What’s your limit?


I was recently interviewed by a journalism student who was doing a project about women from different faiths.

She started to ask me about hijab, why I wear it, what made me start my hijab related website etc.

And then there was one question that completely caught me off guard.

After all I told her about hijab and my choice, she asked me if somewhere down the line I would ever take my hijab off.

The reason it surprised me is because she was asking me about some future time span, like in 20 years.

I told her if I was still the way I am now then I couldn’t see it happening.

But her question got me thinking. Everyone has their limit.

There have always been opportunities that present themselves to me where I could see how being hijab-free would be beneficial. And there are times when I’m feeling really down because of missed opportunities and all I think about is … What if? What if I took off my scarf. Would I be happier? Would I have more material things? Would people pass me off as another American girl instead of treating me like a foreigner? Would I be a better Muslim?

Maybe because I’ve been wearing hijab for so long,  not wearing it would make me feel naked.

But I do fantasize about blending in.

I’m not sure what would be so enticing to me that I would rip it off and run.

The reason I write this is because I think that we often tend to downplay just how hard it can be to wear hijab. And for each woman there is a certain limit. Some are stronger than others and can take all that’s thrown at them. And some women give up early on because it’s just too much to handle.

Either way, it’s OK to admit that this is a struggle.

The next time someone asks me about hijab, I’m going to tell them that it is hard, but I do it because I believe it’s a religious obligation.

Believe me, if it wasn’t required I’d be out their flipping my hair like the rest of them.

Behind the Screen is a weekly column written by Hijabtrendz Editor in Chief Mariam Sobh.

This article has 12 comments

  1. Zahra

    I appreciate the honesty but somehow I am afraid to say now, I wonder if I will continue to wear hijab. I have only been muslim for one year and the thought that some people liked to wear hijab comforted me. None of my muslim family wears it though they feel that it is required.

  2. Keshya

    I love your honesty!
    Yes…sometimes I too wanted to feel accepted without being scrutinised.Its hard sometimes when you feel this way.I applaud you for your honesty.

  3. Mariam Sobh

    Thank you Sabrina and Eva for your comments.. it’s great to feel the support that’s out there. Sometimes we forget when we get caught up in our own worlds (at least for me) and it’s a great boost to hear some positive words of encouragement.

  4. Eva

    Sabrina: your comment about not blending in is exactly what a fellow (muslima) student said about her hijab!

    “It simply creates ‘a distance'”, she said, smiling slightly. She regretted people’s (negative) reactions towards the hijab, but said that the “pros” far outweighed the “cons” as far as she was concerned – pretty much echoing what Mariam said.

    I would like to add, echoing earlier comments, that the hijab does not only ‘create distance’ (or prevents blending in), but rather it also creates a bond with other muslims (since you’re expressing your faith in a manner visible to all).
    The same muslima student I mentioned earlier joined us on a trip to Norway. And even though she at first felt a bit awkward (there are not that many muslims ‘out on the streets’ as there are over here, in the Netherlands), she was greeted by a lot of the foreign muslima’s – purely because they recognized her as a ‘sister in the Islam’.

    And, pretty much echoing Mariam’s and Sabrina’s comments again, that is exactly what I meant when I spoke about fantasizing about ‘blending in’ with ‘the hijabis’: becoming part of an international sisterhood of women who all chose to wear the hijab, despite the possible difficulties they may encounter when choosing to do so!

    /end of rant of the random Dutchie 😉

  5. Sabrina

    I love Eva’s comment! I think the whole point of wearing hijab is never to blend in. Mariam, when we spoke on the phone a few months back, I asked you if you ever thought about taking your hijab off for those ” missed opportunities” you told me about. I was moved to tears when you said, “I’ve thought about it, but I know that if I don’t get a job, it’s because there is something better out there for me.” Keep that mindset, because that is our belief as Muslims. We have something that other people don’t have — the belief that Allah (swt) is the only One that gives. Nothing He wants us to have will be taken away from us, and nothing that He doesn’t want us to have will be given to us.
    May Allah (swt) give you all the things you have ever dreamed of in your life, family and career, (with the hijab intact:))and may He always guide the women of this ummah to remain steadfast no matter what is happening around us. Ameen. (Oh, the men, too of course:))

  6. Mariam Sobh

    Thank you all for being open and commenting on this topic.

    Camy: I know somewhat how hard it must be, my mother’s family is not Muslim and the only thing they have an issue with is hijab. Just be patient and Inshallah in time you’ll be able to tackle it 🙂

    Sophya: Thanks for sharing your story.

    Eva: You’re adorable! 🙂 I never looked at this from another veiewpoint. Inshallah you’ll be able to blend in 🙂

  7. Eva

    Thank you for your honesty!
    I think you have a strong point when it comes to the difficulties that come with (starting to) wear(ing) the hijab.

    Funny thing is:
    I myself am a Dutch student, very interested in the Islam, haven’t done my Shahaada (yet – but Insha’Allah, I will!) and often fantasize how it would be to be able to ‘blend in’ with the hijabis..!

  8. Sophya

    I did take off my hijab for a while last year. Because of my job and because I felt really really bad to see how peopl were intolerant with me because of my scarf (I am french) And trust me I wasn’t happier, I started to do bad things, going to the beach and to forget slowly my faith and my values: awful memories. Now Elhamdulillah, everything is ok thanks to Allah.

  9. sally

    i fantasize about blending in too..lol.

  10. Fatin

    I love this post, it is so true people have different limits.

  11. Camy

    I really enjoyed this column, and your right on every aspect. I feel the majority of the time while wearing hijab you do get treated different whether it be good or bad, but even more as women we’re judged no matter what we do. I’m the only muslim in my family for about 3 years now and am still trying to come up with the strength to wear hijab, theres a hidden disipline that I feel hijabi’s have and I admire them for that.

  12. Naziehah

    Masha-Allah, what a wonderful and honest entry. I have a story to tell about this too. Maybe I should get around my laziness and started writing about it too 🙂

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