Hijab

June 12, 2010

I've been giving this some thought

“Zahra permalink

good post. I scarved with intention upon conversion but as of late – I am conflicted. I do not think it “protects me” and have come to belief many of my Muslim brothers only see me as potential Fitna. I feel the need to be ashamed of my gender, the pressure to lock myself away lest I “stir the desires” and it just becomes so lame. I cover. I dress modestly – although Western (oi, I dread the immitating the kaffir lectures), I don’t act like a hootchie, have manners, etc but it never seems enough for some. I hold down a job (not enough hijab), I question sexist policies at the Mosque (not hijab enough), have a personality (not hijab enough). Good hijab in these parts is the demure, stay at home at all costs sister with nary a concern in the world outside of pleasing God and hubby. That isn’t the faith I was drawn too. It makes me sad and depressed. I want to swim! I want to go to the gym! I want to breathe. Think of how much time we spend explaining how we aren’t oppressed and think of how often within our communities we are just that – oppressed. I guess after 7 years it gets hard to keep trying to give the same old “Islam gave women rights 1400 years ago” ….while thinking “and men have been taking them away ever since). Sorry to be a downer, but it is where I am at these days.”

I saved this quote from another blog host’s site so long ago, that I don’t even remember where I got it from.  If I had to guess, though, I say it probably came from Organica’s site.  I’m going to leave it up and chew on it, back to comment insha’allah in a bit.

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My Husband’s Hands

February 18, 2009

His hands throw our children in the air and tickle their tummies.

They thread chunks of chicken onto kabob skewers so he can grill us up some dinner.

His hands pull me in for a hug when I’m frustrated or sad.heart-in-hands

They put up curtain rods, they sometimes wash the dishes, they hold the door for me when we go out to dinner.

They have never struck me, or threatened to strike.

They have never closed around my neck, never yanked my head back, never shoved me into a wall.

Tell me, are his hands so rare in the world of Muslim men?

Puh-leeeeeeze

July 29, 2008

ring

ring

I am always amused when I hear women tsk-tsking about the muslim tradition of mahr.

“I wouldn’t want to be bought.”

“How backwards!”

Let these same women have a man propose to them with a $150.00 Target ring and see what they would say!

“What nerve!”

“He doesn’t value me at all! I am worth more than that!”

“If he can’t even pay for a decent ring how is he going to support a household?”

Um, yeah.

noe1.jpg(photo shows a middle school step club in tennessee)

The dinner entertainment at the Women’s Committee of Masjid Al Saffat’s 2008 Women’s conference was GREAT!  There were a few tears when some daughters got up and said what they’ve gotten from their mothers and the moms reciprocated.  There was a sister singing an acapella version of “If I Could” while a young woman in a flowy white costume danced.  But the part that brought down the house was the step show.  Yes, I said a step show.  For those poor souls who don’t know what that is, this link http://www.collegeview.com/articles/CV/hbcu/step_shows.html has a good explanation. It started off curiously.  A small group of older women came out in black jilbabs/khimars, dragging themselves with canes and walkers, one encouraging the others to hurry it up.  Once they got in formation, they started banging their canes, then stomping their feet and clapping their hands in rhythm chanting, “We came to break it down.” 

Enter the next generation.  Clad in black pants and bright red tops, earrings framing their faces in a bit of sparkle, they shoo the mommy’s off the stage.  The stepping gets more complicated, with hands and feet making that unmistakable beat. The formation changes, and a bit of call and response between the tallest sistah and her group follows.  At this point the entire crowd is on its feet cheering, jumping up and down, basically going nuts.  When the routine is over we roar our approval.

I can’t wait to go back next year insha’allah.  Maybe they’ll let me get up there and dance.

Oh, the Irony!

February 7, 2008

I love being muslim.

I made a thorough, independent (not pressured by family/friends) study of islam before I decided that yes, this is the path I wanted to follow.  I am also rather conservative in my interpretation and practice.  I have zero desire to don a short skirt (even after dropping the pregnancy pounds), enjoy a cocktail with dinner or flirt.

Knowing that to be the case, you might think I’d like to live in a country such as Saudi Arabia.

You’d be wrong.

PM’s latest post http://peacefulmuslimah.wordpress.com/2008/02/06/are-women-really-liberated-by-the-way-we-implement-islam/ provides a huge reason why. Pick up the paper anywhere and any day and you will  read stories about the terrible treatment of women in almost every society on earth. I personally feel most invested in our Muslim societies (especially Qatar) and the US, because those are both very pertinent in my life. I confess to holding Muslim societies to a higher degree of expectation because after all, we are Muslims and we say we are guided on the right path. But how come that “right” path turns out to be so “wrong” so much of the time?

She continues by posting some of the latest foolishness as reported in the Gulf Times.

I know many sisters who have made the move from the U.S. to KSA and other muslim countries.  As far as I can tell they are mostly happy and I am happy for them.  But it is not for me. 

Check Your Brain at the Door

November 20, 2007

z_4762_brainsjar.jpg

Allah gave me a brain.

I’m inclined to think that he meant me to use it.

Yet I hear of those muslims who are basically telling other muslims  not to think.  I remember a discussion in which I said a particular  hadith did not make sense to me  in light of the Qur’an’s views on the same subject.  The response was basically “Astaghfirullah!  Now we are all scholars and are qualified to make pronouncements on the validity of hadith”.

No, I am not a scholar.  I am, however, a muslim with healthy brain function.  As my husband says, the Qur’an is full of exhortations and encouragements to “consider this” and “ponder that.”  But after you become muslim many people expect you to pick a scholar or group of scholars, shut your brain off and take everything they say as divine truth.

Not happening over here (insha’allah), sorry.

This is my life and my afterlife we are talking about here, and I’m the one responsible for it.  If you want to come at me and tell me I have to do X, Y, and Z, then bring your proof from the Qur’an and Sunnah.  And if I think that the Sunnah is contradicting the Qur’an on a particular issue, you ought to be able to explain clearly why I am mistaken.  If you can’t, don’t be surprised when I don’t defer to your position.  And if you think you have and I don’t agree, you are just going to have to live with that.

I have heard some crazy stuff attributed to scholars, and I can only hope that someone was mistranslating or making those things up because they defy logic, and in some cases seem to directly contradict the Sunnah.  To take those things at face value, to believe them at all would require you to either 1) not be very bright or 2) have your brain in a jar somewhere.

In any case, I’ll be keeping mine inside my cranium, thank you.

The Jacket

November 1, 2007

patent What you wear sends a message about who you are.  We would like to think that people judge us only on what’s inside, but that just isn’t the case.  Every fashion choice you make is a word, a sentence, some kind of punctuation.  We all make fashion choices everyday, even if we think we are unconcerned with such trivial things.  If you spend time perusing the vogue and glamour to get tips and then put on the latest trends, it says something.  If you throw on whatever is clean, it says something.  Sometimes what you are saying when you get dressed and what other people “hear” when they see you are totally different.

Nothing brought this home to me more than a fashion choice I made some years ago in college.

I was at the mall with friends, shopping at one of those teeny bopper stores, when I saw The Jacket.  I fell in love.  It was (fake) black patent leather done in “jean jacket” style.  Elena said,”Oh ha ha funny. You aren’t really going to buy that.” She was shocked when I walked out with it.

When I walked into the cafeteria the next day wearing my new purchase, Sandra said sarcastically: “You can really tell Foreverloyal is muslim with that jacket on.” Whatever chick! I went right on about my business.

I started getting catcalled.  Dudes trying to approach.  It was uncomfortable.  None of this had ever happened before The Jacket.  But that couldn’t be the cause, could it?  It was just a dang jacket!  I didn’t want to stop wearing it.  It was shiny and happy and fun, like me.  So I kept wearing it.  And I kept getting the same reactions.

Clearly I thought the long skirts, scarves and the jacket were saying: “Happy, fun (not that it’s any of your business), practicing muslima.”  But alot of people were seeing “Happy, fun muslima, but maybe not-so-strict. You’ve got a shot! Go for it.”  As much as I loved that jacket, I had to let it go.  I put it in a bag gave it to the thrift store, hoped it would find a good home. 

Black patent leather is back in.  Foreverloyal is all grown up and married.  I wonder what a long skirt, scarf, wedding ring, tribe of children, and a black patent leather jacket would say?

balaeve1-287x448.jpg 

Eid is the time when muslim women step out at their most Fabulous.  This ‘eid just past was no exception.  The mass of femininity streaming into the prayerhall is a swirl of sparkle and color: a candy-apple colored shalwar khameez with a stack of gold bangles glinting in the early morning sun:   An orange/green printed tunic with a long  straight skirt and a matching headress in West African style.  A green satin princess-seamed dress with bell sleeves. And of course, some

tanwhite230.giftouches of black here and there–or mostly black, depending on the community.  (Some will wear a dazzling outfit that will be seen only by their husbands, and later by other women at a “sisters only” party.  The rest of the world will see only the usual black jilbab/abaya.)

This ‘eid was no exception.  Most sisters put on their best.  I saw the most beautiful long white dress with cut out detailing along the edges of the hem, sleeves, and neckline, topped by a long white shawl.  My daughter was looking nice, masha’allah, in a white crepe dress I made for her with a gold crepe-backed satin sash.  I didn’t even realize until I woke up that morning that I hadn’t planned what I was going to wear.  I threw on a black tux with a deep red satin shirt, and a black geogette khimar (folded for opacity, of course) and ran out the door.

The atmosphere was festive and everyone was in a good mood.  I did see one woman that stuck out in the most odd way.  She wore a polo shirt, jeans, a scarf hanging around her neck, and a frown.  She came in with what I presume to be her family.  She did not look happy to be there, as if she came begrudgingly.  If it was all like that then she really ought to have stayed home.  But then, you never know.  Maybe she had the baddest outfit ever and one of the kids spilled india ink on it or something.

I plan to get started sewing for next ‘Eid next week or so.  If I get started that early and use my time well, I may be able to make something fabulous for myself.  A lady-tux is allright, but it isn’t really festive enough.

clinton and stacey

I sometimes watch makeover shows.  Especially lately as I am getting to the point where I am going to need a fair amount of new clothing.  With major shopping pending, I am paying more attention to clothes.  I am paying more attention to the fundamentals:  fit, proportion, patterns.  I imagine myself as the first covered muslima on TLC’s What Not to Wear.

First comes the beginning, in which the “fashion victim” is shown going about her daily routine in her unflattering clothes.   There’s me, in a somewhat tattered black jilbab and ivory scarf.  Cue the voiceover:  “Meet foreverloyal, busy stay at home mom with X children.  This  devoted mom actually loves fashion and makeover shows, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at her.”  

Cut to my mom in my closet:  “This is what my daughter has:  Pullover black jilbab with vertical trim, another pullover black jilbab with vertical trim.  Here’s one that buttons down the front, sort of a nice coat design.  Tie front black jilbab with brown trim, another tie-front black jilbab with brown trim…oh wait, here’s a fancy crepe black jilbab with black embroidery and black crystals.  Too much BLACK!  Let me show you my daughter’s other clothes:  pink polo, white jeans, blue jeans, white satin shirt, ivory skirt suit.  She has other colors but you almost never see them!  Clinton and Stacey, get rid of all the black clothes and make her bring in some COLOR!”

  Next comes my interview by someone posing as a market researcher.  I can just picture it:  me outside the Target with the little kids.  “My style?  I don’t really have a style.  My mom bought this–it’s called a jilbab– from Saudi Arabia, and I pretty much just throw it over anything and walk out the door. Easy.  These white sneakers go with anything, and they’re really comfortable, great for running after my children… I pretty much always wear this ivory scarf, it goes with anything… of course I almost always wear this jilbab or the other black one my mom got me…Do I every wear anything else?  Well sometimes I wear jeans and an ivory tunic… I wear them with some nice sandals so I do make an effort now and again… I’m just too busy with the kids to put in too much effort.”

Then come the hosts viewing the footage.  “She looks like she had a fight with a bolt of black crepe–and the black crepe won.” “Those sneakers are a crime.” “When are moms going to realize that they deserve to put a little effort into themselves.”

I get pounced on when I think I’m at the masjid for a potluck, and whisked off to New York.  Then the problems begin.

“You’re clothes completely hide your shape.” 

“Uhhh… That’s kind of the point, Stacey.”

“Look, it looks like you have no waist.  If you would just wear something that nips in here…”

“Don’t touch me, Clinton.  I don’t like people touching me.”

Then of course there would be the appointment with Nick Arrojo.  “So what have you been doing with your hair?” 

“Shampoo, conditioner, coconut oil as a leave-in.  I use a deep protein treatment sometimes, and I love VO5 hot oil.”

“Can I see your hair so we can talk about a new style?”

“Nope.”

Makeup appointment with Carmody:

“We’re going to use this great foundation and apply it with a sponge.  It’s a great formula, you put it on once in the morning and it stays all day.”

“Not after wudu it won’t.”

 Those poor people would not be able to handle me.  Although I am tempted to write in sometimes and see if they are up for the challenge.  It would really test their creativity if they could give a muslima a fashionable makeover and still keep to the code.  It could definitely be done.  The question is, would it be too frustrating for them to be unable to use tools such as “nipping in to draw the eye to the narrowest part of the torso”  and “using a deep V-neck to frame your face better” and not being able to touch their subjects to make their points?

Just might be.  So I’ll just have to do the makeover myself.  I’ll keep you posted. (insha’allah)