Good day, y’all. Admittedly, I should have written this one before last week’s post…but you know, I’m just a rebel like that.
Anyhow, today I want to write about the most important part of the decision for a new Muslim (or born Muslim who didn’t wear it before) who wants to start wearing the hijab: setting your intention.
It is narrated by ‘Umar bin al-Khattab (ra), who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (saws) say:
“Actions are (judged) by intention (niyyah), so each man will have what he intended. Thus, he whose migration (hijrah) was to Allah and His Messenger, his migration is to Allah and His Messenger; but he whose migration was for some worldly thing he might gain, or for a wife he might marry, his migration is to that for which he migrated.”
[Al-Bukhari & Muslim]
In Islam, not only are the outcomes of any action judged by the intention behind it, but the intention you make when deciding to start something new, will guide the course you take through the whole journey.
This is why, before you decide to put that scarf on your head, or even just start dressing a little more modestly, the most important thing is to have a long, hard think about exactly why you are doing it. There are so many different reasons out there for putting on the hijab, and it is a deeply personal decision for each and every woman, that is why you need to do the searching within yourself first, to make sure your heart is in the right place and you are truly ready.
I have known some women, a good non-Muslim friend of my included, who simply think hijab is really pretty, and in some cases can be a great fashion accessory. I’m not going to tell you that this is a wrong intention, and I think using your hijab as a form of self expression is a perfectly OK thing to do, but if fashion is your main concern when putting the hijab on, you might not get the all of the spiritual benefit that is possible, and in the end hijab might be more of a struggle than a blessing.
Like the above hadith mentions, you will get whatever you have intended for an action. So, if you are wearing hijab as a great accessory and nothing more, you may end up with a few thousand Intagram followers and some great OOTD blog posts, but you may be missing out on so many of the deeper benefits of wearing the hijab.
Plus, I thoroughly believe that the fashion industry (not personal style, or a personal interest in fashion, but the industry itself) really does go against everything hijab stands for: liberation from fads and unrealistic body type pressures, modesty (as in not calling everyone’s attention to your body/clothing), etc.
Another issue I have seen some women struggle with is wanting to wear hijab not through personal conviction of their own, but because of familial, cultural or societal pressure. I think in part this comes from the belief among (a minority of) “hijabis” that girls who don’t wear it are somehow “less” Muslim than the rest of us, which in and of itself is a problematic narrative, though not something I need to get into right now. The main issue is that if you are only wearing hijab because your mom does, or because it is culturally appropriate, or whatever other reason not only are you, again, missing out on many of the deeper spiritual benefits that comes when you really do it from the heart, but from my experience I have found that when done with these kinds of intentions hijab tends to be an on and off kind of thing.
It is something I see here in Algeria too often: mother wants daughter to wear hijab, daughter wears it for a month then takes it off, mother gets upset so she puts it on again, two months later she is going without again…and on and on.
This tends to be the case with any action that is not done with sincerity; it will not be consistent and it will not bring any of the benefits intended from it.
So, I guess what I am getting at with this post is that you should really think it over before you take the leap into it. For some it can be a huge lifestyle change, and without the right mindset, can quickly become overwhelming.
Wait until you know you are ready for it and don’t let anyone tell you what is right for you. The only way that you will benefit from wearing hijab is when it is done directly from your heart, with the main goal being to please your Creator. It is only when you are thinking of the higher goal of paradise that you will be able to endure the discomforts of this world like the sun, bulky fabric, wind, and even the harshness of other people.