My story is comical in some respects, but I hope it will help people understand the journey that one takes when they choose to cover, and perhaps even inspire somebody who’s struggling with this aspect of their faith. I struggled with transition from an all girls secondary school, to suddenly being thrown into a mixed (gender) environment at sixth form. I’d always been an academic, or what I proudly referred to myself as neek back then (geek + nerd = neek). No longer having to wear uniform and having to adhere to the ‘smart’ dress code at sixth form meant I suddenly had to think about what to wear. Further to this, the peer pressure in terms of looking attractive, or trendy was colossal. I’ve never really bought into the whole fashion industry game of labels, having had a very centred upbringing at home. We were a practicing family, but growing up as an 80’s child meant culture was highly influential, and at that time my mother wore a ‘dupatta’ (scarf) rather as part of her shalwar kameez (pakistani attire), but I can’t say it constituted hijaab. I was faced with a rather difficult situation a few months in at sixth form, when a muslim boy started taking an interest in me. He asked to date me several times, and I found this really upsetting and felt worried I might waver or become weak. Although, I was 17 years old, my conservative upbringing meant I was completely taken aback by his advances, and it saddened me deeply. I then took the decision to save myself from spoiling my education. So after the Christmas break, I returned to College in a hijab. At the time I was the only hijabi in the College! In fact, I was the only hijabi in a predominantly non-muslim area. Some of the comments I got were ‘did someone die in your family?’ … ‘But your hair is so nice’….. And …’But now he won’t like you any more’. This is a reflection of the very limited understanding of hijab people had at the time, but I can now see I was guided by Attaqu Allah (Fear of Allah) with respect to preserving my haya (modesty) and imaan (faith). Take heart from the fact that I am a successful professional in my field Alhamdolillah and my hijab had never held me back. I’ve never been discriminated against in the teaching profession based on my faith or appearance. Quite the opposite, I have been promoted and recognised as appropriate. I feel my hijab has empowered and protected me. I can’t say it has been an easy journey, and I struggled reconciling hijab in it’s complete form (abaya) until recently. After considerable studying and reflecting, I reached a turning point. I realised that in order to apply Tawheed (Belief in Allah swt alone) to completion, I had to love for the sake of Allah swt, and leave for the sake of Allah swt. This included not worrying about pleasing people, but rather worrying about pleasing Allah swt. Alhamdolillah I feel I have found a greater connection through Allah swt, and just want sisters out there to know that Allah swt is the source of love, your sustainer and your protector. Fear Allah swt, anchor your heart to Allah swt, and hand your worries over to Allah swt. When you walk out of the door, check yourselves: who are you aiming to please? And for the brothers, please respect your sisters, whether they wear hijab or not. For we all have sisters, mothers and daughters. Thank you to the brothers who already do. I applaud you, and am encouraged by your good virtue.