Expert Insight with Mona, Hijab Styist

This is a super special Expert Insight collaboration, as the guest is a very dear and close friend of mine- Mona Ismaeil! Although Mona lives in the same city as I do, we ended up “meeting” through Instagram a couple of years ago; since then our friendship has grown into something special and beautiful! Mona was also one of my first “mommy friends;” she pretty much saved me from staying indoors year-around and going crazy with three kids- so, thank you Mona for that 😉

Here’s some more information on who Mona is:

“Mona is a graduate of Concordia University College of Alberta. She has an Arts degree majoring in Sociology and minoring in Psychology. She also has an Elementary Education After-Degree. She worked for 3 years as a grade 5 teacher before the birth of her daughter Manessa. Since then, Mona has been focused on her other projects. With her husband, she is the proud owner of Modern Hejab, she is a blogger and writer/editor for MuslimMoms.ca. She has also been published in Sisters Magazine and featured in the fashion section of the Edmonton Journal.”

It truly means a lot to me to have Mona a part of The Muslimah Mommy Expert Insight panel, you all are going to love her expert advice on how women can wear the hijab more comfortably! 

Please tell us how Modern Hejab came to be?

My hesitation with wearing hijab stemmed from the fact that I didn’t see many women wearing hijab in a fashionable way. Although I’ve moved passed that now; at the time, I was young and vain and I loved fashion, doing, my hair, etc. When I made the choice to wear hijab, I decided I wanted to show young women how beautiful wearing hijab can be. I wanted to inspire other young women who were hesitant to wear hijab to go ahead and embrace their Deen fully. I wanted them to see that modesty is empowering and liberating. My goal was to show that you can infact fuse fashion and faith.

When did you start wearing the hijab, and do most women within your family wear one? Were your friends and family members supportive of your decision?

I started wearing hijab Dec. 31 2008. I wanted to start my new year off on the right foot. I was 22 at the time. The choice to wear it was not easy for me as I was still somewhat vain and concerned with my appearance but I knew it was something I just needed to do. I started wearing it while on holidays in Egypt. I figured that was the easiest way to start as close to 90% off Egyptian woman wear it and I was surrounded by my family. I hoped that would make me confident enough to come back to Canada and continue wearing it. Elhamduallah that was the case.

The majority of women in my family do wear hijab. My mother started wearing hijab while in her 30’s though. There was never any pressure on me so I guess that may have helped me find my own way to it. They told me, I was still young and if I wanted to wait until after marriage, that was my choice but they were proud of me for wanting to wear it then.

Of course my Muslim friends were supportive as well. My concern was more my Non-Muslim friends. I was attending Concordia University College (a Lutheran University) at the time, and I was a bit worried about the reaction I might get. I wasn’t the first hijabi to walk through those halls, but I was the only one in my Education After-Degree Class. While away on Winter Break in Egypt, I started posting pictures of myself on Facebook with my hijab (sounds trivial I know) and that helped to get them used to it before even seeing me. By the time I was back, it was basically what they remembered I looked like. I had no issues after that.

You have a two year old daughter, how do you plan on educating her on the true meaning of hijab?

I believe there are a number of really important things for any mother to do to encourage her daughter to wear hijab:

  • Give her space to make that decision. Yes, In Islam girls are supposed to wear hijab by puberty but in my own opinion and by seeing some examples around me, I have come to learn that by forcing a young woman to wear hijab when she is not ready or does not understand the concept, you risk her taking it off later on in life.
  • Show her examples, BE a good example. This means YOU must wear your hijab well. Show her how beautiful hijab can be. How she can still be fun, fashionable, or trendy. Of course this depends on her age. Point out other sisters that are great examples of a Mohajaba.
  • Explain everything. For children, we must explain everything to them in order for them to buy into it. Be clear to them as to why we wear hijab. You’ll need to explain further than just “because Allah has asked us to”.

Honestly I guess when it comes to my daughter, I’ll have to see how she grows to view hijab and cater my method accordingly. Each child is different. Some can be told you have to do it this way and they will because it’s the right thing to do while others need to come to the decision themselves.

It can be very difficult for women to wear the hijab comfortably in public when they have babies or toddlers tugging at their hijabs; sometimes, at the end of the day a typical mother’s hijab is lopsided, there are pins missing, and hair sticking out (totally me by the way!), any tips for us?

Oh yes! We’ve all been there! There is no surefire way to prevent all this but I do have a few suggestions:

  • Try slip on hijabs. 1 or 2 piece hijabs are really easy to wear and to adjust. They are quick, comfortable and still look quite nice.
  • Choose heavier fabrics that do not require too many pins (cotton or pashmina). This is a basic safety concern for your baby especially. You don’t want a pin to move out of place and poke your little one!
  • Style your hijab very simply. Running errands or being out and about with your little one is not a good time to try fancy hijab styles that took you an hour to do. You want to be able to quickly adjust or redo your hijab if need be in those few moments you “have for yourself” to use the restroom.

What are the best fabrics of hijabs for women to wear comfortably during the four seasons?

This is highly dependant on you and what your body can handle. For example, I can wear a pashmina in summer while other moms would find it too hott. You have to go based on how what you find comfortable. Generally though here are some suggestions:

  • Spring/Autumn: These in between seasons where you can experience warmth and a chill, you’ll be varying your hijab fabric according to the weather on a day to day basis. I would go with fabrics that can serve both purposes. I LOVE LOVE LOVE a cotton jersey hijab for any season but they are especially nice for Spring and Fall. They are heavy but they breath so fantastically.
  • Winter: If you are not a toque (very Canadian word for winter hat) wearing type, then go for heavier fabrics such as Pashminas. Pashminas are incredibly warm and the fabric is so luxurious. Invest in a great pashmina. Whether you wear it as a hijab or around your neck as a scarf, you will not regret it. Also, you can go with heavier Polycotton (mix of polyester and cotton) blended hijabs. These are nice and heavy too to keep you warm.
  • Summer: Keep it light! This means bring out those chiffons, rayons and light polyester hijabs. Keep in mind though, the lighter the fabric the more likely they are a little see-through. So be sure to wear your underscarf. If you feel they are too see-through and want a little more coverage, try a lightweight ninja underscarf. These cover both the head and neck fully.

If you could give women, of any age, who are struggling with wearing a hijab a word of advice, what would that be?

We’ve all been there! Remember that you are doing something amazing that will undoubtedly bring you so many blessings. Take it a step at a time, a day at a time and aim to find a way to bring together your innerself with your outward self. Do not allow anyone to make you feel like your hijab will ever hinder you from doing anything. There is always a way to make it work for you. Wear it with pride and confidence and you will inspire others to do the same. Finally, remember you have millions of sisters who are here to support you!

A tremendous thank you to Mona for sharing her insight with us, make sure you follow Mona on her blogFacebook, and Instagram! Also, check out her online shop, Modern Hejab, for some gorgeous hijabs!