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.

 

10 Tips for the Last 10 Days of Ramadan

We are winding down to the last few days of Ramadan. The last ten nights are said to be the most abundant in blessings, so naturally we should all strive to make the most out of them. If you feel that this Ramadan has slipped away, do not trick yourself into losing hope or stop trying to gain that state of bliss – it’s never too late! Here are some simple tips to help you to embrace the beauty of these last few days of Ramadan:

Worship all 10 nights

Try your best to go to the masjid, and even if you are unable to, for whatever reason, don’t lose hope and don’t feel bad! You can still 100% worship at home. If you feel like you are unable to worship every night, then try to aim for the odd nights. Laylat Al Qadr (the Night of Power) will be on any of the odd nights of Ramadan, and you don’t want to miss out! Focus in your salah the best that you can, stay in sujood for a longer period of time, talk to Allah (SWT), be grateful to Him, and make dua.

Give charity every night

Whether it’s donating money, clothes, food, or even just simply smiling and saying a kind word to someone, strive to be conscious of giving back in any way you can.

Make a list of duas to make

Sometimes writing out your thoughts can be super helpful in giving you a clear insight into who you are. Allah (SWT) has blessed us with so many duas for so many different occasions. Researching duas is great; Sujood.co is such an amazing site that allows you to easily search for the exact dua that fits any emotion you have. Remember, you can also make dua from your heart and just talk to Allah (SWT). Keep your loved ones, those who are struggling, and the ummah in your duas as well. Never underestimate the power of dua and always remember that Allah is near.

Pray two extra rakats every night

Make an effort to pray extra rakat at night. The benefit that follows with it is something that nothing else can replace.

Surat Al- Ikhlas

Although Surat Al-Ikhlas is one of the shorter Surahs, its benefits and message are powerful. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) told his companions,Gather, because I am going to read you a third of the Quran.” (Abu Huraya RA). After they gathered Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) recited, “Say: He is God, the One!” – Quran, Surah Ikhlas, 112:1. The Arabic root of the word ikhlas means, sincerity or purity. This concept is a running theme throughout the Quran as we are constantly being reminded to attain this state of sincerity in our faith, and genuinely believing that Allah (SWT) is One and nothing should be worshipped, except Him.

Keep your heart pure

If you find yourself having bad thoughts, make dua to Allah and recite any Surah (preferably Surah Al-Fatiha, Surah Al-Falaq, Surah An-Nas, or Surah Al-Ikhlas). If you’ve had a falling out with someone, sincerely forgive them in your heart. Remember, Surah Baqarah tells us, “Kind speech and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury.” (2:263). Be conscious of your actions and keep your intentions pure in whatever you do. You will find your soul becoming lighter in return, insha’Allah.

Keep your motivation up

Even if you feel like this Ramadan went by too quickly and you haven’t done enough, it’s not too late! Focus on these last few days and nights. Allah (SWT) wants to forgive you and during the last few nights He is the most merciful. Push through and turn back to your Rabb.

You don’t have to stay up all night for your worship to count

A lot of people feel like you have to stay up all night and worship throughout the night but Allah (SWT) knows what’s in your heart and if you are trying then that is enough. All of your efforts and all of your worship counts.

Memorize duas for forgiveness

Allah (SWT) could forgive you for any gesture of yours that he likes. Remember to make dua for forgiveness in these last nights of Ramadan. This website has great duas for forgiveness that are short and simple.

Eat light 

Eat light so that you are not constantly worried about breaking your wudu and you can focus on your ibadah (worship). But also remember to hydrate so you don’t feel hungry and are awake and focused!

Remember that any of the odds nights can be Laylat Al Qadr so in these final days give it your all! Ramadan is still in our grasp, and even when it leaves us, we should still strive to strengthen our faith in every way.

 

 

 

Surefire

Solidarity is important, especially in the current political climate. It is very important for all of us to stand together in the face of injustice. But calling me out when you see me at a CVS and telling me that “I’m welcome and I belong here” is not the right way. I’m sure that your intent is to make me feel better or safer but all you’ve done is make me uncomfortable. I was born and raised in the United States, a red state to be more specific and I’ve dealt with backlash my whole life. This is something that has been following me since elementary school. From a young age, I’ve known that I won’t be fully accepted in the only country I’ve called home. I will always be asked “where are you from?” and the answer “Miami” just does not satisfy them.

Recently, I’ve encountered people who come up to me and tell me that “you’re welcome here” and all I can do is give them a dumbfounded look. I know that they mean well but think about it this way… you’re calling me out in a very public place to tell me that you accept me. First of all, awkward… because now everyone is staring at me and patronizing me because it makes YOU feel good. It has nothing to do with me. You’re only doing this to appear to be a good person and frankly I don’t care for that. I think the problem here is that you are assuming that every Muslim you meet is either a refugee or an immigrant. Which is closeminded and ignorant. This current trend is off-putting to say the least because I don’t need anyone’s approval but you still feel the need to give it to me. This country has been mine and will be mine and your opinion literally doesn’t matter nor does it affect me in any way.

Speaking of bad methods of solidarity, let’s talk about John Legend’s new music video “Surefire.” I know the current political climate is tense and people are trying really hard to act “accepting” towards Muslims. Which I understand and I’m sure the intent was in the right place but honestly, what the hell was that?

So the video shows a young Muslim girl and a young Christian boy who are in love. The video goes through a montage of them hanging out and falling in love. When they get back to her house her parents catch her and her dad is SUPER aggressive towards the two of them. If I told my dad I was seeing a non-Muslim boy of course he would be confused and concerned but he would not be RAGE RAGE I FORBID YOU TO SEE HIM EVER AGAIN AND I’M GOING TO CALL THE POLICE ON HIM! This portrayal of the Muslim dad perpetuates the notion that our dads are aggressive and cannot be reasoned with. They are seen as people who you have to tip toe around and who see their daughters as people who cannot have their own opinions. Basically, you’re taking stereotypes and twisting them for your own gain. So how was that helpful?

Okay so then, her dad fires at the boy she is seeing then calls the police on him to get him deported. Um? So again you are reiterating the stereotype that Muslim men are aggressive and unreasonable because he doesn’t like the fact that his daughter is seeing a non-Muslim boy. How can you portray a man who is discriminated against, a man who understands the struggle of being a minority, to be bigoted towards another minority and call that a progressive music video?

Here’s the part that really gets me, so the Muslim girl decides to hitchhike to Mexico after she realizes that her boyfriend has been deported. As she’s leaving, her mom stops her and hands her a tasbee… LIKE HER MOM IS REALLY GONNA LET HER HITCHHIKE TO ANOTHER COUNTRY FOR A BOY? Mess. Because obviously if your mom is willing to let you go, she’d get you a flight instead and go with you. Again, this shows that Muslim girls don’t have a voice and that her parents cannot be reasoned with and that’s why she felt like hitchhiking to Mexico was her only option.

I didn’t find this video to progressive or helpful given the current political climate. This video was a bad job at showing a Muslim family and how issues are dealt with in our households. To someone who doesn’t personally know any Muslims this is the idea that you’re leaving in their head. 1. Muslim women have to sneak around to do anything. 2. Our mothers are submissive and cannot stand up to our dads. 3. Our dads are rage monsters who don’t listen to or value our opinions. If you have never been exposed to a Muslim family before this is what you will believe that all of our families are like. But in reality, Muslim moms are not submissive and they run the household. My dad is my bestfriend and most Muslim dads are some of the most compassionate and generous people. I can’t speak for everyone but that is the majority. Islam gives women rights and it was the first religion to do so. Women are held at a high standard in Islam. This video seems to just belittle all of that but showing us to be damsels in distress.

This video just takes stereotype after stereotype and displays it in the worst possible way.  John Legend is someone who constantly speaks out against injustice and understands how harmful stereotypes can be so why would he make a video just full of stereotypes is very confusing. There are ways to be an ally but this video was definitely not a way. After watching this video, I’m convinced John Legend has never met a Muslim before.

In the words of Johnathan Scott, “no renovation is better than a bad renovation.” And this video was a horrible renovation.

 

Ramadan Mubarak

Ramadan Mubarak! The month we all wait for every year is finally here. Ramadan is a great time to set goals and learn new things. There are things you should do and of course, there are things you shouldn’t, we hope that this list helps!

Do: Strive to learn new verses in the Quran

It’s always a good time to study and learn the meanings of different verses in the Quran. However, Ramadan is the perfect time to do this for many reasons. The Quran was revealed in the month of Ramadan so being close with the text is even more special during this time. Ramadan also always brings about so many helpful resources and people. Try to read the Quran every single day throughout Ramadan and grasp the tasfeer as best as you can. Try to learn more about one concept or theme in the Quran.

Do: Go to the Masjid

Go to the masjid even if you’re not that comfortable going, Ramadan is a good way to get comfortable going to the masjid and meeting new people. Breaking fasts with together can be a good time to bond and talk about your fasting experience.

Do: Aim to pray five times

If you’ve been struggling with meeting the five daily prayers, make a goal for yourself to try to pray all five. Remember, the sweat you come into Dhur prayer with is more beautiful than your tears when standing in Taraweeh. You can do it! Just remember that practicing Islam is supposed to be easy and simple and not a burden or overwhelming. Take baby steps if you have to. Your efforts and intentions weigh more than you can even imagine. Make dua to Allah (SWT) and insha’Allah He will make ways for you to meet the five prayers with ease.

Do: Give to charity

Ramadan is a beautiful month for a multiple of reasons. One great aspect about this time is that many great charities come to our attention, giving us the opportunity to help others in this blessed month for the sake of Allah (SWT). Giving to others all year round is something we should strive to do, Ramadan is a great stepping stone to get into that lifestyle. Here are a few great charities that you might be interested in donating to!: x x x x

Do: Be understanding

Ramadan is a month of many great blessings. It is not a time, however, to be harsh or hard with anyone. Be understanding of people who are in different stages in their life. Do not become impatient or cold with another simply because they are not living life in an according to what you deem as ideal. We’re all human and we’re all imperfect. Reflect on the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), and how understanding and compassionate he was towards everyone. Try and implement his characteristics and manners into your own life.

Do: Try and learn the 99 Names of Allah

Try to learn more about the meanings behind Allah (SWT)’s 99 Names. All of them are beautiful and powerful, but if you study the meaning of at least one Name and understand the significance, it could really help strengthen your relationship with Allah (SWT) because you’re getting to know who He really is.


Don’t: Ask someone why they aren’t fasting

There is no time that allows us to judge others, especially during the month of Ramadan. Everyone is going through different situations and personal difficulties.Someone could be going through personal mental or physical difficulties. Don’t ask or assume why someone isn’t fasting. You have no right to know, just worry about yourself, your fasts, and being the kindest, peaceful, understanding believer you can.

Don’t: Become the haram police

Don’t make this blessed month seem like a burden or a stressful month for others. Reflect on yourself before you try and police others. If you really do see someone engaging in haram actions, make sincere dua for them and try to lead by good, genuine example. Do not make people turn further away from Islam.

Don’t: Judge people who don’t typically pray, when you see them praying in Ramadan

It’s really simple. Don’t judge. If you see someone praying at all, you should be filled with joy. Even if it’s just this month where a person turns to salah, that is beautiful. At least they are worshipping Allah (SWT). We should never judge anyone who is in worship of Allah (SWT).

Don’t: Skip out on fasts or prayer

There are days when we feel like we don’t have the energy to get up and pray or fast. We are human and people have those days. But don’t waste a moment of this blessed month. Don’t miss out on your prayer and don’t miss out on your fasts. Allah (SWT) has blessed this month and it is extra special so don’t miss out on a moment.

Don’t: Make it all about food

We all know Ramadan is a beautiful spiritual time, make sure to enjoy each day of it! Take care of your health by eating a variety of nutritious foods at suhoor and iftar, but don’t make it about losing weight and deprive yourself of some good ol’ samosas – they’re good for your soul!

Don’t: Miss out on suhoor to sleep more

Both suhoor and iftar are necessary times for a successful fast. You can always sleep later! Don’t be lazy with your fasts. It’s a required part of Ramadan to actively take part in eating before the sun rises. Most likely you will be fasting for around at least 10+ hours depending on where you live. You want to make sure your fasts are valid so be sure to eat something before Fajr prayer!

Reflections: Women in Islam

For as long as I can remember I’ve always heard that women are oppressed in Islam, but I’ve always known that isn’t the case.

Continue reading “Reflections: Women in Islam”

Wanna Feature On Our Snapchat?

Things are about to get real. 

As you may already know, SpillTheChai is a platform started by two young Muslim-Pakistani-American women who wanted a space to discuss topics regarding the world, faith, or even just what bothers us. Over the course of just a few months, we have been able to garner other people’s interest in the blog. Alhamdulillah.

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