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The Story Of The Woman Who Decided To Take Off The Hijab

“Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” Hadith
Face the truth before judging others. According to statistics, 3 out of 10 women do not understand why they should wear hijab. They are confused and they fear society’s criticism. They accept the Shariah standards in the wrong way which can weaken their personalities and cause them some emotional issues. Life becomes a burden and the act of worshipping turns into a show. The real problem lies in some psychological and personal issues. Let’s have an interview about these issues with Umit, who had been wearing the hijab for 11 years.
Umit, tell us please why did you start praying and wearing hijab? ( Did your parents or your future spouse insist on this subject or did you make this decision as a young girl along with your girl-friends)?
The suggested answer options are too superficial. Actually, a person is a rather complicated creature and his motives cannot always be explained in just some few words. What confuses me in the proposed answers that it is about a person playing a victim role who believes that he cannot influence his own life anyway. And in recent years I have been practising mindfulness, so I don’t blame anyone for my own choices. I understand that life is mine and without my personal choice, nothing will happen.
And this rule is also applied to my religious life, i.e., about me starting worshipping and following the Islamic rules. In general, since my childhood, I was interested in religion and philosophy, in the 5th grade, I heard about the Qur’an for the first time, later I read about the Sufi teachings and really liked it. In the 8th grade, I decided to join Arabic language courses and firmly intended to become an orientalist. It means I would study Arabic and Farsi to read Eastern (then it seemed to me Islamic) wisdom in the original language. In the 11th grade, like many excellent students, I was in huge stress because of exams. I was worried about my future education, university, etc. in addition to that, I had problems with my parents as it was the case with all teenagers at that period, and of course, the unrequited love made me unhappy. Being in that emotional state, I decided to pray “do the namaz”. At that time I had a friend who had “bad habits” and the last situation that prompted me to start worshipping was the desire “to beg the Lord for good health and a bright future.” And to be even more honest, the desire to do some good thing by sacrificing oneself and receive a reward, I mean God’s love.
I am sure that most Muslims have such “kind of exchange relations ‘give and take’ with God,” just not everybody is ready to confess.
By the way, I was young.
But time passed, motivation decreased since my friend gave up the bad habits and I lost my desire to pray. I began to skip some prayers and because of this, I felt a deep sense of guilt (something like “I am not worthy to be a Muslim”, etc.). After all, everyone doesn’t miss the opportunity to remind me that “prayer is important if you start, you must not give up, these are not toys” and so on.
What do you think the hijab is for? How did you feel while wearing it? Did you have a feeling of safety or inconvenience and disappointment? What pushed you to take the hijab off?
I graduated from high school, entered a governmental university and moved to a city where I had no one. I was afraid of the unfamiliar and different life. I felt I was losing my balance. There were a lot of different social communities and this variety of different people confused me. During my first day there, I’ve met indifferent guys and felt defenseless and suddenly was terrified to meet a really bad guy.
It was Ramadan in September when I entered the 1st year in 2008. I accidentally (of course, nothing happens accidentally!) joined the iftar evening with Muslim girls in hijab. Earlier, I had never met girls covering themselves. By the way, I was so impressed that I couldn’t stop crying during the whole meeting. I could tell you that I was touched by the stories about the mercy of Allah, about how Islam was beautiful and that tears were from realizing all these things. Many people think so. Me, too, at that time I was explaining my reaction to myself this way. But when I dag into myself trying to find out the real reason of my tears I realized that it was a feeling of relief. If the heart was able to speak, then it would explain something like: “Here it is the community that I should belong to, here I will be safe, this is my place. If I became one of them, I would be protected from people who can hurt me, and perhaps, If I gave up my life and accept the Muslim women lifestyle I would get ALLAH’s love, protection and in the future a reliable and honest Muslim husband. I hope you understood me clearly. But it was what I really needed at 17. To be honest, religion, hijab, prayers became the tools that allow me to gain what I want and need from this life, mainly, protection and love.
Over time, I found out that Muslims are different, and the understanding of religion is different in every different community. Once, also during the iftar, I was sitting near the girls, they recited different fatwas in their native language. They talked about how many types of tawhid we have, the difference between “Nabi” and “Rasul” and so on. I was amazed by their knowledge of religion and felt ignorant. From that moment I decided that I would also study religion. And you know, if I consciously believed that I was doing this to approach the Lord, then subconsciously my actions were motivated by the desire to be in a privileged group, among those “requesting knowledge”.
After that I got married. I had children and one day I found out that my children considered God to be like someone evil, who is waiting for our fault to punish us. I never told children such things about the Lord, but later I realized that all my actions, gestures, facial expressions, and careless speech from me that lead them to think this way about THE ALMIGHTY God. I lived in this fear of punishment, without realizing it, like a little child that was afraid that his parents will punish him for disobedience. These destructive and negative feelings destroyed me from the inside, made me unhappy.
Later on, I realized from where I took this image of Allah. Firstly, there were manipulative lectures by imams who speak only about the fear of the Fire, but not about the love of the Almighty. It is possible that the lecturers had nothing to do with it and I wanted to take the information in this way. But now I don’t want to delve into it. The only thing that I understood is that you do not need to deserve the love of God, He loves all his creatures more than the way mothers love their children.
I read in your stories that you continue to believe in Allah, but your Iman is not strong enough to wear hijab. What does it mean to be covered? What are these criteria?
I took my hijab off not because I was disappointed in religion or Muslims. I love Islam, I love Muslims. I took it off, not because of my weak Iman, but just because the Iman has to be not only in the tongue and in the appearance, but also in the heart, and it’s the right place for it. In recent years, I have acutely felt like a two-faced person, my internal state did not align with my external one. The external part was the Muslim woman and inside, I did not feel this religious awareness.
Do you understand that all these11 years I believed in a wrong way? I believed that God should solve all my problems because I sacrificed the freedom to be myself; that is, I shifted responsibility for my life to the Almighty. And this is not about a conscious Muslim. Now I am learning to take responsibility for my life.
Expecting nothing from anyone, blaming no one. I’m just starting to live my life! I am sure that it is necessary to come to Islam in such a way: self-sufficient, full and independent, and you cannot go to God for solving problems, for protection, with the hope that Allah will decide everything for you. Allah is testing us and these tests are not on who will read the prayer or not, who will take off the hijab or put it on. This test is about whether a person can pass life’s difficulties without losing humanity. That is, while we believe in Allah, and hope that He will solve our problems, Allah believes in us, that we can cope and find the right paths. If Allah is such as His servant represents, then for me He is the One who loves us not for actions, not conditionally, but who loves us just like that, because we are His creations.
Religion was not granted to mankind to make people unhappy. And since I was unhappy, I looked for the reasons and found that my attitude to religion and my expectations from the Almighty were wrong. I am sure that any competent theologian will agree with me. There is no compulsion in religion. And ideally, there should be no manipulations from others and there should be no condemning views, words because this is not about true Islam.
For me, the Awareness is when you understand that you and only you, your actions and inactions, your decisiveness and indecision determine your life. This is when you stop expecting something from people, and even from God as well. And religious awareness is when you do not ask for anything from the Almighty in return for your worship. This is when you pray and wear a hijab because you love Allah and not because you are afraid of His punishment. This is when you feel gratitude for everything. Everything is absolutely what is in your reality, including the unpleasant moments of your life! Here it is religious awareness, which I did not have and to which I aspire.
Did hijab disturb you while interacting in your social life? (Employment, self-development, integration with society, self-acceptance)
The hijab never bothered me in anything. I felt no offence while wearing it. 11 years in hijab were a valuable period in my life. All that I experienced was due to the feeling of disharmony of my mind and appearance.
What version of yourself do you like more?
I love myself in different situations; when I’m weak or strong, happy or sad, successful or unsuccessful, it’s all me. The most important thing for me is to always be real.
Is there an intention to strengthen the Iman, demand knowledge and be covered again? 
I have already replied. People tend to forget, so it is a must to remind them. A reminder is always beneficial to believers. However, it must be done in a kind and gentle way; as our Prophet Muhammad (may God’s prayers and peace be with him) did it.

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