My hijab is so much a part of me that I feel naked without it, but it does come with its own challenges. I faced my biggest challenge when I started university, studying Physiotherapy.
This was something I wrote a while back and I thought I would share it here.
Having grown up in England I knew that there will always be people who would not know what hijab meant and many view it as oppression to women. I was however, lucky enough to grow up in a multi-cultural environment where a girl wearing the hijab was normal to see. So I didn’t know that people may react negatively to my hijab until I started university.
In a class full of non-Muslim students who didn’t really know what the concept of hijab was or why I wouldn’t wear shorts or pairing up with boys to practice the treatment techniques we learnt in the class I often felt left out and somewhat uncomfortable. People were awkward around me and I didn’t feel like I belonged in this class. But I was determined to become a physiotherapist whilst still maintaining my hijab.
As the course progressed, my classmates became used to seeing me and the way I dressed so I wasn’t so much of a strange sight anymore and they became more comfortable around me. I was so glad, Alhamdulillah, that I hadn’t been tempted to compromise my hijab to ‘fit in.’ I had been able to maintain my hijab, gain more confidence and still complete my degree. Especially coming from a Pakistani background where many people think physiotherapy is an inappropriate career for a Muslim girl due to the university environment and professional requirements.
There are a few things that I had to remind myself time and again, and helped me get along in a totally challenging environment.
• Be confident in wearing and maintaining your hijab, it is a gift from Allah.
• Discuss with the tutors your hijab at the beginning of your degree to get rid of any concerns you or they may have.
• Be strong and try not to compromise your hijab out of fear that you may be seen as strange and not fit in. Remember the hadith of the Prophet (saw)
“Islam began as something strange and will revert to being strange as it began, so give glad tidings to the strangers.” (Muslim).
• If you respect your hijab, so will the tutors and your classmates.
• Discuss the hijab with your classmates to help them understand and remove any misconceptions they have. Provide them with leaflets or booklets..
• Study and learn about the hijab, why you wear it, how you should wear it. It will help to maintain your hijab and even teach others about it. Remember it is not just a piece of cloth that covers your hair.
• Join the Islamic society at your university, they can help and support you throughout your university life.
• Constantly renew your intention of wearing hijab. Remind yourself what you’re wearing is for the sake of Allah and it will insha Allah become easier for you to maintain your hijab.