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!

Stop Looking Up My Skirt!!!

Really now.

STOP LOOKING UP MY SKIIIIIRT!!!

Ok, not really. LOL.

You see, as a Muslim girl, we wear extra layers of clothing: A hijab (headscarf), long sleeves, baggy trousers, voluminous top/dress. Sometimes we may even throw on an abaya (outer Islamic female covering) Basically, according to Islamic law, only a woman’s face and hands should be visible. Most of us have covered our heads since we were around 11/12 years old. Basically all our adult lives. Without it, we would and DO feel nekkid.

So every time you ask me HOW MY HAIR LOOKS LIKE underneath my scarf, that’s the equivalent of you asking me WHAT COLOUR MY PANTIES ARE?!! or WHETHER YOU CAN LOOK UP MY SKIRT!

Seriously.

I have heard it SOOO many times.

‘What does your hair look like?’

‘How long is your hair?’

‘What colour is your hair?’

Oh FOR HEAVENS SAKE!!!

Its. None. Of. Your. Business.

What I choose to cover up is suuuuually (surely) my business and mine alone.

What difference does it make if my hair is long/short/black/blonde – you aren’t going to see it. Period. Deal with it.

But its difficult for people to deal with it. In a society where we judge others by appearances, people feel short-changed when they do not have enough ammunition to judge. It’s like you have effectively blindfolded them. And you are forcing them to accept you as an unknown entity. They don’t know if you are :

  • skinny?   *she is too thin! Must be anorexic!*
  • Or curvy? *She is waaay too fat. Gosh. Does she diet/exercise?*
  • If you have straight hair? *She probably straightens her hair chemically*
  • Curly hair? *Hmm, does she have African genes?*
  • Short hair? * Is she a Lesbian?*
  • Long hair? *She probably, almost definitely has extensions!!*
  • Or coloured hair? *She can afford a to re-do her roots every two weeks in this economy, must be raking it in!*
  • etc etc etc

So hey, when someone asks me what I have underneath my headscarf, my response varies depending on the lunar cycle. I may be blonde and short-cropped one day, while the next day I may shout : ‘Purple dreads!’

Eventually they stop asking. They have to get to know me to make an opinion. And inevitably they realize …emm…it really doesn’t matter what my hair looks like.

I’m crazy anyway. LOL.

Hijab is beautiful.

Happy Ashura Day y’all (16th Dec)

xo

Of All Things Halal

Halal

Image by BrotherMagneto via Flickr

Now from this post here, you will have learnt that I was recently in Manchester. After being over-fed, well watered, and thoroughly all-shopped out, I find myself contemplating when my next visit there is going to be. Why, you might ask? Well, read on peoples.

The beauty of Manchester for me, was the muslim community. I LOVED the fact that we had used our pockets to influence the number of outlets serving halal food. Walking into a restaurant, sandwich shop or fish and chips stand, and asking if the meat is halal is NOT met with confused giggles, nervous glances at the security guard, or hard, angry stares.

At Burristo (a cute, little burrito place), the waitress kindly informed me that the chicken was halal, but the way in which it was made was not. It was cooked together with the non-halal steak. WOW! She not only knew what halal was, she had gone a step further. Jeez!! I need to move to Manchester.

The city centre had a prayer place too. So you did not have to forfeit you’re salah for shopping. There was a myriad of stands selling hijabs dotted all over the high street. Overall, it just oozed muslim-friendliness. But not in an overt, over the top way. In a its-a-multicultural-place-so-this-is-perfectly-normal way. I L-O-V-E-D it!

In Cardiff where I live, muslims form a LARGE chunk of the population. But unless you go hunting for them in the ghettos (Riverside, Grangetown etc), you won’t see us. Not in the universities, nor the hospitals, nor the high street. It’s like we are in hiding. Ashamed of our religion. Not only ashamed to be seen practicing our religion. Ashamed to be seen. Period.

Disgusting.

Are there any other towns/cities where you have seen the same?

Can we please stand up and make our presence felt people?!! We are part of the community. We must get out of the shadows, stand proud, and practice Islam freely and fiercely. No excuses..

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)

A new dawn

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day…..

You only perceive hunger, thirst, loneliness, fear and so on, when your body translates the physical stimuli into neural responses that the brain can understand.

I dint realize I wasn’t happy. My brain has finally caught up.

It’s like a veil being parted. A heavy cloud of mist rising to let the dawn shine through.  An invisible load weighing on my shoulders, lifted. Invisible chain mail ensnaring my brain clinking apart.

Enshrouded in an all-consuming darkness for so long, I can only now appreciate the light.

2009 was a difficult year for me. Suffice to say, I had enough trials and tribulations to make Moses weep. Unhappiness is like a cancer. It eats away at your soul, like a rat nibbling at rusks. Before you know it, crumbs are what you’re trying to piece together.

Alhamdulillah! Praise be to the Most High for getting me through to the other side. Finally I feel like I have left my demons behind. Albeit bloodied, bruised, and missing a few pieces here and there, my soul is ready for the dawn.

Let the good times roll.

Fasting


So as of this morning, I’m officially fasting. Not in the usual way though. What I came to learn from different fasts I’ve been through so far is that I can manage without food or water for 12 hours. Heck, if it’s just one or the other, I’m good for a day or two. So generally, what gets me thinking and praying during regular fasts like Ramadan, is not the hunger or the thirst. It’s the inconvenience. Continue reading

Purpose

The main difference between infatuation and love is purpose.

In a situation where two people claim to “love each other”, this purpose is generally the only factor that it is common to both parties. Two people never quite love each other in the same way. They do, however, tend to have a similar purpose to their relationship: be it marital, familial, spiritual or friendly; there’s some accord. When there’s disaccord, then the odds of that love lasting get very slim.

It took me a good woman and a good religion to realize this. We are all capable of sharing great emotions but the longevity of such feelings and the stability of the relationships founded on those sentiments thoroughly depend on purpose.

You both have to be headed in the same direction. That’s why I trust my God; his plan for me is my plan for me.

Peace.

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