MashaAllah, the first annual CZ-camp this weekend was no doubt a blast. I have never before been surrounded by such a group of wonderful and sincere people with so much knowledge to share in so many ways. All for the sake of Allah (swt).
Growing up in ‘hickville,’ IA (not Iowa City), Islam was not very prevalent and nearly unheard of by all the Caucasian, narrow-minded residents when my family moved there. There was no Mosque in the city; in fact the nearest one was almost 200 miles away.
In later years, I was what the ‘non-practicing’ Muslims referred to as a ‘good’ Muslim, even though that decision is left only to Allah (swt). Until now, I have displayed modesty to what I believed to be the fullest: long pants and such. I believed the hijaab to be every Muslim woman’s personal journey. My personal decision had been to not wear it until some undetermined time; sometime later in life. I made, for lack of a better word, justifications for why I didn’t cover myself with a hijaab. The pious Muslim women of my family in Pakistan had never worn them, so my relatives would not accept it or would become offended or intimidated by it. Not knowing Arabic well enough to read the Quran on my own, I thought the head covering was part of culture or something some scholars had made up to represent modesty. I was still representing modesty, displayed through my clothes and actions. I feared that others would stereotype my personality because of a cloth on my head. I didn’t want it to define me as a person. Allah (swt) knows best.
I had in some ways been turned away from it by people (mainly some brothers who thought they had the right to judge sisters without hijaab), telling me to my face that this everyday-sin would by far outweigh the good things I was doing for Allah (swt). They were forcing it upon me, which made me reject it even more.
When my sister started observing hijaab, one woman came up me when we were on campus and said “InshaAllah, next week I will see you wearing it as well.” She assumed I would start wearing it as a conduct of competition or jealousy. I didn’t want to wear it for such silly and entirely false reasons. Alhamdolillah, I knew that one day I would understand the hijaab, so much more than a piece of cloth to represent modesty.
In this camp’s comfortable environment, I had the opportunity to take on ‘hijaab-in-training.’ When we arrived at camp, I put on my hijaab as I would in any Islamic setting, such as I had done many times at the Mosque. SubhaanAllah, I learned so much more than I had ever expected. Wearing a hijaab was not difficult at all at the camp. It gave privacy and hid the beauty from any looking eyes. It hid the “crown of a queen (or princess),” as one Sheikh at the camp stated. I prayed to Allah (swt) to give me strength to take what I learned and apply it outside this comfort zone.
Just a few minutes before taking a final dip in the pool with the sisters, saying last Salaams and taking on the five-hour trek back home, I was given the opportunity. SubhaanAllah. Not just in an ordinary location, but a town (actually village) at a level of hickishness incomparable to even the hickville of Iowa where I spent seven years. In this village, where 911 ceased to exist and the Harley bikers were the diversity, I not only wore hijaab, but I experienced it.
I now realize the importance of the hijaab, especially in areas where Muslims are underrepresented. It is not so much a symbol of modesty, as I had thought before. Modesty comes from within and even a woman observing hijaab can have a lack of it. However, Islam is outward and the hijaab can be part of that outward Islam. In some ways, it will make my life easier. InshaAllah I will never have to provide an explanation of why I don’t want to take part in some event or activity that is considered un-Islamic. No longer will I have to endure the nasty glares that violate my privacy. Also, the opportunities for dawah will be endless, InshaAllah. Above all, I will be pleasing Allah (swt).
As I know from Muslim sisters who already wear hijaab, it will be difficult also. The stares will come, classmates may think differently of me, and I will be a minority on the Iowa campus in this respect. Further education could be more difficult, since engineering, which is still predominately full of males, for some reason has not many outward Muslims. It is Jihaad, internal and external. May Allah (swt) give me strength to endure these challenges, and others that I may not be aware of at this time.
I am writing these scribbled notes on the way back to home. I know I must get this down on paper now. Alhamdolillah, just as I finish this, the fever I had all day has just passed and we are only nine miles from home.
Jazaakum Allahu Khair to each and every one of you at the camp for not only taking part in the wonderful camp, but also for being a part of such an “awesome” change in my life.
May Allah (swt) forgive me for any faults, they are entirely my own. All praises are for Him alone.