TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2010
Tonight I'm awake.
I'm awake in New York, the city that never sleeps.
It's unlike me to stay up so late, but I'm overflowing with emotions. It seems impossible to put my head down on the pillow and fall asleep. I have no control over the tears that fill my eyes. I have no control over the excitement, the joy and the worry all at once.
In New York, schools start tomorrow. I feel like the young child that I once was, staying up with excitement the night before school starts. Worrying about new friends, new teachers and a new year of homework, tests and projects.
Yet, I'm not that child. I'm a mother whose daughter will start school tomorrow. Going on to 4th grade.
I'm up because I feel like tomorrow will be the beginning of a new life for my daughter. I'm up because I don't know what tomorrow and the days to come will bring for her.
My 9 year old daughter, Janna has decided to start wearing Hijab!!! She decided to start wearing it on the first day of school!
Why am I so shocked? I'm shocked because as a mother I can't remember how and when she grew up. I remember her as a baby, I remember her as a toddler, but as a young girl so determined to start wearing hijab? I thought that day was far away.
Interestingly, I'm also shocked about her decision to start wearing the Hijab so young, so soon!
This summer in Dallas, she asked me so many questions about the hijab, read books and articles. She heard me speak with my new convert friends about Hijab. I discussed with her when a young girl becomes responsible for her actions in Islam, and when it would be required for her to start wearing hijab. But I still didn't think she would start so soon.
I've asked her over and over again. Had long mother and daughter talks. Long discussions, with lots of questions to see if this was just a phase. But every time I got the same smart answers.
She said " I want to start wearing it at the beginning of the school year mom!" in a tone that merely translated into "Duh! Don't you get it mom? If I become responsible in the middle of the school year, that would be way more difficult!"
Well, I got it alright. But it just didn't register. During all of the discussions I had with my friends, about beginning to wear hijab, Janna would eavesdrop into our conversations, while she seemed to be playing. Afterwards in a casual tone, she would ask me questions about wearing the hijab.
When she first told me she wanted to start wearing it, casually sitting at the breakfast table, I sat there not knowing what to say. Just sat and listened. "Aren't you happy for me Mom?" she asked.
"Well, of course dear, but do you realize that this isn't like getting a new pair of glasses that you are excited about every single day till it wears off? Do you comprehend what you are committing to? This is a serious decision you know! I just want to make sure this is not a childish phase you are going through."
She would roll her eyes at me, like I was the one being childish.
But of course, she was right!
Think about it. When is it too early to follow Allah's orders? Is piety for the elderly? Isn't it more precious and more rewarding when we are young?
You might think, she's just a kid, what does she know? To that I say that she is a courageous kid, who loves Allah and wants to please Him, and only Him. She is a mature girl who knows that she will soon need to take this step and is taking control and making her own choice with the timing.
I'm awake with tears, because I'm so proud of her. I look at her and think, WOW, when did you become so mature and smart. I want her to enjoy this journey. I want her to know that each and every struggle will make her a stronger Muslim. Being the only hijabi, the only Muslim girl, in a school of 500, standing up for what she believes, in order to only and only please her Lord, is what makes her special!
Elif Kavakci for HijabiTopia
|Courtesy of QueensImage Photography|