Eight years ago, back in 2008, I gave birth to a new attitude and came to believe that wearing the hijab, a black dress that fully covered my body and my hair, was right for me in my religious beliefs as a woman.

Today I want to share my experience in wearing the hijab with everyone. It wasn’t easy to don the hijab. I was embarrassed, criticized, harassed, and even ignored by family, friends, colleagues, and the community, both male and female, not only personally but also professionally.

At times I felt self-centered like I was not part of this world. But my inner strength made me stronger, and gradually my feeling of awkwardness among people changed. 

I don’t judge people according to what they wear. I don’t like or dislike people based on it. I respect everyone’s beliefs and choices because we are mature and we live in a democratic society.

I used to wear casual dresses and jeans, like girls wear nowadays. So everyone was surprised. People said to me: “You look like a cleaner in this hijab. A least add some bright colors to it!”

Or they said: “Why do you wear this blanket around yourself everywhere. Is your husband making you?”

Of course the credit goes to him, but he never forced me. He told me what was meant to be, and it motivated me to believe more.

Other people respected me for wearing the hijab. I was made to feel special and it did not stop me from having success in my personal and professional life. In fact today, wearing the hijab has begun to make me feel more protected in a society that is not secure for either males or females.

Clothing doesn’t make our identity. It doesn’t change our beliefs and attitudes. It doesn’t make us loved or hated; it doesn’t give us more education or make us into a good employee, or give us a bigger salary or a promotion. So please stop judging each other by what we wear.

Let’s create a democratic society comfortable for all and free of judgment about what we wear or eat, how we look or where we are from, or our skin color. We are all Afghans and if we are Muslim, for sure we are not terrorists. We all are made from one thing, but it’s just us who make ourselves what we are today. Let’s not divide ourselves from one another, but respect yourself by respecting others.

By Pakiza 

Photo by Haifeez.