I have been meaning to put in my 'story' of how I came to wear proper hijaab for the last few days... so here goes.
First a little about myself... My name is Shima , married and expecting my first little one in March, inshaallah. I was born Muslim and have always felt something special for Islam since I was little. My parents took me to Saudi for my first Hajj trip when I was 12 and since then I wore a scarf on and off and did my prayers on and off.
My family are not profoundly practising or anything so it wasn't until I went for Umrah at the age of 17 that I started wearing the headscarf properly. I also started wearing the jilbaab but my mother started fussing so I stopped after a while. I have always worn loose clothing, favouring skirts etc. but it wasn't until I went for Hajj this year that I intended to start wearing the jilbaab properly.
I had no intention of wearing the proper hijaab, although I decided to wear it in Saudi because I felt uncomfortable around men there. My sister-in-law who is 20 and studying Islam in a Madressa in South Africa asked me whether I thought proper hijaab was wajib as she was being told it was. (This was last year).
I said that as far as I knew, you could wear it if you wanted to but it wasn't wajib - but I wasn't sure.... Little did I know that one year later I would be wearing the proper hijaab. When I was in Makkah/Madinah, many sisters from abroad asked me if I wore proper hijaab in England where I live. I always said no.
Indeed one sister from the USA told me not to wear it at all - 'show off your face!' she laughed. I remember a sister on the plane on the way to Saudi. She was a proper hijaabi but took her proper hijaab off in Jordan where we had to switch planes. She was in ehraam and I guess she was following the view that your face shouldn't be covered. She looked very uncomfortable. She was also staring at me as I had my proper hijaab on! I only started wearing it in Jordan (I was on my period so wasn't getting into ehram). I felt slightly embarrassed.
In Jeddah I met a young sister from England , She was in proper hijaab and she and I started talking , We were joined by the other sister and she and Khadija (the young sister) talked about their proper hijaabs. The other sister said that she felt naked and that she had never shown off her face like this.
They both stated that proper hijaab was wajib, if not fard. I felt like such a hypocrite. Khadija and I kept close contact and she would visit our hotel room. Because the room was so small, I would put her on my top bunk and get her to face the wall. I would warn my father-in-law and husband to knock before they entered etc. I started to see how much respect the proper hijaab commanded. Following this I bought a book on things that affect women. I read about how the face is the most beautiful part of a woman. Why would she see it compulsory (as some do) to cover her feet but not her face? Would a man fall in love with her by looking at her feet or her face?!! On our journey home, we were delayed several times. I decided to take my proper hijaab off in Jordan, but there were brothers around and I felt compelled to keep it on.
Then I decided to take it off in Athens, but again I couldn't do it. So I prayed to Allah that Ya Allah, if this is what you want me to do, then please make it easy for me. So I got to London, and guess what? I couldn't take it off! I've had my ups and downs since then. My husband's relatives found it a bit odd, one lady saying that her husband was old and that I didn't need to wear it in front of him. We only have one sitting room and sometimes guests would insist I sat with them to eat dinner. I did once - the sister who forced me didn't stop talking about the deen - she said that proper hijaab isn't fard or wajib.... I just said that there are different opinions.... I only go out with my husband but my confidence is growing. I am proud to be a proper hijaabi. When our beloved Prophet (saw) asked his companions the following question, 'What is the best thing for a woman?' none had the right answer.
When he asked his righteous daughter Fatima (ra) she gave the correct one, that 'she looks at no one and no one looks at her.' I knew that my headscarf wasn't enough to prevent men from staring - the shaitan is always there. I have had some very down moments especially when it was summer and I was in the early stages of my pregnancy when my hormones were raging. But alhumdullillah, I have met a few sisters, one of whom I am in contact with regularly who have really helped. She encourages me and I don't feel alone.
My sister-in-law has made the intention to wear proper hijaab and I pray that Allah makes it easy on both of us. I also pray that he gives patience to my husband who has been wonderful, letting me set the pace. I wish Muslims would be stricter in having segregation at weddings - it's very ackward but I don't mind. I hope that I can remind people of something good and positive, something that pleases Allah, inshaallah.
Jazakallah khayr for reading my long (!) story!