This was written from one niqaabi sister to a non-niqaabi sister to try and help her understand her reasons for wearing Niqaab.
As salaam alaykum,
I know that when ever you have asked me the question why I wear niqaab I fail to explain it. I can only say in most ways I cannot and inshaAllah I will flow with my fingers and give my account of wearing hijab.
In the beginning I didnt understand hijab properly, before converting I understood by covering yourself you could say to someone ” These are the limits you have with me. Dont push it further”. You could keep unwanted attention away. So as a westerner I dressed modestly in western clothing.
Two weeks after converting I realised that by wearing hijab people could then know that I was muslim. I was no longer this white girl walking down a platform at Liverpool Street, with ideas and values anyone could guess. By wearing hijab people knew I was muslim and the values I stood for.
The abaya came two weeks after. It felt like an extension to my hijab. Something that not only helped identify me as a muslim but gave me a greater protection. Where the western clothing lacked in trying to disguise my figure or how skinny I was, the abaya fulfilled the very purpose. I lost myself in the abaya. In loosing myself I found a new freedom. As the fabric flowed with my stride I felt more feminine.
Hijab and abaya, some feel is sufficient. I felt protected, however being white, and wearing hijab and abaya brought me attention. Both from non-muslims and muslims alike. Although I attracted more attention it was a different kind of attention. It wasnt “o my days, shes buff”, it was the astonishment of a white person being muslim. It made people think what on earth did she leave her past for? And for muslims some of them found it hard to understand why, just as equally as the non-muslims, just why I could convert. What good is there in Islam? It doesnt matter who you are. You can still lack knowledge. We are learning from the moment we are born to the time we die.
On converting, I started watching different sisters and how they went about life. A number of these sisters wore the niqaab. Dressed all in black, faces covered. Somehow it all seemed really serene. They all had this peaceful quality about them. It deeply intrigued me. I didnt look to the fiqh opinions or the fatwa of different groups. What attracted me to niqaab was the meaning it gave to those sisters and eventually myself.
Upon talking to a sister that wore it and my interest about it, she gave me my first niqaab, a day I can remember well. This small piece of fabric held so many meanings, so many mixed feelings to those that wore it, and those who would have to ” confront” it. Quite aptly I decided to try it one day upon traveling to uni. There was such a stark contrast from the previous day. I felt anonymous, people actually stared at me less, and I reveled in the freedom. I no longer had to worry about how my face looked, I was able to ditch the makeup, what little I still wore. I could loose those inhibitions, those insecurities I had developed in High School about how I looked and what people thought of me.
It wasnt until a couple of months later from that morning that I decided to start wearing niqaab more while out. I started wearing it to university and whilst out by myself without my parents knowing. They were still getting used to me being muslim, let alone niqaab.
Spiritually I now feel niqaab is my safety blanket. If I loose it I loose it all. Such deep feelings stem from the meaning niqaab now has to me. I mentioned how wearing niqaab I feel anonymous, and this gives me freedom. In a society where so much emphasis is placed on identity and in particular the face, many sisters deem wearing niqaab totally inappropriate. How can those who place so much value on the face cope with the niqaab, a small piece of fabric. A classic hadith that is used in tazkiyah or tassawuf goes along the lines of the Prophet SWS saying ” Travel in the world as if you are a stranger”. The main interpretation being that we should be so far from the dunya that we are a stranger to it. For me by wearing niqaab I become that stranger. I travel through the world detached from it.
There is a barrier between me and the world.
When I walk down the street people give me looks but nothing else. There may be the odd shouted insult and so forth. But these stem from people of little understanding and who feel intimidated by a small piece of inanimate fabric. People who are after passersby attention to sell items dont try to sell me their items. The dunya no longer sells itself to me. I am in my own world and by far it is not the dunya. My world revolves around trying to please my Lord. To try and embody those who surrounded the Prophet SWS. Like the wives of the Prophet SWS who are the best examples for muslimahs. Muslims forget the contribution they gave to Islam yet for them niqaab was fardh, and they got past this.
So here I am saying that I love the niqaab because it isolates me from others. But surely as social human beings it can be lonely?? Another general principle in tazkiyah or tassawuf as well as expressed in many ahadith is that being alone is better than having bad company. And having good company is better than being alone. By wearing niqaab yes I am lonely but I dont have the bad company. Because the bad company is repelled by the niqaab. Those who are able to get past the niqaab, and communicate to me, both muslims and the odd non-muslim have some morals or good qualities to them that make them good company. For the non-muslims they have a perception, an open-mindedness and questioning mind which will inshaAllah lead them down to accepting Islam. I need not explain muslims being good company for them being muslim in the first place gives them these good qualities.
InshaAllah I hope this helps you with trying to understand why I wear it.
Like I said niqaab is what you make of it. If you make it a barrier you will have a barrier. We are our own worst enemies. But if you look past it to what makes a person a person, their experiences, their morals and values, their personality, you will find the true essence of a person. People who are in the dunya are so far removed from their fitrah they have forgotten who they are. They have forgotten what they need and as such they find something missing. They are never able to connect with a person because they focus on everything except that essence. Everything external and not the internal. And of course they miss the most important thing of all. That link with Allah. The relationship between the master and the servant.
I pray that none of what I say here offends or insults. Please forgive me if it does as this was never my intention.