Welcome everyone! Thanks for taking the time out to check out my blog, TheBlackHijabi, which chronicles my day to day (or noteworthy) experiences I come across in my life as a Hijabi. As a child, I grew up in a predominantly Mexican neighborhood (no Hijabis walking around), in a Mexican family which contrary to popular belief, does not mean that there was a bunch of Catholicism to go around. My dad left the Catholic church when he was just a boy and my mother grew more believing in God than anybody else. Growing up, I was always very spiritual. I prayed a good three to four times a day and I felt like it added some positivity to my life that I so desperately needed. I felt safe during prayer if no where else. My grandmother used to take my sister and I to church every Sunday. I loved it and she hated it. My grandmother was the only person in our lives that ever pushed religion, my parents did not. As we got older, religion began to take a backseat in our lives and physical and Earthly responsibilities hopped into the drivers seat.
When I first started seeing Hijabis on a daily basis, I had begun my freshman year of high school. I had a very general idea of what Islam was and I knew what a Muslim was but beyond that I really hadn’t a clue. While I was in my World Studies class one day, I had some sort of weird out of body experience, and I felt like there was a scarf on my head and from that day forward I decided I wanted to learn more about Islam, I was 14 at the time. I had never felt at home in a Christian church growing up. There was always people gossiping and people that I knew to be Christians weren’t very Christian-like at all, and that didn’t sit very well with me. I had hoped that this time I had found something different, something better, but within a couple years, I would be severely disappointed.
I didn’t know where to begin or even what to ask, but life took a front seat again and I went on my merry way. I began to feel the urge to learn about Islam once more my sophomore year and got ready to begin again. Where I went to school, all of the Muslim students except for one was of Middle Eastern decent. I had actually begun to date one of them after we had had a conversation about faith, and of course after people found out came the inevitable statement: “BUT SHES BLACK.” This voice of fear spread like wildfire and my boyfriend at the time was taking so much heat (e.g. “it’s not that she’s not a Muslim, if she wasn’t Black I wouldn’t have a problem with her) that I called it quits. It broke my heart, not because I was in love, but because he had been too afraid to stand up for me, too afraid to defend his choices, and because I thought I had found something worth learning and within a couple weeks I completely turned away, and I hadn’t even asked one single question. I was 15. I wouldn’t turn my thoughts back to Islam until the age of 22.
At the age of 20, I had reach a very low point in my life. I was in college, drinking, partying etc. and living my life in a very un-religious/spiritualistic way. I was depressed, my grades started slipping and I once again began to pray. I cried out to God and asked Him to take away this pain, to send me some sort of sign that He knew I was there, that He heard me, and that I belonged to Him. I met the most wonderful person I have ever met in the library of my University who was preaching the Gospel in a way I had never heard before about two days after I had called out to God. It immediately piqued my interest and I thought to myself, “This is it, this is the sign.” I went with her, did a Bible study and immediately got baptized.
While studying, one of my closest friends at school, converted to Islam and the cycle of interest began again, but I never even made it to a Mosque. Thanks to God, a couple months ago, I spontaneously Googled “Why do women wear hijab?” and from there my research began to take off. I have learned so many things from Islam, and through my research I was informed that not just in Islam, but in Judaism and Christianity women are commanded to cover their hair as well. Across the three Abrahamic religions, women are commanded, by God to cover their hair. That isn’t just some sort of odd coincidence, that alone is a sign.
I was so conflicted about putting the scarf on because I absolutely love my hair (I have huge curly hair that I wouldn’t trade for the word) and because I didn’t want to offend anyone, since I am not a Muslim. I did my research and found that most Muslims encourage women to try the hijab and that it would not be a problem. I began to wear the hijab on November 22, 2015, as part of a 7-Day hijab challenge. Here is where I would like to clarify something. Hijab does not refer to the scarf itself necessarily, it is that act of dressing modestly. There are several debates about the scarf being mandatory (wajib) or not and what “Hijab” is precisely. So I not only covered my hair, but I wore high necked shirts, long pants, and looser fitting clothes.
I can not put into words the amount of freedom I felt. I didn’t have to meet society’s beauty standards. I didn’t have to worry about my pants being too tight or my shirt being too short or if you could see my bra strap or my underwear through my leggings. I didn’t have to spend time doing my hair if I didn’t want to. I felt so respected, so empowered. I felt more like a woman than I ever had before. I felt as though men on the street respected me much more. I used to get whistles and animal noises when I walked down the street, and now: peace. Wearing the scarf made me embrace my femininity in a way that I never had. It gave myself worth a major increase. I took pride in my appearance, I discovered I could look just as good, even better than I had when I was wearing the tighter, revealing clothing.
After the seven days came to an end, I went outside without the hijab. I felt naked. On my way to work, I had been stopped by some man who bothered me all the way to work trying to get my number, throwing me tons of compliments and I was just so uncomfortable, that I have worn hijab just about everyday (there was one day I went to work with my hair uncovered).
Wearing the hijab forced me to refocus my lifestyle and my obedience to God. It helped me realize (through my feelings of empowerment) that my relationship was unhealthy and gave me the strength to finally walk away for good. It has helped me become a better person, and forces me to think twice about my actions. Before the hijab, there were certain things I wouldn’t do or say in public because I am Black, in the same way, there are certain things I now cannot do or say because I am a hijabi, and people will automatically assume that I am a Muslim and I wouldn’t want anything I do or say to reflect poorly on Islam. It doesn’t bother me at all though, I am already used to scrutiny from others, and I now feel as though I am truly projecting my best self forward. Honestly I can only thank God for that. God doesn’t command us to do things for his benefit, its for ours. The hijab is such a small, but powerful example of that.