Graphic by Emily Ryan
The Pin Dropped: Stories from Hijabis was originally published in ‘Pleasure and Danger’, Bossy’s 2020 print edition.
One of the most horrific sensations in the world is the feeling of your headscarf moving out of place, an experience that was dumped over me like a bucket of slimy goo the first time I tried a scarf instead of a one-piece hijab.
My family had been invited for dinner at a friend’s house. This particular night, I felt a little more daring: I decided to go for a giant swathe of cloth.
Halfway through dinner, my friend – an experienced hijabi, cloth never rumpling under her pins – dragged me to the upstairs bathroom. I can’t quite remember how my hijab looked (possibly a blocked memory, if I’m honest), but it was clearly ghastly enough that we were followed by an absolute gaggle of girls. As we locked ourselves inside, she gave us a brief tutorial on hijab wearing.
She laid out our materials: the scarf and the minuscule brooch I’d decided was appropriate. Sitting me down on the edge of the bathtub, she draped the scarf over my head at about the one quarter mark. The shorter end was given a little twist before being placed atop my head (to this day, the purpose of this twist remains a mystery to me) and then the rest of the cloth followed.
It’s a technique I still occasionally use; but life lesson aside, the most memorable part of that night will always be the bathroom adventures and headscarf explorations that bloomed from a horrendous clothing mishap.
– Shuhrat Rafia.
* * *
Any time we put something on our heads, whether it be a headband; hat; or, in my case, a hijab, there is always the slight chance something can go wrong.
For me, the chance is often a little higher since I play sports. Ironically, it is the sport that is predominately dominated by feet – soccer – that causes me the most problems. I love getting into the action of the game and have absolutely no problem using any part of my body (besides my hands, of course) to get to the ball. However, I am also quite short, and I do not always make the best judgement calls. On multiple occasions, I have gone to head the ball – but instead of it meeting my forehead (like it is supposed to), the ball skims the top of my head and takes part of my hijab with it. The only way to truly describe this is as mortification, true mortification; because not only did I not get the ball, I also have to scramble to fix my hijab.
The one game that stands out most to me is when the other player began to profusely apologise to me. Now I had the added mortification of people acknowledging what happened. I would much rather we all pretended it never happened and move on with the game.
Word of advice to the readers: let us all act that my “hat” has merely moved out of place – save your apologies for another time.
– Aseel Sahib.
* * *
Growing up, I felt there wasn’t enough support from my friends and peers with wearing a hijab. In some instances, I felt left out or as though I didn’t belong to a particular group. My school was predominantly East Asian and white, so there weren’t many people like me – in fact, I was the only hijabi at my school.
The thought of making new friends was terrifying, but the reality ended up being the complete opposite. My friends were the most wonderful and considerate group of people I could have asked for.
The journey of a young Muslim woman enduring high school would not have been possible without them. For one, they weren’t afraid to approach and ask questions about my religion. I had a friend who wanted to know the reason behind fasting and the month of Ramadan. I sat her down and explained it, and she later thanked me for it. My friends and I educated each other, and they became more knowledgeable on what modesty meant to me. They learnt about the hijab, and why I dressed the way I did.
There were times my hijab pin would fall, and they were there, always helping me in putting it back in. They made sure to fix my scarf if it fell off, or if it was ever revealing my neck. They always loved to help me decide what colour my scarf should be, and even helped design my hijab for formal – a chic turban look that remains one of my favourite hijabs to this day.
Without any thought or judgement, they adopted these habits in a way that made me feel so blessed and comfortable. The experience granted me a positive perception of how my peers think of my religion. On the surface it may appear to be a happy “moment” or “story”, yet it is worth knowing that it has given me so much more confidence to be a Muslim woman in a Western country.
– Mariam Albander Hani.
* * *
It was my year 10 graduation. I was wearing a long, red hijab with fine sparkles running throughout it. My class was next in line to receive our year 10 certificate. I was waiting, nervous about the inevitable walk on stage.
That was when I felt a certain looseness, a certain level of air that I had not been accustomed to since I had started wearing the hijab at age 12. My hijab was a fine slippery material, trailing along my back, and yet there hadn’t been a problem before…
I remembered I only had one pin in my hijab.
Instantly I freaked out; backstage, moments before collecting my year 10 certificate in front of everyone. The horrifying reality circled my head repeatedly: my hijab was coming undone. I turned to my classmate and tried to convey the situation – she had no idea what I was saying – it looks fine, she said. I quickly threw it over my shoulder and tried to make it as presentable as possible, walked onstage, collected my certificate…and when I returned to my family, they said they did not even notice it.
Turns out my pin lay snug in the wraps of the hijab at my shoulder. It was there all along. A quick trip to the bathroom with my sister and Mum in tow remedied the situation, and I continued my graduation without another slip up, two pins safely securing my hijab.
Needless to say, I always wear two pins now.
– Ayah Sahib.