Secret Life of An American Hijabi: Hijab is HARD!

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15976_10151831016292214_1590305172_nI know the title is pretty blunt, but don’t worry it’s not misleading. It’s very true, and this post is here to validate your concerns. I have noticed in the recent years that there has been an increase in a societal-community push toward urging Muslimahs to wear hijab—unfortunately too many people are too confused about what that might mean to them or how their life might change because of it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my hijab-it has impacted my life in so many ways and changed me even more so, I have had countless experiences that are irreplaceable and I love encouraging people to share their own, but for some reason many girls today think that if they’re having difficulties with hijab or their identity while wearing hijab that they’re “doing it wrong” or that they’re “not good enough” or “not worthy”
So, I’m here to clear up the air-for sisters AND brothers. Hijab is HARD! It’s not easy, gals.
Note: I am not saying hijab is not WORTH it, oh my Allah-definitely not saying that, but it is just that…the price of hijab is big but it IS worth it. I’ve received too many questions from friends and anonymously on this blog about “I want to take off my hijab” subject, so, here it is being brought out into the open to address. You will at some point/moment/time/second struggle with your hijab. ESPECIALLY if you live in a country that does not observe hijab and don’t be surprised if and when you do! It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, it doesn’t mean you should take off your hijab, it means the price of you wearing hijab is WORTH more which means the reward will be even greater. But once again without further ado….10 reasons hijab is HARD! (in no particular order—this isn’t Buzzfeed ya’ll.)

1. Shopping. The struggle is real, I mean it’s hard enough to go shopping in the first place—after you check all the magazines telling you how you dress your “apple” or “pear” shaped figure or whatever, but now you have to take whatever you know about fashion and convert it, or what I like to say: “hijabify” it.
Hijabifying is as hard as translating Latin to English. So here’s an example: You walk into Forever 21 (a clothing shop in the US) and find this oh so fancy dress. It’s the perfect teal for the spring/summer weather. So you try on the dress and realize you need “sleeves” to cover your arms and think of this blue-ish shirt that you have that you can wear underneath your dress, but then you realize it’s the wrong shade.
Then you realize that the dress is a little short so you need pants to wear and once you get those you realize that the pants are a bit tight so you get these super loose pants and just end up looking baggy. Finally when you actually try on the dress and realize it’s too tight so you opt to add a duster or long sweater to the look and when you put it all together it looks nothing like what you had in mind when decided to wear it in the first place. After going through this lengthy process you realize the end result is not worth it and walk out of the store empty-handed.

2. Non Muslim People ask you strange questions… about “where you’re originally from” and you say funny things like “Chicago” or “New York” and they’re like “No, where are you really from?”

3. Muslim People ask you weird questions: People all of sudden believe that you have adopted this ‘holier than thou’ attitude, which is ridiculous. Like once at my undergrad university a guy literally turned around in his random argument with someone else in our English class and was like, “HIJABI, is this haraaam?”
Needless to say, I didn’t bother responding. First off, if you’re addressing someone by his or her clothing-then who do you think you are, Mr. Unwashed-T-shirt-from-last-night? And second, wearing hijab doesn’t make you a paradigm of fiqh and ultimate judge between halal (lawful) and haram(unlawful). It is an act of worship that you undergo to become closer to God.

4. You have to prove your human one too many times. This happens way too frequently. As if people have the hardest time grasping the idea that we do normal everyday things too like play sports, watch movies, or even go shoe shopping!
There was one conversation I remember in particular from when I was shopping with my dad at a hardware store at 16 years old. This middle aged lady dressed head to toe in a purple jumpsuit had come up to me and said, “I can’t believe your kind wear jeans, I’ve never seen your kind wear jeans!” Acting normal completely blows their minds! And this isn’t everybody, most people have common sense enough to realize it, but there are some people like ‘purple-jumpsuit-lady’ who think being Muslim means that you’re not human. Rather we’re all human FIRST then we CHOOSE what we believe and what become. Oh yeah and I cannot stand jeans, team pajamas all the way! -___-

5. Sometimes people refuse to treat you as human and that feeling sucks. I don’t really know if I can explain this, if you’ve ever been treated this way you’ll know and you’ll never forget it, and its awful and makes you feel like you have to take a shower after interacting with such a legit hater. But these people are never worth your time or your thoughts or even this paragraph.

6. You’re being watched…all the time. Of course the NSA has your facebook and twitter/tumblr/instagram account down and wired but people are watching you constantly. I call this the celebrity effect. People literally cannot stop staring at you or turning to look at you and when they do ignore you, it’s quite nice. Enough with the pictures everyone—Kanye West is going to be jealous! Not going to lie this isn’t always bad, sometimes people just come up to you and say the nicest things, like “Wow, I love the color of your scarf” and you’re like, unwarranted compliment from a total stranger—score!

7. But you’ll never get compliments on your hair. No one will ever consider you a Cover girl, because you covered, girl. No one will ever know that your hair has got the perfect volume today or the perfect flip-unless you send a picture to your gal pals. And sometimes, when you’re trying out a bold outfit and your hair just brings it all together to give you the look-you can’t do that either. And when you ARE wearing a bold outfit along with your hijab, it’s all like super bold and everyone’s like Oh my god that’s pretty bold-you need to tone it down! But you know we never listen.

8. People can’t tell your age and think you’re much older or younger than you are. At 14 years old, a lady told me to “watch my son” aka by BROTHER who is only 4 years younger than me. Scarves really mess with people’s perception of time, but I suppose it could have some fun uses too. I kid. It’s not fun being called a mom, I’m sure any girl who ISNT a mum can agree.

9. A universe of hidden cowards seems to creep out the woodwork and shout random slurs whilst hiding behind whatever they’re hiding behind. I’ve heard so many slurs, particularly things like “terrorist” and “go back to your country” among others, the fun thing is they seemed to be spewed by an army of hater ghosts because as soon as you turn around to identify the hater-spewer-like there’s no one there! Or their very good at NOT making eye contact. Hater ghosts don’t ruin your day, they just make you wonder about the well being of the spirit world. But hey at least you don’t have to worry about humanity, right?

10. People think you have insight on why things go wrong in the world. This stems from ignorance but when people ask you things like “Why are women abused in Muslim countries and why do people throw acid on them” uh, news flash buddy women are abused here in this country too, this is related to aggressors need for power and not the scarf I wear on my head. It’s like asking a German-half Jew, “So, why would someone single out a race and you decide to scapegoat them and result in mass killings? I mean I’m not saying you would know because you really fit that ‘hitler’ profile” you get what I mean, it’s irritating beyond belief and wrong. You can’t blame someone you don’t know about something you don’t understand. End of story.

So what’s the summary here?? Hijab is HARD…but oh so WORTH IT! Because at the end of the day its’ not about what you’re doing but who you’re doing it for, and if you’re doing it for God. You better believe My Lord is proud ☺.

Until next time,

Your secrets are safe with me.

Xx A

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Is pro basketball ready for Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir?

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Is pro basketball ready for Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir?

“Along the way, she made history by becoming the first NCAA Division-I athlete to play in a basketball game while wearing hijab — covering her arms and legs with long sleeves, with a headscarf to cover her hair. (In 2004, University of South Florida forward Andrea Armstrong won the right to wear hijab after challenging a team rule prohibiting it, but she left the team before appearing in a game.) For Abdul-Qaadir’s groundbreaking efforts, she was presented with the “Most Courageous” award by the United States Basketball Writers Association at the 2011 Final Four.
But today, the same hijab that once brought Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir national acclaim has created a roadblock to her dream of playing professional basketball.
The sport’s international governing body, FIBA, has a rule prohibiting players from wearing headscarves on the court. As recently as 2009, FIBA defended the rule as one designed to prevent injuries as well as maintain a “religiously neutral” environment, identifying the hijab as a religious symbol. (FIBA has not, however, taken any action against religious tattoos, such as crosses.) More recently, the organization has backed away from the religious aspect and has upheld the rule on the grounds that headscarves are not part of the “official uniform.”

Ummah Sports

Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir led Indiana State in scoring as a senior with 14.2 points per game. (Photo: ISU Athletic Media Relations) Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir led Indiana State in scoring as a senior with 14.2 points per game. (Photo: ISU Athletic Media Relations)

A lot of people would call Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir an overachiever. But then, who are any of us to put a limit on what a 5-foot-4 Muslim girl from Springfield, Mass., is supposed to achieve in this life?

As a high school point guard at New Leadership Charter School, Abdul-Qaadir shattered the state scoring record (for boys and girls) that was previously held by female hoops legend Rebecca Lobo, finishing with 3,070 career points in five varsity seasons. Lobo played six. As a senior, Abdul-Qaadir averaged 42 points per game.

Abdul-Qaadir graduated No. 1 in her class in 2009 and accepted a scholarship to the University of Memphis. That same year, she was invited to the White House for an iftar dinner with President Barack Obama during Ramadan.

In college…

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Learning to Love Him #SeerahClass Reflection

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Handbags and Hijabs

greendome Please take a short moment to read darood (send peace and blessings on the Prophet (S) before reading this post).

While most of us live our lives knowing Rasoolullah (S), seerah class does what books and hours of Sunday school does not; it breaths life into the knowing, by allowing us to fall unequivocally in love. Emotions are tangible and they are real. What we feel truly affects us, physically.

After tuning into seerah classes via the Qalam institute podcasts with Moulana ANJ for sometime, I decided to share some of the thoughts that preoccupy my mind through the week between each class.

Seerah is the study of the life of Muhammad (S); the difficulties, the struggles and the eventual triumph. Most of us learn this at an early age in Islamic schools, weekend, regular or over the summer. Most of us carry a basic outline of the life of…

View original post 1,605 more words

Guest Post!

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1463688_471068049665805_1591196164_nGuest Post by: Nabiha Siddiqui. Nabiha is in process of going to gradschool for a masters in public administration and sustainability, her interests include scientific, political, and islamic research. While her interests vary she is certain of one thing–she is always traveling.

Caution: this article is not for the faint-hearted and is intended to simply be a rant. It is not written to offend anyone…and if it does offend you then maybe you should ask yourself why.

Hi, I’m 25 years old, which in unmarried Desi years is about 55.

I have a profile on shaadi.com that I have never seen, and a marriage resume (bio-data) floating around that denote my hobbies as cooking, praying, and reading, along with some very unattractive photos that my parents decided were “shareef” enough to share, ie old photographs from my undergrad graduation and a couple others that would give the impression that I’m “fair, educated, religious, and thin but a tad-bit chubby at the same time–indicating that I know how to cook a decent enough meal for my own consumption.”

It never occurred to me how difficult the marriage process was until I hit 25 and realized that everyone around me was getting married through matrimonial banquets (a form of “halal” speed-dating), matrimonial websites, and rishta aunties…unless you were lucky enough to interact with a single-Muslim that you got along with at work or school and the brother was respectful enough to send a rishta (chances: 1 in 75,000), or you were betrothed to your cousin in the homeland and that pretty much gave you the freedom to do absolutely nothing with your life and gain 20 lbs in the process. No disrespect to those who marry their cousins, my brother married our cousin–but they are relatively accomplished and attractive…

Up until 5 years ago matrimonial banquets, matrimonial websites, and rishta aunties were looked down upon because you were probably “dark” or “fat” if you went through those means of acquiring a suitable life partner. Even nowadays people try to dodge the question “how did you meet?” And if asked, you know immediately to make up a lie like “Oh he saw me at an Al Maghrib class and he’s a very nice respectable brother who asked for my wali’s (male guardian) number right away because of the over-pouring noor on my face and blah di blah blah blah.”

Yeah, not likely.

It’s not all attractive profiles and speed-dating that makes this rishta business so entertaining, it’s the awkward meetings and inquisitions that are truly inspiring! From “how do you feel about music in television commercials?” to “how religious are you?” to “how do you feel about polygamy?” Yikes!

And then you have mothers of short, chubby, brown dudes that want “fair, tall, skinny, hijabi/non-hijabi, educated, valedictorian, chef, tailor, Dalai Lama-esque, housewife-material, and it’s good if she’s religious and cultured too.”

I’m not saying all aunties are like that and all rishtas are shallow phonies, there are a handful of decent people as well, and I’ve also seen my share of picky girls who have certain criteria that they will not overlook when considering a rishta: from having a minimum height requirement, to mandating a beard, to only considering doctors to marry, there’s shallowness everywhere! I swear, if I had a dollar for every time a friend asked me “how do I ask him nicely to lose weight?”…
Shake.
My.
Head.

But the point of this rant is that it’s just NOT fair! This system is terrible for those of us, brothers and sisters, who are simply looking for a decent life partner without compromising our self-respect and values. Oh, and God forbid if you find a good Muslim outside of your culture, or a convert…but that’s a rant for another day.

Because of such difficulty and an endless number of frustrated single sisters and brothers, I am forced to ponder time and again: what can be the solution to this problem? I have thought long and hard, but have yet to come up with an easier process of getting married. I don’t think the problem is only with Muslims; I have non-Muslim friends that have turned to online-dating and matrimonial banquets, set up through churches, synagogues, and temples that have joined sites like Chemistry and Match.com.

By the way, if you find my profile on shaadi.com, know that it’s not me and it’s probably my dad…

Signing off,

Single and scared to mingle.

PS- please don’t tell me you’re marrying for Deen if the basis of your interaction is due to the paleness of her skin or his medical degree. You know who you are…

How I Came About Hijab #ProjectHijab

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Guest Post by: Bushra Rashid. Sister Bushra is currently a third year in undergrad as a Psychology major at the University of Texas at Austin. Her hobbies include reading and blogging with a goal to inspire others and bring them closer to Islam. Inshallah, she is planning on going to graduate school for Clinical Psychology and one day medical school. 

The fact that I would represent Islam intimidated and frightened me because what if I couldn’t live up to those expectations? What if I was not worthy yet? But I was, I am, and I always will be – I just had not realized it yet.

The fact that I would represent Islam intimidated and frightened me because what if I couldn’t live up to those expectations? What if I was not worthy yet? But I was, I am, and I always will be – I just had not realized it yet.

Assalamualaikum my few readers,

I really don’t know where to start. It is the 26th day of Ramadan, the month of forgiveness. I knew this Ramadan would be quite life changing for me a few months ago…

I had a friend, more like an older sister to me, who I could share anything with. She was really beautiful mA, probably one of the most beautiful women I will ever meet. When I was in 7th grade, she started wearing hijab. I saw so many people look at her in awe as her face glowed with so much Noor. She looked even more beautiful than she did before. I myself looked at her with so much inspiration, admiration, and most of all respect. Here was a 15 or 16 year old girl who had so much courage and love for Allah that she decided to cover her body and hair for His sake. And there started my interest and love for the hijab.

Years passed, high school came and went; my love for Allah always there, but a little drifted at the same time. A close Muslim friend of mine and I would talk about Islam sometimes, and I remember there was a day where we both said that we would start wearing hijab in college inshaaAllah, because even then we loved it. I then started college, away from my parents…alone, but not alone. I bought my first translation of the Quran – The Meaning of The Holy Quran in Today’s English by Yahiya Emerick. A wonderful translation, mashaaAllah, recommended to me by a good friend. I became more involved with MSA, I made new friends, and went to new places. The summer of 2012 after my first year in college, Ramadan came. That Ramadan, I guess it was after I had talked to my friends a lot about Islam and after I had done lots of research of my own, I began thinking about wearing hijab again, very seriously. I did not start covering right then because I felt as if I needed to make sure I wasn’t going through a phase, and that there were a lot of things I needed to fix about myself first – like praying five times a day. I would discuss hijab with a few close friends, who would always give me the utmost encouragement. I would watch them put on their hijabs, I would notice how they behave, and for some reason, sometimes when they would do something unexpected of a “perfect hijabi”, I would be glad because it would remind me – Hey, they’re only human. Hijab or no hijab, they should still be treated the same way. The fact that they even wear a hijab is what makes them beautiful. Wearing hijab shows that they want to be close to Allah, that they do it only for Allah’s sake. Just because you are hijabi, does not mean you won’t make mistakes. They are human, why should we expect more from them than we do a non-hijabi? I was afraid that wearing the hijab would make people expect so much of me. The fact that I would represent Islam intimidated and frightened me because what if I couldn’t live up to those expectations? What if I was not worthy yet? But I was, I am, and I always will be – I just had not realized it yet. One day, I was told by a wonderful friend to “just start hijab, and the rest will come along with it.” May Allah reward her for telling me that, because I think those are the words that pushed me the farthest towards hijab. As the busy year went by, Islam would still be discussed almost every day when we would get a break from school work. My heart began to want to be closer and closer to Allah. I would see other people start hijab and wish it was me. Alhamdulillah for those thoughts… Allah was bringing me closer to Him. I even made it my New Year’s resolution to start hijab in 2013. I began watching hijab tutorials, videos about hijab, and preparing my wardrobe. My appearance wasn’t a problem for me. What I was most afraid of was what people would think and how they would react. “Would they think I changed all of a sudden?” I had to trust in Allah and hope they wouldn’t. After my sophomore year of college was over and summer came, I felt like I didn’t accomplish too much. Yes, I had remembrance of Allah the majority of the time, but it didn’t show as much in my actions as I had wanted it to. But what stuck in my head was, “just start hijab, and the rest will come along with it.” So, I decided to start hijab this Ramadan, because not only is it the best time to start,  but it is what will push me closest to Allah. To be able to be reminded of Allah constantly by wearing hijab is a privilege I no longer wanted to miss out on. To be able to do something – solely for Allah’s love and for His sake – can only be perfect and can only make me better.

July 19, 2013, just one Ramadan after I started to seriously think about it, I began my life as a hijabi. And it feels amazing. Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah! I told my mother I was going to start hijab, but she didn’t know exactly when. Alhamdulillah, she was very supportive. That day, I just put it on and went out without telling anyone for a few days that I actually started, not even my family. Then slowly, when I felt 100% ready to take on the challenges of hijab I began to tell people; family, close friends, and then Facebook friends.

I could have never taken this step without my amazing friends who remind me of Allah with their appearance, speech, and actions. I love you all for the sake of Allah, and I pray to Allah to be able to be with all of you in jannah. Please make dua for me.

My advice: If you’re thinking of hijab, make sure you do it with the sincere intention of doing it for Allah and for Him only. Don’t wait too long – who knows how many years, weeks, days, or even seconds we have left in the dunya. Aim for Akhira and pray that Allah guides you.

There will be another post soon about my first day and the different reactions I got. Please comment if you have questions and jazakallah khair for reading

You read more of Sister Bushra’s work at her personal blog here: http://bushrashid.wordpress.com

The Secret Life of An American Hijabi

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Hipster Muslims Made for Jannah. (photo credit America Muslim Memes)

Hipster Muslims Made for Jannah. (photo credit America Muslim Memes)

#SecretLifeofAnAmericanHijabi Is a work of fiction-it is not based on any Real Life persons only Real Life problems. Also beside the catchy title THIS IS NOT BASED ON THE TV SERIES.

“Is your hijab so big because it’s full of secrets?”

Secrets? You could say that, but you know what they say about a girl and secrets. You’re telling her and her best friend.  So consider yourself my new bffle because I’m about to share a whole lot of secrets.

First things first though, let’s clear up the air. As a hijabi with years of scarf wearing, long sleeve hunting, loose shirt abiding experience, I’m not about to sugar coat anything. But let’s start with the basics: The questions everyone asks…all the time.

1. Do you shower with that thing on?

That thing is called a scarf. It’s really quite an innocent piece of clothing, but when you hop in the shower it transforms into a head soaking-ultra head warmer that also massages, shampoos and conditions my Rapunzel like hair-NOT. This is wonderful question and if every hijabi got a penny for each and every time she was asked this she’d probably be able to pay off her medical/grad school loans-Not kidding. But this question really makes me question whether common sense has actually somehow been lifted from our communities. Honestly! Like, I’m glad we have so much technology to do our work but when we’re starting to put common sense on hold it might just be a problem. And if you really can’t reason this one out, ask yourself this, why do you need to know my personal showering habits? It’s creepy.

2. Are you bald?

Maybe I am. Maybe I’m not. But the fact that my hair keeps popping out around the side of my face and you-being the wonderful person you are-keeps pointing it out, might just mean I do have some kind of hair type thing on my head. I’ve had awesome friends who theorized that I might be hiding a wild side beneath my quiet demeanor and modest dress wear; a mohawk or some kind of special buzz cut and I honestly didn’t want to let them down, but the truth is….

3. Do you guys date?

Nope. Moving on…

4. Who made you wear that?

Well right now I’m wearing Burberry-I’m highly inspired by Emma Watson’s fashion style and yesterday-oh wait, you’re not talking about my coat.

I chose to wear hijab. I choose to dress modestly. I choose to follow my religion.

I know, you’re like ‘whaaat? I thought they forced you to wear that. Aren’t the men of your kind oppressive and you can’t do anything-and that is the symbol of anti-women rights that dominates every aspect of your sad, restrictive life!’

Slow down there righteously angry person! (Also, for those of you who think the above sounds outrageous, you’d be surprised at what I’ve heard). I usually respond to this with a sad sigh for humanity, but not today friends, today I will address the question. First of all, after all these years can someone-anyone-please define who “they” are? I always get this from people, ‘what will they say if you take it off? What will they do?’ But to this day no one has ever told me who “they” are, and while being moderately curious, I could care less. These anonymous groups, whoever they are, sound awful. And ladies, I’ll let you in on a secret: any man who wants to have an oppressive, backwards attitude towards women will find any means to do it. Sure, men can use modesty to oppress women, but they can (and usually do) use immodesty to oppress as well. . Why else would the makeup, plastic surgery, and weight loss industries be such huge successes?

Second: There’s this craftily painted horrid misconception about Muslim men. (Thank you media! Owe you one!) When you see a long beard on a middle-eastern/Asian man you think ‘EVIL!SCARY!FREEDOMHATER!” but when you see Dumbledore and think “Awe, Harry’s wise, old mentor.” See the problem? Muslim men adorn beards for many of the same reason Muslim women adorn the hijab. They’re not scary or frightening because of the way that they look. You know what this reminds me of? That old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its’ cover.” Now, let’s all take a deep breath and try that?

5. Why don’t you just do what you want?

Right, okay good. Now we’re getting somewhere. Hijab is what I want to do and here’s why. I want to be okay with who I am physically but that doesn’t define who I am or what I can do. I don’t want society to tell me how to dress. I don’t even want me to tell me how to dress (goodness knows how much I’ve erred in the realm of personal fashion-lets all please forget when colorful tweed was totally in). In Islam, women dress in accordance to God. Covered, modest. But this doesn’t mean their voices are muted. Rather, women are an honored and integral part of society. And man is not equal to her in creation, rather they are complimentary in strengths and weaknesses, but they are equal in front of God with their deeds based on faith and sincerity. This is what fuels my choice. This is why I choose hijab.

8. Do you know what freedom is?

You guys, here’s the thing (particularly to the girl who literally grabbed my shoulders in the locker room in junior high and shouted this at me). Every time you see someone wearing hijab or practicing their religion in public (whatever that might be) go and thank them. They’re protecting your first amendment, your personal rights. Each day someone tells them what they should or should not be doing as a “real American” and each time they respond by showing everyone that a real American has the freedom to choose.

Until next time,

Your secrets are safe with me.

Xx A

Learning to Love Him #SeerahClass Reflection

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greendomePlease take a short moment to read darood (send peace and blessings on the Prophet (S) before reading this post).

While most of us live our lives knowing Rasoolullah (S), seerah class does what books and hours of Sunday school does not; it breaths life into the knowing, by allowing us to fall unequivocally in love. Emotions are tangible and they are real. What we feel truly affects us, physically.

After tuning into seerah classes via the Qalam institute podcasts with Moulana ANJ for sometime, I decided to share some of the thoughts that preoccupy my mind through the week between each class.

Seerah is the study of the life of Muhammad (S); the difficulties, the struggles and the eventual triumph. Most of us learn this at an early age in Islamic schools, weekend, regular or over the summer. Most of us carry a basic outline of the life of the Prophet (S)’s life in our mind: Cave of Hira, Revelation, Makkah, Boycott, Hijra are all terms we were essentially familiar with. Nonetheless, the seerah brings us something incomprehensibly greater and that is love.

Unlike so much of what we feel through out our day to day lives, whether it is love for a celebrity who will never know us, the desire to impress someone who will never give us a second thought, or the hope to become successful as strictly defined by societal parameters, we remain unfulfilled in our quests. Contrary to all that we keep near and dear to our hearts, it is the love that Muhammad (S) had for us, that gives us more than we can return. And it is regrettable that we often feel unable to return this love simply because we do not know him (S).

We know the facts, most children do, but we do not fall in love with facts, we do not fall in love with numbers, and we certainly do not fall in love with over-played emotions that we have become desensitized to. I recall siting in my Sunday School class while our teacher said, “Do you know how great Rasoolullah (S) was? He was kind to everyone. He was the kindest person. Kindest.” I remember feeling unfortunate to be unable to classify the words. Maybe I was to young to have met cruel, stingy people, or maybe I did not know what real kindness was, nevertheless, I remember feeling hopeless unengaged and equally worried that my classmates would feel similarly and would thusly write Rasoolullah (S) off with the simple adjective and would never desire to know more. Kind is good, mean is bad, but we still love both and in between, don’t we?

Love is tangible and listening to life of Rasoolullah (S)’s makes it 3D, makes it tangible, brings it within our grasps, allows us to venture into our mind’s eye and envision, sense, breath, and live in a time and feel something more than textbook historical figure “greatness” or philanthropist “kindness.” Seerah brings along connectedness that only love can foster.

I have noticed a trend. Many times great historical figures are referred by how much they conquest and how big their empires were. Very rarely are they considered great for their treatment of conquered people and even more rare are those of high moral character. I have noticed how their morals are written off as insignificant, by “look how much land and resources they accumulated, who cares how many were displaced or murdered, who cares about how he or she cheated on their spouse by engaging in immorality…” Historical greatness, it seems, is flawed. There is a simple trade off between greatness achieved and morality. This can never be the case with Muhammad (S): He was a successful military leader yet a loving father and husband, a ruler who sat with and befriended the poor and visited the sick, a Prophet who never gave a believer priority over a non-believer when it came to social justice, a man who was trusted by his own enemies-the very people that planned to kill him (S).

His greatness did not diminish his moral character nor did his morality decrease his greatness. Today Muhammad is the most common name in the world; a man of great simplicity has 1.6 billion followers currently worldwide (you can forget about counting your number twitter followers!) and people constantly speaking of him, thinking of him and teaching what he (S) taught. The daunting question that arises is: How does one fall in love with man so, so, so amazing? So accomplished, so great? Here’s what I am learning in seerah class…

Muhammad (S) cared. He cared about the people he met and interacted with. He loved his followers, and each person who spoke with him (S) would feel as though he or she were the most important or closest to him (S). Imagine this: meeting the President once on a trip to the state capital, and then imagine him calling you up and saying, “I’ve been thinking about you. I’ve been worried about you. I’ve been hoping you do well. I will do everything I can to see you succeed.” The President would never do this, you might get a signed letter in the mail, but a part of you knows someone else wrote the letter and the President hardly looked down before signing it. But Muhammad (S) did, he thought about us, he worried about us, he hoped we were doing well and he wanted to see us succeed. It is why he spent hours in prayer with swollen feet, for us. He (S) did not just lay down the law, accept the power and rule a people who showed fierce loyalty, he cared. He cared so much so that in the last moments of his blessed life who did he think of? Us.

He believed in us. And not just for the people who were already recognized and on their way to greatness but the average folks, the ones that tend to be overlooked by society, Rasoolullah (S) believed in them. To me this was tremendously eye opening. Many times within our own masjid people clamor over a few, while the rest of the youth are discounted. In fact, a leader at the local masjid once swore that two boys at our masjid would never become huffaz because “they don’t have what it takes!” SubhanAllah, it really makes me think that Rasoolullah (S) would have never discounted those boys.* A sister I used to go to school with tried to learn the recitation of the Quran, when she presented herself to the expert tajweed teachers they similarly discounted her, telling her she didn’t really know how to recite properly and picked the same few students participate in their group. I remember consoling her and wondering why, rather than foster her interest in Quran and recitation, they so simply tossed her aside.

Muhammad (S) gave importance to each of us and he (S) believed that we all could in some way succeed in being pleasing to our Lord (SWT). He never discounted anyone; he never picked a few and left the rest. This is seen in his love for the Ansar (the Helpers). Moulana ANJ described the people of medina as a group of “small town farmers” the ones who lived simply and were not given importance by the neighboring tribes and communities. Only years later would the world see greatness in these men and women that Muhammad (S) had seen in them during their very first meeting.

Muhammad (S) felt. It was never easy to do what he (S) did. Often times we chalk it up to “Well, he was the Prophet” and assume that he “would obviously be successful.” We fail to realize that the greatness and success took time, not minutes or hours but years…Years. Thirteen years spent in Makkah among not only enemies but hypocrites as well. Thirteen years working and waiting and calling while watching the few followers he did have be tortured. Thirteen years of abuses from the very people he grew up with, and it was difficult for him as it would be for anybody. This very human aspect of our Nabi is often left out of the conversation. Maybe we do not talk about the Prophet (S)’s pain, because it is unimaginable. Because it is too painful even in reflection, it is the hardship only a prophet (A) could endure. He was patient and forbearing and the extraordinary truth is that only Allah (SWT) could comfort and console Rasoolullah (S). (ref: Surah Yasin, Surah Taha tafseer by M.ANJ). The very human side of the Prophet (S) allows us to love a man who reached greatness, but still felt the way we feel. Our frustrations, downfalls and limitations were not strange to him (S). If anything, he (S) knew it better than we ever could.

Finally, Muhammad (S) smiled. For so many of us Islam is a set of rules and regulations and we think if we were to meet the Prophet (S) he would simply chastise us, tell us what we were doing wrong like so many do at the masjids today. What we fail to realize is that the Prophet (S) treated people as people, gave them their right and they were so incredibly surprised and taken aback by this that they immediately loved him (S) and they immediately accepted Islam. Muhammad (S) was a man who believed in them even if no one else did, who worried and cared for them as no one else did. He welcomed them to Islam in such a beautiful way that they would go to him with nothing, empty as those who are surrounded by dunya often are, and they would leave with everything, leaving behind the dunya and all it’s wonders and replacing it only with their love and loyalty for the Messenger (S), and they say that when he (S) smiled, his face was brighter than the full moon.

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Sharing this reflection on the far-reaching efforts of M. ANJ and Qalam Institute and the seerah podcast series! Only a great teacher inspires students. While nothing matches sitting in a masjid and at the feet of a scholar, who can be opposed to learning small gems from the life of the Rasoolullah by any means possible? Links are in the Library of Gems to tune into live seerah class and access podscasts! Thanks for reading!