Hijab Pressure

From a few life experiences, I have deduced the following:

Ways to encourage doning the hijab that work:

1. Tell the person gently to don it for the sake of Allah.
2. Explain the benefits.
3. Share your personal struggles with the hijab and how you overcame it.
4. Allow freedom of choice.
5. Encourage; never force beliefs down her throat.

Now, ways to encourage doning the hijab that do not work:

1. Using fear and guilt-tripping. (i.e. Guaranteeing that she will drag her mother to hell for every strand of hair she shows to men; and that she will be hanged by the strands of her hair in hell.)
2. Coercion. (i.e. Telling her – despite her having confided her predicaments to you – the reason she feels a gaping hole in her soul and the reason she is going astray is because she doesn’t cover enough from the gaze of perverted men.)
3. Making her promise to cover up by a specific day of your choosing.
4. Degradation. (i.e. Incessantly announcing to your children that she is going to veil herself, without even consulting her first.)
5. Being rude and discriminatory. (i.e. Slut-shaming and warning your sons not to choose a non-hijabi like her for a spouse.)

Let me tell you… I like being veiled. I love keeping up with the multitude of hijab trends, taught by hijabi Youtubers. I do quite enjoy how suddenly approachable Muslim women are to me, greeting me with warm smiles and salaams when they spot me in a hijab. I’m happy that now hijabis have greater representation due to the hijab going mainstream.

However I really despise the culture which promotes that only women who are “modestly covered” are worthy of respect, whereas non-hijabis like me deserve to be treated with degradation and disregard. But what really hurts the most is when someone you (once) look[ed] up to thinks you’re not entitled to make your own choices.

Till today, the Qur’anic verse that reverberates with the beating of my heart is the one my mom has always repeated to me: “There is no compulsion in the religion” [2:256]. That is a simple fact.