it took me a second to get that you meant hijab lol. what made you start wearing it?
I don’t like writing personal posts, because they end up being long and windy and there’s so much that I want to say. But here goes. Hopefully it’s coherent.
Basically, since childhood, I’ve really loved the scarf. I say scarf here, and not hijab, because I think hijab goes beyond just covering my hair. Hijab is a much more all-encompassing term. I grew up in a fairly religious family, and most of our family friends were, too (to this date, I’ve only been to a few mehmoonis where alcohol has been served, and every time it happens I experience a sort of culture shock). No one that I grew up around, though, wore a scarf on a regular basis, and it was mostly just something I admired. This isn’t necessarily because they were against it. I think some people took it off because they just wanted to. Others, like my mom, took it off because they had faced intense discrimination when they first moved here. For them, it was part of the assimilation process.
Cool bit about my childhood: I spent a part of my first Ramadan in Mecca and Medina when I was ten. That experience had a pretty big effect on how I view Islam, because I got to see the religion outside of an American or Iranian-American context. I got to see how people around the world practice it, and it was beautiful. alhamdillah.
I’ve fasted every Ramadan since my trip to Mecca. The following year—I was in sixth grade—I decided that I would wear the scarf during Ramadan. Even though none of the women I grew up around wore the scarf permanently, some wore it during the holy month. My mom did, too. So I wore it during Ramadan, since I liked it anyway. I did that for three Ramadans through middle school.
Then, I decided that I wanted to wear a scarf full time. I started the first day of high school wearing a scarf. It was the year after 9/11, so naturally my parents were a little concerned that I’d be hurt or something, especially since my mom had experienced vile threats when she had worn it during the Iran-Iraq War. But I didn’t care and wasn’t concerned with it.
That lasted about a year. I was young, and I didn’t have much support in wearing it. Even though my parents verbally supported me, I was always the only one wearing a scarf, no matter where I went. It was demoralizing, and I didn’t see my scarf as a source of beauty anymore. Everyone thought they could question me and debate me on my decision—which, I guess is fine—but I wasn’t mature enough to handle it then. I decided that I didn’t need to wear a scarf to be modest, and so I took it off.
I stayed in that mindset for a few years. I went to UCLA for undergrad (yay Bruins) and sometime between my amazing friends (who both do and don’t cover their hair), the MSA, and just getting to know myself better, I decided to wear a scarf again. I figured that I could deal with the pressures of wearing a scarf and still enjoy it, but I decided to wait until I left California to start. I didn’t feel like getting bullied by friends again—no matter how well-meaning they were. I just wanted to wear it for myself and not have to be barraged with questions immediately. So Ramadan of 2010, I left the state to start graduate school, and I started wearing my scarf again. I have been really happy since.
I wear my scarf primarily because I want to be more God conscious. I like that it reminds me that I’m a Muslim, and it helps me continually renew my intentions to better serve Him.
Since I’ve starting wearing my scarf, I’ve been home and I’ve seen family friends and the the community I grew up with. It’s always been interesting. Some have been really supportive, some have laughed (one person thought I was wearing it as a joke?), others have questioned how long I’ll wear it for since I’ve taken it off once before. It’s difficult dealing with people who think they are entitled to expressing their opinions about how you should or shouldn’t dress. I think it’s a generation thing, like “if we don’t do it, why would you?”
Thankfully it’s mostly the adults who do this—my friends have been really great about it, and I’m grateful to them for that.
Anyway, this is (believe it or not) the truncated version of my story.