Ramadan Chats with Neryssa #1 : My Hijab Story

In this post I will tell you my story of when I first started wearing the headscarf and becoming a practicing Muslim around 4 years ago. The definition of the word‘Hijab’ (Hee-jahb) will be clarified in one of my future posts.

I used to not be fond of the headscarf. Prior to four years ago, I wore tank tops and shorts and I didn’t really know how to pray. Once in a while my dad would ask me to pray and I did NOT like it at all. I’d see Muslim women covered from head to toe and I would sneer at them and wonder “Isn’t it hot wearing the headscarf?” “Why is she covering her pretty hair” and so on. I found the headscarf oppressive.

Boy was I ignorant.

Flash forward to when I was 15/16. I was pretty narrow-minded, and neither was I the best person in existence (I’m still not but I like to think that I’ve grown to be better than who I was before). I did my best to impress the people I surrounded myself with even if it meant sacrificing someone else’s happiness. I took pride in some of the unkind things I’ve done. I did my best to live up to the expectations of some of my peers that I forget to be myself. The thoughts and opinions of others meant so much to me.

That along with other factors that I shan’t mention kept building up and it only made my mental health worse. In a way, my life then was like a game of Jenga, ready to topple at any moment.

And that moment came.  Something happened and my parents and I found that or at least felt like we were alone. There were people who did abandon us in our time of need. Change happened. And it didn’t seem like a good one.

But the thing about change is, it’s neither bad or good; only needed.

My life had to change.

It had to crumble.

I had to fall in order to rise as a better person than I was before.

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My parents and I turned to religion and I began my journey as a practicing Muslim. And about a year later, I started wearing the headscarf.

My mental health still fluctuates. I still sin here and there. Wearing the headscarf and practicing my religion did not make me a perfect person.

But the headscarf that I once deemed as oppressive actually liberated me. In a world where women are objectified, wearing the headscarf prevented people from judging me for my body and my ‘sex appeal’ and made them focus on my face and thoughts instead. The headscarf wasn’t my barrier to the rest of the world. In fact, it helped me embrace myself as I am to face the world.

Ever since I started my headscarf journey, the most common question that I get asked is “Isn’t it hot wearing that all the time?” And my answer would always be no each time.

Because to me, if a piece of cloth around my head can hinder me from doing something properly, then I’m just not trying hard enough.

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Disclaimer:

  • I am not a scholar so deeper topics such as the ones about sharia law, as well as things you may see that are related to the culture of the ethnic group practicing the religion rather than the actual religion itself may not be answered. The last thing I want is to spread the wrong information )
  • Also the aim of this project is merely to clarify and reduce misunderstandings people may have about the religion and reduce Islamophobia. It’s not a place to start a debate about religion. You don’t have to agree with what I believe in to respect my beliefs, and the same applies vice versa. And like I said, I’m not a scholar and I’m still learning so I’m not the best person to debate about religion with )
  • When I mentioned that I used to not wear the headscarf and wore really revealing clothes, I am not shaming any woman whosoever who don’t cover up. Although in Islam women (and MEN) are obliged to dress modestly, the way you’re dressed doesn’t fully represent who you are as a Muslim (because there are people who cover up BUT act unkind).
  • My aim here isn’t to convert anyone. The role of a Muslim isn’t to convert people because Islam doesn’t approve of forcing people to convert and share your beliefs. My aim here is merely to educate and spread the knowledge (because the role of a Muslim is merely to educate which is something the religion encourages).

 

Living Multicultural: The Reality of being an Asian in Australia

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This piece titled “Living Multicultural: The Reality of Being an Asian in Australia” is about Australian Citizens/Residents of Asian Descents whose family moved to Australia before or after they were born. The video explores the reality of living in Australia as an Asian and their sense of identity as an Australian is questioned due to their ethnicity and the colour of their skin.