I have been a Muslim for over 8 years alhamdulilah, but didn't actually have to 'deal with most of it' when it comes to people around, before I started covering a couple of years ago alhamdulilah. The decision made itself somehow subhanaAllah! It hasn't been as difficult as I thought, but there has been some situations during the years.
I had been feeling weird the whole summer, not feeling like going out with short sleeves or going to swim even with a long bareo on the bathing suit (oh yes, I wore those clothes that time, astagferAllah). I had joined to a Muslim women forum, http://muslimsistersunite.com just a couple of months before, and really liked it. Sisters were so supportive and nice, and there was many who had felt the same way than I was at that time. I always thought I wouldn't wear hijab as long as I live in Finland. I don't know why it took me so long though. I have never really cared what people think of me. I think I didn't admit it that time, but I was a bit worried of the reaction of my family and relatives.
I found myself in the scarf department of a department store a few times.. Then I bought two scarves, just to get ready if I would feel like covering some day.. That day didn't seem to come any time soon, but little did I know subhanaAllah. then I felt like I want to try it. I had been wearing hijab on the way to the masjid before, but that wasn't for the right reason. That was just to go to the masjid, not to really cover myself. So I decided to try to start wearing hijab on Ramadan, which was starting in a couple of weeks.
The first I wanted to tell my dh. Unfortunately he is not the most religious man but alhamdulilah he respects others who are. I was a little surprised to his reaction, and even disappointed at that time. He told me only that I must make sure nobody thinks he is forcing me to do it. Nothing else. Later I thought about it more and actually liked it. It was Important to him that everyone knew I did it because I knew it's the right thing mashaAllah.
So, the next step was to tell some people that see me every day. I have a few non-Muslim neighbors, who are also my good friends. They know I'm a Muslim and it doesn't bother them one bit alhamdulilah. Their reaction was something like..''Ok, if you feel it's good for you..'' Nothing biggie.I didn't tell my family that time yet. I don't see them daily, so I had time for that.. I was a little nervous about it too.
Then came a day when I decided to try it. This was exactly one day after I told my dh and friends. I decided to try how it feels and when I went out with the kids I wore a scarf. MashaAllah what a feeling! It wasn't at all like before, when I did it just to go to the masjid. Later that day I could only think''WHY on earth didn't I do it BEFORE!'' And, from that day I haven't taken one step out of my house without covering alhamdulilah. It was 8 days before Ramadan, so I even started before the due I had set for myself. MashaAllah!
I thought people would stare at me, or throw comments or something, but It took more than a week before anything even slightly negative happened. And that anything was just a man passing me on the street saying something about it to his friend. I have even forgotten what it was, but it wasn't anything really bad. That I'm sure of. I had gotten much worse comments from people before, because I was with a foreigner. :/
I noticed some strange looks, most of them from middle aged women or young men. Old ladies were the most friendly. I guess covering the head is not so strange for them. women used to wear regular scarves long time ago, especially in the country side. Not covering all the hair, but anyway. Still many older ladies wear a scarf when they go out from home.
After a few days my dad came to visit me. We had coffee in the garden, and I wore my scarf because people can see over the fence. Dad knows I'm a Muslim, but I don't talk about the religion with him much. He is not interested really, not even in Christianity :( . He looked at me, but didn't say a thing first. Then after we finished our cuppas he asked if I'm now wearing scarf all the time. I told him yes. His first reaction was: ''Don't..'' Oh well.. I did expect that. He is a simple, hard working man mashaAllah, but doesn't have much experience of strange cultures or religions. I told him how come he says that now, but he never said anything about my clothes before. He never complained when i used to wear too short dresses and stuff like that. Then I said that I am still the same person, I haven't changed to some strange extremist over night, that I just feel that now is the time and I know it's good for me. He admitted that he hasn't paid attention to my clothes before and that I am right. He was happy if it makes me happy. End of discussion. Since then he never brought the subject up again. I think he felt weird walking out with me at first, but I don't think he even thinks about it anymore alhamdulilah.
Once dad knew I had to call mum too. They are divorced and I didn't think my dad would tell her, but I didn't want mom to hear it from someone else before I tell her. Mom's reaction was expected mashaAllah. She said I should do what ever I feel is best for me and my life, and that it's nobody else's business, not even hers. Alhamdulilah! My mom is the best!
After a few weeks I got a wonderful present from one sister whom I met online in the sisters forum I was on. She sent me a big bag full of beautiful shaylas, under hats and amiras! mashaAllah I was so exited! The two scarves that I had before were not really good size as they were from a normal shop, and I didn't have under scarves before either. May Allah subhanahuwata'ala reward that sister Ameen. She made me to want to wear hijab even more! mashaAllah. I also had a little problem with the rest of my wardrobe, but alhamdulilah little by little I got everything I needed. So my days as a hijabi had started.
One of the first things I noticed was that the service got better in most of the shops, offices etc where I went. I'm pretty sure that many workers think if they're not extra friendly with a muslim, people think they're racist. I'm not complaining. :P
There has been some funny situations during these years. Once an older man asked me in the bus if i speak Finnish. I said yes, and I'm pretty sure I don't have a foreign accent :P . He still didn't get that I am Finnish :D . He went on with the talk and asked how I have learned Finnish so well. I wanted to laugh but controlled myself.. It's not always easy btw :P . I told him that being here for 42 years has helped a great deal. It was two years ago btw.. hehe.. I saw that the man tried to figure out how old I was, but he still didn't get the point. I wanted to scream: I'M A MUSLIM BUT I'M FINNISH! Well.. I'll never know if he figured it out himself. Later I learned that it's really common that people don't know I'm Finnish. Some even try talking to me in English first. lol it's so amusing every time :P .
I have got a few nasty comments and been discussing with people who don't understand us, but i must say there has been so much more good than bad. I think I can still count all my negative experiences with my 10 fingers! Maybe it's because I'm an oldie? My daughters say that they get much more stares than me, even if we walk together. I think I also don't notice people looking, because it's not important to me, not a tiny bit!
Once When I was walking home from school with Donjana, I heard two boys talking about me when we passed them. One of them said: ''Look, there's some Jewish woman!'' lol.. I turned around and told them that it went all wrong ;) and that they should pay more attention at school :D Poor boys, they were so embarrassed.
Many Arab or Somali Muslim children have asked me if I'm a muslim. They don't think it's obvious, not even with the hijab. When I tell them that I am a muslim and Finnish, it makes them very happy. I guess they've seen all kinds of Finnish people here, subhanaAllah, and not all of them are friendly with foreign people, not even with kids.
The latest funny thing that happened was when I had my last physiotherapy appointment. The therapist and I talk a looooot. We have a lot in common and have been in the same school on dinosaur time, ages ago... Not at the same time though, she is 4 years older than me, but she knows some teachers I know etc.. And we both love gardening and activities with kids.
So, she was treating my sore back.. I had hijab off of course. We were talking about my children. I told her that Deena is going to pre-school this autumn. She asked if I'm putting Nader to day care too. I told her I'm not planning to, because the timings wouldn't fit with Deena's days and I'm not going to work any time soon, so there's no need for actual day care. She suggested a kids club, which is twice a week.. Andddd... Organized by the church :DD . I was quiet for a while and then said: ''Maybe I would if they wouldn't talk about Christian religion there..'' She was a bit embarrassed, she had forgotten that I am a muslim! I told her not tot worry about it. It was just a positive thing to me, she spoke to me like she would to any Finnish woman. We had a good laugh about it later.
Alhamdulilah I think my journey as a hijabi hasn't been so hard. I thank Allah for making it easy for me! May Allah subhanahuwata'ala make it easy to all of us! Ameen