Have you ever heard of the commonly joked about character, “the convertible hijabi?” The drop-top nickname for sisters within our communities, particularly those who only cover during times like prayer, when Qur’an is recited, and during other Islamic instances, and will remove or wear it improperly during others. You all know of this concept and this popular term that has been assigned to it, right?
I feel this phrase carries a lot of negativity, the kind our sisters already struggling with hijab don’t need at all. We may be passionate about our fellow sisters covering themselves, but we have to be careful in how we respect them. If we really wish for them to one day start covering with hijab, we need rethink the use of this term and phrase altogether.
Firstly, we have to remember to sometimes look at things from others’ shoes. Do you know their heart’s feelings on their desire to practice hijab? Maybe they lack positive encouragement from family or friends, a situation you never have or never will experience. Perhaps this sister has a genuine yearning to begin hijab and has come close to doing so many times, but is turned off by negativity such as this phrase and ultimately gives up.
Or maybe the sister is on the verge of making a major change in her life and is slowly increasing in her closeness to Allah (SWT), a change the likes of which you have no knowledge of at all. Whatever the case may be, there’s much more going on with these sisters than you think, and you can’t simply judge them off so easily without taking a walk in their shoes.
There’s also a possibility this sister is struggling with this part of the Deen. Mankind by nature struggles to perform duties on a day-to-day basis, and every Muslim struggles to worship Allah, some more than others. You can’t ever forget this, especially in light of our fellow Muslim sisters. Sisters who are having difficulty with hijab should be told that it’s completely okay to struggle, and not have their inner battles be turned into mockery.
Sure, you may see a Muslimah who doesn’t wear hijab as well as you she really should, but assigning her the label “convertible hijabi” isn’t going to help any. It’s simply going to make things worse and paint a picture of hopelessness to our potential future covered hijabi.
Lastly, instead of writing her off as an evil sinner, realize that she has inner good within herself. Think about it. Sure she might only cover when she’s praying or during Qur’anic recitation at wedding parties, but isn’t that a good thing? It shows that even though she’s not covering herself all the time, she still has something good within her. MashaAllah, that is amazing. So many Muslim women around the world straight up hate, mock, or reject hijab, and are rarely seen wearing it, let alone praying or practicing Islam at all. This sister, on the other hand, is much better. So instead of attacking her weakness, empower her strengths.
Remind her about that feeling that comes when she is covered up praying to Allah. Or the chills down her back when praying taraweh at her masjid with her family and friends. Ask her to think about extending those feelings from once in a while to every single day of her life. She’s probably never thought about it that way, let alone been approached in such a positive way. Encouraging people will win by land slides over insulting them.
So let’s think twice about our negative use of the term “convertible hijabi” in our day-to-day Muslim community vernacular. Not only is it a negative phrase, it brings about a negative mindset. Instead, let’s say “potential hijabi” and move towards motivating this practice of Islam for our sisters and away from complicating it for them.
I ask Allah ‘azza wa jal to make it easy for the sisters struggling to one day being properly wearing hijab. If you’re a sister and you’ve been struggling with hijab, I ask that Allah empowers you to begin easily. You have the inner goodness to do so, and inshaAllah one day you’ll find it and use it to start wearing hijab forever.