I feel extremely guilty but also bitter whenever I see photos intended to elevate the awareness and appreciation for women that wear niqab, and I despise myself for it. I’ve always held such women in the highest esteem. Living in a non-Muslim country, my respect for them was even greater knowing that they were establishing such modesty without anyone compelling them to do so.
But after my absolutely close encounter with the hypocrisy and cowardliness that exists in these circles, it has tainted my views about niqabi’s in ways that have made it extremely difficult for me to reconcile my experiences with what could be a very different reality. Anyone that knows me will know that I despise generalisations, or holding people to account for something that they’re not responsible for. I also despise dragging people down if they’re making an effort to improve themselves while others are constantly focusing on their shortcomings. I’ve been on the receiving end for all of these trends, and it’s for these reasons, among others, that I despise my current state that leads me to feel repulsed at the sight of a woman in niqab. In fact, the word ‘despise’ is an understatement in this context.
My negative experiences with women in niqab far outweigh my positive experiences, not because they were wearing niqab, but because of their actions and behaviours as individuals. So this is really a horrible case of memory by association that is really troubling me. I will let go of the association between my bad experiences and bad memories, and the act of wearing a beautiful adornment for women of modesty, Insha-Allah. But until then, this will always be a blatant reminder for me that the actions of those that appear overtly as Muslims can so easily taint the reputation of Muslims and Islam, and thereby drive others away from the beauty it has to offer, instead of inviting them through the simple acts that are beneficial and encouraged for us to practise.
The same is true for men that dress according to the sunnah, wear the full length beard, adorn their heads with appropriate head coverings, and attend masjid for salaah with jamaah five times a day, and then swindle people out of money in order to make a profit, or beat their wives up out of frustration at the lack of their own manliness, or abuse the rights of their workers because they have authority over them.
This is a pointless post, but Insha-Allah I’m hoping that writing about this for the first time in over a year since my horrid experiences with a niqabi in pursuit of a halaal marriage through halaal means will finally set me on the path towards putting that firmly behind me. It’s not a matter of needing to forgive, because that has already been done. It’s now clearly a matter of needing to forget.