Summer. It’s that time of year when teenagers clamber out of their homes and hunt for that perfect summer job. Especially with the recession taking its toll, many are left looking for work like never before. Interestingly, many teens cite that they work in this odd world of labor not only to have more money in their pockets, but also to instill early life lessons that can really add up to assist them in their later life. It was this that got me thinking: ‘Is it possible that other early life experiences can help to positively shape a person’s mind and future? Is it possible that these experiences can help one to mature mentally at a faster rate than the average person?’
The more I thought about it, the more I found the hijab to be a more permanent observation of this theory.
Like job hunters, the Muslim hijabi has a recession of her own to face: the recession of understanding and tolerance. The hijab is unfortunately viewed as an oppressive prescription forced upon Muslim women, but in reality, it is worn by some of the most talented and intelligent minds that this world has ever produced. Unlike the limited view of what the media puts before us, there is more to this piece of cloth than meets the eye. Not only is it worn to make a statement and preserve the value of its wearer, but it can also serve as a protection and preparation for the harsh world that the Muslimah is bound to enter.
So, here’s a little peek into the resume of the Muslim woman. When a Muslim woman makes the decision to don the hijab, she submits herself physically by wearing it and mentally by comprehending its purpose. Allah (glorified and exalted be He) orders in His divine book:
“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty…” [Nur 24:31]
This verse demonstrates that Allah (glorified and exalted be He) first orders the believing women to obey His command, providing a summary of guidelines, and then prescribes to them a means of manifesting this command. He (glorified and exalted be He) establishes the mental capacity and understanding needed to take on this lifelong commitment first, and then provides a way to fulfill these orders to the best of their capabilities. Therefore, when a Muslimah begins to wear the hijab, she has hopefully reached an appropriate level of self-acceptance, submission, and understanding – what one may call the job requirements of this Divine command.
It is self- acceptance for being compliant with her appearance as chosen by her Creator who knows her needs, desires, and vulnerabilities better than any other, submission because she recognizes the commands of her Lord and submits to them fully, and understanding because she has a greater purpose and her life is defined and limited by only that which has been prescribed by her Lord. She has few doubts on which path to take and what decisions to make because she has faith in her Lord and this piece of cloth serves as an everyday reminder of her purpose and justification of her struggles through life.
Just as a warm blanket can bring comfort to those lost, cold, and confused, the headscarf brings warmth, guidance, and comfort to the Muslimah, racing her past the dramas of her peers, educating her in matters of religion and life her classmates remain unaware of. She is matured by the security and mercy of her Creator, the support of her fellow Hijabies, and the struggles of her everyday responsibilities. Talk about job benefits!
All of these characteristics must be taken into consideration when one ponders over the veiled woman, this so-called international symbol of oppression. What Allah (glorified and exalted be He) has given to womankind is a specific dress code for unparalleled modesty, a job unlike no other. The benefits of this cloth, when worn and operated correctly, can make for a most successful person who benefits in this world and the next. May Allah (glorified and exalted be He) guide all Muslim women to fully submit and benefit entirely from this exclusive gift. Ameen.