Thursday, July 22, 2010

Families, converts/non-Muslims, and hijab/niqab.

So...For those of you ladies who wear hijab/niqab (either as a convert or non-Muslim)... Do your families know? If so, how did you tell them, and how did they initially react? If not, are you planning on telling/showing them?

I don't really know how to break the hijab to my family. Let's not even get started on niqab. I don't think they'd understand. Granted, it would be some time before I'll have to deal with seeing them, but... yeah. The thought of wearing hijab around my family is kinda scary and hard.


  1. For those who don't know, I'm a Christian hijabi.

    I had to break the hijab to my family not too long after I put it on, because they wrote asking about getting tickets for us to go out places and do stuff with their friends. And given nearly everyone in their vast crowd of friends is Jewish, I realized they might not want to appear with me in public in hijab.

    The actual explanation was made easier by the fact that I normally visit my family in the wintertime. So for years already, I have been draping my scarf like a hijab over my head and then clapping a hat on top - which meant I could tell them that practically speaking, I am now wearing something that looks sort of like what I normally wear in the winter, except now it doesn't come off when I enter the house.

    As it turns out, they didn't have a problem being seen in public with a nice hijabi girl. They just wanted to know why exactly I was doing it. So I told them: it's a prayer garment, it's purely voluntary in that I don't believe it is *required*. I think the voluntary part did a lot to mollify them.

    And in the end, even the one family member who is really adamantly opposed to hijab or indeed anything to do with Islam decided to focus on the aesthetic side - since the fact of the matter is that what I was doing looked nice. And another family member sent an e-mail around to everyone in The Gang with my 'new image' attached, and one person even wrote back some very beautiful words...

    So it's been quite positive. The rest of my hijab story, including how I dealt with such things as wearing hijab at church and getting new ID documents, is on my blog - just click 'hijab' in the links list on the right.

  2. PS Are you sure you want your family to know you wear niqab? I mean, I am just recalling that time at the mall when it was, um, really convenient that they don't know... I don't wear it myself, but if I did, first of all I'd be the only niqabi in the entire city, and secondly my height would rather preclude anonymity. Evidently you don't have the latter problem - more power to ya :)

  3. Asalamu Alaikum (peace be upon you)

    My relatives overseas still dont know I wear Niqab but eventually they will find out when i visit them. I know its going to be a cringe moment but you know we gotta do what we gotta do!

    Im just wondering, how would a non-muslimah Niqabi explain wearing Niqab to her family? It would be so annoying i think.. but then again the non-muslims have an open mind towards freedom of dress so it could work out.

    May god bless you. :)

  4. I wear a khimar and a jilbab when I go out, and my family doesn't know. My mom already hates the way I dress when I'm out with them (long sleeves, long pants/skirts), and I know she would freak out if she saw me wearing a headscarf, let alone a jilbab. I hate having to live like this, and I feel awful going out without hijab when I'm with them, but I feel like I don't have a choice. Insha'Allah, I will tell them one day (they don't even know I'm Muslim yet at this point), but it's definitely going to take time for them to accept it.

  5. Muslimah, I think you would be surprised how many non-Muslims have a very hard time with modest dress. One of our blogger friends has been complaining recently that her mother is actively trying to convince (coerce?) her into dressing as revealingly as possible. She's not even a hijabi, not even Muslim herself, and she's already having problems. Some of us even have trouble with family who try to get us to engage in actual immoral behavior with men! The problem is not one to be taken lightly.

  6. People don't get hijab. They say, "This or that church leader said we no longer have to cover our heads." It's sad how women wait to be told what to do and what not to do rather then making up their own minds. We are supposedly so "liberated" from being told what to do and yet if you wear a head scarf or a hat you find women coming up and saying, "You don't have to wear that any more. You know that, right?" (Why do they feel they have to come and tell you off?) I wear hijab in a variety of styles and I'm Catholic. I get asked the strangest questions and mostly they seem to come from the angle that I have a mental problem. "Are you afraid of your hair?" ... "Are you ashamed of your body so you hide it under loose clothing?"

  7. wow I just posted a comment on this on ellen's blog

    My mum was pretty cool - as a christian she understood the biblical basis for it. her atitude is "it's your choice". That said she was still uncomfortable about it. My brothers flat out hated it. Dad sorta didnt take notice.
    At the end of the day putting biblical reasons aside I said it like this. In western society where people have a choice to wear tiny, revealing putfits, or dress like a punk or emo or gothic or anything else, then why should I not be able to wear a scarf? Simply because I want to. I enjoy it. Like a preference for jeans, or certain colours or clothing styles - I choose to wear a scarf. Because I want to. And if society can accept immodesty then it can accept modesty. If it can accept that having a shaved head, multile piercings, scarring, black spiked clothing is my style of choice - then it can accept that covering my head is my style of choice.

    After explaining this there is not much else you can do. The next step is simply to wait. Give people time. It took most people a year or so before they felt comfortable with hijab. It doesn't mean they agree with it theoretically but at least they accept it.
    I hope this will be the case for you... :) If it helps tell them there are plenty of christian cover-ers.. and that covering has been pretty much the norm for most of civilisation. It is only in the last 100 years or so that cultures have abadoned all head coverings. Even 50 years ago women wore scarves/hats in church!!
    All the best! xx

  8. Hey there.

    I'm a Muslimah convert, coming from an ostensibly Christian family. In practice, my parents are both very secular, although they do believe in God. Both of them have been taught to associate the hijab and niqab with misogyny, as is typical of westerners. When I made the decision to wear hijab, I found that the best way to go about it was to explain why I made that choice, putting emphasis on the fact that it was MY choice, and it wasn't about oppression or subjugation, nor was I ashamed of my body (quite the opposite, in fact, as I'm sure you and all other veiling-women can understand). If you have difficulty saying it aloud, write a letter -- that way, you'll be able to say everything you need to say without being interrupted or losing your train of thought. Instead of beating around the bush, I think it's better to just lay it all out there in a straightforward manner -- at the end of the day, all you can really do is explain your decision as clearly as possible, and hope they understand and accept your choices. There's always a risk that they won't, and I completely understand how hurtful that possibly is (my dad hasn't been overly supportive, although he hasn't disowned me or anything drastic like that), but keeping it from them can hurt just as much.

    In any case, I truly hope that you can find the strength to tell them. Once you do, you'll feel a thousand times lighter, having finally gotten it off your shoulders. Good luck and stay strong.

  9. salam (peace) to you all !
    i am a muslim revert. I started wearing hijab about 8 months ago. It truely is a scary expierience to tell or show your family.My father often asks me about it and triies to make me fell guilty about covering.. becuase his side of the family does not really know and he'll have to explain the shame in me covering myself( go figure) anyways it hurts to be secluded from seeing my family ..because of this head dress that has become a norm for me and that creates more shyness in me. i honestly hope you find the courage to tell your parents. becuase before i showed my family i would only wear it to school and the mosque and for prayer of corse..when i would walk to school i would put it on and when i came back from school i wud take it off. and i didnt want that. i wanted to be able to wear it at all times but well i finally found the courage because it was just too much for me to hide...and writing a letter would help..that will make things easier ,God willing .
    wish you the best.

  10. Assalaamu Alaykum. I'm a convert who's been covering for 5.5yrs, abaya'd for 4, niqabed for 8mon. My family knew about me covering as soon as I started. I basically told em that I believe its what God requires and they needed to get used to it- when I learned more and donned an abaya post marriage I told everyone the same. I make it a point to look extra nice when I don't have to cover, and if its family I cover without the abaya. Niqab has not been brought up w my relatives minus a couple of cousins, my bro n nephews (not his wife though). I do not believe niqab is obligatory so I don't wear it around them, even in public but otherwise wear full-time when around ppl not related by blood or marriage.