Category Archives: Islam

Automatic

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.  https://www.indy100.com/article/muslim-woman-perfectly-shuts-down-bigot-who-asked-her-why-she-was-driving-7309101

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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.

  

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 💗

CrescentMoonOcean

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 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

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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