When I was in college, I would attend many halaqas (meetings to learn more about Islam). During the week of world hijab day, I decided to attend a lecture on hijab. I do not wear hijab (only when praying), but some of my Muslim friends did, so it was nice to hear about their experiences.
The speakers talked about their struggles living in America, but what was beautiful was how they focused on all the positive aspects of wearing hijab. My peers spoke about how the hijab became part of their identities, and how they could not imagine their lives without the headscarf. The sole reason why they wear it is to serve their creator, Allah (SWT).
During this time, I was contemplating whether hijab was mandatory or not. I was really considering if it was something that I should be practicing, so after the talk, I went to speak with the main chaplain. Although she was very nice during her speech, when I approached her, she was very judgmental and just kept repeating, “Well, if you want to please Allah (SWT), then you have to wear it”. Instead of explaining to me, she just kept scolding me with a smile on her face. Today, I felt more judged by the Muslim community than ever before, and I felt very uncomfortable.
The reason why I am sharing this experience is because I want to show that the way we describe Islam and its practices to others is very important. If we want to influence others and guide others, we need to do it in a welcoming manner that is not condescending. For example, maybe it is easy for you to complete all your prayers on time, but it might be difficult for someone else who is working three jobs a day. We never fully know what someone is going through, so we should not be so quick to judge.
Although I choose not to wear a hijab today, the point of this article is not about whether hijab is mandatory. Rather, it is the way we approach Islamic topics with our Muslim and Non-Muslim brothers and sisters. May we all learn to serve Allah (SWT) in the best manner possible and may we all spread the message of Islam in a way that is inviting. Ameen.
Comment down below a similar experience that you may have had!