Ramadan – the month of spiritual reform. It is the month that I finally decided to wear the hijab. My thoughts were full of worries about what would happen if I began to wear it; I would be recognized as a Muslim everywhere I go. Having grown up amongst non-Muslims whilst living in the west made me afraid to express my culture, because I felt I would not be accepted.
Throughout my school years I experienced different forms of discrimination and intolerance, much of it enforcing my fear to wear the hijab. Senior year came and a feeling of emptiness spread inside me. I thought maybe there was something worldly I was missing out on. I knew I was in need of a spiritual change, and that I must begin to wear the hijab, but I ignored it.
I relied on worldly matters to take the feelings of emptiness away. If only I had known of the Hadith of Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (peace be upon him) in which he said, "This world is like seawater, the more you drink the more you get thirsty." And let us think, what is the effect of seawater on the one who drinks it? There are elements in it which cause insanity. Indeed, relying on worldly things to quench our thirst and solve our problems will cause us nothing but distress.
Throughout those days at school I knew I was committing sin, and I can even remember a moment where I could feel Allah watching me directly. My heart was saddened, but Shaytan told me to ignore it; he was trying to convince me that this world will provide me with all that I needed. Yet Imam Sadiq's words will always ring true - it will never be enough.
As senior year came to an end I felt as if I was awakening form my slumber; my eyes were finally opening, and regret for my actions consumed me. I began to repent to Allah asking Him to bring me back to His Mercy and Love. I gave up music, and this time seriously considered wearing the hijab. I wanted the emptiness to disappear and my thirst to be quenched.
It was in the month of Ramadan that Allah helped me gain the courage to wear it. He allowed me to meet some very encouraging sisters who impacted my life greatly. I began to observe hijab in the second week of Ramadan, and I knew instantly that this was what my heart had been yearning for.
The day I put it on, not a single person spoke against me for wearing it, and it was then that I realized all my fears were whispers of Shaytan. My friends did not question me, and instead I felt I had gained respect. I fell in love with my hijab.
But putting the hijab on was only the beginning. I soon realized it is not just a piece of cloth on my head, but a spiritual journey to the Almighty; I could feel my love of Allah increasing daily. He soon blessed me to go on Ziyarat to visit Lady Zainab (peace be upon her), and upon my return I found within myself a strong craving to gain Islamic knowledge. I began learning what I did not know, and things I once thought I knew.
Let us make this Ramadan one in which we abandon our sinful ways and ask Allah to help us gain nearness to Him in our hearts. To my sisters who are struggling to wear the hijab: if you sincerely ask Allah for help, while also making the effort to change, He will certainly help you in the best of ways. And to my brothers: do remember to lower your gaze.
This world is only temporary, while Love for Allah is eternal. Love for Him is the best of feelings and the highest form of love, for He wants nothing from us, but everything for us - so let us develop the God-consciousness in our hearts to practice all that He has made obligatory, and guard ourselves from all that He has made forbidden.