Monday, August 9, 2010

It wasn't always a HijabiTopia...

Everyone has their own story of how, when, and why they started wearing hijab. I remember mine so clearly, almost as if it were yesterday.

My family and I had just returned from a visit back home to South Africa. It was our first time visiting since we left the country 5 years prior. We had a really good time, reuniting with the family, spending time with grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles. We also did some touring. We took a long road trip to Cape Town, a place I'd never visited and toured the Garden Route. We also went to Durban and enjoyed the summery weather and the beaches. Our time there seemed so short and as it ended, saying goodbye was really emotional for me.

It had been my intention to cover my hair for a couple of years, I'd say. So, I thought that since I'd be starting junior high, I'd begin a new school, a new phase of my life, with a new look. Well it wasn't just about the look. For years I'd been wanting to cover. Everyone has their own reasons. I can truly say I decided to cover and wear hijab for God. No. It wasn't peer pressure. No. It wasn't because my parents forced me to. In fact, at the time, my mom didn't wear hijab herself.

Anyway, so we had come back from South Africa on a Sunday afternoon, and the following day would be the first day of school, the first day of seventh grade for me. On that Sunday I remember unpacking and getting ready for school the next day. I even remember an extended family member pulling me aside and to ask me if I really wanted to go through with this and cover, and that once I do it I can't take it back, and that it wouldn't be easy and that I would face adversity. That might have just made me want to cover even more.

I laid out my outfit for school the next day. I decided it would be wise to wear a warm-up suit, white with hot pink, that I had received as a gift in South Africa. You're thinking, hideous. Yes, when I think of it today, it surely was a tacky choice. What was I thinking?! And, to top it off, a hot pink scarf. Talk about trying to blend in with the crowd! Well, at least I matched!

The next morning I woke up early, got ready and went to school with my dad. As we entered the school, I hear a girl shout these words at me:

"Girrrrl, take that thang off yo' head! It ain't rainin'!"

My first day as a hijabi. Great, I thought. I can look forward to coming to this everyday.

I was the first one to wear hijab to that school. And I will be the first to admit that those junior high years were definitely rough. Adolescent teens were mean. They would pull my scarf off and make mean remarks. It would get me down a lot. But I guess what doesn't kill us definitely makes us stronger. And I always remembered that my purpose for wearing hijab was for modesty, yes, but ultimately it was for God, and insha'Allah, He will reward me one day for my endeavors.

Nazreen Hassan for HijabiTopia


  1. Thanks for sharing your story!!! Junior high should be eliminated, I hated it. I also started wearing hijab in junior high, so I feel your pain.
    may God give us all the strength to do things the right way.

  2. Amin Iman. Junior high kids can be so cruel. But each experience makes us stronger as a Muslimah.