Several years ago, I started going through a change in my life. I found myself loving God as I never had before, and wanting to live my life for Him.
A few months into this change, I decided to start wearing the hijab/headscarf. It was a tough decision, because I knew that it was not just an obligation, but a commitment. And it was something that, in the past, I had never thought that I’d do.
Apparently, this commitment to cover my body in a certain way did not sit well with some people — other Muslims, in fact. They scoffed at my decision and said that I was going through a “phase,” and that my headscarf would be the first thing to go when that phase ended.
It has been five years, and I’m still in that phase, with no end in sight inshaAllah…
There will always be people who respond negatively or in a discouraging way when you try to become more religious… Ignore all of that. You live for Allah, not for His creation.
One of the things that I am grateful to my mother for is that when this happened, she told me that yes, people are saying these things about me, but it means nothing to her. She said that she knows my potential and my commitment to my religion, and that she believes in my ability to keep the headscarf on despite its difficulties. Hearing this from someone that I love and respect helped strengthen my resolve and reminded me that it doesn’t matter what random people think about my faith and religious practices.
There will always be people who respond negatively or in a discouraging way when you try to become more religious. There will be people who say you’re being too “extreme” by covering up. Some will say things like “What’s the big deal if you skip one prayer?” when you’re at a wedding or other social gathering, just as you start becoming more committed to your 5 daily prayers. Others will dismiss anything you say related to religion, because they are judging you for your past. And there will also be those who think that no matter how hard you try, it’s never good enough.
If we see someone else trying to better themselves, we should give them the space and opportunity to grow.
Ignore all of that. You live for Allah, not for His creation. You don’t owe anyone an explanation but yourself and your Lord. Be your best self and the best Muslim you can be without worrying whether people will think you’re becoming “too strict” in your practice, or that you might stop being as religious later on. If you do fall, that doesn’t mean people were right to judge you; it means that you need to pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and try again. Allah has left us with no reason to give up.
“Say, ‘O my servants who have transgressed against themselves (by sinning), do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the All-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.'” [Qur’an 39:53]
Don’t give anyone the power to push you away from Islam.
Society is not as gentle, so we need to have a compassionate presence in the lives of others. If we see someone else trying to better themselves, we should give them the space and opportunity to grow. And remember that your faith is your business, not anyone else’s. Don’t give anyone the power to push you away from Islam.
“And whoever submits his face to Allah and is a good-doer, then he has grasped the most firm handhold. And to Allah will be the outcome of (all) matters.” [Qur’an 31:22]