Ask Haute Hijab: Feeling Guilty for Not Dressing More Modestly
Posted on Jul 28, 2013
Q: I came across your account on Instagram and I started to feel really guilty. I started wearing the hijab in 7th grade (currently in 9th grade), and it's still really hard for me to stop wearing skinny jeans and short shirts. I go to an American school, so as you can imagine, all the girls dress in skinny jeans and tights, etc... I keep losing faith in my hijab because of these girls I see everyday. I know I shouldn't, because the hijab is a blessing and all that, but it's difficult. It's really embarrassing to say that my Iman is not all that strong. I just wore it because of fear, I suppose. Do you have any advice? Because I could really, really use some.
A: Salamu alaikum and thank you for reaching out! First and foremost, you are not alone. Being a Muslim in high school is no easy feat, let alone a Muslim woman who wears hijab in high school. Say alhamdulilah for your feeling of guilt as that indicates you have a yearning to be better and an innate goodness about you that wants to please Allah (S), although it may be difficult. Secondly, I want to quickly point out that wearing hijab, or fulfilling any act mandated by Allah (S) out of fear is not wrong, it is not looked down upon and it is not something to be ashamed of. There are verses after verses in the Quran where Allah (S) commands we fear Him and Him alone. One simple example is Surah Ahzab, Ayah 70: "O you who believe, keep your duty to Allah and fear Him and always speak the truth." Of course we should strive to strike a healthy balance between obeying His commands out of love for Allah (S) but there is no shame to be felt if you obey His commands (i.e. wear hijab) out of fear of displeasing or disobeying Allah (S).
Now, it seems as though the crux of the problem is really weakness of faith, or iman. As a result, your conviction in your beliefs are weak and your heart is easily swayed towards the actions of your peers at school. When your conviction in what you believe in and what you know to be right and wrong is weak, you are less likely to take a stand against your nafs when it wants to disobey Allah (S). Therefore, it is imperative that you work on strengthening your conviction in Islam, in Allah (S) and in your hijab. This in turn strengthens your iman and it will be much easier for you to work on correcting your dress and dissuading yourself from wearing inappropriate clothing.
That being said, you should definitely start working on your dress simultaneously as you work on weakness of faith. Use Allah (S)'s infinite wisdom as your guide and start slowly, step-by-step, until you can happily walk out of your house properly covered, having the comfort of knowing you are appropriately dressed and Allah (S) is pleased with you. Start by replacing your skinnies with straight or boot cut pants. If you can't do that, try wearing longer shirts with your skinny jeans. Once you've got that down, when you wear shorter shirts, try wearing wide-leg pants or skirts with them. Start parting ways with clothes you wear in public that are too tight. If they're not in your closet, then you won't be tempted to wear them! Make a day of it and invite some Muslim friends over - try on your clothes and have them help you decide what's appropriate and what's not. Take small, but steady steps towards dressing appropriately and take comfort in the fact that Allah (S) is with you every step of the way, making things easy for you!
The question now becomes, how do I strengthen my iman when I go to high school with a majority of peers who are not Muslim? Strength comes in numbers. Do you have any Muslim friends at all at your school? Band together and become a source of strength and courage for yourselves. Remind each other throughout the day when it's time to pray or when you're acting in ways that are not consistent with the teachings of Islam (i.e. hugging or flirting with boys, gossiping or backbiting, swearing, etc.). You don't have any Muslims in your school? Cultivate Muslim friendships outside of school - at Sunday School, at your local masjid, family friends, wherever they may be. Start to develop those casual friendships you have with your Muslim friends into strong, long-lasting bonds. Your friendships with your Muslims sisters will last forever, while your high school non-Muslim friendships sadly won't. Once you leave high school you may keep in touch with a few, but even that is rare. Cultivate the friendships that matter and help one another to be better, to do better.
Additionally, on your own, there are many things you can do to help strengthen your iman. Read a biography of the Prophet Muhammad (S) and truly reflect on his character and unshakable conviction in Allah (S) and Islam. A great one is Muhammad by Martin Lings that can be found here. Get involved at your local masjid, join the youth group and let the masjid be your second home. Don't have a youth group? Form one! Read quran regularly and consistently, even if it's only a page a day. The Prophet Muhammad (S) said, "The deeds most loved by Allah (S) are those done consistently, even if they are small." Indeed, there is a cure in the Quran. Educate yourself on the famous women in Islam - let them be your role models that you look up to and aspire to become! A great CD set by Dr. Umar Faruq Abdallah on Famous Women in Islam can be found here.
Lastly, make sure you make du'a! Du'a is the weapon of the believer for good reason. Pray Allah (S) makes things easy on you as you strive to please Him and obey His commands. Make du'a every day with a sincere heart and witness the power of God as He makes things easy on you and illuminates a path for you. 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).
We pray Allah (S) makes things easy for you! You are in our thoughts and prayers and always have us to lean on!
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