Tag Archives: muslim women

“I’m just going to call you ‘Lord’ because I don’t know what else to call you” How I came To Islam

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"the day you meet God, He is going to ask you about your sins and not about their sins. You will not be responsible for their actions and they will not be responsible or yours.”

“The day you meet God, He is going to ask you about your sins and not about their sins. You will not be responsible for their actions and they will not be responsible for yours.”

Guest post by: Jessenia Ortiz. She works as an editorial manager for a electronic publishing company. When she is not working she likes to spend time with her family, her 3yr old and her husband. Sister Jessie is pursuing hifdhs and spends most of her time memorizing the Quran. She enjoys traveling, and her last big trip was umrah. 

I read a novel entitled “If I should speak” by Umm Zakiyah. This book contains some ayahs of the Quran and Hadiths woven into the story. That novel led me to read the English translation of the Quran, which eventually led to me taking my shahada.

The author included the hadith that says:

“O evil soul, come out to the wrath and anger of Allaah.’ Then his soul disperses in his body and is dragged out like a skewer being pulled out of wet wool…”

This shook me to my core. For 3 days it was all I kept thinking about. I couldn’t believe my God could do something like that (although I did feel inside myself that it was true). After that, I told myself I have to find out what else is in that book, so started reading the Quran.

My journey towards “finding” Allah (the Arabic word for God) really started early around age 5. That was when my grandmother taught me how to pray.  I did include intermediaries in my prayers but I always wondered why I couldn’t pray to Allah directly. I never understood the 3 in 1 God. (Alhamdulillah).

I grew up going to Catholic school and attending church with my grandmother. I learned about the Prophets, perhaps because we were children we were not taught all the negative things that the Bible says about them. I still remember that when I was little, going to Catholic school, I wanted to grow up and be a nun. They seemed so close to Allah. I use to sit in church asking (God) Allah to help me love that religion, if it was the right one. I always wondered why do we say “Thank you God for your son our lord”; why not worship the one that created the “son”?

The first time I was exposed to Islam was actually in my global studies class in high school. Ironically, it was a Jewish teacher who told us about Islam. Alhamdulilah, he presented it clearly, he said Muslims face the Kabah 5 times a day and pray. He even told us how they prostrated on the floor to pray. I thought to myself, if there is anyway to pray to God that is the best way. Unbeknownst to me, while my teacher was telling us about Islam in school, my older sister was also learning about Islam. She would become Muslim that year; it would take me 13 more years to enter into Islam.

My sister did her best to explain Islam to me and in my mind I couldn’t see the difference from what I believed and what she believed. At that point, I had started praying to Allah directly. I still remember that I would say to Allah “I’m just going to call you ‘Lord’ because I don’t know what else to call you”.

As the years passed my sister and her husband would always try to give me dawah (invitation to Islam) but it always seemed that I would have to stop believing in all the prophets (peace be upon them) and believe in a new prophet–Muhammad (peace be upon him). I just couldn’t give them up. Yet, they tried their best but guidance is in the hands of Allah alone.

After some years my sister and her husband moved to MD and put their children in a school called Al Huda. When I asked them what the name of the school meant they said “guidance to the straight path.” After learning that, I always use to pray “Lord, guide me to the straight path“. It was during one of those visits to MD that I my oldest niece just gave me the new novel written by a sister from their community. She gave me the novel, and a copy of the Quran in English. She didn’t say much except “maybe you’ll find it interesting.” I read the novel and didn’t really feel connected, but when I got to hadith quoted within the story (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him) it all changed. While the story was from the imagination of the author, the Hadith and the Quranic ayat were real. In my heart felt “this is the truth” so it led me to read the Quran.

I, then, started reading the English translation of the Quran. It was amazing. I couldn’t put it down. I had tried to read the Bible but every time I tried, I kept falling asleep (literally on the book). As I read the meaning of the Quran it just confirmed what I already believed. The Quran told the stories for all the prophets and told the stories of the most upright men in history including Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them).

When I use to read ayat that refer to the disbelievers I use to wonder who those people where. My sister broke the news to me that I was the disbeliever. Finally, I was getting ready to say the shahada but I was still weary. It was a couple years after 9/11 and I just didn’t want to be associated with people who could do something like that. My sister gave me the best advice. She said “the day you meet God, He is going to ask you about your sins and not about their sins. You will not be responsible for their actions and they will not be responsible for yours.”

 I took my shahada on October 3, 2004. It was the same night that Muhammad Alshareef (founder of Al Maghrib Institute) gave his farewell speech at Al Huda school. I still remember him saying “There is only one way towards God. Sometimes you stumble upon the truth. You have a choice you can take it or you can dust yourself off and walk away”. I called my sister after the lecture was over and I took my shahada over the phone with the whole family.

When I look back I think, Subhannallah, Allah is the best of planners. He planned out my path so perfectly. There were and are so many tiny details along the way from before Islam up until now. I always make dua that Allah let keeps me on the straight path and never lets me go astray. Ameen.

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…

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

I want to do Hijab, but… #ProjectHIJAB

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Guest Post by: Fariha Siddiquie. Fariha is a life-long learner and an avid browser of bookstores. With an ambitious captivation of reading and Islamic learning, she immerses herself in the perspectives of countless worlds. After graduating with a degree in Health Science from Benedictine University, she currently endeavors to become a speech pathologist.

So you’ve read the inspiring stories at #ProjectHijab. You spent your Ramadan focusing on bettering yourself and becoming closer to Allah (swt). You are starting to think about maybe starting hijab but…..
These are the top ten excuses I’ve come across that Muslim women use to stop themselves from wearing hijab. Most of them I even dealt with myself. I pray that we can open up our minds, be honest with ourselves, and come out of reading this one step closer to our purpose in this world: worshiping and obeying our Lord.

1. I don’t I have to do it, it’s not an obligation in Islam
Unfortunately, many have strayed from traditional sources of Islam and have created their own faulty opinions regarding hijab. Looking at the primary sources themselves, Quran and Hadith, we see that the commandment of Hijab is quite obvious. Allah (swt) Himself states:
“And say to the believing women, as well, that they should lower their gaze from men that are forbidden to them and safeguard the chastity of their secret parts, and not exhibit their own physical adornment except what must necessarily appear thereof. Thus let them draw veils over their bosoms and not exhibit their own physical adornment (…)” (24:31)
These are the words of our Creator commanding the believing women to cover themselves. Plain for all 14 centuries of Muslims to see, understand and apply. The obligation of covering for a Muslim woman is agreed upon by all major scholars. If you are still having trouble believing in the obligation of hijab, I would recommend the following sources for a more detailed explanation:

The Hijab of Women and its Boundaries: http://www.deoband.org/2010/06/hadith/hadith-commentary/the-hijab-of-women-and-its-boundaries/
Is Hijab an Obligation, Don’t Religious Laws Change? http://www.suhaibwebb.com/islam-studies/islamic-law/is-hijab-and-obligation-dont-religious-rules-change/
Hijab: The Islamic Commandments http://www.al-rashad.com/Hijab-The-Islamic-Commandments_p_3479.html

2. Islam is in my heart, Allah knows my sincerity
Yes, Allah (swt) alone knows our intentions and our sincerity. I’ve met many uncovered woman who have put me to shame in other aspects of Deen. Just because I wear hijab doesn’t make me better than someone who doesn’t. You don’t have to be hijabi to feel the love of Allah and Islam in your heart. However, that is still an incomplete form of love. Don’t get me wrong. Nobody can judge your relationship with Allah. However, Allah can and will. And Allah (swt) Himself states through a hadith qudsi that “My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him,” (Bukhari). You say you are close to Allah in your heart? The measure of that is how much you follow what He tells you to do. And among these obligations is hijab. A pure heart, according to Allah (swt), is that heart which follows His commandments both inwardly and outwardly. May He (swt) grant us all such purity of heart.

3. My parents/husband won’t let me or won’t support me
Sadly, this is a real concern for so many people in our times. However, just because you are told not to wear hijab does not mean you are required to listen. In a hadith narrated by Bukhari and Muslim, “There is no obedience to creation in the disobedience of the Creator.” Still, do this with wisdom and with caution. Ask a knowledgeable individual who is familiar with your case. Talk to your family calmly and patiently about why you want to start. Understand that they want what is best for you even if they have a distorted understanding of what that is. Making dua’ is crucial. Make a lot of dua’ that Allah open up their hearts to the idea. I’ve noticed that the best way to get your family to become more accepting is to treat them with the best of character. They will then realize that becoming religious means becoming a better person overall, and will inshaAllah begin to support you in due time.

4. I’m afraid
Afraid that I won’t get a job. Afraid that I won’t be taken seriously. Afraid that it will stop me from what I want to do. Afraid of what people will think and say. Afraid of Islamophobia and hate crimes. Afraid of being different. Afraid of being labeled. Afraid of representing Islam. Afraid of the responsibility. Afraid afraid afraid..
Ok, I’m at that point where I’ve said the word “afraid” so much that it’s stopped making sense. And really, how much sense does it even make? No matter what aspect it is in your life, never let fear prevent you from taking a step forward and challenging yourself. Anyone can stay within their comfort zones, but it takes courage to step out and do something a little different. These are the people who learn and grow to become better people from their experiences. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face… You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
Sure, you might come across some of these problems. But don’t you remember Monster’s Inc? Monsters always appear bigger and scarier than they really are. Allah (swt) says, “Indeed, that voice of despair is only from Satan, prompting your hearts with fear of his patrons. So do not fear them, But fear Me, if indeed you are believers!” (3:175). Think about it, what is the worst thing that could happen if you started hijab? Even that is temporary, because Allah promises with every hardship there is ease. If Allah (swt) can take care of people who revile and disbelieve in Him, why would He not treat with extra special care someone who is sacrificing so much for Him? This world is a place of tests, and you have to be courageous and willing to be tested in order to attain the everlasting reward waiting for you in Jannah. To get this conviction and courage, I would suggest surrounding yourself with positive and good company. Also, read Quran often with translation. You have nothing to fear once you realize that Allah always has your back.

5. I’m not that religious yet, I want to wait till I’m a better person
I’ll admit, I used this excuse myself and lost out on years of reward. It sounds like it’s very logical. Why should anyone start hijab when they do so many other sins? Shouldn’t they work on those sins first before they put on something that represents themselves as a Muslim? My answer to that would be, do two left turns make a right? No, instead you just end up completely going the wrong way! No matter how many sins you commit, hijab is still fardh on you as a believing woman. Hijab does not become an obligation once you are sinless. It becomes an obligation once you have reached puberty. It’s not for people who are perfect, it’s for people who are trying to perfect themselves. As many negatives as there are in your life, it only helps you to add something positive. That shame you feel when committing a sin in hijab, don’t run away from that. It is better to wear hijab and feel ashamed over your sins then to not wear hijab and feel no shame. Embrace that guilt, use it to ask for forgiveness. Harness it to help you grow into a better person. You won’t just magically become religious one day, it happens by making some sort of effort. Make wearing hijab your step towards Allah. And like the hadith says, if you take one step towards Him, He comes to you at speed.

6. I’ll do it later, when I’m older
Yeah hijab is cool and everything but I’ll just start once I’m in college. Then when you get to college, it’s once you graduate. When you graduate, it’s once you get a job, or get married, or have kids. Eventually, Allah forbid, you put it off for so long that you meet the angel of death without ever having followed this commandment of Islam. Allah (swt) knows how hard it is to live life the right way these days. He knows that we have every opportunity to sin at our fingertips. He knows that the age of youth is when temptation to sin is the greatest. So would He not reward you accordingly if you sacrificed all those things for Him? For every time you are mocked, for every time you are stared at, for every awkward feeling you get, for every time you want to do something bad but you don’t, your reward is waiting for you. Don’t think Allah doesn’t notice. His love for you increases in proportion to how hard it is for you to make an effort in obeying Him. If you want to have fun now and wear hijab later, be my guest. But remember that one of the people who will be shaded by Allah’s throne on the day where there will be no shade is a youth who spent his days in the remembrance of Allah. That is because Allah knows that the age of youth is when the desire to sin is the greatest. It’s the age where controlling that desire is the hardest. Anyone can put off living a life of obedience for when it’s easier, but the real reward is for those who put in the effort when it’s hard. Don’t get so lost in the illusion of this world that you forget your real purpose, to earn your akhirah. And the best way to do that is to sacrifice the best years of your life for the One who gave you life.

7. I like boys and still want to be attractive
Let’s not be afraid to get real. Many avoid wearing hijab because they want to feel attractive and they want attention from guys. They don’t want to wear hijab because it makes them look and feel ugly. Because it turns guys off from them. Why are women so obsessed with getting a guys attention? Why do we need to feel pretty in order to feel good about ourselves? We live in a culture obsessed with the external shells of people. We are forced to live up to a standard of beauty that is impossible to reach. Everything is retouched, photoshopped, and fake. And you aren’t worth anything until you can get to that unreal level of beauty. Your self-worth is dependent upon how good you look and how many boys like you. Society teaches you that no matter how much you try, it’ll never be enough. Islam teaches us that even the smallest effort will increase how worthy and valuable you are to Allah.
When you have something valuable, you hide it, you cover it, you protect it from other people. You keep it safe so that someone unworthy can’t steal it from you. By all means, be as beautiful as you want. But cover your beauty because you are a valuable person. Don’t let the thieves of this world steal you for less than what you are really worth. Don’t let someone else define your self-worth. Don’t let something that is out of your control be what decides how you feel about yourself. Allah says that people are not better than others by the color of their skin, by the brand name of their clothes, or by who has the best messy bun. People are only better than each other solely by how much they sacrifice for the sake of Allah. That hijab you are wearing that makes your face look fat and your shoulders look broad makes you beautiful to Allah. And honestly who else is more important to impress? Prioritize gaining the attention of Allah over anyone else, and that’s what makes you beautiful!

8 . I don’t have a support system
If you are blessed enough to live in a city like Chicago, then you can’t use this excuse. Alhamdulillah even though there were barely any Muslims in my high school, I was surrounded by options to build a strong Muslim identity. Go to a speech, join a class, holler at your MSA. If you can, try to get a halaqah group going with your friends and share inspiring discussions with each other. If you don’t live in an area where there are many Muslims, turn to the internet! Listen to your favorite speaker online. Read websites that spread knowledge, join an online class. And everyone should establish a strong connection with dhikr and the Quran. If you don’t have anyone to support or relate to you, remember that Allah is always there to support you. Raise your hands in dua’ and talk to Him about your struggles, and you’ll come out feeling stronger than ever.

9. People will judge me
I know if I start hijab, I won’t wear it right and people will judge me. Who cares what people think? Whether you are called a bangjabi, hoejabi, part time hijabi, if you show your arms or neck or ears or whatever, who cares? Yes those things are wrong and you should strive to attain a more perfected form of Hijab. This is not a license to incorrectly label a wrong thing as right. But Hijab is such a dramatic change in lifestyle and such a sacrifice, if you need to go at your own pace then do it. If you can’t be at 100%, be at 75%, 50%, 10%. If you need to, I say it’s better to even be at %0.0001 than at zero. There will be people who will tell you what you’re doing is not worth it if you’re not going to do all of it. But I say, it’s better to meet Allah with proof that you made some kind of effort than having nothing to show for yourself. And like I said before, a little bit of effort goes a long way. Allah will see your sincerity and will eventually give you the tawfeeq to grow in courage and action.

10. I’ll do it when I’m ready
Newsflash: nobody is ever ready. I put off starting hijab for years waiting for a day when I was ready. Guess what, it never came. I realized that if I wasn’t going to push myself to get out of my comfort zone and just do it, I would never be able to. So with a lot of dua’, I decided to just wear it on one random day of the week in high school. No, I was not ready for the weird looks, the awkward walk through the bus, the questions, the disappointing looks, the comments, etc. But I just pushed through that day and the next day was easier, and the day after that it was completely normal. Now I don’t even have to think about it Alhamdulillah. If you want to lose weight, you have to fight your hunger and diet. If you want to go to a good school and get a good job, you have to fight your laziness and study hard. If you want to wear hijab and identify as a Muslim, if you want to attain the gardens beneath which rivers flow, you have to push yourself. There won’t be a day when things will suddenly become easy, until you finally push yourself and make yourself used to the change.

My advice is to now go make a fresh wudu, pray 2 rakat nafl salah, sit down and reflect. Why exactly can’t you start hijab, or what is making it hard for you? Then make dua’ that Allah swt give you the strength, courage and conviction to make this step or to keep persistent with it. I hope and pray that Allah uses #ProjectHijab as a means to inspire at least one person to live in a way that pleases Him. I also ask for forgiveness for anything wrong I may have said or if I have offended anyone. May Allah strengthen our Iman, complete our faith, and join us together in Jannah! Ameen

Hijab-A Way To Un-cover True Beauty #ProjectHIJAB

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Guest Post by: Dana Barakat. Dana loves poetry and expressing herself through writing. Dana has few hobbies which include piano and sketching. She is an outgoing, social, and smiley person who loves to make a someone’s day. You can read more of Dana’s insightful thoughts on her blog here: http://dana-barakat167.blogspot.com/2012/08/hijab-way-to-un-cover-true-beauty.html 

More than just covering your hair, it creates a ‘mental hijab’.

Because hijab means so much more to me and to women across the globe. Hijab is: strength, confidence, and the un-covering of the true beauty within.

What do pearls and diamonds have in common? They are both astoundingly beautiful and rare, and when found, they are protected and covered. Only the person who finds the precious pearl/diamond can appreciate the outer beauty and inner beauty.

So, who am I? I’m Dana Barakat and I recently put on hijab. No I’m not 16 or 18. I’m 22 years old. I graduated from college and I am continuing my Master’s insha’Allah. I’m also a person who thought that I’d never wear hijab, due to my personal preference, my love for my hair (literally, I was obsessed) and the thoughts that my parents would completely disapprove.

So how did I decide to put on hijab? I was thinking about it for some time, since January of this year. I wavered back and forth but I couldn’t bring myself to, as NIke says “Just DO It”. I was having a really rough and stressful time during May after graduation, and things were not going as planned. I was getting upset as well as how my faith and iman was also wavering. I wanted to improve, I wanted to become better. And so that is exactly what I asked  for. I made wuduu’, prayed two rak’aat, and then made a long and sincere duaa’ to Allah (swt). The exact words at the end that I said were “Ya Allah, help me to let me do an action that will benefit me, that will make me a better and stronger person. Let me do an action that will help me, that will guide me more towards You ya Allah!”

What happened next? Literally the next morning, on May 29th, 2012, I decided to buy a few hijabs from Nordstrom’s BP. I really had no hijabs at the time. I put it on in my carright after buying them, then went to the nearby park district, and sat down and thought long and hard about hijab. From that moment on, I knew I wasn’t just trying it on, I was going to keep on wearing it until the day I return to Him, insha’Allah.

But why wear hijab? Why didn’t I do this before? To wear hijab means to be a confident and strong women. You are then able to fully rely on your intellect and instead of depending on your outward appearance and how you look and what not, you start to rather use the inner beauty that you possess. So why now, why at 22? I believe I finally became ready and Allah (swt) was able to guide me to hijab, Alhamdullilah.

Hijab is more than covering your hair, as I mentioned. What is a mental hijab? A mental hijab is basically guarding yourself from things that are haram. Because you wear hijab, and I’m serious about this statement, you are reminded each day of Islam and that you ARE a Muslimah and that you have an obligation to do good each day. You never forget Islam the minute the hijab is put on and covering your hair. You become Noor (light) and others are attracted to it, if you are doing this for the sake of Allah (swt) alone and have pure intentions. A mental hijab is lowering your gaze, saying and only doing good, showing the world that Islam is about manners and righteous actions and not about anything else. A mental hijab is thinking and being in remembrance of Allah (swt) so often that you everything becomes so much more appreciated in life.

Hijab is beautiful. People may question, people may criticize, but in the end they come to respect you. When they talk to you, they are actually talking TO YOU. Not at your physicality. They understand that you are guarded only so that you can reveal what is important, and that is intellect and what is in the heart.

I didn’t do this alone, this was all by Allah’s will. Without Him, this post would not exist. And so now, as I am typing this, I thank You ya Allah for the blessings and mercy you have bestowed upon me. Make it easier for other girls/women who are thinking about hijab and let them understand what hijab means and its beauty. Ameen.

And to be completely honest, putting on the hijab was so easy that I was almost in disbelief. When you do this for His sake and His sake alone, you become unstoppable and confident and Alhamdullilah things become easier.

When you wear hijab, understand your duty to represent Islam. Understand how beautiful you are within and let that emanate from you. Understand that this is definitely a sacrifice worth doing. And last but not least, understand that there’s nothing but good that comes out of wearing hijab. Hijab is beauty, hijab is light and guidance, and hijab is a reminder. Alhamdullilah 3ala na3mayt 3al Islam and hijab.

My Life’s Greatest Teacher #ProjectHIJAB

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Guest post by: Sabina. Sabina is a university student with a lovely and engaging personality. Her interests include reading Islamic literature, volunteering at community centers and making people smile. She is very articulate and has a passion for words.

My hijab was the result of a clash between the conservative attitude of the Islamic school I attended and the not so conservative attitude at home. I say not so conservative, and not liberal, because my family is very adherent of all Islamic principles and beliefs, but they seem to make an exception only for the hijab. I believe it to be more of a cultural decision, where those who wear hijab are considered to be unable to acclimate. I attended that Islamic school from the age of five to eighteen. The hijab was around me constantly, but in those thirteen years, it did not capture my mind and heart until toward the very end.

I started wearing a scarf when I was ten years old. From that point on, there was always a scarf on my head. I did not start dressing according to Islamic guidelines until I was fourteen though. Yes, I loved my t-shirts. And yes, I was one of those girls who you see, and just stare at, because she is wearing a scarf with a t-shirt. This should be noted, however, as was written in the introductory post of the hijab project, everyone has their own struggles, and it is not of Muslim character to judge those that are struggling to please Allah. Funny thing is, I was really particular about my hair showing. Hijab was something I did because everyone around me did it. I did not understand it. I did not know why people wore it. All I knew was that we wore hijab because we were Muslim. And at the time, that was enough justification. I believe I became a true hijabi at the age of sixteen, when my hijab was in my heart, not on my head.

I started wearing hijab because my cousin, who was seventeen at the time, had decided to try it out. And, for the first time, I saw that aspect of my two worlds meshing together.  Unconsciously, it drove me to pursue whatever it would take to not live two lives; a life at school, where I looked like the perfect Muslim, but did not feel like myself, and a life at home, where I tried my best to be the perfect Muslim, but did not really look the part. Unfortunately, my cousin decided the hijab was not for her, and chose to stop wearing it. Which left me in a bind; what did that mean for me?

I chose to continue wearing my hijab, despite my family’s concerns about the Islamophobic era we lived in. My hijab allowed my two worlds to come together, and I went from a very introverted and insecure adolescent, to a strong Muslimah. My hijab became so much more when I realized the hijab means to care for yourself, to love yourself. The hijab is a personality that exudes confidence in oneself, but more importantly, confidence in the goodness Allah has bestowed within us. And, no one needs a piece of cloth on their head to allow others to feel that. I know so many sisters that do not wear a scarf, but they are much more the banner of Islam than hijabis. And, seeing as how I wore the hijab on more of a whim, than after careful research and reflection, I can see how that happens. I can see how the hijab is a way of identifying with Islam more than acceptance of oneself. But I also know that wearing the hijab, for me, was a learning process. My hijab taught me so much more than I could have ever imagined, and it became one of my life’s greatest teachers.

I believe I only realized what my hijab truly was when I was around nonMuslims. When I was with other girls who wore hijab, it became just a piece of cloth. I would forget the Islamic etiquette of interacting with people because I did not need to represent in front of those just like me. It did not stop me from making regrettable decisions, and acting like a complete fool. It was then, I realized, that if my hijab was not protecting my heart’s goodness, than it was not hijab at all. If my heart was only aware of my hijab when I was with nonMuslims, and turned on my “perfect Muslim mode” because I wanted them to love Islam, I was not representing Islam at all. I was trying to impress nonMuslims with an image of Islam, not the beautiful way of life I live. That was when I understood that hijab is nothing but Islam. Hijab is living life according to the Qur’an and Sunnah. It is about protecting and enriching the goodness Allah has given us all.

And this, I believe, is the most important piece of advice I could ever give to anyone. Hijab is protecting your personal goodness, from all sources of doubt and fear. Hijab is not wearing a scarf, or wearing long and loose clothing, or being the salaah police, or going to Islamic lectures. Hijab is not about being the perfect Muslim, or always doing the right thing. Once you attain that love for yourself and importance for that sacred goodness, hijab becomes about becoming closer to Allah. And simply putting a scarf on your head, after conquering yourself, seems simple.

Wearing Hijab is Exactly Like Being a Superhero #ProjectHIJAB

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Guest Post By: Nadia Chaudhry. Nadia is an aspiring multi-passionate entrepreneur. She wants the world to know about digital entrepreneurship and exactly how you can live a lifestyle that is completely location-independent with the ability to turn any place with an internet connection into your office. She talks about this mobile lifestyle and more on her blog: http://www.nadiachaudhry.com

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When I wake up in the morning, I put on my superhero outfit. It’s my cloak, my mask, my secret weapon, all wrapped into one. A superhero’s identity is hidden, but when you see their garb, you know exactly what they stand for. It’s a proclamation of their beliefs. It doesn’t necessarily hide them from view and may even seem to point them out deliberately. However, this gives them unimaginable power, the power of an idea, which cannot be destroyed. It’s my hijab, the scarf I choose to wrap around my head because I am a Muslim.

Just like a superhero, it makes you stronger. 

Let me tell you why I wear it: It makes me a stronger Muslim. Do you think a superhero would be as powerful without the costume? The costume makes the superhero. Superman. Batman. Spiderman. The first image to your head was their costume, wasn’t it? When Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, or Peter Parker puts on that outfit, do you think those moments mean nothing to them. You can just imagine that as they put on those clothes, they are mentally preparing themselves for what they’re about to do.  Heck, in the movies, they have whole scenes where they’re just putting on their outfit. Aren’t those powerful scenes? When Bruce Wayne becomes Batman: we see the costume in its glass case, we see the bat symbol on his chest, he puts on the suit, he tugs on his gloves, pulls down his mask, and you see the ripple of the cloak. It is the moment where his beliefs, values, and identity truly becomes manifest. When I put on my scarf, I go through the same mental preparation every day, whether I realize it or not.

Every day the hijab reminds me of who I am and what I believe in. Let me tell you the most powerful thing it does: it protects me from me. It reminds me of what I stand for, which gives me that extra push to do the right thing and be the right person. It helps to prevent me from temptation because it compels me to be stronger. My faith is attached to this tangible object that symbolically wraps my mind in a certain attitude. The hijab is much more than a scarf.

Just like a superhero, wearing it comes with responsibilities. 

With great power, comes great responsibility. I am a symbol. Wearing the hijab means you have to live your life a certain way, at least, you’re supposed to. When you wear the hijab, you represent Islam, just like a superhero represents justice. Everything you do will show the world that this is what a Muslim does. You have the responsibility to show the true image of Islam.

Just like a superhero, certain evils run from you while others are drawn to you. 

You know the blessings of wearing it, just as well as the consequences. It’s no easy thing to walk out your door with it on. It keeps certain evils away from me, evils that would otherwise tempt me. It invites the right people to me. Other Muslims easily approach me and say “salaam.” It’s a powerful, underestimated initiator for sisterhood. In many instances, I am welcomed as a sister or as a daughter. I remember last year in Ramadan, a Muslim man with his family paid for all the ice cream my friends and I bought. He left before we even knew and we couldn’t thank him. May Allah reward him for his kindness.

Yet, at the same time, the hijab can draw other evils. Just like a superhero, some bad guys run at first glimpse, but others want the fight. Mainly, I am talking about the people who are drawn to us by hate. I have never personally been caught in a situation too extreme, but we’ve all heard the stories. Some girls are ridiculed and harassed (Hint: Just like a superhero). In those moments, we need to be strong and have a good support system around us that encourages us to keep going.

It’s true, donning this outfit can be hard, but there are much greater blessings and rewards. So, don’t be afraid to be a superhero.