Wearing the Hijab for the First Time
Essay by Najla Ghazi Amundson
I was born and raised in Akron, Ohio, to Muslim parents from Aleppo, Syria. We lived in an upper-middle class suburb, predominately white and Christian. My parents had doctoral degrees. Dad was an engineer at a large company and mom stayed home with my younger sister, brother, and me. My parents spoke Arabic at home and we responded in English. Our family did not attend Mosque, we did not fast nor did we celebrate Muslim holidays. The women in my family did not wear hijabs. But I knew I was Muslim. My parents taught me that being Muslim was a way of life. I learned about my religion when I asked questions, when I listened to my parents converse, from the rules of our home and the choices I was taught to make. My religion was also strongly tied to my ethnicity. To be Muslim was to be part of the Arab culture.
I grew up during the 1970s and 1980s, during the overthrow of the Shah of Iran and the Iran hostage crisis. That’s when Nightline first went on the air and Ted Koppel began each show with the number of days the hostages had been in captivity. Then the oil crisis. Neighbor kids would tell me my family should go back to where we came from and ask why my Dad didn’t wear a rag on his head. Just as I emerged as a new television reporter, the first Gulf War erupted. My beat was the local Air Force base. Most of my reports focused on National Guard troops being shipped off to Iraq. Then, there was 9/11 and now we have the ongoing “War on Terror” making Arab and Muslim synonymous with terrorist and anti-American.
I maintained a particular identity and I guarded it heavily. As an elementary student, I didn’t look like my blonde-haired and blue-eyed classmates, but I tried to appear like them as much as possible in clothing, hair, behavior, and talk. This emphasis on mainstream appearance hit a high in college when I represented my state in the Miss America Pageant. I also had chosen a career in broadcast journalism and became a well-recognized figure in my community as an evening television anchor. My position placed an emphasis on appearance.
As I saw it, the only way to relate the “I” to “we” was to blend into the dominant culture. So as I got older and gained more control over my own decisions, I took the route of least resistance. I spent much of my life not discussing my religion, or even my ethnicity. My parents knew what I was doing and so did I. They never said anything. I am sure they were ashamed of my choices. But some things are difficult to talk about. I wasn’t strong enough to be without a “we.”
The decision to wear the hijab and write an autoethnography came about quickly. I came up with the idea about a year ago, but decided the timing wasn’t right. The night before the fall semester began, I was home with my husband, children and one of my friends, Anna (also a graduate student). I brought up the idea again and Anna enthusiastically encouraged me to follow through on it.
I wasn’t so sure. Read the rest of this entry »
Hijab is a ‘challenge to the political system’
While Hijab may have political implications, as evident in the banning of Hijab in certain countries, Muslim women who choose to practice Hijab are not doing it to challenge the political system. Islam encourages men and women to observe modesty in private and public life. Hijab is an individual’s act of faith and religious expression.
I am liberated from slavery to ‘physical perfection’
Society makes women desire to become ‘perfect objects’. The multitudes of alluring fashion magazines and cosmetic surgeries show women’s enslavement to beauty. The entertainment industry pressures teens to believe that for clothes, less is better. When we wear Hijab, we vow to liberate ourselves from such desires and serve only God.
I don’t let others judge me by my hair and curves!
In schools and professional environments, women are often judged by their looks or bodies-characteristics they neither chose nor created. Hijab forces society to judge women for their value as human beings, with intellect, principles, and feelings. A woman in Hijab sends a message, “Deal with my brain, not my body!”
I feel empowered and confident
In contrast to today’s teenage culture, where anorexia and suicide are on the rise, as women attempt to reach an unattainable ideal of beauty, Hijab frees a woman from the pressure to ‘fit in’. She does not have to worry about wearing the right kind of jeans or the right shade of eyeshadow. She can feel secure about her appearance because she cares to please only Allah.
I feel the bond of unity
Hijab identifies us as Muslims and encourages other Muslim sisters to greet us with the salutation of peace, “Assalamu Alaikum”. Hijab draws others to us and immerses us in good company.
In some Arabic-speaking countries and Western countries, the word hijab primarily refers to women’s head and body covering, but in Islamic scholarship, hijab is given the wider meaning of modesty, privacy, and morality. The word used in the Qur’an for a headscarf or veil is khimār.
‘Those who harass believing men and believing women undeservedly, bear (on themselves)
a calumny and a grievous sin. O Prophet! Enjoin your wives, your daughters, and the wives of true believers that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad) That is most convenient, that they may be distinguished and not be harassed. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.’
Proper Hijab means loose and opaque clothes. Clothes should not be alluring or similar to the clothing of men. What about guys? Islam outlines a modest dress code for men and women. The requirements are different based on the obvious physiological and psychological differences between the two genders.
Hijab does not apply only to clothes. It is a state of mind, behaviour, and lifestyle. Hijab celebrates a desirable quality called Haya (modesty), a deep concern for preserving one’s dignity. Haya is a natural feeling that brings us pain at the very idea of committing a wrong..
The Prophet (s.a.w.) said:
“Every religion has a distinct call. For Islam it is Haya (modesty).”
Since nothing but what is apparent may be shown (i.e. hands and face) the garment must be thick enough so that we cannot see the color of the skin it covers or the shape of the body. Once the Prophet (pbuh) saw Asma, the daughter of Abu Bakr, visiting Aishah while Asma was wearing a dress that was not thick enough. He turned his face away in anger and said:
“If the woman reaches the age of puberty, no part of her body should be seen, but this,” and he pointed to his face and his hands. Another time when the Prophet (pbuh) saw a bride wearing a thin dress, he said, “She is not a woman who believes in Surat-un Nur who wears this.” He also described the future condition of the Ummah which would be straying from the injunction of the Islamic dress code. “In later (generations) of my Ummah there will be women who will be dressed but naked on top of heads (what looks)like camel humps. Curse them for they am truly cursed.
A letter from a Christian to Muslim women
By Joanna Francis
Writer, Journalist – USA
A letter from a Christian to Muslim women
March 7th, 2007
By Joanna Francis
Writer, Journalist – USA
Between the Israeli assault on Lebanon and the Zionist “war on terror,” the Muslim world is now center stage in every American home. I see the carnage, death and destruction that have befallen Lebanon, but I also see something else: I see you. I can’t help but notice that almost every woman I see is carrying a baby or has children around her. I see that though they are dressed modestly, their beauty still shines through. But it’s not just outer beauty that I notice. I also notice that I feel something
strange inside me: I feel envy. I feel terrible for the horrible experiences and war crimes that the Lebanese people have suffered, being targeted by our common enemy. But I can’t help but admire your strength, your beauty, your modesty, and most of all, your happiness. Yes, it’s strange, but it occurred to me that even under constant bombardment, you still seemed happier than we are, because you were still living the natural lives of women. The way women have always lived since the beginning of time. It used to be that way in the West until the 1960s, when we were bombarded by the same enemy. Only we were not bombarded with actual munitions, but with subtle trickery and moral corruption.
They bombarded us Americans from Hollywood, instead of from fighter jets or with our own American-made tanks. They would like to bomb you in this way too, after they’ve finished bombing the infrastructure of your countries. I do not want this to happen to you. You will feel degraded, just like we do. You can avoid this kind of bombing if you will kindly listen to those of us who have already suffered serious casualties from their evil influence. Because everything you see coming out of
Hollywood is a pack of lies, a distortion of reality, smoke and mirrors. They present casual sex as harmless recreation because they aim to destroy the moral fabric of the societies into which they beam their poisonous programming. I beg you not to drink their poison. There is no antidote for it once you have consumed it. You may recover partially, but you will never be the same. Better to avoid the poison altogether than to try to heal from the damage it causes. They will try to tempt you with their titillating movies and music videos, falsely portraying us American women as happy and satisfied, proud of dressing like prostitutes, and content without families. Most of us are not happy, trust me. Millions of us are on anti-depressant medication, hate our jobs, and cry at night over the men who told us they loved us, then greedily used us and walked away. They would like to destroy your families and convince you to have fewer children. They do this by presenting marriage as a form of slavery, motherhood as a curse, and being modest and pure as old-fashioned. They want you to cheapen yourself and lose your faith. They are like the Serpent tempting Eve with the apple. Don’t bite.
I see you as precious gems, pure gold, or the “pearl of great value” spoken of in the Bible (Matthew 13: 45). All women are pearls of great value, but some of us have been deceived into doubting the value of our purity. Jesus said: “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you” (Matthew 7: 6). Our pearls are priceless, but they convince us that they’re cheap. But trust me; there is no substitute for being able to look in the mirror and seeing purity, innocence and self-respect staring back at you. The fashions coming out of the Western sewer are designed to make you believe that your most valuable asset is your sexuality. But your beautiful dresses and veils are
actually sexier than any Western fashion, because they cloak you in mystery and show self-respect and confidence. A woman’s sexuality should be guarded from unworthy eyes, since it should be your gift to the man who loves and respects you enough to marry you. And since your men are still manly warriors, they deserve no less than your best. Our men don’t even want purity anymore. They don’t recognize the pearl of great value, opting for the flashy rhinestone instead. Only to leave her too! Your most valuable assets are your inner beauty, your innocence, and everything that makes you who you are. But I notice that some Muslim women push the limit and try to be as Western as possible, even while wearing a veil (with some of their hair showing). Why imitate women who already regret, or will soon regret, their lost
virtue? There is no compensation for that loss. You are flawless diamonds. Don’t let them trick you into becoming rhinestones. Because everything you see in the fashion magazines and on Western television is a lie. It is Satan’s trap. It is fool’s gold.
A Woman’s Heart
I’ll let you in on a little secret, just in case you’re curious: pre-marital sex is not even that great. Read the rest of this entry »
Beauty Tips for Muslim sisters….
My dear sisters in Islam,
Please take a look at this advice, so that you can stay attractive and beautiful for the rest of your life.
1- To beautify your eyes, lower your gaze towards strange men; this will make your eyes pure and shiny.
2- To beautify your face and make it shiny, keep doing wudu minimum five times a day
3- To have attractive lips, always mention Allah and remember to speak the truth.
4- As for blush and rouge, “Modesty” (Haya) is one of the best brands and it can be found in any of the Islamic centers.
5- To remove impurities from your face and body, use a soap called “Astaghfaar” (seeking forgiveness of Allah) this soap will remove many bad deeds.
6- Now about your hair, if any of you has a problem of split ends, then I suggest “Islamic Hijab” which will protect your hair from damage.
7- As for jewelry, beautify your hands with humbleness and let your hands be generous and give charity to the poor
8- To avoid heart disease, forgive people who hurt your feelings.
9- Your necklace should be a sign to pardon your fellow brothers and sisters.
If you follow these advices given to you by the Creator, you will have a beautiful and attractive inner and outer appearance.
Abu Mas’ud ‘Uqbah bin ‘Amr al-Ansari al-Badri, radiyallahu ‘anhu, reported that the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, said:
“Among the things that people have found from the words of the previous prophets was: ‘If you feel no shame, then do as you wish.’”
May Allah help us all, and show us the right path…Ameen….
As Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in western countries, many of the female converts who choose to wear the hijab or scarf find it difficult to obtain nice scarves or other islamic clothing. However the internet is now becoming a source for us to purchase items online, but getting the word out is not always easy. Here are two sites which offer a variety of good types of hijab and other islamic clothing for you to consider.
A WOMAN’S BEAUTY IS IN HER DIGNITY AND SELF RESPECT
THE TITLE AND VIDEO SAY IT ALL…… IF YOU THINK THAT AS A WOMAN YOU ARE REALLY TRUELY FREE THINK AGAIN. THIS WOMAN EXPLAINS SO ELOQUENTLY HOW ISLAM AND HIJAB GAVE HER WHAT ALL WOMEN DESERVE!