Recently I went to see a friend of mine. Usually we meet each other in a public space and my friend is someone who has decided to completely cover herself. She wears a long burka, cloak and the niqab (face covering). Although she removes the face covering and the burka in the presence of women, she still wears the long cloak. This is how people are accustomed to seeing her. When I went to see her that day at her home she was wearing a long pants and a long top and both of these items of clothing was not tight fitting. When she came out to greet me she said “I’m sorry I’m so naked”.
This was interesting, here she was, dressed quite decently and yet she felt naked and uncomfortable with me seeing her like that. This made me think, nakedness obviously means something different to each individual, based on their ideas about things and what they become accustomed to. In contrast to a woman who seems very comfortable walking in public barely covered, here was a woman who was still completely covered and she was feeling naked. It’s strange how people’s perceptions of things differ and this is why it’s always important to understand a person’s perception of things instead of simply making assumptions.
There’s something else that I think is important here, it seems that as one progresses spiritually, our perceptions of things change and so as we move on to a different stage in life, things change accordingly. I remember times when I would walk in public without my hijab, feeling very happy and not thinking that anything was wrong. Now even the thought of leaving my home without hijab makes me feel uncomfortable and without my hijab I definitely feel naked. See how my own perceptions of nakedness have changed as well. So as we progress we begin to change our ideas and we cannot imagine ourselves the way we used to be. The clothes we previously wore seems inappropriate and flimsy and as we move on to cover ourselves up more we become uncomfortable with our old dressing habits, until eventually we reach the stage my friend has reached, where a long top and pants makes us feel like we are naked.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s all about becoming accustomed to a certain thing. A woman who has never covered herself will find it strange to see a woman who is covered and thus it will be easy for her to make judgements about it. If that same woman begins to cover herself then the opposite will occur and she will then begin to look at women who are uncovered and find that strange. So just like everything else in life, as we progress so too do our perceptions of nakedness change as well.
Other people will never understand the joy it gives Muslim women to cover up because they have never experienced this themselves and they have not become accustomed to it, so it will always remain something strange for them. But the adverse is true as well, because Muslim women will never understand the need to shed your clothes and walk around almost naked, and you know what, as a Muslim woman, I don’t think I’d ever want to try and understand that, because in my opinion that would be real regression.
May The Almighty Allah guide us all and save us from all that displeases Him. May Allah guide people towards the path of righteousness Insha'Allah!