An Arab Perspective On Natural Hair

Cover of "Good Hair"

Good Hair- watch it!

I have natural hair.

An afro.

A big ass. Sexy. Afro.

I am an Arab girl. With an afro.

An Afro-Arab.

🙂

This is my coming out.

Because in the Arab world, as with every other ‘white obsessed’ culture, whiteness and sleek, straight hair is celebrated.

My grandmother has black silky hair to her butt.

My brothers have ‘good hair’

Silky soft, beautiful locks.

I, the only girl in the family, decided to go and grow a fro.

While everyone else chemically alters their hair, and pretends their hair is nice and swishy.

I decide. To flaunt my fro in front of everyone.

My mother, needless to say, was horrified.

Lol.

My brothers, do not know how to deal with it.

They have spent years being told, that sleek and sexy is the definition and bench mark for ‘Beauty’

These last couple of weeks, I spent at home with my three brothers.

They had no idea how to react to my fro.

Lol.

My oldest and youngest brother just ignored my hair.

To be fair to them, they had never seen my hair in its natural state.

Neither had I, since I was 11!!

So being the polite, well raised boys they are. They ignored it.

Ignored the tumbling mass of curls peeking from under my cap, like they couldnt see em.

They did not say: ‘ Hey QQ, your hair is different what did you do to it?’

Nope.

Nada.

Not one comment.

My other middle brother, however, bless his misguided soul….

Told me to go to the salon.

Lord help him!

You can understand what kind of crazy I unleashed on him.

I had been waiting. Waiting. Waiting. On someone to comment.

And here comes this unwitting brother.

Telling me to go to the salon?

AND THEN. AND THEN. Has the audacity to start giggling with my mum about how HE is the one in the family who has GOOD HAIR.

GOOD HAIR????

I saw red.

I unbraided my hair (it was in twists)

Fluffed out my fro into a MASSIVE thing.

And came at it, all hissing and spitting.

I put my ‘Shaniqua’ on.

‘GOOD HAIR? GOOD HAIR?’ I SAID.

`God gave us all different hair. My hair is like this. How God saw fit in his wisdom to make it. You want to say God was wrong to create me this way? Do you?? You think my hair isn’t nice? I need to go to the salon to fry it into some kind of limp chemically altered poor excuse for hair? Do you now? Well TOUGH!! This is MY hair. Its on MY head. Deal with it!’

Yes. I was all up in his face like a black girl on an American drama.

Hehe.

He looked like he regretted opening his mouth (good)

And I think he realised what he had said was bang out of order.

And I like to think I schooled him.

I will not let anyone tell me otherwise.

I have worked to accept myself with this hair, in a world where whiteness, and sleek, straight hair is lauded.

I have worked to conquer that low self esteem that drives every woman to the salon every month to get a relaxer.

I shall not let anyone mess with that.

Least of all my family.

My mother gave up trying to convert me back into the world of the creamy crack (what we ‘naturals’ call relaxers)

Well, not entirely.

But…kind of. 🙂

I LOVE LOVE LOVE my natural hair.

I love that it can be curly. Or straight. Or an afro. Or a sexy up do.

I love that I can do my own hair.

I spend hours twisting it, braiding it, having rollers in it, deep conditioning, henna-ing, trying different products.

I love that I am not reliant on some stupid salon to make me feel good about myself.

That I do not worry about my ‘kitchen’ showing.

I don’t worry about my ‘real’ hair coming through and making me look horrible after a few months.

I really, really, really, don’t worry about people making me feel like I am not beautiful because my hair isn’t bone straight.

Or that I do not fit into their expectations of what a real ‘Arab’ should look like.

I have an Afro.

Its my hair.

Not yours.

Deal with it.

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The Quilted Dream

‘Allahu Akbar Allah Akbar’
The call to prayer reverberates in the air.
Shimmering through the sunlight.
Gliding past lace curtains, through windows and open doors.
To rest lightly on the ears and hearts of the beloved faithful.

Asha leans her head back against the turquoise window sill
The fluttering lace curtain tickles her face.
A humid breeze languidly strokes her cheek.
The call to prayer is her favourite song.
With a stirring deep in her heart,she answers back the call softly:
‘La haula wa laa quwwata illa billah’

A heavy sigh escapes her lips.
And as her eyes flit over the landscape of rooftops from her vantage point, she feels her heart twang in symphony with the call.

Almost like it’s calling out to her personally.

‘Come out here Asha.’
‘Come pray.’
‘Come live.’
‘Come and be.’

Shaking her head to disperse the pointless musings of her restless heart, Asha goes to make ‘Wudh’u’: ablutions for her noon prayer.

 There is no time for silly thoughts.There are prayers to be made. Cooking to be done. And she has to get back to the office soon.

As she walks out she catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror. Full lips. Almond shaped twinkiling brown eyes. Curly wisps of hair have escaped from the confines of her professional hair bun and fall prettily accross her shoulders. ‘I have a beautiful face’ she muses. And as she turns to walk out of the room, ‘And a generous behind too! That is after all, my African heritage!’

Asha is half black. Half Arab.

She is a black Arab. Or an Arab African.

Caught between two worlds.

…..To Be Continued….

Are you a Virgin?

Okay. The aim of this blog is to channel my love of writing. To excite my creative neurones. To be an outlet for my frustrations and agressions. But also to raise awareness. To a small degree.

And so I apologise in advance for all whom I may offend by this post.

For eons man has been obsessed by virginity. A virgin girl is a prized posession in many cultures, across continents, and across centuries.

My experience with this phenomenon is limited. But as a Muslim Arab single girl, it had been a topic that has occupied the forefront of my mind since I was a little girl.

I don’t remember the first time I became aware of what virginity meant. But I remember not wanting to ride a bike at 9 or 10 years. I remember being afraid everytime i played sports. And being aware that horse riding was bad for me.

How did i know about blood and a broken hymen? I dunno. But it was one of my biggest fears.

In talking about this issue with some of my Muslimah friends, a lot of them mentioned this fear they had had ingrained in them.

One of them talked about how her dad was always telling her to be careful not to get raped. He would tell a 6 year old not to play outside or talk to her male friends at school in case she got raped. She grew up terrified that at any moment, she would be accosted!

A careful dad or over-kill?

I agree that we need to protect our daughters. Yes. Warn them about preserving their chastity, yes. But this fascination and obsession with treating our girls as eggs in case their hymen breaks on shaking them too hard…ah!

In our Yemeni culture, the blood stained sheet after the wedding night is displayed to the mother in law, in a ceremony of dance and song. If God forbid, the bride was too shy, or the man umm, couldn’t perform that night, the households go into a state of deep mourning. The mothers wail, the in laws point fingers, and the pressure mounts…which of course does nothing to help the nervous newly-weds.

Isn’t what happens in a marital bed private according to Sunnah? Couldn’t it be possible the woman did not even have a hymen? Or that she broke it at a young age playing sports? Medically, as a doctor, I can tell you the answer is yes.

Girls everywhere are subjected to shame, divorce and ridicule, all because of a little blood.

It makes me so angry.

The worst thing is the double standards afforded to the Muslim man. It is well known that a Muslim man can be male-whore if he wants to, with no social consequences. After a youth spent sowing his seed into every flowerpot and shamba, he demands a virgin for a bride. What?! Bloody double standards.

I would love to invent a method of allowing us to detect if a man has done the deed. A permanent dye or something. Applied at birth. And once the Haraam deed is committed, the penis turns purple. And falls off. Lol. Okay not the falling off part.

So shrouded in mystery is this issue of virginity is in my community, that even talking about it is like an admission of guilt. Why are you angry about it/discussing it. Does that mean your not a virgin? Is this your way of covering it up?

Arghhhhh! That ignorant response is exactly what i’m talking about!

So for those guys who insist on asking..(Yes, I get asked)…Why is it any of your business????? From curious non-muslims: ‘so you’re a 25 year old virgin?’ to would-be suitors….Bugger-off would you?

In fact, my aunt told me something that has stayed with me for a long time. ‘All you youngsters talk of virginity, but that kissing-kissing business you do, that’s zinaa (fornication) too!’

Too true.

Ladies, preseve your chastity in the true form of the principle-not just in name. Making out, heavy petting, and other forms of physical contact are Zinaa too. Preserve your chastity for yourselves. Not for a hymen and a fear of the wedding night. For Allah and for your own sake.

Men, educate yourselves. And stop with the double standards. If your member is purple, why should it deserve a pious Muslimah?

Salaams.
Xx

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