Christal Joan: Did my abaya put you off?

Did my abaya put you off?

The 'Basmallah', used by Muslims because we believe every good deed should begin in the name of Allah. All the articles on Christal Joan will start with the Basmallah because nothing is possible without Allah

 

 

“Did my abaya put you off?” I wondered as yet another sister walked past me and bowed her head. Since embracing this type of Islamic clothing, I’ve had a lot of mixed feelings about how I’m now perceived as a Muslim woman. So I thought I’d put my thoughts into writing in case other sisters have experienced the same thing. Or if sisters are thinking about wearing the abaya and want some advice.

Christal Joan: Did my abaya put you off? I've had so many different reactions to my abaya, I thought I'd share it with you all insha Allah

different reactions to my abaya

I’ve had many different reactions switching from “modest” clothing to just wearing a black abaya and changing the scarf I wear it with every day. Here are a few:

  1. What was wrong with how you dressed before?
  2. Masha Allah sister, you are protecting your modesty
  3. Isn’t black a bit of a depressing colour?
  4. **blinkered look** and quickly step away

via GIPHY

The first and fourth intrigued me the most. I asked myself the first question and honestly, there was nothing wrong. I just hit a spiritual growth spot that allowed me to open to the possibility that this was the right decision for me.

As for everyone else, I’ll discuss their reactions below.

 

family

When I first decided to make the abaya a full time part of my wardrobe, my family were the first people I told. Even though I’ve been Muslim for over 6 years now and I’ve worn one frequently before, it was never an every day thing for me. My mom immediately encouraged me, as she did with the hijab, and told me to go ahead and get them made to my size (I’m 6ft so store bought was not an option). She came with me for the fitting and even helped me pick out the matching zips.

I’ve always been open with my family about Islam and the changes I’d need to make to become a better person. No music, no alcohol, no pub meals even the hijab wasn’t really a concern. But I did have concerns that going out in a plain black canvas every day compared to how I used to dress may be a hard step for them to accept.

As usual, alhamdulillah, they shocked me and embraced the change quickly. Now they’re just referred to as “Christal’s outside dress” (lol).

The fear on my side was that they would find it hard to adjust. However, as reverts/ converts to Islam we must give our families the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the changes we need to make to ourselves as Muslims. Many will embrace the new us, many won’t, but will that ruin your Islam?

We need to realise that this is a choice we’ve made and regardless of what they may or may not feel. We base our decisions on the deen and not on their reactions. If we didn’t, how many of us would still be Muslim?

 

Abayas and Friends

I’m grateful that I have a mixture of friends. All wear hijab alhamdulillah but not all wear the abaya. Some still work in the corporate world, some are stay at home moms.

For those that already wear the abaya full time, they’ve always encouraged me to wear it more. It’s always been a staple in their wardrobes for convenience and to fall in line with the conditions of hijab. I thank Allah swt everyday for these sisters as they made it so easy for me to join the abaya gang and feel confident to go about my everyday business just as they do.

For my friends that don’t wear it, they were curious. Especially a very close friend of mine. Why now? What changed? And honestly, all I could answer was that something in my heart was telling me now was the right time.

 

I worried she’d look at me differently or drift away because I was suddenly becoming “religious”. That I may not be fun anymore. But all those fears were unfounded. That’s the funny thing about fears, they’re based on what’s in our heads and not the heads of those around us.

 

women in the street

I love to give salaams to sisters in the street. For me, it’s a reminder that we may not have come from the same mother, but we share the same deen which arguably is even more important. But, it was their reactions to my abaya that shocked me the most.

I found that sisters that didn’t wear the abaya would avoid eye contact with me and walk past. Not even a smile. At first I thought maybe they were just in a hurry but every single one of them… Really? Every single non-abaya wearing sister was too busy to respond to my salaams? I wasn’t buying it.

I discussed it with my study group and they suggested that they may feel uncomfortable because they don’t wear the abaya. My abaya was a reminder to them of the standards of modesty Islam may expect from a woman that they were currently not reaching. I instantly felt guilty. I didn’t wear this to shame women, I did it to become closer to Allah.

Allah knows best why their reactions to me changed.

I’ve also found myself on the other end of this as well. With sisters who wear niqab or overhead abayas walking past me. Where they judging me for not being MORE covered? Only Allah knows.

 

hierarchy in abayas?

From my own personal experience, I’ve found that there is a “hierarchy” when it comes to perceptions of hijab.

More fabric = more piety to some people. I’ve had sisters watch me struggle to get my pushchair into the mosque rather than help and guess what, they were all niqabis.

via GIPHY

I’ve had groups of sisters watch me give salaams and walk past me like I was a beggar on the street. I could argue that they didn’t hear but this happens so frequently I’d have to assume whole troops of niqabis are deaf.

It made me think, if that’s how they’re looking at me, how must they look at sisters who don’t wear the abaya or the hijab? We forget that our actions truly affect others and their progression in this beautiful religion. Imagine if sisters encouraged each other rather than fired shots every time your hijab didn’t reach their ideal standard? Yes, we all know what hijab is which I’ve explained before but if it was that easy, we’d all be wearing it the same.

 

MY COVERED CONCLUSION

Alhamdulillah, now I wear the abaya I pray Allah swt gives me the strength to never take it off. It’s become such a practical and spiritually uplifting thing in my life. It’s liberated me from the expectations of what a woman should look like in society and has guarded me from a lot of fitna. And the reason for that? I put it on for the right reasons. I didn’t put it on to please my husband, I didn’t do it for family, friends or to impress anyone else. It was a decision purely for the love of Allah.

Do I look down on sisters that don’t wear it? Ofcourse not! I never used to wear it before so who am I to judge? Would I encourage others to give it a try? Absolutely! You may find that you like it so much that you wear it full time just like I do now.

Don’t let others put you off a path you know Allah wants you to be on. Do it for the right reasons, do it for Allah and you’ll never feel like you’re missing out!

14 thoughts on “Did my abaya put you off?

  1. meemfay says:

    It’s so true. When I started the abaya I was hesitant and so scared to loose my friends, but then I thought if they are my real friends they won’t leave me.
    We should always be accepting towards others. Maybe a little compliment from our side can be a big boost for them.
    May Allah help you in your struggle. You are very strong. Stay blessed!!

  2. ThrifDeeDubai says:

    You know it’s been two years since I wore Abaya…. before I was a jeans & long top hijabi…. while some of my family saw it as a “step too far”
    I could never go back!! I’d feel so funny in jeans now!! I love clothes & I often look at fashion in the stores & imagine me rocking it in a modern way…. but I could never go back from wearing Abaya! It’s a part of me now Alhamdulillah!
    Thanks for the post, definetly nice to see other sisters going through similar circumstances & coming out stronger the other side! X

    • Christal Joan says:

      I was the same and now I wear abaya I can’t imagine going back alhamdulillah. I still look at fashion but not in the same way I did. Jazakillahu khayrun for the comment x

  3. Hebah says:

    I really enjoyed reading your perspective on this! It is so important that we don’t judge people for the way they dress – whether that be women wearing niqab looking down on hijabis, or hijabis looking down on non-hijabis though it is a shame this is very common. As a hijabi, I have felt that people do have a tendency to make assumptions and jump to all sorts of conclusions about my personality and I really do admire your decision for choosing to wear the abaya. Insha’Allah you will have the strength to continue wearing it.

    • Christal Joan says:

      Jazakillahu khayrun sis. It really is such a shame that people get looked down upon especially in the climate we live in. It’s not getting any easier to cover for sisters right now. It’s such a super charged issues, women wanting to cover their bodies, we just need to have more sabr with each other and less bad vibes insha Allah

  4. Iqra Asad says:

    I liked your honest voice in commenting on this topic. It can be a sensitive issue for most of us. I enjoyed the gif you included from “Mean Girls” so very much. It does seem like there is a “hierarchy” of hijab and the more covered ones might feel walled off from the less covered ones and so on. It’s strange, really. On the inside we all have the same struggles. So why judge each other so much based on external appearance?
    May Allah keep you steadfast on hijab and bless you even more. Ameen.

    • Christal Joan says:

      Ameen sis to your beautiful dua. Sometimes it does feel like being part of a hijabi version of Mean Girls when I see some of the comments online that sisters get for how they wear their hijab. Giving honest, loving naseeha seems to be dead in this day and age and people have assumed that shaming women is the only way to enact change. Don’t know where they got that crazy idea from lol. Jazakillahu kayrun for the comment sis

  5. Sidra Siddiqui says:

    Your post is so inspiring, mashaAllah. I used to wear the abaya and it was easy then, I used to live in UAE, and it was so common. But then I moved to India, and then got married and came to the US, and it became harder somehow. Maybe it’s a weakness of iman. I pray I can start wearing the abaya again, inshaAllah. 🙂

    • Christal Joan says:

      May Allah swt make it easy for you sis, Ameen, and I truly mean that from the heart. It’s a common thing to see women in abaya in the Middle East, even some non Muslim women may wear it insha Allah. I think environment definitely plays a role in how hard or easy it is to wear it but keep making dua to Allah swt that He brings you closer to it again. Jazakillahu khayrun for your comment

  6. beflawless says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more sister. Every bit of it, is so relatable. And the part of.. more fabric=more piety.. I used to think this way and put myself down for not covering my hands with gloves.. but you made it so clear that it should be your love towards Allah to cover.. not a society norm.
    JazakiAllahu khairan katheeran for sharing this. May Allah bless you.

    • Christal Joan says:

      Wa iyyaki sis and Ameen. It’s a perception I had before I became Muslim as well. I thought that the more covered a woman was the more pious she was. In some cases it may well be true insha Allah but not all the time. Jazakillahu khayrun for your comment

  7. Afra says:

    I don’t wear abaya full time but i know people that do and it’s sad that you would get some of the reactions you mentioned. It’s a beautiful thing and shouldn’t’ be reacted to in that way especially by Muslim women! We all have personal choices and you made one. Allah will reward you sister <3

    • Christal Joan says:

      I was shocked to sis but alhamdulillah we grow through what we go through. I love my abaya now and for all the right reasons! Jazakillahu khayrun for your comment

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