Assalamualaikum Wr. Wbt.
The title is actually a conversation I had with a dear friend of mine not too long ago. We talked about how we used to be extroverts but after we hijab, we started to tone down.
In this case, I’m using the real meaning of hijab as a noun, i.e cover/screen.
People who know me will know that I could be friends with people easily and that I was just crazy. In my secondary school days my friends called me Shikin Sewel (Crazy Shikin) to differentiate me with another close friend of ours whose name was also Shikin. During college years we had to take several personality tests and my result will always show me being an extrovert. I remembered during a Touch Rugby meeting, I wrapped my President up with tissue paper and my coach had to tell my best friend (who’s also in the team) that I need to learn to control my hyperactiveness and that I need to learn to adapt. Being a camp instructor after college adds on to my outward personality, well, at least I’ve learnt how to adapt by that time.
I started wearing khimar (scarf) full-time when I entered university. Unfortunate for me, even after I hijab my hair and chest, I was still an extrovert. I wore the khimar because I knew it’s an obligation upon me as a Muslimah. I see it as something I need to put on so that I won’t be placed in hellfire. I mean, who wants their head to be dragged on the floor of hellfire? I know I don’t.
Wearing the khimar doesn’t bring much significance to me. I was still a hyper camp instructor after putting on the khimar. Although it is not me to touch the other gender before or after hijab, I still had lots of bros. At least after hijab I don’t have to warn the other gender that I don’t like to be in contact physically. Because you know, punching and high-five, that’s what bros do.
“That a man be speared through the head with an iron needle would be better than for him to touch a woman who is permissible for him.” [Recorded by at-Tabarani, al-Bayhaqi and others. Authenticated by al-Albani]
Being surrounded by male instructors while I was the only female was normal and I didn’t find that Islamically wrong. I thought I knew my limit while intermixing (ikhtilat)… Erm, and I thought I knew my limit when mixing with the same gender too. I guess it’s just something about being an extrovert that makes people attracted.
Along the way, people commended me at how friendly I was and they even asked me how I did it. Even a friend of mine told me that she’s jealous at how easily I can be friends with strangers and go for dates. Sometimes those moments flashed into my mind and I told myself that I need to be an introvert. I want to stop being friendly so that people around me won’t feel pressured to be on par as me. But when I was put into a social setting, then there I go again – an extrovert.
While I was at my former university, my friend jokingly said that I and another friend of ours, need to wear the niqab but I didn’t put much attention on it until one day while I was walking towards the prayer room, my mind went blank and I started thinking “What have I done with my life. What’s the purpose of life? I need to do something about myself. I am always surrounded with people and I’m easily attached to them. I fear rejection.” I felt devastated. I remembered when I was about to open the prayer room door, niqab went into my mind. I said to myself, Yes! I need to wear the niqab! Maybe with the niqab I can tone myself down. Maybe with the niqab I can be more feminine!
I asked for my parent’s permission to wear the niqab. At first they discouraged me from going on with my intention but after explaining to them how the niqab can help me to be a better person, a better Muslimah, and a better slave of Allah SWT, then they agreed. However, only two years after that I managed to wear the niqab; after I quitted at my former university and went on to my current university – International Islamic University of Malaysia.
I started to fully realise the meaning of ‘ibadah. To hijab ourselves is a command from Allah SWT. If you truly sincere in loving Allah SWT, then you will do as what He asks you to. If you verbally announce your love for Allah SWT but you didn’t do what He asks you to, then your love for Him is a big fat lie. I also started dwelling at the wisdoms behind the hijab. I mean, Allah SWT will not ask His slaves to do something that is not beneficial for them!
“Wisdom is not intelligence or comprehension of worldly matters. Wisdom is rather submission to Allah SWT and whatever He has enjoined upon us. Wisdom is surrendering ourselves completely to Allah and trusting in His wisdom and all-encompassing knowledge. It is humbly appreciating that the wisdom we have is only a portion of that possessed by the ultimate possessor of wisdom, and that is was given to us as a blessing.” – Psychology from the Islamic Perspective – Dr Aisha Utz
The more we search for knowledge, the more we realise we know little. A few weeks ago I started reading a book on “A Guide on Male-Female Interactions” and I realised at how much wrong I’ve done in the past. During Rasulullah SAW time, they even built a door in the masjid specially and only for women so that the men won’t have to bump into the women. Look at how stringent they were about ikhtilat.
I would call myself lucky because Allah SWT gave me the Hidayah (guidance) to be better than I thought I already am. For me, even if I’m wearing abaya and jilbab (longer and bigger than khimar) but without a niqab across my face, I will still be as friendly to the opposite gender. But I stepped up and took the extra effort to hijab myself further.
Of cz, I’m not asking everyone to wear the niqab to tone down your outward personality. If you can control it with just a khimar or jilbab, then you may want to stop there. My friend that I mentioned in the beginning, she just needs a khimar and she’s able to tone down her extrovert personality when coming into contact with the other gender. As for me, I needed the niqab to remind me that I have to be extra careful with the way I present myself.
At the end of the day, it is all about improving oneself. Improving ourselves not to please the people around us, but to please the One whom we are accountable to in Judgment Day.
Know the purpose of this life. If you’re feeling comfortable with where you are now, with what you are doing, then maybe there is something wrong somewhere. If this worldly life you’re going after, then know that it will not come to you. But if it’s the hereafter that you’re going after, then know that this life and the hereafter will chase after you, insyaAllah.
“There are two blessings regarding which many people are losers: good health and free time.” [Bukhari]
After the 360 degree change, my life has became less fun and adventurous with the people that were like-minded like me left me. Even my best friend, or I would call her my soul sister, couldn’t accept my change because it would mean that we won’t be able to do camps and crazy things together. We still have some uncheck items in our things-to-do together. However, it’s time for me to show my gratitude towards Allah SWT by following His commandments and leaving what He forbids. Alhamdulillah tho, my soul sister is being more receptive with who I am now and I wish one day she could see from my lens, and that Allah SWT will reunite us again in Jannah, InsyaAllah.
In the past I fear rejection, now I fear Allah SWT. And because I started to fear Allah SWT and wary that He is watching at every action I make, He showered me with His bountiful love and mercy instead by presenting to me a new set of life I never thought I deserve ,- being an extrovert 24/7 with my husband, and an introvert when facing the opposite gender. Alhamdulillah ‘ala kulli haal.
“O you have believed, enter into Islam completely [and perfectly], and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.” (al-Baqarah: 208)