Haute Hijab Interview with Three New Hijabi's!
Posted on May 25, 2012
Meet Nadia, Nova and Laila! These three beauties have chosen to wear hijab within the past year. We asked them a few questions about their journey to hijab, what's changed, difficulties they encountered and what they love most. Read on for an inspiring journey of three amazing women who have graciously shared their stories with us.
Nadia, 22, lives in Lake Zurich, Illinois and recently graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a B.S. in Speech Pathology. She plans to attend graduate school in the Fall.
Nova lives in Columbus, Ohio. She is 21 and a junior at Ohio State University. She is studying biology as a pre-med student.
Laila is 15 years old and a sophomore in high school. She lives in Okemos, Michigan and aspires to have a successful career as a lawyer!
What age did you put on hijab?
Laila – 15. It was the last day of Ramadan last year.
Nova – 21. It was fourth of July weekend during ISNA last year.
Nadia – 19… and then 21.
What made you decide to put on hijab?
Laila – I knew it would be very beneficial for me and that I was obligated to start wearing hijab sometime in my life. I realized I should just do it because you never know how you are going to feel in a few months or if you’re even going to be alive. Also, many people around me wear hijab so that also helped encourage me. Most importantly, I decided to put it on because I knew it was the right thing to do and that it would make Allah (S) pleased with me.
Nova – I went on Umrah last year with my family but before that I was going through a lot in life so during Umrah I knew sometime in the future I wanted to wear hijab. Afterwards I thought things were going to get better with my life but I went through even more tests and I had a hard time figuring myself out so I knew that sometime within that year I wanted to wear the hijab.
Nadia - I've wanted to wear hijab for as long as I can remember. I've always admired the courage of the women who did. I believe it is such a strong statement in a society where modesty is a forgotten virtue. It takes strength to refuse to be judged for your looks alone and to wear your values where everyone can see them. I knew that hijab would keep me in check as a Muslimah, the reason I hadn't put it on sooner was merely a lack of the courage to do it. At 21, I knew I had finally reached a stage in my life where it didn't matter to me who approved or who didn't. I was ready to take a step that I believed would bring me closer to Allah (S) and strengthen my iman. I haven't been disappointed.
Was there anything holding you back from putting it on before you finally made your decision?
Laila - Yes! I was worried my life would somehow change drastically or people would treat me differently. I was also scared, because deciding to wear hijab is a big commitment. I now know that despite it being a big commitment, it is definitely not one that someone can't handle.
Nova - To be honest I didn’t really have any fears. Immediately after wearing it I started thinking about what people would say since I basically grew up in Columbus, the community here has known me since I was in 1st grade and it was a dramatic change. Unfortunately, one of my closest friends ended up not supporting me.
Nadia - I first started wearing hijab during my freshman year of college, when I was 19 and I quit wearing it 4 months later. I got negative comments from people I had thought were my friends, and I buckled under the pressure to look and act a certain way. I realized a little while later, that the opinions of these people didn't matter to me at all. I knew I eventually wanted to go back, but I was so afraid of quitting that I was hesitant to try again. So I gave it a lot of thought for the next few years, until I reached a point where I was absolutely sure that I was ready.
Does your mother wear it? Did that play a role in your decision?
Laila – Yes. It played a small role, my Mom did encourage me when I was thinking about putting on the hijab, however I knew I had to base my decision on myself because I wasn’t putting hijab on for my mother it was for myself and Allah (S).
Nova – Yes she started a month after me. Had I grown up with my mother wearing hijab, it would have affected me greatly. My whole family is very religious and all five of my mom's sisters wear hijab as well as my grandmother and the women on my dad's side so I always had that religious background but I never really thought about it for myself as much. If my mother had worn the hijab earlier I would have as well.
Nadia - My mother doesn't wear hijab but she is a very devout Muslimah in every other way. She always encouraged me to strive to better myself in the way of Islam, but I never felt pressured to wear hijab. This contributed positively to my decision to wear it, in that I never questioned my intentions.
Now that you wear hijab, is there anything you find difficult?
Laila - Not at all actually! It was much easier than I had expected!
Nova – In the beginning I wasn’t used to so many questions from people and lost a couple “friends.” Now, alhamdulilah, I feel it's made me more confident and it has given me my identity as a Muslim woman. I feel more beautiful than before and I’m happier with who I am.
Nadia - There are times where it is certainly trying to wear hijab. I recently began a 9 to 5 job in corporate America and, up until last week, I was the only hijabi in the whole company! At first it was overwhelming to feel so different from others, but I found it was a great opportunity to break stereotypes and explain hijab to many people who probably hadn't had exposure to women who cover before.
What is one thing that has changed since you put it on?
Laila - I realized everything I did or anything I said made an impact on how people thought of Muslim women so I began to make sure I was being a good "role model" which made me a better person!
Nova - A lot has changed! I’m definitely more confident in myself, I’m not as shy as I used to be and I do get more respect from people. Even though I lost a few friends, I gained so many new friends, but most importantly I’m so much more closer to Allah and Islam.
Nadia - Surprisingly, I've found myself to be a lot more confident and outgoing since I started wearing hijab. I was always a shy person, and initially, I was so scared of stereotypes and judgments. Then I realized that I can represent myself by speaking up and letting others really get to know me. It's been such a blessing in that way.
What do you love most about hijab?
Laila - Knowing that wherever I go people will look at me and wonder about my hijab and they will see that although I am wearing the hijab I still live a happy life and do things normally like everyone else.
Nova - Wearing the hijab has not only strengthened my faith in Islam, it has also given me my identity as a Muslim woman and I have found my true-self.
Nadia - Hijab was prescribed as a form of protection for us and it certainly serves its purpose. I love that the men who used to hoot and holler when we walked down the street, now move aside to let us pass.
What piece of advice would you give to girls who are struggling to wear hijab?
Laila: It’s not as hard as you think it is. If you are confident from day one, people will accept you and from that day everything will be easy inshallah. Also, if you feel like you are close to putting on the hijab but for some reason you keep telling yourself you’re not ready, the truth is you will never be fully ready until you actually put the hijab on and experience it. Lastly, I think the most important thing for girls who are thinking about putting on hijab and something that helped me greatly was talking to people who you trust and want the best for you.
Nova – Hijab is a beautiful thing. Wear the hijab if you want to and for the sake of Allah (S). Don't wear it for other people because then you would be wearing it for the wrong reasons.
Nadia - It won't always be easy, but remember that the blessing is in the struggle.
Thanks again to Nadia, Nova and Laila for their wonderful interviews. Do YOU have a story to tell? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, we are here to help. If you are struggling with hijab, please contact email@example.com.