Are You a Chemo Patient or Are You Just Muslim?: Starting to Wear Hijab

I started writing about all the different questions that stem from my hijab – or the headscarf I wear, but I realized no one will read a 832 page long novel about a piece of fabric, so I decided to break up the questions I get into several posts as not to bore you. A Hijab Series, if you will.

The title of this post nods to one of the times I went to WalMart and a concerned child, one cart in front of me in line, asked his mother why I had a scarf on my head.  She responded “honey, she has cancer,” and smiled at me hoping I would nod my head approving her explanation.  Instead I stood there pretty shocked.  I explained it is related to my religion. No, I don’t wear hijab to hide a bald head.  Yes, I’m “just” Muslim.

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I will start with the first time I ever THOUGHT about hijab.  I was talking to one of my male Muslim friends and I was just starting to learn about Islam. I knew Muslim women wear hijab.  I watched Oprah! I was a girl of this century!

Also, you should know that at the time I was quite the hottie, I must say 😉 especially soon before I converted I was looking PDG: Pretty Dayumm Good.
I went tanning, I got my nails done, I straightened my hair every day, I wore full makeup to go to the gym, I got my teeth whitened, I only hung out with “pretty girls”…

I was very concerned with the way I looked.  And I looked pretty freaking good.

Then, my guy friend and I had this conversation about hijab after I saw a picture of his mother and his sister wearing it.  I immediately said:

“I COULD NEVER WEAR HIJAB!”

(SIDENOTE: I shouldn’t say NEVER, I once took a picture LONG before I was Muslim, just casually hanging out with a friend, and I jokingly wore niqqab.  It’s my only appropriate “Throwback Thursday” picture I will ever be able to show… And, I’m thankful she dug it off her laptop and sent it to me!)

Regardless, I truly believed I would NEVER in my life cover my head with a scarf in public.  I couldn’t imagine the thought! All of this pretty I worked so hard on would be meaningless! Who would like me if I wasn’t pretty?!

He immediately said back to me “I can’t wait to marry a woman who wears hijab… I think it’s more attractive to know that there is something of my wife that ONLY I could see”

It creeped me out like I can’t explain.  It actually made me nauseous.  When he said that I thought he was a total stereotypical, controlling crazy Arab guy… and I didn’t want to talk to him.

About a month later, I remembered the conversation.  I was learning more and more about Islam every day and starting to understand how Muslims viewed modesty.  So, I was driving home from a long drive – from New York to Ohio – and I wrapped the scarf I had on my chest around my head.  And I took a picture.  And it felt so normal!

Now, to the people driving next to me who had seen me half of a mile back without a scarf on, I’m sure I looked like a nut.

But, really, honestly, truly, it felt so comfortable to me. I kept it on most of the ride, and took it off when I got back to where I may see someone I actually recognized.

So, a few weeks later, I started praying regularly, and I would wear hijab, of course.  And, I would notice, I wouldn’t want to take it off after I was done praying.  Even when I was alone in my own house.  I was getting used to the idea of hijab.

I started meeting other hijabi friends and going to the masjid, and I would wear hijab to go talk about Islam in every capacity.  I didn’t want to take it off when I’d leave.

Soon after, I officially took my shahada and became Muslim and the idea of wearing hijab was becoming more and more appealing every day.

I started a transition into wearing it.

First, no shirts showing cleavage or any “haram” body parts. Then, no short sleeves.  Then, only turtlenecks and long pants. And, eventually I was wrapped up pretty tight – like a burrito, I always say.

Some of my hijabi friends warned me against starting to wear the actual scarf-around-my-head hijab, though: They said that I wasn’t going to like it, that it changes how people look at me, that I need to be 100% committed to it first, that I should SLOW DOWN. They were very protective of hijab, like they owned it

It scared me.  I started to think maybe I shouldn’t wear it.  Maybe it’s not the right thing for me. Maybe after I wear it permanently I’ll want to take it off!

Then, just when I thought to myself I wasn’t ready for it after all, I remembered:

I felt more comfortable with it on, than I did with it off.

So, on August 1st, the first day of Ramadan, I started wearing hijab full time.

I deleted all of my “cute” facebook pictures, blocked everyone who only liked me for how I looked, and became a real-life, scarf-wearing Muslim.

Over a year and a half later, I’m still going strong.

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12 thoughts on “Are You a Chemo Patient or Are You Just Muslim?: Starting to Wear Hijab

  1. I didn’t grow up around a lot of Muslims but all through school I had a friend named Hassan who was Muslim and his mother would always wear a black abaya. I’d see her with his little sisters and I’d always think she was beautiful and being a kid I’d always wonder what she looked like without it but came to the conclusion that although all women are beautiful she looked more beautiful covered up. I guess to each their own right? But when I go to middle school which was in a predominately Muslim neighbourhood and I’d see all these women fully covered. HEAD TO TOE and I didn’t wonder because I already knew why and their clothing weren’t always a solid colour, some had flowers, some had other designs all beautiful and I wondered if they would be okay with a non-Muslim wearing them or at least a hijab or would they be offended because I wasn’t Muslim. I knew my parents wouldnt bother trying to understand and would have a fit and a half. But I never once thought it was because of Cancer or something else. I would of had the same reaction if someone told their kid that. Why not just tell him the truth? sigh. I think you look beautiful and it looks great on you. 🙂

  2. Masha’Allah (I’m sure you’ve heard of that word 😉 ) you are so inspiring an stunning for sure! It’s lovely to know that you have embraced Islam and I’m sure your going to love it in your years to come. Carry on creating these posts, because I must admit they are terrific!

    Much love!
    XO

  3. I admire you so much. I wish, I wish, I wish to have the strength to wear hijab one day. It is only my fear of what others will think that stops me from wearing it, cause I do truly love it. I have put it on “permanently” several times, only to turn around and stop wearing it. I have the desire, but not the strength to commit.

    For you to have gone from one “extreme” so to speak to wearing full hijab – I really admire that. And I know it made a wonderful change in your life, too – all the while challenging you to be a stronger muslim and a positive representative every day. I’m glad you talked about this, because it often feels like I’m the only one that struggles with hijab (only because I don’t know many other muslims.)

    Really, I KNOW that worrying about what others think means nothing. I recognize that I will certainly regret this on the day of Judgement, as the only one I should be concerned about is the Creator. So, if I KNOW this, why can’t I change it?

    Insha’allah someday I will.

    1. Thank you so much for your nice comment. Remember yes Allah does order us in Quran to wear hijab and I hope and pray someday He will give you the strength to wear it, but there are so many more pieces to the puzzle. Maybe your charity is better than a hijabis. Or your fasting. Or your prayer.

      MashaAllah that you have the desire to do it is a beautiful thing. And a blessing from Allah.

      Look at the bigger picture and make changes that bring you closer to modesty that you can more easily implement and inshaAllah you will be rewarded for every little step.

      Also I wrote a post about nonhijabis that I think you would appreciate. Check it out if you have some time.

      Wishing you all the best and all of the inspiration possible ❤️

      1. Thank you so much for this encouragement! You are right; I should focus on the things that I CAN do for now. And also, I will continue to push myself closer to becoming a hijabi, but I should not stress myself so much over this issue, because Allah knows what is in my heart.

  4. As salamu alai kum! Mashaallah what a beautiful blog. I read a couple of your posts and you indeed write very well. It is heart warming to read your experiences and I surely wish to read even more. Keep it up!
    Wslm.
    Your sister in Islam.

  5. Salam!!

    My mum is German and my father half Indian and half British – needless to say, I look white. My mum converted and I was born muslim – I started wearing hijab a little over a year ago and because I don’t “look” muslim and I tie my scarf back, a little like a turban with the ends around my neck I had co-workers who thought I had cancer until it was Ramadan and I explained that I fast for my religion….oh the shock. That’s when people confessed that for the past few months they had thought that I had cancer. Loved reading your story!! Keep it up! The headline caught my attention because I thought I was the only one!!!

    Best of Luck in the future!

    Much Love,

    Hannah Emane

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