Whenever Ramadan approaches, Muslims everywhere get into high gear with their plans for self-improvement. Every year, believers begin to contemplate the changes they will undertake. Will we read more Qu’ran? Pray Taraweeh? Focus on all five daily prayers? Calculate our zakat, give in fitra? We contemplate and deeply consider the actions we will take to become better Muslims during and beyond this Holy month.
As a new revert, this is now my third Ramadan, and it’s a time when I recall the things that I had given up when I became Muslim and remind myself that despite all those losses, I have gained a new identity. I am Muslim, Alhamdulillah. I am reassured that the sacrifices I have made will be rewarded by Allah subhana wa ta’alaa and replaced with something even better. But amidst all these changes, I never fully felt that I had embraced my new identity. I felt as though a part of me was still veiled from being a true Muslimah, and the struggle to create self-acceptance came to the forefront because this year, I wanted to stop hiding.
This year, along with being a new Muslim, I am also a new mom. Early on as a revert, I told myself that I would start wearing a hijab once I became a mother. It was important for me to fully accept my own identity, before I helped my child forge his. My son is now five months old, and when I look at him, the promise of fulfilling the requirements of our faith become more and more important. However, as the days of Ramadan pass, I haven’t been able to find the courage to put on a hijab. My mind struggle with itself as I listen to the words of Boonaa Mohammed describe hijab in its grace, or a beautiful nasheed about the veil sung by Dawud Wharnsby. Their words touch my soul, but my heart battles my mind to make a decision. I know that it does not matter what other people think of me, only what Allah swt thinks of me. Yet, the struggle is real. I hesitate, I have fears and anxieties. And I long to sift through all of them to find the true calling of my faith.
I want to please Allah swt. But most of all, when I ask for forgiveness of my sins, I want to be sincere in my changed behavior. I am reminded that our sins are forgiven only when we are sincere and don’t continue making the same mistakes, so I want to strengthen this resolve and rise to become better. As my heart yearns to seek the pleasure of my Creator, I fear facing the questions of people who have barely accepted me as Muslim. How can I explain this to my loved ones? I ask Allah swt to ensure that I have the correct answers ready when someone asks me why I wear the hijab? Why did I convert to Islam? Did I not believe Islam to be oppressive? I look for guidance and reassurance that I will have the right words to speak the answers my heart understands, but my tongue may not be able to articulate. I find comfort in knowing that my answers may be my own way of making dawah, so I pray that I am able to represent my faith to the best of my ability.
I am fortunate because I am not alone on this journey. I have the support of my husband, my friends, and even a non-Muslim friend which strengthens my resolve. And I have to admit, I am comforted by the fact that my family lives hours away and won’t see me in the headscarf for sometime. This will give me the chance to become accustomed to this new addition to my practice of faith, and feel stronger before facing them.
For now, I practice.
I wore the hijab for tea with a dear friend, I went for a walk, ran errands and even went to a restaurant with my husband. Every step I take brings me closer to wearing the hijab. I look forward to the ease that Ramadan brings to help us achieve goals we set forth in our faith. I hope this month makes this step easy for me.
I have to admit, I am a Muslim in hiding. I haven’t had to answer questions or defend my position or stance or been asked to speak on behalf of Muslims across the world doing terrible things. I am a white convert, covering all but my head, easily blending as a non-Muslim. I don’t have a sticker on my forehead that announces my faith to others; I am white with a white name. I am a privileged woman who isn’t seen as Muslim, but hopes that this Ramadan, I am able to embrace my faith as a public announcement when I wear my identity.
Today, I pray that my actions and my level of faith will someday be reflective in my son’s actions and intentions. I pray that the changes I make for Allah swt bring me closer to Him and one day that my actions encourage my son to make difficult choices that surrender him to that which is pleasing to Allah swt.
This Ramadan, what will you do to be closer to Allah swt?