Author: Mariam Hasan
I still vividly remember the disastrous day my mom forced an abaya upon me. I was an extremely out-going sort of a girl, the very opposite of what mom wanted me to be. My life revolved around partying and hanging out with school-friends, and especially socializing around the many social-networking sites on the World Wide Web. One of my closest friends was an emerging musician, and although I did not have a knack for music, she was my avid source of the latest gossip relating to our school’s social turnings. Also, she informed me about all the “recent opinion” guys had about the two of us.
It was only after a parent-teacher meeting at school that made my mom adamant upon having me wear an abaya: by hook or by crook. In normal circumstances, I would surely not have given in to her, but back then, I knew that I had lost my ground as all my social-affairs-news had been leaked out to her by my teacher. My mother was fuming and raging at me. Her anger wasn’t the only factor; there was so much of broken-trust and betrayal that had dominated her sorrow. This made me reflect upon my character and the path of disloyalty I was treading.
The initial days of being shrouded in an abaya was quite miserable. The many times I would run a critical gaze down my abaya-donned body made me deeply regret my decision of having to identity myself in it for the rest of life. But since I live in a highly judgmental, stereo-typical society, the chances of shedding away a covering that you’ve once given into is almost naught, unless you are prepared to face people’s aggravating, pessimistic remarks everywhere you go. Thus, I gave way to “Islamic symbolism” to my actual life.
Days carried away, until the very next year, mom resolutely decided to make me observe the niqab: the face veil. However, this time around, I had nothing condemnable on my part, so I was not going to give in so easily. I can clearly remember how I was grounded for the entire winter vacations for refusing to wear the niqab. Eventually, I was compelled to throw in the towel since winter break was coming to an end and I couldn’t have missed school at any cost (I had always been one of the most-active students in class).
It still amuses me when I sink back into the past, watching myself going frenzy in the morning for a strip of Sellotape to push my scarf in place against the tip of my nose, and a pair of pins to craft its edges about either of my temples before leaving for school. It would not be an exaggeration at all if I say I was an obvious loony to all my acquaintances picturing one of the most unusual niqab fastening fashions. Nevertheless, with the decisive passage of time, I came to flavor my public-attire as my own, taking pride in it as it enveloped me gracefully.
Yet, the most disturbing issue hampering me from relenting from my past, and pursuing the Right Way was the tough, intolerant environment I was stranded in…my friends, including those from the social networking sites. No matter how hard I strove to part away from my indecent history, I found myself plunged back into it soon.
And it was during those stressing, tiring days that I braced myself up for a Dua I had so long been delaying…partially because I was insecure about my decision to bid the glamorous, glittery past a farewell for an ever-lasting journey onto the highway of Guidance, and partially because I feared I might never be replied to. What I was asking seemed so “big”!
That very night, I gathered all my reflexes against the erroneous whisperings of the Satan, and poured my heart out to the Lord of the Worlds, the Sustainer of all that exists. Amidst my very sincere apologies and repentance, I asked Him to decree for me this very nice, chaste cousin of mine as a spouse, whom I could never actually even imagine of owning me up as a life-partner with the entire repellent knowledge he must have about me. I cannot ascertain the exact time period I was there at the prayer mat making Dua from the core of my heart, but I still remember waking up the next day deploring my insanity at being an outright escapist the previous night…imagining to be wed to a person who was, by all odds, a virtuous Muslim; even if it meant groping earnestly for a source to assist you upon the Guided Way.
More time slithered by. Each day unleashed from within itself new trials, testing and polishing my Emaan for me, and I tugged on with my best-possible effort. Within a simple two-week period, I had forgotten the spouse-related Dua I had asked Allah the preceding fortnight, for my Duas now focused on the enhancement of Emaan, and my ability to shape my life accordingly.
The following year, as I rested beside my mom one pleasant day, I found her being a tad bit hesitant, trying to choose her words while she started off. Her words are to-date just as acutely hear-able to me, as when she spoke them that day, intriguing a butter-fly dance in my stomach. She asked me if I would be alright if she and my dad accepted a marriage-proposal from one of my paternal cousin: yes! The very cousin whom I had last year expected Allah to edict for me as a spouse. Subhan Allaah. I barely managed an affirmative as I rushed away from her company, obviously looking too abashed like the general tradition in our culture is. Still, it was me who knew it was not the bashfulness at the acknowledgement of a wedding-proposal, but the sheer ecstasy spewing up from the pit of my existence that drove me out of her sight to practice some voluntary units of Salah for Allah and a BIG, BIG smile to somehow match my euphoria.
I was wed after four months of the confirmation. A week prior to my marriage, I accumulated my courage, and inquired mom, ‘How long ago was this proposal though?’. She patted my cheek and replied, ‘Exact one year ago.’