What makes a Muslim, a Muslim? Just being born into a Muslim family sure doesn’t make one a Muslim. So what is it? Is it the five daily prayers? Is it the regular remembrance of God? Or is it the hijab for women? In my opinion, what makes a Muslim, a Muslim is his or her Iman. Iman or the faith in one God and His teachings is the foundation of Islam. It’s the faith in your Lord that differentiates you from the others. This is something that is intangible, something that can’t be seen and can only be felt in the heart. When you have Iman, the other things follow.
Hijab is usually described by a head scarf worn by women to guard their beauty. However, the proper meaning of hijab is not just the head scarf, but also loosely fitted attire which cloaks the shape of a woman’s body. For the women in Islam, it is advised that they wear a hijab. A significant amount of people consider the hijab as a reflection of submission towards God, which is very true. Nonetheless, someone who doesn’t wear a hijab is not any less a Muslim than someone who wears it. Something as trivial as the head scarf can’t determine the level of faith and belief towards God. Hijab doesn’t indicate if she is regular in her daily prayers or not. Hijab doesn’t determine if she is kind to her fellow Muslims or not. But, maybe someone without a hijab has the Quran memorized and is living a more pious life than someone who is wearing a hijab. Maybe, someone without hijab has better manners than someone with it. Your relationship with God is something spiritual which can’t be seen from outside. Whether you wear a hijab or not, doesn’t determine the closeness to your Lord. Just because someone wears a hijab, they can’t say that someone who doesn’t has any less Iman than they do. They might be following God’s will in other ways that a hijabi isn’t. You can’t say or interpret what a person is thinking just by looking at his or her face. The same logic applies here. You can’t possibly know the intensity to which someone is devoted towards their God just by looking at their outlook or by what they wear and how they dress up.
I’ve heard stories from a fellow non-hijabi who went to pray at a mosque only to be questioned if she was actually a Muslim, that she sure didn’t look like one. What we don’t understand is that, if she didn’t have the spiritual connection with God, she wouldn’t have been present in the mosque for prayers in the first place. This surely represents her level of Iman.
Every Muslim is struggling in a way or the other. Someone who doesn’t wear a hijab is someone who’s struggling with it. She might have every intention of wearing a hijab and might have even tried wearing it multiple times, but she might have a medical condition where she gets heat stroke if she keeps her head covered. She might want to start hijab but can’t because of a hundred reasons we will never understand because we are not in her shoes. The bottom line is, where a hijab is a garment worn to show respect to the teachings of our Lord, not wearing it doesn’t make one any less of a Muslim than someone who wears it. The reason behind being, there are thousands of ways you can please your God, be it helping an animal or giving charity, be it praying regular prayers or just a simple thank you conveyed to your Creator in the middle of the day. What actually matters is how you feel when He comes to your mind, how often you keep everything else on hold and let yourself feel the blessings of God all around you. You don’t need to be wearing a hijab to feel close to God, it’s what in the heart that matters.
In a nutshell, just wearing a hijab doesn’t determine how good a Muslim you are. Someone who doesn’t wear one might just well beat you to it. The judgment based on someone’s outlook has been going on for quite some time. It’s time we get rid of this prejudice and move on; learn to accept people for who they really are and not by how they look.
This article is written by Nafisa Nawar