I wrap layers upon layers of dense black cotton around my head, reveling in the warm ritual of it; throw a splash of crimson lipstick onto my lips, frustrated at how little of a canvas I have to work with, and stop when I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror.
My eyes scan from the top of my head down to my covered neck. I look absolutely beautiful. This is not an ego thing, it’s a spiritual thing.
I cannot deny it – the moments I feel the most feminine, the most powerful, and the most beautiful are when I am covered.
Hijab and I have had an on-again, off-again relationship over the years. It’s one of those relationships where no matter how hard things get, no matter how many times you break up, you still remember why you fell in love in the first place, and you keep coming back to that love.
My fiancé Ahmed came to the US from his native Turkey in part to escape from the societal pressures of his culture. This resonated with me, because I left small-town Oklahoma for a similar reason. We both wanted to make our way in the world unfettered by other people’s expectations.
But, when it came time for him to propose, he ran it by his family. Naturally, they asked if I was a Muslim. When he said no, they gave him the skeptical eye, which annoyed him to no end. But he loved them and wanted to explain his decision in a language they could appreciate.
“One Surah of the Quran,” he told them, “says that sometimes what seems good is actually bad, and what seems bad is actually good. Maybe you hate a thing and it is good for you, and perhaps you love a thing but it is bad for you. Only Allah knows.”