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We Do Not Have To Be A Monolith To Get Along

2 Apr

Originally written for and published on the blog JAN Trust

The idea that we as human beings must reject our differences and solely focus on that which makes us similar is one that is becoming increasingly common today. Although it may sound like a very nice idea and good in theory, it carries many underlying problems.

When we tell a person that they should not focus on the things that make them different or unique we are subconsciously telling them that these things are wrong.  More so, we are also denying the person the right to their own personal identities in the name of solidarity.  Requesting that people deny the many different attributes that make them who they are is not the ONLY way in which we as people will be able to come together.   Furthermore, this idea is mostly perpetrated by individuals who would like to cover up racism and discrimination by claiming that “we are all the same”.  These individuals tend to experience some form of privilege within society enabling them to impose their world-view in an arrogant and discriminatory way.   When a person’s different attributes affect the ways in which they are treated in society everyday it is unacceptable for others who cannot relate to this experience to then dictate the ways in which they should look at and treat these differences.  People should not have to keep silent or deny their reality because it may cause hostility or cause others to become uncomfortable; it forms part of who they are.  If we TRULY desire betterment and change then these conversations must be had on a large scale wherever necessary despite the many emotions that may arise from them.

Countries in the west such as the UK like to constantly throw around the word ‘diversity’- but what does it really mean?  Educator and activist Jane Elliott once said, “We live in different realities. When you deny what a person is going through you’re denying their reality. We are as different on the inside as we are on the outside and we have the RIGHT to be so.  People, don’t deny differences.  Accept them, appreciate them, recognize them and cherish them.  They are extremely important”.  Her statement shows the essence of what true diversity is.  It is not acting as if you don’t see colour (which is a very intelligent way to ignore race issues by the way) or gender or culture but it is actually acknowledging that we as human beings are different in many ways and this is perfectly ok.  We do not have to change our differences to promote harmony, we must change the way we LOOK at differences to promote harmony.  Many a time, people who do not fit ‘the standard’ are accused of challenging societal norms and are consequently seen as a threat to a system founded upon all forms of discrimination.  People are told to shave their beards, tame their unruly afros, take off their headscarves and speak in a certain way all of which reinforce the idea that we cannot be who we are if we want to be a part of a well functioning society.  A society that truly values diversity will benefit from richness in terms of cultures, ideas, opinions and can teach the individuals of that society to be more tolerant of lifestyles that are different from our own.  We learn to co-exist with others which can help to reduce mistrust, stereotypes as well as racism and discrimination.  A truly diverse society also promotes education, and we know that by educating people we are actively removing them from ignorance.

“And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the difference of your languages and colours. Verily, in that are indeed signs for men of sound knowledge.” [30:22]

Race and culture should be celebrated not ignored or used as a means to discriminate against one another.  People should be seen as who THEY are and not in the ways we might feel is best.  We do not have to be a monolith to get along.

Sheila N.

To read more about Sheila, click here

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Catcalling – It IS An Issue.

27 Nov

Catcalling Example

Originally written for and published on the blog JAN Trust

Earlier last week I read an article titled “25 Totally Acceptable Ways To Respond To Catcallers” which was a very insightful and funny piece on an experience that MANY women face, some on a daily basis.  If you’re unfamiliar with the term ‘Catcalling’ in this context, it is a combination of both sexual and street harassment in which men (or women) yell out comments of a sexual  nature to an individual as they pass by in order to get their attention, sometimes this will also include some sort of touching or groping.

Although the piece itself was quite humorous the situation being spoken about is not, and we as a society are becoming increasingly indifferent to this behaviour, particular when it comes from men.   Because of society’s normalisation of this kind of street harassment, women feel less inclined to openly take offence and be as vocally disapproving as they would like.  The author of the article relayed her experience of being catcalled one early morning and stated that she felt guilty for not responding to a man’s questions and advances.  She said, “I started questioning my own instincts: Maybe I was too rude. Maybe I should have at least smiled or waved or something”.  This is an all too common feeling for many women who have had the experience of being catcalled.  They worry about their own behaviour when in fact they DO NOT have to respond or be nice to strange men who make them feel uncomfortable.  Catcallers lose their right to kindness the moment they violate your personal space and personal boundaries.  Catcalling also causes real feelings of fear among victims.   Many women feel that if they vocally express their disapproval at being catcalled the perpetrator will suddenly become verbally or physically abusive towards them.  In these instances, some women will start engaging with the perpetrator to remove themselves from the situation, sometimes this will involve lying about having a boyfriend or husband in the hope that the perpetrator will respect their decision to leave.  This is not ok, vocally stating that they do not like the situation they are in should be ENOUGH for a man to apologise and leave her alone and should also be ENOUGH for society to realise this shouldn’t be happening in the first place.

The experience of being catcalled is not only extremely upsetting but can also influence the way women view themselves, each other and wider society.  Some women have been led to believe that a man yelling after them in the street is a compliment because they have internalised the idea of women simply being a sexual object and they therefore should be flattered even if it upsets them, while others have been made to think that a man touching them without their permission is perfectly acceptable and is in fact a part of the experience of being a woman.  Other groups of women become so anxious that they begin to hate themselves and their womanhood.  They avoid going out for fear of being degraded and can even develop a deep rooted hatred and fear for the opposite gender.

The sooner we as a society ACCEPT this the faster we can deal with the problem.  This casual acceptance of street harassment can be viewed as an indicator of how wider society views women in general and what it believes their purpose should be.  Throughout recent history women have been fighting for the right to be seen as equals but it is a movement that has been met with much resistance because it does fit in with the traditional gender narratives.  In order for society as a whole to tackle the issue of street harassment we must open up a dialogue about the current position and the role of women in society today.  There needs to be a discussion on the concept and the social construction of gender and we must begin challenging the mind-set by educating individuals within society on street and sexual harassment by going into schools, universities and the workplace and conducting workshops and seminars on what it is and why it is wrong.  Finally, we must combat the constant objectification and sexualisation of women and girls in the media.  The media has been viewed as the driving force behind these sexist and misogynistic attitudes by many women’s organisations because it causes many to become desensitized to the degradation of women and young girls everywhere.

We as women in society need to understand that we are NOT the problem.  We must begin to challenge this behaviour the moment we experience it and say something about how we can tackle the sexualisation and objectification of women at societal level because it is WRONG and it is a form of SEXUAL HARASSMENT whether the victim or the perpetrator believes it to be or not.  If we continue to ignore it, it will continue and will also progressively get worse.

Ladies, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!  You have the RIGHT to walk, run, sit, in a public place without receiving unwanted sexual advancements and you have the right to bloody state your disapproval if and when you receive them.  You were not put on this Earth for the mere pleasure of disrespectful men.  CHECK these FOOLS! Women everywhere salute you!

Sheila N.

To read more about Sheila, click here

“Marriage” By She

24 Feb

Asalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatu 🙂

So it just hit me! I have yet to write an article on Marriage, here I go.

When it comes to the whole concept of marriage us Muslims of today don’t really seem to have a clue.  We don’t know HOW to look for a spouse, WHAT to look for in a spouse, WHY we are required to get married in the first place and the most important thing of all… making it LAST.  So here are some of my thoughts on that.

Why?

Ok so why do Muslims get married.  I was listening to a talk by the don Suhaib Webb and he said that Marriage is a PROCESS.  Not a one day function or event but a PROCESS.

proc·ess, pro·cess (Noun) – A series of actions or steps taken to achieve an end.

These “series of actions or steps” have been beautifully laid out in the Qur’an and Sunnah (keep reading).  “Well what is the end?” I hear you say.  What does following the Qur’an and Sunnah ALWAYS lead to? Allah and his pleasure which everything in this life should do as:

“I created not the Jinns and humans except that they should worship me alone”

[Surah Adh-Dhariyat v.56]

So firstly and most importantly marriage is about getting closer to Allah and gaining his pleasure. This is the “end”.  I also believe that marriage is about perfecting one’s character.  Remember that Islam is two parts, relating to Allah (swt) which is done by following his commandments with sincere intentions, and then it is also relating to his creation which is done by upholding and maintaining good character.  One of the greatest tests of character is in the way we respond to aversion or behaviours we don’t like.  Is it for the sake of Allah or for our own egos and pride?  This is where marriage comes into it; there is NO ONE on Allah’s beautiful earth that will test you like your spouse so Marriage is a test of character therefore in a sense, a test of faith.  It’s not called “Half of your deen” for nothing and if we are aware of this purpose we might view the tests of Marriage as beneficial and not be quick to throw in the towel when it all gets tense.

Lastly, I also believe that one of the fundamental purposes of marriage is procreation:

“Marry those who are loving and fertile, for I will be proud of your great numbers before the other nations”

[Al-Albaani]

Marriage in Islam is also about creating stable family units, protecting them from harm and ensuring everyone’s rights are fulfilled.  The cornerstone of any successful society or community is a stable family unit as the role of the family is to fulfil the emotional and physical needs of its members which will then mean that people will enter into the societal sphere with all their needs met and thus be able to contribute towards its betterment Insha’Allah.  It’s a big responsibility and again fits in with the idea of marriage being “Half your deen” as after your spouse who else will work your last nerve like your child??? Exactly lol

How?

There’s a number of ways Muslims can begin the process of marriage.  You can let your local Imam know that you are looking for a spouse, tell friends to keep an eye out for you and then there are our wonderful parents.  Guys please don’t sleep on the Barakah in your parents.  There’s nothing wrong with your parents being involved in the marriage process, they KNOW you and genuinely want what is best for you so LISTEN to their advice.  I know some parents overstep their boundaries but I’m sure they don’t mean to hurt you.  Make sure they know that you value their thoughts and opinions but also that the final decision rests with you.  If it’s a really big problem then speak to your local Imam or an elder that you trust who will be an advocate for you.

The bottom line is good men/women do not fall from the sky.  If you seriously want to get married you need to be preparing yourself for the responsibility that comes with it by reading about it, talking to other married couples and divorcees and taking part in any pre-marital counselling programmes that may be on offer at your local Mosque or Islamic community centre.  I know that marriage is one of those things that you learn more about as you go along and we’ll never really understand it unless we are deep in it but that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare.  A little background research never hurt anybody.  I see too many Muslims today trying to jump into a situation like marriage when they really aren’t ready.  Ready isn’t just reaching the age of puberty or feeling the urge to have sex but also being mature and having a certain level of wisdom.  Our beloved messenger (saw) said:

O young men, those among you who can support a wife should marry, for it restrains eyes (from casting evil glances) and preserves one from immorality; but he who cannot afford it should observe fast, for it is a means of controlling the sexual desire.

[Muslim]

Don’t you dare think about taking a wife if you do not have the means to provide for her akhi.  Allah says:

“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allaah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means.”

[Surah Al-Nisa v.34]

Do you have a stable halal job? Do you have a place to put your new bride? Do you know basic fiqh? It’s incumbent upon the Muslim man, who is the leader of his household, to teach his wife and his children about the basics of Islam.  Will you be able to teach your family about Aqeedah, Tawhid, the pillars of Iman, the wisdom in the Qur’an, the conditions of the Salah, Zakat and Ramadan?  Can you also provide for your wife emotionally and intellectually?  My brothers if you understood the responsibilities that came with marriage I think many of you would take your time. This is serious business!

My sisters, beauty, being able to cook, clean and having a nice physique isn’t enough.  How do you spend your time lady? Watching TV, talking on the phone, shopping?  I’m not saying these are bad things but if this is all you are doing then a Brother has no use for you.  We are living in crazy time’s and if a brother is going to be able walk in this Dunya and handle his business he needs a woman beside him who sincerely believes in Allah and is striving every day to please him.  A woman who knows who she is, cultivates her mind and is down to engage in her husband’s struggles.  You have to be respectful and understand that there is so much power in Submission; don’t let these feminists fool you.

Try and be the person you would want to marry!  Anyone that’s struggling with this stage of the process try not to stress about it while still making an effort.  You trust in Allah but tie your camel.  Asking Allah for help means that you are already trying yourself so you know… TRY people.

What?

Ok so WHAT to look for in a spouse.  As I said earlier, the criterion has been given to us in the Sunnah of the beloved messenger (saw) and some of them are:

Deen – Are they trying to be a better Muslim than they were yesterday? Are they trying to always be conscious of Allah? Do they try and fulfil the rights of Allah?

Good Character – Are they fulfilling the rights of those around them? Do they respond to bad with good?

Attractiveness – Are they physically pleasing to you and are you pleasing to them?  We are living in a time where Sex is constantly being pushed into our faces.  Marrying someone who you are not physically attracted to could cause major problems for the both of you BUT don’t place too much importance on this one here because looks fade.

Of course there’s a lot more than these 3 but if these 3 are in check the rest is really up to you.  You need to list all the qualities you want in a spouse and be realistic Insha’Allah.  Once you’ve done this, highlight the qualities you are NOT willing to sacrifice and then highlight the ones you will be willing to give up.  Now try and find ways to test your potential spouse for these mandatory qualities.  You can do this by asking them certain kinds of questions or sending one of your family members/friends to observe them and let you know what they found out.  (Perception isn’t everything though so don’t take what they say as complete truth.)

When you reach the point where you have to sit down and speak with a potential spouse DO NOT be afraid to ask the nitty gritty questions.  Now is not the time for “What’s your favourite colour?” but “How long after you were married would you wait until you wanted to have children?” Marriage isn’t a game.  This meeting with your potential spouse isn’t about you sitting there staring at each other while your parents/guardians do the talking.  GET INTO IT.  You know what you want and you know what you have.  Make sure you are on similar pages when it comes to living conditions, children, working/studying, hijrah etc.  The last thing you want to do is enter into a marriage with someone who actually doesn’t want you to work sister or isn’t too keen on the idea of you both moving to the Middle East for your job bro.  And PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE Brothers and Sisters, KEEP IT 100 at all times.  You want to know if this is someone you could spend the rest of your life with and you won’t be able to really get the right information needed to make this decision if you’re both putting on a facade.  It’s ok if the brother/sister does something on your list that you were unwilling to compromise on and you decide to keep it moving.  Just let them know respectfully and be on your way.  There are many Muslims in the world, they will find their match by the grace of Allah (swt), don’t feel sorry for them.

Make It Last…

“And among his signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect.”

[Surah Ar-Rum v.21]

Allah tells us that we are to dwell in peace and tranquillity with our spouses and I feel that in order for us to do this we need to have patience, compassion, mercy, be able to forgive and also be able to compromise.  It’s not just about having Kitchen counter sex and giving one another gifts.  There should 100% be an element of romance in your marriage but don’t make its role bigger than what it is or you will be disappointed.  If you believe it’s about you and your spouse running in the fields together you will get a real SHOCK when the struggles of life begin to test you both.  There will be times during your marriage when the romance isn’t as strong as it could be which is fine and normal.  This is the Dunya, nothing here lasts forever, what goes up must come down and what goes down will eventually go back up if you work at it.  In order to withstand the stormy seasons of a marriage we have to understand this.  As long as the good times outweigh the bad then you should both be good.

Now I know I may have made this all sound so simple and it really REALLY isn’t but I just felt like maybe us Muslims today, particularly the youth need a little sense of “direction”.

Final Note: Always remind each other of the end.  When it’s good all praise belongs to him and when it’s bad, still all praise belongs to him.  Allah is Muqallib al-Quloob (the turner of the hearts) so “Love Allah so that you can love each other” – Suhaib Webb.

Sheila N.

Here are some talks for ya:

Abdul Malik – Islam and Dating – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfjTt6713e0

Shadeed Muhammad – The Marriage Series – http://rawdah.org/2012/04/27/the-marriage-series/

Mufi Menk – Marriage – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FterpIbfTqU

Yasmin Mogahed – Love, Respect and Tranquillity in a Marriage – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkowK-OXus8

Disclaimer: I am an unmarried lady so you don’t have to take on board anything that you have just read. (This is still some damn good advice though) #TheproblemwithPsychologists lol

~ Sheila

To read more about Sheila, click here

Let’s Talk About Male / Female Interaction

19 Dec

Asalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatu People 🙂

Let me be deep and quick… if possible.

As of late I have observed certain behaviours which have led me to the conclusion that we REALLY REALLY need to teach the young Muslim children how to interact with those of the opposite sex in a respectful manner.  This is particularly important for the young Muslims who live in the West as it is INEVITABLE that they will find themselves in a situation in which they will have to see / speak to / work with those of the opposite sex, and they need to know how to behave appropriately. Continue reading

The Me & My Hijaab Blog- Why People Stay Away

17 Dec

Many a time I’ve heard or felt that sisters do not want to get involved with Me & My Hijaab because of some of the following reasons:

  1. They don’t wear the hijaab and think that we will judge / force them to wear it.
  2. They are not practising or not as practising as they think we are and again, think that we will judge them.
  3. They are of the belief that some Muslim women are obsessed with the hijaab or that we put too much emphasis on it.

Firstly, let me give you abit of background.

Continue reading

Something Doesn’t Add Up

8 Sep

People assume that my hijab is just a scarf. They assume that its purpose is to simply cover my hair. They have no idea that this hijab is like a remote. It controls everything I do, think, and say. How I walk, talk, and dress. My hijab is more than a proclamation of my Islamic identity, it is the definition of my person. It declares, “I am Muslim, watch how my beliefs and actions reflect one another.” Continue reading

Hijaab- a growing process that should not be judged

25 Aug

Recently I’ve seen a lot of people “commenting” on the attire of sisters who wear the hijaab. Unfortunately, it’s usually other sisters who are doing the commenting. After a conversation with a lovely sister on twitter, I decided to write a piece on this issue, which has bothered me for a while. Continue reading

VOTE FOR SABAHAT!

20 Aug

 

One of Me and My Hijaab’s very talented contributors, Sabahat Shah, has entered an Islamic abaya design competition, hosted by Islamic Design House.

Please click here to view and VOTE for her fabulous design

All the best sister, may Allah aid you and grant you success! Ameen!

Click here to read more about Sabahat and to view her contributions on Me and My Hijaab

I Aspire Too.

6 Aug

Asalaam Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatu 🙂

As per usual, I am having an issue with putting what’s in my head down on paper so you have to bare with me once again.  If you read my Hijab story you’ll remember me saying that after I made the decision to wear the hijab, I encountered some problems.  I’m going to have a little rant about one of the problems I’m having. Continue reading

Why I Am Muslim

13 Jul

(Originally written for and published on the blog Hijabi Inspiration, Niqabi Aspirations)

Bismillah Ar-rahman Ar-raheem

As-salaamu ‘Alakyum,

I wanted to clarify why I am Muslim, not how I came to Islam. Conversion tales are generally the same. However, ask Muslims why they practice and you’re guaranteed a million answers.

Continue reading

Black Abaya

28 Jun

Asalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatu 🙂

Okay, so my thoughts on this topic are still a little jumbled up in my mind and I’ve tried for weeks to sort them out- but it’s not happening so I’m just going to see what happens with this.  Before I made the decision to wear Hijab, I PROMISED myself that when I finally did it, I would do it PROPERLY.  To me, properly was basically a khimar covering my hair, neck and bosoms and a black abaya to cover myself from the shoulders down.  Simple.

Continue reading

For non Muslims and newly practising Muslims- reading the Quran

28 Jun

(Originally written for and published on the blog Yes I Have A Voice– Feb 28th 2011)

Yesterday I was subjected to an Islamophobic rant on Twitter.  The man pulled random verses from the Quran (Islamic holy book) to prove that Islam is evil /  violent ect.  People are entitled to their opinions, I only wish they would show more grace when expressing it.

Anyway, after blocking this person (I refuse to debate / argue on Twitter- 140 characters is just not enough) I thought that rather than complaining about people who use a religions holy book to insult that same religion, I would post some advice, for anyone who wishes to read the Quran. Continue reading

We don’t need liberating!!!

21 Jun

 

 

 

I saw this picture on twitter via @Abidhaaaa_ and I absolutely loved it! It is self explanatory- nuff said.

Continue reading

Naseehah/Advice

17 Jun

Bismillah

@SheilaSpeaks said this today ‘Your nasiha will have zero effect if its given with even a drop of arrogance. Manners Please.’

It really struck a cord with me. Gladly I have no memory of anyone being arrogant when advising me. Sadly I feel as though I have seemed arrogant when advising others. I don’t believe I have ever been arrogant while advising, this is not reluctance to acknowledge my bad behaviour, this is true, I am not arrogant but I am stubborn (may God help me) and the two can appear as one. I think many times, the way in which we address people can prevent this.

Continue reading

B.a.b.y.s.t.e.p.s

17 Jun

“So I’ve decided to start practicing. But…what now?

Where do I start?

What do I do?

Who do I go to?

What do I read?”

Islam consists of many incredible sciences, from jurisprudence, to the correct recitation of the Quran, to the language of Arabic, just to name a few! But despite its brilliance, its enormity can be overwhelming, and somewhat daunting for a newly practising Muslim.  And often, for sisters, the hijaab tends to steal a lot of the limelight when it comes to your list of things to do.

Continue reading

The Surah Mulk Challenge

10 Jun

Are you ready for the challenge?

Imam Ahmed recorded from Abu Hurayrah that Allah’s messenger (saw) said:

Verily, there is a chapter in the Quran which contains 30 ayat that will intercede on behalf of its reciter, until he is forgiven. (It is): Blessed be He in whose hand is the dominion.

Continue reading

Hijaab- A Responsibility

6 Jun

After reading a post by a sister on Me and My Hijaab, one thing she said resonated with me “…Yet there are women who wear the hijab and who do not, in any way, shape or form act the way a Muslimah should, and at the same time I know of Muslimahs who behave much more admirably who do not wear the hijab. So does wearing the hijab make you a ‘better’ Muslimah than the ones who do not? Surely actions speak louder than words. “ I remember feeling like this before I wore the hijaab. And it made me contemplate how do I portray myself as a Muslim woman who wears the hijaab now? How do Muslims and non- Muslims view me?

Continue reading

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