Being the “perfect” Muslim - is there such a thing? No. I would say this, but I realised that hijabis tend to be the face of that statement. There is a notion that hijabis are representations of Islam and that wearing a hijab means that they are perfect. How true is this?
“Many people have high expectations of me, thinking that I am super good, religious, and knowledgeable. If I show any unfavourable traits, they get appalled and shocked,” my good friend expressed as she reflected on people's view of her as a hijabi.
Hijabis have their unspoken struggles.
My good friend started wearing the hijab at the young age of 12. Even at that young age, she was called an Ustazah (religious teacher) as a joke. People believed that she did not have any nafs (the self that has desires, appetite, lust, a conscience, or has reached a state of serenity and contentment). This resulted in them thinking that she was not like any other teenager. This is untrue. Nafs is something that everyone has. What matters is how we control ourselves and how we deal with it.
Additionally, other expectations I have heard of are that hijabis should wear loose clothes and cover their awrah (areas of the body that are required to be covered by clothing) fully. They should not dance, wear makeup, listen to music, say swear words, or smoke. Wearing a hijab can also put them at a disadvantage. Some hijabis out there are discriminated against or must remove their hijab for work or to be in a specific place.
Eventually, all these expectations just give them indescribable pressure, not necessarily imposing a positive impact on them. They are all struggling to be better despite the hardships they face. Slowly but surely.
“The advice I’ve received seemed more like ridicule and sarcasm, discouraging me from wearing the hijab,” my good friend added.
Undoubtedly, it is human nature to have our thoughts and opinions on things. In certain circumstances, we might even become judgmental of others although it is not our intention to. We cannot escape from this but most importantly, we know our limits when that happens. Ultimately, we must respect each other’s struggles, utmost efforts, and choices in life. We should always try to help and give pieces of advice to one another nicely so that nothing will come across the wrong way.
The hijab is not only for the ones who are “perfect” but also for the ones who have flaws and are unafraid to show that they are constantly trying to improve as a person and as a Muslim.
While those expectations seem to be placed on hijabis, they apply to every other Muslim as well. We are all equals and hijabis should not bear the weight.
We are all striving to be better but does being better mean being perfect? Does being a perfect Muslim mean not making any mistakes and not committing any sins? Frankly speaking, seeking this is impossible. He did not set such a high standard for us. Nobody in this world is perfect and we do not know which of us is closest to Allah SWT.
Everybody makes mistakes and Allah SWT does not expect perfection from us.
Allah SWT wants us to accept and enter Islam completely. This is when we, the believers, have no option in the decisions decided by Allah SWT and His Messenger and our hearts have absolutely no aversion towards them. We fully accept things the way they are, and this is referred to as the true iman (faith and belief). For example, we may be asked why we pray 5 times a day. This is a question that nobody has a literal answer to. Nonetheless, we believe that Allah SWT is wise, and He has things go the way He wants. Hence, we accept and perform it.
“Every son of Adam commits sin, and the best of those who commit sin are those who repent.” - Prophet Muhammad SAW (Sunan Ibn Majah, Book 37, Hadith No.152)
Furthermore, all Allah SWT expects from us is a genuine effort, and honest repentance when we fail. Knowing that we have committed a sin itself is already a sign of iman. If we regularly keep that in mind, it will be much easier to bring ourselves closer to Allah SWT and do the things He loves. This leads us to nothing but a blessed and successful life in this world and the Hereafter, Insha'Allah. He is Merciful and the Most Forgiving. His Mercy is greater than any good or bad we could ever do.
The Prophet SAW said, "Allah says, 'If My slave intends to do a bad deed then (O Angels) do not write it unless he does it; if he does it, then write it as it is, but if he refrains from doing it for My Sake, then write it as a good deed (in his account). (On the other hand) if he intends to do a good deed but does not do it, then write a good deed (in his account), and if he does it, then write it for him (in his account) as ten good deeds up to seven-hundred times.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Book 97, Hadith No.126)
Our good deeds matter a lot. They make significant differences. Hence, we should keep performing plenty of good deeds. This is as simple as performing the five pillars of Islam. We can ingrain good values such as forgiveness, patience, respect, and helpfulness in us. It is also important to improve our knowledge of Islam through continuous learning and increase our love for Allah SWT by remembering His blessings, thanking him for the good and bad days by du’a (supplication), and repenting to Him for our sins.
Staying committed and motivated to do a good deed is not always a breeze. We are all struggling in our own ways. Even so, we are aware that we are trying our absolute best to do what Allah SWT loves to earn His pleasure. This itself is a good step towards becoming a better Muslim.
Life isn’t perfect. There are two kinds of days in our lives. The first is the day when everything is in our favour. That is when we should not be arrogant or forget to be grateful. The second is the day when everything is against us. That is when we have to learn to be patient. Both days are tests for us to maintain our good qualities and not forget Him.
Essentially, being born Muslims or guided to Islam is one of the greatest blessings by Allah SWT. Islam is a beautiful, simple, and perfect religion. We must thank Him for this beautiful favour. Enough factors are present to cause us to lose our way and follow the wrong path. However, we must always be ready to fight evil and focus on being the “perfect” Muslims we are in our own ways so that we can return to or stay on the right path.