Reflections: Hijab

Short. Simple. And to the point. Liberation lies in your right to choose.

There is a common misconception that wearing a hijab equals oppression, but why is this the standard way of thinking? Who said that dressing modestly makes me a victim of oppression? Western media and society enforces this idea on us that the only way a woman can be “liberated” is if she’s constantly “sexy.” However, this idea is severely flawed as it is just another mechanism that oppresses women through objectifying them. We are being taught to portray ourselves as desirable for men. That fact alone is extremely disempowering and validates the male gaze and a patriarchal society, even further. My existence and worth is not measured by how much I appeal to men. Living in such a hypersexual society can be difficult and complicated for someone who chooses to dress and act modestly.

Over the course of years it’s become a trend to liberate Muslim women by telling them that they must take off their abayas, modest clothing, and hijabs to be truly “liberated.” But let’s focus on that word; liberation, which is defined as the act of setting someone free from imprisonment, or oppression. But when did my hijab become something that was keeping me imprisoned? I made the conscious decision to wear the hijab at 20 years old. I came to this decision by myself, without anyone pressuring me to wear a scarf. And that is exactly why most women in the west wear hijab because it is THEIR choice.

Honestly, this decision is hard enough and we (hijabis and non-hijabis) could all do without your ignorant questions. If we don’t wear hijab, we’re too “modern” and “not Muslim enough” and if we do then we are “prude” and “backwards.” My hijab is none of your business. I never understood why other people felt the need to butt in and tell others how they should dress. The patriarchy reiterates the idea that women dress for, go out for, do their make up for, etc. for men. So this is why our hijabs become so controversial because we wear them for Allah (SWT).

No matter how you choose to dress, liberation lies in your choice. Respect my right to choose the same way I respect yours.

 

Reflections: Focusing During Prayer

I feel like one of the most common struggles that many Muslims face in their faith is concentrating when they are performing their five daily prayers. It’s no secret that we all lead different lives, filled with different struggles and situations, but at least we are all granted the blessing of stepping away from all of the commotion to submit ourselves in prayer and remembrance of our Creator. The importance of our five daily prayers is so reinforced, but often times we are not given adequate information on the significance of it all, which easily leads us to lack true understanding and connection with our prayer and with Allah (SWT).

We’ve all been there – we’re reciting Surah Al-Fatiha, but simultaneously our mind is wandering off without us even realizing it. Soon enough, you completely lose track of what rakat you’re on and don’t even feel the least bit connected to the words you’re reciting. It becomes a dreadful cycle and you begin to see your obligatory prayers as a chore rather than the blessing and relief that they are. So, how do you get out of the funk? Here are some simple, but effective ways to help you get in the zone while offering your salah!

Wudhu

Wudhu is literally like the pre-requisite before your salah. Don’t rush your wudhu and just splash water on yourself. There’s great significance behind even just “throwing water” on ourselves. Wudhu has been made for us to not only purify our physical selves, but also our mental and emotional states. If we heard, said, or saw something that maybe wasn’t the most beneficial for us, wudhu gives us the opportunity to completely wash away those “bad things” and start fresh. This isn’t just some made up notion, it’s literally the significance of ablution in Islam. Cleanse your mind, as well as impurities on your physical self with wudhu. Who wouldn’t want to be clean and purified before they face Allah (SWT) in salah?

Surah Al-Fatiha

We all know Surah Al-Fatiha and know the jist of its tafsir, but do we really know it? Yes, we hear it and recite it so often, I mean it is “The Opening” to the Quran! However, Surah Al-Fatiha is literally the crux of your salah. We recite it in every prayer, every rakat must start with it, but what does it really mean? It’s important to really delve into the tafsir of this surah and understand it’s power and relation to Allah (SWT). Here is one tafsir of the surah that has really impacted my perspective on it. Learning the tafsir really helps you focus on every single ayah you recite because you truly are understanding the beauty and significance behind it.

Set the mood

It almost goes without saying that in order to succeed at something, you must have the mindset prepared for it. Research has proven that with any tasks that you do, 80% of the success has to do with your psychological state and only 20% has to do with the actual action of it. Before you even start your takbir, really get yourself into the fact that you are standing before Allah (SWT). Envision nothing, but Him and the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) watching you. Not to sound morbid, but sometimes even thinking about how this could be the last prayer you pray on Earth, can help you focus on praising and remembering Allah (SWT) throughout your salah. If you’re going through something, take a moment before salah to just breathe and allow your mind to refocus away from your problems and on Allah (SWT). He is the only helper and protector to us, and that is so comforting to remember.

Don’t make distractions for yourself 

If you’re a girl, you know the struggle of trying to pray with a hijab that is loosely or haphazardly tied. You begin to be more focused on the scarf on your head slipping off than your actual prayer. Make sure to securely tie your hijab before you start your prayer so this doesn’t happen to you! Also make sure the area around you is somewhat tidy, we all tend to get shifty eyes here and there (may Allah forgive us), but the chances of this happening are less if you have the ability to clean up.

Look into the tafsir of different surahs

Learning about and understanding the meaning behind Surah Al-Fatiha is important and should be an act we constantly revisit. However, it is also valuable to research the tafsir of other surahs and duas you recite during your salah. Looking into the tafsir helps us understand the context of what we are saying and inevitably connects us to the prayer and focusing on Allah (SWT) even more. Here are some reputable sources to dive into tafsir of various surahs, plus many more great topics in Islam that can surely benefit you during your salah and in life in general:

Bayyinah Institute

Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research

We all make mistakes, and it’s important to remember that Allah (SWT) is the most Merciful and that He understands our struggles, whatever they may be. As long as you are sincere in your approach to Islam and seeking out a stronger connection with Allah (SWT), you are never at a loss. Salah is supposed to be an ease and comfort in this stressful dunya. Therefore, we should approach it as so, and not look at it to be a burden. Insha’Allah you continue to seek out ways to hold on tightly to your salah and your faith. If you have any good tips on making your salah more meaningful, let us know down in the comments below!

Reflections: “Ramadan Muslims”

Muslims are not a monolith. We all come from different places and experience different struggles. No two Muslims feel and live life exactly the same – and that’s beautiful. What’s not beautiful is when people start openly judging one another on how “pious” the other is. People have actually coined the term, “Ramadan Muslims” as an ongoing “joke” of some sort. The implication is not so nice. Ramadan, unfortunately, has become the battleground for this atrocious behavior.

So, what is a “Ramadan Muslim?” Apparently, it’s supposed to label Muslims who seemingly only practice Islam during the month of Ramadan. Meaning, they pray five times a day, fast, don’t swear, eat halal, and overall, put a halt on their haram lifestyles during the month. So many people are so quick to judge these Muslims so much so that it has become an ongoing joke. What’s so funny about someone worshipping Allah (SWT) the right way?

If someone actively gives up a lifestyle in which they are so engrossed in during the other 11 months of the year, how is that laughable? These “Ramadan Muslims” sacrifice haram choices and actions for the sake of Allah (SWT). At least they recognize the great importance and blessing of this month. At least they are worshipping in some way, even it be in the smallest of ways. In addition to that, what if this was the Ramadan that turned and guided the heart of someone who was on the wrong path in life? Allah (SWT) guides whom He wills. We should never feel as if we have an authority to judge those who are striving to please Allah (SWT). This month is not for judging, it’s for reflection. Reflect upon yourself, reflect on the Quran and apply it to your own life. Do not mock others for worshipping in the blessed month of Ramadan. Surah Al-Hujurat tells us,

“O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one’s] faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers.” – Quran, 49:11

We should feel joyful and comfort seeing others practicing and praising Allah (SWT). If “Ramadan Muslims” are such an “issue,” let’s ask ourselves, why? Everyone goes through different circumstances, but what are we, as fellow brothers and sisters in Islam, doing to help? If anything, we should be the ones trying to perfect our manners. We should try to implement and renew the characteristics of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) into our own lives. If anything, we should help other Muslims see the beauty in Islam, by setting beautiful examples of what it means to truly be a believer. If we can’t do that, then at least we should make sincere dua for those fellow Muslims who are struggling with balancing deen and dunya.

It is understandable that the dunya distracts us all, but that does not make anyone a hopeless case. Everyone gets caught up in life and we sometimes neglect the most important part of our day – our prayers. Then, when Ramadan comes we’re suddenly reminded that we’re Muslim too and start praying five times a day, fasting, and going for Taraweeh. Many of us have been victims of this behavior. I used to get caught up with school and work and would sometimes just skip over my prayers, but then in Ramadan I would pray five times a day and then go back to my old ways when the month was over.

Why neglect your prayers outside of Ramadan? I think a big problem is that people get caught up in this dunya and don’t focus on deen until later in life. I’m looking at you Pakistani folks in particular, as it’s almost a part of our culture to do so. Why is it that we focus more on education and marriage rather than our deen? That’s a reason why some of us become “Ramadan Muslims,” which is sad, but it’s true for a lot of people.

An easy way to break this continuous cycle is to think of each prayer as your last prayer. Not to be morbid, but anything can happen at any given moment and nothing in this life is guaranteed. It’s important to think of each prayer as your last chance to repent and please your Lord. There are three ways that have helped me keep my deen up and aware of my prayers. First, go to the masjid as often as you can, either for Jummah prayer or a weekly lecture. Second, download the Muslim Pro app and turn on the notifications. This way you’ll know exactly what time each prayer is. Try to pray immediately!!! Get up and go pray as soon as you hear the adhan – this will seriously affect you in making all five daily prayers because you won’t put them off or eventually forget about them. Lastly, learn at least one new thing about Islam every day. It can be anything, read a hadith and ponder it’s meaning, read a page of the Quran, read an Islamic story about any prophet, literally anything that you can. Once you find yourself learning about different topics in Islam, your love and devotion for Allah (SWT) can only grow from there, insha’Allah.

Let’s make this Ramadan the best one yet. Let’s not judge one another on how outwardly pious the other is. Instead, let’s reflect on the true meaning of Ramadan and understand other people’s struggles. Let’s find our innate love for this deen and Allah (SWT), while also allowing the best version of us to come about in this month and let it manifest throughout the rest of our lives, insha’Allah.

10 Holy Grail Beauty Products

Hi, I’m Priyanka – a beauty and lifestyle blogger at GlamourAndGiggles, which is all about trying new beauty products and makeup. I have tried tons and tons of products but these are my must haves! Continue reading “10 Holy Grail Beauty Products”