My First Day of Wearing Niqab

January 21, 2012 at 1:24 am Leave a comment

OMG, OMG, OMG, yesterday on Thursday, Jan 19 around 2:30pm, I put on my niqab. I sat in the van and my step mom hadn’t seen me in the rear view mirror and I wasn’t sure if I wanted her to. I was going to college (at the campus near my house instead of Alexandria). The college is literally 5 minutes from my house so I had to decide quick whether I was really going to wear it to college or not. “It’s either now or never,” I told myself. This was the 2nd week of the Spring semester so I figured no one remembered what I looked like from the 1st week, but if I had gone one more week without wearing it, people would know me and then it would be harder to put it on.

When we were on the stop light, I put the niqab on.

It felt weird-nothing like what it felt when I tried it on at home about a million times. A minute later, I took it off because I wasn’t sure if I could do it. Then, we reached another stop light.

I put it back on.

Then, we were driving down the road that would take us to the intersection between a high school and NOVA. I took it off.

Then, as my step mom took a right turn and went down the winding road that would lead to the main building, I put it back on. I took a deep breath and made du’a, but I was nervous I started becoming clumsy. I slid open the door of the van and stepped out. More than 4 people stared. They stared like I came from outer space. I closed the door behind me and started walking towards the front entrance. I was so nervous, I couldn’t walk properly and my backpack kept sliding down my shoulder. People stared even more. I walked into the building, past the information desk, and everyone stared. Not only their eyes, but also their heads followed me as I turned left to go up the staircase that would lead me to the library on the 4th floor. I was so not expecting this, I thought.

I went to the library where I saw three Muslims women-2 employees and 1 student. I was so relieved to see the familiarity of Muslims. I went and put my backpack by a circle of chairs near a bookshelf.

I went to the bathroom and tried to fix my niqab. I put it inside my hijab instead of outside and it looked better, less scarier, I thought. But when I left the bathroom and walked down the hall, I realized that this style was pushing my niqab closer to my face, making it harder for me to breathe. So I went back to the bathroom and tied it outside my hijab again. Not exactly the best breathing experiences I’ve ever had, but it was a little better. I sat on the chair where my back pack was and tried to relax. I took deep breaths but I was suffocating. Part of it was because it was burning hot in the library and part of it was because I had a cold and my nose was stuffy. I tried to ignore it and pulled out the book I was reading last week, 101 Careers in Public Health. I am majoring in English and Islamic Studies with a minor in nutrition insha’Allah, but after taking HLT 110, I wanted to do something related to public health as well, so this was clearly the book for me. I was starving to death so as I read, I got out an apple and took a bite. I had barely begun eating the piece of fruit when the girl with the hijab came and sat in the chair across from me. I instantly recognized her from Al-Maghrib. I was like, “Hey, I met you at Shahadah, you remember?” But, obviously she didn’t know me cause I was now wearing niqab. I put my apple on hold in a napkin. I was having a hard time eating it anyway.We talked about careers and I told her a little bit about myself and about how my mom would blow when she saw my niqab. But it didn’t matter cause when I told my dad the night before, he was perfectly okay with it. I had said, “I’m starting niqab,” and my dad was like, “okay.” It was so simple. Alhamdulillah. After talking for about 20 minutes, the girl said she was going to the masjid to pray ‘Asr and I told her I’m going to class because I saw that it was 3:50pm.

My class was supposed to start at 4:00 and I met my professor in the hall. He pointed at me and he yelled, “You! You’re Aimen, right?!” and I’m like, “Umm……..” and he’s like, “Yeah! You’re Aimen!” and I’m like, —blank— and then he came closer and examined me for a second or two; then, he’s like, “Naw, you’re not Aimen; Aimen has blue eyes.” and I’m thinking, who is this Aimen? I gotta meet her and learn ITE 115 secrets from her, looks like she has a good standing in this professor’s class. Then I’m like, “I was just on my way to class,” and he was like “Good, that’s good, I’m also going to class.”

So I followed him to the 3rd floor. Even in class, he was like, “You know Aimen also wears that thing. That head gear or veil or whatever you call it; I’m sorry I don’t know what it’s called.” I was trying to find words to tell him that it’s called a niqab but then he started teaching so I sat down.

It was a looooong class. In the middle, I watched the clock. It said 5:20pm. I was thinking about how and when to interrupt the professor’s lecture to tell him that I have to go pray Maghrib. Luckily, he said we were having a 10 minute break right then. I ‘ran’ to the bathroom and started making wudu’ as fast as I could. Then, I went to the library to pray in the corner that always seems unoccupied. This time, though, there was a class going on so I hurried downstairs to the 1st floor and prayed in the so-called MSA room. That room is so tiny I couldn’t even pray properly. Not to mention the “SGA Meeting” that was going on there. I prayed a concentration-less Maghrib prayer and then went back to class on the 3rd floor where everyone had returned from the break a long time ago.

About one and a half hours later, I went to CST 110 (Communications class). I always had the feeling the teacher didn’t like me because I was Muslim but I decided to ignore it so I wouldn’t mess up my learning experience.  That day, the topic was perception and stereotypes. She mentioned all kinds of stereotypical behavior except the kind that occurs against Muslims. I don’t if she was being insensitive to Muslims or if she thought it would offend me, cause she kept staring at me. As she was talking about perception, a slide popped up in which there were two magazine cover women. One of them was skinny and the other was a little chubby but nonetheless, the teacher was trying to explain how people have different perceptions of beauty. The pictures were so rated-R that I was so grateful to be Muslim (and covered from head-to-toe). I was just thinking that why did she have to choose pictures like these? She could have just shown like a young pretty woman and then an older woman. I wanted to go up there and show them the youtube video I saw that says Muslim women are the most beautiful (because they’re covered).

Anyway, that was a really annoying class and  I couldn’t wait for it to be over. Luckily, she let us go 1 hour early. Unluckily, all the offices were closed and I couldn’t find a phone. I was wandering the halls in dismay and people were staring at me. I was still getting used to walking in a niqab. All my life, I observed that niqabis have a certain way of walking. They always look lady-like and beautiful. Personally, my walk is fast. Especially at college, I almost zoom through the hallways cause I hate all the guys who swarm the halls. And I learned that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) walked fast, so I decided to do the same. But then I realized that maybe I should slow down because it’s not befitting for a woman to walk so fast. So I roamed the empty hallways and practiced a slightly slower walk and it worked! Then, luckily, I found a phone! So I called my dad and told him to pick me up. As I was standing outside the building in the cold, I noticed my niqab gave me protection from the cold and from the losers who stand outside and smoke. They could no longer see my face; the only thing they would see are my outer garments. This is when I truly understood the words of the niqabis who say that they feel liberated when they wear niqab. For the first time in my life, no one gave me a look that disturbed me and no one looked at me twice except out of curiosity or because they were weirded out.  And I like that just fine.

 

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