Right after I converted I was on a spiritual high and was tempted to put on the hijab. However at the time I had doubts and questions, such as how I would work out, what my family would think etc. This may have been Shaytan, but these doubts made me feel that I was not ready, so I didn't put it on. I always knew though in the back of my head that I would wear the hijab at some point, when that was, I had no idea. Maybe I would when I got married, had kids, finished reading the Quran or was just spiritually stronger, all I knew at the time was that I was not ready, and thats okay! Fast forward three years, through the highs and lows of my Iman, getting married, graduating nursing school and going on the honeymoon of a lifetime, I found myself thinking about the hijab again. I was stronger, more stable in my practice and I had more knowledge on what was asked of me as a muslim woman by my Creator. I knew my next step was to put on the hijab but when? Ramadan was just under three months away and so I made it my goal to learn more and prepare to put on my hijab during Ramadan.
In the three months leading up to Ramadan I joined a Halaqa, focusing on subjects of Fiqh, Tafsir, Hadith and Seerah. This halaqa helped me immensely spiritually. My heart was softening, my Iman was rising and because of these reasons my prayers were more timely and focused. I also did a lot of reading of the Quran, which helped my Iman. When my prayers are closer to the Athan and I'm reading Quran, my Iman is always heightened. I watched lecture videos from Nouman Ali Khan and Omar Suleimanon many topics including wearing hijab. I also read a seerah of the prophet for the second time, this one being In the Footsteps of the Prophet by Tariq Ramadan which allowed me to love Prophet Muhammad (saw) even more than I did. To know him is to love him and if you love and know your prophet, you will want to try to live your life more like him. I also made a lot of Dua. For Allah's support, guidance, for Allah to keep my parents hearts open and to keep me strong and focused on this path. Ask Allah anytime you are in need.
From the time I was a convert, my modesty fluctuated with my Iman. For me personally though I never wore less than a t-shirt and pants/skirts that hit my mid calf length. At the time I began thinking about the hijab, I started to become uncomfortable with 3/4 length sleeves and tight pants. For me, my rising Iman made me feel more naked even when I was fully dressed, so I became more and more modest over the time period. I would wear looser pants and tops, maxi skirts, dresses and occasionally abayas. The more modest I became the more secure I felt. Your Iman is in your heart and no body can judge you on that, only Allah, but my heart was saying to cover my skin and I didn't feel comfortable until I did. I began trying on hijabs with different outfits as I was getting ready and then before I left I would take them off. I began to feel like I was missing something as soon as I took off my scarf. I did not have instagram at the time but I love pinterest. I created a secret board and filled it with hijabi fashion inspiration. I used this board to get a better sense of how I could still be stylish (very important) but modest. It's important to find your own style though to feel completely comfortable. Ultimately you have to go at your own pace, do not rush the process of preparing yourself. May Allah reward you for every small step you take to get closer to him no matter where you are starting.
I have also heard of testing out wearing the hijab to get a feel for it. I did not try this but I know a couple people who have. They would go somewhere that no one would know them and wear the hijab around to become more comfortable with it. I have also seen friends of mine let their young daughters do this when they form an interest in hijab. This could be helpful for some of you.
As a convert telling my family was a biggy, needless to say I was terrified. However you do not need to be a convert to also be scared of your family's reactions. What helped me was that I had a very in depth conversation with my parents about the hijab months prior to when I was even considering it. As a convert with non-muslim parents, I had to make sure they understood the hijab from my perspective and not the medias'. I also would never want to make my parents feel ambushed by the idea. At the time we had the discussion, I was not thinking about putting on the hijab, which I let them know. I then told them I would do them the decency and give them a heads up for when putting on the hijab could become my reality. For me I needed my parents to be in the loop no matter what the timeframe looked like. Therefore when I was seriously thinking about putting it on, I made sure to have that conversation with them to let them know. They were supportive and I was very appreciative of that and thanked God because I know not everybody's situations go this way.
A month before Ramadan I told my husband that I was planning to put on the hijab soon. He was so excited but tried to hide it. I can only assume he did not want to come off too excited to allow me to continue my journey without feeling external pressure and he was proud of me no matter what.
I decided to stay fairly quiet about my thoughts on hijab as I wanted to be sure about my intentions and I did not want outside influence to affect me. I needed to know my desires were for the right reason. During Ramadan I decided to tell a few more people whom I was close with and they were all extremely supportive. We talked about struggles and joys and the reality behind putting on and wearing the hijab in North America. I felt closer and closer to my decision every day.
During Ramadan I had set a goal that I would put on the hijab for Eid al Fitr. I was trying on my hijab regularly and I felt spiritually, mentally and physically ready. On the 23rd night of Ramadan there was a large dinner that my husband, his family and myself were invited to at a mosque. I spent the whole day with the feeling in my gut and heart that I wanted to put on the hijab. I felt as though I did not want to leave my house without putting it on as I no longer felt comfortable without it. I was then faced with a surge of excitement and anxiety. I did not plan this day, I was suppose to buy a new outfit for Eid and I would wear a nice hijab and the day would be beautiful. Instead, I found myself not wanting to leave my house without wearing the hijab, but I had "nothing" to wear. I must have tried on 10 outfits that night due to nerves and about 15 hijabs in 3 different styles (that's as many as I knew at the time). I called my husband freaking out, now fully committed to putting on the hijab that night and he calmed me down and refocused me and my intentions. I hung up, chose an outfit and a hijab. Due to having the dinner at the mosque, everybody thought I put it on because I was in the mosque. It was a small blessing because I didn't get completely bombarded or overwhelmed. When they found out what I had done, I experienced so much love, hugs and support. One of our Imam's ended up announcing it to everybody at the dinner, needless to say I died a little inside from embarrassment, wanted to run but also felt the love. I have a beautiful community where I live and not everybody does. Make sure you surround yourself with people who will support you no matter what and will have your back. Putting on the hijab is no joke and with strong, supportive people around you and your intentions for Allah, your choice will be made a lot easier.
My love and support goes out to all you ladies who don't have the support I have or are in extremely difficult situations and still put on and choose to wear the hijab. You're much stronger than me and you're much stronger than you think you are.
If my words inspired you at all than it is only from Allah, and if they turned you away, then please forgive me. May Allah guide and protect us all. Just remember, if we walk to Him, He will run to us.
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