Bismillah ar Rahman ar Raheem
I now and again get questions from sisters who read my blog about something related to covering in their everyday lives…so, from here on out, anytime I get a question which I feel may be of benefit the rest of my readers I will do a blog post to answer the question.
This question is from a Muslimah born and raised outside of the USA who is new to the USA and wants to cover in proper hijab. She is worried about peoples reactions so she asks how I (and by extension we-American Muslim women) deal with it. Hence I posted her question on the OSH FB page and invited covering sisters from the USA to chime in!
Om Sarah: Esselemou aleykom. I hope you are doing well. I read your post on the jilbab in France. Jazak Allahou kheyran for all the effort you put to typw it and illustrate it, it really helped me to narrow my search for my first jilbeb inshallah, as I had no idea what and how to choose. I am originally form Tunisia, but I was born and raised in France, so I
am totally familiar to the jilbab you talked about. Now I live in the US, CT. In France, in Paris and its suburbs, we can find a lot of sisters wearing jilbab, it is not uncommon. But here, where I live, I don’t know any sister wearing it, I saw sisters in niqab but only for
the Eid Prayer. Since I would like to wear the jilbeb but I am still a little bit scared because I may be the only one who will be wearing it and I don’t know how will be people’s reaction, and it is scary here to know that it is legal to carry a gun, I wanted to ask you if you could share with me your feedback on this topic. How is it to live with the jilbab here, what to expect, do you get annoyed by some people, does your husband support you, do you know any sisters who wear it in your area or in CT…
Jazak Allahou kheyran
Here is my response; (cut and pasted from FB)
Personally my only major suggestion would be just to walk with pride and dignity…dont walk all hunched over, looking down like your scared of the world and of people…you have to look like you can defend yourself and mean business. I find…and this is in general..people pick on whomever they view as weak…some people will stupidly think if you cover you are an easy target to their ignorance…hence if you walk like you own the sidewalk…look people in the eye and if people get rude than you defend yourself. I figure you can do one of 3 things: ignore them…get rude back…or educate them if your in a good mood…LOL…it goes a long way to keeping people from bothering you also if you cover solely for the Sake of Allah not culture or pointless like that..than Allah SWT will protect you enshaAllah but definitely…half of it is your demeanour when out and about, and just in general as a woman its best to be aware of your surroundings and don’t hesitate to call the cops if someone is really bothering you. Again, I’m a bit aggressive about this stuff and others may not be, but just in general if you act like your not an easy target, most people pick up on that and stay away, regarding stares…everyone stares…if I notice someone staring at me I either stare back, say hello in a goofey way or even a simple…”yes? whatcha lookin’ at?” tends to stop it in its tracks.
As far as people harassing me in general…no…I rarely experience this stuff, alhamdullah, but again, I act and walk like I mean business and don’t hesitate to defend myself if necessary if someone chooses to be ignorant to me but I also live in a pretty diverse, urban area where there is a lot of everything.
I wanted to share some of the excellent and very informative replies by American readers of OSH to this sisters question…enshaAllah we can all benefit!
Jessica: I agree 100% and at the end of the day the only person that’s looking at you that matters is Allah. Allah says when he loves you he will tell the Angel Jibrel to tell all the Angels he loves you. And then the angels will tell all of creation and everything on earth will love you. Allah will protect you and in him we can find our strength. Be proud to be so fully devoted to God because trust me he will be smiling down on you
Sara: Salam alaikum. The way I see it, there will always be non-Muslims who will harass Muslim women regardless of what they wear, so try not to let the fear of what people might do affect you too much. I know that’s easier said than done though, so if you don’t feel safe, perhaps you could take a self-defense class or buy pepper spray to keep in your purse.
I like wearing French jilbabs, overhead abayas and long (like hip length) khimars, and I try to wear niqab although I don’t wear it all the time, and I’ve worn all of that in Chicago which has a lot of Muslims and also in Montana which has very few Muslims. My husband thinks they are a bit weird, but is mostly supportive because he is glad to have a wife who really tries to go beyond what is required in terms of hijab when so many women are abandoning hijab completely. I haven’t seen other women in my area wearing stuff like that though. It’s usually either shalwar kameez or maybe a shoulder abaya with a pashmina scarf, or at the mosque I go to most women (Turkish) wear skirts, tunics and Turkish hijabs.
And I second what Old School HIjabi said- when you’re out and about, act like you’re queen of the world and you own the place. Most people who would harass you are cowards, they won’t have the courage to approach someone who looks confident and strong.
Meridith: I feel like she should rock her jibab. Like Old School Hijabi said ” walk with pride and dignity”. Other sisters may not be wearing the overhead jilbab but that might mean that they just don’t know about it and just might want to know where you get your style. I rock my overhead and niqab all the time and i get stares and a few comments but i find that most people are nice and mind there own buisness. just remember who your wearing it for and make dua that Allah makes it easy for you.
Charlotte: Although I don’t live in the US, we visit pretty regularly. It never occurred to me NOT to wear my French jelbab or overheads when visiting! Although in the past I had a couple of unpleasant moments (while wearing regular hijab and abaya) I’ve not had anything while wearing more covering garments. Maybe it is the “couldn’t care less” attitude or oblivious vide I’m oozing!!! LOL
Christina: maybe im totally oblivious but i dont care what people see, i’m not doing anything wrong with whatever im wearing and if someone has a problem they can come up to my face which i would love to see them do in front of my dad they would walk away with a few less teeth
Saira: First, make your intention only for Allah that you want to cover to please Allah. This may seem obvious but when you do Allah will support you in this step, protect you and remove fear of the kuffar from your heart. Allah says in the Quran:
“Those (i.e. believers) unto whom the people (hypocrites) said, “Verily, the people (pagans) have gathered against you, therefore, fear them.” But it (only) increased them in Faith, and they said: “Allah is Sufficient for us, and He is the Best Disposer of affairs.”
It is scary because we all have have that feeling of possibly being attacked but just remember when Allah is on your side, what can go wrong? Allah says:
“So fear them not but fear Me if you are truly Believers.”
From personal experience, It has made me a stronger and more confident woman taking this step, I too started wearing niqab while living in a small town which is not common to see many Muslims, but wallahi it actually helped me give more dawah than anything. People are curious, of course you will get comments and stares, but it will definitely assist you in opening dialogue with nonMuslims in sha Allah.
May Allah support you in this decision and protect all of the Muslim women!
Hadiyah: Most people seriously don’t care enough to say anything. I wear niqab and jilbab/abaya and live near the Indianapolis motor speedway aka redneck capital of the world and hardly anyone says a thing. And as far as responding with rudeness, better leave that off. It’s not befitting for the lion to answer the barking of the dog.
Elizabeth: I wear niqaab and abaya. My experience is most people won’t say anything to my face, but they will talk “around” me as though I’m not there or can’t understand the language. This is easy to ignore, though I admit to sometimes politely joining in the “conversation” just to see the look on peoples faces when they hear my very Midwestern twang! : ) Peoples assumptions never fail to make me laugh. I personally have spent a lot of time living in pretty rough neighbourhoods, so I use “street smarts” to keep away from situations that could become a problem i.e. I stay aware of my surroundings and pay more attention to the “tone” of peoples voices and their body language so if I see or hear the potential for aggression I can quietly avoid it. I would suggest wearing the abaya around the house for a while before going out in public so you’re comfortable and confident in the clothes, and so you can learn how to handle stairs and doorknobs. And use pockets instead of a purse to keep your hands free if you can!
Kendra: I recently began to wear the overhead jilbab and now niqab and I live in the super deep south or the red states. No one says anything to me, just give me a curious look (it isn’t everyday someone will a woman covered in the manner I cover) so I don’t mind it. I just go about my business as normal.