What My Hijab Has Taught Me As A ‘Born-Again’ Muslim
Do not punish yourself by destroying yourself to please a world that will never be pleased. Do not compromise your values for a world that will never accept you. Please, do not be another brick in the wall.
I am a practicing “born-again” Shi’a Muslim who is dedicated to her faith. I started wearing my hijab last year and I have not looked back since – nor am I planning to do so. Wearing hijab again was a big decision since I had to make changes to every aspect of my life. I admit, I was nervous about the reactions I would get from people who have never seen me in hijab and I was also nervous about the job situation.
I was told by the people around me to start wearing it when I’m “ready”. I thought to myself, did Lady Zainab (AS) say “wait, I’ll sacrifice everything once I’m ready”? Did Aba Abdallah (AS) say, “wait, I’ll sacrifice my 6-month-old when I’m ready?” If they didn’t, why should I play this “ready” card? If not now, then when? That was when I decided to wear my hijab and, Alhamdulillah, I’m one of the very few hijabi teachers in my school board and I got the job that I wanted WITH my hijab.
I often see people associate the hijab with oppression and our own Muslim youth taking it off to “fit in”. From my experience, I feel more motivated and liberated with my hijab than I did when I didn’t wear my hijab. My hijab doesn’t tell me to be quiet, rather it motivates me more to speak up. It motivates me to be the “first hijabi”. It motivates me to be the best in my akhlaq and to live my best life and conquer some big challenges with my hijab on: like Skydiving!
In July 2020, I decided to go Skydiving to raise funds for the Noor Orphans Fund’s COVID appeal for Yemen. Why?
- Because the people in my circle were not really aware of what is happening in Yemen.
- I wanted to do something LOUD enough to bring attention to Yemen so people can help.
- I wanted to give out the message to my Muslim sisters that sometimes you don’t have to stay confined to one place (a stand or in a community kitchen) to raise funds for a noble cause. That you can still live your wildest dreams and help people, while still in your hijab.
- To show that this notion that hijabis are oppressed is complete nonsense.
- I’ve always wanted to do skydiving anyway so I might as well do it for a noble cause.
I called Niagara Skydive and booked my first tandem jump with a female instructor for my birthday, because, HEY! Why not? Can’t a hijabi live her life?
With the help of the Noor Orphans Fund, I started my own campaign called “My Dive for Yemen”. Alhamdulillah, donations started pouring in and I thank the Noor Orphan Funds for trusting me.
The day finally came. I woke up in the morning, nervousness was kicking in a bit. I wore my “Ali (AS)” shirt that was generously gifted to me by Imam Hussain 3 TV and my crown – my hijab. It was happening… it was finally happening. Of course, when I got on the plane, nervousness kicked in and the usual “skydiving accident” videos started playing in my head until I told myself out loud, “Why do I need this fear? I am safe. God is watching over me. Nothing will harm me.”
Two minutes passed by and we were told to get ready. Uh-oh… nervousness kicked in again. The shutter was opened and IT WAS ABOUT TO HAPPEN! The cold breeze and the wind… I was the 2nd to go. The person and instructor before me rolled fast as a bullet out of the plane. “Malihe, you’re next!” I thought to myself. I told my instructor, “I can’t do this”. She said, “Yes, you can and you will! I got you!” I was at the edge of the door and, needless to say, that was the most intense count to 3 of my life!
Next thing you know, I jumped off the plane. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life! Then suddenly the parachute came out and everything went quiet. From hearing the roar of the wind, to pin-drop silence… how blissful. I was still more than a thousand feet above the ground, and everything below looked so small. It felt like I was in a miniature field. The cars below looked like toys, and the buildings looked like something you’d build out of Lego. Pure bliss and beauty. Truly, “then which favours of your Lord will ye deny?” (Quran 55:13)
My special thanks to the Noor Orphans Fund for trusting me. My special thanks to the Niagara Skydive Centre for accommodating my religious needs in a very respectful way as I observed my hijab. To my dear brothers and sisters, If you truly believe in “#YOLO” and want to do something adventurous, at least do it for a noble cause.
To my sisters, You CAN experience the best things in life AND observe your hijab properly at the same time. There’s one thing to jump from a plane, but there’s another thing to jump from a plane with the hijab of Zahra (AS) and Zainab (AS) on your head.
A very special message to my sisters, your hijab is your crown. Do not take it off for anyone. A queen is distinguished by her crown. Be proud of your crown. Despite what you see in the media, I can tell you from my experience as someone who has lived life with the hijab and without the hijab, you seriously do not want to fall into this trap of “fitting in”. Do not punish yourself by destroying yourself to please a world that will never be pleased. Do not compromise your values for a world that will never accept you. Please, do not be another brick in the wall.
Be the queen you’re meant to be and walk with the thunder of Zainab (AS).