Thursday, 28 June 2007

Ten Things I Love About You (part 1)

Dear Hijab,

I am writing this letter to tell you how much you mean to me. Though there are so many reasons why I cherish you and appreciate every moment of the day with you, I thought I would list the top 10 reasons why I love you this much!

(1) You keep me protected
I feel safe all the time with you are around. I attract much less negative attention from those men at the stalls, men at the construction site, men across the road, in their cars, in the office and at the mall. In fact, they do not bother to look even twice because they know I do not bother about them. I do not care for their attention, their cat-calls or free drinks. They know that I can take care of myself and do not require their attention to feel appreciated. In fact, I can buy my own drinks, and I proudly do so while they do not look on.

(2) You are kind on my wallet
Because of you, I do not feel compelled to run out and buy that latest top or newest edition of designer lip stick. I am not obsessed how my hair looks or falls or sways with the wind so I don’t visit the hair saloon religiously nor do dish out bundles of notes to buy their expensive hair sprays / conditioners / shampoos / hair dye. I don’t need to plague my weekends with shopping sprees to make sure I look like the next top model or rising TV personality.

I am all kept and proper and I buy only what I need when I need. I am not a display ornament that has to be beautified by those products that brandish endless shelves at the beauty sections of shopping malls or are obscenely displayed in beauty magazines.

I can save money for more important things because of you. Like alms for the poor and my pilgrimage to the holy land. I have stashed money away for me to pursue my PHD and take care of my parents when they are older. In fact, my children’s accounts are thriving thanks to you – insha’Allah they will be given the best education possible.

(3) I have learned to love myself for who I am
Now that you are here, I look in the mirror before going out and I see someone without make up and without a strand of hair dangling for attention. I see myself as me, the way God made me. I do not have to look like anyone else or pretend to be someone else. I learned to be myself and appreciate all the natural beauty I have been honoured with, by the grace of God. I am perfectly imperfect and I love myself for looking like this.

I love my eyes and I love my smile – I love my skin, though none of them are perfect. I love them because they are invaluable presents for God and I appreciate them for all their imperfections.

(4) I know people who truly love me for who I am
I need not be obsessed with how others see me. Should they not like what they see, then it is obviously a certain shallowness speaking to them as I am much more than just “a look”. People who appreciate me love me for who I am and what I can do to make the world a better place.

There are those who think that I am not up to their standard to befriend because I don’t wear the latest skirts and my earrings are covered by my scarf. Or maybe it is because chocolaty strawberry is the latest blusher and my cheeks are as naturally rosy as ever.

But I do not mind them. In fact, because of you, they do not fit into my standards when they do not understand my opinions on 101 contemporary issues that surround us today. People who appreciate me for that are my true friends and friends that will last a lifetime.

(5) My husband, he always feels like so good about himself
It’s funny how girlie magazines are always ranting about how to sooth that male ego to keep your man happy, yet when you are with me they think that I’m succumbing to my husband’s dictatorship to the depths of a bottomless pit.

They do not understand that the reason you are with me is because I truly succumb to God and not my spouse. Yet, magically, by this submission, my husband and his ego are always a-smiles! He always feels secure when I am out and about because he does not feel threatened of any unwanted attention. He is assured that I am safely guarded from the public eye curbing the dangers that may befall the vulnerability of any woman on the street.

And when I am at home, with him, unveiled, that really massages his ego. He knows that he is the only man who is allowed to see me with make-up on, pretty jewellery and a short denim skirt. He really feels like a chump because of you.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Sharing the Responsibilities of Hijab

Men and women complement each other. We are both halves of a whole – says the Qur’an, as it has described spouses to be garments for each other. What do garments do? They protect us from unwanted attention, protect us from the weather, disguise our imperfections and beautify us.

What more the garment known as Hijab? Hijab is an obligatory fulfillment ordained by Allah Ta’ala upon women. Muslim women are required to don the headscarf and wear loose, non-transparent and long clothes when in the presence of non-mahram (marriageable) men. Men too have the same obligation to dress the same – save for the head cover.

However, the Hijab, always a media hype, seems to be the most controversial piece of clothing for the practicing Muslim woman. When asked why the head-covering is required, Muslims always answer: a woman is not allowed to display her beauty in front of men who are not related to her.
Yes, this is true by all means, but sometimes, interpretation to this sentence brings yet another wave of misconceptions where women have to be covered and have to be protected and somehow or another women are the oppressed gender in Islam. What is more? Men in Islam force this dress-code upon women. As mentioned, these are misconceptions, and misconceptions easily brought about by a simple truthful sentence.

So as Muslims, let us think: let us turn it around and see how it sounds. If a woman is not allowed to display her beauty, how does this affect the man?

The next time someone asks you about the Hijab, whether you are a Muslim man or woman, tell them: a man is not allowed to look at a woman’s beauty if she is not his wife nor is not related to her.

This sentence tells us the same thing that woman are to be covered and have the utmost right to be protected from the ogling of the opposite gender, yet, men are the second half of the whole, and they are the ones who must guard their modesty and steer clear away from any form of proximity.
This elevates the true Islamic status of a woman by women are not meant to be seen as sex objects, but are to be recognized as women of substance. When a man marries a woman, he does only vow his loyalty and dedication towards a woman of piety, he is also allowed to enjoy her beauty as she is allowed to unveil in front of him.

The Qur’an requires believing men and women to lower their gazes and guard their chastity when dealing with the opposite gender. It further requires women to drape their hair veil over their chests – this sentence just exemplifies how attractive women are to the opposite gender that Allah prompts us with a friendly reminder that women are to concentrate on improving their inner beauty rather than their physical attributes.

The Hijab therefore requires men to be equally responsible to guard the Hijab of women through advising their wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, and other relatives the importance keeping the veil and at the same time, the practicing Muslim man guards his own Hijab in more ways than one.

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Hijab Haven is not responsible for apparel in external sites. Not all outfits fulfill the Hijab requirement when in the presence of non-Mahram men. As a reminder, please use them responsibly.