Posted on Nov 23, 2015
I've been feeling really down these past few days when my little sister decided to wear the hijab. She's 15 and I am 17. Here I am not ready to don the hijab, it's not that I am less Muslim that she is, it's just that I'm not ready yet (I guess). I have nothing against her, but I'm afraid that my family might look down upon me for not wearing the hijab. How do you start to wear the hijab? What should I do?
Wa alaikum as Salam,
Thanks for reaching out and I'm sorry to hear you've been feeling down. Good news is - you shouldn't be feeling down at all! It's great that your sister putting on hijab has got you thinking about wearing the hijab yourself - it's an immense blessing! It's a beautiful thing when someone else's good deeds rub off on others and contribute to a process of self-evaluation. That being said however, be careful not to judge your self-worth based on others' actions. Like you said, you are no less of a Muslim than she is.
Now, wearing the hijab because you're afraid that your family might look down upon you may not be the best reason to start wearing the hijab, but let's take that feeling of culpability or responsibility and explore it further. As a Muslim woman past the age of puberty, covering properly (including the head covering, or hijab) is now fard or compulsory for you. Just like it is compulsory for you to pray five times a day, to obey your parents and to treat everyone you meet with kindness and respect. (For more on the mandatory nature of hijab, read this post.)
So now that you know you should be wearing it, I want you to explore the reasons why you're not wearing it. Maybe you're afraid of what your friends will think - maybe you enjoy doing your hair every morning - or maybe you just never really thought about wearing it. Whatever the reason is - attack those notions head-on coupled with the knowledge that to wear the hijab is to obey the command of Allah (S).
My practical advice to you is two-fold. Number one, before you sleep, every night, make du'a to Allah (S) to open your heart to hijab and to put love and strength in your heart toward wearing it. Allah (S) says in the Quran, "Your Lord has said, 'Call me, I will answer you." (Quran, 60:60). Additionally, in a hadith qudsi, the Prophet (S) said, Allah (S) said, "I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembly better than it. And if he draws near to Me an arm's length, I draw near to him a fathom's length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed." (Hadith Qudsi 15, related by Bukhari).
Secondly, since you're apprehensive, I would advise you to take it slow. Start by wearing it to the masjid, or only on the weekends. Ease into it and allow yourself to get used to wearing it in public. Talk to your sister - ask her what motivated her to put it on. Leverage her strength and use her as support to help you. If you're still feeling uneasy, then go back to the advice on exploring the reasons that are holding you back. As Dr. Marwa Azab put it, "Struggling with hijab is never about hijab, it is usually about a much larger issue. Corner yourself and really get to the bottom of it. Once you are there, which will involve a tremendous amount of tears but also courage, you will slap that monster in the face deflating the emptiness inside its fragile shell. The journey might require professional help, or having an honest conversation with a trustworthy mentor."
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