A personal story by Melissa Hijabi, a 21-year old born Muslim from Singapore.
Assalamualaikum my dear readers.
Alhamdulillah, I have mastered more than enough courage to don the hijab as commanded by my Lord. It all began with piqued curiosity, envying and sharing of friends' happiness after hearing them change to become better Muslimahs. Having an amazing and supportive close friend who understands how I feel and shared my many sentiments made this journey meaningful as well. She was someone I would consider my soul sister. One day, we had a long catch up session and stumbled upon the topic of headscarf, repenting and sin. It was during one of the days in Ramadhan - over our iftar (breaking of fast). We talked about how our schoolmates have changed and donned the headscarf. Since then, we have been talking about it and supported each others' intention to become better Muslimahs and don the headscarf soon, In Shaa Allah.
Digital media especially facebook played a huge role in my journey. I started watching online clips related to this pure religion to find out its facts, what's halal & haraam, and more. It was a start although it was just video clips. My Facebook timeline is full of clips and thoughts shared by my Muslim brothers & sisters around the world! I am always self-conscious when it comes to Islamic matters. Each time I came across a status update or shared video clips regarding Islam, I felt guilty for not doing or practicing what that was required of every servant of the Al-Mighty. I felt as low as an earthworm's bellybutton!
Gradually, I started doing the things that could smoothen my days ahead such as reciting supplications. However, doing this is not enough. I know I MUST ultimately practice and perform my salaah which is one of the 5 pillars in Islam to be protected from any forms of harm and hurt, but I was one of those individuals who was lazy to get up on her feet and perform salaah and dhikiir. Always full of excuses such as "My intention is there... It still counts right?" "I'll do it tomorrow, or whenever I'm ready and sincere." "I will do it when I taubat fully, In Shaa Allah." and the list of excuses goes on.. (Astaghfirullah hal'azim.)
Although I had made intention to don the hijab, I postponed the action of wearing it because I was (and still am) working in a fashion industry. I had asked my superior at work if the Muslim staff on the shop floor are allowed to put on Muslim headscarf while at work. My superior wasn't sure but made the assumption that the management wouldn't allow it. Being a Muslim sister herself, she took the initiative to clarify with our Operations Manager who is a Roman-Catholic lady. And being in a position that does not allow her to give the final say, she went the extent of clarifying the matter with the Human Resource department.
Some of you at this point would have probably correctly predicted the outcome or response by now. I could have predicted it too. It was a NO. The HR informed me that we are not allowed to wear the Muslim headscarf at the shop floor during working hours. However, the flexibility is given for me to wear the Muslim headscarf to work but to have it removed during work hours and put them back on after we are done with our shifts.
Wait. WHAT? I was confused as much as the company's way of thinking. I wasn't mad about it though. But I knew that I had made up my mind the moment I received their reply. I decided to resign. It didn't matter if I was able to find another part-time job or if I was able to support myself since I am still studying. Because I have my lord. I have Allah. That was the first time. FIRST TIME I ever made a major decision for Allah's sake without thinking. Subhanallah. I wasn't upset either. Getting myself employed then wasn't the least of my worries.
Although I made the decision of resigning then, I did not immediately turn over a new leaf or don the headscarf. It took me quite some time as my attention was still on my impending exams. But I tried to make it a habit to perform my salaah and correct my mistakes in my salaah which I am still doing up to this day. I was going through a lot of pressure. But with the performing of my salaah, I felt a sense of calm each time I was confused because I know, Allah will be with me during my exams or difficult hour.
That short period of practising and attempting to improve myself did not go without plenty of cobaan (tests) and shaytaan's whispers. They came in so many different forms. One example of lapse is gossiping. Upon realizing this personal lapse, I'd feel like I might as well tear or cut my tongue off. May Allah forgive me for I have sinned. Buying of clothes is another temptation. Sometimes, some of the most appealing or attractive clothing at the store are those that invite fitnah such as short dresses, short skirts and other figure flattering but body-hugging clothes. I would get so tempted to buy them and wear it! And at the back of my mind, I would always justify it by reasoning that I will repent soon, so it doesn't matter, I can always ask for forgiveness. Astaghfirullah. But one powerful quote to this day has become my weapon to shun shaytaan's whisperings and avoid myself from buying these clothes. I will recall this:
"When you leave/give up something you love or desire for the sake of Allah, He will present you or replace it with something so much BETTER."
From time to time, I am tempted to buy those pretty things that will invite fitnah. I will always remember this one sentence which will save myself from sinning. Alhamdulillah.
Allah SWT answered my prayer when I was notified of a job recruitment for a new outlet by this other management where my sister is currently working. Other than being allowed to wear the Muslim headscarf, the job benefits were so much better than a full-timer's benefit at my current workplace, Ma Shaa Allah. I wasn't putting high hopes on this opportunity but if my rezeki and blessings are there, then that environment it shall be. So I applied and was short-listed. I was interviewed by the Store Manager (SM) who coincidentally knew my sister although they do not work in the same outlet. My sister helped put in a good word or two for me, Alhamdulillah. Although the SM knew my sister, I was still subjected to the same criteria as many other applicants vying for the same post. They did discuss my earliest availability but I would still have to wait for the call.
When I returned to went to work the next day (14th May 2013), I felt disinterested in the job perhaps because I was 'uncovered' all over again. I was there when the Operations Manager, the Roman Catholic lady, came down to our store to settle some matters in the evening. She approached me and said that she understands that Muslims have a set of dress code which includes covering our aurat but she felt that it did not justify losing valuable staff just because of the company's policy unfavourable towards this dress code. She sounded upset. I wished I could give her a hug because as much as she wanted to do something about it, we both knew the decision does not lie with her. She talked to the HR and also tried to convince them that it is not for fashion but a religious purpose. She also mentioned that they do not understand the religion by saying that "They do not sin in God's eyes by not wearing the headscarf while at work right." She said that she understood how I felt about the matter. She would try her best again to talk to the HR and the Brand Manager even, to see if she can get anything out of it. I informed her that I had already sought employment elsewhere. She was very supportive about my decision in leaving and also the commitment to put on the headscarf - hijab. Although I have made my decision to leave, she will continue to try her best to convince the upper management to revise the policy for future muslimahs the company intends to hire. I am grateful for her effort.
Alhamdulillah. I have received Hidayah and guidance from the Almighty to be in the righteous path and may Allah forgive my past, present and future sins. I am much happier where I am today than where I was before. Although this is just a beginning, I've a long way to go in my journey in becoming a better Muslimah, In Shaa Allah. I am extremely happy, grateful and blessed to have the support of my family, my best friend, my girlfriends and not forgetting my soul sister. Now that I have donned the hijab, I will continue praying to Allah to strengthen my imaan and also give Hidayah to all the women in my life; my mother, sisters, best friend, girlfriend and not forgetting my soul sister too for giving me the motivation and great support from the start! Alhamdulillah, May Allah reward them all with good, Allahuma Ameen.
I hope my story will benefit other muslimahs and sisters who are having a hard time running away from shaytaan's whispers. May Allah guide you all, my dearest sisters in Islam, to the right path to become a better Muslimah. I love you all for the sake of Allah.
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