Hello, I wrote an article on the Hijab or Burkha a short while ago. A freind asked me to share it with you gals here. So here goes..... I hope you like it. I have appended a glossary of the terms used at the bottom of the article. Should you feel the need for further clarity on anything, do feel free to ask. Love. The Hijab - Empowering Women As usual another friend asked me; “But why Sariya, why have you taken to wearing the Hijab?” As usual she goes on, “You seem to be pretty liberated, your family is broadminded, you have a career, you’re educated and yet you chose this restrictive way of dressing!” On another occasion, a very senior (and well-meaning) professional mentioned to me, “ I know you are young and feel that you can make a statement wearing this garment that you call the Hijab, but is it worth being so different, think about it girl”. These questions (that most Hijabis face) take me back to that journey - a journey that a lot of Muslimahs go through, one that empowers you to accept the way of modesty and grace. A way of dressing that a believing sister accepts for the sole purpose of pleasing her Creator knowing fully, however, that it is the best way for her. A simple garment which guarantees her respect. To me, the one thing that the Hijab(1) signifies is freedom – freedom to be recognized for your thoughts, ideas and intellect rather than the clothes you wear or the way you look. The Hijab is the truest Women’s Liberation Movement. It truly emancipates a lady, gives her the status her womanhood demands and lifts her to a pedestal where she respected simply for who she is – a mother, a daughter, a sister, a business woman, a doctor, a teacher……..an endless list of roles that women across the eons have been involved in. The Hijabi is applauded for her acumen and skill and not for her curves. The Umm Al Ummah (2) to the modern day Hijabis - University-going Teenagers wearing colour-coded Jilbabs; Professionals attending board meetings in full Hijab or Da’ees(3) teaching about Islam and the way of Allah. We are all part of a silent revolution ushered in 1400 years ago, by the Greatest of Men – Muhammad (May Allah’s peace and blessings be on him). A revolution designed to give women the rights they deserve. Well, but I did not always feel this way, there was a time before my accepting Islam when I believed all that the media portrays the Hijab to be. I understood it then as a form of Male domination and cloistered females. I myself came from a catholic background and had a possessive father who ensured that my clothes were decent; in spite of this, the Hijab to me was just too much. I had accepted Islam, when I was around 15 years old, and I loved everything about my new way of life, except the fact that it asked me to cover up! What was the need? Why? Nah, I was a Muslim agreed, but the Hijab was simply not for me (Astagfirullah)(4)! Then one day I read in the Holy Quran; O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Holy Quran 33: 59) Allah SWT does not arbitrarily command. He does not just order - “Wear the Hijab” rather He gives us the logic. He tells us in this short verse why we as Muslimahs should wear the Hijab. He gives us two simple reasons; 1. Wear it as your label, so that you are recognized as Righteous women; 2. Wear it so that you are not harmed because of your physical attributes. Simple words, but words of power. I saw the logic, but…… What about modern society and its values, my background, my education, my future career, my friends – what would they say? What about me, would I be able to do justice to this blessed raiment? These and other questions bothered me for months. The heart wanted to wear the Hijab, the soul had borne witness to its truth, however sadly the mind rebelled. Till one day I met this sister - much younger than me, but who wore both the Hijab and Jilbab so well that she exuded grace. In spite of being covered up she was the most beautiful in the crowd. And I said to myself if she can do it, so can I. I shall wear the Jilbab; let me try - if just to earn the pleasure of my Creator. And if I am not able to do complete justice to it, if I make mistakes, AllahSWT has also said that He is the most forgiving and merciful. And so it happened one day I started “Doing” the Hijab. And yes the transformation was wonderful. And I am sure thousands of other Sisters all around the world will validate what I say: when you earnestly take up the Hijab you realize it is definitely not just about what you wear, it is rather more intrinsic. It is more about your thoughts, words and subsequent actions. You are no longer an unnamed lady walking down the street; rather you are a representative of the Ummah (5). You are a spoke person for your Deen. You are an envoy of the way of life called Al-Islam and this is a serious responsibility. But with this responsibility comes a silent blessing and that day as I walked down the road on the way to college I saw a change and I am not talking about myself! There was a change in way people on the road looked at me. There was respect in the eyes of anybody who passed or interacted with me. Bus drivers spoke to me with kindness as did my friends. Brothers offered me their seats in crowded buses, unknown sisters smiled at me. Even the breeze and the trees seemed more considerate. This respect crossed boundaries of religion and race. It was almost as if all of nature bore witness that another lady has obeyed her Creator, and has adorned the garment He prescribed for her in Holy Quran. I was in awe that day of the power that a simple piece of garment can have. That’s when I realized this was no ordinary garment; it was one that came with a divine recommendation. Today years have passed since that first wonderful day when I too became part of the living revolution. But the experiences of that day are repeated in my life everyday as they do so in the lives of each and every lady across this globe, who conforms to the Hijab. This one garment gives her manifold benefit. She pleases her Creator, protects her modesty and earns the respect of all of civilization in one go. She is a smart business woman – she is a Muslimah with Pride. Glossary of terms: (1) Hijab – Arabic; refers to Muslims (both male and female) covering up their body. (2)Umm Al Ummah – Arabic; translates to ’’Mothers of the believers’’ and is used for the wives of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (May Allah’s peace and blessings be on him). (3) Da’ee – Arabic; translates to ‘’Muslim Educators’’. (4) Astagfirullah – Arabic; translates to ‘’May Allah forgive me’’ (5) Ummah – Arabic; translates to ‘’Muslim Community’’.