When all was revealed and my parents found out about my conversion which was then followed by my marriage, I wondered what was going to happen to the Secret Hijabi? I figured I wouldn’t be hiding in the shadows, wearing hijab without anyone’s knowledge and pretending to be the same as before anymore, so then where would the Secret Hijabi go and would I still have the right to keep that name? Well turns out I didn’t really have to worry about that.
It’s been almost two years since my parents found out about my conversion. I can’t believe it’s happened still. It’s like I’m still in some sort of state of shock. Maybe because those two years flew by, or well more likely they were compiled with a million stressful moments which just made it all seem to not register in my brain.
Either way I have to ask myself where am I now? I feel I’m neither here nor there. I used to wish for a Muslim family, to be part of the Muslim community in my country and now, well I’m desperately trying to run away from it, trying my best to protect what I have learnt, and protect the identity I have struggled so much to create.
I used to be so happy, praying alone, fasting alone, learning to wear my hijab alone. Well maybe I wasn’t happy at first but I learnt to be comfortable. I’m not thinking highly of myself but as a revert I was able to understand Islam a lot better, analyse it, appreciate it, and learn what was truly proper with out any cultural influences. So now I’m struggling. Why? Because the in-laws who have accepted me on a conditional basis expect me to blend in to their picture. Dress like them, talk like them, act like them, and be like them. I see so many holes, so many things I know better not to do, and while I resist it, while I try to diplomatically move away from things which I feel will taint my understanding of Islam, it’s difficult. It gets to you and makes what you love in to something Shaithan can take a ride with. I feel unsafe, scared, worried, and almost always uneasy, as if the beautiful religion which I have cultivated in my heart thanks to the grace of Allah, might just be lost if I continue to be exposed to this culture. I will like I will forget what is really important.
Then of course there is the fact that I still am the Secret Hijabi, only now my options of wearing my hijab in secret has also been limited. One very explicit request from my parents was that they do not want me to wear the head cover, hijab. They opted to suffer what ever humiliation, gossip and social out casting which would come their way because of my decision, and they only had this request. At that time I didn’t really know what to do, my Husband had been labelled an outcast and worse being hunted down like he committed a crime, I was treated like a second class citizen and the only people who were actually willing to accept me as a Muslim, was ironically, my not Muslim parents. To this day I wonder if I made the right decision but I didn’t make the decision with out Allah so I have trust that he has some plan for me, and I hope all this is temporary. And even though I had to give up something I loved from the day I adorned it it was for my parents and in the past two years I can not fault anything they have done. They have been there, in every sense of the word.Whether it was ensuring no one found my husband, or being there when my beautiful baby came in to this world, my parents where there. And if ever there was an argument that I didn’t owe them anything, now I definitely do.
By not wearing hijab, by not ‘lookin Muslim’ in this country you aren’t. Muslims who do not cover their heads or drape a shawl around their necks are considered bad. Whether they pray or not is irrelevant, girls with out some sort of shawl are not Muslim. That is the notion. So by not wearing hijab, I am seen as a non Muslim but adding the fact that I am a revert, I am branded a fake Muslim, a label far worse.
There is a story that King Dutugamunu (one of Sri Lanka’s most courageous kings) was one day sleeping uncomfortably in his bed in a fetal position. When his mother asked why he seemed to be crushed in the middle of the bed without stretching himself out, he answered that the enemies in the country where coming from both side and he felt suffocated and could not stretch out. That is exactly how I feel now.
I feel like I can not be the Muslim Allah has thought me to be and yet I want to be the Muslim that I’ve always been, but I can’t, but I want to. And so I continue on and on in a circle unable to find my footing to stop.
Where am I now? I am lost.
I honestly don’t know what to do with myself. Almost every prayer is followed by tears asking Allah to help me because I don’t know where I am going, or what I should be doing. Do I conform to social expectations of ‘acting’ like a Muslim for others to see or do I be an actual Muslim in secret once more? The answer seems easy enough but, If it’s a secret how will I do it? What will happen to my Husband? My child? I was able to do what I wanted before, when I lacked responsibility for those around me. But now I have a family and a child in a very impressionable world. So what do I do?
As much as I tell myself that it’s all in Allah’s hands so I shouldn’t worry, I do, I worry a lot. I keep telling myself that Ramadan can fix me and eagerly await. But the truth is, I’m scared that even my Ramadan will be filled with confusion on what to do, choices between satisfying the crowd of ifthar parties or my need to silently pray between Magrib and Isha after breaking fast simply with dates and water. I just feel so pressured from all sides.
I suppose no one ever said being a revert was easy.
Insha’allah I truly hope Ramadan will bring me clarity, I hope I am able to find myself once more.