Saturday, 23 June 2007

Bringing Out the Inner You

It is not always easy to be a good Muslim. It sounds easy in principle – anything you do for the sake of Allah, which is good and pure in intention awards you merits. However, practicing what is preached is not always easy. We live in a world full of temptations that tingle our nafs in many ways more than one, and easily distracts us from the core reason of our existence – to praise and worship Allah.

Yet there are moments in the waking day when we know we are aware our good deeds and try our best to live up to the expectations of our Lord.

Grooming the inner Muslimah is always harder than the outer Muslimah. The Hijab can always easily be worn according to Islamic principles but that inner Muslimah sometimes feels left out of the hip and happening circle where women dress to kill and to please. Taming the inner Muslimah shrew is not always be easy.

Then there are the accompanying issues – while dressing up like a Muslimah may not be a problem, the heart is always vulnerable to evil slurs and innuendoes.

There have been many times where I hear comments of Muslimah X, who wears the Hijab, but has a bad habit of back-biting. Muslimah Y, who always covers, is a serial dater and has quite an obsession with the opposite gender. Muslimah Z, who dresses modestly, committed embezzlement during the closing of her company’s accounts.

These uncharacteristic personas contradict violently with the image of a Muslimah. It is not only a short fall of a Muslimah to act in the manners above but it is detriment to Islam when she dresses the right way but acts the totally opposite.

Keeping Up Appearances

Remember, we become advocates of Islam when we don the Hijab – we are known as the Muslim woman whether a daughter, wife, mother, in-law, colleague, neighbour or student.

When this happens, realize that you are representing Islam on the outside through your Islamic dress and whatever you do from the inside will reflect upon Islam. Though negative behaviour is never related with Islam, the religion walks a fine line between truth and misinterpretation. A little stumble by a Muslim towards un-Islamic behaviour causes the whole religion to be construed. Do not allow your actions lead to Islam taking the defense stand in a court case.

Guard your modesty, says the Qur’an, and it does not only refer to covering your physical beauty –
it also refers to purifying your heart.

Always engage in good deeds as they will actively eradicate bad deeds. The more pro-active we are in representing Islam in its true light, the closer to Allah will be and the brighter will His guidance shine.

Keep good company, as friends or also known as our sahabah play an important role in our lives. True Muslim friends help us maintain our modesty and amplify good Islamic behaviour at all times
and encourage us to become better people.

Learn from the Prophet’s sahabah, his first company of followers. Many of them were women – his wives, relatives, children and other Muslimahs of his time. Read up their histories and learn how they practiced Islam. Inspire yourself to live like them and feel honoured to be part of the ummah.

Never lose faith in Allah – always keep your relationship with him sturdy. Build up on Islamic knowledge and your ibadah (worship). Take time away from the world, be it only an hour a day and ponder upon the blessings He has bestowed upon you. Truly believe that He has chosen you as a follower - because He has - and that is the greatest gift anyone could have.

So the next time you don the Hijab, look into the mirror and ask yourself, really ask your Inner self, what you are going to do today to bring out Islam through to the Outer you.

Friday, 22 June 2007

You Will Always be the Muslim Woman

The image of Islam, caricatured by the West has always been rather bleak. What more the image of a woman in Islam. They have painted it grim. A woman in black with a face covering and more cloth to cover a king size bed of any grandeur. If the woman is not wearing a face covering, she still has her head fully covered and is still wrapped around in a bed sheet. If the cloth she dons is not black, it still covers her body, oppressing her from freedom of speech, thought and movement.

And when you can't imagine such an image even grimmer, wait to you hear the description of her role as a Muslim woman: servant to her husband, baby-making factory, education-deprived, slave to the kitchen, prisoner in the home. The list goes on - no matter what the Muslim woman looks like.

Unfortunately for Muslims in the other parts of the world - i.e. Muslim not populated countries - there are those who are caught up with such reports from the leading media and begin to look down on fellow sisters who persist in dressing the Muslimah fashion. These "covered" sisters are described as backward, traditional, eastern (if you like), and in a nutshell.... just not modern enough!

Needless to say, many Muslim women are affected by such snide, cruelty and ignorance gelled together into a lump of insult. As much as they wear the Hijab proudly for the sake of the Creator, those labels stick out from all the cloth that cover them and may poke into their self-esteems.It's harder than you think to wear Hijab without the people to support you and it pays to support a sister who is coming into the wonderful world of Hijab, be it she a new Muslim or a born Muslim. But firstly, always remember to support yourself.

As a Muslim woman, it is imperative to remind yourself that you are a confident woman with a good education. You may be a wife and a mother but the you only slave for the sake of Allah. Tell yourself that everyday and toss those rocks of insult aside. Once you have stood up to those who see you as "THE Muslim woman," support another sister who may be facing the same issues.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Changing the Perception of Desire

It's not uncommon for new Muslims or born-Muslim sisters who are about to embark on the wonderful world of hijab to wonder and ponder and wonder and worry about donning the head covering.

Sure, it's innate in human nature that we want to look beautiful, feel desired and to be sought after - hence the million adverts on telly, the radio, in glossy magazines on hair shampoo, hair dye, hair conditioner, hair accessories, latest hair-do's and many more.

The hijab, the hair-covering does not deny us from feeling beautiful, desired or sought after, it changes its perspective. Beauty as cliche-ic as it sounds is really not defined by physical appearances alone. And what greater beauty is beauty than beauty in the eyes of Allah Ta'ala. His Royal Comandment for women to dress modestly, with a head-scarf included, protects and liberates women - causing a diversion of attention from her physical appearance to her intellectual, articulate. ambitious self.

Would it not be better to be desired as a potential painter, business partner, journalist, civil engineer, politician, wife, teacher and / or mother than an object of elementary desire that is cleverly sewn into the mind-deceiving adverts above.And to be sought after? Well, don't we strive for the success of the akhirah, when we are sought after by our Creator and to be Majestically requested to be amongst who dwell in paradise?

Sure, it may be difficult for some women to liberate themselves by dressing modestly but looking past that - loving Allah Ta'ala and His Directive to wear Hijab is actually really easy - especially when you know the right people to help you through and know the right places to buy that extra inch of material.

Having said that however, by no means, should you stop following the fascinating developments in the hair industry. Style it up for yourself. Wear it down for your spouse. Have fun when around your sisters. Relax when around your Mahram.


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