“How will I do that with a Hijab?”
“How can I do that while wearing such long and covering clothes?”
How many times have such thoughts have crossed the minds of believing women while pursuing their dreams and goals? Many times, I daresay.
There are “dress codes”, opinions of people about Hijab and modest wear, etc. that believing women have to take into their stride as they go about their business. I was once rejected from a job, because I refused to take off my Hijab during the working hours. We all have been through our struggles of trying to make our way while following Islam. And yet, here we are, fulfilling our dreams and achieving our goals in spite of a piece of cloth on our head, or extra layers of clothes on our bodies.
Today, I bring to you, some incredible women, who have in various industries, broken the glass ceiling, reached for the stars and got them, with their hard work, while wearing Hijab, and dressing modestly with aplomb!
The food industry is a male-dominated place. To see a woman, shine is a wondrous event. Now, imagine, that the place on the top is occupied by a woman, and she is a Muslim, and she wears a Hijab!
Let me introduce you to Nadiya Hussain. Born to a British-Bangladeshi family, Nadia, is a self-taught baker and a mother of three. In 2015, she won the 6th series of The Great British Bake Off. Since then, there is no stopping her. She baked the birthday cake for Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday celebrations, hosts three TV shows, writes a column for The Times Magazine, and has signed publishing deals with Penguin Random House, Hodder Children's Books and Harlequin. In 2016, she featured in Debretts’s 500 most influential people in UK. In 2017, her book titled, Bake me a story and was shortlisted for Children’s Book of the Year prize at the British Book Awards. She has also been nominated for Breakthrough star at the Royal Television Society Awards for The Chronicles of Nadiya.
Meet Halima Aden, the 19-year-old Somali-American, the first hijab-wearing model to compete in Miss Minnesota USA, to work for IMG, walk-in Yeezy Season fashion show, and feature on the cover for Allure and Vogue Arabia. “Society puts so much pressure on girls to look a certain way,” she says. “I have much more to offer than my physical appearance, and a hijab protects me against ‘You’re too skinny,’ ‘You’re too thick,’ ‘Look at her hips,’ ‘Look at her thigh gap.’ I don’t have to worry about that.” as quoted by her in Allure magazine.
Such wise words from such a young girl! She has come a long way and has more to go!
This is another field that has been male-dominated for centuries. Women have found lack of support to achieve their dreams in this male-centric field. To see a woman rise to the top is always a pleasure to watch. Many aspiring sports-loving girls have felt that Hijab and modest clothing are a hindrance to achieving their dreams because of the restrictions on the dress code for the participants in the sports. These restrictions didn't stop Ibtihaj Mohammad from fulfilling her dreams. She first donned her hijab at the age of 13 and has never taken it off since. Her love for sports and for the hijab, made her scout for a sport that would allow her to play and compete with her hijab, and came across fencing. And there has been no stopping her since. She became the first Muslim American Hijab wearing athlete to earn a medal at the Olympics. She is also the sports ambassador for the US State Department’s Program of Empowering Women and Girls through the Sports Initiative, travelling to various countries to talk about sports and education.
To add another feather to the hat she wears, she has also launched a modest fashion clothing line, Louella, bringing modest fashion to the world!
Way to go, I say!
4. Activism and Politics
When I read that a Muslim woman, that too one who wears a hijab with compunction was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, I felt very proud and happy about her and my own hijab. It proved to me yet again, that wearing a hijab or dressing modestly will not stop or slow me down from achieving my dreams. Tawakkol Kamran, a Yemeni journalist, politician and Human Rights Activist is the second youngest person in the history to win a Nobel Prize. She received her Nobel peace prize “for her non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.” She is hailed as the “Mother of Revolution” and “Iron Woman” and became the public face of the uprising in Yemen in 2015. She writes for the Guardian, the New York Times. Her hijab didn't stop her from coming out in the public and fighting for her beliefs and helping others, especially Muslim women in Yemen to stand up for their beliefs too. It shouldn't stop us either. In fact, it should propel us further, with pure intentions and hard work, to help others in need.
“When you have friends, don’t expect your friends to fill your emptiness. When you get married, don’t expect your spouse to fulfill your every need. When you’re an activist, don’t put your hope in the results. When you’re in trouble don’t depend on yourself. Don’t depend on people. Depend on Allah.”.
"If there is one recipe for unhappiness it is that: expectations.” - Yasmin Mogahed
For those of us who love to read inspirational work by Muslim authors, Yasmin Mogahed is a familiar name. Her book, Reclaim Your Heart is a best seller and a must have for all Muslim households in my opinion. This psychology graduate and Masters in Journalism and Mass communications is also a beloved speaker, who mesmerizes her audience. She is an instructor at Al Maghrib Institute in US and Canada and a regular contributor for Huffington Post. Her inspirational talks are available on YouTube and highly watched. She is a regular at Islamic conventions all over the globe.
The list doesn't end here. There are numerous Muslim women, who are fulfilling their dreams and achieving great successes in the world, while complying with the commandments of modest dressing that Allah swt has laid down for us. Following our deen, never slows or hinders us from doing what we love, it only propels us further on the path of success as is evident from the stories of the select few that are mentioned above. Get up and go on, fix your hijab clean up your intentions and get ready for hard work. You never know, it might be your name that is mentioned here, next time we list the Muslim women, who have made the Ummah proud.