Hadith of the Month: April

The Prophet (saws) describes one of the people of hell-fire as “women who are clothed yet naked, walking with an enticing gait, with something on their heads that looks like the humps of camels.”

Narrated in Muslim

So, for today’s Hijab Friday I am combining it with the Hadith of the Month, because I totally forgot to write a separate post for this month’s hadith, and I wasn’t sure what to write about today…

So I picked up this one. Most of us know it, most of us use it to condemn sisters that have bumps in their hijabs. And let’s be honest, most of us have tried it at least once: the “camel hump hijab.”

Today, though, I wanted to write about some of the various interpretations that there are of this hadith, not all of which necessarily have to do with making a hump on the top of your head.  Continue reading “Hadith of the Month: April”

To the Sisters on the Fence about Hijab

Salaam my sisters!

Today, this post is just for you: those new reverts or perhaps a sister who is just starting to think about practising a bit more, and you are considering a huge life-shift, donning the hijab. Or maybe you are still in the skinny-jeans-and-a-tunic-top groove and want to work on upping your modesty game, but are not sure how that will impact your life.

It sounds scary. It was scary. Until I did it, that is. I remember all of the questions I had floating around in my head while contemplating not only converting to Islam, but the whole hijab business that would come with it (I’m an all or nothing kind of person!). But one night, I had slept over at a girlfriend’s house after a lecture at the masjid so we could carpool back to our home town the next day. I discarded my scarf on the floor as I fell, exhausted, into bed, not thinking anything much of it. I thought equally little of it when, the next morning, I woke up and put it straight back on.

From that day, I have worn and striven to practise the hijab to the best of my abilities. As you can probably tell, it just happened for me. The time was right, and I just let all of the questions and the fear go, and did it.

Of course, about a day later all the questions came back and I had to actually start figuring out how I was going to make this big ol’ transition. But I had taken the hardest step.

The same kinds of questions began to surface again as I considered shifting into full jilbab, but again, after I had mentioned the idea to my husband and he said, “OK, well let’s go buy some then,” it just kind of happened on its own.

And though it is sometimes a tough journey, I have never regretted either decision.

So today, I want to share a little bit of my experience, in the hopes that I can answer some of the questions that may be keeping you on the fence and undecided about whether or not you are ready to take the plunge into hijab, or a more modest form of it.  Continue reading “To the Sisters on the Fence about Hijab”

Men are “Hijabis,” Too!

Salaam, and happy Friday!

Don’t worry, I know you are looking at the title and stressing a bit, but no, I’m not advocating men dressing up like Muslim women or some such (that’s not even Islamically allowed).

What I do want to talk about, however, is the fact that we never really talk about how men dress. Everybody can go on for hours about how the sisters need to fix this, that, and the other. They need to stop doing this, they need to start wearing this, and on and on. Imams talk about it in the khutba, men talk about loudly on the street, women whisper about other women.

But what about the standards of modesty for men? Why do we all seem to think that they can run wild and free, wearing whatever? Continue reading “Men are “Hijabis,” Too!”

Hijab: Just a Piece of Cloth?

Salaam!

Today’s Hijab Friday post is coming together from a couple of different ideas; firstly this awesome reminder by Shukrallahblog on the deeper meanings behind practising hijab beyond just the clothing you wear, and secondly, many discussions that are being had in the mainstream media that are, for me, quite interesting, and something I wanted to think out loud on a bit.

That first factor, the post that I just mentioned, talks a lot about how hijab is more than the thing on your head, it is your behaviour as well. I highly recommend take a second to go read that one before picking back up with this one. After reading that a week or two ago (a timely reminder for me, in my new jilbab obsession phase), it got me thinking about the whole conversation that is had in the mainstream media and the “modest fashion industry” surrounding hijab and Muslim women.

This post is titled ‘More than a Piece of Cloth,’ but often, in this budding industry, the hijab is being reduced to exactly that: a stylish scarf that you put on your head. It can go with skinny jeans, it can go with ¾ sleeve t-shirts, it goes will all of your jewellery and make-up and the strongest perfume you can find. More expensive scarves are better, and “name brand” scarves on your head are best. Continue reading “Hijab: Just a Piece of Cloth?”

Things that will make your life easier: Undercaps and Straight Pins

Salaam y’all, and happy Friday!

This is one is for all the brand- new “hijabis” out there, or even those that are just considering taking the step into practising hijab. If you don’t fall into either of those categories, it may be a bit dull for you—sorry.

When I first started out, I had, like, minus 3 ideas what I was doing. My hijab looked different every single day, as I tried to figure out how to wrap the scarf, which materials to use, and, most importantly, how to get it to stay on my head without slipping back for more than two consecutive minutes.

So, one day, inspired by The Sewist’s video on what to have in your “new hijabi” kit, I set out to try my hand with undercaps and pins. And let me tell you, those things changed the game for me! No more tucking and hoping, and no more tugging and re-arranging all day long.

That’s why today I wanted to share some of my tips for someone new to the head-scarf business on how to get the most out of undercaps and pins to keep your hijab intact all day long. Continue reading “Things that will make your life easier: Undercaps and Straight Pins”

Hijab Friday: My Hijab Struggle

Salaam.

For today’s Hijab Friday post, I want to share with you all something a little bit more personal, in the hopes that it can benefit someone else out there going through the same thing.

I have alluded to my “personal style” crisis a few times in the past, but never fully went into what exactly that entailed, and how exactly I figured it out.

So, before I converted, I loved, loved, loved a cute little dress, either vintage drop waist, or fitted right at the natural waist, tights, cute shoes, and a cardigan. It was my go-to thing. Obviously, after converting and committing to practising hijab, I had some things I had to figure out. Namely, how to make my wardrobe a bit more “hijab compliant.”

This took a number of shapes in the beginning: I bought a couple of maxi dresses, a couple of longer cardigans. I began a month long search for the perfect, loose pair of boyfriend jeans that I could wear under my dresses and cardigans. I picked up cute scarves that matched my outfits and tried to make sure I tied them in a way that they could cover up any exposed chest-area from low-necked dresses and tops.

Beyond just the logistics of creating a whole new wardrobe, the other big issue was that of style: Continue reading “Hijab Friday: My Hijab Struggle”

Forced Covering and Forced Uncovering are the Same Thing

Salaam!

Today’s post is all about an argument I hear ALL the time from critics of the hijab, on why Muslim women are stupid “sheeple” to wear it, and why it is so inherently oppressive:

“Well Islam forces women to dress a certain way and be ashamed of themselves.”

Quite honestly, it’s ridiculous; I literally just let out an audible sigh even writing that sentence. So I figured it may come in handy to have a whole blog post about this topic, so that the next time a random man tries to teach me my own religion on social media, I can send the link and be done with it (plus others may stumble upon this and find it interesting, who knows)!

Firstly, I would like to make a slight differentiation between Islam, and the human-run governments of Muslim majority countries.

Yes, in Islam modesty and covering oneself is obligatory for either gender. Yes, the way to do that for a Muslim woman is in loose, non-form fitting clothing, that is opaque and not ostentatious.

But everyone, every single Muslim, has to wake up in the morning and make the decision every single day to practice Islam.

This applies to all the obligatory acts in Islam; Islam tells you what to do through the Qur’an and sunnah, and you have the choice whether you are going to do that or not.

Some may say forget it, I can’t pray ‘asr today. Some may be careless about their fasting Ramadan. Some choose to drink alcohol, some choose not to wear the hijab. And let’s not forget the fact that Muslim men run around all the time in ridiculously tight jeans, or shorty shorts that barely cover their underwear, let alone their full awrah, with all manner of ridiculous hairstyles that are not necessarily condoned in Islam.

Now, I’m not saying there aren’t consequences for these choices, but that rests with Allah swt. It’s not my business force anyone, man or woman, to practice any part of Islam that they don’t want to practice. Allah swt guides who he wills. Gentle advice and caring discourse with that person is all I can do.

This is where that differentiation comes in: Islam tells you do to X, Y and Z, for example, wearing the hijab, and you make the choice whether to obey or not, and live with the consequences of that choice on your life and the hereafter. Governments, however, make laws that exploit Islam to their own benefit in order to control half of the population and keep the power in their own hands.

See where they diverge there?

Because we all know that when you force a woman to cover when she leaves her house, whether that be abayah and niqab, or the Persian chador, it is a matter of control, not one of faith.

Because you are for sure not doing anything to help her faith. You are forcing her into an insincere action, which at best will put her off of sincerely wanting to wear hijab for good. It is doing nothing for her in terms of reward or sincere piety.  At worst (and sadly most commonly) you are pushing these women straight out of Islam.

So what do laws like this actually do? Control how a woman uses her own body, make her a second class citizen, and all the while consolidate your own power over the half of the population that you are subjugating.

Yep, this is an issue in the government of many Muslim-majority countries, but lets take a look at that excuse again, this time changing “Islam” to a generic “you”:

“You are forcing women to dress a certain way and to be ashamed of themselves.”

So, are the French, German, and Austrian (among others) bans on veils not forcing women to dress a certain way? Forcing a woman to uncover herself, or dress in a way that is uncomfortable for her, just for basic opportunities like education, a job, going to the police or court or taking care of other every-day things at a government building; isn’t that just as inhumane as any other infringements on the rights of women?

Is the ever-changing fashion industry not subliminally forcing women to dress a certain way, and at the same time shaming them for anything that makes them different? The beauty industry, whose sole job is to tell women what they should be ashamed of and then make them buy their products to fix that, isn’t that teaching women to hate themselves in a very subversive and deep-rooted way?

Street harassment, groping, whistling, staring, all of these things that occur to women daily in the “civilised” West and the East alike, are these not examples of men trying to exert control over women as objects?

You see, forcing women to cover themselves and forcing them to uncover themselves are two sides of the same dirty old coin. Either way, it is usually a bunch of elite males sitting around in a room signing laws that will give them the rights to control women’s bodies, from how we are dressed to reproductive rights-things that they will never feel the impact of on their own lives or bodies but will continue to reap the financial and political benefits from.

In short, Islam has nothing to do with forcing women (or men) to do anything, but lawmakers sure do quite a bit, whether it is in the name of religion or secularism, East or West.

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Hijab Friday: What’s In a Name

Salaam y’all, and happy Friday! Hope you are having a blessed day wherever you are. Hijab Fridays are back after last week’s little travel-induced hiatus, and I am super exciting to be back writing about a topic I find so interesting!

So today I want to talk a bit about “what’s in a name?”

There are so many names that people use to refer to their headscarves: hijab, shayla, wrap, scarf, khimar, jilbab, veil, covering, dupatta, burqa, niqab, face veil, and on, and on. I know when I first converted hearing all of these different words being thrown around, and not having any idea of what to actually call the thing on my head.

Now, I personally usually use the word “hijab” to refer to my whole way of being, especially as it pertains to being outside the house. For me, hijab (lit. barrier, screen, etc.) refers not only to the way I choose to dress myself with long, loose and opaque clothing covering everything but my hands and face, but also the way I conduct myself with others or in the presence of others.

For example, I do not shake hands or greet/kiss/hug non-mahram men. Continue reading “Hijab Friday: What’s In a Name”

A Case for the Unfortunately Inanimate and Inarticulate Scarf

Happy Friday everyone!

Today I wanted to share with you another little something that I wrote quite a long time ago, probably right after I had decided to wear the hijab full-time.  I remember feeling fed up with the groups of men that used to circulate around the downtown area of Santa Cruz, with nothing to do but leer at women.  I know it sounds  like I am referring to all men here, but I promise I’m not one of those, “women need to rule the world and men are nothing better than animals” types!

I was also feeling fed up with some of the negative energy I had been getting from people about the headscarf business, including some family and friends, which is why you can probably sense the tinge of sarcasm at the end, when referring so some sort of “cure” for this kind of issue.

At any rate, just another look into directly-after-shahada Ashley’s thoughts! Hope you enjoy! Continue reading “A Case for the Unfortunately Inanimate and Inarticulate Scarf”

Hijab Friday: How to Lengthen a Dress

Salaam, and happy Friday! For today’s Hijab Friday post I want to give you all a little tip that has saved me tons of trouble over the years (OK, that makes it sound like I have actually been wearing hijab since adolescence…it’s only been two years.): how to lengthen a dress that is just a bit too short.

I am 5’9”, or for my non-American readers around 176 centimetres. This is great and all, and it wasn’t all that much of an issue where clothing was concerned back in the day, but now that I am very conscious of how my clothes fit me, and in turn how they cover me, the height thing has become a slight issue.

Then, I wore mainly short skirts anyhow, and as long as my bum wasn’t visible, I was totally OK with that. Now, I prefer my skirts to just brush the top of my feet, or at the very least cover my ankles, and I cover my feet either with socks or opaque tights.

The problem is, most skirts in my size that are advertised as “maxi” or “full length” hit me at mid-shin and fall disappointingly short. Some go a little further, but most do not even make it all the way to my ankles.  Continue reading “Hijab Friday: How to Lengthen a Dress”