Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Real Purity. Real Beauty.

Living in the West, wearing the hijab (full, loose, modest clothing and headscarf) may be the most rewarding and liberating experience a Muslim woman undertakes, but the attitudes and reactions of others can make this noble effort seem titanic.

There are many sisters out there who are confused in this regard. They earnestly desire to please Allah on one hand, yet are vulnerable to strong societal and familial pressures on the other. They are looking for answers. They are imploring the Almighty for His infinite Mercy and Guidance.

One such sister, as a silent plea for direction, reached out to other sisters with the hope of remaining steadfast on her hijab. This is one of the responses she received. I hope other sisters can read this and be inspired.

With peace,

One important question to ask youself is "Why did I start wearing hijab?" Hopefully, what inspired you to start wearing hijab will help you to keep wearing hijab on a daily basis inshaAllah. Have you always been inspired by the good Muslim women around you who wore hijab? Perhaps the great Muslim women from the past? Or did you want to command respect, especially in front of men, and insist they know and understand you for your thoughts and views rather than your physical being? Perhaps you want to be an ambassador of Islam --you know--everyone likes you, you're the top student, etc etc- you might as well proclaim the fact that you're Muslim! Perhaps just plain and simple, you want to follow the Sunnah and believe that hijab is part of the laws send down from Allah Subhanahua T'ala. Whatever the reason may be, try and remember what it was that made you start in the first place. The last thing you want is to wear hijab for the wrong reason ("all my friends do it" or "my mother said so" or "the guy I like said he wants to marry a muhajabah").

Of course, it is not easy. Now more than ever, we feel pressure from not only non-Muslims, but also Muslims (sometimes even family members), who want us to "dress more conventionally." We have to stay strong in our convictions. When you know you are right, don't be afraid. If you know that the company you keep is affecting your decision, then you know it is time for a change:

"Your (real) friend can be only Allah; and His messenger and those who believe--who establish prayer and pay the poor due and bow down (in worship). And whoso turns (for friendship) to Allah and His messenger and those who believe: lo! The Party of Allah, they are the victorious." (Al-Qu'ran 5:55-56)

But all in all, the daily struggle for some Muslimahs who wear hijab is not knowing what is right and wrong, but it is being plagued with looking "pretty" according to what is considered attractive in the latest fashion magazines or even in our respective cultures back home. Or perhaps you know you are pretty and feel you are unappreciated by men. Is that good looking guy not interested in your hijabiness? Believe me girlfriend, he's not that important. It sounds cliche, but if someone cannot like you for who you are then he or she is not worth it...., here's a little (long) story:

I remember I had gone to a MYNA conference almost ten years ago and heard one of the speakers (perhaps Imam Siraj Wahaj but Wallahu Alam). He started off by saying that recently a handsome young Muslim man had come up to him and asked him to refer a Muslimah to him for marriage. When asked what type of Muslimah he was looking for, the man replied, "A simple devout Muslimah who truly wears hijab and guards her modesty." The Imam was so impressed by this young man's answer, that it inspired him to recount a trip he had taken to the Middle East.

He related how he had stopped in Syria or Jordan where he was taken by some of the villagers to see the sites. As they traveled, several of the villagers told him to take a trip to the mountain range nearby to drink the fresh mineral water. "Ahh Imam you have to taste the water!" said the villagers. "It is the most pure, best tasting, refreshing drink you will ever have!" The Imam recounted how he was intrigued by this drink that everyone spoke of, and decided that he wanted to go to the mountain to get this water. After a long journey and some minimal climbing, they got to the site where the spring began and the leader of the group dipped a cup into the cool clean water and gave it to the Imam. The Imam could not wait to taste this rare and refreshing drink. But when he took a sip of it, he felt....he tasted...ugh! It was bitter on his tongue because of the healthful minerals, and all in all he didn't think it was as great as everyone around him.

The Imam was suprised. Then he took another drink, and another. As he drank, he could taste its sweetness suddenly, and the bitterness he had initially felt was gone. The villagers stood around him awaiting a response. Then finally the leader asked him, "So what did you think of the water?" The Imam was silent. Then suddenly he knew why he was not pleased with the water. "My taste buds have become accustomed to the pollution," he said. "They have become used to the chemicals, and the industrial city water. When I finally tasted real water, I did not immediately love its purity and realize that it was better than any water I had ever tasted." The Imam went on to make the analogy that we in this day and age have forgotten what real purity and real beauty is. The commercialized, plastic, bling, materialistic--that's what has been synthesized and accepted as beauty, pure, as feminine. So when some men, or even some women, see a truly pure face, just in hijab or without make-up, their first reaction is...ugh! Not because that is not real purity and beauty, but because we have forgotten what real purity and real beauty is. He ended by saying how proud he was of the young gentleman who had the ability to see clearly.

In any case, this is a long response to your entry. Hopefully it was helpful. May Allah T'ala help to keep your Iman (and mine) strong, inshaAllah. Ameen

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