STANCE of a MUSLIMAH

Our Lord! You truly know all that we may hide in our hearts as well as all that we bring into the open, for nothing whatsoever, be it on earth or in heaven, remains hidden from Allah. {Quran, 14:38}

6/06/2006

Unveiled Fact

The thing that inspires me the most in my life to improve my ways, lifestyle, and reflect on the ongoing scenarios and situations that life has for me is reading through Quran, and learning about the gestures of Prophet Muhammad, his family, and companions (peace and blessings be upon them). I can’t help but imagine what, or who, and how I would be if I were part of that society, amongst the first of those to witness the prophethood of the Last Messenger of Allah. With Allah’s wisdom, I was born more than 1,400 years later and now I have been blessed by the use of my fingertips and mind, typing on a thing we call a technological advancement, laptop. I am certainly no better than they were, and yet Allah gave me this tool to learn, maybe teach, and definantly to communicate. But as much as I am blessed, I am even more assessed. Anyways, this isn’t about how times have changed and all. Actually, something totally different.

Although Angel Gabriel said these words (below) to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), this Verse is directed to all of humanity as an order to be educated, and a lesson for those who reflect that knowledge does not come from me or you, only our Creator, He is the Source of all knowledge.

"Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists), [Has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood). Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous, Who has taught (the writing) by the pen (the first person to write was Prophet Idrees (Enoch)Has taught man that which he knew not." {Quran, 96:1-5}

Islam places an enormous responsibility on gaining knowledge through education. Here in the West, the phrase that often comes to mind is “knowledge is power.” Only recently, has it been granted a right to everyone in seeking it. Not too long ago the color of one’s skin determined if such a privilege should be given. Then of course the common hearts of the people denied access to this “power” to people like me, women. If these supposed righteous leaders had studied history they would have witnessed that Islam gave this right and responsibility on everyone who claimed to love Allah/God. Isn’t ironic that this “highly advanced” society just recently came to terms with this ancient law? Isn’t also ironic that a western proud civilization that thrives on education feels self-sufficient without paying dues of glorifying the Most Generous? Glory belongs to Allah.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught us:

“The seeking of knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim.”
All knowledge comes from Allah, if we know something, learn a skill, are able to accomplish a task, even as simple as lacing or tying shoes, it is because Allah has given us the ability to coordinate our finger tips, poke them through the holes of our sneaks with such precision, accuracy, and pressure so not to fumble it all together. We can’t take pride in something like that. A baby who has that tight reflexive grasp is what the health and sciences call an important step of motor development, but it's more than that, it can be looked at as form of security Allah promises that child when held on tight, or perhaps the baby's form of worship to God. If we just stop for a second, and contemplate that everything in this life, every single tiny spec of a “useless” piece of object we have in possession, is actually a thing of value that we are tested by, then maybe we can begin to think out of the box, and really appreciate things for face value, rather than hypothesizing this and overlooking the simple things, pure things, true things, and purposeful things we are allowed to interact with and feel.

Before I lose myself again, let me get to my point. I’ve been studying Niqaab lately. Trying to figure it all out. I do not wear it. For those who don’t know, it’s the face veil that some Muslim women decide to wear, and if done for the right reason, it is to preserve modesty, but a little more than the headscarf and long Islamic woman’s dress. Years ago, even after I began wearing hijab (scarf on my head with loose clothes) people would ask me about ‘Niqaab’. I would ignorantly respond that those in Saudi, or seen on TV from other parts of the world are doing it because of culture, and I would just leave it at that. Maybe it wasn’t only my ignorance, but maybe it was my fear that if I told them many Muslim women choose to cover their faces and wear black that they would view the stance of Islam as something oppressive to women, and even girls. If I had thought of it, I would have to challenge my disrespectful view of it, and maybe I just didn’t want to have to deal with that. Maybe I wasn't brave enough to really comprehend Niqaab's meaning, or even partial meaning of it. May Allah forgive me.

From time to time I see them, and say “Salaam”. You know, those women wearing all black, covering their faces, and I just didn’t understand, nor did I find it necessary too. I knew that in Islam a woman needs to cover everything modestly (meaning no skin tight this or that) except her face & hands, and I was doing it. I Praise Allah for guiding me in doing that.
It was almost 4 years ago that my ill-represented thoughts changed completely. Having visited the best places on Earth directly impacted my relationship with Allah in ways that I can not explain. Makkah & Madinah. Over there distraction from worshipping Allah is completely minimized. There was no room to gossip, no excuses to get in the way of praying Fajr on time, even with my 13 month and 2 ½ year old daughters. None of that happens there, and there was no desire to do anything or think of anything but of the Hereafter. When my eyes laid on the aerial view of the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, while landing my excitement was one of contenment and gratitude for being invited to this place. My attachment began then, and it continues to this day. Alhamdulilah. I again have to praise Allah for instilling this love in me for the grounds that our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and my role models, the Mothers of the Believers, lived and died in. May Allah send peace and blessings upon them.

Modesty is a distinguishing characteristic of true Muslims. Both men and women. So a Muslimah here in the US or West who wears hijab and dresses as commanded by Allah/God in Quran, might be seen who isn’t as modestly dressed as women over there in the state that is mostly run by Islamic Law/Shariah (with some exceptions ofcourse). I remember being in the airport in Jeddah, saying to my husband that if Allah invites me to come here again, I would wear Niqaab, and now I say, black too. Wearing a long white scarf with white flower designs (you know those that anchor down to the wrists) and my faded peach very loose dress (jilbaab), lowering my gaze, I still felt somehow exposed as it seemed like every other woman was much more covered than I. Here in the US, I could care less if I stand out, because I know that I am still much more modestly dressed, and this is a commandment of God. In a weird way, dressing im my jilbaab gives me a sense of gratitude that I am a Muslim, and grants me confidence in helping others learn about this great way of life, Islam. Over there though, although my dress still accepted by God, I didn’t want to stand out because I knew that modesty of that culture is emphasized, rightfully so. The culture over there is based on Islam, and the thing that makes Islam different from other faiths in the way it is practiced today is modesty. (Although we know that Modesty is also demanded in both Christianity and Judaism). It’s like if you associate yourself with people who are doing positive things, you tend to be encouraged in doing positive things yourself. People are social beings and social support is something we all seek out. Invited to a wedding we dress up because its “socially important”, or having some sort of business meeting we see men in ties and jackets, because that is “socially important”. To fit into an all-American lifestyle we keep an eye on what ‘Gap’ says is cool or what the latest ‘Old Navy’ feature is. If we wear it just for the comfort, then we wouldn’t fear wearing things that don't fall into the mainstream. But if we wear it just for the sake of fashion, then what does that say of us? Followers of what exactly? We all do it, and maybe even Muslim women who wear Niqaab do it too. But the honorable thing is, they do it within their limits of exposing their physical beauty Allah has given them. These women are free; they need not live their lives based on the opinions of Sarah-Jessica Parker, or supermodels like Tyra. They value themselves enough to demand respect and wish not to be seen as anything less than the honorable position Allah has granted them. They are doctors, teachers, engineers who study, work, hard and yet they know that their roles as mothers, wives, daughters, and caretakers are of the most important. This is the nature of any woman, but some women, maybe most, deny them and adopt other desires that do not fall into the role of true femininity. If we could open up our minds and hearts we could understand that just because a woman chooses to cover her face out of modesty, does not make her oppressed. Allah tells humanity in the Quran that believing women should cover so not only for the sake of modesty, but so they may be known! Muslim women are teachers of Islam to the world. If people could negate their misconceived notions and just look & listen unbiased, they might be able to see the proof of wisdom behind covering all up. If they could see a historical view of great women figures of the past, they would see them too all covered-up and successful as physicans, business-women, etc. Let's not forget the first person to accept the Truth Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) related was a woman, the first 'Muslim' after him was a woman! What God wills. Islam came to rectify the mistreatment of women, and one way was to defend her natural stature of modesty.

To rectify my ignorant explanation of Niqaab. I’d also like to state very clearly , it is a religious 'extra' women may choose to do in Islam, and if done for the sake of Allah then there is reward with it too. Some women choose to cover their faces here in the West. You may have even seen them. But rather than thinking, wow, she’s a ghost, a ninja, oppressed, repressed, she’s this or that.. Just think , it might be that it is that woman who is granted eternal bliss, in Paradise, because she aims at following her natural inclination of preserving her modesty. She may be one who is an architect who designs a bridge connecting the continents! Or one who Allah allows to find the cure for Cancer. Or even the most compassionate liberated mother of 6 who has patience beyond belief!! Her heart is left for Allah to judge, and for you to look at to reflect upon. If what’s in the heart that counts, and many of us believe this, then why do we oppose a woman who chooses to hide her physical beauty?


The most gentle, kindest women I have ever met in my life were those in Madinah. At the entrance of the women’s section of this noble, illuminated place, which actually seemed like a palace, my sisters were stood. Women guards all in black with only a peak of their eyes expressed gestures and words were pleasing to my baby girls as they said ‘awe & ooh’, Islamic style, praising the Creator of my daughters, and supplicating God to protect them. I’ve had a few turning points in my life, and the women of Madinah were tools that Allah Chose to instill in me a deeper love of being a part of the Muslim community, but even more so a feeling of serenity of being a Muslimah. May Allah send my family & me to Madinah again. I got the sense from these women that they were free, they taught me a deeper sense that a woman should be judged according to her deeds and not her fashion sense.

I can’t say that I would never wear Niqaab. I must acknowledge that the best women of all time wore it, and if my goal is to be like them, then Niqaab has to be a consideration. Knowledge is the enemy of ignorance, and ignornance does nothing for Islam but glorifies oppression amongst other things. Rebel against stupidity to discover the Truth from the lies. Know Islam, know Allah, have an open heart and seek knowledge. To make assumptions is to suppress righteous actions and behaviors. We will never be better without His Help.
Please click on the title of this post to read profiles of women wearing niqaab, it might just challenge us to look at them differently next time.

May Allah strengthen the belief of all Muslims and may Allah bring those who are not Muslim into guidance. May Allah keep us steadfast in doing the right thing, for Him and no one else. Ameen.

10 Comments:

At June 06, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Suhaa, I enjoyed your post and appreciate your idealism, but public life in Saudi is not based on Islam. The Saudi government is mired in corruption, greed, and repression. Saudi citizens are some of the most wonderful people I've met in my life, but their government has a long way to go.

As for niqaab, it radically decreases a woman's participation in the public sphere. When the cartoon scandal broke out, I saw a European Muslim woman, carrying a racist sign, and wearing niqaab. This woman will never have to own up to the __expression of hate politics that she carried out that day. Why? Because her face was covered. Niqaab is infantilizing to such women, it teaches them nothing about social responsibility, quite the opposite.

A very good friend of mine is married to a woman who wears niqaab, and while I respect her choice, I will never approve of it. Her husband doesn't either. She chooses to restrict herself in this manner, and while she does it for a number of reasons, not the least of them feeling closer to God, she also understands that she won't be a fully functional member of a changing society until she faces up, literally, to her public role. You CAN be a spiritualist and an active member of society. At the very least, you should have that choice. My friend's wife does. A lot of other women don't.

 
At June 06, 2006, Blogger SUHAA said...

Hello Natalia
Thank you for stopping by my blog, and for the points you made. I'd like to respond to them here. Many people do not approve of censorship, and I assume this is why I do not get many comments on my posts (or at least i can blame it on that!). Let me first explain that the reason I screen responses is not because I do not appreciate that people have varied views than that of my own, it is because I know there are many people who believe everything they read without investigation and my mission is to paint the reality of what Islam is and clear any misconceptions of what Islam is not, we all know there are many of them out there.
This is why I labelled you as anonymous, esp. after checking out your web page that has contrary things to Islam, not the least "your" photo.

Please allow me to comment here on your response to my post. The first point you made is of Saudi not being based on Islam, and you have gone so far to criticize the government describing it as one of corruption, greed, and repression. Honestly, I think these characteristics can be found in any society on earth, Saudi too. However, as negatives can be pointed at in Saudi, endless ones can also be found in the immoral cultures of the West where crime of all forms is multiplied. Truly there is no utopia...in this life. Let me explain something, In Islam, an important concept of hiding a mistake, a sin if you rather call it that way, is encouraged if one repents to God. Because Islam (i'm not saying Saudi, I'm saying True Islam) puts a responsibility on each individual towards society, man or woman, it stresses importance on not making corruption an easy thing to hear, see, taste, feel or touch..By doing so it slowly breaks a hatred towards wrongdoings eventually with the acception of people's hearts that bad deeds are ok things. Make sense?

About Niqaab being against "social responsibility". The demenor you see of women in black with nothing to show physically, ironically demonstrates a rebellious attitude towards oppression of women who are following vain desires of this world. As for the woman you saw holding up a sign of racism, well she may not be the ideal Muslimah. Allah judges what is in the heart, and for a woman to be rewarded by God for dressing modestly, whether just long sleeves & long skirt, or a hijab to go with it, or Niqaab, then that purpose can be for no other sake than to please Allah. For a woman to draw attention to her body by wearing short shorts, a bikini top while rollerblading down the shoreline..where would be the social responsibility there if morality is the issue??

Also, about your friend's wife, I'm not sure if you are aware of the social interaction of men & women in Islam, but it is not encouraged nor even allowed. It seems as if your friend is seeking out your attention for a friendly relationship that I question his wife may not be aware of? I mean not to pry. Allah sees the intentions of every single person, you can not say that her intention is not to please God...He only Knows that..and for the record, I know that people do things for the wrong reasons, but I bet that many people who are going to strive to do something difficult like wear niqaab are doing it for the right reasons, especially in places of the West.
May God guide us all.

 
At June 07, 2006, Anonymous misfit said...

A'kum, a good entry Suhaa.

Although the niqaab is not compulsory, it helps us in many ways, so it's a good thing if we wore it. But then again, it takes lots of courage and to be able to willingly give up "a part of your life"... i'm sure you know what I mean. I don't wear it, but I always admire those who do, they have my respect. Insya Allah, I hope I will do so someday... even then not, I will at the least, stay true to my intentions.

Insya Allah.

 
At June 07, 2006, Blogger SUHAA said...

giving up a part of life that gets in the way of earning extra points with Allah may require more courage, but if that is overcome, then those check marks that we earn that aren't cumpolsary will work in our favor infront of Allah when our scales are weighed.
May Allah help all of us be granted His Mercy in this life & the next.

jazakAllah kheir for your input :-)

oh, and for every good deed we do for seeking Allah;s blessings and reward..we DO give up part of life. this is the essence of Jihad: a struggle of even the minor ones, to please Allah, even if its as simple as turning the tv off at the sight or sounds of corruption.
this is why i, like you, can't cross the issue off my list of things to do, inshaAllah..

may Allah make us succesful in staying true to our intentions in pleasing Him and draw others to the beauty of Islam , for what it really is, and not how it is always presented by others.

 
At June 08, 2006, Blogger Mama Muslimah Baby Muslimah said...

Assalamu alaikum, MashaAllah your post was very enjoyable to read. I appreciate your idealism--I´m usually shot down for being idealistic, so it´s nice to see it from someone else sometimes.

While I don´t agree with everything that goes on in Saudi Arabia...especially with the government...I agree that you will find problems in every government in every country of the earth...big or small, the problems are there.

I also don´t say that niqab is compulsory...but I think that it is the best way that a woman can cover herself.

I also don´t think that it´s niqab that restricts a person...rather the society that a person lives in. Here in the "west", I´d probably be ostracized by a lot of people, even Muslims...and then there´s the possibility of someone publically "attacking" me for it. MashaAllah, I am very proud of my sisters who have the courage to wear it here...whatever their reason.

Fi aman Allah.

 
At June 08, 2006, Blogger SUHAA said...

asalaam alaikum warahmat Allah, 'muslim mama muslim baby'. yeah, gov't issues i have too of Saudi, and you made a good point of the niqaab thing..its not the niqaab that limits a woman, its the society that surrounds that woman. But with everything done for Allah reward is given this is His Promise. Many women who wear niqaab, such as those who wear hijab have broken sterotypes..probably most of them too.

its unfortunate that things can be quite backwards..

 
At June 09, 2006, Anonymous Um Ibrahim said...

When i went for Hajj I started thinking about if I should wear niqab. I searched my heart for what is right (after hajj your heart becomes clean and pure) and these are my feelings on it:

1. Here in America, in public, i didn't feel the need to wear niqab because i felt that the hijab headcovering and modest dress was enough to let others know that i'm muslim and not to mess with me. Because the American men see women much less dressed than me everyday as a common thing. If you read the ayah in the Qur'an about hijab - it's so you will be 'known' and not molested.

2. The only times my heart 'felt' that my face should be covered was in the shared staircase in the masjid where the women and men would have to walk down the same staircase after prayers and in the entrance to the masjid in the shared hallway. You see, Muslim men are different in that they see the hijab as something beautiful. And when you're in a mixed setting in the masjid you feel uncomfortable being so close to men. My solution was to just bring up a piece of my scarf to cover half my face whenever i 'felt' the need to. But unfortunately i didn't act on my feelings more than a few times yet but now that i'm reminded of it i will try to do that from now on inshaAllah. subhanAllah how easy one can ignore their hearts!

3. I also felt that if i ever moved to an Islamic country that i would wear niqab because over there the men think hijab is beautiful and that is what they see commonly everyday so to show that i'm 'really' muslim and not to mess with me i would have to dress a step above the others. But perhaps a khimar may be enough, as my aunts have begun to wear (it's like the top of the prayer outfit), but we'll have to see then inshaAllah.

 
At June 09, 2006, Blogger SUHAA said...

mashaAllah, i respect your points um'ibrahim, and am with you on those for the most part. but i have to say that Islam is Islam where-ever it is, in the West or in Makkah, Sunnah and Fard do not change..and although it would be a hard thing to wear niqaab here in the US than it would be in Saudi or a so-called Muslim nation, this does not take away from the benefits of wearing it to please Allah.
In terms of wearing the khimaar..the long hijab that flows to the wrists..I am half way there too. :-)
may Allah guide us and everyone, Muslims or not..to the beauty of Islam.

 
At June 10, 2006, Anonymous Mona Um Ibrahim said...

Yes, Islam is Islam and Niqab will always be bonus points wherever you wear it. What i was aiming at is muslim woman can 'use' the niqab to their advantage in some situations. Everything that Allah asks us to do has a purpose and benefit and niqab has its benefits too. People think that you have to wear niqab all the time or none of the time. I believe that you can wear the niqab in any situation where you feel uncomfortable, and remove it other situations.

 
At June 10, 2006, Blogger SUHAA said...

perhaps you are right um'ibrahim as niqaab is not mandatory. but but I don't think this was common practice of the believing women in the days of Rasullilah (as)(to reveal their faces infront of men). Do u know? educate me if so! hmm, i need to look into this inshaAllah

jazakAllah kheir for your comments

Allah Knows Best.

 

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