Posted on Oct 03, 2013
This month's HOTM comes to us from Troy, Michigan! Maisha was nominated by a friend who had this to say:
"She handles herself with grace and modesty, but also embodies a fierce sense of confidence. She'll never be afraid to voice her opinion and when she speaks and writes it is beyond her years. Her hijab story is an inspiring one and her love for hijab is absolutely beautiful. I know that I wouldn't be the person I am if it wasn't for our friendship. Having someone there to remind you about the beauty of Islam in every aspect of life is the best gift any friend can give."
Maisha is 19 years old studying pre-nursing at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. She hopes to have her own modest clothing line one day and hopes to always be active within her community.You can follow Maisha on her blogspot. p.s. All the photos feature Maisha in a Haute Hijab!
1) When did you start wearing hijab?
This question always makes me smile because my hijab story is pretty unique. In totality, I’ve started hijab 3 times alhamdulillah. My very first experience with hijab was in 9th grade, during the middle of my freshman year. Hijab – in the sense of a head covering - was honestly never something I grew up around; no one in my family wore or enforced it, and most of my friends didn’t either. I started thinking about it during the middle of my freshman year, and the more I thought about it, the more I wanted it. It went from the typical, “when I get married” to, “when I start college” to, “okay fine, this summer.” I would obsessively watch YouTube videos and listen to nasheeds about hijabs (especially Turkish hijabs – I always found them so graceful) and my excitement grew. Then, out of the blue one day my friend Amaal showed up to school wearing a hijab. As far as I knew, she hadn’t even been considering it. I clearly remember it being a Monday morning, and all I could think to myself was, “If she can, why can’t I?” I could. And I did. That Friday, I walked out of our MSA meeting in a hijab, and kept it on. Most of my friends were shocked, that I, this girl who spent hours doing her hair before any party was now choosing to cover it up. My family thought I was being extreme and pretty much everyone was waiting for my little phase to be over. Here I am, five years later, more confident than ever that I made the right decision.
Maisha in Turkey in the Orange Ikat Scarf
My story doesn’t end there. I completely empathize with girls who face the all too common phenomena of taking off the hijab. I’ve done it twice, each time facing unique struggles, an incredible amount of guilt and inner conflict, and just overwhelming emotion. Alhamdulillah throughout everything I have been through, Allah (S) has blessed me with increasing love for this beautiful aspect of Islam and my firm belief in the wisdom behind the hijab continues to grow every day. It’s so important to encourage any girls who want to wear or are wearing the hijab. Never tell someone or feel as though you can’t wear hijab out of fear of taking it off. A cliché quote that was always hanging around the walls of my high school that I always tie into this thought is, “Never let the fear of losing keep you from playing the game.” And NEVER tell anyone that they aren’t “good enough” or “might as well not wear it.” It’s like saying you shouldn’t pray because you have trouble with gossiping and backbiting. Every girl has a unique experience with hijab, whether she struggles with it on, or wants to wear it, or puts it on and never looks back. Don’t let someone else’s struggle define your journey, and never let anyone else’s words dictate your relationship with Allah. I promise you, as long as you have a desire to come close to Him, even if it’s the smallest inkling within the depths of your heart, He will make it happen. Who knows, if I let these simple fears hold me back from putting it on, I may not be wearing it today. After my second time taking it off I came back to it only a short month later. I had to ignore everyone’s skeptical remarks about the fact that I had only just taken it off, my own desire for the fresh world of what I thought was “freedom” in front of me, and go for what I knew in my heart was the right thing to do, and alhamdulillah that’s a decision I don’t regret.
2) Tell us your experience wearing hijab in a large urban University setting.
I attend Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan which has a really large Muslim population. While I was the only hijabi in my grade in high school, I’m one of hundreds at Wayne. My freshman year I struggled with hijab a lot and felt like I couldn’t fit in and I wasn’t comfortable. At times I felt really restricted. But my experiences taught me the importance of hijab in my life and also the importance of good friends. It’s so important to surround yourself with people that embrace who you are and always encourage you to better your values. You are a reflection of your friends, so be sure to surround yourself with people that you respect and aspire to be like. At the same time, be able to be open to and accepting of everyone. There are honestly so many beautiful qualities in everyone that we can always learn from. If college has taught me anything, it’s how to be open and accepting of others while still maintaining what I feel is important in my own life.
3) What/Who are some positive influences you had growing up?
My mother, my mother, my mother. My mom doesn’t wear hijab (yet) and when I first started she didn’t like it at all. However as time went on, she slowly began buying me scarves or complimenting some of my outfits. While at one point hijab was something she may never have considered, Allah (S) really blessed our family by allowing me to wear it. But my mom has always been one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met and I’ve always been really close to her. She’s the most lively, hilarious, and caring woman I know and she really is my best friend. On that note, my dad is the complete opposite and people always compare me to him. We’re the quiet ones of the family and he’s really the one that instilled religion into me and my brother as children. He quietly supported me wearing hijab all along and while hijab is generally something that strengthens bonds between Muslim girls, it also built a connection between my Dad and I. Also, my younger brother. I can’t begin to describe the ways I admire this kid, but this might help sum it up. When I was 15 and my brother was 13, I was struggling with hijab and he said to me, “Every girl is pretty nowadays. It’s nothing special anymore. But what you have, this is special. Why would you ever want to give that up?”
Finally, my friends. Specifically the close-knit group of girls I grew up with. They have always been there for me and supported every decision I made. Growing up they always reminded me to embrace my culture and religion and to follow my heart. All of these positive influences around me really helped strengthen my conscience and build my individual relationship with Allah.
4) What's one motto or statement you live by?
If Allah helps you, none can overcome you: If He forsakes you, who is there, after that, that can help you? In Allah, then, let believers put their trust." - Al Qur'an 3:160
5) If you could give one piece of advice to someone struggling with hijab, what would it be?
Just do it. I’ve always thought that there’s no such thing as being “ready” for hijab. I firmly believe that only good can come of it, so go for it and reap all the benefits. While there’s a lot more to hijab than the simple headscarf, sometimes you need to just do it and let the rest follow through. Because an aspect of hijab is tangible, it’s completely in your control. In summary, a quote I love by Lemony Snicket and always bring back to hijab is, “If we wait until we're ready, we'll be waiting for the rest of our lives.”
Is there someone you'd like to nominate for HOTM? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.