Step One: Finding the Hijab
If you aren't sure what's going on, be sure to check out Facing Prejudice: The Idea.
Ali and I are both Christians, so for obvious reasons, we didn't have a Muslim headscarf lying around the house. In fact, we weren't sure where we would find a genuine-looking hijab in the first place. We finally visited a store called World Market that sells cultural items from all over the world. We hoped desperately that it would sell headscarves. We were in luck. Ali came across a long black hijab that was actually quite pretty and on sale for $5, which was an extra bonus.
After we bought the scarf, we literally ran to Ali's car in all of our eagerness to try the thing on. We wrapped the hijab loosely about Ali's head and then laughed hysterically at the results. We were delighted. After all of the hours we had spent talking about and planning around our hijab, we had finally found a real one.
If you have any knowledge of what hijabs are supposed to look like, you might notice that we didn't do a very good job of wrapping the thing properly around Ali's head. I'm relieved now that we didn't decide to try out Ali's new costume in public right away. Many people would have probably noticed that Ali was a fraud. We realized that Muslim girls surely did more than draping a scarf over their heads and throwing the ends over both shoulders. No, we still had quite a bit of research to do.
But at least we had the headscarf.
Step Two: Watch and Learn
If in doubt, where do you go to learn a new skill? YouTube, of course. I decided to visit YouTube and searched "how to wear a hijab." Much to my delight, thousands of results appeared, full of video tutorials of women teaching their viewers how to properly tie a headscarf.
I knew the basic differences between the burka, niqab and hijab, but I had no idea that there were so many ways to tie a hijab. Some women tied it in the back; some in the front. Some women showed their hair, while some did not. Some women used bright and colorful scarves; some used plain black scarves, like Ali's.
I finally settled on a triangle-shaped hijab that tied in the front, right beneath the chin. It took me a few hours to learn how to properly to wrap the thing without it looking like a giant wrinkled bird's nest perched on the top of my head. What amazed me was how the Muslim girls in the videos would simply wrap the thing here and there and have a perfect hijab in about thirty seconds. Even when I figured out the direction of each wrap and tie, it took me at least five minutes to put on a hijab.
To be honest, when I finished tying my first real hijab, I was probably as proud as if I had won a gold medal. I can't braid hair or properly knot dressy scarves I wear around my neck, so learning how to put on a hijab was quite an accomplishment for me. Now if someone asks me for a list of my skills, I'll probably add that I'm an excellent hijab-wrapper. (For any Muslim girls who are reading this, go ahead and laugh. I know I'm not that great, as you can see from my photograph, but I'm still proud of myself.)
First, I practiced my newfound talent on myself. Go ahead and laugh because I know I look funny. I tried to add some light into the photo because you can hardly see the black hijab against the darkness of my bedroom. Hopefully you can get the basic idea of what I was able to do.
If you would like to see which tutorial I used, click here.
So after a long afternoon of pricked fingers from the pins used to keep the scarf in place, I was finished learning how to tie a proper hijab. It looked much better than the careless wrap-around we threw over Ali's head when we first bought the hijab. Throughout the afternoon, I had only practiced putting the headscarf on myself. My next step was to put the hijab on Ali.