Should she wear her khimar?

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It was 6:39AM on a school day and I was rushing to leave the house when my six-year-old daughter said, “Ummi I want to wear my khimar.” So I rushed back to her room, grabbed her headpiece, pinned it in the back, and tied it up in a gaylay style.

Later that day when I picked her up from afterschool I noticed she was not wearing her khimar. So I asked her about it, thinking it may have fallen off while she was playing. She proceeded to tell me that her teacher told her to take it off because it was not part of her uniform. What!!!? Oh you know I was livid! It was after hours but I didn’t care. I called her teacher anyway and first asked the question before going on the attack. She explained that the Dean of Students came to the classroom that day and told my daughter to remove it from her head. I explained to her teacher that the khimar is a religious head covering and before instructing my child to take off any article of clothing I should have been called. She was very apologetic, stating that she didn’t know because my daughter didn’t wear it all of the time etc. I hung up the phone and tried to digest my feelings.

She didn’t want to wear her khimar

The next morning I asked my daughter if she wanted to wear her khimar and she said no, because she would get in trouble and another teacher (the Dean) called it a rag! What?!!!! After receiving this new piece of information I had to write an email to document all of this. I had to build a case. I wrote to the Dean expressing my outrage at this unacceptable behavior from school administration and requested a meeting with my daughter, the Dean, her teacher, and I where they would explain that they made a mistake in telling her to remove it, that she should feel comfortable wearing it, and that this would never happen again.

Later that day I got a call from the Dean explaining the whole story. She was very apologetic, stating that there were a lot of other young Muslim girls in the school who also wore khimars and are getting comfortable with wearing them all of the time as they mature.

Though I’ve explained to my daughter that the teacher and Dean apologized and that they didn’t know, the damage had already been done. She no longer wants to wear her khimar.

When I was growing up wearing a khimar was introduced at age four and mandatory by age seven. She will be seven this year; I’m not sure what I will do yet. We’ve put so much emphasis on covering our hair but in the Quran, the word khimar has been interpreted many ways.

My khimar is apart of my identity as a Muslim and Designer

I struggle with this idea at times, so as a result I often feel conflicted about imposing or not imposing it on my girls. Wearing a khimar was at times a source of pain and rebellion in my youth, but it was and still is a big part of my identity as a Muslim and as a designer. I don’t recall any vivid memory of ever “wanting” to wear it when I was young. So when my daughter is enthusiastic and proud to wear hers I am humbled and encouraged that she does not approach it in the same manner I did— as a requirement. As a child wearing my khimar was like putting on underwear it wasn’t an option it was an obligation. The thing that has frequently troubled me is my belief that modesty is different for different people. I want to teach my girls the beauty of our faith and celebrate their curiosity to learn more about what it means to be a Muslim. Striking the right balance can be difficult to negotiate.

At which age will you make it mandatory for your daughter to cover, if at all? How is it working out? Leave a comment below.

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8 Responses

  1. As Salaamu Alaikum wa rahmatuallahi wa barakatu. Thank you my dear sister for sharing this. Indeed the hijab is a challenge for our young sisters and even some adult women. My advice is for myself and to all of you because it is your right upon me to enjoin the good and forbid the evil. Our daughters will want to follow our examples and will relish the beauty of the hijab and the commandment of covering that Allah subhanna wa ta’ ala has decreed upon us. This will only come with firmness and steadfastness upon the deen and warm encouragement. She will eventually understand what it means and will choose to wear it on her own or choose not to wear it, you can only give her the foundation and continue to make dua for her to open her heart and aid her understanding.

    This is also an opportunity to educate the teacher (which you have done with gentleness which is the way of the Sunnah) and the school administration so they will understand the importance of the hijab for the Muslim woman so should they encounter this situation again, they will have an informed viewpoint. I can speak first hand about the challenges because I am a lawyer working in corporate America and Alhamdullilah, I remain firm upon my hijab. I am respected for my contribution to the organization, my professionalism and diplomacy. I truly believe my good character helps people overcome any negative feelings they may have about me or about Muslims and Insha Allah it is also a form of Dawah.

    I pray that Allah will grant us strength and Tawfiq in all our efforts with ourselves, our children and our families. Ameen.

  2. I too was required to wear a khimar at the age of four. At that time I was attending Muslim school so everyone was modest including the teachers and other faculty members. Later on when I entered public school I was tormented daily by the other students as well as some teachers. I still didn’t have a problem with covering my hair because of my large Muslim community. Once I got to High School I informed my mother that I no longer wanted to cover my hair because I was tired of sticking out for wearing a scarf. Since then I have come to the understanding that Allah puts much less emphasis on head scarfs than the Muslims do. I therefore put the emphasis where I feel it belongs, on modesty. I wear beautiful modest clothing and sometimes I cover my hair and most times I don’t. I will never force My daughter to cover her hair. If she wishes to do so on her own I am fine with that decision as well.

    1. Your right, Muslims put a lot of emphasis on khimars, too much at times. I’m leaning toward letting my girls make their own decision when it comes to head covering, but focus more on being modest in dress as well as form. Shukran for sharing your experience.

  3. Interesting that I had something similar happen to me the other day. I am in a divorce right now and had to fight to find a job to survive during this divorce because my non-Muslim husband had pressured me to resign from my career. During my time not working, I took my Shihada, insha’Allah after many years contemplation. Due to my financial ruin having time to discover my husband’s true character and hidden behaviors, I felt I could not take a chance wearing my hijab for job interviews. (May Allah forgive me.)

    Soon after finding a job, I started having auto trouble. After work, I had to go to the mechanic shop often getting the vehicle repaired while modestly dressed, but with my head not covered. Finally I realized that my character was evolving into someone I was not, and I decided to wear my head scarf after leaving work. Well, the day I walked into the mechanic shop wearing a hijab, the male owner said, “I couldn’t recognize you with that thing on your head.” I calmly replied, “This is called a hijab.” He changed his tone for some reason and attempted to say hijab. I held back for my own reasons, but I could have said a few choice words if I wasn’t in such a needy position for my vehicle to be repaired.

    I have a comparison that I would have like him to think about. I would like to ask him if his wife got all dressed up in her most beautiful Sunday church dress and lovely hat, what would he say to a man that he overheard refer to his wife’s hat as a “thing” on her head. Non-Muslims think it is ok to use the hijab as an excuse to insult us which is completely directed at our faith, and honestly toward insulting Allah. It is not ok, just as it was not ok to use race as an excuse to insult someone to the degree of 20-30 years ago when they had black and white water fountains and no enter signs in whit only restaurants in Alabama, etc. It’s not ok!

    I wish to meet you one day in person. You are my inspiration as a designer and a Muslim woman!

    1. Ignorance is just that, ignorance. Sometimes it is better to just let it go (his comment) as you did. We are forever evolving as people learning and becoming more comfortable with ourselves. I’m glad you got to that place of knowing who you want to be. Shukran for sharing, inshallah you will inspire another sister going through the same thing.

  4. Hello Zahiyya! This is a very important question.We are in a society full of judgement towards muslims. I grey up not being forced to wear the Hijab and i am now in my early 30’s and Allahamdulilahi I now do. It was a battle for me but I realize Allah knows what is best for me and I have submitted to his will. I also have a 3 year old and I do not plan on making it mandatory for her to wear a Hijab, rather I will surround her with Muslim friends her age, playfully highlight Allah’s requirement for women to cover from very often, buy alot of muslim magazines around the house( Layali is a lovely one) and continue to pray to Allah to soften her her heart and make her see the beauty in islam. Like you pointed out, I do not want her to use wearing the hijab for rebelling or for her to view it as a rag. Insha Allah with prayer, our lovely girls will see the beauty in covering modestly in a fashionably trendy manner sooner that later.

    1. Absolutely! That’s how I became interested in fashion, to become fashionably modest. Inshallah I’ll set the example for both my girls to want to dress modestly. Shukran for your insight! 🙂

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