inspiration

On Being Yourself

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem

I wrote a post ages and ages ago with the exact same title as this one, and reading it back over a few days ago I found out it looked almost exactly like my recent post on finding my truth. I remembered writing that more for converts specifically, but was surprised to see the actual content of it. I had thought it actually focused on being yourself and listening to your own heart in the face of different societal/cultural pressures, but as it turns out it actually focused a lot on my own journey of finding my voice and learning to ignore the niggling, external “shoulds” in the back of my mind, in favor of following my own beliefs and goals.

Funny how cyclical life tends to be isn’t it? SubhanAllah.

I had been reading that post with the intent to find some old pieces to rejuvenate and reuse in the upcoming months, but since I already have a brand new post out that is so similar in content, I decided to start from scratch with this theme and see what it brings up for me now.

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On being yourself: so often these days we are scared of anything less than conformity. Social pressure is at all time highs not only amongst the youth, but adults as well. It takes on different forms as you progress through life, but in the age of information, news, and glimpses into the lives of everyone around the globe right at our finger tips, 24/7, the pressure to feel like a part of the in-group is always present. We are acutely aware that we are the have-nots in a social media world of haves.

These thoughts are nothing new. Well, for me they are a little new. I have always been a march-to-the-beat-of-your-own-drummer (except in high school marching band where I marched to the beat of the actual drummer), even as I progressed through teenager-hood and my early 20s. But, very recently, a comment of my friend’s struck a bit of a chord with me where this is concerned.

We were talking about my blog, and she was telling me how awesome it would be if I started a YouTube channel to share my thoughts face à face, so to speak. And then she said, “well actually, you probably wouldn’t get any views on YouTube. You don’t wear makeup or turbans and are probably too conservative.”

That, in and of itself, doesn’t much bother me. What I began to think about, however, is the fact that I am not actually too conservative. Nor am I what people would call liberal. No indeed, I do not wear makeup in public nor do I think a turban style wrap with all your jewellery and boobage outside should be advertised “Islamic” hijab (though it is a step in the modesty journey for sure). But I also don’t fall on the other extreme of the spectrum that people would consider properly conservative; I do not  wear only black, nor do I practice a whole lot of strictness for strictness’ sake alone.

What started to bother me a bit, is the fact that I don’t really fit anywhere. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of company in the middle of the spectrum and I find that even sisters I know with opinions and beliefs similar to mine don’t often speak out about them, for this same uneasiness that they will either be chided as too conservative by the more liberal or too loose by the more conservative.

I know, I am wandering a bit. I think what I am really trying to tell you is best summed up in the words of our Prophet Muhammad salAllahu alayhi wa salam:

“Religion is sincerity.”

Narrated by Muslim.

This hadith is most commonly explained with the meaning of sincerity to Allah swt, His messenger, and His book, the Qur’an. I think that to be sincere with in all three of these aspects of deen, you first have to be sincere with yourself in your own heart.

I have found that, while the notion of standing alone here in the middle is bothersome to my Western-programmed brain that just wants to fit in, my heart is entirely at rest. Because I know, deep down, that I am following my true beliefs and convictions and I am writing about what I am passionate about on this blog. I know that whatever comes out on these pages is from the most honest part of my heart, and therefore I feel no qualms about it.

So, to anyone out there struggling with your sincerity either in deen or, first and foremost, with yourself, I want to tell you to keep going. Keep working through whatever you are working through, and keep striving every day to become the best version of yourself (and no one else) that you can be. Remember to be gentle with yourself in the process.

We live in a world where everybody has an opinion and a platform to broadcast it loudly, and it is so, so easy to get lost in that; lost in all the “shoulds,” the “mustn’ts,” lost in all the “buy this” and “you need that,” and especially lost in all of the “be like this” and “certainly don’t be like that.”

But know that even when you feel alone or out of place, you aren’t. When you are being true to your beliefs and sincere with Allah swt, even if all the rest of the world is against you (which they probably won’t be because I think a lot more people are interested in sincerity and authenticity these days), He is on your side. And I think I would take that over all the fashion YouTubers or all the flocks of aunties in the mosques any day.

Also, I just want to take a second to ask you to please, sign up for the newsletter! You’ll get each weekly blog post that way, but also a lot more of my writing, thoughts, and ideas that way. Plus you will be still be around if I ever do make a new website, which you won’t be if you are only subscribed on WordPress. And if you need even more motivation, I am like this close to announcing my collaboration with another sister and giving you all the details on that, and it will be done through the newsletter! HERE is the link one last time, so get to it =)

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Lives of the Prophets: Idrees alayhi salam

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem

Coming back at you this week with another set of notes from Qalam Institute’s series ‘Lives of the Prophets!’ I bet you thought it was going to take me a few months like it did between the first few episodes….Speaking of such—if you missed them, find my notes for episodes 1, 2, and 3! And, if you didn’t follow me over on my old blog or you just have no idea what I’m talking about here is the first post where I explain what this series is all about!

Today’s episode was all about Idrees alayhi salam, and I am super excited to share my notes with you! Not only was it super interesting for me because Idrees’ alayhi salam is another story that I don’t know much about, but also because the shaykh teaching the class went off on a couple of tangents that were also pretty interesting, if not entirely relevant.

This one turned out to be a bit long, but I just couldn’t skip out on all of the extra bits that I found interesting (like a sizeable section on Arabic grammar). Feel free to skip over some bits that are boring to you, and of course let me know in the comments what you think, or what you learned in shaa Allah! Continue reading “Lives of the Prophets: Idrees alayhi salam”

inspiration · resources

Hadith of the Month: September

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem

Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim.”

Source: Sunan Ibn Majah 224

Hadith of the Month is back, y’all. I am still kind of sorting things out as far as content and how often I will be posting goes, but I thought it would be at least nice to have one for September, though it may be replaced with something else for a little while (or not, we’ll see!). And I especially wanted to talk about this one since I am really resonating with ideas around seeking knowledge and understanding these days.

I started my alimah program back in August and alhamdulillah so far it has been amazing. My husband always tells me as I’m getting ready for class, “I’ve never seen someone so excited for school.” And it’s true, I think I have a slightly unnatural love for the school environment, but in this case it also happens to be because what I am learning to so directly applicable and useful to my daily life.

I have seen improvement in my spirituality after just the few ayat of tafsir and the few hadith we have covered so far, and working on aqeedah in my fiqh class has really begun to reconnect me with my roots and why I accepted Islam in the first place.

Besides formal learning, I was also blessed to have the opportunity while traveling (I posted about that on Instagram if you missed it) to visit some of my favorite bookstores and pick out a couple of things to keep me satisfied for the next few months alhamdulillah.

All that basically to say, though I haven’t been as on top of my self-study in the past year or so as I usually would be, I am so super excited to have regained a bit of my momentum!

But back to the hadith. Continue reading “Hadith of the Month: September”

reflections

Reclaiming My Truth

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem

Firstly, Eid mubarak everyone! I’ve had this post scheduled for ages, so I didn’t actually realize what day it would be when it came out. At any rate, I pray that you have a beautiful and blessed day with loved ones!

I think this is the first thing I have written with the blog in mind, but I’m not actually necessarily sure it will get there. There are a couple things I want to reflect a bit on and process today, we’ll just have to see where it goes…

Ever since I discovered my real passion and decided to re-do my entire blog to be in line with that (see here for more on that), it is something I have been a little bit obsessed with. I feel like I already have way too many posts on this topic (here and here for a few examples), but maybe that is just because I am hyper-aware of it. Perhaps y’all haven’t even noticed? Anyhow.

That guest post from Liz over at Voice of Salam where she talks about converting to Islam, seeing so much mainstream discussion that only focuses on the dogmatic, list of rules style Islam, and eventually having to regain her confidence in the beauty and spirituality of Islam and the “enough-ness” of herself as a Muslimah, really got me thinking about my own journey through Islam.

I first began to learn about and eventually converted to Islam in the California Bay Area. I had a couple of very close friends and my husband who encouraged very organic growth of my faith, and a family and a broader community who supported me in whatever made me feel good. The MSA and local masajid treated me like one of their own, and my new sisters in faith went so far as to invite me into their homes and families. It was such a spiritually nourishing environment.

It wasn’t until I moved to London, UK, that I discovered the notion that I might not be good enough. Continue reading “Reclaiming My Truth”

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I may be a bit absent these days (but there is a really good reason!)

Salaam alaikum!

Now that I have run out of pre-scheduled posts, I am finding myself actually needing to do some writing…

So, I thought a good way to start would be to let you know what’s going on behind the scenes over here. And y’all, I’m excited about it!

First thing: a little update on my website makeover. I was planning to create a whole new WordPress site from the ground up to really capture the essence of the direction I am wanting to go in. I wanted all new everything—new name, new colors, new articles. But then a sister told me, you’ve got a good thing going with your current site, why make a new one? And she is kind of right, I love my readers here, and I’ve already got such a massive body of articles to draw on. So what I am now doing instead is keeping Muslimah According to Me, but I am going to give it a thorough make-over. There will be new colors and photos and all that, but also I am going to go through all of my articles and really thin out what doesn’t match with my message or is just superfluous. Then I am going to only write what goes with what I want to say from now on!

And yeah, that newsletter business is finally happening…be sure to click HERE to subscribe!! There will be more content over here than you get from just blog articles, so you’ll want to get in on it for sure!

Second thing: I’m doing some learning. This is one of the things that I am super excited about! I have embarked on a five year alimah course. This will be my first year, and now that I am just starting off and settling back into the academic life (ah how I missed being a student!), it is going to mean a bit of thinning out on posting here. Ten hours of classes plus study and homework every week is a bit of a commitment, you know? I’ll probably keep up with once a week posts until I get myself settled into everything, and in shaa Allah we’ll see where we end up after that.

Last thing: I’ve got something big in the works. I had a really good idea a little while ago. And like most ideas I have I was ready to put it on the back shelf because “I don’t have the money or resources,” and “I need to wait until I get home to have whatever I need to do this.” But then I got up some crazy courage and reached out to another blogging sister to see if she would collab with me on this idea. And she said yes!!

I don’t know why I was expecting a refusal, but I was, and still am, so excited to be working with her on this! What is it, you may ask? Well, I don’t want to give too much away too early, but it may or may not be a journal-style book designed to help Muslimahs really reconnect to the foundations of their deen (in shaa Allah!). We are working up the content right now, then I will get to writing and hand it off to her for the design in shaa Allah.

So, if this is the first post you are reading here, and you are super interested in finding more out about this book, hit subscribe! In shaa Allah I will be keeping y’all updated as we go along =)

Also, speaking of new projects, I am officially on “the Instagram,” as the kids would say! Come hang out with me @muslimahaccordingtome. I would love to see you over there! Maybe y’all can help me get the hang of it?

And that’s all from me for today. In shaa Allah I’ll get some more interesting stuff to you next week, and in the meantime I’ll be working away over here at all these exciting things that I hope will make this blog an even better experience for my readers!

For Sisters Only

Shopping for Modest Clothes: Tips for Newbies

Salaam all!

Just recently I was contemplating how I was going to get back in shape once I get back home (jogging outside in Algeria is so not an option), and I started thinking about how I was going to need to do some shopping for modest clothes before I start. It is taking some thought to figure out how I will retain my modesty, when a two piece jilbab just won’t cut it for the activity I’m doing. For horseback riding (one of my favorite things to do!) I will need either looser trousers and a tunic, or perhaps a plain plaid button up shirt and a divided riding skirt. For swimming I will need the ever-conrtoversial burkini, though maybe with some of my own modifications to make the skirt-y bits longer. For running and biking, loose trousers and a tunic, and probably a comfy jersey scarf.

Anyhow, just thinking about shopping for all of this gives me a little bit of stress. It throws me back to my early hijabi days where I was trying as best I could to transition my wardrobe, but every time I went into a store I felt like I was just floundering in the dark. I felt like I had no personal style and I wasn’t modest enough, stuck forever in this weird middle place where I literally just looked like a sack of potatoes every day. You read it right—sack of potatoes.

So that is why, today, I wanted to share with y’all some tips from my nearly three years of experience in shopping for modest clothes. This is for anyone who is just starting out on their modesty journey, perhaps someone completely new to Islam, or someone just new to covering. I hope these can help, and somewhat ease the stress of the new hijabi shopping experience for you.

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Tip #1: Plan ahead. This can include a lot of things, but what I am really referring to here is to sit down, look at what you already have, and make a plan of what you really need, what colors match what you already have, etc. I would highly recommend that you do this seasonally, at least once for the summer, and once for the winter, but you can go for all four if you want. That way, you are making sure that you are getting things that you really need, and that you will be using immediately.

This reminds me a bit of the idea of a capsule wardrobe. If any of you aren’t familiar with that, a capsul wardrobe is basically having one small set of clothes (i.e. 23 pieces or something) for each season. At the end of the season some get recycled into next season, like a winter cardigan can probably hang on through spring as well, and the rest get stored away as the next capsule comes out.

Now, I’m not saying you can only have a certain number of things in your closet at one time, but the whole point of the capsule wardrobe is to be mindful about what you are buying. It is about buying only what you need for the season you are in, mindfully recycling clothes through seasons, getting as much use out of them as possible before buying new things, and some even take it to being mindful about the quality of the garments you are buying as well as the ethics behind who is making them.

Continue reading “Shopping for Modest Clothes: Tips for Newbies”

reflections

Home

Salaam everyone!

Today I want to change the pace a bit and share with y’all something a bit different. The following two pieces are a bit more on the creative writing side, and I thought it might be a bit fun to share them here. I actually love to do some creative writing, which comes out a little in my more reflective writing here, but I don’t share much of it with the outside world.

The first one, ‘A Place to Call Home,’ is something I wrote about my very first prayer rug that a dear friend gave me. I had just finished my maghrib prayer, way back in the day (this couldn’t have been more than a few months after I converted…maybe one or two after my official shahada), and wrote a little love letter to my prayer rug.

The second, ‘Treasured Stability,’ is actually my response to a prompt from WordPress’ Writing 101 class, from back when I had my very first blog, also way back in the day (any of my current readers used to follow the Secret Muhajaba? Ya, that was me!).

Anyhow, they both kind of revolve around the theme of “home,” which is something that has again been on my mind a lot lately, and something I am feeling I am missing right now.

So here they are, do let me know what you think!! I love to hear from y’all in the comments =)

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A Place to Call Home

It was jade green with intricate gold patterns; triangles, points, and curves play with each other amongst the sections of beautifully marbled lines. The first time I laid it out, I ran my fingers through the softness, ma shaa Allah. It has laid there ever since, always in my sight, always inviting. 

Continue reading “Home”

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Lives of the Prophets: Sheeth (as)

Salaam alaikum everyone!

So, it has been quite a while since I’ve done one of these, so I’ll start by letting any new-comers know what’s up: I started a series ages ago (find the first post here) where I share my notes as I listen through Qalam Institute’s podcast series Lives of the Prophets. I love the series, but I have been so busy with other stuff these days that I have been finding it hard to actually sit down and take notes. Usually I do my podcast-listening while doing housework or embroidery, so to stop and actually take notes actually takes a little extra time.

But then, during Ramadan, I had a thought—I can be learning something beneficial and working on blogging things at the same time! So for the last couple of days of Ramadan I sat down every day to listen to a couple of episodes and prep them up for y’all.

Click here for my first set of notes on Adam alayhi salam, and here for my second set of notes on Adam alayhi salam and his sons. Today I’ll be jumping right back in with Sheeth alayhi salam! I was excited for this episode, as Sheeth’s alayhi salam story isn’t one I am very familiar with. I find learning about these things so interesting, not only because it is interesting for me to learn about the prophets from an Islamic standpoint (as I come from a Christian background), but also because it is just so interesting for me to think about these people who lived so, so long ago.

As always, feel free to leave me some comments; did you learn anything? Anything you would like to add? Thoughts on the story/notes?

Here we go!

Continue reading “Lives of the Prophets: Sheeth (as)”

inspiration

Etiquettes of Making Dua

Salaam y’all!

So, when I first converted, and up until very recently, I thought making dua (personal prayers, supplications) was just a matter of substituting the old Christian hands-folded-head-down move for the Islamic hands upturned and raised, and then asking for whatever it is you need or want.

Which is partly true, I suppose, but quite recently I began to learn that there are actually some etiquettes that you can follow when you make dua to increase your chances of having that dua accepted. So I wanted to share some of those with you today, for new reverts who may not know about them, and for those who maybe did know, but could use a little refresher.

Firstly, as with anything in Islam, you need to make a sincere intention before you begin making dua. It always sounds like something small, but our actions are judged by the intentions. So even if you don’t get all of these etiquettes down right away, you can still keep that intention that you are trying to make dua in the most beautiful way possible and in shaa Allah get the reward of it!

One of the etiquettes of making dua that I actually really love is the next one: to invoke with the certainty that it will be accepted. So basically, if you want to have your dua accepted, you have to be certain that it will be accepted. This is like the hadith that mentions:

“Allah the Almighty said, ‘I am as my servant thinks (expects) I am. I am with him when he mentions Me. If he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to Myself; and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly greater than it. If he draws near to Me a hand’s length, I draw near to him an arm’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.’”
Narrated in Bukhari

Continue reading “Etiquettes of Making Dua”

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Book Review: Two Books by Nurnazida Nazri

Salaam everyone!

So, normally I would be a bit hesitant to do a book review for an author that I know next to nothing about, but when this author contacted me about some of her books providing inspiration for Muslims, I couldn’t say no!

Her name is Nurnazida Nazri, and she is a practising lawyer and a lecturer on law in Malaysia. She has recently started her journey as a writer, and her books are inspired by her experiences with her students and her desire to inspire and encourage others.

The books I’m going to be sharing with you today are called Submitting to Allah and Candle in the Wind, both e-books available on Amazon.

Continue reading “Book Review: Two Books by Nurnazida Nazri”