O, btw, today's theme is.... SECRET! I made a promise to myself that I won't say a thing about a program that I joined until I've already been the third grader at high school. But, I seriously need to share my thought about this crazy big (little) thing called.... Visa!
So many people, either in blogs or reality keep saying that to make visas that are issued by some countries, muslimah need to expose their ears in their visa's photos, and even their neck. Well, when I know this fact, at first I was like, 'ummm what? I don't wanna do that.'
Then I realized that I'll undergo that phase too, Insha Allah. Making visa. To an embassy that is known to have somewhat kind of strict rules. And my reaction become like, WHAT??
I'm not ignoring the fact that I'm getting nervous. And goosebumps. I'm started to browse really often about that topic : visa and hijab. Almost around 80% of muslimah in Indonesia have to expose their ears for their visa photo. I have no idea until I saw their photo, some only with ciput, the others exposing their ears. I've asked an upperclassmen from other school that is joining the same program as me, and already undergo the visa-making-phase last year, called Kak 'S'. She said that yes, we must expose our ears, in order to prove that we are healthy. In addition, I found an article which tell a story about a famous muslimah writer, Helvy Tiana Rosa (who came to PUTIK last year), who couldn't get her visa (eventhough she was invited by a university in the US to hold a seminar) just because she insisted to wear her hijab in her visa photo.
I think those reasons for exposing ears in visa photo are not logical. And based on my opinion and an Islamic forum at the internet, if muslimah's intention of making visa is not urgent (for example we need to move to other country or else our life will be in danger), then muslimah shouldn't expose their aurahs (body parts which are mustn't be seen by non mahram/boys after a girl reaches adolescence phase), including their ears for the visa photo. I'm a muslimah, and I want my decision to wear hijab, my commitment with Allah SWT, to be respected. Just like the way I respect other muslimah who haven't wore hijab yet.
Speaking of which, based on my browsing results, our visa photo would not only used when we apply for visa. That photo would be seen by airport staff when we arrived in that country. It will also stored in the system owned by the government of a country, and they will still save it into years later. This, is already proven by someone who is applying for visa, and the embassy staff could open their old visa document (including the photo) eventhough the visa was created a long time ago. This is another reason why I don't want to expose my ears, my aurahs.
O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful. (Q.S. Al Ahzab : 59)
The writer of that article, Mrs. Taschan, told her experience when applying visa to US. She said that out of 4 muslimahs that she asks, only one who is wearing full-hijab for her visa photo. It's either subhanallah or astagfirullah, I simply couldn't choose one! I keep reading her article, and Mrs. Taschan, alhamdulillah, stand on her decision to wear hijab for her visa's photo. (lucky her, she already had visa to Germany in which she wore hijab too, so it was like she had more chance to get this US visa) She kept her hijab kind of tight to her head, and the hijab ended right on her hairline. And you know what? She got the visa!
Mrs. Taschan's visa photo.
The other muslimah that insisted wearing hijab for her visa photo is Asyurani. But, at first her photo was not approved by the US embassy staff, but the embassy staff said that : "sekarang memang gak harus memperlihatkan telinga lagi untuk yang berjilbab, tapi dahinya harus keliatan semua. Minimal kerudung itu pas ada di batas hairline (now, the girls that use hijab don't have to expose their ears again, but the chin must be fully-visible. The hijab should be placed at your hairline.)" Then, she re-take her visa photo, still with hijab (but revised), still with ears invisible, and.... she received her visa without any problem alhamdulillah...
I'm all like, whaaaat? Allahu akbar! Then I came to a website of embassy that I will apply visa for, and some rules have been changed. The part about hijab says that ; "Do not wear a hat or head covering that obscures the hair or hairline, unless worn daily for a religious purpose. Your full face must be visible, and the head covering must not cast any shadows on your face."
Conclusion : It's allowed to wear full hijab on almost any kind of visa (even my mom who applied for schengen visa could get her visa eventhough she wore full hijab in her visa photo). Even the official website says so.
Fainna ma'al 'usri yusraa. Inna ma'al usri yusra...
For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease. Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.
Karena sesungguhnya sesudah kesulitan itu ada kemudahan, sesungguhnya sesudah kesulitan itu ada kemudahan.
(Qur'an Surah Ash Sharh/The Relief : 5-6)
Bukan sekadar tren, jilbab adalah identitas sejati Muslimah. Bukan sekadar simbol keagamaan. Ya, jilbab adalah jalan ketakwaan, bukti ketundukkan sebagai hamba Allah SWT. Jilbab adalah pertanda keimanan. (google)
Sesuatu yang diyakini harus diperjuangkan terlebih dahulu. (google)
If you have decided to adhere to your belief, you have to be ready with all the risks that are waiting for you. (Ibu/Mom)
Bismillahirrohmanirrohim. (mohon doanya ya!) I'll be stronger for this da'wah. Because I believe in Allah SWT and all His promise in Qur'an. I believe that there will always be a way out for every problems.
UPDATE (June 25th 2013)
Have I told you that I already got my visa, the US visa? :) Yes, InsyaALLAH it's already made.
I use my photo with full hijab for the visa, and the embassy staff in Jakarta were so nice. They didn't ask about my hijab, my photo, or anything about it (the only question for me was "Where do you wanna go?" and BAM! He gave me the white card. Woo hooo, alhamdulillah.)
The application went well, alhamdulillah. I guess, it's kinda because I was applying visa in order to attend a program which has link to US embassy (it is funded by the US department of state), but it is all happened due to ALLAH's decision. You know, when you believe you can do it, miracles do happen. Kerja "tangan-tangan tak terlihat" itu biasanya akan muncul ketika kamu udah berusaha, udah berdoa dengan sebaik-baiknya.
I was told by everyone I knew (literally, EVERYONE) that it's hard to make it (the visa) if I insist on wearing full hijab. To make it worse, I was applying for SCHOLARSHIP, which usually reccommended visa photo with ears uncovered. The scholarship staff sent me a lot of emails, telling me about the right hijab to wear on the photoshoot, and I was like, running to my mom with a total confused look (and while snobbing too, you know, I got carried away sometimes). My mom told me, 'Well, it's just one of the procedures. Why don't you show your ears for the photo only?'. But I was like 'there's no way I'm doing that'. Not because I was trying to be hardheaded, but due to the fact that hijab is my pride, my obligation as Muslimah, I'm not allowed to show any part of my aurahs except I was in very dangerous situation whereas, for example, I would die if I didn't do that.
Dalam prosesnya, ada yang seolah berbisik "Udah, foto aja lagi. Bener kata kakak-kakaknya tuh, cuma prosedur dan ga akan disebarluaskan."
Tapi setiap saya ngebayangin foto dengan telinga terlihat, yang terlintas di pikiran saya hanyalah, gimana kalau di alam kubur nanti saya ditanya kenapa saya sampai hati membuka jilbab demi urusan duniawi yang tidak emergency banget, padahal saya tau itu kurang baik (sounds lebay, BUT it's true!). Terus seolah terngiang kata-kata radio rodja, "katakan tidak pada kemewahan dunia, kalau kau harus membuka hijabmu!", juga keinget sama surat al ahzab ayat 59 (jleb, jleb, jleb). Dan ada pula kata-kata nasihat dari guru les saya, bahwa "Bez, kamu sudah besar, sudah tau mana keputusan yang terbaik. Sudah tau kewajiban bagi muslimah untuk menutup aurat". Dan lagi, saya kebayang usaha muslimah lain dalam istiqomah berjilbab, misalnya Mbak Helvy Tiana Rosa yang bertahan untuk pake jilbab pas dulu dia UN SMA, padahal dia ga boleh ikut UN kalo pake kerudung, dan dia pun akhirnya nekat ikut UN dengan tetap pakai jilbab dengan tidak sepengetahuan kepala sekolahnya yang melarangnya, dengan hanya mengerjakan soal UN tersebut dalam 15 menit-an! (Bayangin, Mbak Helvy terancam ga lulus, and it means, her whole life is at risk but she didn't even let her hijab loosened!).
Those kind of thoughts have helped me untuk bangkit dari perasaan ga nyaman. Perasaan ga aman karena dari 90 orang yang berangkat dan puluhan diantaranya berjilbab, saya satu-satunya yang tetap bertahan dengan foto with ears covered. Perasaan ga tenang karena banyak yang menyarankan saya untuk "ikuti prosedur saja". Ada yang terang-terangan mengatakan bahwa saat-saat seperti pembuatan visa ini bukanlah saat untuk mempertahankan keyakinan kita (saya tau dia nggak bermaksud benar-benar seperti itu, tapi tetep aja itu mengintimidasi, a lot).
Thank God, ALLAH has guided me to meet such wonderful friends and teachers. Tempat satu-satunya curhat saya itu cuma di lingkaran-lingkaran tercinta di SMANSA. Atau di beberapa sesi les BP bersama MS. Atau malah sama Ninis hehe. But it helps a lot. Makasih banyaaaak :D
Dan di saat-saat terakhir sebelum ke kedutaan, ada tante saya yang nge-bbm bahwa dia dulu ke US, visanya pakai jilbab full, tanpa telinga seinci pun. (and guess what? visanya dibikinin kantor, she didn't even need to go to the embassy at all, and she's not doing any interview at all!)
When I was out of the interview locket, with white card on my hand, I felt like all my efforts, all my worries were finally paid off.
So, once again, don't surrender. Coba dulu. If you never try, you'll never know.