For born Muslims, accepting traditions and religion comes like second nature, and most do not feel the need to question most of the things that are mandatory or obligatory in Islam. Since they open their eyes in an environment where the mother and aunts and sisters are all covering their heads with hijabs and wearing loose fitting clothes such as abayas, they do not need to question the intent. They just follow along and by the time they grow up, they are already following in the footsteps of their predecessors.
For a newly converted Muslim though the journey of covering themselves up is a little different. Although when a grown up decides to follow a religion, he or she understands the ins and outs of the faith completely before opting to pursue it. At the same time though, leaving lifelong habits and practices can be difficult at times.
A newly converted Muslimah I met in Chicago recently told me about the challenges she faced after converting to Islam. According to her, although she researched the religion to quite an extent, and accepted Islam fully with her heart and soul, there were numerous things that she found out proved to be more difficult to practice than in theory. Wearing Hijab was one of them. She started covering her head as soon as she converted, as she understood the purpose of hijabs in terms of providing modesty and protection for a woman. Over time though, she said that she faced challenges in wearing them.
She said that the most awkward situation for her was to go to family gatherings wearing hijabs, as all her relatives were still walking around not only with uncovered heads but also in indecent and revealing clothes. She said that she started to feel uncomfortable amongst them as she thought that they treated her as an object of discussion as opposed to understanding the basics of Islam and hijabs. She tried to explain her faith and its fundamental principles to her family, but eventually they started to cast her off from large family get togethers.
She has been a good and practicing Muslimah for almost five years now, and she believes that the battle she fought with her inner-self to overcome her own inner weaknesses has turned her into a stronger believer of the path of Allah. For her leaving her house without the protection of Hijab is impossible now, as she fully grasps the importance of the words of Allah (SWT). She no longer feels uncomfortable with her head covered in fact is proud and confident to walk into any public gathering and announce that she chose to be a Muslim.