By the lilies

By the lilies I sit
late evening, alone
with cool air wafting
through the quiet of our home

by the lilies I sit
they are so graceful
so strong
from a bud, they burst like sunshine
and hold on for so long

by the lilies I sit
they have beauty
and such style
subtle colour, pale ombre’s
deep rich greens
perfects whites

by the lilies I sit
at a table
with unlit candles
the clock ticks
I hear it echo
a precise ongoing ramble

by the lilies I sit
in peace
with Gods creation
gentle fragrant company
flawless beauty
without imitation

by the lilies I sit
as their time like mine does pass
with each ticking moment
drawing closer to the last

And I wonder if these petals
will be clinging come the morn
how many will remain
how many will just fall….

knowing its just days and hours
till left with wilted stems
they’ll return to the earth
and somehow grow again

by the lilies I sit
thankful for sweet moments we were near
a brief silent friendship
that I somehow hold so dear

Goodnight, sweet blooms
until the sun, until the dawn
when we shall continue on our paths
for that which we were born

(c) Copyright KJ Saunders 2014

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Hijab Cool on Hot Days

How to stay cool in the Aussie summer in hijab!      

With the mercury set to hit 40C  (104F)  in Sydney today,  and 42C out west, where most Sydney hijabi’s live,  and seeing the title of this blog pertains to temperature,  its only right to include tips on keeping cool in hijab.  Don’t miss Number 5 – my secret weapon against the heat.

1.  The Maxi Dress

Fortunately its not just the 70s that love these things.  Earlier this century Maxis made a comeback and due to their supreme coolness and comfort I am pretty sure they are here to stay.   Long, loose, flowing, breezy.  You can’t beat them for staying cool and covered. Spaghetti straps are especially good.    I love this Chloe Trapeze Maxi in INK from Sportsgirl,  its very light weight, completely opaque.

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Fabulous Maxi dresses from Sportsgirl.com.au from $99.95

2.   Cotton wide leg or harem pants

Keeping cool and modest, underneath your maxi go for  light weight loose cotton pants.  Cotton absorbs sweat, prevents possible chaffing and maintains total coverage.  Fortunately harem pants are everywhere at the moment.   SES Fashions were doing really light harem pants in a multitude of colours  for around $10 not so long ago (which we all know is in fact a long time in the fashion world).   Wide leg pants not so easy to find at the moment (unless you go for some PJ pants lol) but if you’re handy with a sewing machine you can whip them up in half an hour.  Whilst you will find pants in a wide range of fabrics, I really do recommend sticking with 100% light weight cotton.

Lounge pant from glassons.com $49.95

Pants from Glassons.com

3.  Light Cotton Shirt or Cardigan

Stick with the 3 L’s when choosing your sleeved garment – Long, Loose, Lightweight.  Tempt and Valley Girl in Australia usually have cotton shirts in a multitude of colours,  or try this batwing style from Glassons.com

Batwing cardigan from Glassons.com $29.95

Batwing cardigan from Glassons.com $29.95

4.   Chiffon or Soft Polyester Hijab

Hijabs in chiffon are barely there,  or you could choose soft polyester as shown below in this one from Hijab House.  (I don’t recommend tying it in a big bow around your neck though, go for more straight forward pinning).

http://hijabhouseonline.com.au/beige-plain-hijab.html

Beige Hijab from Hijab House Online $19.95

5.   The Wet Headband

This is it folks.  Be cooler than non-hijabis on the hottest of hot days.  Simply dunk your headband under a nice cold tap,  ring out most of the water and put on before heading out into the sunshine.  The great thing about this is thats it portable – that is – you can refresh (re-wet) your headband on the go, just pop into any ladies room whilst out and about.

I’m not sure how this goes with pre-sewn headbands or caps,  but I work this tip with headband strips which I make myself because I find caps and pre made headbands too loose.

DIY Headband strips -  All you need is a piece of fabric and pair of scissors.

Buy stretch poly cotton off the the roll.   You only need 20cm for 2 headbands.  (Most shops will sell you this and it will only cost a dollar or two).

Try Spotlight, Lincraft,  or that charming little Asian shop in Chester Hill on Waldron Road down near the corner of Campbell Hill Road.  (The lady always gives Salams, and she’s not Muslims, God bless her!)

Taking your 0.2 metres of fabric, fold in half length ways then cut.  Now you have 2 strip headbands.   No sewing required.  With these homemade strips you can control the tightness of the head band around you head.  The wetted knot on the back of your neck will also deliver continual coolness!

A collection of DIY headband strips.  Worn wet  or damp will keep you cool on a very hot day

A collection of DIY headband strips. Worn wet or damp will keep you cool on a very hot day

6.  A breath of Fresh Air

This is a tip for every girl, hijab or no hijab.  Keep this handy Lush toner water in your handbag and spritz your face for ‘a breath of fresh air’.  Divinely refreshing and lightly fragranced with aloe, rosemary and rose.

Keep a small one in your handbag for on the go spritzing

Keep a small one in your handbag for on-the-go spritzing

7.  The Coolness of Iman

Let us not forget the coolness of faith (Iman) that comes with being Muslim.   Inner peace through submission to the Creator of the universe and all that exists,  daily prayer, giving all your worries and griefs to God helps keep you cool as a cucumber on any day.

FROM http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2014/03/125982/please-forgive-me-poem/

At peace with yourself, the universe, God

Have a great day no matter what you wear!   Peace.

http://scanfree.org/how-to-wear-hijab-with-hat/

Large floppy straw hats are a stylish way to keep the sun off your face

17 Benefits of Hijab

From time to time I discuss what life is like being a hijabi with non-Muslim women.  That got me thinking and I started working on a BuzzFeed post.  Here’s a sneak peak of my list of positives -

  1. No more bad hair days  On any given morning, getting ready for work for the hijabi (wearer of hijab) involves scraping hair into a pony tail and fixing with a few bobby pins. Theres not alot that can go wrong. (I just won’t mention bad scarf days… oh.. oops!)6727625_s
  2. Save time in the morning We ladies can spend at least an hour blowdrying, hairspraying, primping and preening before being anywhere near ready to face the world. But seasoned hijabi’s can go from jammies to out-the-house-ready in 10 minutes or less!    16578071_s
  3. Still running late?  Wear your PJs to work! How? There is a long loose flowing overgarment dress that most Muslim women own at least one of, called an ‘abaya’ or ‘jilbab‘.   You just throw it on over any regular clothes, add a scarf and voila, you’re done. It’s not unheard of when running late for work or uni to just throw one on over your jammies and head to that early morning uni lecture or even the office. Super comfy too!abayas-and-jilbabs
  1. Be fearless with new hair colours Ever wanted to dye your hair a brazen bold new colour but felt worried it might go wrong, or that you won’t have the confidence to strut into the office on Monday morning with a drastic new look? Doesn’t happen.21065063_s
  2. Save a fortune on sunscreen  Unless you spend alot of time sans-hijab in your own backyard, your friends pool or on your private beach/tropical island, and considering most face moisturizers have a built in SPF, the need for chemical laden sunscreen is pretty much zero. Long, loose, light opaque cotton works just fine thanks!22124143_s
  3. Preserve your skin  This benefit cannot be understated. Whilst we all need a dose of sunlight, constant exposure is damaging to the skin in the long term. Keeping most of your skin shielded from the suns harmful rays the most of the time, preserves your bodies largest organ and keeps it wrinkle free for much longer, not to mention few or no sun spots!           14349772_s
  4. No-one talks to your chest  Ever get all tizzied up to go out, or wear a low-ish cut top to work and find, um, men, er, like, kinda talking to your décolletage area? In hijab people are given no other option than to to speak to your face, and no other option but to judge you based on your skills, intelligence and personality. No sexy overtones here folks! 32835264_s
  5. Eliminate summer beach body anxiety  So winters is over, spring has sprung and summer is a page turn of the calendar away. Are you panicking about being beach body ready yet? Are you on a low carb-hi-fat-fasting-gluten-free-dairy-detox doing 500 sit ups a day? Does the thought of exposing your pale dimply thighs in public give you a wave of mild anxiety? Have you booked in for your tanning chemical spray yet? Doesn’t happen.Ahiida-Burqini-Swimwear_-Bondi-beach
  6. Save on maternity wear  As the hijabi wadrobe contains jilbabs, abayas and lots of ‘maxi stuff’, and less fitted garments, when those procreation years arrive your baby bump is already covered, so no need to splash out on maternity outfits (cue Musilm breeding jokes…)                              Pregnant woman holding shopping bags isolated
  7. Keep hair pollution free  If you live in the city keeping your hair wrapped up all day protects it from the smog and fumes. As an added bonus, it gets a mini moisturising treatment everyday in its own natural oils.              12450844_s
  8. Screen bad odours  Hanging lengths of the headscarf can come in very handy in the presence of bad odors, like when you go into a not-so-nice smelling public toilet, or when someone drops gaseous remnants from last nights mexican dinner in a confined space.6591467_s
  9. Block out the world  Lets face it, not everybody you walk past is nice and on occasion someone might murmur a little something when they walk past a migrant or other or lady in hijab. Good thing those layers dull soft whispers and you never get to really know if they said what you think they said. So there is absolutely no need to get upset and have your day ruined then. (and yeah… I see the oxymoron in this point :p)                          13078840_s
  10. Avoid cat calls  Walk in peace.We have all seen the viral video of a woman walking around New York all day in humble jeans and t-shirt. S he was the recipient of 108 cat calls, leers and propositions.A week or so later someone decided to repeat the scenario, this time with a woman walking around New York all day in hijab. She went about her business like a ghost, no one gave her second glance.

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    Nothing to see here people…

  11. Get celebrity treatment at the salon  Even in todays instagram world, who really wants to be seen through a shopfront window with a headful of foils?  Some hairdressers in areas with a Muslim population provide a private service for hijabis.  Get whisked off to your own private room at the salon!
  12. Feel a tad royal on occasion  The hijab tends to impute an air of respect and one may find blokes apologising for expressing expletives in ones presence. One does feel touched.                                23762842_s
  13. Go hands free  Save on bluetooth with this terrific money saver.
  14. Increase self esteemA recent study in the UK found that women who wore hijab appeared to have higher self esteem than those who don’t. And why wouldn’t they?Women’s dress in Islam kind of prevents us from buying too heavily into fashion and fads or placing too much importance on outer appearance. We don’t bother dwelling on imperfections the world will never see. We just happily wear as we believe God has instructed and get on with life.

    Peace!

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    (no matter what you wear)

Tall, like a tree

Stand tall like a tree
basking in light
from a tiny seed created
you grew a great height

Stand tall like a tree
a graceful silence in the sun
bow your branches in prayer
To the Creator, The One

Stand tall like a tree
but allow yourself to sway
in the wind, storm and rain
that sends your leaves astray

Stand tall like a tree
as your seeds spread and grow
as your leaves turn green and flourish
before you let them go

Stand tall like a tree
be a house, be a home
and a shade for passing strangers
and a friend to those alone

Stand tall like a tree
with knowing and belief
with submission, for your time
as you count your every leaf

Stand tall like a tree
roots firmly in the ground
in the earth,
of its dust,
to which we all are bound

(c) KJ Saunders 2014

In awe of the giant oak trees at the end of Chaffer Lane, Willoughby, NSW.

The B word

Its a known fact that many westerners are ditching the teachings of mainstream Christianity and exploring other belief systems, such as eastern philosophies, or rejecting religion outright denying the existence of a God, or doing something that would seem even more shocking and rebelious, alarming even, and
converting to Islam.

Family reactions to declarations of belief in ‘the One True God’ vary as much as the converts themselves. Whilst many parents and siblings reluctantly accept the choice of their brethren, possibly hoping it’s ‘a phase’, some converts find themselves ousted from their family. Some even receive support, or respect at least.  But the word that is thought or whispered, that resonates with those left feeling stunned by these choices, is ‘brainwashed’.

Oh My God. She’s a Muslim. She’s must have been somehow brainwashed.

Now here’s the thing. From the day we are born, our parents bring us up, and for most of us that is done lovingly and with the best of intention, (for which we all should be immensely grateful, I know I am), imbibing in us the beliefs and values their parents taught them. Their parents in turn imbibed in them their own beliefs & values and it goes back, and it goes forth, and you have a belief system passed down from one generation to another, on the simple fact that ‘that’s what my parents believed’. Except for the orignator of the belief, did anyone conciously choose this course? And by that I mean – did they actually rationally examine other belief systems in the world and make a choice based on intelligence & merit, rather than comfort, convenience and familiarity?

ROASTING CHICKEN QUESTIONED

Here’s a story about roasting chooks. A man was in the kitchen, watching his wife cook dinner. She took the whole chicken, broke it up into pieces, cooked half in a batch, took it out of the oven when done, then cooked the other half. Slightly perplexed at this double time procedure, he asked his wife – “Why do you cook chicken that way?” “Because thats how my mother did it” she replied. So he went to his mother-in-law and asked her how she cooked chicken, the mother-in-law describing the same method he witnessed at home. When he asked her why she cooked it like this, he got the same reply, ‘Because thats how my mother cooked it’. Fortunately the wifes grandmother was still around, so he went to her grandmother and heard her describe the same method of cooking chicken. When asked why she replied ‘Because thats the only way I could fit it in our tiny oven back then’.

The same could be said for our belief systems. Why do we cook chicken the way we do? Why do we believe what we believe. Who reading this has ever earnestly asked why? (the belief bit not the chicken ;-)

The fact of the matter is that people who convert to Islam usually do so after daring to question that which was imbibed. They read, they seek, they think, they contemplate. They read the Bible. They have questions. They seek answers. They explore other beliefs. The read up on them. They read the Quran. (The actual book itself, not the misquotes so often published in the media). They make a choiced based on common sense, based on God given intelligent thinking. Based on research. Based on soul search. Indeed this is the opposite of brainwashed.

WOOD CARVINGS QUESTIONED

The Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim) (peace be upon him) was the son of an idol maker, born into a society steeped in idol worship. Abraham asked how they could worship as Gods that which they made with their own hands, that which could neither harm nor help them. Sentenced to death, but instead later banished for his daring freethinking, we could all do to take a leaf out of Abrahams book, who as we know became one of the great Prophets revered in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. (In fact Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) named his son (who died an infant) after him).

Fortunately for those of us who seek answers, any enlightenment would not end in the harsh punishments endured by Abraham (pbuh).  But maybe a few whispers of ‘brainwashed’.  Oh the irony!

“Why do you see the splinter in your brother’s eye but not notice the log in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3, Bible   

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Is hijab oppressive?

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Every so often we have Burqa/Hijab/Veil comments quoted in the newspaper or one of those today tonight a current affair shows. They do the social media rounds, attracting comments amongst Muslims, supporters and detractors alike. Everyone is of course entitled to their opinions and feelings, especially since these things are often emotional and not entirely voluntary, at least at the outset.

So I offer this piece in peace, for the non Muslim anti Burqa reader :-)

Enjoy!

“The Islamic Veil”

I understand how you could conceive an attire your eyes are not accustomed to seeing day-in day-out as confronting, and how, in the free and open society we live in your initial impression would be to conclude this dress code oppressive. But as a very happy, proud and content Muslim woman, I would like to invite you to a little deeper reflection.

To set the framework of the mindset of the wearer of a burqa, or hijab, or veil, you should first understand a little bit about Islam. Islam is the belief in One God, One Almighty unique creator to whom we shall all return. This God, Allah (literally, “The God”) is the same God worshipped by all the Prophets sent to mankind, including, but not limited to, Adam, Moses, Noah, Abraham, Jesus, Muhammad, peace be upon them. All great men in history to whom no other man in our modern times could ever hope to match.

Muslims believe this God has set down a handful of commands for those amongst mankind who wish to worship Him. Being from God, these commands are superior than anything we could put together for ourselves. They serve to establish just, peaceful, tolerant, respectful, safe, nurturing and happy societies and to deter crime and oppression.

I should note at this point that adhering to the this religion is a personal choice, as stated by the religion itself – “Let there be no compulsion in religion.” (Quran 2:256)

So for the half a billion or so Muslim women worldwide, wearing hijab or burqa or whatever name you choose to apply to a loose fitting garment & head covering that conceals ones shape and beauty from the view of the general public, is simply the fulfilment of one of those few commands, obedience to the One who created the universe and all that it contains. Obviously I don’t know your religious beliefs, if any. I invite you to read an English translation of the Holy Quran one day and maybe find out a little more about Islam.

To the wearer of a piece of flimsy fabric draped over her head, this is a blessing from God, a great freedom. Us Muslim women are free to go about out business everyday; without being ogled, judged, compared or wolf whistled at (well… hey with the exception of a bit of unfortunate racism that may on occasion be encountered).

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Contrast this with modern western woman, and the constant pressure she has to look good, the discomfort many feel of wearing the equivalent of underwear in front of complete strangers (swimwear) which society forces upon us from a young age, our innate modesty now deemed prude, the need for her to “dress sexy” and compete with other women in the genuine human search for a mate, to be judged on appearance more than ability, to the Muslim woman – this is the real oppression.

We only need to see the great increase in ‘diseases’ that afflict some – anorexia and bulimia – that destroy lives and even cause death – diseases that were much less heard of when society held to more conservative dress codes. We also see and hear of many teenagers and young women nowadays suffering low self esteem, comparing themselves to the airbrushed women fronting the endless glossies and images of barely dressed females at every turn. And consider the case of those who have become so dissatisfied with their physique that they are willing to part with great sums of money to have themselves surgically “enhanced”. The beauty of women is a potent force and when set rampant upon society has not yet proved to bring great peace and harmony to our hearts and minds.

You may also wish to place your thoughts of the Burqa against the backdrop of history and of other women whom you will be more accustomed to seeing veiled. Let’s consider – was Mary the mother of Jesus oppressed? Do you consider Mother Theresa was oppressed? Are all Nuns oppressed too? Is a society filled with miniskirts and cleavage really a great freedom we should all be proud of?

At a time when rape is a daily occurrence, the hijab says ‘don’t even think about it’.
At a time when every one knows of someone who has cheated on their spouse, the hijab says ‘not with me’.
At a time when 12 year olds are starving themselves, the hijab says ‘my weight is none of your business’
At a time when women compete ardently with each other to shock and expose, the hijab says “I won’t be compared”
At time when many girls long to “be famous/a model”, the hijab says ‘l use my brain, not my body’.
At a time where society is reaching new lows of morality, the hijab says “I still believe in God”.

Beautiful, precious things in this world are concealed. Diamonds lay hidden deep within the earth, pearls in guarded shells at the bottom of the sea, we keep our valuables in safes, life giving fruits are protected in their skins.

All women in all societies should be respected, treasured and protected (regardless of their faith). The garments ordained by the One who created us serves this purpose so beautifully in an way that no bikini ever could.

So I invite you to contemplate the dress of the Muslim women, I hope you can see just a little of its light.

Peace
:-)

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