My Life as Niqabi

In the past couple years, life of niqabi always get me interested. Every style, every story, makes me feel curious. I always want to know deeper about them. It’s because one only reason, I have been one of them.

On November 5th, 2013, I made a pretty big decision in my life. I decided to cover half of my face wearing niqab. Unlike black and long niqab as what you found in Arabic world, I choose my own style. My niqab is still one piece with the head scarf I wear.

The decision did not come up in a very sudden thought. It had been through months of consideration, including the benefits and risks I would receive in future. Still, the desire of wearing niqab was too strong. Then come the decision, I officially wear it since November 5th, 2013, 1 Muharram 1435 H, marking a new journey (hijrah) in my own life.

Well, the reason why I really wanted to wear niqab was because I feel comfortable when men (not men and women, but only men literally) are restricted to see my lips when I’m talking and to see my smile. That’s my top reason beside any other debatable reason.

Was it easy? Of course not! First, I have to face the strange stare at me from close people and family.

When I started wearing niqab, I lived with my family in law because I was still finishing my master degree and my husband did not let me to stay alone in big city like Bandung. My family in law live in such a small village, the houses are very close to each other, even some are attached to each other. And so are the people. Some people around are relatives and some are like ones. Wearing niqab in such situation is definitely rare and seemed awkward. But since I am not officially native of the village, they gave no comment to my new appearance. Maybe they talked to my family in law and my family in law did not tell me. Or maybe they did not say anything at all even to my family in law. I don’t know for sure. But this part was maybe the easiest challenge.

The toughest challenge came from my blood family, my parents. When I told my mum for the first time, she called me. And then my dad talked to me also, angrily. He said, I couldn’t come home if I’m still wearing niqab. I was pretty shocked. But at the same time, I did understand. My parents were afraid of what people think of me wearing face veil. I gave them explanation but they rejected every explanation from me. So, I decided to stay silent and let time play its magic.

And the magic did happen! The letter from my beloved Khalifa arrived, supporting my decision. And by the time, now my mum followed me, wearing face veil. Almost three months now. My mum, the one who once opposed me, now become my follower. 😇

Now back to the life of niqabi. Today I accidentally watched a short video on Instagram from one Indonesian hijab celebrity. In her video where was located in one class full of students and teachers of English class, there was one woman wearing niqab. I felt surprised because it was in America, in a class full of people from all over the world, men and women. And the niqabi girl seemed comfortable in her style, in the middle of men and women, in America.

It made me feel curious to know more about her, about life of niqabi in America. What they are doing for living, can they get a job with niqab on?

One good article describing life of niqabi in Western countries is written by a Canadian niqabi. Her name is Mahwash Fatima. She wrote about her journey to be a niqabi. And I agree with her point of view almost in everything about wearing face veil.

As Mahwash does, I also agree to take off my face veil when required for identification and medical purposes. And Mahwash is 100% true when she said that veil is like a shirt on our body. Taking it off unnecessarily only makes us feel humiliated. Mahwash described best of what I feel and think as niqabi.

People who feel uncomfortable seeing us wearing niqab is understandable. Because somehow, we feel the same to some people who act or dress in certain ways. It’s very human. However, as civilized and educated people, we should respect to each other, to other peoples opinion, views, and beliefs.

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