hema’s sphere

the hijaab

Posted by hema on October 15, 2007

1. She never expected to feel like this.

She thought she would feel more guilt, but if she is being honest with herself, she feels strangely excited. The music, the lights, the atmosphere, it was easy to become distracted by it all, to forget about everything else but the beat of the music. She thought everyone would be staring at her, wondering what a girl like her was doing in a place like this. She had forgotten that here, anything goes. noone really cares what you are wearing or who you are. you can become whoever you want for the night.

when Sarah had invited her to the party, Hanna had said no at first.

“it’s not the sort of atmosphere i want to be in. you know, with the drinking and stuff”

but Sarah had insisted. “not everyone will be drinking. i’m driving for a start.Just come! you’ll have fun when you get there. what harm can it do?”

what harm can it do?

Now Hanna is becoming immersed in the music. in the back of her mind she is thinking how late it is, that she should go home, but she doesn’t want to. she is having too much fun. someone hands her a drink.what’s his name? it’s too loud too hear. she takes a sip. it tastes funny, but the dancing has made her thirsty.

she is dancing with him now, he twirls her round and round. and round. he slips off her cardigan and the cool breeze feels refreshing on her arms. he leads her away from the crowd. she follows him listlessly. she is starting to feel a little dizzy. she grabs his hand.

then, from the corner of her eye, she catches sight of her reflection. her cheeks are flushed and her clothes are disheveled. she has taken her cardigan off. when did she do that? a few strands of hair are falling across her face. her hijaab looks odd, like it belongs on someone else. she feels tempted to take it off.

and then a strange kind of sadness, almost like despair, because she has never had that thought before.

“come on, let’s get out of here.”

But she has already moved away from him. he looks hazy, as though he is part of a dream she is already forgetting.

she walks away, not quite believing what she almost did.


2. what must they think of me? Sarah thinks to herself as she passes by the group of girls. their conversation stops dead as she walks past. she tries to smile at them with her eyes. they look back at her, their expressions blank, some sympathetic, most hostile. Among them is an acquaintance, Aliyah, who gives her a sort of half smile.

she crosses the street to avoid brushing past Hashim, but he doesn’t even notice her. there are better things on show.

“She must hate dressing like that,” Christine observes, referring to Sarah’s long loose abayah.

“why would she?” Aliyah musters the courage to say.

“well come on, who wants to dress in a bin liner? Maybe i should donate some of my old clothes?” Christine laughs, running her hands over her denim shorts.

a few sniggers, but Aaliyah doesn’t join in. she ventures a question, “but who’s it for? all the lovely clothes?”

“me of course” Christine answers, sure of herself.

“you know, Sarah has pleny of nice clothes” Aaliya points out. “She was wearing the most lovely dress when i went over last weekend.”

“what’s the point in doing it in your own house? who’d notice?”

“i thought you said you did it for you..”

but Christine isn’t listening anymore. she has noticed Hashim looking their way. she smiles at him, moves to the side to show off her best angle.

and Hashim? He is looking past her at Aaliyah, who is not enjoying the attention so much. she looks down at her skin tight jeans, feeling suddenly uncomfortable in her choice of outfit.

she is thinking: am i not worth more than the sum of my body parts?

3. “i am worth more than the sum of my body parts”

Laura is getting dressed for the party. she knows it’s an important day for James. He has invited his boss and needs to create the right impression. she wants to be supportive, she wants him to get the promotion just as much as he does. but she is still feeling uncomfortable about what she is being made to do.

“i know that,”James is saying. “i’m just saying, let your hair down a bit. flirt with Chris a little. you know he likes you, we might as well use it to our advantage. what harm can it do?”

what harm can it do?

she takes a final glance at herself in the mirror. fastens the buttons on her cardigan. they walk out together without saying another word. already, laura wants the evening to end.

james spots Chris and goes over straight away. he initiates a conversation, but Chris doesn’t even pretend to listen. there are better things in show.

James follows Chris’ gaze to where Laura is standing.

this isn’t working, he pleads desperately with his eyes. can’t you help me out?

sighing, laura tousles up her hair, begins to take her cardigan off.

afterwards, James says “that was great!”.

so why doesn’t she feel so great?


15 Responses to “the hijaab”

  1. iMuslim said

    Great entry, mashallah… very “hema”. πŸ™‚

  2. 'liya said

    Interesting! I like how everything connects.

    Not too happy with the character who shares my name though lol. πŸ˜€

  3. mishymoshy said

    ” am i not worth more than the sum of my body parts?”

    I love that line. (and so I will gently tell you by using brackets that you ruined it the first time by misspelling body πŸ™‚ )

  4. leila said

    great.love the unique way of telling your stories.

  5. Sumera said

    Believe me, this “trend” of dressing to grab attention isn’t just restricted to the non-hijaabi’s. Some of the “sisters” are at it too – including those draped in jilbaabs!

    Where theres a will theres a way I suppose. If you want attention, you’ll grab it somehow. How cheap and low 😦

  6. hema said

    thank you iMuslim and leila. i was looking back at the 6 or so stories that didn’t make it through and couldn’t put my finger on what i didn’t like about them, and they are all written in a different style so maybe that’s why!

    liya- i like how everything connects
    did you like the links with the cardigan? my cardigan is like my little security blanket, i hate not having it on.

    i’m quite happy with Aaliya actually. she stood up for what she believed in, in her own way. it’s hard to do at that age, peer pressure is a horrible thing.
    and she is starting to think for herself. it might be very subtle and she might not do anything about it for a few years, but everything starts with that realisation..

    sumera–one of the stories was about what you described! i deleted it because it was depressing me too much:(


    Salaam Hema :)!

    I like your entry very much.I am sad for every woman who is forced to dress in a way she does not feel comfortable.
    Hema,how is your new job going?I hope everything is fine.

  8. Helen Latifi said

    Salam sisters

    Are you girlz danish or what? And what about the blogowner?

    Helen Latifi

  9. 'liya said

    Okay okay, she did stand up which was good. I hope she turns out okay in the end, I care about all Aaliyas πŸ˜€

  10. hema said

    mishy, i changed it just becasuse i don’t want you to lose sleep over it!

    natasha, i’m glad you liked the stories. actually, i’m really glad because i was reading your comments on organic’s blog and i was thinking, you could have misinterpreted what i said as well if you wanted to..
    (i>I am sad for every woman who is forced to dress in a way she does not feel comfortable

    wasalaam helen..
    erm..no i’m from the UK.

    liya- i hope she turns out ok too:)
    Aaliya is a cool name. i’ve already told you it’s one of my favourites!

  11. anom said


    Your first post is password protected, how does this work? I’m not very good with internet, just wanted to read.

    Sorry for any problems.

  12. hema said

    no problem, just send me an email at hemasphere1(at)gmail(dot)com.

  13. Umm Yusuf said

    Assalaamu Alaikum

    Great entry sis!

  14. ymiss said

    I’ve only just found and read this! LOVE them all esp the cardigan link I like subtle details which connect things in a small way πŸ™‚

  15. samia said

    i believe helen was asking cause she found your link on my blog hema, and she is a danish muslim herself…
    blog ejeren af denne, er min veninde fra england og grunden til jeg skriver pΓ₯ engelsk.

    wasalaam sΓΈster

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