Slice Of Life: Find a purpose in faith

My parents told me this story about a talk they once heard. The person giving the talk was asked when they embraced Islam and they told the story of how they became Muslim. The person then asked the interviewer: “When did you embrace Islam?” They said: “I was born Muslim.” The speaker then said: “That doesn’t mean you have embraced Islam.”

That story stuck with me. When I was 16, I had the honour of going for Hajj with my family. It wasn’t something I was excited to do. I wasn’t prepared for the spiritual transformation that accompanied that journey. When I came home, I decided to start wearing hijab. That moment was a manifestation of me feeling like I embraced Islam.

Wearing hijab is a reminder about the way I should behave to represent Islam. It’s an incredible tool of dawah [advocating Islam]. It’s like a call to consciousness, to remember God. You have to think: Am I doing something in public that is going represent Islam in a negative way?

I remember the first Muslim wedding I went to in hijab. There were others in hijab but I felt like I was a thorn. I was just so conscious of myself. Women are fed all these messages that we need to look a certain way to feel beautiful. If someone had come up to me and said, “You’re looking so beautiful”, it would have made a difference. Whether they mean it or not is irrelevant; it’s about building each other in good ways.

People could say that there’s this extra responsibility on women in hijab to represent Islam. But I think that’s irrelevant. If part of my purpose is to portray Islam in the best possible way, then I’m okay with that. — Sumaya Hendricks, a PhD student at the University of the Witwatersrand, as told to Ra’eesa Pather

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Raeesa Pather
Raeesa Pather
Ra’eesa Pather is a Cape Town-based general news and features journalist.

Related stories


Subscribers only

Poachers in prisons tell their stories

Interviews with offenders provide insight into the structure of illegal wildlife trade networks

Covid-overflow hospital in ruins as SIU investigates

A high-level probe has begun into hundreds of millions of rand spent by the Gauteng health department to refurbish a hospital that is now seven months behind schedule – and lying empty

More top stories

The politics of the Zuma-Zondo showdown

Any move made by the Zondo commission head or by former president Jacob Zuma must be calculated, because one mistake from either side could lead to a political fallout

Museveni declared winner of disputed Uganda election

Security personnel out in force as longtime president wins sixth term and main challenger Bobi Wine alleges rigging.

Pay-TV inquiry probes the Multichoice monopoly

Africa’s largest subscription television operator says it is under threat amid the emerging popularity of global platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime

​No apology or comfort as another Marikana mother dies without...

Nomawethu Ma’Bhengu Sompeta, whose funeral will be held this weekend, was unequivocal in calling out the government for its response to the Marikana massacre

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…