Hi, sweetie, glad to see you back!
Sis, I know you're trying your best, and that is what counts with Allah SubhanAllahwaTaala (Glorious and Exalted is He)
. Please, sis, always, always remember that, and do not be disheartened. I'm sympathetic, and I wish your parents were letting you follow things at your own pace, but I also understand that they are trying to do what is best. Maybe my story will help you put things in perspective or at least benefits you in some small way.
To answer your question, yes, I do feel this way. To be honest, I have a backstory just as you do. I was raised in a non-practicing family, and so I was not comfortable with or taught religion. So, I didn't have a high opinion of religions, and I thought they were all the same. I was atheist/agnostic. And I didn't care if there was a god, and I didn't spend my time or energy on pondering things of unseen nature. However, once my heart submitted to Islam, things changed. Just like you, I was more happy and the best feeling would overcome in the world; it is something that really can't be explained to someone who hasn't perhaps experienced something similar. It is both freeing and exhilarating, kind of like embarking on a new journey. However, it is a journey, unfortunately, and not a destination, which is why struggles do occur.
The hardest thing for me by far in Islam was wearing hijab
. Like I told you, there's a backstory. And my backstory is that I was very shy when I was in middle school and therefore bullied and what that led to is overeating. This experience changed me as I became really insecure and became also fat. I didn't know how to deal with that insecurity, but then, I became thin again, probably through a change in the diet, though I didn't really focus on that - somehow just seemed to happen, almost magically. All throughout high school, I'd been sort of testing my wings as you will in terms of being social but the thing with having been fat and once having been bullied is that I still saw myself through the lens that others saw me even though I was now thin and social.
I finally looked good, but the insecurities were still there. In the summer before college, however, that shyness devolved for which I was grateful because I was determined to be happy and carefree in college. So, the thing is, I knew I wanted to basically dress the part of a beautiful girl I'd always wanted to be whereas before I'd dress modestly in high school; so, my wardrobe consisted of shorts and skirts and tank tops, and I also learned to do makeup and I learned color coordination and art of carrying yourself. I looked beautiful, and I knew it, and I felt like Cinderella and it felt like a dream come true, and it was therefore something from which I drew my self-esteem. To me, looks were everything, and it was all I had. This was made worse by the fact that my sister was academically studious and so much more a joy to my parents in terms of academic awards that she brought home and being things like class valedictorian. So, of course, all I felt was I had beauty, nothing else on which to base my self-esteem; I was smart, but not smart like my sister. I didn't really have a personality, I thought. Ironically, academically, I did wonderfully in academics in college, but I still couldn't consider myself intelligent but did draw self-esteem from that too. Which is why I couldn't accept failure. So, there was a senior thesis project that I couldn't complete for college and my Honors Program, and that was a huge blow to my sense of worth. So, during my years, I'd studied different religions on and off, and never for the purpose of becoming an adherent to any religion, but I learned because I was really interested in different cultures and religion.
During my time off from college between law school, the last religion I started learning about Islam, and I fell absolutely in love. With Islam. I was fine with all the five pillars of Islam and six pillars of iman (faith)
. I was a Muslim. However, I was not all right with the hijab
. I understood hijab
to be a command of God, but I couldn't see myself as practicing it. I had learned to believe that my entire value was based on how I looked; to give that up would be giving up a crucial part of how I wanted others to identify me, and I didn't know I could do that. I struggled with it so much. Before law school, could I put on the hijab
? I didn't know if I could do it. During the first year of law school, I didn't even though I started dressing modestly again, something I never thought I'd do. I'd feel so bad about not wearing the hijab
, and therefore during Shahru Ramadan
, I asked God to ease my struggle and grant me the courage and conviction to wear it. After I did, I felt so weird, beautiful and freed in a way I'd never imagined, and I was happy about that. But that's the early days. As time passed, I started questioning if I should stop wearing the hijab
because some brothers do not want to marry hijabis
and I'd rejected marriage potentials who didn't want me to wear the hijab
. Not only that, after Paris Attacks and San Bernardino Attacks, I felt weird wearing the hijab
, self-conscious in a way that I'd never felt before; it doesn't help that my mother hates the hijab
and my father also said he'd understand if I took off the hijab
in this anti-Muslim global environment. However, what gives me the courage to keep doing it is because I love Allah SubhanAllahwaTaala (Glorious and Exalted is He),
and I keep remember that I'm waging my struggle (jihad)
against my baser self and egoistic desires. I keep trying, you know, and I'm mortally afraid I'm going to fail one of these days. Like you, I also try to be a very good Muslim, and people in real life certainly perceive me to be one; however, I find hijab
really hard sometimes because I just want to be like everyone else and not have to worry about my hair. Sometimes, I'd also like to let the wind run through my hair. Sometimes, I'd also like to get the feeling back of being the beautiful girl that attracts notice and attention the way I'd done before. Maybe having those thoughts makes me a bad Muslim; but really, I think that makes me human and my struggles real. Today, I'm a confident woman, and my confidence is no longer hostage to how I look, though sometimes I also can't help but wonder "what ifs." I have failings, sweetie, and unfortunately, they didn't disappear with Islam (even though Islam did greatly improve my character and constitution and manners); however, despite the existence of my failings, I try to not let myself be defeated against my false vanity or other desires.
Also, you know, as much as I do think hijab
is a private conversation and whispered communication of my love to God, I also think that we're inadvertently being the leaders of our nation of Prophet :saws: sallalalhu alayhi wasaallam (peace and blessings be upon him)
in giving dawa (invitation to Islam)
to others with our hijab
without even trying. Maybe somewhere there's a girl out there in the world who felt as ugly and unloved as I did; and maybe she is confused and wants to know her place in the world. Maybe my hijab
or your hijab
will make that girl curious enough as to why we're wearing hijab
and maybe she'll research into Islam and find the reasons we are now both Muslims; maybe she'll join us in finally finding beauty and meaning in God. Maybe that's why we have to wage this struggle against ourselves so that we can make it easier for others; I once read somewhere: "Good people are like candles; they burn themselves up to give others light." Maybe that's what we're doing even if we don't recognize it here but we'll have proof of having done so in the hereafter when we learn of all how realities played out in this life. So, In-sha-Allah (God-willing)
, sis, you and I can encourage each other to keep giving of this wonderful light, and we can also pray In-sha-Allah (God-willing)
for one another to have our burdens eased and to have our struggles vanish in the face of God's infinite mercy and love.
Barakallahu feeki (may Allah bless you).
Wishing you the best and ease in all your affairs,
Originally Posted by Smile :)