Saturday, March 28, 2009

Question at the Craft Show

Today some sisters and I went to a craft show. I love going to these things. There are so many creative people with beautiful things they have made. I am addicted to really nice pottery (although I can't afford to buy it anymore) and I love to see what the jewelers do as well.

I went to pick up 2 sisters and we were going to meet a 3rd at the show. We were there a bit early so we agreed to wait at the entrance for the 3rd sister. Time for question #1 from a perfect stranger:

Question #1: A group of women and children walked by. A little boy in a stroller said 'who are they, mommy?", she said they are ladies! One of the women in the back of the group turned around and came back to us and asked if she could ask me something. I said sure, and she said "How do you wear glasses when you roll like that?". So the question was, how does a niqabi wear glasses when wearing a veil. I answered that some of the niqabs are cut back wider just for that purpose. She thanked us and went on her way. So that was not so bad... A nice question from a curious person. No biggie.

Now on question #2, which really was not a question but more of a statement and greeting:

Question (statement) #2: We were still outside waiting when an older woman walked by and told me my scarf was pretty. I said thank you, and her husband said salam to us.... we said it back and that was it. They were not Muslim, but knew enough about us to say salam. Another nice interaction at the craft show.

So the 3rd sister arrives with her cute and cuddly baby, and we make our way into the show. We soon get sort of split up but we are not too far from each other. As we are looking at a booth, some other ladies come to us and ask question #3.

Question #3: First they asked if they could ask us a question, which is always nice (do people ever say no?). Anyway, they wanted to know why I wear a face veil and the other women don't. This was a bit more tricky but I explained that I think its an obligation in our religion but there is difference of opinion. I also said some women wear it and don't think its an obligation but wear it for additional modesty. They seemed happy with that. Asked if it was hot and then happily went on their way.

So another pleasant question from the masses.
So now for more shopping fun. We really get split up now, and I'm with one sister and the other two are off looking at things on their own. I walk by a booth selling almonds with Cinnamon on them and the man offers me a sample to try. So I try it and like it and decide to buy a bag. Now on to question #4.

Question #4: The almond vendor asks if I'm pretty under there! My friend comes up and says yes she is and
thats why she is wearing it. Only her husband and other woman and her family can see her. He joked with us some more and asked 'what about almond vendors, do they get to see?" I politely said no and we were on our way. A bit later when I walked by again he shouted out "come on, just one look, don't make me chase you!" I laughed a bit and kept going. Eeek.... not too bad but a bit scary.

So we keep shopping and we are now in the food isle of the show. There is a booth selling these HUGE eclairs. Of course we have to look at them! The woman behind the counter asks if she can ask me a question - Question #5!

Question #5: She asks, what is it called what you are wearing on your face? So I tell her its a niqab, she asked me to spell it, so I do. She said she met a woman from Iran that said she wears it to honor her... what do you call your God? I tell her Allah. She says yes, right Allah. Then she asks why I wear it so I tell her. Up until now its ok, but she then she says she feels sorry for me. I told her not to and that I'm very happy to cover and be modest like this. She says 'but men don't have to!' and I explain that they have a dress code as well. Then she brings up multiple wives. We explain to her that men can have more than one wife for many reason but that he must treat them all equally or he answers for it on the day of judgement. Finally she says 'well we were all born naked, and we were meant to be seen by the bird and trees and people'. I smile and say that the birds and trees can see me, but some of the people can't. So that was the end of that. Not too bad, but she was kind of argumentative about it.

I don't know what it is really. Perhaps people that go to craft shows feel more open and curious. It was such a
surprise to get asked so many questions all in a couple of hours. It was kind of nice actually. Inshallah we were able to show some people what Islam was about. May Allah subhannah wa t'ala guide them to the straight path.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Have you ever noticed that if you read a thread on a forum started by Christians that they rarely talk about God? Its all about Jesus. Everything. They dedicate everything to Jesus. They praise him, they love him they pray to him. He is love, he is the creator, he is everything? As I read these threads I can only think one thing... SHIRK! I know that to them its not shirk but its very surprising to see how little attention they give to the actual Creator.

I also find it interesting that around this time of year someone who claims to be a devout Christian will have anything to do with the easter bunny and easter eggs. Don't they realize that its a pagan mockery of something they claim to hold so dear? Whats worse is Muslims who celebrate it.. I mean really... don't they have anything better to do?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Do I like the community?

I was talking to another staff member at school today (a revert like me) and she said that a lot of people ask her why they don't see her more for 'community events' at the masjid. She lowered her voice and said 'Jamilah, I don't like the community at this masjid'. She went on to say she felt bad about feeling that way but that every time she came to the masjid for anything she left frustrated or disgusted by what she saw. I thought about it for a moment and I said, you know... I totally agree with you.

I don't go to the masjid for much other than school, but if I happen to go there on a Saturday or Sunday for salat, I'm always completely frustrated by what I see. There are a few different groups of sisters that gather at the masjid every weekend. They all sit in the musallah and talk and eat and laugh.... oh and not watch their kids at all. Usually the kids are either running around like crazy in the musallah or they are downstairs destroying the school's property or in the bathroom flushing things down the toilet that don't fit. The sisters eat in the musallah and make a huge mess. Their kids also eat in there and make an even bigger mess.. PLUS they take the food with them downstairs and in the hall and even in the bathrooms and leave bits of it everywhere.

So imagine that you stop into the masjid for salat, and you want to do some sunnah prayers and dhikr before salat start in 10 minutes. So you walk in, take off your shoes, step over all of the shoes on the floor and not in the rack and put your shoes in the rack. As you are doing this at least 3 kids tear by you screaming about something. Next you open the women's entrance to the musallah and almost hit a baby sitting on the floor right inside the door. The baby is unattended and crying. You step in, pick up the baby, look around and notice that a woman has looked up and noticed you have her child. She motions you over. You hand her the baby, she calls to her 6 year old to come take the baby and goes back to chatting with her friends. You make your way past coats, food and toys on the floor to the front of the women's area so you can pray with the divider wall as a sutrah. As you make takbir and begin praying a ball flies in front of you followed by a child. You try to stop them from crossing in front of you but they are too fast. A bit shaken you carry on. Meanwhile there are 20-25 sisters 10 feet behind you having conversations is Arabic and Urdu at the top of their lungs. You try to focus and ignore the noise. While in sajood a child trips and falls over your feet landing on you. Again, you try to carry on. As you finish praying you look around to see if ANYONE noticed that their children just disturbed your salat twice. Of course not. So you spot the kids that ran in front of you and fell on you and you ask them who their mommy's are. They tell you and run off. So you go to introduce yourself and advise them of their children's behavior. As you finish speaking the sister's face is as blank as it was when you introduced yourself. She mutters a quick apology and goes back to her chatting. Sigh..... anyway, now its time for salat. We all line up, and the imam begins the prayer. The same kids that were running around before are still doing it. Some of them are old enough to pray but they don't. They scream, yell, fight, run, fall and laugh. Salat is over and you decide that doing sunnah prayers would be pointless, because you would have no concentration what so ever. You leave.

What emotion are you feeling right now?

So needless to say, my community is really difficult to deal with sometimes. The Imam tries to keep things under control but no one listens. Signs are posted, asking people not to make a mess, leave their children unattended or hold social gatherings in the musullah, but it never sinks in. I actually have met some very good sisters at the masjid (and my husband has met good brothers as well), but we as a group rarely go to the masjid because of what I described above. I used to have a tajweed class every Friday night at the masjid. We used on of the classrooms downstairs. About 15 minutes into class the kids would start coming downstairs and running around. They would yell in the hall, push the chairs over in the cafeteria. Rip things off the walls and cause havoc in the bathrooms. After a while we just decided to move the class to a sisters house and we never went back. Its sad but true. I wonder if its like this everywhere?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Corruption of Righteous Deeds

This past week in my Al-Qawaaid Al Arba class the lecture included corruption of righteous deeds. The idea was that man may do righteous deeds but then does something to corrupt or even negate it. One of the 4 categories of this is as follows:

One that does a sinful act, and is persistent upon it. So he does righteous deeds but is persistent upon minor sins. If he does not repent and dies upon this then this is like committing a major sin.

This really got me thinking. First of all, what is a minor sin? A minor sin is something which is prohibited but that does not have a punishment prescribed in Quran and Sunnah (correct me if I'm wrong). So do things like not covering properly, smoking, listening to inappropriate music fall into this category?

This is pretty serious stuff now. I think that we all lose track of minor sins. They don't seem so scary because there is no prescribed punishment for them, but as Allah swt said: you counted it a little thing, while with Allâh it was very great. ~24:15 . Little sins can build up, so we need to constantly be aware of what we do and be sure to repent.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Faith is Dearer to me than Fashion

I made this design a couple of months ago for my cafepress store. I'm the only one that bought anything with it on it! :) The Arabic word hijab actually translates to curtain or cover. Hijab to me, and to many Muslims is not just a scarf that covers your hair but a whole way of dressing modestly which includes wearing loose clothes that don't show the shape of your body. The dress 'code' for Muslim women is as follows:

1. Clothing must cover the entire body.

2. The material must not be so thin that one can see through it.

3. The clothing must hang loose so that the shape of the body is not apparent

4. The female clothing must not resemble the man's clothing.

5. The design of the clothing must not resemble the clothing of the non-believing women.

6. The design must not consist of bold designs which attract attention.

7. Clothing should not be worn for the sole purpose of gaining reputation or increasing one's status in society.

What I have noticed a lot of recently is the 'fashion' of hijab. Now before I start, I want to say that I don't think that everyone has to wear an abaya or jilbab all the time, but I do wonder about some of the clothing choices that sisters (and brothers) make sometimes. I have no problem with a floor length skirt and a top, but the skirt has to be wide and the shirt has to be loose. I see a lot of sisters that will wear a skirt with that mermaid shape and a shirt that has long sleeves but clings to their arms and chest. This does not conform to the modesty standards that we should adhere to.
I'm not really sure what the point is of trying to be 'fashionable'. What is the reason of trying so hard to make mainstream clothing work as a part of a Muslimah's wardrobe? It wouldn't be so bad if people would buy things a few sizes bigger so they didn't cling, but I get the impression that a lot of sisters think that if it covers their skin they are ok.

So, what is it for really? Are you trying to fit in? Impress someone? Feel beautiful? All 3 of these things have issues. Why do you want to fit in with the non believers? As #5 above says, we should not try to resemble the non believing women. The next reason I came up with was that perhaps we are trying to impress someone. Now who do we need to impress anyone other than Allah (swt)? He is the one that we are here for. We don't need to meet up to anyone elses standard but his. Finally, do we want to feel beautiful? Now this is difficult, because by nature, women feel better when the feel pretty. BUT as Muslim women, we need to remember that our beauty is only for our husbands and our family.

admit that when I first became Muslim I tried really hard to make things work in my wardrobe. I remember going to the masjid wearing pretty tight jeans with a tight zip up sweater.... oh and of course I put on a scarf. At the time, I was still new to Islam and thought I was doing ok... and for the time being I was. It was a step in the right direction. I gradually changed my way of dressing more and more. I would wear skirts and long sleeves shirts (somewhat clingy) and then I moved onto completely loose things, and then finally I just wore an abaya everyday, and let me tell you, that was the best choice ever. Its so easy. You just throw it on and go. You can be wearing anything under it.. it doesn't matter. And you are conforming fully to the modesty guidelines put forth by Allah.

Again there is nothing wrong with not wearing an abaya as long as you still follow the rules. I've seen some sisters really put some nice modest outfits together from clothing bought all at mainstream stores.

One other thing that I dare to bring up is the dreaded high heel shoe. I was a total addict to heels. I loved the way they looked, and they way I walked when I wore them. They made me even taller than I already was and it felt powerful! This all came crashing down when I heard someone at the masjid mention that they had read that we should not wear heels out of the house. I quickly went home to do some research and there it was!
Is it permissible for women to wear high-heeled shoes?

This is not permissible. It involves resembling the disbelieving women, or the wicked women. It has its origins amongst the Jewish women before Islaam. When one of them wanted to attend a gathering where her lover was present, she would wear a pair of high shoes for him to see her, being taller. Then after a time, those became high-heeled shoes. Further, that type of shoe changes a woman’s way of walking, causing her to tilt from left to right, and therefore, the wicked and unbelievers choose this type of shoe. Therefore, a Muslim woman following the Sharee’ah (Islaamic Law) should not wear high-heeled shoes; especially since many times it causes her to fall!

shaikh albani
Once again, this makes perfect sense. Why go through all the trouble to dress modestly only to wear a shoe that causes you to walk in a seductive way, but imitates the disbelievers. Inshallah I don't ruffle any feathers. I'm just making observations, and pondering upon them. May Allah swt guide us all to the straight path.

Monday, March 2, 2009


The snow started last night... light at first and then very heavy overnight. Of course school was canceled today (for my son and I) so we got another day off and a bit of fun as well. We went for a brief walk up the street but it seemed to be too much for my son and he wanted to come home... he kept saying snow was getting in his eyes!

It is days like this that remind me of the beauty that Allah has given us. A white blanket of snow 10+ inches deep covers everything, making it look clean and new. Everything is bright and beautiful as the sun reflects off of the snow. And then I remember that each individual snow flake is unique in design. Subhanallah!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

First Al-Qawaaid Al-Arba' Class!

Today was our first Al Qawaaid Al Arba class with Al Baseerah. It is very organized compared with some other online classes I've taken and the first lecture was great. It was all about the history of Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahaab.

I've always admired the work that Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahaab did. One of the new things that I learned from this lecture was that when he first started studying he copied by hand many of the books he studied to have for his own personal library. Can you imagine writing, word for word, the books of the great scholars like Ibn Taymiyyah? I also learned that once he found an Amir that would support him he was able to teach and spread his knowledge more easily. And this knowledge still is being taught today.

Unfortunately there are a lot of people who have the wrong idea about him and his work.

I am really looking forward to the rest of this class and I'll keep you posted on new things I learn.