Wearing the hijab is a struggle sometimes. It’s frustrating when I look in the mirror after a long day to realize that my scarf is one big mess or days when it just doesn’t work (yes, there is such a thing as a bad hijab day). And sometimes I miss getting all dolled up and doing my hair. It takes a lot of focus and prayer to really center myself and remind myself why I am doing this: for Him. But recently, I encountered a situation that made me really appreciate my hijab more than ever before.
I was at school, and a group of older students were having an end-of-year celebration in the room beside the library, where I was studying. As a bystander, I watched them prepare for the celebration; each person was dressed up, which was a sight for sore eyes, as I usually see these people in scrubs.
One girl, in particular, was dressed to the nines. Her makeup was on point, she wore an elaborate outfit, and topped it all off with sparkling jewelry. She really was beautiful, mashAllah. As she walked past my table, with her long hair, barely covering her exposed back, I heard a guy near me make an inappropriate comment about the way she looked. He then compared her to a museum–look but don’t touch. I was offended and deeply hurt on her behalf. She did not hear him, but I am sure that if she had, she would not have appreciated that comment.
Despite the unfortunateness of the situation, never in my life had I felt as liberated as I did in that moment. It was the most freeing idea to know that, because of my hijab, no man will ever view me in a vulgar or offensive manner. It was unshackling to know that my beauty is for those worthy of it. It was relieving to know that men will see me for who I am, not for how I look. That beautiful girl has more to her than her appearance–she is extremely intelligent and resilient and so much more, yet in that moment, none of those things mattered.
Sometimes, I take for granted the blessing of hijab because it is a routine part of my life. And it is ironic that many people interpret my hijab as a sign of oppression, when really it is the exact opposite. It is incidences like this one that allow me to fully appreciate it.