“Since when did you become Muslim?”

When I was in middle school, I decided to wear the hijab. I remember the first time I wore it. I wore this white hijab with tiny diamonds on it. I hated wearing white but I really wanted to look nice. My hijab was wrapped around my dark face. It was my first day as an eighth grader. Till this day, I do not remember what made me wear the hijab. My parents did not force me at all. I was a 13 year old girl who wanted to begin wearing the hijab. However, the funny thing was… I wasn’t consistent. Meaning, I would wear it one day then the next day, I would take it off and show off my hair. I would say that I did struggle with it because I don’t remember the reason why I wore it. No one forced me. And many of the Muslim girls I knew didn’t wear it at the time. So why did I wear it?

What I do remember is talking on the phone with a friend of mine. We were done middle school and it was almost time for high school. I told this friend that I didn’t want to wear the hijab in high school. This friend somewhat encouraged me. Key word: somewhat. It was my decision after all. So, the first day of my freshman year, I had my hair out. Did not wear the hijab until two years later.

Fast forward to the summer before my senior year started. My father asked me why I didn’t wear the hijab like my cousins did. My mother defended me by saying I used to wear it and that I shouldn’t be forced. I still remember that day because my mother had never forced me to wear the hijab. Not once. Nor did she tell me to take it off when I finally decided to wear it again.

Two weeks before my senior year started, I took baby steps. I told myself that I wanted to wear the hijab again, but this time, I was going to be fully committed. It was like a calling, you know. I felt as though it was my time. I promised myself. So I wore turbans at first. On the first day of my senior year, I wore my hijab. I’m not going lie to you, I do not remember the color I wore but I remember the reactions from my peers. I remember one reaction in particular.

A peer of mine approached me with confusion. It was as though I had slapped her in the face with my hijab. She stared and asked me a question that everyone else I encountered asked me: “Since when did you become Muslim?”

Why do people ask Muslims this question, specifically Muslim women who do not wear the hijab? At first, when she asked me this, I did not know how to respond. For some reason, her question agitated me. Since when did I become Muslim? I was born a Muslim, raised as a Muslim, and now I live my life as a Muslim. Yet, I never questioned it. Wearing the hijab made people I went to school with question my religion. Apparently the peer of mine and everyone else thought I converted to Islam. Now, what did I say to the peer of mine that asked me that question?

I was born Muslim.

I am proud to say that I have been wearing the hijab for four years. Not to be cheesy and corny but I fell in love with my hijab. It’s more than just a scarf covering my hair. To all the Muslim women who wear the hijab, it means something different. Every Muslim women who wear the hijab have their own story. No matter how many people, specifically Muslim men have bashed us Hijabis for the way we wear our hijabs, we are still stronger than ever. We each have our own journey to take. Wearing the hijab is not as easy as you think. It is a commitment. It is between the woman and Allah. Yet, people make it seem as though, it is between the woman and the world.

I cannot speak for all Muslim women, I can only speak for myself.

Written by: Diaka Thiam

-Thank you for reading 🙂