How I Started Purdah

Most of the time, when you ask someone how they started observing purdah and what inspired them, you get to hear many inspirational stories. My story doesn’t even fall in that league. Actually the story is a bit embarrassing for me to share. But I am still sharing it because it does have a lesson for all of us.

So, a few months back, I suddenly became beauty conscious. I had left full time work so I had all the time in the world to look at myself in the mirror. And so, I noticed that my complexion was getting dull. “itni kaali tu nahi thi main” I said to my husband and he didn’t know what to say so he just nodded. I took his silence as a sign of agreement and began the search for beauty treatments.

For the first time in my life, I bought the tube of Fair N’ Lovely and started using it. I must tell you that I covered my face while I was at the store to hide the utter embarrassment. “C’mon, it’s the fastest selling beauty product in the subcontinent”, I told myself and picked the damn thing up.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t use it for more than a few days because I was concerned about side effects and a Google search revealed some pretty scary ones. (There were reports of increased facial hair growth. So, obviously I preferred a kaali me instead of a hairy me).

So the next solution I came up with for my dull complexion was covering my face when I went out, especially when the sun was up and bright. (This one is tried and tested in case you are wondering)

Anyway, the story goes that one day I was going to some place with our chauffeur, office worker, secretary – not sure what his exact job title is. But he has worked for my grandfather and then for my father and is like family actually. So while he was driving the car and I sat on the back seat adjusting my niqab- because you know the sun and my complexion – he said something very simple and very honest.

“I am very happy that you have started doing purdah”. He said it with such sweetness and appreciation that it left me speechless. What do I tell him? That I am doing it to shield my face from the sun? That I have tried beauty creams but they didn’t work? The embarrassment and humility I felt at that moment cannot be explained. Sharam se doob marnay ka maqaam, that was it.

This man here was praising me and I totally not deserved it. I was dead silent after this and I wished he would forget about it. But then he repeated “ab aisa na ho ke do din karo aur phir chor do. Shru kia hai tu qaim rehna.” Oh my Lord, I can never forget the humility I faced at that moment. Maine tu kuch shru hi nahi kia hai, my mind kept screaming but no words came out. And how could they? It was a matter of izzat, after all.

And that was precisely how I started purdah. It seemed easier to start the niqab genuinely than face the embarrassment by not doing it.

The purpose of telling this story is not to inspire you. I obviously don’t want anyone to take a positive step without a good intention. But the purpose here is to highlight how some people’s simple words can make a huge difference in life. A few words of appreciation can sometimes become a source of sadq-e-jaria for you. His simple and honest words led me to take a positive step in my life. And one positive step leads to another. Allah says ‘Take one step towards me, I will take ten steps towards you…’

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That embarrassing moment taught me one thing: that when you see someone doing something positive, you should try to appreciate them. Just a few simple words that that you are pleased and that it’s a good thing.

You never know, that person might just need a little motivation to take that leap. And if that motivation comes from you, imagine what a great thing it would be. That’s called muft ka sawab.

And let’s look at the opposite scenario as well when God forbid you accidentally mock that person and tease him. Sometimes we don’t intend it but shaytaan leads us to say things that can hurt someone or stand in the way of something positive. If God forbid that person gets embarrassed and decides to quit, imagine the negativity that will shadow our lives. May Allah SWT help us say the right thing at the right time and helps us abstain from unnecessary and hurtful speech. Ameen.

So, try to spread positivity by appreciating everyone and saying those simple words of appreciation. But when you can’t, remember that silence is better than words that sting.

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