Between Dusk and Dawn…

Some *scribble* *scribble* by Ameera

Monthly Archives: March 2010

No, My Hijab Isn’t Glued On

I’ve been a Hijabi for a couple of years now, Alhamdulillah. When I think back to my first attempts to take the head-c0ver in an environment where it was something just not done anymore, it was a time of great excitement for me. I was passionate about covering up and, looking at myself in the mirror, I’d feel an Iman-rush that I was doing it exclusively for Allah(swt), even if people didn’t approve.

Fastforward to the present where the Hijab has now become something so inherently part of me that I’ve almost begun to take it for granted. When the doorbell rings or when someone visits, I instinctively reach for my dupatta to drape it over myself before a Non-Mahrum walks in. The Hijab extends to male cousins as well so I cover up in pretty much all family occassions like parties and weddings. Although my Hijab is basically about covering my head and wearing full-sleeved dresses, not a separate coat or abaya, it’s still pretty distinct because in public, I’m not without it (Alhamdulillah).

Even after all this time, when I’ve also gotten used to the Hjiab, there are occasions which bring some Hijab-specific thoughts to mind. Lately, it’s been about dressing up and beautifying myself. Many people automatically assume that if you’re a Hijabi in public, you’re always like that, even when you’re at home or, ridiculously enough, when you go to sleep at night! Someone asked my sister, also a Hijabi, “So are you like this even when you’re just with your sisters?”  Where do these ideas come from?

I’ve had such experiences of my own too. It’s as if Non-Mahrams, who’ve always seen me covered since I started the Hijab, and even many women think that once you start taking a head-cover, you just glue it on! It’s like the end of all your feminine desires to dress well, wear trendy clothes, style your hair, apply make up and so on. Maybe that’s part of the reason some girls are reluctant to take the Hijab – they see it as symbolizing the demise of their feminine side and forever living life like a nun!

How can that possibly be? The Hijab only magnifies the joy of dressing up and the purpose of beautifying yourself. Only a Hijabi can truly appreciate why Allah(swt) laid down the principle of revealing your beauty only to Mahrams. It’s not a free-for-all show anymore, where I become a show-piece, a star attraction for all the men in the world to feast their eyes on. In fact, that beauty now becomes something even more precious and exclusive to only those people with whom I am secure and safe… my Mahrams. I don’t have to worry about lewd stares that make me conscious of my hair rippling in the wind or that my arms are on open display to strange men.

Coming to another point… that of dressing up at home or around Mahrams. This is something that draws another kind of interest from people. So I like jewelery and I lovee to wear it when I can… nothing wrong with that, right? I wonder why it is then, that sometimes ladies and even Mahrams (may Allah guide them) point it out in a negative sense when they see me a little dressed up at home? Some seem to think it is because I feel “deprived” in my Hijab and I’m desperate to find an outlet for my feelings somewhere, hence the dangling earrings. Another confusion that’s in peoples’ minds is that you don’t need to beautify yourself at home. These people believe it’s important to look your best in public but when you’re at home, it’s okay to slack off – no wonder so many housewives present a very sorry picture at home but are seen in the most dazzling attires at weddings and other functions! How do their husbands recognize them on such occasions? He he!

I just have this to say… if I like to dress up and I’m doing so in a Halal way, without making a display of myself where I shouldn’t, there is absolutely nothing “odd” about it! In fact, just because other people find me odd, it doesn’t make my actions wrong in any way, as long as I adhere to the Islamic principles. And it’s not because I’m repressed, oppressed or suppressing my feelings in any way. I’m happy to present a good and well-dressed appearance to my Mahrams. Likewise, I hope to do so in my role as a wife too, InshaAllah… and guess what, that’s not only Halal, it’s a highly recommended Sunnah too. That’s how the Wives of the Prophet(saw), the Ummahat-al-Momineen lived too!

We forget that Allah(swt)’s decisions and commandments to us are full of unfathomable wisdom and the best way to live our lives. What He has asked us to do is never, in any way, a punishment. It’s only to make our own lives easier and more enjoyable on this earth. I wish women would realize this and beautify themselves in the right manner, for the right reasons. Makeup, nail-polishes, lipsticks, perfumes, gem-studded hair combs, bracelets, anklets, dangling earrings, bangles… all of these are Halal but adorn yourself in the right manner. That’s also one beautiful way of expressing gratitude to Allah(swt) for the perfect manner in which He created you!

Recommended reading: The Ideal Muslimah by Dr Mohammad Ali Al-Hashimi


Matters of the Heart

There have been times, both in the recent past and even further back, when I found myself cringing over a particularly embarrassing memory. Why, oh why did I say such-and-such a thing? What was I thinking when I did that? Logic couldn’t explain what had gone wrong on those occasions so all my attempts to somehow “think” the situation out just didn’t work. It made me wonder if somewhere in my brain, the wiring just wasn’t right and I was destined to encounter these goof-ups all throughout life.

Being red-faced and embarrassed over past incidents, especially those that led on to other incidents, can really get you down. If it was a certain person you said something to, it will keep coming back to you every time you meet that person. Sure, it might be long forgotten and everyone’s now cool with it, but you always wonder how your words or behavior at that particular incident may have molded a different image in the opposite person’s mind… forever!

It was pretty awkward for me to recall those times when I acted in an unusual way or said something I regretted later, so much so that I began to just block them out of my mind. However, one day I set out to find a real answer: what made me act so uncharacteristically at certain times, with certain people? How could I be totally relaxed and confident with a certain set while become a social klutz with some others? I could be myself, laugh and make others laugh, joke around, speak my mind with people I was okay with while with others, whatever the reason, I made blunders, said odd things and later wanted to bang my head on something, wishing for an “undo” button!

But today, I have an answer. Alhamdulillah, finally, finally, finally… I know what triggers my “clumsy” trait. It’s my heart. Yes, it all begins with the heart! The very reason I sometimes make mistakes in my dealings with people is that, in one way or another, they hold a special position in my eyes. They’re people I like, admire, those who inspire me, those I’d like to learn from and to please… basically, people who matter most to me. And that’s where I mess up: trying to do things the “right” way with these people, I try too hard and trip over my feet!

There you have it. It doesn’t sound as bad as it did before this explanation emerged. I know the popular belief is that you should be able to really be yourself around people you really care for. However, I feel that comes at a later stage, when you know the other person so well that you can anticipate the situation and say things or act accordingly, all from your own heart. But before that, when you don’t even know what makes someone happy or what irritates them, you naturally tend to be careful with every step you take… and that’s where being extra careful can backfire!

Perhaps the take-home message here is that whatever you do, if you do it with a sincere intention and you really care for someone, those blotch-ups won’t stand in the way of a lasting relationship. If you’ve gone and said something that really irked a friend without your intending so, swallow your ego, apologize and look ahead. It’s hard but worse than what you did is to give yourself a harder time over an innocent mistake. Maybe you made a really stupid remark about politics in front of an elderly relative or spoke out of turn in a specific social setting. Maybe you tried too hard to make a new friend and made weird conversation. It can all be cleared up if you forgive yourself first.

Knowing this now, I realize that you should always be yourself, as much as possible, even with people with whom you want to be extra careful about your words and deeds. If other regular people in your life are easy to get along with and you sail through your relationships with them, is it not possible that those extra special to you might like the same version of you? Calm and confident, pleasant, easy-going, flexible… the YOU that YOU are!

That’s my heartfelt intention, that’s the way I’m going to operate now on, Insha’Allah, as much as I can. 🙂

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