“Be water my friend”

I wore niqaab for 8 years. I started when I was 16 going on 17 and I remember it with such fondness. I’m no longer aligned with it in that way, but I absolutely love it and I will always protect niqabis especially those in the west. People spew such ignorant hatred, especially Muslims who feel inferior. And they always try to find some psychological loophole as to what possesses a woman to wear niqaab.

I’ll tell you that I never intended to wear it and no one around me wore it. In fact a few months prior I was averse to it. I had started practicing 6 months prior to this but I found myself quickly fading out of the honeymoon phase of the initial emaan rush and I didn’t like it. I saw myself backsliding and I knew it wouldn’t bode well if I didn’t do something.

So one night, August 2006, I woke up for tahajjud at around 4 am. I made a nonspecific ducaa that Allaah guides me from the abyss I felt I was hurtling towards and that was that. Prayed fajr, went back to sleep. It was a Saturday I believe. On Saturday evening I went to a neighbour’s where a woman wearing niqab was present. I had never been drawn to it but it was as if there was a magnetic pull that saw me ask her if I could try it on and it was like love at first tie lol. It clicked. I don’t know what it was. It wasn’t a conscious decision. It wasn’t anything like that. It was just a click. Or you know when you have a backache and you stretch and it cracks? It was like that. I didn’t know what I would do, how long I would wear it, if I would wear it to school etc. I was just winging it. All I knew was the feeling of bliss.

I was put through the wringers almost immediately. I was ridiculed by relatives, I was discouraged. I was doubted, I was met with disgust. And yet, it only increased me in resolve and faith. I don’t know where it came from. I mean, of course, it was divine grace, but cognitively, it wasn’t some thoughts that process i was employing to protect myself. I went to school where I was essentially black balled and people started rumours that I wore it because I got married. At 16. Lol. I remember I was cornered once in the girls restroom where they said why are you trying to make them turn against us (them being the non-Muslims), we already have a difficulty wearing the hijaab as it is.

I was hounded and given an ultimatum by the school administration to either drop the clothes or walk. On pure principality, I said deuces. I wasn’t about to be made anyone’s bitch.

Anyway, the niqaab served as an exo skeleton while I was going through my awakening and self-discovery. It was a protective barrier and that was such a godsend as a highly sensitive empath. It shielded me from people’s vibes and intrusions. That’s one thing I miss about it, the protection.

I wasn’t necessarily wearing it out of a religious obligation. It was like a secret pact I had with Allaah. I grew really strong and brave because every single day when I’d leave the house I’d brace myself for glares, mockery, people moving away, people avoiding to sit next to me on the bus, kids crying, people calling me a terrorist. I learnt to show up in a world where it was fair play to abuse me – Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Somalis would frown at me and ask why I was dressed as a thief. They’d ask if I was a part of al shabaab. I learnt the art of being grounded and not reacting. I learnt to show up on my terms and not accept the projections of others.

For 8 years I never removed it once. I’d wear it even indoors if men came around. Even if I had non-mahram relatives who’d stay over (the torture!). In many ways, it was like martial arts and it was my sensei.

I stopped wearing it as organically as I had started. I simply outgrew it and I felt it as clear as I had felt that initial click. I was thankful for it. It taught me a lot about humanity and how people treat each other. It taught me how far good manners and empathy goes. It taught me to not judge or project on others. It taught me to stay grounded in my truth regardless of how others view me. It taught me to never bow down to anyone but Allaah. It taught me that if I do something sincerely, Allaah will aid me. It taught me that I only needed Allaah.

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