“What? What is it? Why don’t you say it out?” Sara asked the clammed-up Asma standing at her bedroom door. Asma had been following Sara all day and it was now beginning to bother Sara. “I see you approaching me and then standing aside. Is there anything you want to say? Anything that you want from me?” asked Sara. Asma quickly negated Sara’s inference and Sara turned away to resume adjusting her headscarf.
“Sara,” said a meek voice. Sara turned around immediately. “Um…I was wondering…” Asma could not bring it to her tongue. That made Sara really curious, what was bothering Asma, she wondered. Sara waited for Asma to open up. She walked calmly towards her elder sister and studied her face. She held Asma’s hand and took her to the couch in the corner. “Look Asma! If there is anything that you want to tell me, anything that I have done, you can tell me. I will listen to you. I promise!” said Sara. “Oh you will?” asked an excited Asma. “Of course I will,” said Sara as she wondered what it could be that makes it difficult for Asma to speak.
“Sara, I don’t want you to wear your veil,” said Asma. “You what?” something just shattered within Sara. “Oh just this once,” Asma quickly added knowing her little sister will never take off her Islamic clothing and dress like normal people as Asma would like to call, “Not for the interview, please.” Sara tried to look away holding her tears. All this while she has been looking for a little more support and confidence to continue pleasing Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, for it was for Him that she had chosen this Islamic attire?
“And why don’t you want me to wear it?” asked Sara in a low voice. “Well, we hear about these Niqab bans in the West. Women harassed and taunted for their covering, strict airport checking; we know that they don’t like it. And you think they will give you a visa when they see you like this?” Sara could not believe her ears. Did her sister just tell her to let go of her belief because of a visa? Did she really say that? Sara waited till her little world again made some sense, “Asma, you want me to take off my scarf to please the embassy officials and displease Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala?” “Oh not the entire scarf silly! It’s the veil. Just don’t wear it to the interview. You can go in your Abaya and scarf and no one will bat an eye,” said a smiling Asma.
Her sister’s smile brought Sara’s confidence back. She began understanding Asma’s apprehensions. Niqab was not the issue. It was our lack of understanding of it. Sara made a silent prayer for her dear sister asking Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to open up her heart to the true understanding of Niqab and Hijab. “You know Asma, I will go in my Niqab,” Sara paused before she continued, “I will go in this attire because this represents who I am. I am not ashamed of being a Muslim. If they chose to not give me a visa they may very well do so. And it will not break my heart,” she again paused to have a look at her sister, “If Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has written it for me to move to the West, He will make it happen. And no Niqab ban, apprehensions, security threats or fear of harassment can stop that.” Sara quickly stood up and rushed to the mirror to give her Niqab the final touches before she could dart off to the airport. “You know you don’t have to do it! Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala understands your situation. You are only making it difficult for yourself,” Asma said loudly as Sara rushed out of the door.
Sara tried not to delve over what her sister just said. But she could not help it. Tears had started rolling off her cheeks. A little support, a little encouragement, telling me it will be alright is what I needed. I don’t want my loved ones leaving my side. O Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala! Please don’t allow me to give in. Grant me patience and perseverance to tread on your path. Sara prayed as she gazed out of the window looking at moving vehicles. This was when she realized she was no more in the privacy of her room and reached out for a tissue to wipe her tears. The thought gave her a chuckle. I am wearing a Niqab. Who can see my blotchy face? She relaxed and pulled herself together. She will take this test as an opportunity to convince others that Islam comes before anything else. It was more of a challenge to herself than the world. Was she really confident about her religion?
Read the next part to learn what happened at the interview.
One of our admins’ article published in The Intellect magazine, Pakistan.