Muslim Women Stand Up!

I have worn Hijab all my life.

Well. Not ALL my life 🙂

I started wearing it for fun when I was 10 or 11.

I admired how it looked on my mother, my aunties, my older cousins.

In the same way a little girl wants to put on make – up and high heels, because she cannot wait to be all grown up and dress like her mother or big sister.

I also wanted to wear Hijab sooo badly.

In fact I used to steal my mother’s Hijabs. And wear them in my room, looking at the mirror and making cute faces. 🙂

My mother would tell me not to wear it because I was still too young. In fact, many times, she would make me go back to my room to take off the stolen Hijab or abaya (Islamic outer dress) I would stomp off to my room muttering in disgust. Lol. Other times, she would just shake her head and indulge me.

I have loved Hijab for as long as I can remember.

I love how beautiful it is.

How the woman just shines with …an inner glow of …righteousness. Noor.

Headscarves can be black. Or white. Or multi-coloured. They can be little triangles, or strips of long cloth, or even massive swathes of fabric. Cotton, or silk, or satin. Polka dots, leopard print, plain black.

They can be called: Shela, Ilhaaf, Duppata, Scarf, Hijab, Voile.

So many names. So many varieties.

All with the same message.

I.

Am.

A.

Muslim.

Woman.

I have ALWAYS been proud to be a Muslim woman.

Even post 9-11. Or 7-7. I kept my Hijab on.

1 week post 7-7, in London, I walked with my Hijab-covered head held high.

And so did many other women.

Every day, we put on a little triangle or square piece of cloth on our heads, and head out into the world.

To do Jihad.

Jihad-un-nafs.

Jihad in Islam means to fight, yes. But not necessarily to fight with another person.

The battle between you and your conscience is also Jihad.

In fact, it is the biggest jihad. The toughest jihad. A Jihad that we  have to do every day.

For Muslim women, one of the biggest Jihad is, the Jihad of the Headscarf.

We ignore the looks.

And the sneers.

And the cold shoulders.

The people on the bus who will not sit next to you.

The extra security checks on flights.

The co-workers, and class mates who keep away from you. Who exclude you from events/friend groups because they fear you and do not understand you.

The shuffling in an elevator, as people try to keep as physically distant from you as possible.

The sympathetic looks from kind old ladies.

Somehow, those sting more than the evil stares.

Please, dear world.

I am not oppressed.

I am Hijabi. And Proud.

This little piece of cloth on my head.

It means I serve my God.

It means I preserve my chastity.

It means I value myself. I am worth more than my looks.

It means my religion considers my intellect and personality worthy. More valuable than transient beauty.

It means I am proud.

Proud to be Muslim.

So this post is dedicated to all the Hijab wearing Jihadists out there.

Every day, you walk out of your house, and face the world with your shoulders back, and your stride purposeful.

Allah sees you.

I see you.

MashAllah.

Muslim Women.

Stand UP!

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Weak Tea Muslims

Bismillah, the first verse of the first "...

How many of us are guilty of this?

We are afraid of being labelled radicals. Especially Post 9/11 and 7/7

Afraid of bringing our religion into our workplace, into our friendships, into a shop…

As Muslims, we try to be as unobstrusive as possible in our dealings with the world.

Keep our Islam watered down.

Just like weak tea.

If its barely there, I won’t offend anyone. Won’t upset anyone.

Tread lightly, and they will leave me alone.

Hmmm.

Shame on us!

Example 1: The non-Assalaam Alaikum

Muslim brothers and sisters out there do not LIKE to say Asalaam Alaikum. Instead, they prefer Hi! Hello! Wassup!

If you dare say Asalaam Alaikum to sister at work, she will breezily respond with…’Hi!’

Hi?? Really?

The first time that happened to me I was perplexed. But shrugged it off. Maybe she misheard me. Maybe it was just force of habit.

The second time, I received a fervently whispered ‘Waalaikum Salaam’ I had to squint and move closer to hear what she was saying. She even glanced about guiltily, hoping no one had overheard her.

Ahem.

Seriously?

Are you afraid people will think you are a terrorist for responding with a ‘Waaliakum Salaam’??

Scenario 2: The ‘I-will-not-cause-drama’ rule

This one I have been guilty of.

Someone senior to me at work made a derogatory comment about Islam. It was not overtly insulting. More implied. But it was there. Hanging in the air. Just…waiting.

Now, it was the first time I had worked with that person. And I was not willing to start causing drama. We were also in front of a few junior staff. I decided some battles, are worth fighting another day.

But I still feel like I should not have let it slide.

I still feel like I should have said something.

I don’t know….

However, there are other times where I HAVE been known to stand up and make some noise when someone has been intentionally insulting towards Islam.

Last week, a colleague said Arabic was a ‘disgusting’ language. It sounded ‘angry’ and ‘guttural’. Now I know that’s not a direct insult towards Islam. But the language of the Quran is Arabic. So I politely pointed out that it depends on where she had heard that ‘guttural’ Arabic spoken, and by whom (different dialects, different localities, different accents) And plus, she should try listening to Quranic recitations.

The girl looked at me like I had recommended she fly to the moon.

Nonetheless, I had made my point.

Example 3: The Undercover Muslim

This is the one I reeeeeeeeeeeally don’t get.

A guy has a name as Muslim as : Abdallah Mohammed Al-Ansari (for example)

Yet he really, truly believes, people don’t know he is Muslim. And he wants to keep it that way.

He drinks. He parties. He chills with the boys.

He is just a regular guy.

So when you walk up to him and ask him where the nearest prayer room is, you are blowing his cover dammit!

Lol.

The guy goes white as a sheet, looks around for his ‘homies’, thanks God they are not around, and proceeds to brush you off with a gruff : ‘How should I know?!’

SMH

Brother, please.

Would you like some sugar with that weak tea?

Example 4: The Ramadhan Phenomenon

This one I am sure everyone has experienced. Once Ramadhan comes around, even the closet muslims, come out of their proverbial closet, and renounce food and drink from sunset to sundown. However the resilient few, try to sneak a few snacks here and there.

You can smell their guilt from a mile away.

They know this too.

Which is why they avoid other Muslims like the plague.

I don’t CARE that you are not fasting. Stop hiding from me and ducking around corners! Lol. Or maybe that was just people avoiding me due to BO (Body Odour)?? *Sniffs armpits*….Nah….

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I’m a perfect Muslim. Far from it.

And I am not advocating people start screaming  ‘I AM A MUSLIM!!!!’ at the top of their lungs.

I am just saying: BE PROUD. STOP BEING ASHAMED. STOP BEING SCARED.

Be Muslim.

Don’t be obtrusively Muslim. Or Agressively Muslim. Or even fanatically Muslim.

Just be …simply Muslim. Honestly Muslim. Unashamedly Muslim.

Stop being a Weak Tea Muslim.

Salaam Alaikum

Food, Prayer and Ramadhan

Isn’t the whole point of Ramadhan NOT eating? Isn’t the whole idea behind Ramadhan, letting go of wordly and bodily desires, and focusing on the spiritual needs of the body?

Well. Atleast that’s what I thought.

How come we spend so much time focusing on food instead of salah? We dream of what we will eat tomorrow, plan our menus for iftaar to perfection; Running through the intricate balance and subtleties of flavours during our sujoods. We rush to break our fasts as though we haven’t eaten in a hundred years. Immediately after, we are so sated. Too full to even contemplate Ishaa, let alone Taraweh.

Non-muslims observing the feeding frenzy associated with breaking the fast would be hard pressed to believe that Ramadhan is NOT about food.

This is really a reminder to myself more than anything. I was praying dhuhr, when halfway through I realized I had been planning whether to make chicken or beef curry for iftaar. I had already decided that I would make chapati and samosas. I was just stuck at the chicken vs beef debate. Subhanallah! It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic. While fasting, we are freed from bodily needs of eating and drinking so as to spend more time in dhikr and salah. Emmm, aren’t we??

Look more closely at you’re saum brothers and sisters. Make it count.

Ramadhan Kareem

We’re almost halfway done. How fast this month passes; The days and nights seem to fly by. Remember to increase you’re ibadah. We tend to get tired or jaded after a while. And though the reward increases exponentially in the last 10 days of Ramadhan, mosques get emptier, salahs get less frequent.

“Ramadan is the (month) in which the Quran was sent down, as a guide to mankind and a clear guidance and judgment (so that mankind will distinguish from right and wrong)..” (Q 2:183)

“Oh you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you many learn piety and rightousness” (Qur’an, al-Baqarah, 2:183)

“…And it is better for you that ye fast, if ye only knew.” (Q 2:184)

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