Hijabi of the Month November - Sulekha Abdi

Posted on Nov 04, 2012
Melanie Elturk


November's Hijabi of the Month is Sulekha Abdi from Columbus, Ohio! Would you like to be a HOTM? Is there someone you'd like to nominate? E-mail us at blog@hautehijab.com.

My name is Sulekha Abdi and I am a 24 year old resident of Columbus, Ohio. I was born in Somalia and moved to Egypt when I was a year old and finally moved to the States with my family when I was ten. I'm currently in my fourth year of dental school at The Ohio State University, and plan on pursuing a career in general dentistry after graduation next Spring. In my free time I love spending time with family and friends and generally just being silly. My favorite season is Fall, for the obvious reasons of the gorgeous colors and the hijabi friendly weather... scarves, scarves, scarves!!! Also my go to meal would have to be cereal...whether its breakfast or dinner :-)

1) How old were you when you started wearing hijab?

I was 12 years old when I started wearing the hijab. I remember my mom threw me a ‘hijab party’ where all the gifts consisted of new hijabs! Towards the end of the day we were heading outside for a water balloon fight and I remember thinking…aah my hair won’t get wet :)

I find myself immensely lucky to have started wearing hijab at such a young age and I have my mom and four older sisters to thank for it. Being the youngest of a large family I had so many people to look up to. My mom always seemed to be the unattainable level of goodness masha-Allah, but my sisters who all wore hijab served as a constant reminder of what it meant to be a Muslim woman. I specifically remember a shopping trip at Coscos with my mom and sister, where I went to one of the many tasting stations to get a treat. After I finished the tasty contents of the small dixie cup my sister returned from the same table to announce that the lady handing out the samples (who happened to be Muslim) warned my sister that the dessert had gelatin in it. I remember feeling so devastated for not receiving a warning and my mom looked at me and said, “There is no way she would have known your Muslim.” That stuck with me and I knew that sooner than later I would no longer go on as an “unidentified Muslim.”

Sulekha with her niece on Eid

2) What do you love most about hijab?

As cliché-ish as this may be, I love the sense of protection I get from the hijab. Most people might think of this as a protection from others, but for me it’s mostly protection from myself. The hijab has a very funny way of keeping me in check, it’s a constant reminder of who I am and what my values are. I find myself in situation where I think… "Come on Sulekha you’re a hijabi…you ain’t about that life,” and it makes it so much easier to walk away. 

Sulekha in hijab at the age of one!

3) What were some positive influences you had growing up?

As I mentioned before my family played a major role in who I am today, and who I aspire to be. My biggest influence of course is my mother who is the strongest person I know and I’ll be happy if I become half the woman, wife and mother she is one day. Being the youngest of such a large family there are huge age gaps between my siblings and most of them served more of a parent figure than siblings. However, my sister Zeinab that is closest to me in age has truly been my best friend and role model growing up (as much as I never admit this to her). I’ve always aspired to be as kind, fashionable, neat and smart as her… she has always pushed me to be a better version of me (I really hope she’s not reading this lol). 

Sulekha with her sister Zeinab

4) What is one phrase or motto that you live by?

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” – Plato

It’s so easy for everyone to get caught up in their own struggles and hardships and it’s easy to lose sight that we aren’t the only ones with problems. Regardless of how hard of a day you think you may be having, make an effort to be kind to others even if it’s something as small as a smile. In the process you will not only turn your day around but you will find yourself in a better place. 

5) If you could give one piece of advice to someone struggling with hijab, what would you tell them?

Don’t over complicate the situation, it really all comes down to a small piece of fabric; a small piece of fabric that will give you the biggest relief of mind. We all know that Allah (S) wants the best for all of us, so you just have to put your trust in Him and know that only good could come from it.