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.


Stacy aka Fahiima said...

Its frustrating because it seems like they are trying to push you into having the same low standards as them.

What would you think about doing henna on a guy if you were wearing gloves so that you weren't really touching him? Oh and specify that you will only do henna on certain body parts :)

As for the figures, you could just say that you only do abstract/tribal and floral inspired designs. I think that would be aggreable to most people.

I think most people would be respectful enough to understand why you wouldn't want to do a pagan symbol or depict a Hindu goddess in your design. At least your hijab should tell them that you are Muslim right away so there will be no guessing :)
I hope your business will continue to grow.
I got some henna supplies and have been practicing a little here and there, so soon I will try to post some pics inshaAllah.

Jamilah said...

Asalamu Alaikum Fahiima!

I am looking forward to see your henna, its really fun isn't it?

As for gloves and men... Its not only about touching them, but about proximity. Henna'ing someone is sort of intimate... you are so close to them while you do it. I don't really 'touch' people when I do it anyway, but I'm right there with them so I would feel so strange with some dude there.

A.H.Z said...


You are right about not 'henna'ing men. You shouldn't. It's not right. It's a Quranic Ayat of Sura Nur, 29 or 30. I am not sure. Do check, but it commands the muslim men and women to lower their gazes. Much has been written on this matter by many renowned 'Aalims'. I'll provide you with a link to one of the books.

Its understandable that if we arent suppose to stare at men, then putting henna on them? Common sense.

Pay no mind to those people who call you 'strict'. I knew their was a girl that argued that she would never observe nikab because our religion teacher never did. Its all nonsense considering that there are lots of non-Muslim teachers in universities that teach the Quran and Hadith.

Apart from that, the statement, 'I know a muslim that...' has no meaning because us muslims have one person to follow, Prophet Muhammed(SAW), himself.

Here is the link:

Oh and Henna is a great art. I am sort of allergic to the smell because I start sneezing right there but my sister is real good at it! She has her henna portfolio too, on Window Live Spaces. Cool thing.

Anonymous said...

Men not getting henna is not just about touching them. Henna designs is something feminine for WOMEN, and men should not imitate women and vice versa.

Stick to your path Jamila. Ignore the ignorant when they bray like donkeys. Don't let them get to you.

Anonymous said...

As-salaamu 'Alaikum wa Rahmatu Allahi wa Barakatuh wa Ramadan Mubarak ukhti.

Subhana'Allah, what an unfortunate thing to happen. May Allah Subhana wa ta'ala guide the ummah upon al-Haqq.

I was in a sort-of similar situation, in which I was reminding a sister about some music she was listening to (reggae). She was 1-not from the Caribbean culture, and 2-not familiar enough with Rastafarianism to get that reggae lyrics are filled with shirk. All I told her to do was to mind what she listens to, sings to, etc etc. All of a sudden I got a thunder roar and was told I was an extremist. Subhana'Allah...I'm just looking out for people fisubilillah. She doesn't cover either, and in fact, dresses and acts on the other side of modest---just going by what I observe. I guess you can only expect so much from some people and make du'aa' for them (and be there if ever they are ready for a certain kind of living).

Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji'un. I can't let my feelings be hurt forever over that.

I just say, live as an example Sister Jameelah, insha'Allah. And make plenty du'aa. May we ALL be guided upon the Straight Path.

As-salaamu 'Alaikum wa Rahmatu Allahi wa Barakatuh

Skye said...

salaamz sis
one minute i just need to pick my jaw up off the ground since i was utter amazement about what the not going to say anything coz everything u have written is right and those women should be ashamed,its these types of people that make it harder on muslims that acutally try there hardest to practice and follow islam...insha'allah allah swt will forgive them..takecare sis. wsalaamz

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

yeah I can see what you mean. I think it would be very awkward, esp. depending where a guy wanted the design. Its nice that guys from Muslim cultures generally leave henna to the ladies, except for on their beards and hair of course :)

Brunsheska said...

As salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullah!! insha'Allah, you and your family are well!! Sister, I love coming to your's soo soothing* AL hamdulillah for everything!

Candice said...

It is surprising that they don't mind doing henna on men! I would not feel comfortable doing henna on men... Or get henna'ed on by a man. As you said, they should classify themselves as "not-so-practicing" Muslims instead of giving this impression of Islam to non-Muslims on the board.

Angeliquez said...

salaam sis..
i guess this is the time we were foretold about..
the time in which the dunya becomes a hard place to live for real Muslims..

i live in a country where people call themselves 100% Muslims,but we niqaabis are rejected just because of what we choose to wear..
our beliefs about relations ships with non mahram men,and just as you said,our belief regarding this thing about drawing pics of of animals/people are frowned upon and ridiculed a lot..

but i am happy to know that you are standing by what you believe,Masha Allaah!
Stick to what you believe..

May Allaah bless you and guide you and make things easy 4 you insha Allaah!

AlabasterMuslim said...

Argh that is soooo annoying! I can't stand when people trying and say the true Islam is not true, just 'strict'. Its like hello if you sin just admit you don't follow it properly, don't LIE.

Shamsuddin Waheed said...

As salaamu 'alaikum,

Hope all is well with you, especially as Ramadan comes to a close.

This is an interesting post. I actually read it twice to make sure I was understanding it right. They have female only salons, and since henna is basically a tradition involving females, I don't understand for the life of me why men would even want to be involved.

If you get into placing henna on men, then it really becomes tricky business. It's not a medical issue or something which could be justified, it's just inappropriate as a Muslim to be in a situation which would be too 'intimate" with the opposite sex [not to mention that henna is for women anyways].

Yes, place a sign at the festival saying "women and children" only. That's logical.

As for the symbols and animals you mentioned, I'm not sure how you could handle that. It's problematic at best for a Muslim to, for example, put a cross on someone. Perhaps have a sign saying what you are able and unable to do? Word it in such a way as to not cause offense, and trouble further down the road. Maybe you could recommend alternatives to their suggestions, flowers or something?

NoortheNinjabi said...

Salaam alykom wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,
It's sad when standing up for what one's religion actually says brings others to call you extreme. I've found the henna community to be, shall we say, "less devout" for the most part, which is very unfortunate. On the flip side, there's a niqabi that does mashaAllah gorgeous work, but she doesn't advertise. The sign idea would probably be a good one!

(And btw, I looked at your site. MashaAllah sister, you're incredible!!!)

The Light of Mercy said...

It would be wrong to judge a religion by the actions of its adherents.

A Room of Her Own said...

Salam alaikum Jamilah,

I am happy to have read about you on the Oasis site and thought I would come on your blog to say hello.

About the above topic...I look to the positive and beautiful things that come out of my learning, but every once in a while, I too am confused.


elgooggagi said...

Assalamu alaikum sister..

Muslim Bridal Wear said...

Hi, I wasn't aware that Muslim men would get their hands henna'ed too. I am Muslim from the US, and I have not come across this during festive occasions with the Muslim males in my immediate family. For instance, the groom does not get his hands done with henna while the bride does?

Do grooms in the Muslim world get their hands henna'ed too?