Why I Choose to Wear the Hijab

These days, the finger is always pointing at Muslims. With so much going on, many must wonder - why do we still do it? Why do we, Muslim women, still parade around with this thing on our head, like a flashing light alerting everyone that we're different. I'd be lying if I said I never wondered that myself. If I never wondered how it would be to walk in the street without the constant awareness that I seemed different. So why do I still wake up every day, tie my hair, pin my scarf over my head, and walk out the door? 

1. It gives me power.

Contrary to what many think, the hijab is a means to give women power. How, you ask?

Think about it.

Who comes to mind when you think of Muslims? Who stands out in a crowd?

By wearing the hijab, I become an ambassador of my religion. It is we, women, who have the power to define Islam's narrative and perception. You will most likely remember the Muslim lady who smiled at you in the dentist's office or the Muslim girl reading on the train. And in this way, I hold the power to defy stereotypes and make a statement with the smallest action.

By making us the flag bearers of Islam, we believe God elevated the status of women, specifically choosing us to be His representatives on Earth. Imagine knowing this and then hearing people claim that the hijab oppresses me.

It is a mighty task that Muslim women have. Sometimes difficult, yes, but also, so very empowering.

2. My hijab moves the focus to the inside.

The hijab is a lot more than a piece of cloth on my head. It is the way I act, the way I talk, the way I react to things. It is a constant reminder that my inner is so much more important that my outer.

The hijab moves the focus from the body, from the external superficialities, by suggesting a dress code that is modest. The intention is that by drawing the focus away from the body, people are more likely to recognize and value me for my intellect and personality.

That does not mean I don't dress up or care about the way I look. In fact, I very much do enjoy putting together a killer outfit. It simply means I do so whilst covering my body.

What about men? Why do they not wear it then? Great question. Many don't realize, but men too have their own requirements for their hijab. It may not stick out in a crowd, but they are also required to cover their body, have specific principles applied to their dress code, and act with modesty.

The hope is that through the hijab - referring to dress code and conduct - we can create a society that does not judge based on the superficial, that focuses on character and values people according to their intellect and character.

Sounds impossible? Perhaps. But only if we try can we come even remotely close. 

3. I get to wear my heart on my sleeve. Or in this case, on my head.

My hijab is my identity. It announces something about who I am, and what my story is before I speak. This can invite stares, frowns and raised eyebrows and though it's not always easy, I welcome the opportunity to totally turn someone's perception upside down when I turn out to not be what they expected.

4. I want to be the best version of myself. And my hijab helps me do that.

I walk out into the world and I know, whether I like it or not, that my actions often become representative of all Muslims. And I don't take that lightly. If I cut in line or I snap at someone, I risk reinforcing people's misconceptions about Islam.

So I make an effort to smile more, to be courteous, to offer someone else the seat. Would I do that even if wasn't wearing the hijab? Probably. But it would be easier to forget, to not care to make an effort when I'm having a bad day, crushed under work, or tired from a long night. My hijab reminds to take a breath, realize this moment is not all in the world and breathe out a smile.

5. My hijab gives me control.

It allows me to take what the media says about me and throw it back as I defy their narrative. It gives me control over my body as I tell the fashion industry that, no, I do not need to bare my body to be considered stylish or beautiful. It gives me control over my ego as I am reminded each and every day, that my purpose is to serve others and perfect my character.

6. I wear it because I believe in God.

Obvious, I know.

But this is what it all comes down to.

Though the reasons I have highlighted above play an important part in my decision to wear the scarf, there would be far fewer of us who would wear it just for those reasons.

I do everything I do as a Muslim because I believe in a loving God who instructs and guides me for my own benefit.

I believe God's love is immense. Islam teaches us that it cannot be compared to anything in this world and if it had to be, the only thing that could come close would be that of a mothers love. Everything God tells us to do is out of love, just as a mother guides her child, though the child may not always understand why, in order ensure a good life for them.

I wear the hijab for the same reason I pray five times a day and fast in Ramadan and give charity to the poor. I do so, ultimately, as an expression of love.