Disclaimer: Religious topic. (obviously…) Not here to brag, or push religion down your throat. Just here to share something personal. Thank you for reading!
Last year, the few weeks leading up to Ramadan, was when I first made the decision to wear the Hijab. Contrary to what you see in the predictable plots of my mum’s favorite Malaysian TV dramas, I didn’t suddenly wake up one day and said “OK let’s wear the hijab forever from now on.” To be honest the decision was very muddled and unclear. All I planned was to wear the hijab on the first day of Ramadan, pull through to the end of the month and then see what happens.
Here’s a brief backstory about my life: I only became a practicing Muslim recently. In fact, I only learned how to pray just a little more than 2 years ago. Even though I was a born-Muslim, I didn’t exactly have any Islamic education or upbringing. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in the religion, I guess living in a country where I have the political freedom to or not to practice Islam (being born and raised in Singapore, where Eastern tradition meets Western modernism), in addition to having parents that weren’t at all strict about our religion, I just wasn’t interested in it? I felt like it’s easier if I was free to do whatever I want, wear whatever I want and basically live outside the ‘boundaries’ of Islam.
But somehow, no matter how far I’ve strayed, I guess Allah took whatever little tiny speck of hope left in me and pulled me towards His path. To this day I could never exactly put my thankfulness into the right string of words, so instead of giving Him words, I pray.
When I told my
boyfriend best friend forever that I will probably marry in the future about how he made me a better Muslim, he said it’s all me. He’s right. He may have inspired me, but I did the rest. If my heart wasn’t open to Islam, I would probably still be the same as I was 3 years ago. That’s where faith comes from. It doesn’t come from upbringing, or force, or political laws. It comes from the heart.
After I started learning about my religion, learning to pray, reading up not just the English translated Quran, but articles from scholars, articles on how Islam is relative to Science, Islamic history, Google-ing every single question I have about Islam;
I didn’t start by reading the Quran, in fact I started by researching on the feminist aspect and women’s rights in Islam.
No matter what the question, I will get an answer in the most poetic way, and Islam became clearer, it made so much sense, it became beautiful. The people aren’t perfect (far from it, in fact), but the religion is.
Practicing Islam made my life so much simpler. It made me feel a sense of purpose in this world. I stopped chasing after acceptance from people, and started chasing after acceptance from Allah. And for once, I felt whole.
Transitioning to a hijabi wasn’t at all easy. Especially when I grew up completely without it. I didn’t like how the hijab looks on me, of course. I didn’t know how to frame my face, I didn’t have many hijab-friendly clothes to wear. My mum discouraged me from wearing it because she thought I looked borderline ugly with the hijab on haha. But I didn’t want to give in to my vanity. I knew there are more important things to prioritize over my vanity.
I’m still learning every day about the world, my religion, how to dress more modestly… You can’t really become a perfect Muslim overnight. If it’s that easy, there’s no point to it. It’s a challenge that requires constant progress, search for knowledge and reminding yourself that this world is just temporary.
To be honest I don’t hate my past, but I’d rather not dwell into it. While I still have the privilege and ease to practice my religion, in a safe place, with readily-available resources, I have no excuse. We all make mistakes, as a human, but it’s what we do afterwards that matters.
After all, Allah knows best.