Monday, September 21, 2009

Update on lots of things

During Ramadan I wanted to write but never found the time, so here is a little update of what has been going on with me.

I started back to school teaching. It was right at the start of Ramadan so for the first few weeks of school I was tired and so were the kids. I am finally on Eid break and enjoying the quiet.

My henna business has been going slow but good. I had a chance to do a woman's event with another henna artist and it was great to meet her. The only drawback was that it was totally non Muslim. When I arrived, I checked in with the front desk to find out where I should go. Once I found my friend I excused myself to go pray and break fast. When I came back she told me that the event organizers had come over and asked her if I was going to wear 'that' the entire time, meaning my veil. My friend told me when I got back what was said. At the time I laughed it off, but the more I thought about it the more it made me angry. There were women there with various body parts hanging out for all to see, but because I was covered I was a problem? Other than that little issue things went fine and I had some great conversations with the ladies that I did do henna for. They all had questions about Islam and it was nice to share my art and give dawah at the same time.

On Eid day, we went to the early salat at the masjid. It was totally packed, I could not even get in and prayed in the hallway. Towards the end a few sisters came out early. One was wearing a sari with her somach showing... I just about died, but didn't say anything.... I was too shocked to even get a word out. After that a bunch of us went to IHOP for breakfast. The girls were at one table and the boys at another. It was so nice and peaceful to just be with all of these muslims talking about our Ramadan experiences and having yummy food! After that my husband and I went to the Eid carnival to set up to vend. He was selling books for and of course I was doing henna. We did well and were busy the whole time. I was sad to see so many sisters not covered but what can I do. I had one young lady come to me for henna and she was not covered at all, and wearing tight revealing clothing. As she was getting henna some of her other girl friends and some young men were making so much noise in the tent next to us. Then some of the boys came over to see what she was doing. I told them (nicely) that as young muslim men they needed to back about 10 feet off of this beautiful young girl and lower their gaze. They all laughed and talked about being told off by the niqabi! I then asked the young lady when she was going to cover, and she said soon inshallah. Now all of this was done in fun with them, nothing accusatory or rude, so it was a nice chance to give dawah to some young brothers and sister that obviously needed it.

So now I have a week off and so does my husband. We are going to take our son to the zoo tomorrow inshallah... If I have any fun stories from that i'll let you know. :)

Friday, September 4, 2009

I know a Muslim who.....

I've been participating on a henna forum recently. I mainly go to it to get design ideas, ask questions about essential oils, and see other people work. There are so many talented people that post on that site, mashallah.

When I first joined the site, I noticed there were a few other Muslim henna artists so I decided I would ask for their help with how to deal with a few issues I was concerned about. I submitted a post with a few questions to the other Muslim artists. I asked them 3 things

1. How do you deal with not being able to henna men? (I have a festival coming up and I wondered if I should post a sign saying women and children only)

2. How do you deal with not doing images of animals or people in your designs?

3. How do you deal with not doing religious symbols in your designs?

I didn't exclude the non Muslims, and actually said they could give advice as well. I did get some confused responses from non Muslims about not henna'ing men. They said that they had done bridal henna for Muslims where the groom also had them put henna on them. I explained that not all Muslims follow the rules, but in general we should not be touching or be touched by the opposite sex that is not a member of our family.

What shocked me was a response from an artist that said she was Muslim. She posted "Why not henna men? There's nothing written against it." When I read this response my jaw hit the floor. Nothing written against it? Of course there is. I was not sure she was Muslim at that point so I asked and she said she was. I looked at her links and confirmed that indeed, she had no problem with henna'ing shirtless men, doing animal designs and pagan symbols. I know that not everyone that says they are Muslim follow Islam like I do, but it always makes me cringe when one Muslim contradicts another 'in front' of non Muslims. It just adds to the confusion. It gives them a 'I know a Muslim who....' story to tell.

A couple of weeks later a very nice woman submitted a post about being invited to do henna for an Eid event. This artist is not Muslim and was asking for some tips on what to expect, and any advice. I wrote back to her and said that most Muslim men will not get henna from a woman, and they don't usually shake hands with women. I also said that she might want to avoid bring pattern books with animals or any religious symbols. Innocent enough I thought, until another non Muslim artist came and posted that "
Jamila's is a very strict interpretation of Islam". She went on to say that while in Morocco she saw many men getting henna from women and she did some herself. Now first of all, my interpretation of Islam is not 'strict' in the sense that most non Muslim people would think. Its not even my interpretation! Its that of the top scholars of the religion. I follow the religion as best I can, and as closely as I can. Its not strict, its, well... its right! Later in the same topic another artist posted this: "By the way I'm Muslim and don't have any problems at all hennaing men/boys/animals etc". Again I check her links to her work and yes, she does henna men and animals.

The two Muslim artists that said they had no problem henna'ing men also have another important thing in common. They don't cover. So I guess if they don't think they need to follow Allah's command to protect themselves with hijab, why would they bother following his command not to touch non machram men?

My whole point to this post is that its unfortunate that we have Muslims out there that don't feel it necessary to represent Islam in truth. They have no problem contradicting other Muslims on things that are clearly supported by Quran and sunnah. You notice that they don't qualify their statements by saying that they don't fully practice Islam. They only want to justify their own disobedient behavior.

I ask Allah to guide them to the straight path. To protect them from sin, and bring them peace.