Interesting Article: Removing hijab

I wore a hijab for decades then one day I stopped

Article Link – Islam chose me

Islam chose me: Susan Carland on religion, love and the hijab

“I don’t find wearing hijab restrictive: I teach at university, I go on TV, I go swimming, I used to go roller-blading – a ’90s activity – I go travelling, I’ve gone scuba diving at the Barrier Reef a couple of times. So the only thing I think holds me back is people’s negative stereotypes and assuming what I am, or can or can’t do, or [how I] feel about things. The whole point about hijab is it was meant to facilitate mobility in society.”


Not even water

Ramadan Musings – 15 things I learned from fasting Ramadan             

Currently we are in the holy month of Ramadan.   

Before I was Muslim I never knew when Ramadan happened, let alone what it was all about. At the completion of my first Ramadan in the hot Aussie summer of 98/99, I joyfully wrote of list of about 30 amazing things I gained from that month. I don’t know what ever happened to it, it was hand scrawled on a loose sheet of A4 and contained things like “learned to cook”, but almost 2 decades later the list continues to grow.

In case you are unaware (as I once most certainly was), Ramadan is the 9th month on the lunar calendar. It begins with the sighting of a new crescent moon, and falls approximately 10 days earlier each Gregorian calendar year – so it moves through the seasons. During this month – of 29 or 30 days (dependent on the sighting of the next crescent), put simply – Muslims don’t EAT or DRINK a single thing from just before the dawn till the sun has set. No, not even water.   

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. A key that opens a door. And whilst the spiritual and heavenly benefits are extolled greatly within the Islamic scripture, here I share my own experience. 

So what is Ramadan really?

It is a month of deep reflection – detatch from the material world, contemplate the grand, the great, the eternal

It is a month of struggle, of striving, of self discipline as we endure mild and temporary discomforts, a mere glimpse of what it’s like for the less fortunate of our world

It is a month of hope – change is possible, anything is possible, knowing God presides over all things

It is a month of blessings – where we witness for ourselves internal and external amazements and bounties 

It is a month of charity – of genuine empathy and giving, giving, giving

It is a month of worship – where we stand in prayer at night, humbling ourselves before the All Mighty, acknowledging our great need of Him, in awe of His Greatness

It is a month of forgiveness – forgiving others, overlooking their faults, that the Lord of The Worlds may overlook our own

It is a month of cleansing – a chance to detox from our physical addictions and gain control over those desires which drag us down

It is a month of patience – of learning to wait quietly without complaint till you can have what you want

It is a month of deep gratitude – even just for being one who partakes in this epic month of blessings, even for a simple glass of water

It is a month of healing – without the task of constant digesting the body can divert its resources to healing and restoring itself where needed

It is a month of connection – with 1.6 Billion other people who are doing the same thing, following in the footsteps of the Prophets, and those who believed before us

It is a month spirituality – rejuvenating the soul, deepening ones belief, strengthening ones connection to The Creator of the Universe 

It is a month of peace – where the heart and the soul finds deep contentment, stillness, just being, just worshipping, just reflecting, just connecting, to God

It’s a month of striving – to try to become a better version of yourself.

It is so more than a month of just ‘fasting’.     

May it’s fragrance gently brush by you, 

May it’s sweet dust fall on your weary shoulders, 
May it’s bounty enrich your life, 

May it’s contentment touch your heart, 

May it’s peace reach your soul.   


Love & Peace.   


Wearing a hijab with a non-Middle Eastern face incurs it’s fair share of stares.  Confused passers-by,  shop assistants,  co-workers – some can be initially at a loss to compute what seems like your average western woman wrapped in foreign fabric.

I came across this post:  a hijab wearing woman’s take down when a man tells her she shouldn’t be driving (link also below),  because she’s a Muslim, and in Saudi, women don’t drive.  She responded with a #shutdown history lesson  bringing his ignorance of the wider world and it’s religions to the forefront.

But what is interesting to me about this post is that it highlights the fact that the average person automatically associates All Things Islam with Saudi Arabia.  

Yes Islam originated there, but Christianity also hails from the Middle East.  Yes Makkah & Madinah are holy cities, but I am pretty sure a lot of people all over the world would consider Bethlehem and Jerusalem holy cities too.
For everyone who believes in & loves Jesus (peace be upon him),  which includes every Muslim ever – Islam being the only other major world religion that makes it a Pillar of Faith to believe in and love Jesus –  was he not also a young Middle Eastern man?  Yet how many people automatically associate Christianity mainly with people of middle eastern heritage?

Saudi Arabia has a population of 28 million, whilst Muslims worldwide number 1.6 billion, so Saudi nationals make up less than a tenth of one percent of the Muslim world. (Assuming I got my zeros correct!)

Why this post reverberates with me is because I can see the confusion behind the quizzical expressions in response to coming across such an apparent anomaly.   Sometimes a conversation is struck and I tell them I converted to Islam.  After responding ‘no’ to the next statement-question  (“Oh so you married an Arab”)  I can see them now wondering “why would you want to be (like a) Saudi Arabian ?”,  when the truth is I no more identify with Saudi culture than I do with that of the Eskimoes.

However I don’t blame people for their lack of understanding.   I try to be patient and friendly when explaining myself for the umpteenth time (especially with the elderly for whom I have a soft spot).   Afterall, most of us automatically live our lives in our little local bubbles,  automatically adhering to the standard preset milestones of our culture, which doesn’t usually include a good bout of soul searching (let alone changing ones religion) , though most people experience some kind of universe-questioning events in life  at some point anyway.

We may close our minds and automatically take on media fed stereotypical concept of Islam and Muslims.   But now that we can drive down the information superhighway,  we can change directions, take new paths, read the signs.  It doesn’t hurt to slow down, put ourselves in manual for a while, look at lifes map, contemplate the journey.

Islam is the simple, timeless call to the worship of One Unique Almighty God.

It is an open invitation to every human being ever born, that began with Prophet Adam in the year dot and will continue till the end of time, reaching every corner of the earth.

It’s adherants are as diverse as all humanity.

I’m so glad we have the internet now to just put that out there, especially as western women constitute one of the largest group of converts to the faith.  Perhaps oneday soon people will see a non Middle Eastern Hijabi and think ‘oh she converted to Islam’.  Automatically.

Muslim Woman’s Response to Man who tells her she shouldn’t be driving.

Article link – Liberal Discontent with Designer Modesty

Why does the whole world buy into what Muslim women wear?    Why does hijab bother so many Non Muslims?

Why is covering considered a prison like oppression, and full flesh exposure considered the height of liberty and freedom?   

Isn’t advocating against hijab an oppression of our freedom of choice?

Hypothetically – what if the whole female population on earth decided to dress modestly?  Who would that affect?  Would the heavy weight fashion designers be demanding we undress or would they design modest clothing for us?

A lot of good points raised in this article.

Freedom and the “Hidden Life”

The 1st of Apprehension

Sydney, Australia, is a pretty safe place to live. Australia, in general, is laid back. Crime exists, but it’s not rampant. There’s no gun culture. It has it’s racist edge, no doubt, but that’s not typically translated into violence. It’s hard to incur aggression when your speech cheerily suffixes everyday chatter in “o”. We get petrol from the servo, visit relo’s in the arvo, donate to the salvos, agree with righteeoe, and wave off with a cheerio.  

I dunno, perhaps this is only my perception and there are others who could tell a completely different story.

In decent areas, educated citizens see through and ignore media fear mongering, preferring to get on with life rather than live with irrational fear. In less than ideal burbs, even if you’re not liked, you probably still feel safe enough. In most places, most people can walk down most streets most of the time without a whisper of hinderance. Well, this has been my experience.

From my late teens I regularly used the Sydney train system. (Cityrail, as it was known then). Irk was limited to the occasional drunkard (late night or early weekend mornings) or a bunch of rowdy teens hurling insults at commuters, on a silly high with their first taste of obviously premature independence. This for me was pre-hijab years, for the world pre 9-11.   

In the mid eighties I was doing a course near Central Station that ended at 11pm, and breezily caught the half-full train the hours journey home alone on Monday nights. After a few weeks I noticed a weirdo had begun following me, so after alighting at my home stop I scurried forward to walk beside an older looking guy in a long dark duffle coat, giving the appearance I knew him, which immediately deterred the follower. (Nowadays I would not be keen to take public transport alone late a night). 

That would pretty much sum up my 3 decades of sometimes regular sometimes sporadic train life in Sydney, Australia.  
Ahh… but the times, they are a’changin….
Now we have viral videos featuring racist rants against quietly shocked veiled women and immigrant men, and despite the subsequent much appreciated “I’ll ride with you” type support on social media, my feeds still catch glimpses of the ever simmering hate. “Bloody Muzzies!” write my fellow compatriots underneath misleading memes. (Yes, they shorten the word Muslim here too). “Islamic terrorists” we are called. “Go back to where you came from” a frequent phrase they say. Those are just the niceties.  

Whilst I appreciate how a sunburnt suburban existence with a bottle-o haphazardly on every corner and The Daily Telegraph a persons only reading material could so easily limit one’s world view, the increasing nastiness, along with despicable world events and the resultant overloaded media coverage, combined with right wing government rhetoric, had me feeling a slight unease. So when I had to take the train to a business meeting in the city shortly after the recent Paris attacks, I felt my first real wave of apprehension.

Waiting for the train I stood near a pole on the centre of the platform, near the top of the stairs. I waited till the train had stopped on the platform before moving toward it. I wondered how many fellow hijabis felt the same, and for how long? In a gesture of friendliness I smiled softly at strangers whose eyes caught mine, something I’d do anyway, especially children and and old people.

I was not feeling greatly fearful in anyway, just somewhat cautious. Of course, no one seemed to give this travelling hijabi a second glance and I travelled to and fro in the safety I always have. But what was significant to me was that my thought processes had changed, my feelings of safety were questioned, apprehension had finally reached me.

Maybe it was a little late, compared to others. Maybe other minorities live like this daily? Maybe I live in a bubble? Maybe it was was as totally unfounded as it ultimately turned out to be. I would like to think the latter, but I know the guise of the laid back Aussie has never been all we like to think it to be. Indigenous Australia can testify to that.

You would assume that in a land abundant in sunshine, sea, space, sand, surf, bush, blue skies, BBQs, beaches and beauty, racism and wouldn’t stand a chance in the long run. The place is just to chill, and, after all, there is plenty to go around as our national anthem clearly states – “For those who’ve come across the seas we’ve boundless plains to share”. You would think. And hope. And pray.   

So as we enter a new solar calendar year, may we find common sense prevailing as we negotiate these new and troubled times. May those living in fear find safety and security, and those living in ignorance find the light.

Cheerio, and happy 2016.


Mister Meme-ers Misdemeanors

Recently I came across a meme on Instagram against hijab and it’s wearers which was meanly made and posted on the page of a somewhat prominent local hijabi. 

“We wear the hijab because we create lust in men.  We must not excite their arousal” it emblazoned over a picture of the lady and 3 other hijabis.  A clearly nasty dig at Islam, Hijab and Muslim Women.

In the absence of a unisex title,  I will call it’s maker Mr Meme-er, though it may well be a Miss or Mrs.

I have some questions for Mr Meme-er. 

Obviously you don’t wear a hijab,  but why do you care if other people do?  What’s it to you?  No ones asking you to wear one are they?  Why are you so irate over a square meter of flimsy fabric?

Mr Meme-er,  must our lives, dress code and realities all be the same?  Is the only acceptable way of life in this world an identikit version of your own?  And if so, what makes your ideals superior to that of other peoples?   Is it simple because they are YOURS?

Humanity – wide and varied are its beliefs, culture, food and dress.  Jeans & T-Shirts.  Flip flops or skyscraper heels.  Grey wool business suit or pink and orange sari.   Bikini or Burqini.   
Unlike The Quran – Mr Meme-er does not seem to advocate freedom of choice.

Mr Meme-er,  you need to chill.   You must be very hot under that collar.


Ramadan: 10 things I’ve gained this month (& its definitely not kilos)

With the completion of Ramadan last week, I’ve listed 10 things I’ve gained from fasting this year. I hope you enjoy my little insights!

1.  We are stronger than we think we are – one cannot only go day after day without food and drink (during the daylight hours) for an entire month but you can actually thrive and have energy under these circumstances

2.  We need much less than we think we need

3.  Ramadan can be very productive – I have done most of my year end procedures at work (accounting) on an empty stomach. Without coffee breaks, lunch breaks and the subsequent toilet breaks, one can plough through the day’s tasks

4.  Whilst most days in Ramadan are mostly about patience – having to wait to have what you want – some days ARE tough. Somedays you just are really tired and really hungry. And you just have to get through it.

5. Naps are awesome. (But I’ve always known that).

6.  Cooking and food preparation CAN be very pleasurable! (I do like cooking in Ramadan)

7.  Getting up before sunrise to have breakfast is not really that difficult but I will never love it

8. In a society based on instant gratification, the regular feeling of an empty stomach is almost profound

9.  Prayer is one of life’s essentials. I just don’t know how atheists do it.

10.  Ramadan is a bit of a marathon, with highs and lows. Even though it can be tough, I am grateful for it & would hate to miss out on it. As we know, days turn into weeks, weeks into months, months into years and our life whizzes by. How good to have a pause button, a reset button, a stop and think and pray and contemplate button. Alhamdullillah (Thanks be to God).

Whoever you are, wherever you are, no matter what you believe, I wish you all much peace, blessings and happiness in your life 💙 I pray that every human on this earth has at least food, shelter and love 💗


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.

Screenshot 2014-11-23 08.35.29

Fabulous Maxi dresses from 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 $49.95

Pants from

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

Batwing cardigan from $29.95

Batwing cardigan from $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).

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.


At peace with yourself, the universe, God

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

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.

    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. Embed from Getty Images
  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.



    (no matter what you wear)