Hijabi of the Month October- Kaniz Jaffer
Posted on November 03, 2016
This month's HOTM was nominated by her sister who had this to say about her, "She's 24 years old and started wearing hijab 5 years ago. She began to wear it during fashion school and always wanted to continue her love with fashion with her hijab. Last year she started her own blog to show her confidence in hijab and her sense of style."
Kaniz received a degree in fashion merchandising from LIM university, a fashion institute located in New York City. She uses her fashion background to help design hijabs as well as the clothes she features on her Covered in Confidence blog and website. Since the launch of Covered in Confidence she has received positive feedback from young women around the world about how she has inspired them to wear the hijab and be proud of who they are while wearing hijab. Being able to make a difference in even one persons life is the main reason Kaniz strives to keep and expand her blog as well as her company.
Besides being a fashion enthusiast, she works as a recreational therapist at a nursing home In Long Island. In her free time, Kaniz gives back to the less fortunate by launching an initiative called Covered in the Cold where she provides blankets and gloves to homeless NYC residents. She gathered donations from around the world and created bags that included blankets, gloves, sandwiches and water for the homeless. The initiative reached over 300 homeless individuals.
You can visit Kaniz's website at www.coveredinconfidence.com and be sure to follow her on Facebook and Instagram @Covered_in_Confidence.
1) When did you start wearing hijab? Tell us a little about your journey.
My journey towards hijab started five years ago, when I was 19 years old. It was sparked by a single lady I had never met before and till this day, don’t know exactly who she is or how to contact her. Before getting into my story, you should understand the life that I lived before undertaking the most important decision in my life. I come from a conservative family, however, my family never forced anything on me. My parents always told me that if I wanted to wear hijab, I should do it for myself and I must respect it because I am representing the precious religion of Islam and Muslim women as a whole. Throughout high school and my first semester of university, the thought of wearing hijab never actually crossed my mind. After all, I was into fashion and would spend hours doing my hair and finding the cutest hair accessories. I was even majoring in fashion merchandising at LIM, where I had never even seen a hijabi student let alone another Muslim. I was so into dressing up and being well put together that I never thought hijab and fashion could even relate to one another. However, that all changed when I took a trip to the holy land of Kerbala in Iraq to perform pilgrimage. I didn’t know what to expect and was actually nervous about the whole trip but it opened my eyes to a whole different world and way of thinking. After spending two weeks in Iraq, I remember sitting in my hotel room on my last night thinking to myself how the women of Iraq conduct themselves, they put their love of God before everything else and are able to cover themselves with so much modesty and without any hesitation. This thought remained in the back of my mind for the next few days.
On our way home from Iraq, we had a layover in Dubai for a couple of days, and I had gone to a mosque as it was the time for prayer. I didn’t have a hijab on me but walked in any way not thinking much about it. It was at this very moment that my life changed. A woman stopped me and said, “What do you think you are doing, you can’t just walk in here without any covering.” Shocked at her sudden outburst towards me, I thought to myself oh here we go, now I am going to get yelled at. She gave me an extra hijab that she had and told me, “Sister, you will wear hijab one day. I can see it on your face that you want to but you are scared.” I stared at her and did not know how to respond, I was still startled by the fact that she stopped me in the first place. After that day, I kept thinking about that lady and what she had told me. I knew that I had to make a decision and could not let what others think influence me, because at the end of the day I will be judged based on my actions, not others. Allah knows what is best for us and if He has declared us to wear hijab, who am I to go against His wishes. After that day, with the support of my friends and family, I decided that I would start wearing hijab. However, fashion still ran in my blood and I would find a way to make my outfits and hijabs trendy as well as stylish. I wanted the students and teachers at my university to see that just because I was covering my hair, it did not mean that I was a different person or that my love for fashion had disappeared.
2) You started your own fashion blog, could you tell us about what motivated you to do so and what message you are trying to send to other hijabis?
Ever since I was young all I knew was fashion. While others were hitting the books, I spent my time staring at outfits in magazines and piecing together different clothes from my mom’s closet. My dream after wearing hijab was to style people so that they would feel powerful and confident; I wanted to show young women in our generation that hijab doesn’t mean you can’t look good, just because you're covering yourself, you can still show your beauty through style. The idea behind Covered in Confidence, is to make a statement to young girls that they do not have to follow mainstream media when it comes to fashion and style. By covering modestly and respectfully you can still look fabulous while following the principles of Islam. My Instagram blog then inspired me to start my own hijab line. I remember people telling me you're wasting your talent, you need to use it and help us look as awesome as you do in hijab! It was such a rewarding and amazing feeling that people actually admired my style. I thought to myself, "ME? They actually like what I am wearing?" It was the best feeling. So after a year of having my Instagram blog up, with all the support and great feedback I was getting from my friends and family I decided to go to KL, Malaysia (great city and super cheap for shopping) to start designing my hijabs.
3) What is one motto or statement that you live by?Allah says in a Hadith Qudsi "Take one step towards me, I will take ten steps towards you. Walk towards me, I will run towards you.” SubhanAllah, this statement gives me the chills every time. I never in a million years thought that I would wear hijab, because of the fact that I always cared about how I looked and how I could keep up with the latest fashion trends. I wanted to keep my streak up of always being known as best dressed and I never thought that I would be able to do that if I wore hijab. However, I took one step towards Allah and in turn he helped me realize that I could still be myself, in fact a better version of myself! This meant my outfits could still be on point, I just had to go about them differently and make it look even better pulling it off with a hijab on my head! Of course, there have been many times where I just wish I could wear that short sleeve shirt as is and not layer it or find a way to make it work, but the challenge of "hijabifying" it and knowing that I can make it look better then it did before is satisfying enough for me.
4) What is your favorite no-fail outfit as a hijabi?
I would have to say maxi dresses! People think you can only wear maxis in the summer, but I wear knit sweater maxis in the winter with some short booties and my outfit is complete and most importantly comfy. No hassle of finding leggings or a long sleeve inner, it's my one piece ready-to-go outfit!
5) If you could tell your 18 year-old self one thing, what would it be?
I would definitely tell myself to not care about what anyone thinks! Be yourself and do what makes you happy. When I started wearing hijab I evolved as a person and in my sense of style. I was always so nervous and anxious of what people would think when I started wearing hijab, would they think I look bad? Would they think I am to religious and not want to hang out with me anymore? Would they look at me differently? But I started to realize I am inspiration to young girls and I shouldn't care about what others thought. When someone sees a woman that can dress stylish, be confident and also be modest, they respect you and the religion you represent. YOU are an inspiration to others! I would make myself believe this and I want all girls to have faith in themselves that people are not always so negative, they mean and think well! Being in fashion school when I first started wearing hijab it was a big transition for me because many of the girls there had never seen anyone wear hijab, let alone know what it is. It was a whole new world to them. Some of the the girls would ask me questions like, "Why are you wearing your scarf, it's not cold outside anymore" or "Do you shower with that?" ( c'mon seriously!) I would just laugh it off and say it's a new style and that they should embrace it as well. If I could go back, I would stand up for myself and tell them the real reason behind wearing hijab and what it represents. I realized this later in my college years and once I did express myself, everyone appreciated the hijab so much more.
6) If you could give one piece of advice to someone struggling with hijab, what would it be?
Remember that hijab won't stop you from doing what you want to do in life. When I first put on hijab I thought to myself, "I can't go to the gym, I can't look as good as the other girls coming to the wedding, my scarf is taking over my face, will I be able to go to the beach?" Well I was wrong! Of course I could do anything I wanted and the hijab did not stop me from living a normal and adventurous life. After starting covered in confidence I realized that many girls look at us hijabis with a sense of pride and awe and wish that they could pull off wearing hijab and look as beautiful as we do! It makes me so happy that in the past year alone hijab has evolved in the fashion world, even with all the negative attention we get, more girls are starting to realize that hijab can be stylish and it's the best accessory a girl can have. Always think positive and realize that people around you are amazed at how you handle yourself and are able to do everything they do, but with dignity and modesty! Knowing that I am fulfilling Allah (SWT)'s wishes and that there is extraordinary reward in what I am doing always makes me feel stronger and happier. I want every young girl thinking about wearing hijab to know that hijab is your freedom, you have the freedom to let people see what YOU want them to see, and that in itself is a blessing in disguise.
Do you have someone you'd like to nominate for HOTM? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org!