When I started to wear the hijab I really hated it.

I just felt so ugly. And I wasn’t even wearing it properly. I was still wearing tight clothes because that’s all I had and I would wear a scarf.

It felt odd to me- that combination, because when I went to the masjid I would see sisters looking so amazing in their jilbabs and abayas. However, I couldn’t afford those kinds of clothes at the time and I still didn’t feel confident to wear something like that.

After I moved from London to Newcastle and got married I wanted to dress more modestly. I was still wearing trousers but I would try to find long tops to go over it. This was really hard to find and I always had to wear so many layers just to cover- which I hated.

Wearing so many things was a headache and fuss, and still I didn’t feel completely covered! Subhanallah.

Then I thought I could sew myself some abaya. So I bought some fabric and made a few in my own style and I would wear them. Some were good and some not so good. But I felt better wearing them because I didn’t have to wear so many clothes and I would be covered.

To be honest at the time I think I had some problems with my identity. I still wanted to look like a black girl who is an artist. I felt like an outsider because being black no one thought I was a convert and when people found out that I was a convert they wanted to put me with all the other converts as they thought that I would have more in common with them.

However, I didn’t have much in common with the other converts at all because I never ate pork growing up and I had never really celebrated Christmas. Even though my family was Christian. My family already ate halal meat and I didn’t have any anxiety over whether I needed to excuse myself from the family Christmas dinner because there wasn’t one.

So all the problems that other converts I met had- I didn’t. They were white and I wasn’t, their culture was so different from mine. Being black meant that I was already used to prejudice and racism and being looked at as the ‘other’ so when I became Muslim it wasn’t new for me.

My struggles with hijab were different. I was happy to wear it because I knew it was obligatory but my mum would always remind me that no one could see my elaborate and creative hair styles that I would do. I always used to take care of my hair and would be noticed and complimented for it wherever I went. It was a big part of my culture and had been part of my artistic expression to the outside world.

Now I was wearing a hijab and struggling with my own style. It was weird for me in that sense.

When I accepted Islam I had a great desire to wear the niqab. Ever since I saw those women in the masjid, black women who were converts like me, Arab women, Asian women, white women, all mixed cultures and wearing the niqab. I thought it was amazing and I wanted to wear it too.

But that was my experience with sisters in London.

In Newcastle most of the Muslims I met were Asian, some Arab too but I hardly ever met any niqabi sisters there. And the masjid there was different. I would hear people say not so nice things about sisters who wear the niqab. I didn’t believe it but with the other things going on in my life I decided I wasn’t ready to wear the niqab.

I just had not been ready spiritually, mentally or socially.

It was only about a year after I got divorced that I felt ready to wear it. So when my daughter changed to a new school I did it. It was easier because the area we were living in had many Muslims and at the new school she was going to I would see other women wearing niqab alhamdulillah.

So on her first day at her new school I wore the niqab for the first time. It was the worst niqab that I’ve ever had and I could hardly breathe. The material was terrible- but I felt so good finally being able to wear the niqab.

I was happy. Alhamdolillah.

Wearing the niqab had never been about joining a club of niqab wearers. I had always been used to looking different and standing out. Yet, it took me years, about seven years to finally do it.

I was a single Muslim woman convert to Islam who had made another decision about how I wanted to represent myself and it felt good. Alhamdolillah.

Now I have a whole podcast where I talk to other Muslim women to find out what made them want to wear the niqab and their journey to get there.

The Niqabi Diaries Blog. All things niqab and other subjects related to Muslim women. Our Experiences, Our Perspectives, Our Choices.


Credit: The Niqabi Diaries


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