Wednesday, June 4, 2014

INTERVIEW: THE LIFE & FREEDOM OF A NIQABI





Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuhu!

It's been really amazing to have had the opportunity to interview so many Muslimahs, and Subhanallah, it's all so enlightening. Personally, I've learned so much through all the interviews (and still learning in fact- there's another interview to follow soon, In sha Allah).

So, here's an amazing interview. Do read it and may Allah help all those who are reading to benefit, In sha Allah!


Tell us a little bit about yourself

My name is Kareema Badawi. I am 18, African American/Egyptian, born and raised in Washington, DC. I attend a community college and work in a library in the children's section. I am studying early childhood education with plans to either own my own daycare or teach children somewhere in the world.


Wearing the Hijab to high school/college in a non-Muslim country is always a challenge. How difficult was it for you?

I started wearing Hijab a few weeks after I graduated high school. I did not come from a diverse or open minded school system. Everyone was African American and Christian. My brother and I were always the only Muslims in our schools, and I was the lightest skinned person in school which caused frequent bullying. After prom I realized I needed to gain confidence in my religion and start practicing it correctly because there was more to life than the life I was living. The summer before I began college I started wearing hijab. I was shocked and grateful to Allah that my college had more Muslims than I had ever seen in my living areas and school systems. I assume because my college is in Maryland (in a very diverse part). There were a handful of Muslims out of the whole school but it made me feel comfortable not to be the only Muslim girl like I had been my whole life. It was not difficult because my brother and mother were proud of me and I knew I was doing something to please Allah. I also see how my mom dresses and it was an example for me.


What advice would you give for Muslimahs who give up the Hijab because they feel uncomfortable being the only or one of the few Hijabis in their school?

Advice to hijabis who feel uncomfortable would be that you will honestly get more respect than lose any. Males will not treat you the same and females who act mean towards you because of it were not your true friends. If someone does not respect your Islam then they are not worth your precious time. Also, you never know who you can inspire by wearing hijab :)


How do you deal when people react negatively towards your wearing the Hijab and Niqab?

When people act negatively towards me wearing niqab I show them kindness and try to educate in small ways ;) I understand that non-muslims and muslims have negative views on Niqab and hijab. They may not understand what it is, think it is outdated, think it is extreme, etc.. I feel that I know why I wear it. Sunnah never gets outdated and I am not extreme for trying to please Allah. As long as I'm confident in what I'm doing, that is all that matters to me. I also view it as a dawah and knowledge opportunity. To show people that people who wear niqab are not oppressed, hostile, mean or whatever else they think negatively about Niqabis. That's what really keeps me going.


What inspired you to wear the Niqab?

I don't come from a predominately Muslim family. My mom converted in her 20s. She, my brother and I are the only muslims on her side. My dad's family is Muslim but I do not know them because he left home while we were young and eventually remarried. My mom was a single mother majority of our lives and was busy working a lot to provide for us. So I was not raised with all the Islamic knowledge and surroundings some people may have been exposed to since a young age, SubhanAllah. Because of this, when I began to practice Islam correctly after graduating I tried to research every bit of Islamic knowledge I could. I was thirsty (and still am) for Islamic knowledge and surroundings. 
My friend asked me one day "what do you think of niqab?" This made me think. I did not know anything really about niqab. I researched it and could not stop learning about it for a week straight. What really made me interested was the niqab ban in Britan. I wanted to know why these young females were so serious about wearing niqab. They were young, some in college, unmarried. It's not the criteria most people think of when picturing Niqab. After that, I began to research textual evidence and scholarly opinions on niqab. I was so fascinated by it. I stayed up at night researching it. One morning I woke up and said today is the day. I rushed to the store I get my oils and shea butter from, bought a niqab and went to my class that morning.


How did your family and friends react you you after you started wearing Niqab?

My mother and brother were scared for my safety. My brother was not aware of the textual evidences of it and began to think I was doing something not pertaining to Islam. After I showed him the evidences he became proud of me for doing something many females would not dare to do. My father does not live with us, so when he stopped by one day to see us, he was extremely upset. From that day he continuously harassed me about my decision, made fun of me, inferred that I was becoming a terrorist, etc. I stood firm to my decision and he calmed down a bit. He does not like going places in public with me anymore, he walks a distance. This made me sad. Then I realized, I should not have to flaunt my beauty in order to walk along side my father in public, SubhanAllah. My Christian Aunt is fascinated by it, especially my niqabs with embroidery. She always says how beautiful she thinks it is. My friends are all so supportive of it. Alhumdullillah for righteous friends.


What changes have you seen in yourself after wearing the Niqab?

I see that in myself I watch what I say and do in public a thousand times more than I did before. I do not attract unwanted male attention. I have a very friendly personality that used to cause males to think I was flirting with them. I notice that males do not think I'm flirting with them anymore like they used to and that makes me happy. I notice a humbleness because I am doing something that I sincerely pray Allah is pleased with.


A lot of people believe that wearing the Niqab is tough, particularly in a country where Muslims are at a minority. What is your experience?

I feel that everything in Islam is tough only if you put it in your head to believe it is. I get respect from males, so that's good. They do not look at me as beautiful or someone they want to flirt with. I get a lot of mistreatment from women, majority African American Christian women. But I'm used to it. If I was not muslim I would still get mistreated by them because I am very light skinned. People will always find something to treat you negatively for. It's up to you to surround yourself with people like that or to surround yourself with positive people. I choose to surround myself with positive people.


Many Muslimahs love to wear the Niqab, but the reaction of their friends and family put them off. Any words of advice for them?

My advice to sisters who get negative reactions from family and friends because of their decision to wear niqab is "every storm will pass". Stay firm, have a strong back bone and untouchable confidence in yourself and Islam. I strongly urge that all sisters stay involved in a mosque. Once a week activities have helped me tremendously. My friend began having once a week halaqas. It started small but it has grown into a success this past month, Alhumdullillah. I can honestly say the halaqas have helped all of the sister tremendously. As sisters, we need to be surrounded by the love of genuine sisterhood. Attain as much correct knowledge as possible about Islam so that you know your deen and can justify your actions. Give yourself time to think of every action as "will this benefit me on the day of judgment? Will my creator be pleased with this action?". If the answer is yes, don't let anyone put you down for it. Also, don't be afraid to be a friendly and sociable niqabi ;)


Anything you would like to say to future Niqabis?

Dear future Niqabi, don't be scared. Allah does not give his servants something they can not handle. If your intentions are correct and sincerely for the sake of Allah's pleasure, you will be fine Insha Allah Habibti :)


If there is one verse from the Quran you would like a non Muslim to read, what would it be?

Surah Noor, ayah 35. 

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The example of His light is like a niche within which is a lamp, the lamp is within glass, the glass as if it were a pearly [white] star lit from [the oil of] a blessed olive tree, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire. Light upon light. Allah guides to His light whom He wills. And Allah presents examples for the people, and Allah is Knowing of all things.
This ayah makes me emotional. The subject of guidance makes me so emotional because Allah could have left me astray. In this ayah when it says "light upon light. Allah guides to his light who he wills" it means so much to me. Allah is there, we can repent and change our ways any time. His light is so beautiful, pure and like no other. When a person is following Islam correctly for the sake of Allah you can see the light in that person. Guidance is just so dear to my heart because I don't know what I would be if Allah had not guided me back to His light. When I hear this verse in Arabic I can never abstain from crying. (Yes I'm very emotional lol).


Your message to the world as a Niqabi

Hey world! I do not bite. I am nice, friendly and actually love people! I love learning about people, different cultures, different religions, different ways of life. I am not married (in sha Allah one day I will be). No one in my family suggested or forced me to wear niqab. I do not sit home all day cleaning and cooking. I do not feel oppressed- instead I feel protected from sexual desires. I feel that my personality shines instead of my beautiful face and shapely body. My opinions are heard, not my beauty. I hope that the world can respect all niqabis and understand that every way of life is different. One way of life should not be shunned because of negative views in media or culture. I would hope that the world takes niqabis personal feelings towards niqab into consideration before listening to a different source of information.


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May Allah reward you for your time and effort with the interview, Ukhty! May Allah make your words inspire Muslimahs all over the world. Aameen!



Note: If you would like to be interviewed for our blog, leave us an email on niqablovers@gmail.com and we'll get back to you, In Sha Allah. Sisters only.


7 comments:

  1. MashaAllah sisters, this is a wonderful interview. I think the niqab is a wonderful statement of strength in ones imaan, especially when you are the minority there.

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  2. I also agree that being conscious of what you wear, and making sure that your hijab is pleasing to Allah (s.w.t) is humbling and prevents unwanted attention.

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  3. I'm not a niqabi myself, but this post has made me consider it, your courage is contagious sister :)

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  4. This is a lovely interview, it made me tear up. :')
    i have a question. what are the future job prospects for niqabis in the USA? Can they work in the health sector?

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  5. Asalamu alaikum,

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  6. I live minutes away from Washington dc, mashAllah hearing these stories is so cool because you see niqabis walking around they are like walking diamonds. Nothing more attractive then a niqabi sister may Allah swt bless us all with pious spouses

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  7. masha'Allah, started wearing the niqaba and jilbab a month ago and i must admit that it is the best feeling ever masha'Allah. i love it and do it for Allah (SWT)

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