Under the Veil – Part 1
I didn’t grow up wearing the hijab or abaya and to be honest with you I’d never heard of the terms until I was in my late 30s.
I’m from a moderate Sunni family; my parents are from Pakistan and I have a Pakistani/Afghan heritage.
My mum dresses in the traditional salwar kameez with the “cheela” covering her head at all times. For those of you who do not speak Punjabi, this is the thin crepe scarf worn my most women from the South Asian sub-continent. Colourful, vibrant, and matching the salwar kameez suit.
I was always being scolded by my mum to wear the cheela from the age of about 13 – in those days I would wear it and then sneakily take it off or put it on just outside my house.
I didn’t understand its significance or its need – I found it tiresome and not exactly fitting in with my tomboy style.
My first encounter with the abaya and hijab was about 15 years later where a couple of women in my workplace were wearing it – I didn’t think anything of it
Then my sister got married, and her husband wanted her to cover and so she started to wear the abaya and hijab – she later told me he asked her with such love and compassion that she wanted to wear it for him and for Allah. Some of my family didn’t agree with her new garb and said she wasn’t living in Saudi and so didn’t need to dress like it!
I myself, am married into a deeply religious family. It was around this time that I started to really practice Islam with taqwa, obedience and commitment – I felt the need to cover but was constantly in turmoil as to whether the hijab was optional or mandatory – so like with anything else in my life that didn’t make sense to me, I started to study the subject with relish.
I watched videos, I read articles, I listened to scholars but ultimately what gave the me the truth and the understanding was the Quran and the Hadith – it was as clear as day and there was no denying it – it was an order from Allah and so on that day I asked my sister if I could have one of her scarves and went out to buy an abaya.
Now – you have to understand that when I had read stories about women who started to wear the hijab and how liberated and free they felt I was always sceptical and thought “yeah right, that surely can’t be true”
But I must tell you, it actually was the most liberating feeling I’d ever had – I loved everything about it.
Watch this space for the next phase in my journey and how this relates to the launch of www.loveabaya.co.uk