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What it means to wear a Hijab

A few months ago, I made the decision to put on the hijab. For those who don’t know, hijab can be described as a garment that covers the hair and neck region, commonly associated with the religion of Islam. The reason that this was such a big decision to make is not because it meant a big change for me and how I view myself, rather it changes how other people see me. Since I was a young girl I always admired the commitment of the hijab and how it symbolised elegant beauty and spiritual importance, at least to me. My own mother wears a hijab and I always thought it was such an important identification as it shows true representation and proudness of one’s religion.

As a young girl, there were multiple times in my life where I considered wearing the hijab, but once I revealed this to my family, I was discouraged. They told me I was not ready for the responsibility and feared what it would mean for me if I did put it on. There was also the concern of me taking it off later in life which is a large taboo in Islamic society. This always confused me and with each rejection of this decision, I grew more distant from my religion. It confused me that the very people wearing this important symbol were warning me away from it, despite the meaning of it being thoughtful and beautiful.

As I grew, I realised why my family were so concerned about it. I was living in the age of islamophobia with the negative ‘terrorist’ image being associated with my beautiful and peaceful religion. When people would find out that I was Muslim, they would ask why ‘we’ want to hurt and kill people, why we covered up and I was told that my religion is oppressive on women, that it gave men power over us... and I almost believed it.

During my later teenage years, I made the decision to explore my religion and truly try and understand my role as a woman in Islam. What I found amazed me. From the rights of women to their status and importance in Islam. Women have the right to work, the right to marry whom they choose, the right for education, the right to her own money, the right to express their opinion and so on. Women are held in the highest regard and seen as valued beings that need to be protected and cared for with the utmost respect. The key to reaching heaven after death is said to be beneath the mother’s feet.

When I learn these things I was astounded, I couldn’t believe that anyone could possibly believe that this beautiful religion is oppressive, it is liberating and uplifting of the status of a woman. The hijab is a symbol of this, it has a more feministic centre than one might think. Although the meaning behind putting it on can be different for other women, to me it was my symbol of my rights, as symbol of my high status as a woman and a symbol of self-respect and care.

I believe that a woman that does not allow herself to be defined by her looks, her body and how much skin she shows is truly a strong woman and truly a feminist. Whether that is by wearing less or wearing more, after all it is only material. Since putting on the hijab my confidence in myself is stronger, my ability to fight for myself and others amplified, and my soul uplifted.

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