I was born and raised in Australia and reverted to Islam when I was 23 years old. But I didn’t start wearing the hijab until much, much later. Like many other sisters, it had always been something that I’d hope to do “one day, in sha’ Allah”. I always observed a modest dress code, but wearing the hijab was something that took a while for me to gain the confidence and conviction to do.
Even when I had the chance to go to Hajj, wearing the hijab when I returned was an issue that held me back. I hoped that after performing Hajj I’d be ready to make the commitment. But having grown up in a Christian family in a non-Muslim country, hijab still felt very foreign to me in the sense that I struggled to feel like “me” when I wore it. I also wasn’t sure I was ready to deal with the responsibility and consequences that came along with it.
But I was advised that while Hajj was one of the five pillars of Islam, hijab was not, so I shouldn’t let the issue of wearing it (or not wearing it) on my return hold me back from fulfilling a pillar. So alhamdulillah I was fortunate to have been able to perform Hajj. It was an amazing and life changing experience, but I still wasn’t quite ready to commit to wearing the hijab permanently.
So if Hajj couldn’t convince me, then what did?
She was about to start Grade 1 at school which marked the start of a journey that would lead to the big wide world. I realized that the person she would grow up to become would be shaped greatly by the circle of people around her and the world she was exposed to. I didn’t want her views on beauty, self-confidence, being Muslim and wearing hijab to be shaped purely by friends, media and social media. I didn’t want the hijab to be foreign to her too. So, I knew that I needed to be the best role model for her that I could be.
That gave me the conviction I needed to do what, in my heart, I knew I wanted to do.
True Hijab Story By: Cherie Balla, Designer, Business Owner Little Wings Gallery, Mother of 3.