Inspiration – Liny’s Hijab Discovery

Last week our beautiful friend Liny, shared her discovery to her Hijab identity. Her story is as follows :

My hijab journey

I did not really start wearing my Hijab until I was 20. When I was small, hijab was known to me as a small scarf to cover my hair, tied around my neck whenever I went to my Quran class. Then, when I started going to after school Islamic classes, hijab to me was just a uniform to comply with the religious school requirement. Hijab was also a piece of shawl that I put on loosely on my head during certain occasions, religious events or during Eid.
I remember when I was 18, during my first year of my pre-degree programme, I received an unexpected visit from my late grandmother. Before she left, she said to me in a soft but firm voice, “You are a big girl now. It’s about time that you put on your hijab”. Back then, she was the only one in the family who said something about out it. I wasn’t compelled to wear the hijab by my parents either, so I didn’t really pay much attention to it. To me it was too soon. I was active in so many activities and I was enjoying my university life. In my mind, hijab would just restrict me from all that.
Two years later, during my first year of degree programme, I suddenly thought of wearing hijab full time. But I wasn’t really sure why though. While there were some girls in my classmates who wear hijab, most of the girls in my circle of friends didn’t, so there was no peer pressure to follow anyone. But I was going through a phase of emotional struggle. My parents were getting a divorce. I was not happy with how things were going. So probably, back then, it was just me searching for something to fill that emptiness or just an urge to do something different. So, on the first day of Syawal in 1991, I put on my hijab. To others, they saw a transformation in me. But, when I looked back and reflect, honestly, I didn’t feel a real connection to my hijab then. I wore it without a full understanding of what hijab really means. Yes, there was a transformation, but it was just physical. It was like I was just making a different fashion statement. But I was not prepared to change my other aspects of life. And one of it is my involvement in music
I grew up with music. Not just listening to it, but very much involved in it. I went to music class since I was six. We used to have our own music studio at the back our house with a full band of musical instruments. We have our own band and I was one of the lead singer. During university years, I was the singer for the college band. I was part of the choir group. I participated in various music competitions. I was a singer and gamelan player for my college traditional music group. Music was not just a hobby, it was very much part of me.
​When I started working and after getting married, my music activities gradually slowed down. When my husband and started our journey to rediscover Islam, we began to realise how far we were from practicing the true Islam. And that was when I began to internalise that hijab is not just a piece of cloth on my head. It’s a way of life. Just because I had covered my hair, it doesn’t mean that I have fulfilled the hijab requirement as commanded by Allah. Hijaab is the way I talk, the way I look at things…..what I listen to….the way I walk….the way I carry myself. Indeed, hijab is a way of life.
Realising this, we started to make changes; we started to filter the kind of tv programmes that we watch, things that we listened to, places that we go to. At that time, I was still wearing pant suit to work, short jackets and shirts. I gradually changed my wardrobe and started to buy long dresses and abayas. That was how my little abaya business started. My colleagues started approaching me asking me about my abayas, so I started to source for abayas and sell them at affordable price to help others sisters. More and more people in office started wearing abayas. Alhamdulillah, gradually, Allah took away from my heart the love towards music. Something which I initially thought was hard for me to detach from.
The journey was a slow and gradual process for my family. Since the first day of wearing hijab, 22 years ago, my perspective towards it has also changed. It began as a physical transformation. However, over the years, as I began to internalise its true meaning, hijab changed me from inside. Hijab is not just a a symbol of me being a muslim, it is not just a physical covering. It’s also about putting hijab on my eyes, my ears,my tongue, my heart. It’s about fighting my own desire to fulfill the command of Allah. It is a manifestation of my love, hope and fear towards my Creator.
I believe each and every one of us who are on this road, has gone through so many challenges. We may not be at the same phase or facing the same issues, but I know for sure, the struggle is real. Therefore, whenever we look at another person who has yet wearing a hijab, do not judge. It does not make that person any less muslim than us. We should instead continue to encourage and support each other.

Liny
25 April 2018

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