The first reason [I wear a hijab] is that when people see me, the first thing I want them to know is that I’m a Muslim, so that is an obvious way to make that statement and I think it’s a subtle way. A lot of people, nowadays, are threatened by it, but for me it’s a very subtle way of showing I’m a Muslim and the moment you see it you identify me as a Muslim, before anything else. The second reason why I wear is because it does bring me closer to Allah and the reason why I wear it is between me and my creator, so it’s a very personal relationship and I feel like me putting this on has made me closer to my religion. I mean I’ve only been wearing it really properly for the last 7-8 years. And the third reason is I feel like it really empowers me, like before, I loved my hair, I loved doing curls, straightening it, it was lovely, but I did feel a lot of pressure to make sure my hair was right, and then when I started wearing the hijab it was really tough for me. Sometimes I used to take it off, I used to be like “I can’t do this”. I actually found it such a struggle and then eventually when I started wearing it, it just started evolving then I started feeling naked without it. I used to feel less confident without it and now this is the last thing I put on my head, so I get changed, I do my makeup and the last thing I do is put my hijab on, and then once I’ve put that on, I feel complete, I feel ready and I feel very empowered and I feel very beautiful. It’s just amazing.
I like the fact that, when people see the hijab, sometimes they might think that your language and your education is limited, and then it’s nice to speak and to show that no, I’m still an educated person, I’m still an empowered person it’s just a scarf. I feel like I’m challenging people more and it just gives me that extra confidence. Even though nowadays there are all these reports that say with the hijab they’re less likely to be employed, you keep hearing these things, but to me I just think “bring it on”. You know? “Don’t care. Let’s bring it on.” Now with the European Law that’s passed, well a lot of people are so angry about it but I don’t actually feel angry about it, I feel like wow this is such a strong thing, it’s [even] gone to European law. My hijab is so strong, it’s stronger than any part of me. It’s stronger than a lipstick, it’s stronger than your skills, it’s almost stronger than anything because they’ve taken it to court to let a company say you’re not allowed to wear it.
When I went to work, because we were based in Tower Hamlets and considering the area was mostly Muslim Bangladeshis, so the hijab was something everybody saw, and one of my colleagues was talking about the hijab and she said “I suppose you’ve been conditioned into wearing it”. And I was like “yeah, fair enough, I think you’ve been conditioned into wearing the bikini on the beach.” And she was like “no I haven’t. I haven’t. That’s my choice”. I go “well it’s the same thing with the hijab, I haven’t been conditioned by anyone, and you’re saying you haven’t been conditioned by anyone.” She said it really casually and I don’t think she even meant to say it, it was something she thinks but it came out and it caught me by surprise because this was a colleague of mine who’s worked with this community but she still has that perspective and it was a bit surprising.
I’m not representing myself once I put this on, and as I said I want people to know I’m Muslim, then I have to take that responsibility seriously. I can’t wear it and then go out and get into fights on the street or getting drunk because that’s not what Islam is about.