As a young lady in the modern world, you are faced with a lot of challenges – at work, at home, and everywhere in between. These challenges are so varied that you probably can’t make an exhaustive list of them so you find yourself figuring out how to deal with issues across different dimensions every now and then.
To add to already complicated life, you are what I call a ‘halfway hijabi’. You know? Those of us on that journey. Remember this picture?
If you fall between 4 and 5, I call it the ‘scarf hijabi’; your additional struggle is basically being identified as a muslimah. At stages 7, 8 and above, it’s pretty straight forward. People see you and know immediately that they should keep a distance from you. This doesn’t exempt you from struggles though.
Anyway back to us scarf hijabis, today, I want to focus on the struggle of the handshake. We all know of the hadith where the Prophet (SAW) specifically highlighted physical contact with a non-mahram as a sin. A lot of us have remained within the same environment through our journeys which means we still interact with the same set of people. So you basically go to work one day and stop shaking hands or making physical contact. People wonder what’s come over her. You try to explain without offending anyone that your religion has some rules and you are trying to abide by them. Of course they roll their eyes at you but you can’t be bothered… you are trying to please your Maker. Then comes the dilemma of dealing with those clients that don’t feel like they’re communicating until they’ve touched you (God help you if you are a sales person!) The struggle is real my sisters. You have to figure out how to explain to your boss that you no longer shake hands (for a religious reason! In a corporate environment!) – Subhanallah!
How do you handle these situations? I’d appreciate your feedback sisters; brothers as well.
Personally, I just open my 32, (30 actually – my wisdom teeth refused to grow) give a dazzling smile, curtsy and try to maintain some distance. I also try to make sure I’m holding something in both hands to avoid the awkwardness. But of course there are those huggers! Hmmm.. Ya Allah please help us. They come at you before you can even say Jack Robinson… for those, I try to call them aside and explain my new rules. Truth be told, I have had some situations where I had to give in reluctantly. (Astaghfirllah – like I said, I’m still on a journey)
I had a particular situation last week; I went for a meeting with a number of senior colleagues. We were meeting a former senior colleague of mine who incidentally I am close to. Now during the pleasantries, my boss goes “You know Yewande now”, and Mr Prospective Client goes “Yewande is my girl now.” And to prove it, he comes around the table to give Yewande a hug. So what do I do? This is a guy that was my ‘bros’ in our previous company and his staff are here, my boss is here. I just smiled and bent my head while he puts his hand around my back for side hug. I’m doing istighfar in my head and hoping for the best.
Now why am I rambling on and on about this? It’s because I know a lot of us new hijabis on this journey face similar situations. It can be tough to balance your previous life and the one you are trying to build. I say don’t give up. It may be difficult in the beginning, but take each day as it comes. Do your best. Remain steadfast. And most importantly PRAY! We can only be the best versions of ourselves with help from Allah. May He guide us and help us achieve Ihsan. Amin.
Barakallahu lee wa lakum fil quranil kareem
السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ