I met the sweetest girl at the masjid the other day, who is almost certain she is going to convert to Islam. During the conversation, she told me that Muslim people were REALLY being harsh with her, telling her to quit her job in the insurance business because it's HARAM and to keep her hijab on because taking it off is HARAM. She literally asked me, "Am I a bad Muslim if I don't wear hijab?"
She said she feels really shaken and she's scared if she can do all this stuff long term because she is so used to this life she's known since she was born.
And, I totally feel her pain.
See, for me, everyone told me NOT to wear hijab, NOT to quit my job (that may or may not have been considered haram), NOT to stress myself out.
It was nice that I was around laid back people, but at the same time I felt like I needed to do those things because Allah (swt) was driving me to do them.
On the other side, if someone was telling me everything in my life was HARAM, I don't think I would be able to make a distinction between what is best for me in the eyes of people and what is asked from me from Allah.
Keep in mind that when people convert, they're hearing enough trash from everyone else around them - their parents, their old friends, their coworkers - that as Muslims, we should try to do everything in our power to ease this conflict, not add to it.
So, I had to explain to her:
1. Never do something for other people.
2. Do whatever it is you do, for God.
My secret hijab question: Do you feel comfortable in hijab? If so, wear it. Wear it for as many days as you feel comfortable. When you start feeling uncomfortable without it on your head, make the commitment to wear it. Or don't. See, that's the thing, it's between YOU and Allah.
Not any one else but you.
Wearing hijab IS commanded by God in the Quran. Have it as a goal, definitely, but don't kill yourself about it.
And here's the biggest secret of them all, that I wish I could tell every convert, every Muslim, and everyone in between:
All of these things - wearing hijab, your job, your prayers, etc... these are all just beautiful pieces to a perfect puzzle that is Islam.
That's it. For me, that's the secret to life, and one I have struggled with for a long time until I reached the realization.
I'm not perfect, I am constantly trying to work on the pieces and perfect them to the best of my ability. At the end of the day, though, they're just pieces.
Don't treat the pieces as if they are the whole puzzle.
May Allah (swt) make it easy on new converts, and those exploring Islam, and may He make us as Muslims better representations so that we may help converts in the best possible way as they enter into our faith. May Allah continue to shower us with blessings and the ability to make each puzzle piece more beautiful to Him daily, and eventually may He be pleased with our final puzzles - no matter how much of yours is complete when your time runs out.