Hijab: When to Begin?
It's finally time to start following the examples of Lady Fatima and Lady Zainab (peace be upon them). It's time to get serious about wearing the Hijab! We always hear about the importance of Hijab and how the purpose of Hijab is similar to that of a shell covering a pearl. The Hijab is a source of protection, it's the ultimate preserver of dignity, and it literally forces people to judge us by our personality, character, and talent. Yet we see many Muslim families and individuals continually failing to realize, appreciate, and implement the proper practice of the Hijab.
The Holy Qur'an tells us: "And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty." (24:31) So then, what's the reason behind the high Hijab failure rate in our Muslim communities worldwide?
With such divine and flawless instructions to preserve our preciousness as women, the mind can't help but wonder why so many Muslim sisters do not observe the physical aspect of Hijab, or if they do, why exactly it is that they struggle to practice it properly. Where does the fault lie in our Islamic communities if we manage to preach properly, yet we fail to implement the practical parts of our religion, such as Hijab, praying, and paying Khums?
Islamic education, training, and perfection start from home. The minute a Muslim child is born, a family member recites the declaration of faith into the baby's ear. But these few uttered lines should not be the only, or the majority of, Islamic education Muslim parents instil in the minds of their children. Just as every other aspect of our faith needs to be taught to our children while they are young (such as the difference between Halal and Haram food, obeying our parents, fasting, being honest, etc.), parents also need to start emphasizing the importance of Hijab to their daughters from a very early age.
Sure, girls don't have to observe the Hijab until they become Baligh (age of adulthood in Islam, which is nine years), but realistically speaking, is it fair to let our daughters roam around in immodest clothes for most of their childhood years and then a few months before their ninth birthday toss them a scarf and full-length clothing to wear? Chances are that our daughters will look at us like we're crazy and tell us that they'll start the Hijab "next year". That next year then turns to "in high school", and before we know it, our daughters are well into their teens and are now blaming us for not getting them started on Hijab EARLIER, and that will be their excuse to not practice the Hijab for the next few years or, in some tragic situations, the rest of their lives.
Where to now? We have Muslim sisters left, right, and center who (for one reason or another) are in this very situation of being a "non-Hijabi" well above the Baligh age, in their teens, youth, adulthood, and possibly even going onto the elderly side of the age spectrum. The Hijab is something that we could have so easily adapted to and accomplished, yet it now seems so difficult and impractical. But is it really that hard to finally submit to the commands of our Creator and attain the promised rewards of such noble practices in this world and the next?
It is understandable when Muslim sisters find it difficult to dress modestly and wear the Hijab while living in a non-Muslim country. To be honest, walking around in hot temperatures while covered from head to toe isn't exactly the latest fashion, especially when everyone else is half-naked. Then again, praying five times a day, only eating Halal meat, not consuming alcohol, respecting our parents and elders, reciting the Holy Qur'an regularly, and not making physical contact with the opposite gender are not exactly classified as the "norms" of society either. Simply put, there's never going to be a day when society will actually encourage us to wear the Hijab or to practice any of the other fundamentals of our religion for that matter. Sisters, if we are going to start wearing the Hijab (or wearing it properly, for that matter) we have to make ourselves ready.
Many Muslim sisters who wish to start observing Hijab just need a bit of willpower and self-confidence to give themselves a jumpstart into the Hijabi life. As women, practicing Hijab and maintaining our dignity has such a great magnitude that the effects of practicing Hijab, or the lack thereof, ripple in generations to come, and our efforts alone can make all the difference when it comes to producing pious and God-conscious members of society.
So the big question is: are YOU ready to start wearing the Hijab and demand for the highest status of self-respect a woman could possibly ask for while serving as a role model for future generations to come, irrespective of society's un-Islamic pressures?
Regardless of your age, any and every point in life is the perfect time to start observing Hijab and covering up what's not for the world to see. Some of the easier times to start wearing the Hijab include returning from a Hajj, Umrah, or Ziyarat trip, when going to a new school, university or workplace, or when moving to a new city, suburb, or community. Perhaps the new school year will provide the perfect opportunity for you to kick-start your next year in a more Islamic way. Give yourself the gift of Hijab on your next birthday, and reap the rewards until the Hereafter.
And if all else fails, you could always just start wearing the Hijab today when you walk out your front door, knowing that it may be a struggle during the initial stages, yet nothing more excruciating than the struggle faced by the holy women of the Prophet's Family (peace be upon them) as they were paraded around unveiled from Karbala to the cities of Kufa and Shaam, with the gazes of countless unrelated men falling upon their sacred beauty as they struggled to uphold the message and teachings of Islam.
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