“She took it off!”

Bismillah walhamdulillah

I tend to have long delays between when the idea of a post comes to mind (when something very meaningful happens) and actually writing it. This isn’t good because in that time, I may lose out on essential details, or enough time passes, I may never write it. So here goes.

I attended an all-sisters Ramadan event recently. It was very well organized and the atmosphere was amazing. Having just returned from travels abroad and being away from righteous company for so long, I felt so much happiness being in that room full of sisters who were striving for the same goals. Being unable to hide my happiness, I began to talk quickly and excitedly as I sometimes do. Every now and then, it would occur to me to take it down a notch, so I would try, but it wasn’t too successful.

Even as the speakers spoke, I would become distracted as a sister in niqab crossed the room, throwing her niqab down to cover her face because of a transparent door on the end of the hall. The chances of a man passing by and looking in were miniscule, but she had such hayaa’ that she didn’t care. And there were more just like her. The speaker, for example, was a sister in niqaab. She sat facing that transparent door which was, again, far down on the other side of the hall. It was far enough that even if a man were to stop and look in for some reason (and he would be looking in from the sidewalk), he would not be able to make out any features. But again, this sister had such hayaa’ that she gave her entire speech with her niqab on, only removing it she finished and came down from the stage to sit with the audience, with her back to the door. The environment was a fresh and much-needed dose of imaan.

As I was getting ready to leave, I stood at the back of the room, near the bathroom. I wanted to wash my hands so that I could shake hands with sisters before leaving. I don’t have OCD, but I had been ill and was afraid I was still contagious.

As I stood there, waiting for the bathroom, two sisters walked in together. They had missed both speeches but the event was still going on.

I saw them standing there, almost hesitantly, as if afraid of disturbing the event by looking for a place to sit. I pointed out empty seats to them, and in an encouraging tone, I told them they should sit.

From the corner of my eye, I saw one of the two sisters look at me, look away, and then look back at me. I did not look at her, but I could almost tell that she was deciding on whether or not to say salaam or to run and hope I didn’t notice her. She then smiled and gave me her salaam. I leaned forward to hug her and finally recognizing her face, I returned her salaam with a big smile.

Then as I pulled away from the hug, I was confused. I think I know who this sister is, but I’m not too sure because she is a niqabi so I’ve rarely seen her face. But what is making it even more confusing is that she is not wearing the niqab right now.

With a puzzled look on my face, I looked at the other sister, as if to ask “Wait, who did I just hug?”

She responded back in a whisper, because the event was still going on.

…Yep, it was her.

Okay, she’s not wearing her niqab. Immediately I began to make excuses for her. Perhaps she knew it was all-sisters event and she removed it at the door. Although this was unlikely because I had known her to always wear her niqab inside her hijab. No, maybe she changed her niqab style and now she wears the kind that are on the outside and easily removable.

Okay, you know what. It’s okay, don’t worry about it.

That lasted for about a minute, and it quickly went away.

My phone rang, it was my sister. “Come out, I’m here.”

I rushed back to my seat, grabbed my things and left.

Days went by and I did not give it any thought.

The end.

Just kidding :) So…what was the point of mentioning all of that?

Okay, so a sister removed her niqab. Maybe many of us have seen it (with niqab or with jilbab or hijab).

What’s the wrong reaction?

“Omg sister, astaghfirullah, how could you?!”

Even if no one really says it out loud, many people react this way in their minds. They should know that their thoughts will eventually manifest in their actions, whether they realize it or not. It could be something as simple as a fading smile, avoiding eye contact, awkward behavior, etc. And this sister will more likely than not, pick up on all of it.

What is the right reaction?

Well, it’s hard to give one answer for this. So I’ll put it this way:

  1. That is still your sister in Islam, you still love her for the sake of Allah. Be careful how you treat her.
  2. You don’t know what she is going through right now. Maybe she just needs a comforting friend, or someone who will be there for her at a time of difficulty. Maybe she needs you to assume good of her, and not jump to conclusions and assume the worst. You looking down at her is not going to improve the situation in the slightest.
  3. If you are truly concerned for her, make dua for her and talk to her about it (if you are close to her). Don’t talk to anyone else about it and don’t sit alone ruminating on it. Make a sincere dua for her when you are making dua for yourself. And if you can’t even talk to her about it directly, just make sure she knows that you are there for her if she needs you, that you assume the best of her, and that you are not judging her.
  4. The same way she removed her niqab, she can put it back on. It’s not a one way street. It is a struggle that lasts until you leave this world, just like every other act of worship. Treating people badly when they remove it will not make them want to put it back on. And it will lead to others being afraid to start hijab, jilbab, or niqab, at all, for the simple fear that they may take it off one day, and be shunned as well.
  5. What does her removing her niqab have to do with you? A lot of times, the reason for the harsh reactions is simply because we are afraid of being affected when a sister removes any part of her hijab. Your hijab, jilbab, niqab, should not be dependent on what the people around you are wearing or doing. Guaranteed, you will be in some places where everyone is dressed like you and you fit right in, and guaranteed, you will be in other places where everyone is wondering what on earth you were thinking when you got dressed this morning. Accept it. Your hijab should remain consistent regardless, and if it doesn’t, you truly must ask yourself: who am I doing all of this for? For if you truly wore it for Allah, you would know that He is always Watching, always present, regardless of who is around you.

Now for the disclaimer: I am not supporting that anyone remove their niqab, or remove anything for that matter, but I am enforcing that we be merciful and gentle towards the believers. This on our part will be following the sunnah of the Messenger, sallallahu alayhi wasalam. And I am enforcing that we all be sincere towards Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, because those who are sincere will be bound to the sunnah.

waAllahu Ta’ala Alam

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  1. #1 by kazemah on July 12, 2012 - 5:31 pm

    Unfortunately I tend to take the harsh approach (just because I was raised this way). But when my husband sees me looking at someone in a disapproving manner, he reminds me that I don’t know what they’re going through and that I have to make excuses for muslims. This post is a good reminder of that.

  2. #2 by S.A.K on November 26, 2012 - 6:58 am

    Assalaamu ‘alaykum sister, I was wondering if you could advise me on something insha’Allah.

    There is a revert sister at my university and her family lives in a European country which I don’t think has a very large Muslim population.
    She put on the headscarf some time last year, but then when I saw her after the summer it was off. I didn’t ask or mention anything about it to her this year. So I obviously don’t know what happened (though I do know she went back home in the summer)..but again I don’t know the reasons.

    Is it okay for me to tell her that she should try wearing it part-time/as much as she can, even if that means taking it off with her family in Poland ?..

    Should I bring up to the topic to her? if so how should I, I don’t want to seem judgmental or nosy etc

    Jazaakillahu khairan

    • #3 by almuqarraboon on November 26, 2012 - 7:26 am

      walaykumasalam wrwb sis,

      Firstly, may Allah swt reward you for your intentions and concern, and may He swt increase the love between you and this sister, for His sake.

      My naseeha is the following, and it is assuming that you have a pretty good relationship with this sister where you will be able to talk to her about this, and it won’t seem entirely out of place or strange. If you do not feel that you have that kind of relationship with her, you can still do the following, but preferably after you develop a bit of a rapport with the sister. And your other option is to talk to someone who can talk to her about it, who you feel she would be comfortable talking to and listening to.

      So here is what I suggest:
      First, make dua for her. Then, when you speak to her, make it clear to her that you are saying the following only because you love her for the sake of Allah, and that you seek refuge with Allah from shaytan being a part of this conversation, and misconstruing your words. And then speak from your heart and say what feels right.
      My personal way of approaching this would not be to tell her off the bat that she should put it back on. Rather, I would try to show her that I’m interested in understanding why she took it off in the first place. What happened? Give her a chance to talk.
      Now, why didn’t she feel comfortable speaking to you about it when it was going on, or getting in touch with you? (This is very important in my opinion, because by putting this question out there, you are telling her that if something like this happens again, you want her to trust you with it, and so you are paving the way to be able to stop/help with future occurrences of the same issue.)

      Give her some space to talk it out and feel understood and don’t be shy to comment on something if you notice it (like if you suspect she is not being straightforward with you because she still thinks you will judge her – and of course, don’t use these exact words, but you get what I’m saying). Basically, be real with her and she’ll be real with you.

      Then ask her how her salah is going, and how her relationship with Allah swt is. Does she feel close to Him or distant? Stay on this topic for some time. Don’t rush to the topic of hijab if there is a possibility that the sister has bigger problems, e.g. she is no longer praying, or has doubts about the deen, or has a wrong understanding of who Allah swt is.

      After all of this now, which is a process that may take some time and shouldn’t be rushed, you can bring up putting the hijab back on, and use your words carefully so that she sees that you two are in it together, that you are making yourself available to her for help.

      Then in terms of the hijab, set the bar high and work your way down from there. Don’t start off saying that she can wear it part-time. But if it comes to that, then yes, it is better for her to wear it part-time/as much as she can, as opposed to not wearing it at all, and to work up to wearing it full-time i’A.

      Finally, if you truly care for this sister for the sake of Allah, I advise you to get very close to her because converts are faced with challenges that most of us born-Muslims are not, and they need as many close Muslim (sincere, righteous and knowledgeable) friends as they can get in their company, to be constant reminders for them inshaaAllah.

      I pray that this was of benefit.
      You know where to find me if anything iA :),

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