience with hijab. It’s been almost a year since I started wearing the hijab. The year had been a difficult time for me, I was going through a lot of trials, my best friend had been diagnosed with cancer and there were many other personal factors which contributed to this problematic period. I found that in the process, I was starting to lose sense of who I was; physically, mentally and spiritually. I had felt a constant need to impress and prove myself to people, forgetting my own values, morals and everything that meant something to me. I was lost.

So during Ramadan last year, I gave myself some time out from the world and devoted myself to prayer and spending time with family. During this month I had started reading about hijab and watching lectures to try to fully understand the meaning of it. I then realised that the underlying reason why Muslim women should wear the hijab is simply because it is commanded by Allah and when something is a command by the Almighty, it undoubtedly has an abundance of benefits which I personally started to see one by one.

“O Prophet, tell your wives and daughters and the believing women to draw their outer garments around them (when they go out or are among men). That is better in order that they may be known (to be Muslims) and not annoyed…” (Qur’an 33:59)

Now that I had started to wear the hijab, I looked like an identifiable Muslim girl. This resulted in me becoming more aware of my actions as it was no longer just about my own identity, but about me being a physical representation of my religion-Islam.

Through this I made small changes in my lifestyle, with the way I carried myself, what I wore and most importantly, my character. I also realized that I gained more respect from the opposite sex, this really put things into perspective-respect yourself and you will gain respect.

The true wisdom behind the hijab is not just the cloth that covers the hair but the character that coincides with it. And no, wearing the hijab doesn’t magically change your personality into some sort of saintly being. But yes, it does help in reminding yourself that you are disciplining not only your external but your internal self because the last thing you want to be is a hypocrite.

I remember something that stuck with me from a lecture I had watched by a shaykh who said:

“Modest dress plays a key role of the soul and deep inner contentment.”

As time went by, this made more and more sense to me and I found that slowly my ‘need’ to impress people and my ‘need’ to look and feel attractive slowly started to fade away and I felt content.

And if you’re thinking this was all a walk in the park for me then no. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made! A women’s desire naturally is to look and feel beautiful and a huge part of a women’s beauty is her hair. So many questions went through my head – how will people around me react? Will my friends change? Will I still be able to do things and go places that I used to enjoy? And that’s fine; I’m only human at the end of the day. I had to transform my whole wardrobe! Giving away my favourite dresses, and those cute tops that are way too short for me to wear with my hijab and all.

But I honestly feel that it is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, I went from being a self conscience negative girl who sought to please people to a girl who’s confident, positive and spiritual. I’m still on this journey; I have my ups and downs and I have so much to improve and change. We all have our weak moments but we can only be able to feel content and humble if we remind ourselves why we started in the first place- for the sake of Allah.

My advice to anyone who wants to start wearing the hijab is to make sure your intentions are purely for the sake of Allah and less about how you would look but more about what it actually means. I hope this has helped you in one way or another, thank you for reading!

May Allah guide us all and allow us to gain proper knowledge and wisdom about all aspects of life. Ameen.

Check out the videos below which might help:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fY9OyNkk2ck

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AALgGKSnU2g

Khadija Ahmed is a Journalism graduate with a passion for poetry and writing. Check out here blog here.

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Written by Khadija Ahmed

Journalism graduate and Freelance Journalist

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